Joy the Baker

Roasted Tomato and Pesto Grilled Cheese

October 1, 2014

Roasted Tomato Pesto and Brie Grilled Cheese

Here’s what we’re going to do:

We’re going to go to our refrigerators and gather all of the delicious things.  If those things are roasted, pesto-ed, and melty… that’s ideal.

Truth be told, sometimes all I have in the fridge is orange juice and bendy celery… that’s why God invented bourbon and those Chinese take-out menus at the bottom of my junk drawer.  Orange juicy and bendy celery aren’t allowed in this sandwiches.  Not on this day… when there is precious Brie and pesto in the refrigerator.

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Free Print with Cookbook Pre-Order!

September 29, 2014

Homemade Decadence Pre-order!

Hello friends!  I have fun news for you today!

As you know, my second cookbook Homemade Decadence comes out October 14th!  So soon!  The book is filled with 125 irresistibly sweet, salty, gooey, sticky, fluffy, creamy, crunchy treats.  I know because that’s what it says on the cover and that’s the sort of love and passion I put into every single recipe!  I’m really proud of this book.  I can’t wait for you to have it and fill your bellies with cookies and cake.

I want to thank those of you who have already pre-ordered the book and entice those of you who have yet to pre-order.  Here’s a little something special!

When you pre-order Homemade Decadence we’ll send you a free print of one of these four photos from the book!  The first 250 people who pre-order will also receive a signed book plate from me to add to their book!  

The prints are:

Vanilla Bean Confetti Cookies / Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline

Lemon Blueberry Pie / Sour Cream Coffee Cake

All really delicious things that you should totally get baking’ as a pretty print for a  little extra inspiration.

In the book world, pre-orders are a big deal.  It helps convince book sellers that I’ve written a book that people are excited about! In turn, I promise to continue coming up with the most comforting and fun dessert recipes to share.  Pre-orders are a big deal and I appreciate your support and want to reward you with something pretty.  THANK YOU!  It really means so much to me!

Homemade Decadence is available for pre-order here:  Amazon /  Barnes & Noble   /  Indie Bound 

After ordering, click here to submit your proof of purchase and mailing address and we’ll ship you a pretty print (and book plate if you’re one of the first 250)!  If you’ve already pre-ordered (thank you!!), simply find your order number and submit for a print!

Tour stops and dates are taking shape and will be announced soon!!

I love you!  Have a happy day!


Custom wrapping paper and gift tags in the video by Minted.


Let It Be Sunday

September 28, 2014

Let It Be Sunday

Happy Sunday my friends! I hope your week has been full, productive, filled with coffee and salad and the occasional treat.  I’m working hard on a cookbook about BRUNCH while preparing to jump up and down for my second cookbook release Homemade Decadence.  I feel very blessed to live these days.

There is lots of riffraff on the Internet these days.  Here are some a few of my favorites from this week:

•  Let’s talk about technology.  The Brave New Phone Call.

•  Are you ready for a new social network!?  Don’t worry, I hear you screaming NOOOOOOO just below my own similar screams.  Despite our cries… Ello.  Is it the invite only anti-Facebook social network or is it just another pain in the rear?  According to The AtlantiEllo Says You’re Not A Product But You Are. SIGH.

•  “Defying expectations is one thing; winning a war in which victory has not yet been adequately defined is another.”  The Reluctant Loner President Builds a Coalition and Goes After Terrorists Across Syria because really bad things are still happening in Syria and Iraq.

• Co-creator of The Simpsons Sam Simon is in a philanthropic race against terminal cancer:  Always Leave Them Laughing.

 Why Men Never Remember Anything.  It’s not because they aren’t listening… it’s because as youths, boys are spoken to differently than girls.

•  I’m reading Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward.  It is heartbreaking and beautiful.

