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Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding

Serves 6

Sometimes simple is the way to go. That’s how I feel about this pudding. It doesn’t have any fancy garnishes. It’s not super trendy. It’s no fuss. It’s my trusty dessert that’s super easy and versatile. Need a quick pie filling? This is it. Want to make the recipe your own? This one fits the bill too. Add some espresso, peppermint extract instead of vanilla, add a bit of rum—the options are endless.

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Miso-Ginger Noodle Soup

Serves 4

I like to think of this as a Japanese grandma’s version of chicken soup: the perfect cure to whatever ails you, be it the sniffles or a stressful day. As is, this soup is vegetarian, but feel free to change things up based on your mood. Swap chicken or beef stock for the vegetable. Stir in smoked brisket, pulled pork, shredded chicken, or tofu cubes. what I love even more than the versatility of this soup is that it can be made in less than 30 minutes.

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Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Hash

Serves 4

In a breakfast rut? Make this veggie-packed hash filled with the flavors of fall. Cubed sweet potatoes, crisp bacon, gorgeous Swiss chard, and an over-easy egg make it a home-run recipe you’ll want to make for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Grab pre-cubed Sweet potatoes to help with prep time, if you’d like. For a fun presentation, serve in individual skillets.

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Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 8

I was in Seattle last week and finally experienced some fall weather. So, I can now say that I am ready to embrace pumpkin mania. These cinnamon rolls are the perfect weekend treat: tender pumpkin bread dough filled with a swirl of pumpkin pie spices and slathered with a decadent maple-flavored frosting. What’s not to love? Find maple extract at your local grocery store (I found some at Food Lion), or order online.

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Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef Tacos

Serves 8 to 10

When we lived in Fort Pierce, there was an awesome taco restaurant, Antojitos Mexicanos, that served up THE best authentic tacos. The corn tortillas were made fresh, the meat simmered for hours, and the homemade salsa (green or red) came hot or hotter. I typically ordered the barbacoa or carnitas tacos, and this recipe is my take on the former. The best part about this recipe? You can make the beef in the Instant Pot. Don’t have an Instant Pot? That’s okay. I’ve also provided instructions on how to make it in a slow cooker. Top these babies with Pickled Red Onions (see my previous post or use sliced red onion if you’d rather), crumbled cotija cheese, fresh cilantro, avocado, and a squeeze of lime, and you’ve got yourself a taco party.

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Pickled Red Onions

These have got to be the easiest quick pickles (aka “quickles”) you can make. Not only do they add a tart crunch to tacos, sandwiches, and salads, but their fuchsia hue adds a gorgeous pop of color. Keep a jar in the fridge—they are best the first week you make them, but will keep for several months.

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Ginger-Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches

Makes 12 sandwiches

Well, it’s October and it’s still 85° outside. And while I’m craving fall flavors—pumpkin, cinnamon, and ginger—it’s still too hot for cozy desserts. My solution: These soft ginger cookies that sandwich silky lemon custard ice cream. Ginger and lemon are a natural pair, and this dessert is the perfect way to welcome the changing season. Feel free to trade the lemon ice cream for vanilla bean (or even pumpkin since it seems to take over this time of year). Want to know another secret? Sometimes I cheat and buy ginger cookie dough to make an impressive dessert in a pinch.

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Simple Citrus-Avocado Salad

Serves 6 to 8

Besides the amazing warm weather, what I miss most about Florida this time of year is being smack-dab in the middle of citrus country. Honeybell oranges quickly became my favorite variety, and if you ever have the chance to try one, I'm pretty sure you'll be hooked too. They are sweet enough to stand in as dessert, and conveniently their season happens to be right around the New Year when I've cut back on cookies and ice cream. Paired with tart red grapefruit, jewel-toned blood oranges, and avocado, Honeybells add just the right amount of sweetness to this salad. If you can't find Honeybells (or tangelos) where you are, substitute tangerines or navel oranges.

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Creamy Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Serves 8 to 10

We had snow week before last. In Charleston... South Carolina. Close to 6 inches, no less. To most, half a foot of snow is nothing but about a month ago, we moved here from South Florida. "Winter" for the past 5 years has involved one week of temperatures in the low 60s, so the below-freezing temps were a shock to my system. All I wanted to eat was soup, and I began to dream of the best soup I've ever had. This soup (or my version of it).

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Last summer, my family and I went to Northern Ireland, and on one particularly chilly day we ended up in a little town called Ballymoney. I'm sure you've never heard of it--we definitely hadn't--but, it was on the way to Giant's Causeway and was our best bet for lunch. So, we stopped at a cozy pub called Carmichael's. The soup of the day was Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke, and we all ordered it. I'm not sure if it was because we were all starving or because it was cold outside, but I savored every last bit of that soup. It was velvety in texture, earthy in flavor, and felt like a warm hug. I knew I was going to have figure out how to make it once we got back home, so I tried to remember every detail of it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, just before Christmas, and a first visit to our new-to-us Harris Teeter in our new town. I was perusing the produce department when the heavens broke into song and there they were: bags of Jerusalem artichokes for sale. Because I had never seen them in the grocery store before (we had just moved from a small town), I immediately grabbed every single bag. I was going to figure out how to make that soup.

After a few tries, I think the result is pretty close to the soup from Ballymoney. You can easily cut the recipe in half. The soup is rich, and this recipe can easily feed 8 to 10. I made a larger batch because 1.) I bought the remaining 4 lbs they had for fear I would have to wait until this time next year to have them again and 2.) Leftovers are loved at my house.

If you haven't seen Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes) before, they look like ginger root. If they are very fresh, you can actually peel them like ginger: with the edges of a spoon. I found that it was easier to use a paring knife.

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After you've peeled the Jerusalem artichokes, cut them into small chunks, dice the celery and onion, and mince the garlic.  

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Sauté the onion, celery, and garlic in hot olive oil until tender, then add the Jerusalem artichokes. Simmer for 45 minutes in broth to cover, and then purée with an immersion blender. Add heavy cream and a little dry sherry and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 5 more minutes, and voila! The best soup you will ever have.

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Irish Soda Bread

Ever since we returned from our trip to Ireland this summer, I have been dreaming of soda bread. I adapted this recipe from a soda bread recipe I found on epicurious.com. Slather slices with Irish butter or the highest-quality butter you can find to take it to a whole new level.

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Polenta Caprese Stacks with Honey-Balsamic Drizzle

Serves 4 to 6

I love this twist on the traditional Italian salad. Crispy, hot slices of pre-cooked polenta logs are the base for tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil, and a sweet balsamic dressing takes the flavor to the next level.

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Mediterranean Farro Salad

Serves 4

This is one of those “everything but the kitchen sink” recipes that I created when I was trying to clean out my fridge. The oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes adds an extra “oomph” of flavor to the vinaigrette. Because you can make it ahead, the salad is perfect to take to work for lunch. You can also serve it as a side dish instead of as a 1½ cup main dish serving.

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Sugar-Crusted Strawberry Shortcakes

Serves 10

A pillowy dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream is the perfect pairing to the macerated strawberries and crunchy sweet biscuits of this dessert. If you’d prefer, substitute whipped organic cream sweetened with cane sugar, honey, or pure maple syrup.

COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM

Makes 1 cup

This is one of those cool “who would’ve thought” recipes, and if you’re lactose intolerant or just want a healthier option, it’s a great mock whipped cream. Don’t throw away the coconut milk liquid you set aside in this recipe. Use it to add extra flavor to Thai-inspired dishes, or try it as the liquid in your favorite homemade smoothie.

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