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    "Candy Corn"

    White chocolate. Salty Peanuts. Chewy Candy. Crunchy Popcorn. What more could you ask for?

    2 Bags Natural Microwave Popcorn (not buttered)
    1 bag white chocolate chips (find my fave at Trader Joe’s)
    1 c candy corn
    1 c roasted, salted peanuts
    Halloween Sprinkles (optional)

    Pop popcorn. Once cooled, place in large bowl. Melt chips in glass bowl, in microwave, in 30-second intervals, stirring in between ‘til melted. Pour over popcorn and stir gently ‘til combined. Add candy corn and peanuts, stir gently to mix. Pour mixture onto wax paper; add sprinkles on top (as desired). Let set. Stir to loosen. Serve, package as gifts, or store in zip-top bags.

     



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    Make these show-stopping pumpkins-in minutes flat-with nothing more than paper doilies, paint and glue. Yep.

    Seriously simple. Seriously stunning.

    Get:
    Doilies large enough to fit circumference of pumpkins
    Re-positionable adhesive
    Assorted pumpkins
    Favorite colors of acrylic paint (for doily design)
    Basic colors of acrylic paint (for covering surface pumpkin)
    Acrylic paint brush
    Stencil brush

    Make:
    Unless leaving pumpkin in natural state, paint entire surface with 1-2 coats of acrylic paint. Dry completely. Cut out center of doily. Spray back of doily with repositionable adhesive and dry. Apply doily ring to top or bottom of pumpkin, press to secure. If necessary, cut slits in doily to lie flat against pumpkin. Apply small amount of paint using stencil brush and dabbing motion. Dry slightly; carefully remove doily.

    Shopping list:
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    I’m fairly certain that autumn desserts don’t get any cuter than these Peanut Butter Cookie & Chocolate Acorns

    Get:
    Assorted Hershey Kisses, unwrapped
    Mini Nutter Butter Cookies
    Dark or milk chocolate chips
    Store-bought chocolate frosting (tube or tub)

    Create:
    Chill all ingredients before assembly. Spread or squeeze a little frosting onto 1-side of each cookie. Press Hershey Kiss lightly into it ‘til secure. Lightly spread or squeeze frosting onto base of 1-chocolate chip and press onto other side of Nutter Butter. Repeat.

    Adorable. Sweet. Simple. Yum.



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    Wicked Witch Cupcakes

    24 cupcakes, baked and cooled
    Your favorite buttercream (I tinted mine green using Wilton’s leaf green gel food coloring)
    48 black liquorice sticks
    2 squares white chocolate, melted
    1 square (or a couple disks) milk chocolate, melted
    48 red jelly beans (the larger kind)
    48 miniature red M&M’s

    Frost your cupcakes with the tinted green buttercream. For these, I used Wilton tip #1M, a large open star tip and piled it on high (I doubled my usual buttercream recipe, which I’ll include below). Set your cupcakes aside.

    Let’s make your heels. Take a teensy bit of melted milk chocolate on the tip of a toothpick and dab it onto the printed side of the mini M&M. Gently press the mini M&M onto the bottom of a jelly bean toward the end (like a heel). Hold it for a minute and repeat. Freeze those heels for a couple minutes to set.

    Next, using the remaining milk chocolate, attach the heels to the black liquorice pieces. Hold for a sec, then pop in the freezer to set totally.

    Melt your white chocolate squares and pour them into a resealable sandwich baggy. Snip off a tip of the corner and lightly drizzle lines over the black liquorice for the striped tights. Once drizzled, again, pop in the freezer to set for a couple minutes.

    Once your legs are complete, stick two of ‘em on top of each frosted cupcake. Serve immediately.

    Quick Buttercream (this recipe is pre-doubled)

    2 sticks butter, room temp
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    Almost an entire 32 oz bag powdered sugar
    1/4 cup milk

    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter + vanilla until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until light and fluffy. You’ll need to add in a little stream of milk every now and then to fluff up the frosting.



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    Making this insanely delicious cream cheese now… So I can devour it on a warm, toasty bagel in the morning. Mmmm.

    Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Spread
    1 package {8-ounces} cream cheese, softened
    1/3 - 1/2 c pure pumpkin puree
    2 tbsp light brown sugar
    1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
    1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    Pinch salt

    In bowl of mixer, beat softened cream cheese and sugar ‘til creamy. Add pumpkin, spices and vanilla, beat til smooth. Taste… and if you want sweeter, use maple syrup. If not, leave as is. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.



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    Minutes-to-Prep. Unbelievably Easy. Ooey-Gooey-Pumpkin-Cinnamon-Delicious.

    Need I say more?