•  I often skip wearing an apron in the kitchen because I don’t want a shapeless / boxy piece of fabric to ruin my dinner party outfit.  Thankfully the new line of  Salt House Aprons keeps my fashion and kitchen vanity in mind with their lovely aprons.  My favorite is the Maxi.   I wear it high-waisted and it’s super chic.

•  Never buy that little jar of pre-made Pumpkin Pie Spice again:  Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

•  There are new episodes of my web series Bonkers Awesome ready for you on ulive!  I made the best caramel apples with the ladies of Liddabit Sweets and it was the best day!

•  New Joy the Baker Podcast for you: The GIF That Keeps On Giving.

•  Arugula Persimmon and Pomegranate looks divine.

•  Maple Pumpkin Latte Syrup.  I believe this will be quite delicious!

Let’s enjoy this day!  I love you, bye-bye!


My Favorite Travel Essentials

September 26, 2014

My Favorite Travel Essentials

I have a tremendous amount of travel coming up this Fall. I’m hitting the road to promote my new cookbook Homemade Decadence, and I can’t wait to meet you, sign your book, and find the very best doughnut in every city I visit.  I’ll post more about the tour soon.  We’re still ironing out the details.  In the meantime I’m gathering my travel essentials because hitting the road without my favorite scarf and granola bar is just not cool at all.

I love to get-gone.  Travel feeds my brain and soul.  Travel also means leaving the comforts and variety of my closet and medicine cabinet.  I think packing should be extremely intentional with just a hint of indulgence.  We’re going to need the basics along with a few luxuries that we can enjoy along with our super special hotel room service.  We’re going for healthy, stress-free, happy travel.  Here are a few things that help!

1  •  I always pack away a Filtering Water Bottle in my carry-on.  With a charcoal filter built into the cap, I can make drinking water out of any faucet!  This comes in really handy in hotels that charge $8 for the bottle of water tempting me from the mini-bar.  I’m just sure to keep the bottle empty until I’m through airport security.  They love to snatch these little gems full of water and then lecture me.

2  • For as much as I talk about nail polish, you’d think my nails are immaculate.  False.  I’m usually rocking some sort of nail disarray.  I travel with these Nail Polish Remover Pads because I don’t want to get caught with janky nails when I have an important meeting.

3  • This Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy Nail Polish is the fastest and easiest polish on the go.  Two coats go on super easy and even, no base coat needed.  This is the best nail polish for an in-bed self-manicure.  You know?

4  • I’m not above the quick hand wash of a shirt in a hotel room sink.  There was usually some sort of barbecue sauce accident that requires the use of these Travel Laundry Detergent Pouches.  Also, one of these Tide To-Go in the purse is a really good idea where delicious food and silk are combined.

5  •  I don’t like to pile powder on my face so these Oil Absorbing Face Papers are perfect on the go.  They absorb any excess shine without adding more gunk… sometimes makeup feels like gunk.  

6  •  This creamy and smooth Pumpkin Face Mask is amazing!  It’s all-natural pumpkin and alpha-hydroxy acids for skin rejuvenation.  There’s also cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger which makes the pumpkin mask feel like pie in the best way.  I just spoon a bit into a carry-on toiletry container and head out!

7  •  A headache.  I won’t stand for it.  Usually it’s just that I need to drink an entire bottle of water to rehydrate, but these flat / no-water-needed / on-the-go  Headache Medicine pouches are soooo good to go!

8  •  It’s important that I get my greens even when I’m on the road eating all of the doughnuts.  I just pack away a few Aloha Daily Green packs and shake them into a small bottle or orange juice.  It’s great as an immunity and energy boost!   

9  •  I never understood the need for a luxury like Evian Face Spray until I was on a plane for 13 hours straight.  That’s not a humble brag. .. it’s more of a cry for help from my dry skin!  The recycled air on airplanes will quickly dry out my skin, so a quick spray feels both necessary and luxurious.

10  •  I’m an angry person if I don’t have Hand Lotion when I need it.  I’ve gone so far as to rub chapstick on my hands.  Desperate times.

