Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake

delicious pumpkin pecan streusel coffeecake | jessicagavin.com #fallrecipe

Dare I say, fall is finally making it’s appearance in Southern California? During our walk back from our favorite local breakfast spot this past weekend with my husband Jason and baby James, I finally noticed some indicators of autumn. Leaves are beginning to turn brown on the trees and just barely starting to cover the ground. Some of my neighbors have started to put up some spooky Halloween decorations, and of course pumpkins in their front yards. As we almost reached home and I finished sipping the last addictive ounces of my chai latte, I got a sudden urge to bake…. 

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Halloween Graveyard Brownie Cupcakes

Halloween Graveyard Brownie Cupcakes | jessicagavin.com #halloween #cupcakes

“Trick-or-treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat…”, do you remember that song? I used to joyously sing that song with my cousins, knowing very well how naughty it was, whoever wrote it must be a gazillionaire! Halloween has got to be one of my favorite fall festivities. It’s one of the rare nights sugar crazy kids get to stay up all night, dress like what they secretly want to be in real life, collect pillowcases full of free candy from strangers and your parents don’t say no. I admittedly had a secret stash of candy hidden in my closet that I was sneaking each day until Santa came to town. Now being a mom, I’m having fun dressing up baby James in adorable costumes until he can chose his own someday. This year I found the most legit baby Batman onesie with a detachable cape and everything, score!… 

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Chocolate Pumpkin Pecan Scones

Amazing pumpkin pecan scones with maple glaze | jessicagavin.com

Fall is finally here! This marks the beginning of my baking extravaganza. The first fall sightings were the giant bags of miniature Halloween candies exploding from the aisles in the grocery store. I also can’t forget those adorable mini pumpkins and sticky caramel apples. I try not to go to the market hungry because there are too many temptations right now. But boy, was I craving something pumpkin flavored, so I purchased my first can of Libby’s pumpkin puree. I couldn’t wait to think of a sweet treat to bake! So I decided to go all out and pack these buttery little pastries with my fall flavor arsenal, creating chocolate pumpkin pecan scones with maple glaze, boom!… 

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Matcha Green Tea Tiramisu

Dusting powdered sugar on matcha green tea tiramisu | jessicagavin.com

Sometimes when your sweet tooth hits but you don’t necessarily want to bake, the perfect dessert option is a yummy tiramisu! All you need to make tiramisu is a bowl, whisk, a little patience and you are set. I originally created this recipe 2 days before my son James was born in the midst of the summer swelter, so this was a sweat free, no bake dessert.

I first learned how to make tiramisu in Italy at a quaint little B&B called Osteria della Lodola by an amazing Tuscan chef who taught me his wife’s super simple and delicious family recipe. Actually I also learned how to make a delicious Butternut Squash soup too – but that’s another story. I was so elated to have the opportunity to learn from this chef during my visit, I couldn’t wait to make this recipe for my family back at home. However, like most things I wanted to put a little twist on this recipe, being that it is my birthday on September 28 (hehe) and I also am a lover of matcha green tea. I created a matcha green tea tiramisu recipe that combines my obsession for both the flavors of Tuscany and Japan, a little fun fusion dessert!… 

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Healthy Oat Pancakes with Berry Sauce

healthy-stack-berry-pancakes

Pancakes for breakfast are certainly a morning treat which usually makes its appearance during those lazy weekends. To be honest, I always feel a little guilty because pancakes are undercover golden delicious desserts eaten in the morning, but they are so good! I wanted to create a recipe that would let me have a taste of those devilish cakes, but not have a carbohydrate overload leaving me wanting to crawl back into bed for a nap after breakfast. I decided to make a pancake batter that featured oats instead of flour for extra fiber, very little added sugar, and fit in as much protein as I could so that I would feel satisfied and energized after eating. These healthy oat pancakes with berry compote sauce is just what you need for a healthy and satisfying start to your day!… 

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Arugula Walnut Pesto Pasta w/ Shrimp

delicious plate of arugula walnut pesto pasta with shrimp | jessicagavin.com

Do you ever reminisce about what made you fall in love with your soul mate? Deep question huh? For my husband Jason and I, our common love for Italian food was just the beginning of our romance, haha. My husband grew up around a big Italian family who would get together and prepare huge homemade suppers (think the Godfather), so he is accustomed to traditions and quality of family meals. Jason may not be the head chef in our kitchen (that’s my job), but he sure has his expectations and opinions when it comes to making Italian food just right, and isn’t shy to tell me!

