Today is Princess H's birthday. My kids' birthdays traumatize me.  The glorious sunshine made it hard to be totally depressed, but, still, I'd rather not talk about it right now...

A couple weeks ago, my saintly friend and darling Brother Z -- both of whom have mad kitchen skilz -- helped me make 88 caramel apples for my sister-in-law's wedding. (And by "helped" I really mean "did with virtually no assistance from me." My primary role was chasing my two slightly sticky toddlers around the TV). In case you've ever contemplated a similar feat, consider yourself warned: Such quantities of sticky ooze are not for the faint of heart! We took shortcuts -- following this recipe, rather than making our own caramel -- but it still took us more than an hour just to unwrap the stuff!

Anyway, caramel apples are great, but I'm a (relatively) low-maintenance gal, and I endorse treats that are similarly straightforward. Here are a few of my very favorite super-easy seasonal delights:
Mix two of these:

with one of these:

 Don't add any eggs or butter; a pinch of cinnamon or pie spice is nice but not necessary.
Drop onto lightly greased cookie sheets and @375 until set but not brown.


These are not just five-ingredient simple, they are insanely delicious and classy. Our big brother makes them. He's a pretty impressive guy. But these definitely raise the bar.

Prepare this according to package directions
(If memory serves, it demands a stick of butter and an egg. Easy peasy.)

 If you're feeling fancy, or have it on hand, add a pinch of cinnamon and/or cardamom, then press the dough into a buttered baking dish -- I've been using an odd little guy I discovered hanging around that is slightly smaller than a standard rectangular cake pan.  Then, cover the top with a full bag of these bad boys

They sell this Moroccan-spiced Pistachio mix at the little
grocer around the corner, but I've also seen them at Whole Foods.
I think it's worth seeking them out, just so you can make this
for your next Autumn picnic.
It's a enigmatic melange of salted nuts, pepitas, sesame seeds,
tiny bites of fig and -- wait for it -- harissa.
When you put this spicy-salty-sweet on top of soft-chewy cookie bar,
it is kind of insanely delicious.

and bake @ 375 until it's puffed and a little golden around the nuts.