Salted Bourbon Brownies + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream! #ButterSeason

Salted Bourbon Brownies With Organic Valley Butter - offbeat + inspired #ButterSeason

I happen to love the fact that Christmas season starts at 12:01 AM on November 1st. I love that I went to the mall the other day to get my shattered phone screen fixed (again), and was met with the comforting warble of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and a jolly See’s Candies employee handing out free chocolate lollipops. I love that as abruptly as the holiday magic begins, my kitchen turns into a buttery, chocolatey, flour-y wonderland where I retreat regularly to create and let the inspiration (and sugar) fly.

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Hard Lemonade Glazed Cupcakes

Hard Lemonade Glazed Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired

I’ve spent the last week hopping around New Jersey, taking moto adventures through the northwestern hills and lakes, visiting with family and friends, and remembering all the things I love so dearly about my home state. I got to stay at my aunt’s house on Lake Wawayanda, and it is the epitome of a perfect summer retreat. The backyard is unreal. Hammock naps, reading on the dock, storytelling around the fire pit…SO perfect for hot days in mid-August.

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Dreaming of Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes in Tulum!

Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired

I’m in Tulum right now and I can’t even begin to describe how surreal it is. Mexico, for most of my life, had been this intangible exotic thing that I celebrated subtly with a love for taco trucks and simple margaritas. Now I’m in a city where there’s a mezcal bar every ten feet and the best tacos I’ve ever had in my life are being slung on every corner for about 40 cents a pop. I’ve also learned that swimming pools, lakes and oceans do not hold a CANDLE to cenotes when it comes to a day of swimming.

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Mocha Sorbet

Mocha Sorbet-6

Warm weather is finally here! (At least it was for a few days until it promptly disappeared from the Chicago area in favor of the more familiar cold, gray days.) But regardless of the current temperature, there’s always a reason for frozen treats - especially ones that combine my two favorite ingredients: coffee and chocolate. I’m not sure there exists a better flavor pairing (but I welcome your ideas in case I’m missing something epic!). They’re a match made in recipe heaven…especially when the chocolate is dark and earthy the coffee bold and rich.

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GF + Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

GF + Vegan Cinnamon Rolls - offbeat + inspired

I love making friends that share my gluten/dairy intolerances. I hate that they have intolerances because of how fun intolerances aren’t (wouldn’t wish them on anybody), but it’s just awesome to be able to feed my crazy ingredient-ly (??) acrobatic recipes to people who will appreciate them for their health benefits as well as their flavors, and say things like, “WHAT?! I don’t have to stop eating ACTUAL cinnamon rolls?!” No, dear friend. No…you don’t!

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Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies-6

Ever cook something for the first time and then wonder, “Why in the world haven’t I been making this all along!?” That’s how I feel about shortbread. For some reason, I’ve never made shortbread cookies until this year - but now, I’m completely hooked. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve quickly baked (and eaten) enough of these buttery, sweet, crumbly cookies to make up for all the years they’ve been missing from my kitchen.

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Homemade Butterbeer + A Trip to the Wizarding World

Homemade Butterbeer + A Trip to the Wizarding World - offbeat + inspired

Confession! I was SUPER late to the Harry Potter party. When the movies first came out, I was actually kind of annoyed by all the hype. I refused to see them in theaters and avoided family movie nights once they were out on DVD. I couldn’t even put my finger on why I was so against HP because I had no idea what the story was even about. But after all the buzz died down, I watched the first one…and was hooked.

All of my siblings love Harry Potter, so watching with them was a lot of fun. There’s so much to love about the story, the characters, the entire world they created. Before I digress into all the spiritual and philosophical parallels that really get me going, I’ll skip to the part where I got to visit Universal Orlando’s “Wizarding World of Harry Potter“, and experienced the BUTTERBEER. Cue heavens opening, angels singing…

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Crust-Lover’s Layered Apple Pie

Crust-Lover's Layered Apple Pie - offbeat + inspired

Apple pie. It’s in a league of its own. And for such a highly revered dessert, it’s very forgiving. There are thousands of recipes and renditions of “traditional” apple pie being celebrated all over the country. From the type of crust, to the variety and cut of the apples, to the spices and toppings — apple pie lends itself generously to adaptation.

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Grilled Stone Fruit with Butter and Cinnamon

Grilled Stone Fruit with Butter + Cinnamon - offbeat and inspired-4

Is it just me, or did this summer go by super fast? It feels like only yesterday farmers’ market season was starting up and I was thinking through Memorial Day plans. I love fall, but I don’t think I’m ready to give up this warm-weather season. There’s still watermelon to be eaten, picnics to be had, ice cream to be churned and of course, grilling to be done.

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Alpine Mud | A White Sage, Wild Mint, Milk, Chocolate + Bourbon Cocktail

Alpine Mud Cocktail | White Sage, Wild Mint, Milk, Chocolate + Bourbon - offbeat + inspired

The second (and final) recipe of my Juniper Ridge Wildcrafted Tea collaboration with Kristan Raines of The Broken Bread is a bourbon cocktail that I’m absolutely head over heels for — and just in time for National Bourbon Heritage Month!

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