My first test came when Jason’s mom gave me the most amazing kitchen gift, a pasta maker! She must have been putting me to the ultimate test, to see if I could properly feed her son! It’s a good thing that I got rolling because I got mama’s stamp of approval and Jason and I have been married for 3 years now (and together for 10)! The pasta machine has sure come in handy over the years. I usually like to make a traditional egg pasta dough, however I wanted to create a healthier whole wheat noodle to make an arugula walnut pesto pasta with shrimp recipe…. 

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Mini Nectarine Almond Frangipane Tart

nectarine almond frangipane tart | jessicagavin.com #sweets

The best thing about dessert is when you don’t have to share! I know, that may sound a little greedy, but sometimes you just want your very own pie. With that in mind, I thought that making individually portioned mini nectarine almond frangipane tarts would be a great way to indulge without going over board. It’s nice not having to give others a nibble of the good stuff, since everyone will have their very own tart…. 

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Rustic Peach and Berry Crostata

yummy peach and berry crostata | jessicagavin.com

Do you love crust? I love it! Who knew that combining butter and flour could be so magical, giving you tender pieces of pastry that melts in your mouth with each bite of fruit filling. Being that it’s still summer why not celebrate the last few days by using ripe stone fruit and berries in a delicious dessert?  My local market has super sweet yellow and white peaches and plump blueberries and blackberries available, so I thought that the combination of sweet and tangy fruit would be perfect for a crostata.

I originally found this recipe in Hedy Goldsmith’s incredible dessert cookbook, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors. Chef Goldsmith is the executive pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami Florida, where she creates whimsical and fun nostalgic desserts. I was lucky enough to meet her during her book release a few years back and I was so excited to try her recipes and now was the right time! I had brought this rustic peach and berry crostata to our friends fourth of July celebration, and it was a big hit!… 

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Bora Bora Coconut Custard Pie

delicious coconut custard pie recipe | jessicagavin.com Have you ever traveled to a destination and basically ate your way through the trip? When Jason and I traveled to Bora Bora this coconut custard pie recipe was our slice of heaven. We first had this irresistible dessert on our honeymoon to French Polynesia three years ago and we realized that it was a staple item on pretty much every menu around the island. Each restaurant had their own version, however we always found that the pie was served warm with a cool and creamy scoop of ice cream.

After out third visit to Bora Bora for our babymoon, I thought that I should try to recreate the flavors of French Polynesia by surprising Jason with this coconut custard pie recipe. And guess what, he said I nailed it! We actually ate a slice each night for dessert for almost a week until our craving was gone, haha!… 

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Skillet Cornbread with Blueberries

Skillet Cornbread with Blueberries | jessicagavin.com The best way to combine two of the tastiest summer ingredients, corn and blueberries, is into a baked treat! I am a sucker for freshly baked cornbread, so I decided to add some super ripe and sweet blueberries into the batter. To take it to the next level, I baked the cornbread in a steaming hot cast iron skillet with sizzling hot butter on the bottom to prevent sticking.

There is something so comforting and rustic about baking bread in a skillet versus glass pan or metal muffin tin. Don’t forget about those crunchy golden brown edges you get from preheating the cast iron pan in the oven before you add in the batter, yum! This cast iron skillet cornbread with blueberries recipe is guaranteed to be a hit with family and friends!… 

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All-American Potato Salad

all-american potato salad recipe | jessicagavin.com

When you think about summertime side dishes, potato salad is one essential item that almost always makes it on the table. There are so many recipes and types of varieties of this simple yet comforting dish. For me, I really like the classic All-American potato salad especially when I’m having barbecued food. The creaminess of the potatoes combined with your favorite seasonings is always a hit with a swarm of hungry summer guests…. 

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Luscious Raspberry Lemon Bars

amazing raspberry lemon bar recipe | jessicagavin.com

When given the choice of a decadent chocolate dessert versus a light refreshing lemon indulgence, I’m much more of a chocolate lover. I actually used to hate lemon flavored desserts! That’s until I finally made a tray of fresh raspberry lemon bars at home. My first encounter with lemon bars was when I was working at a European bakery in high school, getting the chance to be exposed to lots of different citrus infused treats.

Lemon bars were a staple at Boniere Bakery in Alameda, CA. Baked fresh each week, I used to be in charge of cutting the crisp and gooey bars into perfect squares then dusting them with generous mountains of powdered sugar. I would sneak bites of the browned corners that I cut off, licking off the sticky evidence from my fingers. I think that’s when I started to appreciate the citrus pucker effect of the lemon juice balanced with the sweetness of the sugar in those gooey lemon bars…. 

