A Few (Non Pumpkin) Ways to Celebrate Fall



It’s fall! I know that it officially became fall a few weeks ago, but everything great about this season seems to begin once the calendar flips to October. So to celebrate one of the best times of the year, here is a handful of recipes to bake as the months get colder. And because it seems to be everywhere right about now, there’s no pumpkin to be found. You’re welcome for the reprieve.

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How to Make Granola Without a Recipe


The other day, my friend and I (Hi Joe!) wanted to make granola… but we were too lazy to find and/or follow a recipe. How hard could it really be to wing it?

Turns out, not hard at all.

And so, as a follow up to How to Make Shortbread Without a Recipe, we’re taking a look at how to make granola without one either. All it takes is a few main components: oats, honey, and add-ins, plus some spices and salt. What you add—and how much of it you add—is all up to what you’re feeling (or what your pantry looks like)(or your budget, for that matter).


The basic procedure: preheat your oven and toast any nuts or seeds you might be adding. Toss together some oats and spices, then add in your toasted nuts/seeds plus any other additions. Drizzle in enough honey for things to start to stick together. Finally, spread everything onto a baking sheet, then stick it in the oven until it’s good to go!

Some tips and other things to keep in mind: 

– If you’re adding chocolate, you have two options— 1) Mix it in with the rest of the ingredients before putting the granola in the oven, which makes some pieces melt into the granola and create chocolate clusters. This, needless to say, is pretty awesome. 2) Add the chocolate after the granola has come out of the oven so that it stays solid and doesn’t really melt at all

– To get more clusters, press your granola firmly into the pan in an even layer before putting it in the oven, and don’t stir it around while baking. Let the granola cool in the pan before breaking it up. We also tried adding a beaten egg white to the mix to make more clusters, but that didn’t really seem to make a difference

– I wouldn’t suggest subbing maple syrup or even agave for the honey, as honey is a lot thicker and thus makes the oats stick together much better. You might have success with a thicker liquid sweetener like brown rice syrup, but I haven’t tried that out yet

– I highly suggest hitting up the bulk bin at the grocery store for ingredients and inspiration. Not only does it save money, but all of the ingredients available can spark the idea for some crazy new flavor combo you never would have thought of before


Granola is way too useful and delicious to be complicated. So honestly, why would you use a recipe when you really don’t have too? Raid your pantry, dig out those oats you forgot you had stashed, maybe even splurge on some quality honey. Throw it together, toss it in the oven, and all of a sudden you’ve got yourself a batch of damn good granola.

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Peach and Buckwheat Upside Down Cake


Before this attempt, I am willing to admit that I had never before made any form of upside down cake. Probably because the most common version involved pineapples, and the idea of baked pineapple just seems so ughhhh to me. Peaches, on the other hand, make much more sense.

It wasn’t the peaches that drew me to this cake though. It was the prospect of using buckwheat flour, an ingredient I’ve flirted with before in a few recipes, but ultimately have never truly committed to. A new interest in alternative flours and the unique flavors they bring, however, had me anxious to try this cake out.

It didn’t disappoint.


I feel compelled to try to explain it all, because there’s just something so interesting about this cake, despite its being incredibly simple. First the peaches. The peaches are laid out in a pool of caramel, deep and dark from the brown sugar and rich with butter. Once everything is flipped, the peach juices and the caramel drip down into the cake, mingling and merging and creating a sauce that infuses the whole thing with flavor.

And then the cake. The key here truly is the buckwheat flour. It can be just a bit of an acquiring taste, which is why the whole business is mellowed out here by the addition of wheat flour so as not to overwhelm everything. Buckwheat flour has a nutty, almost earthy flavor that sings alongside the vanilla and brown sugar, and it adds an extra depth and aroma that truly elevates this cake. A cake, it should be noted, that is incredibly light, fluffy, and moist. It really is unlike anything you’ve ever had.


I also think it provides the perfect transition in this bridge between seasons. Late summer peaches that are of less than stellar quality? Stick them in a cake. One that’s cozy and comforting and just begging to be made right. this. second.

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Almond Butter Swirled Meringues


I once wrote that I can never seem to go more than two months without making meringues… and that’s totally true. Aside from being shattering, ethereal, literally-melt-in-your-mouth little gems that are way too easy to eat five at a time, they are also so gosh darn fun to make. It’s like making marshmallows, except there’s no corn syrup or stovetops involved and the end result winds being up being cookies.

I thought that I loved meringues about as much as I ever could, and that there wasn’t much one could do to improve upon them without changing their fundamental nature aside from stirring in a few extracts or flavorings. But then— THEN— the goddess that is Alice Medrich came along and told me how I can make meringues better, and now I love her (and them) all the more for it.


The difference here is the addition of one more simple ingredient: almond butter. Once you’ve made your meringue, you simply fold in a few spoonfuls— a quick step, and yet it ultimately makes all the difference. The nuts cut through the overwhelming sweetness of the meringues and provide an excellent contrast in flavor that simply can’t be beat. The resulting cookies are richer and more complex, elevated beyond the basic one-note sweetness that typically characterizes meringues. It’s basically a match made in heaven.

I’m providing a recipe for meringues made with almond butter, because almond butter is unquestionably delicious and was also the only nut butter to be found in my pantry at the time, but really any nut or seed butter should do here. I would just caution against using any that is sweetened, as the whole aim here is the contrast with the already super sweet meringue. Any basic, straightforward natural version should do.


Celebrate your Friday with a new and improved meringue recipe. You can thank me later.

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The Amazing Flourless Bread


A few questions I’ve been pondering lately:

Is it really a bed if all you have is a mattress on the ground?

Did you really have a conversation if it all happened via text?

Is it really ice cream if it has herbs in it?

Does class really happen if you skip it?