11  •  Traveling well has a lot to do with maintaining proper moisture levels.  Face spray, hand lotion and now the most indulgent of all: EyeDew Eye Pads.  They’re a wonderful treat for under eye moisture.  Definitely a treat!

12  •  Plane travel requires a security blanket.  This Traveling Scarf is made of woven Turkish cotton and is super cozy, comfortable, and multi-purpose.  It can be a bath towel, beach towel, neck warmer, or head scarf.

13  •  I like having power in my purse.  This  External iPhone / USB charger ensure that my phone doesn’t die and I don’t have to glue myself to a crowded airport outlet.

14  •  I’m generally at my best when I’m well moisturized and not hungry.  I always have a  Kind Bars or some sort of chocolate in my purse.  It’s all about keeping hangry at bay.

15  •  The stress of finding enough overhead storage space for a carry-on is an issue I want to forever erase from my travel brain.  I’ve been challenging myself to only pack what can fit in an Under Seat Carry On and the liberation of less is real!

I hope this is a help to you if you’re hitting the road this Fall or this holiday (too soon?) season!  Last tip… don’t be the person that carries the giant travel pillow through the airport.  Those dang things are inflatable now, thank goodness.


Vanilla Bean Sweet Potato Waffles

September 24, 2014

vanilla bean sweet potato waffles

It’s pretty amazing how the body’s cravings start to change as the we move through the seasons.  I sauntered (as I do…) past the sweet potatoes in the grocery store last week and they called out to me!  I collected an arm load and nestled them in my basket, but wait… whaaat!?  I haven’t thought of a sweet potato in months.  I’ve only had eyes for watermelon, pink wine, strawberries, and other such brightly colored summer delicacies.

The days they change and our bodies want to change along with them.  That’s pretty cool.  Until next year watermelon!

Vanilla Bean Sweet Potato Waffles

First there were Mashed Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Waffles.  Proof positive that smashed potatoes can and should be waffles.  These waffles are tender, sweet, and the prettiest breakfast!

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Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup

September 22, 2014

creamy roasted red pepper soup

I’m notorious for making a giant pot of something-or-other and eating it (sometimes begrudgingly) all.week.long. Soups are good for long-term consumption especially if you add a small pat of butter and a splash of heavy cream after each subsequent reheating.  Did this soup get more delicious?  It sure did!

I can make it through four straight days of soup consumption before I revolt and treat myself to (really, anything but soup) a giant cheeseburger, french fries, and all of the bourbon.

Since we’re staring this Monday straight in the face, I thought I’d start our week off with a staple.  Something savory and healthful to get us through the week with grace and strength.  I’m rooting for us.

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Let It Be Sunday

September 21, 2014

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

These days, the mornings are as dark as the nights and the air has just a faint mention of crisp Autumn.  I’m almost willing to believe that the stifling New Orleans heat won’t actually last forever.  Change is stirring.  Slowly, but stirring.  I had a nice visit this week to LoomedNOLA where they have the most lovely and luxurious hand-woven Turkish linens.  I found a soft new scarf.  I’m trying to will cool air with purchasing power.

The week, as always, is full of big and small.  I hope you have coffee and a huge pastry in hand for Sunday reading:

•  The most altruistic among us have larger brains and a more keen sense of others in distress.  Let’s talk about extreme altruists.  Brains of kidney donors seem build for generosity.  

•  No matter the size of our altruistic brains, I think Be The Match is a great way to give.

•  Not just other people’s problems:  Why The World Should Actually Care About Ebola.  

•  Seven days inside the life and death world of Syria’s first responders – the last hope for civilians caught in the chaos:  Whoever Saves a Life.  

•  Some Things You Can Do In Your Sleep, Literally.  Our brains are pretty sharp even in their sleep-state. I’d also like to volunteer myself to be a part of a sleep study.  How weird and cool would that be!?