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Delicious Braided Challah Bread

braided challah bread loaf

Have you ever visited a bakery and seen those long beautiful braided breads and wondered, what are those lovely golden brown loaves? I used to work at a European bakery called Boniere in high school and the pastry chef used to bake these aromatic challah loaves each morning and place them on the bread rack in the front of the store for display. These rich milk, butter and egg based breads were especially popular with customers during the spring time for Easter and the winter for Hanukkah. These yeast-leavened breads are tender with a hint of sweetness and are simple to make!… 

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Strawberry French Toast Recipe

Strawberry French Toast Recipe | jessicagavin.com

Breakfast is one of my favorite eating occasions for one reason, I get to eat dessert first thing in the morning! As a kid, French toast was my go-to selection whenever dining out on the weekends with my family, or at home on Sunday mornings. French toast has evolved on restaurant menus to include versions using banana bread, baked like a custard in a cast iron pan, healthier whole wheat bread recipes, and even stuffed with rich fillings. I had made a fresh loaf of braided challah bread (a rich egg bread) and I did not want a single crumb to go to waste, so I decided to make an irresistible strawberry french toast recipe!… 

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Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread

whole wheat banana nut bread | jessicagavin.com

At almost six months into my pregnancy journey, my baby bump is finally showing and I’m getting lots of fun questions from curious family and friends about how the experience has been going. So far, very smooth! One of the questions that I get all the time is “What kinds of food are you craving?” Well, lately my cravings have been anything sweet with bananas in it (bread, muffins, pancakes, the list goes on)! Due to this ongoing craving, I decided I needed to find a healthier alternative to my banana based sweet tooth.  I decided to create a whole wheat banana nut bread recipe to help satisfy my cravings without burdoning my ever growing tummy!… 

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Spinach Artichoke Deviled Eggs

final deviled eggs presentation platter | jessicagavin.com

Deviled eggs are a truly nostalgic recipe that can be spruced up with your favorite ingredients. I remember deviled eggs always making its appearance at spring time parties, weddings and baby showers. I definitely ate my fair share! I’ve taken the classic recipe and created a spinach artichoke deviled eggs version combining two of my two favorite party appetizers into one tasty bite!… 

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Italian Easter Bread

delicious italian easter bread | jessicagavin.com

This year for Easter I decided to make Italian Easter Bread, a traditional recipe that Jason’s grandma Rose used to make each year. I honestly had never heard of this Italian treat before, but I was definitely curious! After some researching and talking with Jason’s parents for a description, I came across The Italian Dish blog which had a beautiful recipe. The bread looked so delicious, I knew I had to try it out! This Italian Easter bread recipe has a tender and slightly sweet dough with a hard-boiled egg in the center and festive colorful sprinkles. The perfect recipe to help celebrate Easter this year!… 

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Delicious Fried Banana Fritters

making fried banana fritters

I have been craving beignets, the French “fritters” that are diamond shaped raised doughnuts. Hot, crispy and loaded with powdered sugar beignets are a must have treat if you ever visit New Orleans! Beignets are slightly time intensive to make from scratch. To get my quick fix I made delicious banana fritters which have a similar batter texture to beignets. Golden brown, tender and indulgent, these are the perfect quick and easy doughnuts to make without having to book a ticket to Louisiana!… 

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Spooky Spider Web Halloween Cupcakes

spider web halloween cupcakes

Are you looking for a scary and delicious treat for the hungry ghouls and goblins haunting you on Halloween? Nothing is more devilish and decadent than these spooky spider web halloween cupcakes. The richest chocolate cupcakes topped with sinful dark chocolate infused with cinnamon and chili spices to give a surprising spicy kick!…. 

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Pumpkin Hand Pies with Pecan Streusel

Cooking rack of pumpkin pies

Some people can look at the leafs outside and say fall has arrived, well in Southern California we go to the grocery store to notice the seasons changing. You know what I’m talking about, in late September the grocery chains start to bombard you with pumpkins, scary ghosts and lots of Halloween candy! Pumpkin is the essential ingredient of autumn, so its no surprise that you can find pumpkin everything… pop tarts, cheesecake, oatmeal, flavored beer and lattes luring you into the holiday spirit!… 

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Gluten Free Salted Caramel Apple Waffles

waffles apples bacon featuring cup4cup

When you were growing up, was your pantry stocked with Bisquick – the all in one miracle pancake, waffle, biscuit and cookie mix? Now the next question… is it still stocked with Bisquick?? Well if you answered yes to that second question I have some news for you… There are some new mixes out there for you to try! I created gluten free salted caramel apple waffles using the new Cup4Cup pancake and waffle mix and I want to share the recipe with you…. 

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Citrus Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

Citrus Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

There is nothing better than waking up on the weekend to the smell of sweet pancakes sizzling on the griddle. My fondest memories as a child was tip toeing down the stairs in the morning, still sleepy eyed, and waking up immediately when I saw my mom cooking an irresistible breakfast for me and my family…. 

