Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts with Maple Butter Glaze


Hello! It’s been a second since I’ve spent some time here and I’m glad to be back. We’ve had a busy fall with some travel and excitement around these parts so not much cooking has been done. I  have some travel posts upcoming up from the South and I’m super excited to share. While I gather my thoughts on those, let’s enjoy some baked doughnuts and waste some time together.

Today, it’s all about fall flavors and these breakfast worthy pumpkin doughnuts that pair perfectly with morning coffee. Add a dash of sprinkles and these gems instantly become that much more festive. I’m not going to lie and tell you they are is any way a healthy snack just because they are baked and not fried. These suckers have butter in them. However, I will say they are easy, quick, and a definitely a crowd pleaser.





Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts

From King Arthur Flour

Yield: 12 doughnuts

½ cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (canned)

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two doughnut pans.  You can also use muffin tins.

In a mixing bowl, combine the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder and whisk until smooth.

Add the flour, stirring just until incorporated.

Fill the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; use a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each depression.

Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. If you’re making muffins, they’ll need to bake for 23 to 25 minutes.

Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and after about 5 minutes, loosen their edges, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

Cool completely before glazing.


Maple Butter Glaze

1 ½   cups powdered sugar, sifted

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons melted butter (unsalted)

Combine all ingredients except melted butter in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle in butter and whisk to incorporate. If the glaze is too loose, add powdered sugar a little at a time to thicken to desired consistency. If glaze is too thick, add maple syrup until desired consistency is reached.

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Whipped Feta Cheese and Heirloom Tomato Salad


Cheese is delicious food. Usually, if you’ve got a good quality piece of cheese, it needs nothing else, definietly no embelishments. Sometimes, a nice loaf of crusty baguette and maybe some grapes are really good with cheese too. This time, I decided to go for it and make a spreadable version that I could enjoy with the whole wheat lavash that I already had. This feta cheese spread turned out to be magical. With only 2 ingredients (cheese + cream) I was able to transform a block of feta into a creamy, buttery, spreadable condiment that is wondrously versatile. And, it tastes a bit like Boursin. Jackpot!


Get yourself some ripe heirloom tomatoes and slice thick. We are generous today.


The key to getting a melt- in- your -mouth spread with creamy, fluffy texture is French feta. Go for the good stuff, it will pay off. Make sure your feta is soft and not firm or dry (aka big box supermarket variety, you know the brand I’m referring to).


Fresh herbs, almost any kind will do. I had chives and basil on hand so that’s what I used.


Whippeed Feta Spread

Yield: 1 cup

¼ pound French feta cheese

¼ cup heavy cream

Salt to taste

Olive oil

Chopped chives and basil for garnish

Break the feta apart into small chunks and place into the bowl of an electric mixer with the whip attachment. A hand mixer would be ideal since this is a small quantity, but either appliance will work. Beat on medium speed until the cheese begins to form a coarse paste. Add 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and continue beating until the mixture turns light and fluffy. Add salt and an additional tablespoon of heavy cream if mixture is still too thick.

Remove from the mixing bowl and place onto a platter of sliced heirloom tomatoes or in a bowl. Drizzle with good quality olive oil, sprinkle with chopped chives, basil, and pepper.

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Tlacoyos with Quelites and Noplaes


Every trip to Mexico City is a fantastic experience for one reason or another. This last time was especially memorable for me beacuse I learned a new way to prepare filled masa and was introduced to quelites-  leafy greens, usually amaranth, but can be a number of dark colored tender greens that are slightly bitter. Our trip to Mercado 100 and learning about tlacoyos can be seen here. Tlacoyos are oval shaped filled masa treats that are toasted or can even be fried.

Over the years and through our travels, I learned the hard way that if I want to have any chance of accurately replicating a dish we had abroad, I need to get on it as soon as we return home. Otherwise, all is lost. Luckily, I took notes while on vacation and got to work in the kitchen soon after while the memory was still fresh and I’m so glad I did because this is a wonderful vegetarian dish that is delicious and everything but the filled masa can be made ahead. Let’s get to work.


Quelites and tomatillos.





Prepared, fresh Masa

Quelites, one large bunch

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

½ onion, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Nopales- 2 cactus lobes

Tomatillo salsa

Cotija cheese

Refried black beans

In a medium size saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and garlic, lower heat to very low, stir and cover. Let cook on low heat until the onions become translucent, about 8- 10 minutes. Remove the lid, increase heat to medium high and add the quelites, stirring occasionally just until wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare the nopales:

Wash and dry the cactus lobes. With a pairing knife, cut off the prickly needles in one swift motion against the growth. After cleaning the cactus, slice into 2” long x ½” wide strips. Place into a colander and rinse with cold water. Let drain. Place a grill pan on the grill and cook cactus until they soften, making sure to turn and move them around. This process not only cooks the cactus but also dries them out enough to significantly decrease the amount of viscosity. This can also be done indoors on a comal or in a dry skillet. When they are a bit charred and soften, remove from heat and let cool down.

