Creamy Rigatoni with Sausage and Fennel | girlversusdough.com @girlversusdough

This pasta. This is last-meal kind of pasta. This is the kind of pasta you eat when you don’t just want any old variety of carbs and cheese — you want grown-up, legit, every-bite-is-a-flavor-explosion kind of pasta. This is it.

I happened upon this recipe for creamy rigatoni with sausage and fennel (oooo, even sounds fancy) about a month or so ago when I was tired of our run-of-the-mill spaghetti night. Don’t get me wrong — homegirl loves her classic old school marinara sauce and long noodles that wrap around a fork combo, with an extra sprinkling or five of grated Parmesan. I’m not above it. But sometimes it just doesn’t hit the pasta spot.

This pasta? With its creamy tomato sauce that hugs every bite of al dente rigatoni paired with sweet Italian sausage and hints of crunchy veg all topped with a waterfall of fresh-grated salty Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley? THIS pasta hits every spot, and then some.

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Cheesy Garlic Herb Pull Apart Bread | girlversusdough.com @girlversusdough

Hello, hello! As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be popping in here a few more times over the next few months to share some recipes I’ve created in partnership with Immaculate Baking. So if you’re still here, hello! And lucky you. Because these recipes I’m planning to share are ones you’ll to want to file under “keepers” (in my humble opinion, at least) — starting with this cheesy garlic herb pull apart bread. HELLO. ← for officially the fourth time.

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5 Ingredient Cheese Straws | girlversusdough.com @girlversusdough

If you need a quick, easy, cheesy and delicious holiday appetizer this month, I’m your gal. Actually, these 5 ingredient cheese straws are your gal — er, your go-to recipe. You catch my drift.

When it comes to appetizers, I’m not one for too much creativity. I like to make something that’s simple to put together and can keep friends and family satiated until dinner — sometimes that’s a cheese plate, or hummus or guacamole, and sometimes it’s cheese straws. They never fail me, and they make all the cheese lovers in the room happy (yours truly included).

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Bacon Wrapped Maple Bourbon Turkey Breast | girlversusdough.com @girlversusdough

In case you have forgotten, Thanksgiving is exactly ONE WEEK AWAY. No, I do not know how this happened. Yes, I am freaking out a little bit that I have seven days to prepare for the holiday (though I’ll be honest, the “preparation” this year basically consists of me and my big bad preggo self showing up at my parents’ Thanksgiving table, maybe helping out with making a couple of appetizers and sides, but more so making plans to faceplant into the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie). How are you doing?

If you’re in charge of the bird this year, may I highly suggest this bacon wrapped maple bourbon turkey breast? It’s the perfect main dish to serve for a smaller crowd that’s really into trying new things on Turkey Day while also keeping with tradition. I know this because I served this to my own family last week (as a pre-Thanksgiving dry run, if you will) and I swear there was applause — maybe it was just me. For myself. Hard to say.

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French Onion Tartlets | girlversusdough.com @girlversusdough

You guys — are we cool to talk about Thanksgiving yet? I mean, it is literally the biggest social eating occasion of the year, and I know we all love to hang out and eat. It’s our thing. Ergo, Thanksgiving is totally our thing, so it’s totally OK to talk about it already (it’s November and there are Christmas trees in all the stores already, for Pete’s sake! Give me two weeks and Mariah Carey Christmas will be playing on my Pandora radio).

That’s my line of reasoning anyway to talk to you about these bomb French Onion Tartlets that I need you to add immediately to that Thanksgiving menu I know you’ve already totally planned (ahem). Bonus points if you decide to make them ahead of time, you know, for the research.

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Tomato Grilled Cheese Soup | girlversusdough.com @girlversusdough

I have few distinct memories of those earliest days as a mother — even just two years later, they’ve all blended together into a smoky haze of early-early mornings, nursing and Scandal marathons at 2 a.m., sweet snuggles with a sleepy babe who fit perfectly into the crux of my arm and a veritable parade of generous friends and family wielding casseroles and salads and homemade bread in exchange for their own snuggles with baby (memories that I know will suddenly become reality again for us in several months, gulp).

One thing we never got much of was soup, and I suppose that’s because we were heading into summertime and all that was on everyone’s minds was grilled meat and fresh vegetables and wedges of juicy watermelon (of which I ate PLENTY in those earliest days). But I know that if I was having a newborn in the fall, in these comfy-cozy months, I would want soup — with grilled cheese, of course.

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