 Presidential coffee preferences are a state secret.  I’m guessing that President Obama drinks his coffee with cream and sugar.  Or sugar and almond milk if Michelle is getting on his case.

•  Taking the time to turn off all the pings and dings to read some fiction.  It’s called Slow Reading… and it’s weird that we even have to give a special title to reading a book.  I highly recommend David Gilbert’s & Sons.  It’s a wondrous read.

•  Feeling particularly happy, accomplished, and confident?  Stay away from the Internet.  According to everything on the Internet:  You’re Doing It Wrong.  SIGH.

•  Mortality according to Lena Dunham.

•  Men I’ve Met At Corners.

•  I love Emily’s tips for Glowing Skin.  I’m trying this Matte and Shimmer Pencil and this peachy pink cheek stain.  One day I’ll master the wonders of bronzer… or not.  It’s cool.

•  Pale Pink Autumn Coat.  Why not?

•  All the reasons that Denise Huxtable from The Cosby Show was a fashion icon for real.

•  Let’s be people who make Whole Wheat English Muffins.  Perfect as the weather cools down.  

Have a most happy Sunday!

I love you, buh-bye.


Sausage, Cheddar and Grits Frittata

September 20, 2014

Sausage Cheddar and Grits Frittata

I fell down such a strange Internet rabbit hole this week.  There were makeup tutorial videos, doomsday prepper podcasts, and a weird amount of frittata recipe googling.

While I still don’t know how to properly apply bronzer or survive the apocalypse, I can make one damn fine frittata.  Award-winning  (according to me).

Frittata is Italian for “I’m too lazy to make quiche crust.” It’s a simple baked egg dish that can house just about any filling that you can dream up and can be served morning, noon, or night.  Wow.  Frittata is also Italian for “Eat this. You’re welcome.” Don’t worry.  I’m fluent.

Whatever we do, can we not call it a crustless quiche?  That just sounds sad and lazy and makes me wonder who is enjoying crust without me.

Let’s talk about this frittata, because I sure did put grits in it, and I’m not even sorry.

Sausage Cheddar and Grits Frittata

 This frittata (as the name above would suggest) is home to spicy Italian sausage and cheddar cheese.  Eggs of course, because a frittata isn’t a frittata without eggs.  The HECK YES elements of this frittata are the dollops of cheesy chives grits that stud the dish.  Soft creamy eggs meets cheesy baked grits?  Spicy and sausage, too?  It’s a very good idea.

Weekend breakfast idea complete.  You should drink more coffee and keep your pajama pants on until at least 3pm.  For sure.

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Roy Choi’s Furikake Kettle Corn

September 17, 2014

Roy Choi's Furikake Kettle Corn

I’m don’t have a cool party trick.  I’m not double jointed.  I’m not a gymnast or former cheerleader.  I can’t curse in Russian.  I never could do one of those beer funnel things.  My tap dancing skills really need some work (mostly because I never had them in the first place).  I can play a few jazz tunes on the piano, but that always ends up being more embarrassing than impressive.

In the absence of a party trick there is this:  Roy Choi’s Furikake Kettle Corn.  Praise the Lord above.  This is SO FOR REAL GOOD.

Roy Choi's Furikake Kettle Corn

There’s a lot we need to talk about.  I know that I’ve mentioned the work ‘furikake’ like it ain’t no thing and you might be like.. um, WHAT!?

Furikake is a sweet and savory Japanese spicy that is meant to be sprinkled over white rice.  In furikake you’ll find, dried fish flakes (bonito), seaweed bits, sesame seeds, sugar, salt, and (in the case of my furikake) wasabi.  It’s a magic seasoning that encompasses every sweet, salty, savory, and umami desire.  Find Wasabi Furikake (with fish flakes) here.  Find Furikake (without fish flakes) here.

To our kettle corn we also add Corn Pops (YES a cold cereal), finely chopped bacon (burnt is best), finely chopped dried pineapple, red pepper flakes, chives, and browned butter.