Make the Tlacoyos:

Size does not matter here. These can be large or smaller, whatever you desire.

Pinch off a ball of masa and roll between palms to form a thick tube shape. Place onto a piece of plastic (a produce bag from the grocery store is ideal), or wax paper works in a pinch) and cover with a second piece of plastic. Using a rolling pin, roll the masa lengthwise, into an oval shape with tapered ends. Place on a parchment lined sheetpan. Repeat the process 3 more times for a total of 4. Try to make them roughly the same size so that they fit together easily when sandwiched. These will be the bottoms. For the tops, repeat the rolling process 4 more times and set aside. Do not stack.

By now, you should have 4 bottoms on the sheetpan. Spread the refried beans in a thin layer over each bottom piece leaving a ½” border around the edges. Top with another piece of rolled masa and gently place directly over, pressing very lightly over the surface to get rid of excess air pockets. Pinch the border together to seal. Repeat until you have completed all 4.

On a heated grill, comal, or dry saute pan, place the filled tlacoyos and cook until the masa turns opaque, making sure to flip them over half way through. Depending on how thick your masa is, the cooking process could take between 5-8 minutes. Generally, when the masa begins to puff up, it is ready to be flipped over and cooked on the other side.


Layer a scoop of quelites over the tlacoyo, and spread out in a thin layer. Top with slices of nopales, tomatillo salsa, and a sprinkle of cotija cheese.

Enjoy immediately.

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Grilled Peaches with Whiskey Caramel and Vanilla Ice Cream


Since we’re in the thick of summer weather, I bet not many folks are willing to turn on their oven these days. That’s perfectly acceptable and nobody understands not wanting to heat up the house better than me. However, I am willing to toss dessert on the grill. Chances are, many of you are grilling up a storm this summer too. I’ve got an easy crowd pleasing dessert for us that just needs a few minutes on the grill.

This has got to be one of the easiest desserts of the summer.It doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, preparation, or time. If you’ve got great quality peaches, store bought ice cream and a bit of caramel sauce, you’re half way there. Add granola for some extra texture or leave it out, totally up to you.




Grilled Peaches:

Yield: as many as you like

Fresh peaches (ripe but not too soft)

Whiskey caramel sauce, recipe here

Almond granola, recipe below


Almond Granola

2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking or instant)

¾ cup slivered almonds

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

¼ teaspoon table salt (not Kosher)

¼ cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons grape seed oil

1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients, set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring wet ingredients to a simmer. Pour over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Turn the mixture out onto the parchment lined sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate pan, mix the granola, and continue baking for another 15 minutes.

Let cool completely on the sheet pan. Granola will crisp up when it cools down. Store in an airtight container.

Prepare the Peaches:

Slice peaches in half and discard pits. Brush lightly with coconut oil and place on a grill, cut sides down. Grill just until peaches get their grill marks and then remove.

Serve immediately with whiskey caramel and granola.

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Banana Split Bites with Whiskey Caramel and Homemade Magic Shell


These hot and humid summer days do not call for turning on the oven. Instead, let’s keep it simple and cool down with miniature banana split bites, adult style. What makes these special is the whiskey caramel and homemade magic shell. Colorful sprinkles make it fun. Grab a few spoons and dig in.



Miniature Banana Split Bites

Yield: 6 pieces

1 banana, sliced into 6, 1/2″ rounds

1 pint vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup magic shell chocolate coating

2 tablepsoons whiskey caramel

whipped cream

4 maraschino cherries


Arrange banana slices on a plate and place one scoop of ice cream on top of each slice. Drizzle magic shell over ice cream and top with a dash of sprinkles. Pipe 5 rosettes of whipped cream directly on the plate and top each with a maraschino cherry. Drizzle whiskey caramel around and enjoy!

Whiskey Caramel

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup sugar

1 cup cream

4 oz unsalted butter

2 tablespoons whiskey

Place sugar into a saucepan with enough water to create a sandy consistency. Wash down any sugar that is stuck to the inside of the pan, use additional water if necessary. Bring sugar to a boil and cook on medium heat until it caramelizes to a deep amber color. Turn off heat and slowly add the cream, whisking until combined. Use caution as mixture will release steam and may splatter. Whisk in butter and whiskey. Let cool and then transfer to a container. Will keep refrigerated for two weeks.