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Apricot Spritz Cookie

apricot spritz cookie

My fondest memory of spritz cookies was when I working at an exquisite European Bakery called Boniere in my home town of Alameda, CA during high school. The pastry chef would fill the cookies with homemade raspberry and apricot jam, and lightly dust each cookie with powdered sugar. These cookies were so tender and contained the perfect amount of sweetness which would melt in your mouth. I just had to recreate these apricot spritz cookies at home!… 

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Grandma’s Italian Meatball Recipe

Italian Meatball Recipe | jessicagavin.com

On our wedding day, I made a very special vow to my husband…

“I promise to always nurture, listen, comfort, and feed you, making sure to cook your grandmother’s famous meatballs at least once a month.”

It may seem like a silly promise, however my husband Jason’s love for his Grandma’s Italian meatball recipe always brings him a sense of comfort and happiness. For me to be able to recreate a dish that he loves is really important to me. When he walks through the door at the end of a long day and smells fresh tomato sauce and meatballs broiling in the oven, his big smile is priceless!… 

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Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe | jessicagavin.com

When strawberry season begins it’s hard not to buy baskets filled with lush sun ripened berries! Strawberry shortcakes are a classic way to highlight the juicy, sweet and jammy flavors of strawberries. This strawberry shortcake recipe combines fresh berries tossed with Grand Marnier orange liquor, fresh mint, lemon and sugar. Overtime the strawberries release their natural juices and infuse the citrus and mint flavors…. 

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Irish Soda Bread with Cherries

Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread is a quick and easy recipe because you don’t have to wait hours for yeast to leaven the dough. The baking powder and eggs do all of the work to help make the dough to rise providing instant gratification with minimal time. This year for Saint Patrick’s Day, I decided to add a sweet twist to the traditional Irish soda bread recipe…. 

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Irish Coffee Profiteroles with Chocolate Whiskey Sauce

Irish coffee profiteroles with chocolate whiskey sauce

With Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations coming up soon, I decided to take a classic profiterole recipe and add some Irish (alcohol) ingredients to make ordinary cream puffs a little more interesting and festive. I would test the limits of Irish cream with whiskey! You’ll get in the spirit (no pun intended) with my Irish coffee profiteroles with chocolate whiskey sauce recipe. Now before you continue any further, please remember to eat these tasty desserts responsibly. Enjoy!… 

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Chinese Steamed Custard Bun Recipe

Chinese steamed custard bun recipe | jessicagavin.com

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, my family and I would have dim sum at least once a week at our favorite Chinatown tea house. It was so exciting seeing the servers push shiny silver steam carts filled with goodies around to each table. The dim sum carts were filled with different types of a la carte items like several varieties of steamed dumplings, rice noodles with seafood or meat, chicken feet, sticky rice and sweets…. 

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Persimmon Honey Ginger Tart

Persimmon Honey Ginger Tart

Persimmons are a delightful treat during the winter season. The Fuyu Japanese varietal of persimmon looks like a pumpkin shaped orange tomato, however the flavor is very sweet and slightly tangy with a crunchy to soft texture depending on how long you allow the fruit to ripen. Persimmons can be eaten raw and when they are ripe they are perfect for a persimmon honey ginger tart filled with custard!… 

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Candied Nuts

Candied Nuts

These crunchy, sweet and spiced candied nuts are a perfect addition to any salad, dessert or as a gift! I must warn you, they are addicting! I find any excuse I can to include them into my meals. This recipe features candied almonds and pecans, however you can use your favorite to create perfect crunchy, flavorful, candied nuts…. 

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Brandied Cherry Chocolate Mousse Cake

Brandied Cherry Chocolate Mousse Cake

This year on August 15th marks the 100th birthday of the culinary icon, Julia Child and in her honor I created a celebration brandied cherry chocolate mousse cake. The idea originally came to me when I began to brainstorm with my dear friend and pastry aficionado Tekoah, and when we came up with a few great Julia inspired ideas I just had to make one…. 

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Fried Egg and Bacon Sandwich

Fried Egg and Bacon Sandwich

I wanted to treat my husband to something extra yummy for brunch, so I picked up his favorite ingredient, bacon. I combined this with my favorite ingredient the egg. By adding a ripe heirloom tomato, homemade basil mayonnaise, and my new favorite cheese the lamb chopper, the sandwich was getting tastier by the second.  I now have a new mouth watering sandwich we don’t have to leave home for; a fried egg and bacon sandwich with homemade basil mayonnaise… the BLTA + EGG…. 

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