If you're looking for a way to fill your holiday table with pumpkin-centric treats, then boy, do I have the goods for you! I recently created a gallery of easy recipes (you might call them hacks) for HGTV.com using canned pumpkin pie filling. The presweetened and spiced filling makes a nice shortcut to delicious fall-themed treats that aren't a lot of work for those donning the chef's hat.

There are sixteen recipes total in the gallery on HGTV's website, but I thought I'd give a little sneak peek of my favorites,  like these Pumpkin Pie Phyllo Bites. They use ready-made phyllo shells so you can whip them up in just minutes!

Autumn offers the best indulgences, and I've given myself full permission to partake of its treasures. So far this includes a daily cup of hot apple cider, marathon granola-eating, and studying all varieties of warmly spiced baked goods as if I were going to be tested on the subject later.

This bundt is a result of that research and I'm not afraid to say it: I'm obsessed with this cake. It is so delightful with a moist pumpkin-spiced interior, a drape of sweet cream cheese glaze, and crunchy sugar-lacquered walnuts.

Today is the kind of chilly autumn day that makes you take stock of your tea cupboard and requires a cozy cinnamon-spiced treat. I'm all for a repeat of these apple-cherry turnovers I made a couple of weeks ago. They are totally scratch-made with firm granny smith apples, dried cherries and an all-butter puffy crust that turns golden as it bakes.

These may look like ordinary cookies, but they are so soft and fluffy I hesitate to call them cookies. They're more like a hybrid of cake and cookie... so would that make them cakies? Is that a thing? It should be!

The pumpkin-flavored batter is lightly sweet and chock full of chopped pecans. A drizzle of caramel on top adds just the right amount of sweetness.

Years ago I picked up a 'Best of the Best' cookbook while traveling through Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. It was one of those modest-looking regional cookbooks bound with a plastic comb that might have been compiled by a local church or rotary club. This muffin recipe is a favorite from that book, although I've since lost my copy and fear it has been accidentally donated. Last week I found the recipe on a sheet of paper that I'd typed for my mom, and although it's not pumpkin-spiced or fall-themed, I couldn't wait to share it. The muffins make a nice breakfast at any time of year and they are extremely easy to make.

I remember the recipe's headnote stated the origin was from Sedberry Hotel, a McMinnville Tennessee establishment (and apparently a pretty ritzy one for the place and time) which opened in early 1900. It closed in the 1950's, but thankfully the muffins survived.

Fall and winter holidays are well on the horizon, so I've been exploring savory bites that will make nice appetizers and party food. These little wild mushroom pies fit the season perfectly, and they've checked all the boxes on my requirements list. They're cozy, tasty, and look seriously inviting on a serving tray.

One of my favorite projects at this time of year is to bottle up homemade vanilla extract using vanilla beans and vodka (remember this post?). The beans take a couple of months to steep and are ready just in time for Christmas gifts. However, over the past few years vanilla bean prices have been prohibitively expensive, and so it made my favorite fun and economical holiday gift not so economical. If you're an avid baker, no doubt you've noticed the increase in bean prices and even in store-bought vanilla extracts. There are many reasons for this escalation such as poor weather conditions, low crop yield, and labor-intensive harvesting (read more here). Although some news outlets are reporting relief in sight, we've yet to see it.

This year I decided to bottle lemon extract instead, and for a few good reasons. 1.) I've missed the ritual of it all: bottling, tagging, observing, monitoring, and shaking the bottles over 6-8 weeks time. It's a nice sort of anticipation. 2.) Lemon extract goes in many delicious baked things, especially at Christmastime (see Lemon Sparkler Cookies, for starters). 3.) Lemons are currently affordable in my neck of the woods. 4.) Bright ribbons of lemon rind tint the vodka a sunny color over time, which makes this homespun gift pretty.

Maybe it's the change in weather or maybe it's all the fall baking I'm seeing on social media, but here's a fact: I'm hungry! My appetite is more than healthy these days, and instead of scarfing just anything I've been making an effort to eat something nutritious. Granola has been my go-to snack lately, but if you're not paying special attention at the grocery store, you'll come home with a bag of granola made with high fructose corn syrup. I'm sad to say this happened to me recently.

