Vegetarian Pumpkin & Three-Bean Chili

This robustly flavored vegetarian chili features three kinds of beans and pumpkin puree for a luxurious texture and fabulous fall flavor. So good you won’t miss the meat! Here’s a hearty fall recipe for you, full of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry! Just because it’s vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s bland, as this […]

This robustly flavored vegetarian chili features three kinds of beans and pumpkin puree for a luxurious texture and fabulous fall flavor. So good you won’t miss the meat!

Here’s a hearty fall recipe for you, full of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry! Just because it’s vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s bland, as this chili proves.

Two white bowls of Vegetarian Pumpkin & Three-Bean Chili topped with cheese, sour cream and micro cilantro

It’s that time of year.

The temperatures are dropping. The markets are heaped with pumpkins. Your pantry is stocked with stacks of canned beans and tomatoes that you probably bought back in April and have since forgotten about (or maybe that’s just me?)

Needless to say, this hearty and healthy vegetarian chili is just what you’ve been craving this fall.

Overhead, two bowls of Vegetarian Pumpkin & Three-Bean Chili with tortilla chips and other toppings

Our first batch was simply a vegetarian three-bean chili, sans pumpkin. And while the flavor was spot on, the texture was a bit watery, which, for something like chili, isn’t ideal. At least in my mind I always imagine a thick and hearty stew, so we made our notes and shelved the recipe for another day.

The next time around, inspired by a windfall of three giant cans of canned pumpkin from Costco (and a little push from our devoted facebook group), we decided to add pumpkin puree to give the soup some added body and richness; it makes for a luxurious texture, with just a hint of sweetness and subtle pumpkin flavor (don’t worry, this is by no means pumpkin spice chili… because that would be taking things entirely too far.)

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Blueberry Sourdough Pancakes

Put that sourdough discard to good use and whip up a batch of these fluffy buttermilk pancakes, studded with fresh blueberries and topped with a drizzle of maple syrup. With a flavor somewhere between a classic buttermilk pancake and a slice of French toast (you can thank the sourdough starter for that), these sourdough pancakes […]

Put that sourdough discard to good use and whip up a batch of these fluffy buttermilk pancakes, studded with fresh blueberries and topped with a drizzle of maple syrup.

With a flavor somewhere between a classic buttermilk pancake and a slice of French toast (you can thank the sourdough starter for that), these sourdough pancakes are light, fluffy, and buttery with just a hint of sweetness.

Drizzling maple syrup on a tall stack of blueberry pancakes

If you haven’t given up on your sourdough starter yet, here’s another recipe to make use of that discard.

And in fact, these pancakes or so good, you may find yourself feeding the yeasty beast for the discard alone, just to make this recipe.

That’s totally allowed. I’m sure your starter, comfy as it is napping in the fridge, will appreciate the exercise, even if it doesn’t result in a loaf of homemade bread.

Overhead, plate of Blueberry Sourdough Pancakes with pat of butter, fresh blueberries and pot of maple syrup

How are these pancakes different from old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes? Upon first taste, you might think they were just regular old blueberry pancakes. They are light and fluffy and buttery and everything that a blueberry pancake should be.

However, as you eat, you might start to notice a hint of… something… a fascinating undertone of flavor that you can’t quite pinpoint. All you know is these are possible the best pancakes you’ve ever tasted.

I like to describe them as a French toast-flavored pancakes. Which, if you think about, makes sense, since ingredient-wise they are almost identical: French toast is made from bread, milk and eggs, and pancakes made from flour, milk and eggs. Yeast, in this case, is the critical difference. So adding some natural yeast in the form of a sourdough starter, it’s no wonder they end up tasting a bit like French toast.

Now, sourdough bread has a distinctive sour flavor (I mean, that’s why it’s called sourdough, right?) but I would in no way describe these pancakes as such. There is a bit of tang, sure, but it’s more from the buttermilk, and the blueberries, than the sourdough. I think the sugar and butter tempers the sour flavor, leaving only the yeasty undertones.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Snack Cake

If you’re looking for an easy treat that’s a legit snack, look no further than this old-fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Snack Cake. Basically an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie in cake form, this quick and easy snack cake makes for a sweet afternoon treat. It’s ridiculously easy, uses only one bowl, and is the perfect balance […]

If you’re looking for an easy treat that’s a legit snack, look no further than this old-fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Snack Cake.

