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This is my absolute favorite time of the year, the end of summer and cusp of fall. You can still order iced coffee during the day, but it’s too chilly to leave your windows open overnight. When it’s sunny, there isn’t any humidity, and you can feel fall in every breeze.

This fall I’m particularly nostalgic because I won’t be returning to school. A new school year highlights the excitement of the transitioning seasons. For the past 16 years of my life, I’ve defined the new year not as New Year’s Day but as the first week of school. Does the clean slate, newness of fall go away now that school is over?

It doesn’t have to. We just need to create our own fresh starts.

Stone fruit season is almost over, but you can still salvage summer with these tartlets. Plums are the best right now, and I’ve already mentioned my intimate relationship with mascarpone.

P.s. Check out my friend Megan’s awesome new blog, Sequins and Shortbread. She made a killer pie — also with stone fruit!

So what’s your fresh start?

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I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I would bake for this blog post. I had every intention of making something that was light and had fresh fruit — a guilt-free something that anyone who’s  from the #paleo school of thought could enjoy.

Who am I kidding? Paleo? ME? Truth of the matter is I knew within minutes of regaining consciousness this morning that I wanted something with peanut butter and chocolate. So at 7:30 this morning, before even brushing my teeth, I came downstairs and started measuring out sugar, butter and peanut butter.

And here’s the result.

Sometimes you just have to shut out all the problems of the world and bake. Bake something that could give you diabetes if consumed regularly.  You have to skip the gym, skip your Chobani and blueberries and eat one twelve of these decadent cookies for breakfast.

That’s what I told myself this morning… it’s what I’m sticking to, and damn do I feel good about it.

Full disclosure — this shot has been glammed-out on Photoshop. I lah-lah-love it.

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My muffins bring all the boys to the yard. Why? Because they have mascarpone cheese in them, which is smooth, creamy and subtle in flavor. Mascarpone cheese is less rich than butter and compliments any fruit it is paired with. It’s often used in cheesecake, tiramisu or frosting, but when you bake with it, mascarpone creates a dough that’s looser and more pliable, thereby yielding a moister, lighter end product.

In my opinion, mascarpone is really underused. Here’s a pro tip: pair it with Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter when it’s on shelves and put it on toast. Or mix mascarpone with kiwi and strawberries for stuffed french toast. I could go on and on.

Also, I should mention I added lemon juice to these because they enhance the flavor of the berries. You don’t really taste the lemon, but it’s just enough to bring out the flavor of the berries.

Happy almost 4th of July. Love ‘Merica.

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When the chronology of your day off is: 1. consume enough frozen margaritas to fill a kiddie pool 2. pass out in a sugar/tequila-induced coma in the hot sun 3. wake up famished, disoriented and sunburned, craving a Big Mac (with extra Big Mac sauce) from McDonald’s, your life choices are questionable. I mean #1 and #2 are your own prerogatives, don’t get me wrong. But instead of opting for a Big Mac on this hypothetical (or historically accurate for some) day off, might I suggest a lighter, healthier alternative?

The days of fresh, light eating are upon us. I recommend a bowl of pasta with a dash of olive oil,  plum tomatoes from the garden, mozzarella, basil, rosemary, and prosciutto. It’s simple and cheaper than a few Big Macs that only a margarita hangover would drive a good soul to purchase.

Bring this pasta to the next barbecue you attend. Even if your drunken friends and family embarrass themselves before passing out from all the frozen margs, they will at least thank you for saving them from a potential McDonald’s binge.

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It’s been awhile! Committing to writing regularly can be tough, but I’m ready to start this up again.

I’ve been trying a lot of different recipes lately, but I’ve made these at least three times in the last month and they’re always such a hit. The pink drizzle makes them so pretty, and the almond Hershey kisses compliment the raspberry nicely. And boy, are they easy.

I can tell you what’s not easy… henna-ing a sun and a moon on your wrists after you’ve (very responsibly) had 2 or 3 club sodas with vodka. I learned that the hard way this weekend. My moon came out a shriveled up banana. The sun is a circle with spokes coming out of it. As you would imagine, both hennas look they were illustrated by a blind person, who I allowed run wild after they had a very bad day. In reality, the blind illustrator is two friends from school. I have two blind illustrator friends.

Each celestial body encompasses roughly three inches each of real estate on my wrists. Yeah, I know…

Thanks to my artistic vision, I’ll be wearing sweaters to work for at least a week. It’s late April. Yeah, I know…

It’s really hard when you make poor decisions as an adult. Friends who will graduate in May, you will realize this all too soon. And then once you’re in my position, you’ll wish you had remembered what happened the time Megan thought it would be cool to have parts of the solar system on her wrists.

Thank me now, thank me later for sharing this story and saving you the embarrassment.
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Today was a hectic day at work. As Martha Stewart, Paula Dean and Kitty from That 70’s Show know (I mean, I guess they know), the best way to end a rough day is to bake cookies and drink wine. I have my glass of Seven Deadly Zins, one of my favorite cheap bottles, and I’ve just pulled these cookies out of the oven.

Amazing, right? I know. The cookies are a perfect ending to a long day, and they’re also perfect to give to your pain in the ass significant other for Valentine’s Day. Speaking of which, complaining about Valentine’s Day is overdone. Secretly, everyone cares about Valentine’s Day, and everyone wants a Valentine. I openly admit that the best years of my life were in first and second grade, when my classmates and I decorated paper bags to put on the edge of our desks, and everyone in class got each other little Valentine’s Day cut-out cards. The cards varied from Disney characters to generic teddy bears with sayings like “You’re a bear-y special Valentine.” But screw that cheap teddy bear crap. The most coveted cards were the Scooby Doo ones. If Shaggy was on there, damn, your soul mate was probably sitting a few seats away from you. The most chivalrous men gave those out. If they gave you a Scooby, you didn’t need to use a fake AIM screen name to ask your 2nd grade love interest if they liked you, and then black mail them if they didn’t tell you. The Scooby card was confirmation enough.

If I were in charge at work, I’d make everyone on my floor give each other those little cut outs. And I’d demand my staff gave me all the Scoobies.

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This will be a quick one. I have to go to sleep soon, since as of tomorrow I will be a real person with responsibilities and taxes to pay. Thumbs up to being a big girl. Thumbs down to wearing dress pants daily.

This smoothie will knock your socks off. These proportions are based on my personal preference – lots of strawberry and orange, but you can taste it as you blend and adjust to your liking.

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