Lucky for us, homemade granola is super easy to make! I've been SO into this version we whipped up using oats, dried apples, dried white mulberries, quinoa, and pecans. It's warmly spiced and could not be more season-appropriate.

There's no shortage of Black Forest-inspired cakes on this blog (like this chocolate dome and this cake roll), but sharing the classic version - the one that's made in 9-inch round cake pans and covered with whipped cream - somehow never made the cut!

The recipe I'm sharing today is adapted from this website, which also tells the origin story of the cake (a neat read if you have time). It seems the recipe has made its way onto Genius Kitchen with lots of great reviews, so I had to try it for myself!

It's hard to beat a classic, and Cola Sheet Cake is a recipe you're likely well-acquainted with - and almost certainly if you're from the south!

I worked at a hospital years ago, and there was always an autumn bake sale held for charity on the second floor near the cafeteria. I didn't bake much then, so scratch-made treats were extra-special and I'd load up my tote bag with goodies. Each year someone would make Cola Sheet Cake and display neatly cut slices covered with plastic wrap. They'd also affix disposable forks on top for convenience. I always purchased a slice and have fond memories of eating it with a cup of coffee at my desk. Now I make it myself, and it remains a flavor memory that transports me back to old friends and happy times at my previous job.

National Coffee Day is next week on September 29th and since I'm truly passionate about good coffee, I wanted to make something special for the occasion in advance. Cue this Wicked Espresso Cake, a.k.a. any coffee lover's dream come true! It's a towering confection built with six espresso-infused cake layers, filled with coffee crème légère, and frosted with chocolate-espresso French buttercream. Sounds pretty good, yes? Not only is it crazy town delicious, this cake has another purpose!

I'm just about ready to break out the pumpkin-spice treats, but before I dive headfirst into all things autumn, I want to share what I consider to be an evergreen favorite - Cookies and Cream Cheesecake! This version is no-bake, so it's easier to prepare than traditional cheesecakes. It's also a chilly bite on a hot day, and since we're still waiting for fall weather to arrive here in the south, it has been a well-received refreshment.

You may need to put on your sunglasses to look at this cake, because it's full of the brightest rainbow buttercream I've ever made!

Instagram is practically brimming with super cute number and letter-themed cakes, inspired by Instagrammer Adi Klinghofer, otherwise known as @adikosh123. Recently, my friends at Food Network asked me to create a version of this cake for their website, and I was thrilled to be asked. My spin on this trend is a veritable trip to Candy Land, with sour candies, Sixlets, pink candy bars, dipped doughnuts, and -what else? - lots and lots of sprinkles!

Pineapples are said to be a symbol of hospitality, so it's hard for me to imagine a more perfect dessert for dinner guests than this very cake. It's no ordinary pineapple upside-down cake. It is a 12-inch circle of fluffy cornmeal crumb studded with toasted coconut and infused with a shot of aged rum. Eight thick slices of fresh pineapple crown this cake, along with a buttery brown sugar syrup that runs down the sides as you unmold it.

These modest muffins aren't winning any beauty contests, but boy, are they ever delicious! This is the one of the best banana nut muffin recipes I've ever tried. In fact, I've been making these almost weekly for the past six months. It takes many batches of baking for me to bestow the word favorite on a recipe, but this one has earned the title. They make an excellent breakfast with salted butter and coffee, and often one of these muffins will sustain me for most of the day.

This recipe could be called "what to do with a bag of nearly overripe peaches." I had purchased a bag of eight, and within a couple of days they'd turned squishy under their velvet skins. Slicing them into manageable chunks was impossible because the flesh was so soft. It simply fell away from the pits. Ironically, it is at this not-yet-spoiled stage that their fragrance and flavor is sweetest.

After much consideration and conversation, we settled on making quick jam. Turns out, this was the best possible idea. What I found was a new favorite filling for cakes, tarts, macarons - you name it!

Shark Week began on July 22nd and runs through July 30th, which means we're right smack in the middle of all the festivities! If you follow me on Instagram, you know I've been busy making loads of shark week-themed cupcakes for the folks at Discovery headquarters. Along with all those cupcakes, I delivered this guy, too. He made a big splash (hehe) even though he's more cute than scary.