Basically an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie in cake form, this quick and easy snack cake makes for a sweet afternoon treat. It’s ridiculously easy, uses only one bowl, and is the perfect balance of sweetness—no frosting necessary.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Snack Cake Cut into squares, on a wire baking rack

Every so often, when I’m feeling particularly uninspired, I like to pull out my grandma Elaine’s old recipe box and flip through the faded index cards and magazine clippings inside. Despite the fact I’ve had the box for 5 years now, if I inhale deeply, it still carries the scent I will forever associate with her kitchen.

Her old fashioned coffee cake is a reader favorite, and her New York-style cheesecake holds a special place in my heart.

This ridiculously easy, and ridiculously good, oatmeal chocolate chip snack cake is another gem from her box, one that is sure to be an instant hit. Grandma never fails me, and this cake is no exception.

Now, she didn’t call it a snack cake, that’s my own moniker, given because this cake is so simple and perfect for snacking. No excuse needed to grab a square at three in the afternoon.

In fact, I’d argue the afternoon is the ideal time to consume a cake like this, when lunch is but a distant memory and you need some serious sustenance to get you through to dinner. The oats in the cake give a bit more heft and substance than a typical springy sponge, making it both satisfying and filling.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Snack Cake on a white plate with marble background

The texture of this cake is hard to describe. It’s not springy nor fluffy nor light (clearly I need to expand my cake vocabulary). In fact, it’s actually quite dense, each square has a surprising heft to it, with a coarse crumb and an undeniable moistness that I attribute to the oats.

Rather, it falls somewhere between a fluffy white cake and a fruitcake, or maybe a hearty muffin, with a bit of, shall we say chewiness to it… not unlike mochi cake made from glutenous rice.

You might be thinking… dense? Coarse? Chewy? This cake sounds awful. And maybe my cake-descriptors are lacking here, because it’s decidedly not awful but actually quite lovely.

You’ll just have to trust me on this one. And luckily, if it turns out you don’t like it, you’ve haven’t wasted hours upon hours of time baking and trimming and frosting and fussing. It really doesn’t get any easier than this frosting-less one bowl wonder of a cake (if that’s not reason enough to try it I don’t know what is).

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Orecchiette with Bacon and Wilted Frisée

This easy weeknight pasta recipe will satisfy all your senses: with chunky bits of bacon and delicate wilted frisée and a mountain of freshly shredded Pecorino cheese. Quick and easy is the name of the game with this orecchiette pasta dish. It’s satisfying and flavorful, and even manages to get some greens in there in […]

This easy weeknight pasta recipe will satisfy all your senses: with chunky bits of bacon and delicate wilted frisée and a mountain of freshly shredded Pecorino cheese.

Quick and easy is the name of the game with this orecchiette pasta dish. It’s satisfying and flavorful, and even manages to get some greens in there in a surprisingly delicious way.

Bowl of orecchiette on a vintage wood board with a silver fork

Much like escarole, frisée is a unique, sturdy green that’s a bit too bitter to really enjoy as part of a salad. For me at least!

And other than soup, pastas are our favorite way to handle these slightly-bitter greens; in this case, slightly wilted and coated in bacon-y goodness which really does wonders to allay the bitterness.

Overhead, bowl of pasta with bacon and wilted frisee on a wooden board with pepper flakes and pecorino cheese

We first made this pasta months ago; I even shot it and wrote up a draft, but never published it because something just wasn’t quite right. Turns out, it was the pasta shape that was the problem. We originally used bucatini, which is one of our all-time favorite pasta shapes, but when used in this recipe it makes it really hard to get a nice ‘bite’ that includes all the goods in a single forkful. All the bits and toppings tend to settle in the bottom of your bowl.

That’s where orecchiette is so perfect: the little pasta ‘ears’ basically serve as scoops for the good stuff.