And finally… is bread really bread if it’s made without flour?

I found the answer to some of these, and others are still bouncing around my brain. But as for the bread… it’s different, and it’s new, but I’ve decided that it’s still bread and that’s that.



Instead of flour, the base of this bread is made up of quinoa and millet, two grains that have become increasingly popular with the growing demand for gluten free grain alternatives. As a result, this loaf is loaded with nutrients, minerals, and protein, a welcome change from typical bread loaves. Plus, the millet and quinoa give so much more taste and texture, which I happen to love as it makes things that much more interesting.

The real key to this bread is the psyllium husk, which acts as a binder in the bread while also providing an extra boost of fiber. It’s not a totally common ingredient, but you can likely find it at health food stores, higher end groceries stores, online, or (like me) in the fiber supplement section of the drug store.



Does this loaf taste like “real” bread? Ummm…no. That would be a little too good to be true. It is, however, hearty while still remaining light and chewy, and it toasts up wonderfully. And smeared with a pat of butter? Absolutely stellar. It’s also surprisingly sturdy—despite the lack of flour or even yeast, each slice holds together perfectly and can easily carry a load of toppings or be stacked up as a sandwich.

So despite the fact that gluten and I get alone just fine (clearly), I’m wholly ready to make this little loaf a regular rotation in the kitchen. Plus, no rising time or kneading required? Total win.


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How To Make Shortbread Without a Recipe


I don’t know many recipes by heart. Not even the apple pie that I find myself making more than enough times a year. I’ve got key lime pie and this shortbread, and that’s about it.

But does it count if you don’t technically need a recipe? Or measuring cups? Or really even a pan? Because if you’ve got flour, oil, powdered sugar, a flat baking surface, and a working oven, you’ve got shortbread. The end.



I feel as if I’ve done a fair bit of moving and traveling in the past year, enough so that I’ve found myself in a number of kitchens that were woefully understocked, either in ingredients, utensils, or both. Which is how this shortbread even came about, striking as inspiration when I found myself alone in a town in Bulgaria for a week with nothing but flour, sugar, oil, and a tiny oven (that I would later go on to break by setting on fire, but that’s another story). There’s no measuring required, which is why it works out so well for anyone who finds themselves abroad with nothing but a trendy little scale with which to measure. Just a cup or small bowl, any size, and you’re good to go.


The key to this recipe is the ratio. 3 parts flour, 1 part powdered sugar, and 1 part oil. It can be any kind of flour. Any variety of oil. Any sized measuring device. It doesn’t matter; you’ll still wind up with shortbread.

Shortbread that, it’s fair to say, isn’t exactly up the usual wholesome standard of recipes around here. But the oil, while plentiful, can be one with healthy fats. The flour can be whole grain. The sugar… well, there’s going to be a lot of sugar, and that’s that.

This shortbread was the first thing I made in the new house I moved into here in Chapel Hill. I had measuring cups. There were plenty of pans. The grocery store and an infinite supply of ingredients was just a short drive away. I could have made anything. But I’ve carried this recipe with me, and it’s one I’ve made countless times in countless kitchens in countless cities. So it only seemed right that I would bring it to this home too.




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Chewy Lemon Almond Cookies


There are some recipes that I come across and immediately know that I have to make within the next 24 hours, even if it means an emergency run to the grocery store. These genius sugar cookies are a prime example. Then there are others that I see, fall in love with, and then…nothing. They sit there, in the back of my mind or on a To Bake list, as newer, cooler recipes come along and push those once shining ideas into the recesses of my brain until I’ve completely forgotten about them and they are no more.

That was, unfortunately, the original fate of these almond cookies, a beautifully enticing recipe that I came across sometime during high school chemistry class, vowed to make, and then waited for way too many years before finally rediscovering them and once again placing them at the forefront of my baking agenda.


These cookies are made with almond paste (not marzipan, there’s a difference), and as a result are so almondy that it’s almost ridiculous. In the best way possible. And because some things, usually almond related, are never truly great until paired with a bit of lemon tang, there’s lemon zest added to the batter as well. It’s the kind of recipe where a few ingredients allows the strongest components to shine, and as a result these are deeply flavorful cookies with the perfect amount of chew and a delightfully crunchy edge.



They also don’t require chilling, which is pretty much my favorite thing to find in a cookie recipe because two hours of cookie dough chilling in the fridge usually means way too much time waiting for freshly baked cookies, as well as the inevitable consumption of about half the raw dough straight out of the fridge before it even comes close to a cookie sheet or preheated oven.

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Strawberry Sorbet


Another humid summer day, another ice cream recipe, amiright?

I first got hooked on sorbet years ago when I tried some fancy gourmet version that my dad brought home. Like pretty much any kid, I couldn’t understand why anyone in their right mind would choose sorbet made out of fruit when instead they could have ice cream full of cream and cookie pieces and CHOCOLATE.

But then I actually tried that fancy sorbet, and I understood perfectly. So perfectly, in fact, that the next day I walked down to the little corner store and bought a whole pint for myself and downed it in one sitting.

But when it’s made up mostly of fruit, that’s practically a smoothie. So I was basically being healthy.



And while I wouldn’t recommend eating a whole batch of this strawberry sorbet at once, you can feel even better about it than that store bought version I became so addicted to because, unlike other sorbet recipes, it doesn’t call for a mind-boggling amount of sugar, instead relying on strawberry preserves for sweetness and a silky texture. Not to mention even more rich, fruity strawberry flavor.



And bonus! You can still make this even if you don’t have an ice cream maker. It will take a lot more time and a little more energy, but the finished product is the same and you’ll still get to enjoy sorbet. It’s a win for everybody! (Including any friends or family you might have nearby when this emerges from the freezer. They’re sure to thank you heartily)

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