Eating affogatos in summertime is just part of living a good life, if you ask me. They require so little work and the end result is a caffeinated, quickly melting cup of ice cream heaven. The dessert in its most basic form is made with only ice cream and a shot of espresso, but toppings are highly encouraged! Try this version with raspberries and pistachios, or use whatever tasty ingredients inhabit your pantry.

Root beer lovers, this pie is just for you! It has all the creamy flavor of its namesake, and it's a great chilled treat for summer gatherings. This recipe is different from most other root beer pie recipes you'll find online, which use instant pudding in the filling. This version is fully scratch-made, and it's not too difficult to put together!

These tiramisu trifles taste like summer in a jar, and their layered red, white, and blue colors make them perfect for July Fourth festivities. Our local forecast predicts 96 degree weather tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to serving these chilly cups as refreshments on such a hot day. They're a quick fix with ready-made lady finger biscuits, which means there's no baking involved! Add lids and pack some birchware forks for a picnic-friendly treat.

Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. I recently ordered my dogs 'Totally 'Grammable Toast' toys from Bark Shop, and when they arrived I couldn't get over how cute and funny they were. I decided to cake-ify the toy, even though I hear the avocado toast trend is sooo 2017. Well. According to people who keep up with that kind of thing.

Hello friends and kind visitors! I'm taking a break from sweets today to share with you the best savory popover recipe I've ever tasted. I make these rolls almost weekly. All of my previous attempts at popovers have been lackluster at best, either too bland or not enough rise. I was beginning to think I just didn't like popovers, but this recipe was a real game-changer!

This Thursday is summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer. Some cultures celebrate this day with festivals and rituals, but at our house we just tend to stay outdoors and marvel at how it's still daylight at almost 10 pm.

There's a certain magic to this time of year that hides in plain sight. Maybe you've noticed that green things are awake. Plants and vines are growing wild under summer's spell, and I can't seem to keep well-camouflaged caterpillars and leafy-looking bugs off of my tomato plants. I wanted to make something sweet that celebrated the green things taking over our landscape, so I began digging through my overfilled box of cake decorating supplies.

Father's Day is just around the corner, and we're hosting a proper cookout for the special guys in our lives. I already have a couple of potluck-style desserts in mind for the day, but I also wanted to make something cute and kind of funny. Inspiration struck when I found a bag of smoky Lapsang Souchong tea in the pantry. Steeped in heavy cream, it makes a marvelous smoked ganache - and it's a fitting flavor for a chocolate cigar!

You won't need a fancy gadget to make these. Waxed paper rolled into tubes makes a simple and effective cigar mold.

I hope you're not tired of seeing cactus cakes, because I have yet another to add to the ever-growing collection that fills our Instagram and Pinterest feeds. Lately I've been paying special attention to things that make me smile, and there's just something so funny - almost silly - about these little succulent cakes. I certainly had a laugh at the end of this project, not to mention a slice of lemon buttercream-covered cake!

Cakes get a lot of attention here, and maybe that's why this blog is a little deficient in brownie recipes. It doesn't make much sense because I adore brownies, especially when they are dark, dense and fudgy like these.

Summer all but here (and officially on June 21st), so that makes me want to celebrate tropical flavors, like coconut! Not only do these brownies have a heaping helping of golden toasted coconut on top, they also have a coconutty secret ingredient inside.

We are in the midst of strawberry season, and this breakfast bread pudding recipe is a great way to put those berries to good use! It's such a simple fix, and so flavorful. Below the toasty top layer of bread and berries you'll find pockets of cream cheese... seriously folks! I'm not kidding when I say this is one of the best bread pudding recipes I've ever made. The acidity from the red berries gives balance to the creamy elements. My husband says it's like eating strawberry shortcake for breakfast. I'd have to agree!

This is a great family-style dessert that's easy to make and will feed about 10 hungry people. My favorite way to serve it is as pictured: plop ice cream scoops on top and then give everyone a fork. Somehow the cookie tastes even better when everyone is standing around the stove top, hovering over the skillet for a bite. The cookie also slices neatly into triangles, and it goes without saying that people with better manners could serve it on plates at the dinner table.

The combination of warm peanut butter-oatmeal cookie with melting vanilla ice cream on top is seriously amazing. The cast iron skillet gives the cookie chewy edges while the center remains soft, but if you don't have a cast iron skillet a 10-inch round cake pan will work just fine.