Anyone else reminded of those little rubber poppers you’d get from the quarter machines? You know, the ones you’d flip inside out, set on the table then hold your breath until they went flying? Just me?

Also: I will never spell orecchiette right on the first try. Heck, I can barely spell it right on the second, I usually end up having to google it and copy the spelling from there. It’s even worse than mozzarella or prosciutto!

Orecchiette: impossible to spell, effortless to eat.

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Apple Butter Grilled Cheese

Fall for this autumn-inspired grilled cheese: with a layer of apple butter, thinly sliced fresh apples, sautéed shallots and thyme, and perfectly gooey, melty cheese that blurs the line between sweet and savory. I call this French-toast style grilled cheese, battered and butter-toasted until it’s perfectly golden brown, and let me tell you, it is […]

Fall for this autumn-inspired grilled cheese: with a layer of apple butter, thinly sliced fresh apples, sautéed shallots and thyme, and perfectly gooey, melty cheese that blurs the line between sweet and savory.

I call this French-toast style grilled cheese, battered and butter-toasted until it’s perfectly golden brown, and let me tell you, it is life changing, falling somewhere in between a traditional grilled cheese and a monte cristo.

The perfect cheese pull!

No, your tastebuds aren’t tricking you, this next-level grilled cheese somehow manages to be both sweet and savory.

In one bite you’ll taste the alpine-style cheese, nutty and mild and ultra melty. The next brings a hint of autumn spice and fruity sweetness from the apple butter, and a fresh crunch from the slices of thinly sliced apple. But then! There’s the shallot, sautéed with a bit of butter and thyme, for a subtle savory push. And finally, the eggy bread, cooked to golden brown perfection that’ll have your brain thinking you’re eating a slice of perfect French toast.

It’s a culinary mind melting experience, and I am here for it.

Apple butter grilled cheese cut in half, with apples, apple butter, and shallot.

Cooking a grilled cheese French-toast style involves basically brushing the bread with an egg/milk mixture instead of butter. Doing so walks the line between sweet and savory, taking your tastebuds on a wild adventure. The egg wash also produces a gorgeously golden brown finish (and let’s face it, we all eat with our eyes first anyway).

If you’ve ever had a Monte Cristo sandwich, it’s a similar idea (although sometimes Monte Cristos are deep fried and topped with powdered sugar, and, well, let’s just be reasonable here). You could even go full MC with this recipe and add a layer of thinly sliced ham or prosciutto in the mix.

Not only does the egg wash produce the most gorgeous golden brown crust, but it also gives the sandwiches a hint of egginess that just screams EAT ME FOR BRUNCH. Thought I’d be equally satisfied eating it for lunch. Or dinner, too, really (you know I’m always down for some B4D).

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

These deeply rich and gooey chocolate cookies are studded with peanut butter and dark chocolate chips, with a crispy coating that makes for a perfect crunchy finish. When it comes to cookies, the closer the cookie comes to cookie dough, the better I say. And these jumbo sized cookies are just that, with gooey middles […]

These deeply rich and gooey chocolate cookies are studded with peanut butter and dark chocolate chips, with a crispy coating that makes for a perfect crunchy finish.

When it comes to cookies, the closer the cookie comes to cookie dough, the better I say. And these jumbo sized cookies are just that, with gooey middles and melty pockets of chocolate and peanut butter, all wrapped in a delightful coating of puffed quinoa that makes for a unique textural experience you’ll simply adore.

Freshly baked Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies on a cooling rack

When a chocolate craving hits… only something ultra rich will truly satiate me. I often turn to my favorite brownies, but now that I’ve had these cookies, well, let’s just say my allegiance may be changing.

I mean, just looking at these cookies has me drooling. They’re sweet and salty. Gooey and crunchy. Dreamy dark chocolate and creamy peanut butter all rolled into one giant cookie.

Let me just warn you now, these cookies are rich. Like Warren Buffet rich. So you best have a tall glass of milk handy… and maybe a friend to share the goods (half of one of these monsters is more than satisfying).

