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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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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Pork Chops with Spiced Apples

pork chops with spiced apples in skillet | jessicagavin.com #pork

This week marks the official beginning of fall, which means cooler temps, mini pumpkins everywhere and cozy comfort foods. I was really sad to see the dwindling of summer produce at the market yesterday, but they were replaced by marvelous apples! There are so many varieties to choose from like honeycrisp, jazz or the traditional green.

It really depends on how you decide to cook the apples, and since I wanted to use them for a sweet and savory topping for this pork recipe, Fuji apples were my pick. Incredibly sweet yet sturdy when cooked down and sauteed, Fuji apples are great at infusing flavors into it’s flesh and staying nice and tender once cooked. I was excited to transition from using the grill during the summer time to breaking out my trusty cast iron pan to create my hearty and delicious pork chops with spiced apples 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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Aromatic Jasmine Coconut Rice

Aromatic side serving of Jasmine coconut rice | jessicagavin.com

Rice was a staple at the dinner table almost every night in my family growing up. I don’t prepare it as often at home now, but it’s a welcomed comforting treat. One way to make this simple and wholesome grain even more delectable, is to infuse flavors into the liquid during cooking which rice easily and happily takes on.

The ingredients commonly used in Thai cuisine such as sweet and rich coconut milk is perfect for adding into the fluffy white grains of rice. I decided to use long grain rice which is often used in Asian cooking for this aromatic jasmine coconut rice recipe, it will surely become one of your favorite side dishes!… 

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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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Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip

Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip | jessicagavin.com

It’s barbecue season and instead of grilling the usual chicken, ribs or sausages, why not try one of the more under appreciated yet delicious cuts of meats, tri-tip! When Jason and I attended college at CalPoly, San Luis Obispo, we quickly learned that one of the culinary delights on the Central Coast of California was the famous beef tri-tip cut. Downtown San Luis Obispo has numerous restaurants that offer the seasoned hunks of meat on their menus, often thinly sliced and served on a soft french roll and drenched in BBQ sauce.

I particularly enjoyed to get my tri-tip sandwiches from Firestone Grill or during thursday night’s farmer’s market from restaurants grilling on their huge BBQ pits in the heart of downtown SLO. Since graduating and migrating South over 7 years ago, we haven’t had much opportunity to get some authentic Santa Maria style tri-tip in quite a while, with many BBQ restaurants falling short of the ones we had in San Luis Obispo, I decided to make some right at home…. 

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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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Lemonade Sugar Cookies

lemonade sugar cookies on a tray

This is a refreshing lemonade sugar cookies recipe that will satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard. Bright, tangy and sweet, these lemonade sugar cookies are a nice way to brighten anyone’s day. These cookies are perfectly balanced with sweet lemonade icing and a buttery tender sugar cookie…. 

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Conversation Heart Cookies

tray of sweetheart cookies and candys

Are you looking for the perfect rolled sugar cookie recipe to make Valentine’s Day treats? With all of the recipes I have tried, America’s Test Kitchen recipe is by far the best! The dough is very easy to roll and handle. The recipe doesn’t even need extra flour because the dough is not very sticky. With love in the air, you can make these iced conversation heart cookies while adding your own personalized messages to friends, family, and those extra special loved ones in your life…. 

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Chinese Beef with Broccoli

Chinese beef with broccoli stirfry

If there was one tactic for my parents to get me to eat my vegetables, it was to order beef with broccoli at our favorite local Chinese restaurant in Alameda! The dish at Hong Kong City restaurant was so simple yet comforting; two ingredients drenched in a sweet and savory sauce which made each bite of broccoli a little more enjoyable…. 

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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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Stir-fried Bitter Melon Recipe

stir-fried bitter melon recipe with Black Bean Sauce

If there is one taste I have a challenge enjoying, its bitter. Growing up in a Chinese family, I could not avoid the occasional super healthy bitter melon soup my grandparents would make, or a saucy bitter melon dish that I would let pass me on the lazy susan at Chinese restaurants. On the flip side, we all know that typically a vegetable that doesn’t taste great, is usually good for 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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Fried Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta

Fresh summer squash blossoms

The summer season yields not only delicious summer squash, but mother nature produces wonderful bright orange edible blossoms. You can typically find these eye catching blossoms at your local farmers market, I purchased mine at a recent visit to Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market…. 

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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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Homemade Caramel Popcorn

Homemade caramel popcorn with nuts

One of my favorite childhood snacks is caramel popcorn. The golden sweet and delicious clusters give the perfect crunch as you bite into each candy coated popped kernel. I typically prefer the popcorn in the form of cracker jacks. There’s something about eating an entire box by the handful and anticipating the prize included at the bottom…. 

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Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Apricot Ginger Glaze

spicy grilled shrimp served with salsa and polenta

Summer is here and it’s time to dust off the grill! My local market was featuring beautiful and succulent jumbo shrimp which is a perfect quick and easy protein to cook on the grill. Shrimp is already so flavorful with little to no extra seasonings, but I decided to infuse some sweet and savory flavors…. 

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Banana Oat Crunch Muffins

Banana Oat Crunch Muffins

What’s a girl to do when she’s left with super ripe bananas in her kitchen? Make muffins! Packed with banana flavor and wholesome goodness of oats, flax, tangy vanilla bean yogurt, this banana oat crunch muffins recipe is a delicious treat to start your day!… 

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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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Steamed Pork Bun Recipe

Steamed Pork Bun Recipe | jessicagavin.com

Chinese new year is just around the corner! This year on February 10 we celebrate the year of the snake, the sixth animal in the Chinese zodiac. The snake is known for being keen, cunning, intelligent and wise. The Chinese lunar calendar is based on a 12 year cycle  represented by different animals (except the majestic dragon) and their characteristic attributes. To celebrate the new year I thought it would be fun and festive to make a classic steamed pork bun recipe, also called char siu bao…. 

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Cantonese Char Siu Recipe

Cantonese Char Siu Recipe | jessicagavin.com

One of my favorite Chinese dishes growing up is savory and sweet roasted barbeque pork, affectionately called char siu in Cantonese. During our weekend visits to Oakland’s Chinatown, I would always see these beautiful pieces of roasted meat hanging on display in restaurant windows. The flavors are a mixture of intensely concentrated sauces like fermented black bean, soy, hoisin and sesame paste. The aromatic blend of Chinese five spice adds a kick of pungent flavor and sweet aroma, complimenting the umami flavors of the sauces. Sugar is used to balance the saltiness of the marinade, and Chinese sherry called Shaoxing helps the flavors to merry together and infuse into the pork. I want to share with you this traditional Cantonese char siu recipe I learned during culinary school. I hope you enjoy!… 

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