Hello, hello! I hope your weekend is off to a great start. Most of us here in the U.S. have a long weekend ahead because Memorial Day is on Monday.  I wanted to create something with nostalgic flavors and patriotic colors to celebrate the day, and I found inspiration in an ice pop!

Rocket Pops are frozen treats with triple layers of colors and flavors: red is cherry, white is lime, and blue is blue raspberry. It was fun transforming those elements into cake, and it's not difficult at all!

I'm not much of a soda drinker, but I cannot pass up the occasional root beer with pizza, and I always order a cherry cola when I go to the movies. In fact, I've never had a cherry cola outside of a movie theater! Isn't that funny? The flavor is definitely special to me and only reserved for that single activity. I recently decided to rethink my decorum because I don't get to the movie theater very often, and with Memorial Day coming up, I couldn't think of something more fun to serve than cherry cola jello shots!

All of my fudge candy-making usually happens around winter holidays, but this creamy orange fudge is lovely for springtime and summer. It tastes like a Creamsicle bar, but richer and more potent! I've been storing a few cubes in the freezer for a frosty treat, which admittedly isn't a normal thing to do with fudge. It's surprisingly refreshing! You may want to try it for yourself, but it's delicious any way you serve it.

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and for us that means celebrating with lots of food! It's almost an unspoken agreement that we'll be having a cookout, so I've been making my shopping list and checking it twice (hot dog buns - check!). I've also been thinking about refreshing desserts that would be a nice pick-me-up after a heavy meal of hamburgers, potato salad and baked beans.

These Margarita Pie Jars are just the thing! They are cold and refreshing, and their zingy lime flavor will put some pep in you step.

Maybe I should have called this Rhubarb Only Pie. I've found that many rhubarb pie recipes have some other fruit or berry added to the filling ingredients with no mention in the title (I'm looking at you, strawberries!). If you're a rhubarb fanatic, and purist, you'll love the sweet-tart flavor of this pie. The filling is held between two flaky, all-butter pie crusts. Is there anything better than that?

Spring is turning out to be quite a whirlwind here, so I'm keen to celebrate it while I can. Before you know it, summer will sweep us away to poolsides and air-conditioned quarters. I know that sounds nice, but I'm not quite ready for the other things that a southern summer brings - like humidity and mosquitoes!

No-bake cheesecakes are a go-to at my house when warm weather finally arrives, and I was inspired to give this one a spring makeover. It's one of the easiest and creamiest cheesecakes I've ever made, and its lightness is a nice reflection of the season.

A couple of months ago the New England Confectionery Company (Necco) announced it was facing closure. People started panic-buying packages of Necco Wafers, and one woman in Florida even tried to trade her car for a warehouse's remaining stock. That sounds a little drastic to me, especially since the company hasn't officially closed yet (although I'm sad to say their GoFundMe page doesn't look promising).

I think before we give away our transportation in exchange for candy we should try a homemade version, don't you? I liked this formula very much, and even though nothing will replace the original, I'd call this recipe a close second!

It seems as if invisible hands flipped a switch, and just like that we're having 90 degree weather. It's nice in some ways, but it's changed our outdoor lunch breaks to evening sunset-watching. It also has me looking more closely at refreshing treats like ice cream cakes, ice box pies and other cold bites. Panna cotta is a favorite of mine in warmer weather. There's nothing better than enjoying a chilly cup on a hot day.

I'm hosting a Mother's Day brunch this Sunday, so I thought it might be fun for you to see what I'm cooking up for the special ladies in our family. It also gives me a chance to add a couple of recipes to the much neglected 'Savory Bakes' category in the recipe index here. I'm usually all about sweets, but there are some savory recipes that I feel are worth sharing, too! I think the hallmark of any good brunch is a mixture of both savory and sweet, and I've got plans for plenty of both.

Let's take a look at the items on the menu!

The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, and although I'm not a follower of thoroughbreds or an avid watcher of the race, I am a huge fan of the food that surrounds the festivities. Mint Juleps, Kentucky Hot Brown, and Benedictine (cucumber spread) are all traditional Derby eats. They're also from my general neck of the woods. We enjoy them year-round and without the brouhaha of a horse race, but it's nice to see them getting the extra attention they deserve come the first Saturday in May.