Stack of cookies, one broken in half to show the gooey center and melty peanut butter chips

I’ve seen similar thick and gooey cookies from the Levain bakery in New York City, and there are plenty of copycat recipes out there. This is not one of them, namely because I’ve never tried the real thing so who am I to try to replicate it?

That said, the cookies do look rather similar, with thick, rich chocolate middles and ample peanut butter chips that come out of the oven all lovely and molten (and indeed, I shouldn’t have to tell you that these cookies are at their best when they are warm).

I don’t think Levain has the crispy bits though, which is a darn shame because it makes these cookies a true textural delight – both to behold and then to devour.

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Sweet & Spicy Pepper Jelly

Pepper jelly is a delicious enigma: the perfect balance of sweetness and spice. It is nothing short of perfection on a cracker with cream cheese. This recipe is extremely versatile, use whatever color peppers you have on hand, and adjust the heat level to your liking, from just a hint of heat to inferno-in-your-mouth. This […]

Pepper jelly is a delicious enigma: the perfect balance of sweetness and spice. It is nothing short of perfection on a cracker with cream cheese.

This recipe is extremely versatile, use whatever color peppers you have on hand, and adjust the heat level to your liking, from just a hint of heat to inferno-in-your-mouth.

Jars of red and orange pepper jelly with printable labels

This sweet and spicy pepper jelly is one of my favorite recipes from my canning ebook series, That’s My Jam. It’s been a few years since I’ve made it, but recently a glut of peppers from our CSA left me no other choice than to make a batch or two. The result was so pretty I decided to share it here, complete with brand new labels (the ones in the ebook are specifically for red pepper jelly, so a new, more color-versatile label seemed to be in order).

I’m actually not particularly fond of peppers, if you can believe it. Pepper jelly is the exception, however, and I will devour an entire jar myself with gusto.

Bright sunlight making the red and orange pepper jelly sparkle

I’ve actually posted a pepper jelly recipe before, a traditional recipe using liquid pectin, but I reworked the recipe using Pomona’s pectin for the ebook a few years back. The updated recipe also incorporates the chopped peppers rather than straining them out, which results in a slightly chunkier but noticeably more flavorful jam (not to mention a higher yield).

Another benefit to using a low sugar pectin? It’s much quicker. In fact, the third batch of this jelly I made (I had high hopes for the purple version using some pretty purple sweet peppers, alas, ’twas not meant to be…) only took 30 minutes start to finish, minus the water bath (which I opted to skip for the third batch since it was smaller and ugly and not worth preserving). Even including the 10 minute boiling water bath, you can easily be done in 45 minutes… an hour total if we’re including dishes. Still, for jam, that’s definitely on the quick side, and one of the reasons I love canning with Pomona’s pectin.

(Be sure to click through and scroll to the bottom of this post for the printable labels… including a NEW editable template option for your canning convenience!)

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Egg Salad Sandwiches with Roasted Beet

Say hello to your new favorite sandwich: creamy egg salad seasoned with paprika, thin slices of roasted beet, and a generous handful of spicy microgreens to perfectly offset the richness of the egg. Taylor’s classic egg salad is simple and satisfying, with only 4 ingredients (eggs included), plus salt and pepper. It’s not overly mayo-heavy […]

Say hello to your new favorite sandwich: creamy egg salad seasoned with paprika, thin slices of roasted beet, and a generous handful of spicy microgreens to perfectly offset the richness of the egg.

Taylor’s classic egg salad is simple and satisfying, with only 4 ingredients (eggs included), plus salt and pepper. It’s not overly mayo-heavy or mustard-forward, with a very simple flavor profile that let you actually taste the egg (not overwhelmed by dill or relish or other add-ins). A pinch of sweet paprika gives the egg salad a well-rounded flavor and ever so slightly pink hue (something that pairs perfectly with the rich ruby red of the beets).

Egg salad sandwich cut in half, showing the layers of beet and egg

Lunch is often a struggle around these parts.

We try to plan our dinners to include leftovers (let’s just say we’re masters at cooking for 4 for this reason), but sometimes we find ourselves floundering in the kitchen at noon, hangry and without a solid plan for lunch.