    Pumpkin Butter Sticky Buns
    12 tbsp. (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
    1/3 c light brown sugar, lightly packed
    ½ c pecans, chopped in very large pieces
    1 package (2-sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
    For filling:
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    2/3 c light brown sugar, lightly packed
    3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 c pumpkin butter (click for my all-time fave: http://amzn.to/1abNnDX)

    Preheat oven 400F. Put standard, 12-cup muffin tin on sheet-pan lined with parchment. With mixer blend 12 tbsp. butter and 1/3 c brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tbsp. of mixture in each muffin cup. Top mixture evenly with pecans. Lightly flour cutting board or counter-top. Unfold 1 sheet puff pastry with folds lying horizontally. Brush with melted butter; leave 1” border. Spread ¼ c pumpkin butter over sheet to 1” border. Sprinkle with 1/3 c brown sugar and 1½ tsp cinnamon. Start with end nearest you; roll pastry snugly, into jellyroll; finish seam side down. Trim ends ½”, discard. Slice in 6 equal 1½” pieces. Place each spiral side up, in muffin cup. Repeat steps with 2nd sheet of pastry. Bake 30 min or til deep-golden on top and firm to touch. Cool 5 min, invert onto parchment paper, ease pecans out onto buns with spoon.

     



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    I love, worship, adore Whoopie Pies. The cakelike, cookie sandwich filled with a light, airy marshmallow and cream cheese filling. What could be better? This pumpkin version is perfect for fall and makes a delicious hostess gift or dessert for adults and children alike.

    Better yet, my recipe uses cake mix making it as easy as… pie.

     

    Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies

    1 c canned pumpkin

    1/3 c unsalted butter, softened

    1 package 2-layer-size spice cake mix

    2 large eggs

    1/2 c whole milk

    1 recipe Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

     

    Preheat oven 375 F. Line cookie sheet with parchment. In mixer, beat pumpkin and butter on medium til smooth. Add cake mix, eggs, milk; beat on low til combined, and then on medium for 1 minute (do not over mix).

     

     Drop heaping tablespoons of batter 3” apart on cookie sheet; keep remaining batter chilled. Bake 15 min. or til set and lightly browned around edges. Carefully remove from parchment; cool on wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter, lining cooled cookie sheets each time with new parchment.

     

    Cool cookies completely. Prepare frosting. Spread 2.5 tbsp filling on flat side of 1 cookie; top with second cookie. Repeat.

     

    Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

     

    1 (8oz) block cream cheese, softened

    2 Tbsp. butter, softened

    1.5 tsp. cinnamon

    1 tsp. vanilla

    4 c powdered sugar

     

     Combine cream cheese and butter in a medium mixing bowl, until smooth. Add cinnamon and vanilla mix well. Add powdered sugar 1 c at a time, mix with each addition til smooth.



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    Making the legendary Pumpkin Spice Latte at home may take a little bit of work, but the results make it worth the effort. And for a fraction of the cost, it can become a regular habit.

    Since I don’t have an espresso maker at home, I use Starbucks instant espresso, Via, and the results are just as delicious… If not better.

    Ingredients
    2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
    1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more to garnish
    Freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons sugar
    2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
    2 cups whole milk
    1 to 2 shots espresso, about 1/4 cup
    1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped until firm peaks form

    Equipment
    Mixer, whisk, or hand blender, to whip cream
    Saucepan
    Wooden spoon
    Whisk
    Blender
    Espresso maker or coffee maker

    1. Heat the pumpkin and spices: In a small saucepan over medium heat cook the pumpkin with the pumpkin pie spice and a generous helping of black pepper for 2 minutes or until it’s hot and smells cooked. Stir constantly.
    2. Stir in the sugar: Add the sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a bubbly thick syrup.
    3. Warm the milk: Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract. Warm gently over medium heat, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t boil over.
    4. Blend the milk: Carefully process the milk mixture with a hand blender or in a traditional blender (hold the lid down tightly with a thick wad of towels!) until frothy and blended.
    5. Mix the drinks: Make the espresso or coffee and divide between two mugs and add the frothed milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg if desired.

     

     



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    I just made this delicious, oh-so-fancy breakfast in minutes.

    Mmm…

    Get:
    Crusty dinner rolls, as many as you want
    Large eggs – one for each roll
    Chopped fresh basil, parsley, chives, tarragon – any herbs you like
    Heavy Cream
    Sea salt and pepper
    Grated Parmesan, Gruyere, or Gouda

    Make:
    Preheat oven 350F. Slice off top of each roll, remove most of the bread inside, leaving crusty shell and a layer of bread. Place on baking sheet and crack egg into each roll. Top with a sprinkling of herbs, salt, pepper and tsp of cream. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 20 min, til eggs are set and bread is toasty.



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    Apple pie in an apple. Yep.

    1 package store-bought refrigerated piecrust

    6 granny smith apples

    ¼ c sugar

    1 tbsp brown sugar

    ¼ tsp cinnamon

    ¼ tsp vanilla extract

    ¼ stick salted butter cut into small pieces

    Heat oven 375F. Cut off top of 4 apples and discard. Carefully scoop out inside of cut apples with spoon—leaving about 1/8-¼” of flesh.

     

    Remove skin from 2 additional apples and slice thin. Mix sliced apples with sugars, vanilla and cinnamon in bowl. Make adjustments to cinnamon and sugar as desired. Scoop sliced apples into hollow apples – dot tops with pieces of cubed butter.

     

    Unroll piecrust and slice into ¼” strips. Cover top of filled apples in lattice pattern with piecrust strips. Place in an 8×8 pan. Add just enough water to the cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are soft.