Derby Pie is another traditional food which surrounds the race - literally. It's sold at Churchill Downs racetrack on Derby Day. It's a walnut-chocolate-bourbon confection that inspired these two-bite truffles. If you've ever tasted Derby Pie, then I think you'll find these truffles to be equally Kentuckified.

Like clockwork, spring brings us a new routine. The pugs are spending all of their time sniffing new blooms and basking on the sunny patio. My better half manicures the lawn so we can enjoy impromptu and hilariously awkward badminton matches. I am prone to steal away moments for garden seed catalogue-browsing. Even my baking has taken on new energy as I look for bright colors and flavors to wake up sleepy winter taste buds.

I recently tested this recipe for strawberry-banana cupcakes and loved their fruity sweetness. They're made with fresh strawberries which is a lovely way to enjoy the harvest of late spring, when berries are at their best.

The media buzz is ever increasing as the royal wedding on May 19th draws near. It seems everyone is interested to know what Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's big day might be like. As for me, I'm intrigued to know about just one thing - the royal wedding cake!

Thanks to announcements from Kensington Palace, we know the chosen wedding cake baker is Chef Claire Ptak of Violet, a UK-based bakery. We also know the official cake flavors are lemon-elderflower, which were chosen to evoke the essence of springtime.

Easter is this Sunday, which seems a little soon if you ask me! I've been shining my stemware for our holiday dinner and adding pots of greenery to brighten rooms. There's much to do, and time is of the essence! That's why I'm eager to share these treats with you. If you can melt chocolate in the microwave or on the stove-top then you can make all of these treats. They're a quick fix and bound to bring plenty of smiles to your table.

All of these treats are part of a spring workshop I taught at HGTV headquarters. I always feel super lucky when I'm asked to do this, because I get to be around so many creative people! Their blog editors are always in attendance and I learn something new each time I visit (even though I'm supposed to be the teacher!).

It's no secret that my favorite thing to bake in the whole wide world is birthday cake. I get hyper-focused on flavors and aesthetics so I can deliver something the recipient will truly love. So, needless to say, I was SUPER excited to be asked to create a cake in honor of Reese Witherspoon's birthday!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I made these cuties with today in mind, but if you're like me, marshmallow cereal treats are year-round favorites. I especially love those magically delicious marshmallow bits in Lucky Charms cereal so these didn't last long at all!

Two years ago my husband gave me a beautiful Swiss-made fondue pot as an anniversary gift. It's now one of my most loved possessions because it sparked a full-blown obsession with all things fondue. My first foray involved bubbling up Emmental, Gruyere and a bit of white wine which was delicious to eat and entertaining to share. Soon after, dessert fondues became a regular after-dinner event, although we didn't always have company to entertain. 

Returning to a place of normalcy after moving house has been much harder than I expected! We've unboxed what is essentially the past ten years of our lives in just a few weeks. We've donated more than half of our wardrobes for a mindful restart. We've been exploring the quirks of our circa 1930 home, discovering beautiful old doors in the basement and flipping light switches that don't seem to turn anything on (ha!). It's been an adventure, and one that requires a batch of homemade cookies to smooth ragged edges and make somewhere new feel familiar.

Hello, it's been too long! Major things have happened since last we met here. We moved into a new house and all my cake-ing and baking supplies moved into their own little studio. I've spent the last month sprucing it up (see here) and now I'm ready to start using it for all it's worth! Honestly, I feel like one of those toy cars that you pull back in order to wind up, and when you let go it races full speed ahead. I am that kind of ready!

This spiced pear tart with crisp filo crust proved to be a nice way to ease back into things. It's a quick fix, and with its crinkled edges it's a rustic beauty. Winter citrus is still available to keep our spirits buoyant, so I couldn't resist adding a few blood orange slices on top.

My current beverage obsession is the Moscow Mule, a cocktail made with spicy ginger beer, tangy lime juice, and vodka - all served in a copper mug. There are a few variations to the drink. Some swap lemon juice for lime or add fresh mint, but nothing beats the combination of fresh lime and ginger if you ask me. It's so zingy! That's what inspired me to make these caramels.
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