Should I step back a bit and let that sink in.  Those are some crazy flavor combinations.

This recipe comes from Roy Choi, the god-father of the food truck movement in Los Angeles.  This magic popcorn is served at his restaurant A-Frame in LA.  Happy Hour, get to it!

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Apple + Fennel with Pistachio + Apricot

September 16, 2014

apple + fennel with apricot + pistachio

It feels like we’re in the middle of things.  Like we have to begrudgingly set down our watermelon and water balloons and pick up our infinity scarf and pumpkin spice latte.  Seasons don’t happen in a snap.  There’s a transition period… a kind of grace that allows us to take a deep breath, absorb our days of sunshine and beach breezes to ready ourselves for the crisp nights and spiced cider.  What we crave in the transition can be tricky.  I find myself gobbling all of the peaches and dreaming of apple fritters.  Truth be told, I’m always dreaming of apple fritters, that’s no surprise.

apple + fennel with apricot + pistachio salad

This salad feels like a lovely transition.  Fresh apple and fennel make it easy to move into Autumn.  It’s no time to crank up the oven for a roast when I find myself still craving fresh and bright flavors.

We’re also adding fresh arugula for its peppery notes, salty roasted pistachios, sweet dried apricots, and salty parmesan cheese.  It’s all about balance!

This recipe is inspired by Chef Nathan Lyon.  His seasonal cookbook is a staple in my kitchen.

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Let It Be Sunday (+Monday)

September 14, 2014

let it be sunday

I’ve been to Ohio and back this week.  Cincinnati to be exact.  I hosted a pie demonstration at the Cincinnati Food and Wine Festival where I made a pie, cracked some jokes, and made myself (if no one else) laugh.  I also stayed at the 21c Museum Hotel which might be the coolest hotel to ever be a hotel.

Bonus for this week:  I found a friendship bracelet on the ground, picked it up, and made the weird decision to keep it.  Judge me.  Go ahead.  I’m also working on a recipe for meringues that taste like chocolate chip cookies.  That’s a process.

There are things we should talk about.  These are them:

•  Eating: A Manifesto.  Hey ladies, we can stop torturing ourselves about the brownie and just eat the brownie.  My goodness the way we torture ourselves.  Thank you for linking to this, Molly.  It’s a sigh of relief.

•  Listed under things we still have to think about and will probably have to think about for a long time:  ISIS.  The president made a big speech about it and most of us, myself include were probably like… Ok.  Here we go.  Here’s our president making a speech about something.  But think about it; this doesn’t happen all that often.  When it happens it’s important.  When it happens it’s also very deliberate and well produced.  It’s a message and a production down to the detail.  This The Gist episode is an interesting look behind the production and nuance of a presidential speech:  Did You See Obama Pull A John Wayne Last Night?  It’s short and really interesting.

•  Something about this list of The New Establishment according to Vanity Fair makes me uncomfortable… and it’s not because I’m not on the list.  Something about it just makes my lips curl.  Maybe it’s because calling something The New Establishment makes it too too much and I like to think I’m not boss of me.

•  I just freed an innocent man from death row. And I’m still furious.  A think-piece.

•  This week was the anniversary of the September 11th tragedy.  Here’s the thing:  we’re going to think about this date every year until forever.  Two pieces really stood out to me in light of this week’s sad anniversary.  First, an F-16 pilot was ready to give her life on September 11th.  Imagine that one day you wake up and your job is to fly your plane into a hijacked civilian airplane and you decide to yes, do what is asked of you.  Second,  The Falling Man is a piece originally published in 2003 about Richard Drew’s infamous photograph of a man falling from The World Trade Center.  With a new and very powerful introduction from Tom Junod.  This is the part of life and times that is hard and complicated and in need of words.

