My Favorite Comfort Food: Fall Pies and Tarts

Just coming off speaking at Food Blog Forum in Nashville this weekend, I woke up feeling so inspired. The talent of food bloggers across the globe truly amazes me. These are some of the hardest working people you’ll ever meet. If you’re not a food blogger, I can’t begin to describe the amount of time and effort it takes to put together just one post. Starting with the recipe concept, there is grocery shopping, cooking and testing, writing, photography, styling and then posting. Each post takes many, many hours. On that note, I wanted to start the week with comfort food at its best: Fall pies and Tarts. These selections have caught my eye in the last week, and I’m not sure which one to make first. This Pumpkin Pie Tart with Almond Crust (Gluten Free) comes from fellow blogger and friend, Marla Meridith of Family Fresh Cooking. I can’t wait to make this one with my kids. Hope you will enjoy looking at these recipes and photos as much as I have.


Fig Almond Tart from Gourmande in the Kitchen

Mini Apple Pies from Family Food Finds

Gingery Cranberry-Pear Pie with Oatmeal Streusel from Cooking Light

Tollhouse Pie from Completely Delicious

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie from How Sweet it Is


Maple Almond Tart from Better Homes and Gardens 

Southern Chocolate Brownie Pie for Alice and “The Help”

When I read Kathryn Stockett’s book, “The Help”, last year, I couldn’t put it down. I loved it. I must admit. It sort of hit close to home since I was raised in Alabama predominantly by my maid, Alice. Alice rode the bus to our house five days a week, and she took care of me from the day I was born until I was a teenager. I was the baby of the family with three other siblings. My parents traveled often, and since I was the youngest, I usually spent the majority of my time with her. Looking back, it’s really amazing that Alice didn’t own a car or have a driver’s license, and yet, I happily stayed at home with her all of the time. Unlike the book, we didn’t have separate bathroom quarters. Instead, my parents treated her as a part of our family. She was so loving, and she had the sweetest heart. She made the best fried chicken, fried okra and of course, desserts. Last night, I took my daughter, Leigh, to see The Help, and I highly recommend it.  In honor of this movie and in memory of Alice, I thought I would share a recipe for this Southern Chocolate Brownie Pie. It’s so easy, crustless and it’s one of my favorites. Cheers to “The Help” and great women like Alice and those in this fabulous story.

Any Occasion Chocolate Cupcakes

This is not one of my typical “lightened-up” recipes, but I had to share these Any Occasion Chocolate Cupcakes with you. My daughter, Leigh, made this recipe for me the night I arrived home from being in Italy for a week. I was so excited to come home to my family and true comfort food. These are so spectacular. You don’t even need to make homemade icing. I wanted to post the recipe for Father’s Day, but I was traveling again this past week. I realized that this recipe is perfect for so many occasions: Father’s Day, birthdays, parties, showers or just because. I thought they would be a great way to start off the week so enjoy.

Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Muffins

I wanted to say happy Friday with Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Muffins. I thought I’d leave you with this recipe as I am off to the BlogHer Food conference in Atlanta and to the Atlanta Food & Wine event (I’m a speaker at both events). I am really looking forward to a packed weekend surrounded by foodies. I have never attended a BlogHer conference, and it is the first ever Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, so it should be a spectacular weekend. In the meantime, enjoy these muffins and have a great weekend!

The Best Passover Brownies

Since I have been working with so many brownie recipe variations for one of my food clients, I realized I needed to create the Best Passover Brownie. This ingredient combination worked like a charm. When I took them out of the oven, I took a picture and put them on Facebook (I was so excited how they turned out). I had a lot of people wanting the recipe ASAP so here it is. It is so easy and fabulous. My friend said, “These are the best Passover Brownies I have ever tasted.” I hope that you like them too, and that they sweeten up your holiday.

Banana-Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins (made with Greek yogurt)

I am so excited to share this recipe for Banana-Dark Chocolate Muffins. It’s a twist of my very popular banana bread recipe. What’s great about it besides the taste is that all of the ingredients can be combined in one bowl, and no mixer is needed. I use nonfat Greek yogurt which adds moisture and increases the protein. These muffins are amazing, and my kids went wild over them. I almost wasn’t able to take a picture of them before they ate them all. Enjoy these muffins for a wonderful breakfast treat, afternoon snack, lunch, or dinnertime dessert.

My Top 10 Favorite Recipes from 2010

2010 has been so busy for me for work and my family. I had a fantastic year working on my upcoming cookbook, “400 Best Sandwich Recipes: For Every Meal and Occasion”,  Television Appearances, Spokesperson work, Recipe Development, and recipe testing and judging. I feel so lucky to be blessed to work with so many great clients and have wonderful support from subscribers, friends, fans, fellow bloggers and, of course, family. Thanks to everyone for all of your support. I am looking forward to an even better 2011 with the release of my upcoming book this spring, television appearances and many speaking engagements scheduled across the U.S. To end the year, I thought I would share some of my personal favorites and most popular recipes from 2010:

1. Lightened Up Spiced and Sugary Pecans

2. Watermelon and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad

3. Pecan Pie Bars

4. Warm Lentil Soup

5. Apple Muffins

6. Radicchio Winter Salad

7. Flaxseed Crusted Salmon

8. Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

9. Chunky Nut and Dried Fruit Granola


10. Easy Beef-Vegetable Kabobs

One to Grown On:  Chocolate Chip Cookie Bark

Last Minute Holiday Gifts: Dark Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Cookies

Wow, cookies are in abundance this time of year, and instead of racking my brain trying to create something new to give as holiday gifts, I decided to go back to a tried and true favorite. Dark Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Cookies are so incredibly fabulous. This recipe is adapted from a “Cooking Light” recipe that I have made many times. What I love about it is that it is lightened up a bit since it has no butter. Instead, it uses Canola oil, water and egg whites. These cookies come out soft and moist with just a hint of peanut butter. Feel free to substitute semisweet chocolate chips or even mini chocolate chips if you like. These are great to give as gifts to neighbors and teachers as well as to leave out for Santa on Christmas eve.

Cozy Up with Peppermint Hot Chocolate

It has been so cold outside lately, so my kids have been requesting hot chocolate. Since I had some peppermint sticks on hand, I crushed them up and made this really simple Peppermint Hot Chocolate mixture. They were ecstatic, and this has been a weekly beverage. I used skim milk in my recipe because that is what we drink at my house to reduce the calories and fat a bit. Enjoy this cozy beverage just in time for the holidays.

Wonderful Holiday Gift: Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookie Bark

Holiday cookie baking has begun, and last week I taped some television food segments for NBC 13 “Daytime Alabama”. One will air in December on “holiday food gifts. I couldn’t decide between a cookie and a bark type dessert, so I decided to combine the two in Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookie Bark. This recipe combines scharffenberger chocolate, pecans and peanut butter chips. It’s incredibly easy and fabulous!

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.