It’s days like these that egg salad sandwiches have become our go-to. Don’t ask me where the idea for the beet came from, I just know I came downstairs one day to find Taylor had thrown this together and I fell in love all over again. Something about the sweet, earthiness of the beet goes so well with the creamy egg salad.

Assuming we have some roasted beets in the fridge (I fully admit we’ve been buying packaged pre-roasted beets and I’m not ashamed about it), these sandwiches come together in about 20 minutes, including the time it takes to boil, cool, and peel the eggs. Hard-boil a few eggs ahead of time and it’d be even quicker.

Egg salad sandwich with roasted beets and microgreens

While this small-batch egg salad recipe could be used in a variety of ways, our favorite assemblage includes thin slices of roasted red beet, a thick layer of creamy egg salad, and a pile of spicy microgreens (arugula or watercress would also be great here too!)

The creaminess of the egg, the earthiness of the beet, and the spiciness of the greens all come together on slices of thick brioche sandwich bread to make what I consider the perfect sandwich.

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Brunching and Munching in Melbourne, Australia

What’s not to love about Melbourne, Australia? From the bustling CBD to the free public transportation to the amazing brunch scene, Melbourne is most definitely one of our favorite cities we’ve visited. Spending 6 days in one place sounds like a lot, but we had absolutely no problem filling our time (and our stomachs) in […]

What’s not to love about Melbourne, Australia? From the bustling CBD to the free public transportation to the amazing brunch scene, Melbourne is most definitely one of our favorite cities we’ve visited.

Spending 6 days in one place sounds like a lot, but we had absolutely no problem filling our time (and our stomachs) in Melbourne. Be sure to check out the end of this post for a full list of our recommendations!

A rainy street in Melbourne, Australia with tram

Since it’s not looking like we’re going to be going anywhere in the near future, I may as well spend my time writing about the last trip we were lucky enough to go on last September to Australia.

Living vicariously through my past self, if you will.

So much has happened since then, including the massive fires that swept through the entire country (that was in January. THIS YEAR January, even though it seems like it was 3 years ago at this point. Craziness).

Anyway, we stumbled across a fabulous airfare deal to Australia, $600 from Nashville. Since the typical fare is well over twice that, we really didn’t hesitate and booked a trip for two weeks in September, flying into Melbourne and out of Sydney. We figured since you’re on the plane for so dang long, and lose a few days just adjusting to jet lag, anything shorter would really be a waste.

Let me just say, typically after 14 days of travel we’ve had our fun and are ready to come home. Typically around 12 days is the perfect length trip for us.

And yet…

As the end of our trip loomed ever closer, we found ourselves thinking we could have easily stayed for another two weeks. Or longer even.

That goes to show just how much we loved Melbourne and Sydney, and Australia in general. We simply didn’t want to leave.

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Black Bean Soup

Well soup de doo, would you look at that luscious black bean soup! Not to mention it’s naturally vegetarian and gluten free (vegan too if you skip the dairy-based toppings!) Starting with dried black beans produces a robust bean stock that is then pureed with the cooked beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, and other aromatics for a […]

Well soup de doo, would you look at that luscious black bean soup! Not to mention it’s naturally vegetarian and gluten free (vegan too if you skip the dairy-based toppings!)

Starting with dried black beans produces a robust bean stock that is then pureed with the cooked beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, and other aromatics for a thick and creamy soup without the need for additional stock.

Black bean soup in a bowl with bowls of toppings and spoons on the side.

I know, I know, it’s still like 800 degrees outside, but that doesn’t mean fall isn’t on my mind (and fall, of course, means soup). Clearly I don’t have an issue with enjoying soup for dinner during the summer months, and this recipe is no exception.

Made using dried black beans, this soup is thick and creamy and super satisfying. All that protein inherent in black beans makes for a hearty and filling soup that’s a satisfying meal in its own right.

Black Bean Soup in a ceramic bowl topped with cilantro microgreens

When topped with melty cheese and sour cream, it could also be called bean dip soup which really describes it perfectly. I love to eat it alongside a bowl of salty corn tortilla chips, adding an element of crunch to the otherwise smooth consistency.

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