Magic Shell

recipe from Serious Eats

yield: 2 cups

250 (1/2 pound) grams dark chocolate, chopped

200 grams (1 cup) refined coconut oil *not virgin or unrefined

125 grams (6 tablespoons) light corn syrup

Combine all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl. Melt in the microwave at 15 second increments until the chocolate is almost all melted, but not completely. Stir gently to combine and the rest of the chocolate should begin to melt and the mixture will become smooth. Make sure not to get the chocolate too hot when melting or it will separate.

Spoon over ice cream and in seconds it will begin to turn from glossy to matte and harden to a crisp shell.

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Peach Scones


Summer fruit is by far my favorite. Our peach trees produce the sweetest, juiciest fruit that I eagerly await each year. And, I greedily hog the first ones of the season for myself. We have a system here that works out very well for me. K prunes and tends to the trees, watering and patiently taking care of them throughout the season. I am nowhere to be seen during this time. As soon as the fruit comes in and becomes ready to pick, I swoop in and select the best ones.

This year we were on track to get the largest yield yet. Sadly, that did not happen since we had a reverse spring and the weather was all out of whack. Many of the flowers fell off and the  few that hung on to turn into fruit turned out small and many cracked since we got a deluge of rain over two days right before picking time. I did not have high hopes for these peaches. Thankfully, I was proved wrong and despite their smaller size and not looking as pretty as in previous years, they were just as sweet and delicious.

We love scones with our morning coffee and a warm batch first thing in the morning is a treat. The addition of fresh peaches makes them even more rich and creamy. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.






adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Yield: 8 scones

1 ½ cups fresh peaches, diced
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen whole + 2 tbsp melted butter
½ cup sour cream
½ cup whole milk
½ cup sugar+ 1 tbsp for sprinkling
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
¼ teaqspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon table salt

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grate 8 tbsp of butter on large holes of box grater. Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tbsp of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Place diced peaches in freezer until needed.

Whisk together sour cream and milk in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup sugar salt, baking soda, and lemon zest in medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metalspatula to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.

Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle peaches evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.

Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 min. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 min before serving.

To Make Ahead: After placing the scones on the baking sheet, either refrigerate them overnight or freeze. When ready to bake, for refrigerated scones, heat oven to 425 degrees and follow directions in step 6. For frozen scones, heat oven to 375 degrees, follow directions in step 6, and extend cooking time to 25 to 30 minutes

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Plum Palate Cleanser


I have fond memories of Santa Rosa Plums. In fact, these memories run so deep that I am forever ruined when it comes to other plum varieties, they are just not good enough. When we were growing up, our neighbors in the back had a row of these plum trees all lining the dividing wall. In the summer time, the trees would blossom full of plums and the branches would hang way over the wall onto our side. I’m sure you can guess what happened to those plums that crossed over.

Santa Rosa’s are unique in that their flesh is deep red and super juicy while the purple skins remain very tart. I like this combination and spent many a summer enjoying this overflow of free fruit. I also spent even more years without these plums and gave up trying to find them at the local grocery stores. No luck at all, except one time and I bought a bag full, it was like gold. Then, we decided to plant our own trees and now we are lucky enough to enjoy our very own crop, year after year.

Since this sorbet is tart, I like it best as a palate cleanser. In between courses, a very small scoop is a great way to wipe away any remaining strong flavors  from the previous course and prepare for the next. Hope you enjoy!






Santa Rosa Plum Palate Cleanser

Yield: 3 quarts

3 cups sugar

3 cups water

8 cups sliced plums, seeds removed

2 ½ cups simple syrup plus additional

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 large egg, washed and dried

Make the simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve all sugar and continue to boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool completely. When cooled to room temperature, place in the refrigerator. This can be made days in advance.

Chop and pit the plums, leaving skins on. Place all 8 cups of plums in a large, non-reactive stockpot (8 quart pot works well) and add 2 ½ cups simple syrup. Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to medium low and poach until tender. When plums are tender, remove from heat, cool, and puree in a blender.

Strain pureed plums through a fine mesh strainer and add lemon juice. To determine if there is enough simple syrup in the mixture to yield a smooth sorbet, carefully place the egg into the container with the puree and press it down gently. The egg should float to the surface leaving a nickel to quarter size circle of exposed eggshell. If the area is larger than a quarter, the mixture is too sweet; add water until the egg’s surface closes to a quarter size. If the area is smaller than a dime or egg is not visible at all, add simple syrup.

