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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