My Favorite Pumpkin Muffins
Because I’ve made them many times over the years and they’re the best pumpkin muffins I’ve tasted — fluffy, flavorful, unfussy, nice doming.

Because even though baking with pumpkin can be kind of a seasonal fad, it’s a delicious one, so pumpkin on!

Because now that it’s October you’re undoubtedly going to need to bring a crowd-pleasing, autumn-appropriate dish to school/work/church/soccer, etc. Or you’re simply going to want one at home on a brisk autumn afternoon.

Because you can easily double the recipe for a big group — in fact, the orignal recipe from Erin Cooks (one of my earliest favorite food blogs) makes a whole lot of muffins — or make them in mini muffin pans or mini loaf pans for lunch boxes or cute gifts.

Because pumpkin + cake mix does not equal a recipe (yeah, I said it — sorry, Pinterest!).

Because you probably have all the ingredients on hand already (especially in October, because pumpkin time).

Because they can pass for breakfast, dessert or even a side dish — versatility awaits!

Because friends love to receive the occasional pumpkin muffin surprise on their doorstep.

Because baking these muffins doubles as an awesome home fragrance for your kitchen.

Because…oh, just turn on the oven and make ‘em!

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sausage-fig-manchego-bites-top-edited-490 To me, appetizers are the ultimate comfort food. They’re a treat – party food, or something to share when my husband and I are out at a restaurant. With just a few bites through which to deliver something delicious and memorable – the flavors and textures of appetizers can be bolder, more intense, maybe even more decadent. Just a few amazing bites are all I’m after.

When I began building these Smoked Sausage, Fig and Manchego Skewers in my mind, I could already taste the sweet and the salty, the smoky and the buttery. I could envision the grill marks on the sausage, the glistening honey-topped fresh fig rounds and the pretty little rosemary skewers anchoring each stack.

Johnsonville Sausage, which has been making sausage since 1945, challenged me to create a fall comfort food dish and they’d love to give one lucky Panini Happy reader a $100 Visa gift cardRead on for my recipe and for details on how to enter to win the giveaway. [continue reading…]


A Surprisingly Good Apple Cake

September 23, 2014

BOOM — the moment I came through the doors of the preschool my proud little boy shoved the little ziploc bag containing that day’s project right up to my face so I’d be sure to see it. “We made apple cake!!” Big grin, eyes wide and twinkling, legs jumping up and down — you can […]

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Well, hello!

September 8, 2014

That’s me, smile-screaming on the kiddie coaster at Happy Hollow this summer. My little girl insisted we sit in the front row, for maximum thrills. I am so not a roller coaster person! But my kids got me on them at least four times over the past few months. And I have to admit, I […]

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Moving House

June 10, 2014

An intermittent little eyebrow twitch reminds me that our departure from San Diego and move back to the Bay Area is a little more than two weeks away. I’ve been a giant ball of stress for the past few months and I have a feeling that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Selling our house […]

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Mac ‘n Cheese Grilled Cheese

April 30, 2014

It’s the last day of April, which means that National Grilled Cheese Month is drawing to a close. We’ve got one last guest blogger today, Stefani Pollack from Cupcake Project, and she’s sharing just about the cheesiest grilled cheese sandwich possible: Mac ‘n Cheese Grilled Cheese. The mac ‘n cheese isn’t on the inside, like […]

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Texas Toast Asparagus Crab Melt

April 21, 2014

Hello everyone! While my world continues to be overtaken by THE MOVE (there’s a gentleman shampooing the rugs at this very moment), my friend Amy Flanigan from Very Culinary is stopping by Panini Happy today to share her amazing grilled cheese — the Texas Toast Asparagus Crab Melt. She had me at Texas Toast…and asparagus…and […]

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Pickled Asparagus Grilled Cheese

April 16, 2014

Happy National Grilled Cheese Month! I know it’s been a little quiet around here lately — my family is getting ready to bid a bittersweet farewell to San Diego and move back up to the Bay Area, so my time has been completely zapped by decluttering, packing, househunting and other relocation joys. Meanwhile, the cheesiest […]

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Reuben Panini

March 14, 2014

{I first posted this recipe in September 2008 — now updated with clearer instructions, a new photo and an excerpt from my cookbook, The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook} Once upon a time I asked Panini Happy readers to name their favorite sandwich. The overwhelming choice turned out to be the Reuben. It wasn’t hard for […]

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Grilled Banana Bread…and our Hawaiian Vacation!

March 1, 2014

Under the shade of an umbrella, reclined in a beach chair with my sandy legs outstretched, in view of coconut trees, paddle surfers and my little kids who are splashing at the edge of the lagoon…this is my paradise. And paradise was reality last week when my family traveled to Hawaii! I’ve got a slew […]

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