A few things that you NEED to cook asap.

I don't know why, but around this time of year, I always find myself irresistibly drawn to the kitchen. I'd blame the change in seasons, but, hi, I live in California now (oh, have you heard?). Musings on the why aside...in the last couple of weeks I've absolutely killed it with a few old favorites and a few new obsessions, and I think you all need to try...ALL of them. 

I first made this absurdly delicious cheesy sausage and croissant casserole for Eva's bridal shower last July (see photo above, GOD that was a cute party!), and it's been a fairly regular player in my crowd-pleasing breakfast rotation since. The key: the Gruyere. It's decadent. I made it on Labor Day, and I'm pretty sure Drew had three pieces. It's been in my lunchbox all week - the leftovers freeze and reheat incredibly well!

With zero shame, I confess to all of you that I've already gotten my basic on and hopped on the pumpkin bandwagon for Fall 2017. I figure since I won't get a real fall here, I might as well evoke it in as many other ways as possible...so I spent the Sunday of Labor Day weekend assembling this absurdly easy pumpkin coffee cake. The recipe comes from one of my favorite bakers, Jessica at How Sweet Eats, and what truly sets it apart is the combo of that brown sugar glaze with the poke cake. It creates these amazing, trickly craters of glaze throughout the cake, and leaves it totally rich and moist and heavenly for as long as it lasts in the house. (Dave has been eating two pieces in one sitting all week. It's not long for this world.) (Photo via Tasty Kitchen.)

Of course, man (and woman) cannot live on bread alone, or on coffee cake and cheesy egg casserole. So I've been doing a lot of chicken lately, primarily because Safeway sells value packs of eight boneless/skinless chicken breasts for around $10. SUCH a good deal! Two favorites: 

This creamy cilantro lime chicken by Sally's Baking Addiction (the creator of my universally renowned apple pie bars!) is, not gonna lie, not a "simple and easy weeknight dinner" in my book. Then again, a "simple and easy weeknight dinner," in my book, is basically just ordering Doordash delivery from Vesta sooo...let's not go there. What this chicken IS, is incredible. There's great heat from the red pepper flakes, tartness from the limes, and fantastic cilantro flavor throughout - I'm a cilantro fiend. Simmering that sauce made our whole apartment smell heavenly. Bonus - it's super easy to reheat. (Photo via Sally's Baking Addiction, duh guys I'm a horrible food photographer!)

My new favorite chicken in the whole wide world, though, is this beast: fig, goat cheese, and pistachio-stuffed chicken with a fig and balsamic sauce. I'm in year-end at work right now, and am basically coming home, eating, and working more every night...and cooking is a great way to break up the workday and the work evening without wanting to scratch my eyeballs out. Couple that with the fact that this is like THE most California recipe ever: I made it with local goat cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, local figs (because I live somewhere where FIGS are in season WHAT?!), and plenty of rosemary, which is drought-tolerant, insect repellent, and planted everywhere here. 

Funny story, actually: after I stuffed and started baking the chicken, and was working on the pan sauce, I noticed Laura had more finely-ground rosemary in our spice cupboard than the dried whole rosemary I'd bought. I went to add just a pinch more, not realizing that the spice filter thing wasn't on...so I dumped like SIX times the rosemary that the recipe called for into the sauce. Immediately convinced I'd ruined it, I was kind of grouchy until the whole thing started simmering and smelling unbelievably delicious. Like...figs, balsamic, and rosemary filling our whole apartment delicious.

All I needed to do once it thickened was strain it to get all the rosemary pieces out, and the sauce was, shit you not, perfect. Lick-the-spoon, eat-it-on-ice-cream, use-it-as-perfume perfect. The aromatic sweetness paired perfectly with the tangy/creamy/savory chicken. It smelled and looked so good that I, shamefully, ate it standing up and scraped the plate clean with my f(inger)ork when I was done. I'm already pumped to have it for dinner again tonight before I go to the airport! 

So there you have it - I feel like I should have a misadventure or two to report, because that's my usual M.O., but all I've got are wins, wins, wins. Hopefully more fun to come!