•  When I was your age, I had to walk to school, through the snow, uphill both ways.  Yadda yadda yadda, Gramps.  25 of the Most Dangerous and Unusual Journeys To School In The World.

 Not Without Salt is a lovely blog by Ashley Rodriguez.  She is newly packaging her mega-delicious Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie in mixes.  I’m thinking this will make a great just-thinking-about-you gift!  Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix.  All you need is a stick of softened butter and an egg!  I love it.

•  I love when high school students write food blogs:  Plentiful Plate.  Go on and get it!

•  You’ve been washing your face wrong, but here’s how to do it right (from a fancy French facialist).   Also, I’ve struggled with my skin in the past…. lke big time.  This clay mask has transformed my skin for the better. It’s all-natural and majorly effective.

•  Don’t Worry Be Yoncé

•  Simple Chocolate Cake with Ganache.  Hit it, don’t quit it.

Happy Sunday (+Monday)  friends and lovers.  I’m out.

xo Joy


Fall 2014 Cookbooks!

September 12, 2014
huckleberry bar tar tine to rise again
one more thing mr & mrs glasses ny notebook
jason priestley cat dish towel drip mugs

Let’s start softening our butter.  Let’s stock up on brown sugar and pastry flour.  We’re going to need a lot of chocolate… actually, ALL of the chocolate. Yes, we’ve got a lot of baking to do this Fall.  Yes, we’re excited.  REALLY excited.  There are some big-deal cookbooks hitting the shelves in the next few months and all of them promise to overflow with buttery, sweet, and otherwise delicious possibilities.

Psst.  I know I’ve mentioned that my second cookbook Homemade Decadence comes out this October 14th!  I’m bound to mention the book at least 1.7 billion more times before the year is complete.  Get into it!  I think the book is really great (biased).

•  Huckleberry by Zoe Nathan  September 9, 2014 •  Zoe Nathan is my favorite baker / pastry brain in all of Los Angeles.  Her baking is elevated comfort food.  Huckleberry, her bakery in Santa Monica is my favorite place to eat more doughnuts than I should.  With Zoe’s recipes highlighted by Matt Armendariz’s photography, the book is exactly right.

•  Bar Tartine by Cortney Burns and Nicolaus Balla  November 25, 2014 •  I think about the meal I enjoyed at Bar Tartine in San Francisco often.  There was stuffed cabbage leaves, hearty dark green salad, and Tartine bread forever and ever and ever.  Everything is so very cared for at Bar Tartine.  I’m looking forward to the solid technique and (sure to be) unique recipes in this book.

•  Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes October 28th, 2014 •  The mighty-fine, Paris-trained pastry man who invented the Cronut has written a cookbook.  There is bound to be a mega amount of butter and classic technique.

•  Ovenly by Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga September 30, 2014 •  Ovenly is the New York bakery of our dreams and now the book can bring all of their delightful creations to our own kitchens.  This is success!

•  Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi October 14th, 2014 • The long anticipated cookbook sequel to Plenty.  Plenty More is 120 vegetarian dishes organized by cooking method and sure to be one of the most beautiful and useful books of the year.  Just the thought of this book makes me ssiigghh.

•  Top with Cinnamon by Izy Hossack September 30, 2014 •   The first book from young blogger and general wiz-kid Izy of  Her recipes are often a lovely mix of indulgence and health.  This book is sure to be perfectly styled, beautifully photographed,  and absolutely delicious.

•  Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan  October 28th, 2014 •  Dorie’s book Baking was the first cookbook to start my major cookbook collection.  Her recipes are solid, her technique is approachable and exactly right, and her flavor combinations are a perfect mix of classic and creative.  I can’t wait to add this book to my collection!

•  The Kitchn Cookbook by Sarah Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand October 6, 2014 •  This labor of love from Sarah Kate and Faith of The Kitchn feels like the answer to a lot of lingering kitchen questions.  The book is a combination of recipes, kitchen lessons, and organizational and storage tips.  It’s everything.  So very good!

