These cookies are by far the best fall recipe out there. I have to admit that initially I was skeptical about these having had never imagined that pumpkin and chocolate would go well together, but they do! The pumpkin and spices are not overwhelming, and the milk chocolate chips go great in this recipe. Just a warning they are a little more cake-like than cookie which may turn some people off but, I think that it works in its favor.  They are spongy and stay soft for a week so there is no pressure to eat them fast. The recipe also makes a ton, I'm talking around 60 small and 45 large cookies, so they're great for sharing with lots of people. Everyone, and I mean everyone that I have shared them with has loved them. 

 
 
During autumn and winter, french cuisine is in it prime. It's probably due to the rich, comforting nature of French food, made with lots of cheese, lots of meat, and lots of wine. Mmmmm. My particularly favorite dish is french onion soup, made deeply flavorful by slow-caramelized onions and hints of fresh thyme. The best (and in my mind, only) way to serve it is with a fresh baguette and melted gruyere. For many Americans, soup alone does not a meal make, so I recommend serving it with a light vinaigrette salad or small appetizer. 


 
 
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Meatloaf is the ultimate comfort food. Unlike most people who grew up eating the traditional oven baked and ketchup-covered meatloaves, in my house meatloaf was smoked and you would receive an exasperated sigh if you so much as put meatloaf and ketchup on the same plate (that didn't and doesn't stop me from doing it anyway). So here it is, a meatloaf that is smoked to perfection and chocked full of onions, mushrooms, and italian sausage. Serve with mashed potatoes and you my friend have a perfect cold weather dinner. 
 If you do find yourself with leftovers, my recommendation is grilled meatloaf sandwiches. Think of a patty melt but better. This recipe is easy: swiss cheese, rye bread and a thin slice of warmed meatloaf. Spread butter on the outside of the sandwich and grill until cheese has melted and rye is toasty. 


 
 
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At my house, when it comes to Mexican food, there is one condiment that trumps them all: a good green salsa. We usually buy ours from a little Mexican market here in Pasadena but, with the amount that we go through, making our own is a better option economically. While I was at least skeptical of making my own (the salsa at this place is really good) it came out pretty darn good. You can really adjust the recipe around depending on what you want. If you like it spicy, you can a few extra jalapenos and leave in the seeds. It also depends upon the chiles themselves as the spiciness varies from pepper to pepper. I recommend serving it with a crunchy and salty tortilla chips or on top of grilled shrimp tacos. 



 
 
One of my favorite fall/winter meals is a bowl of steaming chili and a slice of warm cornbread. While it may be my favorite meal, the recipe that I usually make bores my father. So, this week I decided to try out a new one that used one of his favorite ingredients: chipotle. I have to say that my old recipe was blown out of the water. The smokiness of the chipotle combined with the tang of a little lime juice and the fresh flavor of the cilantro work together to create a truly great dish. I recommend topping it with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro, shredded cheese, and diced red onion. Mix everything together and the umami of flavors is sure to wow.  

 
 
Sorry for the lapse in posts! I really have no excuse except that August was full of trips, saying goodbye to friends before they left for school, and getting ready for classes. Now that school has started, I've been busy with classes and work. 
I made this salad during the summer with my friend Marisol. While I was initially skeptical of the combination of peaches and quinoa, the sweet and savory truly make the salad quite delicious. 

 
 
Sometimes there is nothing better than a good chicken salad. With so many different variations out there, it is hard to wrong. After trying out a couple of different recipes, I took my favorite parts from each and made one of my own. This is an easy salad to make on a ISunday and keep it in the fridge for a healthy lunch option during the week. 
For the chicken, you can use canned, grilled, or boiled - it really just depends on your preference. I prefer to use leftover chicken that has been grilled with a little lemon and tarragon. As for the vegetables, I use Trader Joe's Healthy 8 chopped veggie mix as it's easier and cheaper than buying each vegetable individually. I used to loath the idea of mixing fruit with savory but, in this case, the cranberries add another layer to the flavor of the salad. Hope you enjoy!

 
 
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There's nothing more American than pie, right? Especially when it's red, white, and blue. In honor of our nations birthday I decided to make a rustic berry pie, rustic in that there is no pie pan involved. For the crust the only tools you need is a food processor. I highly recommend throwing in finely chopped candied ginger into the dough as it plays nicely off of the lemon and berries.  For the filling I used a mixture of strawberries and blueberries but if you so desire, four cups of blueberries or raspberries* are great substitutes. Not only is this pie easy, but also absolutely delicious! 



 
 
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With summer officially here, meals that require little time standing in front of a hot stove and more time outside enjoying the weather are a must. This recipe for Mediterranean couscous salad is one such recipe. It can be prepared ahead of time and left to chill, which makes it a great dish for a low maintenance meal. Couscous is really a great base for many different additions due to its versatility; you can serve it cold, room temperature, or hot. You can make an Italian variation by serving it with olive oil, parmesan, and chopped flat-leaf parsley or like I did, a Mediterranean blend that will be sure to please. 


 
 
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Despite climbing temperatures and a mounting pile of work, this afternoon, like most afternoons, I decided that the answer to my problems was baking. For the past few days I have been eyeing different brownie recipes but the thought of all of that butter and sugar, no matter how delicious it would be, was keeping me at bay. After a disastrous experience yesterday in which I decided to improve and 'loosely interpret' a chocolate cookie recipe - i.e. me not having enough butter for the recipe and reading somewhere that Greek yogurt could be used as its substitute - I decided that I should just bite the bullet and whip up a pan full of delicious chocolate treats. 
While looking up recipes online I came across one on The Well Traveled Wife for coconut brownies. Instead of using butter, coconut oil acts as a wonderful substitute. Unlike many brownie recipes that I have made before which require the browning of butter in a saucepan and a million different steps and ingredients, this one is a one bowl kind of treat. 
I played around with the recipe a little bit and cut the sugar down from 2 cups to 1 1/2. I also substituted regular white flour for whole wheat. The addition of shredded coconut is a nice change and adds a little extra crunch to the bars. I would also highly recommend letting them cool for about fifteen minutes or longer in order to let them sit and come together. 
While not as fudgy and decadent as other brownies, these were pretty good. So good in fact, that my father who usually scoffs at the idea of cutting back on butter, finished his piece in three minutes flat. No joke. Plus the fact that they are healthy- as healthy as a brownie can be - makes them all that much sweeter.