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    If you thought kale chips were delicious wait until you try these.

    Brussels sprouts chips take a bit more work to prep than kale chips, but the result is crunchy and delicious and rivals the potato chip any day of the week… They’re so good, even my kids are addicted.

    Brussels Sprouts Chips.
    1 pound brussels sprouts
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon sea salt

    Preheat oven 350°F. Remove leaves of brussels sprouts by cutting stem and setting them free. Scatter leaves evenly on baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with the sea salt. Bake, turning every 5 to 7 minutes, until browned, crunchy, almost burnt, but not burnt.



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    The cutest little Halloween pumpkin ever. And it’s so simple to make!

     

    Dip store-bought cake donuts in an orange glaze—then top with sprinkles, leaves cut from fruit-rolls, and a stripey straw!

     

    How easy is that?

     

    For the glaze:

    1/4 c whole milk

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    2 c confectioners’ sugar

    Orange food coloring (click here for my fave all-natural food dye: http://amzn.to/1r5jbHA)

     

     

    Combine milk and vanilla in medium saucepan, heat on low til warm. Sift confectioners’ sugar into milk. Whisk slowly, til well combined. Remove from heat and set over bowl of warm water. Mix in a few drops of food coloring, stirring in between until desired color is reached. Dip 1-side of doughnuts in glaze, 1 at a time, and set on a draining rack placed in a half sheet pan for 5 minutes before decorating and serving.

     

     

    Voila!



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    It’s hot in LA. As in unbearably hot.

    It may be fall, but all I’m thinking about is a chilled glass of Rose and a plate filled with cheese, charcuterie, fruit and bread.

    In honor of this humble pink wine, here are my top picks for the most refreshing, affordable and yummy Roses out there:

     

    1. Commanderie de la Bargemone Provence – The lightest in color and crispest in flavor.
    2. Domaines Ott – The gold standard for perfect, blushy color and delicious, drinkability. If you’ve never had it, come up with a reason to splurge!
    3. Whispering Angel – Another very reliable, readily available option that doesn’t require quite such a generous wine budget. Sometimes it’s even on sale at Whole Foods.
    4. Domaine St. Aix – A perennial favorite for it’s classic, bright flavor and color.
    5. Domaine de Vaccelli Ajaccio Unu – A stunning rosé from Corsica. Much harder to find, but if you do get a chance to try the wines of this island region, we highly recommend it!
    6. Artea Alpes De Haute Provence – Total grocery store find, perfect for weeknight drinking, and available at Whole Foods for $9!
    7. Hudson Bellamy – Would you blame us for buying this bottle just for the label? Quite a nasty habit we’ve picked up over the years. The actual wine didn’t disappoint either.
    8. 90+ Cellars – Another great weeknight drinker, and generally sold for under $10.



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    Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie’s ‘n’ Milk Breakfast Cups

     

    2 1/2 c old fashioned oats

    2 tbsp ground flax-meal

    1/2 tsp salt

    1/3 c real maple syrup (or honey, but I liked maple with these)

    2 tbsp peanut butter or almond butter

    1/4 c coconut oil

    1 very ripe banana, mashed well

    2 tsp vanilla extract

    1-2 c semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

    Whole milk or coconut milk

    Toasted nuts, chocolate chips, fresh berries and/or sliced bananas, for serving

    In large mixing bowl mix together the oats, ground flax and salt. In medium glass bowl combine the maple syrup and peanut butter. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until the maple syrup is bubbling. Stir to combine the melted peanut or almond butter with the maple syrup. Add coconut oil, mashed banana and vanilla. Mix the wet mixture with the dry oats until completely combined and the all the oats are moistened. Cover the mixing bowl and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to chill before adding the chocolate chips. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-c muffin pan with butter, oil or cooking spray.

    Remove the dough from the freezer and fold in the chocolate chips. Divide the dough evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Starting in the middle, press down lightly with your fingers to form a bowl. Press from the bottom up to form the dough around the sides of the cups. If the dough is sticking to your hands try wetting them lightly, but I found just using my messy hands worked best.

    Bake the cups for 10-15 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden around the top. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edges and carefully dump the cups out.

    Allow the cups to cool or eat warm (DO THIS!). Serve the cups IN A BOWL and pour in some thick milk. Do not use skim milk for this, whole milk or thick canned coconut milk is best. Garnish with fresh berries, chocolate chips and nuts. EAT!



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    The cutest little cupcake for fall… Also happens to be the easiest.

     

     

    Caramel Apple Cupcakes

    1 box Spice Cake Mix
    1 cup Apple Juice
    1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
    3 eggs
    1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled cored and shredded
    10oz store-bought caramels (about 36)
    1/4 c whole milk
    1/2 c chopped peanuts
    24 wooden popsicle sticks

     


    Preheat oven 350F. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Combine cake mix, apple juice, vegetable oil, and eggs in a large bowl. Mix until just blended. Mix in shredded apple, and fill the prepared liners about 2/3 full.

    Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool.

    Melt caramels with milk over low heat until smooth, stirring constantly.

    Dip or spread melted caramel over the cupcakes. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and insert a wooden stick into the center of each.



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