Completely chill the sorbet base and spin according to manufacture directions. My ice cream maker only holds 1 ½ quarts of liquid at a time so I needed to make 2 separate batches.

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Santa Rosa Plum and Cherry Cake


Santa Rosa plums have officially taken over our fridge. This is the first year the trees produced more than 3 pieces of fruit. It was a huge surprise when we saw the countless tiny green beginnings of immature plums. I didn’t want to get my hopes up since in previous years they have been blown away by the wind or otherwise knocked off before ripening. We also had competition from the birds and probably some racoons too. But, not this year. Those little suckers ripened up all at the same time and all of a sudden we had tons of plums all needing to be eaten at once. The thing about plums is, one can only consume so many before they make their way through the system and let’s just say, we have only one bathroom.

That’s where this buttery cake comes in. Not only is it delicious as a tea time treat, but you can also get away with calling it breakfast so long as you’re washing it down with a cup of coffee or tea. The sweet, tart plums cut the richness and sugary sweetness of the cake. If you want to dress it up even more, a dollop of whipped cream will do just fine and further round out the tartness of the plums. Either way, it’s delicious.






Santa Rosa Plum and Cherry Cake

Yield: 1, 9” cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

4 oz (1 stick) butter, softened at room temperature

¾ cup plus 1 ½ tsp sugar, divided

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

10 santa rosa plums, cut into quarters, pits removed

10 cherries, pitted and cut in half

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9” springform pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and ¾ cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour, mix until just combined.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan and top with plum and cherry slices. Combine the remaining 1 ½ tsp sugar with the nutmeg and sprinkle over the fruit and batter.

Bake for 25- 30 minutes on convection setting or until the cake turns golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean- a few moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick and it’s done. Remove to a wire cooling rack and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the springform ring and let cool to room temperature.

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Crystal Cave and Trees of Sequoia


A day after we made it back down the mountain from this  Pear Lake excursion and after a good night’s sleep, we returned to the park for a tour of Crystal Cave. I was really looking forward to this for two reasons: 1. checking out caves is exciting and 2. it would be nice and cool inside, chilly even. The group was large (50 people) and the cave was massive. There was more than enough room for everyone with plenty of space to spare. The downside was there were far too many people to be able to enjoy the tour and getting photos without heads and random strangers in the background proved to be challenging but worth it.

Once inside, this subterranian world will take your breath away. To start, this marble cave has streams meandering throughout it’s rooms and glistening walls of polished rock. If you’re lucky, you might see a newt or two in the stream.There are also stalactites suspended from the ceiling and stalagmites stacked up from the ground and are a true site to see. There is so much texture and natural ornate decor that could only be shaped slowly by time. This is a place that you must see for yourself since the photos don’t even come close to showing a fraction of what it has to offer.



After the cave tour we headed to another part of the park to see the magnificent sequoias. There was more walking but this time on a path all the way down to the General Sherman Tree. Along the way we passed numerous other huge trees and meandering walking routes. You could spend almost a whole day down there climbing up and down the hills and around the trees, like an ant. Consider yourself warned, this is selfie stick land so you’ll be dodging those all the way down.



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Pear Lake

We just returned from a rigorous backpacking trip that was my first introduction to extreme outdoors adventure (I am inexperienced in backpacking and much of outdoor activity, so this was extreme for me). While I recover, K will tell you all about it here:


I’d been wanting to do a backpacking trip for some time now. I asked S if she’d be interested in going to Sequoia to see some big trees, hike to an alpine lake and do some easy fishing. She grudgingly accepted and the planning began.

Pear lake is located at over 9000 feet and surrounded by cliffs. The water is unbelievably clear and fed by snow that melts off of the many peaks surrounding the lake.

The hike to the lake itself is an arduous 6.7 miles. There is over a 2000 foot elevation gain and you feel every inch. Once at the top its a breathtaking site. You’re surrounded by massive granite peaks, fish that breach the water as they go for their next meal and ancient foxtail pines that can live for thousands of years.


Our plan was to stay for two nights but this was not to be as the weather turned foul mid-day the following day. As we were rushing to pack up our gear it started haling. There was no way we’d make through the day, much less the night. The decision had been made and it was a mad dash in the rain to get 6.7 miles down from the back country to the trail-head.

The more time that passes between me the trip, the more I think it was worth every second. It was such a great experience to be in a place most people would never visit or see with their own eyes. My good friend Frank said something about his visit to Macchu Picchu a while back which was, “I’ve never seen a photograph which does it justice.” I agree and can say the same thing about Pear Lake.





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