With Fall finally here, some might want to tuck that bottle of tequila away in the back of the liquor cabinet – never to be seen, or heard from again until warmer months next year. Not in this house! Sure, I might make beer my beverage of choice for the winter months – but, a girl still needs a fruity mixed drink every now and again. My girlfriend visited Cape Cod over the summer, and came home raving about a pomegranate margarita she’d had on vacation, and begged me to come up with a recipe for her. So, here it is Michelle – only 3 months after you asked me!

I love the addition of the pomegranate juice. It adds such beautiful color, and flavor, and enough sweetness that no simple syrup or agave is necessary. When I start to see those bright, fuchsia balls of color in the produce departments around this time of year – I can’t help but get excited for the months ahead. Fall and Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then – Christmas. It’s just so much fun, in the kitchen and otherwise, to look forward to. I’m hoping these festive and fruity drinks make the weeks pass by a little faster, so that treasured time with friends and family will be here all the quicker! Have a great weekend, everyone.

General Tso, or Zuo Zongtang (as he was better known) was a Chinese statesman and military leader in the late Qing Dynasty. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t serving up this traditional Chinese-American dish to his troops at that time- but, he must have been one helluva stand-up guy to have such a dish named in his honor. General Tso’s chicken is usually one of my husband’s choices when we order take-out Chinese. I suppose I should say “was” one of hisfavorite choices, eventually he gave up. Flabby chicken, a cloyingly sweet sauce with no heat – it was a sad state around here.

So, when I came across a recipe for it in Saveur’s most recent issue (1 of the 101 Classic Recipes) I couldn’t wait to try it at home. I try not to keep frying to a minimum around here, as standing over a vat of bubbling grease isn’t really my bag. And you know, also the whole calorie thing. But, for a dish like this, it’s totally worth it to indulge. It’s a liquid batter, which I found interesting – but it worked well. It’s composed primarily of cornstarch, which maintains it’s crispiness after being removed from the fryer, and stands up to a tossing in thick sauce.

Oh right, the sauce.  Let me just go ahead and state for the record that it’s about 1,000,003 times better than any Tso’s sauce I’ve had in any Chinese restaurant. The fresh ginger and garlic, the bite from the rice wine vinegar, some sweetness from brown sugar, and then tomato in the background to balance everything out nicely. I couldn’t find the peppers they called for in the recipe, so I just substituted some red serranos and a squirt of Sriracha. It wasn’t too spicy that the boys couldn’t eat it too, and eat it they did. Fake out – take out nights are some of my favorite dinners, and this is definitely a new one to add to the rotation!

Shrimp and feta is one of those combinations that I’ve been wanting to try for what seems like forever now, but just never got around to it. So, when my friend Tara raved about this dish after they’d had it for dinner last week, I had to get the recipe and finally give it a try.

This meal couldn’t get any easier. The step that takes the longest amount of time, or the most effort, was peeling the shrimp. This is a great way to use up the last of the tomato plants that are on the vines – and roasting them just intensifies their flavor. Then, to bring feta to the party too? Flavor bomb, people. This dish kind of reminded me of a good shrimp scampi – only more amped up flavor profile.Next time I’ll probably give the shrimp a quick saute in a skillet before adding them to the oven. The texture was just a wee bit mealy on the outside – I think due to the fact that you don’t have that quick burst of intense heat to sear the outside. And that’s all you’d need – less than a minute. Just enough to get them started, then finish off the cooking in the oven.

I served it over pasta, but next time I’ll probably just go with some crusty bread and a salad. This dish will definitely be making more appearances in our kitchen!

I’d had my heart set on making these cupcakes when Annie posted them last year. Sadly, pumpkin season fizzled out before I had the opportunity to make them last fall. So, I made sure that they were at the top of my “most bake” list for this year! So glad that I did too, because they are wonderful.

A hefty dose of espresso powder goes into the cupcake batter, to really give the strong coffee flavor that I crave when I hear the word “latte”. Then, to add all those warm and inviting flavors to the party – like pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Topped all off with a whipped cream frosting and a drizzle of caramel sauce? How can you say no?

So now you can have your Pumpkin Spice Latte, and eat it too. I hope that everyone enjoys these as much as we did! They pretty much make the b est breakfast ever (just sayin’). We’re looking forward full of pumpkin festivities this weekend. Hopefully, we’ll be brewing our pumpkin ale on Sunday, provided that we can find Sugar Pumpkins. So, keep your fingers crossed for us on that front. Have a great weekend, everyone!