Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

Vanilla shortbread cookies with a hot cup of tea | jessicagavin.com

Once the tryptophan induced coma from turkey day subsides, December seems to be a month long celebration to honor the endless possibilities of the cookie. Pinwheels, snickerdoodles, peanut butter kisses, gingerbread… Oh my! I’m not complaining, quite the opposite, I’m embracing and indulging. Even though there are so many great cookie options out there, I’m a big fan of simplicity.

One of my favorite cookies to make during the holidays are vanilla shortbread cookies. Some years ago, after an incredible experience dining at the French Laundry, they sent us home with a small silver box filled with perfect rectangular shaped shortbread cookies dusted with just a hint of sugar. They crumble delicately while melting in your mouth with each bite, and they have just the right hint of sweetness. I was searching through my Ad Hoc at Home cookbook and found the recipe for those very same shortbread cookies, whoot! You bet I immediately scavenged through my fridge and pantry to see if I could quickly make a batch. With only 4 ingredients, these are the easiest and tastiest vanilla shortbread cookies you will ever find!… 

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Mini Salted Caramel Apple Pie Jars

Mini Salted Caramel Apple Pie Jars | jessicagavin.com

Good things come in small packages right? Especially the yummy ones! I’m a sucker for all things mini, especially if it’s individual servings of dessert so I don’t have to share, muahaha. Apple pie is such a classic treat that you can really enjoy it all year round. It’s just that in the fall you have more choices on the varieties. I like the idea of making little servings of apple pie so that it’s faster to bake and enjoy! Sweet crisp apples, luscious salted caramel sauce and flaky tender pie crust makes for the ultimate dessert, mini salted caramel apple pie jars. Ooohh you are going to be HAPPY to have one of these warm out of the oven!… 

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Classic Pumpkin Pie Recipe

The Best Classic Pumpkin Pie Recipe | jessicagavin.com #food #pumpkinpie

To kick off the month of November right and get us excited for thanksgiving, nothing screams holidays like a freshly baked pie. My house has been completely scented with the smell of sweet spices, bubbling sugars and baked butter crusts, and I’m not complaining (well maybe just my waistline). I really wanted to find a rock star classic pumpkin pie recipe so that I could always have an ace in my pocket for holiday gatherings. Pumpkin pies are one of the staple items people have come to expect on the dessert table. Without it you feel like something’s just not right. It’s a tall order because if you are making the pie, there are expectations, so you gotta nail the recipe. Wanna learn how?… 

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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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Pumpkin Cream Cookie Sandwiches

Stack of Pumpkin Cream Cookie Sandwiches | jessicagavin.com #cookies #recipe

Dunk…wait for it…nom nom nom! Oh boy do I love Oreo cookies with an ice cold glass of milk so I can dip each bite, so yummy! I don’t know how it started but I remember playing a game of who would get the cream filled center with my friends, anxiously holding one side of the cookie, pulling the sandwich apart like it was some magical wish bone. The crumbly chocolate wafer cookies are filled with just the right amount of vanilla cream and is one of my favorite childhood favorite treats, darn you Nabisco! Now these cookies are my adult guilty pleasure, and no better time to indulge than during the holiday season…. 

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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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Classic Macaroni and Cheese

cooking macaroni pasta | jessicagavin.com #food

Did I ever tell you that I studied cheese for 2 years during my master’s degree? Yep! I researched the flavors of different cheese and how to make them healthier for you. I got a degree in Dairy Science, and I loved it! So when I think about classic macaroni and cheese recipes, I get super excited because my fondness for this nostalgic comfort food goes beyond just pure enjoyment.

My love for macaroni and cheese began like most American kids born in the 80’s, with the classic blue box of Kraft mac n’ cheese that contained 2 essential ingredients: elbow noodles and packet of cheese powder that never completely dissolved. This was probably my first exposure to food science and I didn’t even know it! I used to add a slices of Kraft American cheese singles, you know, the ones you unwrap because I wanted my macaroni even more cheesy, and we didn’t buy the Velveta kind at the time.

I still to this day enjoy that blue box of mac n’ cheese, and always will. Although I wanted to try my own homemade version so I could switch up the cheese varieties because there are so many delicious types of cheeses and toppings out there. For this recipe though, I just want to create a classic macaroni and cheese recipe, because once you nail the béchamel cream sauce base, the possibilities really are endless!… 

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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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