Chai Pumpkin Chia Pudding

I realize that pumpkin is not a spring vegetable, but I love it any time of year. This flavorful pudding came about as I was trying to bring some of my favorite flavors together for a filling but slightly sweet breakfast smoothy.

The first attempt was a total flop; but it seeded the idea of this recipe and I’m pleased with the outcome. I love that the banana adds subtle sweetness without overpowering the pumpkin flavor and that the chai spices give a warmth and brightness to each bite. Chia seeds add a bit of protein and fiber, making this a worthwhile mid-day snack as well as dessert. We hope you enjoy it!

Strawberries with Homemade Chocolate Frosting

Brent and I do not put a lot of stock in Valentine’s Day. We usually surprise each other with random acts of kindness year round, rather than saving them for a calendar occasion. That said, we still celebrate a little on Valentine’s Day just for fun. We usually stick to a silly Valentine’s Day card, and leave it at that.

This year I decided to try my hand at a fun dessert with strawberries and homemade chocolate frosting. (Honestly, when I saw the strawberries at Wegmans this morning, I had to have them for our date-night-at-home tonight. We’re going to enjoy shrimp, steak, and roasted root veggies. Why not treat ourselves to a little something sweet, too, on this sweetest of holidays?) Strawberries alone would be great, but I’ve been itching for an excuse to make frosting. So, now I’ve done it!

We hope you enjoy this simple, and super fast, sweet treat tonight or anytime you want to sit back and savor life’s goodness.

Basler Brunsli (Chocolate-Almond Spice Cookies)

The winter holidays are here! Every one we know is decorating their houses, baking treats, and buying and wrapping gifts. The last two years, we went to Brent’s parents’ house to celebrate the season, so we didn’t decorate at all and it never really felt like holidays. But this year, we’re hosting both sets of parents. So, while we haven’t exactly finished our gift shopping or planned our Christmas dinner menu, we did put up our Christmas tree a couple weeks ago. As soon as we finished it, I got a little “warm fuzzy” in my heart.

Since that evening, I have been daydreaming of Christmas cookies from my childhood. I know, though, that most of them would leave us feeling sick. Most of them. One cookie (one out of the seemingly endless kinds of cookies we helped my grandma and mother make) is naturally gluten- and dairy-free. It’s called Basler Brunsli. Originally from 16th century Switzerland, it has long been part of the holiday tradition in Germany and Austria. The main ingredients are two of my favorite things—chocolate and almonds—and the complementing spices give it a warmth and complexity of flavor that I cannot resist. Brent said, “They taste like an Oreo and a gingerbread cookie had a baby.” Honestly, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to make these cookies before! We hope you enjoy them as much as do.

Banana Cream Pie

We’re right at the holiday season, and family are arriving at our house from as far as Chicago. During this time of year, we are all known to indulge with friends, family, and coworkers at various celebrations beginning this week, and ending sometime in January. We enjoy this time, but we know it is a stressful time with visitors, travel, and gifts. This along with the smorgasbord on an ongoing basis often comes with a loosening of the belt, too.

This banana cream pie is inspired partly by my father’s love for the pie growing up, along with an amazing recipe that already exists in our friend Russ Crandall‘s The Ancestral Table. Russ was kind enough to shoot the breeze with me while I made this pie a few times to get it right. You should pick up his book and run a taste test—let us know which pie comes out on top!

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Gingerbread Crust

The weather is cold and crisp. Spooky decor and pumpkins are everywhere, and we have started considering our options for the holidays. It’s nearly Halloween! Will you be going to a party to celebrate? We will be, and I think we’ll be taking this recipe to share.

Not more than a week ago, we were grocery shopping at Wegmans and a box of Krusteaz Pumpkin Pie Bar Mix caught our attention. Brent loves pie—we made a pumpkin coconut pie last year—but we rarely make it. When he asked me if I could make pumpkin pie bars, I agreed. Instead of the graham cracker crust, he requested I use a gingerbread crust (something I’ve played around with, but haven’t quite perfected).

This is more of a savory than a sweet dessert, but you can easily top these bars with a little drizzle of maple syrup or a dollop of coconut whipped cream for a little extra sweetness for your resident sweet tooth. We know you will enjoy it!