Prosciutto-Wrapped, Goat Cheese-Stuffed, Balsamic-Glazed Dates

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Prosciutto-Wrapped, Goat Cheese-Stuffed, Balsamic-Glazed Dates

How about that title, eh? I could have shortened it, but I couldn't decide which delicious descriptive word to take out. So, I left them all for one verrrrry long title. Let's start off by acknowledging that these tasty little finger foods are nothing new. There are so many variations of meat-wrapped dates stuffed with soft cheese out there on the internets. However, you can never have too much of a good thing, right?

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's fall, and fall means pumpkin-flavored everything. It starts with the pumpkin spice lattes, but soon creeps into products that have no business bring pumpkined: pumpkin spice Pringles, pumpkin spice gum, pumpkin spice body wash?! No no no. Too much.

I'm not a huge fan of the pumpkin takeover, but I do have a few pumpkin foods that I look forward to every year. These pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are a yearly tradition in my house. Every fall I make them, and usually a few more times throughout the holiday season.

They don't follow my usual crispy but chewy cookie preference, having more of a cake-like texture. Light and fluffy, with fall spices, bittersweet chocolate, and a hint of citrus from some orange zest, these cookies have well-balanced fall flavors. Whether you're a pumpkin lover or hater, give these cookies a try.

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Miso Mayo Blistered Green Beans

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Miso Mayo Blistered Green Beans

This might be the easiest side dish you'll make this month. It takes just 10ish minutes and 6 ingredients (half of which are toppings)! The mayonnaise gives the green beans a rich creaminess without leaving behind any mayo taste or heaviness, while the miso adds a salty, nutty quality. Topped off with some spicy chili paste, sesame seeds, and a drizzle of olive oil, these beans will go great alongside any asian dish or accompanying a simple meat like steak or roast chicken. 

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Summer Vegetable Flatbread

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Summer Vegetable Flatbread

I'll admit I'm not the most inventive cook. It's taken time to know what ingredients go together, while also being unique. What has helped me get better and more creative is seasonality. Knowing what is in season every month can help narrow down ingredients that are commonly found together, while still allowing space to come up with new ideas. I know I'm spoiled living in California, where fruits and veggies tend to have longer lives than their midwest counterparts. I like to go to the CUESA site to see what's in season now.

Another tip for building creativity in the kitchen is to start small. For example, this recipe is an open-faced flatbread. It's simple, straightforward, and easy to play around with. My flatbread's toppings are all about spring transitioning into summer. I know it's August, but asparagus has been on super sale almost every week here! I knew I had to do something with it before it's no longer in season. With it is the unbeatable flavor of summer corn. To elevate it a bit and add another flavor and texture, we have a base of greek yogurt with some flavor boosters mixed in.

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Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

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Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Near my alma mater, Azusa Pacific University, there is a frozen yogurt shop called 21 Choices. Their frozen yogurt was the creamy kind, almost like soft serve. Although they have 21 different flavors of yogurt, they offer five each day that with toppings pre-mixed into the yogurt, yielding seemingly endless choices in their arsenal. You know it's a good day when one of the choices is their banana-graham-cracker, which tastes very similar to banana bread. I almost always add dark chocolate to it, which they chop from a bar. It gives you these great pieces of varying size throughout your yogurt. 

So of course when I set out to make banana bread, I have to have those dark chocolate pieces in there. Mine is a little denser and more cake-like, which I prefer so that you can take it with you as an on-the-go breakfast or snack. It won't be crumbling in your hands as you try to eat it. Banana bread is very easy to make, so this will be quick and fun.  

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Breakfast Fried Rice

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Breakfast Fried Rice

This is one of those "what can I make with all the bits and bobs in my fridge" recipes. I do the same to soups and frittatas. It's the weekend, you've cooked all your weeknight meals, and now you have ends of carrots, three leaves of kale, some cold rice, a potato, etcetera hanging out in your fridge with no purpose. Resist the urge to throw these things away! They can have another life as a frittata, a soup, or in this case, as fried rice.

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Shakshuka on Toast

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Shakshuka on Toast

This might be one of the easiest dinners ever. It can be customized to serve as many or few people as you like, from dinner solo to dinner party. Traditionally, this Middle Eastern dish isn't served on toast, but I think it makes a nice addition. Shakshuka is an extremely versatile dish that can handle the addition of ingredients that might strike your creative fancy, and can be eaten for any meal of the day. 

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