•  The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum November 4, 2014.  If you have baked from The Cake Bible then you know that Rose Levy Beranbaum is an absolute legend in the kitchen.  Her recipes are thorough and exact, precicely what a baker needs. I’m ready for her lessons; they’re lasting!

Other cookbooks I’m super excited about include:

•  Mastering My Mistakes In The Kitchen by Dana Cowin October 14, 2014 •  So… wait.  The beautiful, smart, and stylish editor of Food & Wine magazine has kitchen fails!?  Really tho?

•  The Kitchy Kitchen  by Claire Thomas August 26, 2014 •  We have Claire’s Kitchy Kitchen to thank for last week’s Beer Brownies!  Claire’s book is filled with recipes that feel approachable yet special.  Recipes perfect for an intimate dinner and tips and recipes for entertaining a crowd.  I love Claire’s approach to food, decadent and comfortable.

•  Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant September 2, 2014 •  We made Oatmeal Cookie Granola.  Thumbs up!  Tracy made Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn.   Double thumbs up!

•  Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito October 7, 2014 •  The men of Baked don’t know how to write a bad book.  Their books are always classy, masculine, creative, and delicious.  I can’t wait to have their latest! I hear rumors of Praline Ice Cream Cake… just saying’.


Baking Bootcamp: Apple Pie Biscuits

September 10, 2014

apple pie biscuits

Baking is all about sharing. Sharing recipes, sharing techniques, and most definitely sharing biscuits!

It’s time for our second challenge in the Baking Bootcamp series with King Arthur Flour!  You blew me away by baking the Triple Berry Braided Bread with me for our first challenge.  Hundreds of you participated and made the most lovely loaves of bread studded with summer berries.  I’m so happy you took the time to bake with me! It really means so much.  Let’s do it again, shall we!?

Apple Pie Biscuits

For this month’s Baking Bootcamp Challenge, we’re exploring King Arthur Flour’s Self-Rising Flour.  It’s a wonderfully light white flour combined with non-aluminum baking powder and salt.  It’s absolutely perfect for biscuits, pancakes, and muffins.  It’s a staple in my kitchen when it comes to perfectly fluffy, no-fuss biscuits.  Hop on this bandwagon and let’s get baking!  Below I’ll offer some alternatives for a DIY self-rising flour and a gluten-free option.  I want all of us in biscuit mode!

Here is a reminder of how Baking Bootcamp works:

Four Flours + Four Recipes Challenges + One Instagram #bakingbootcamp

+ Four Awesome Sets of Prizes!

The idea is simple!

• Make these Apple Pie Biscuits (they’re sooo delicious!) and take a picture of your creation!

• Follow @joythebaker and @kingarthurflour on Instagram

• Photograph your beautiful biscuits and post them to Instagram with the hashtag #bakingbootcamp

• When you submit a photo, you’ll be entered to win a one year supply of King Arthur Flour and a Baking Essentials box valued at $250!! Official rules and details can be found here.

I’ll be answering questions and sharing your photographs here on Joy the Baker. By entering the challenge you’ll also have amazing Apple Pie Biscuits in your kitchen, so… you really can’t lose.

Let’s get started!

Baking Bootcamp Essentials II

 1 • King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour is perfectly soft and rolls out beautifully for these tender biscuits.

2 • I use this King Arthur Flour Bench Knife just about everyday in my kitchen. It’s perfect for scraping little dough bits from the countertop… something a sponge just pitifully attacks. You might also use the bench knife to slice though the center of the rolled dough. It’s sharp too! I love this tool!

3 • Kitchen fashion is important to me. Hedley & Bennett understands my needs for a functional, durable, totally chic apron. Not too frilly. I always want to be more badass than 50′s housewife-y in the kitchen.

4 • My Cast Iron Skillets are a staple in my everyday kitchen. Some are more successfully seasoned than others, but I try to keep some cast iron specifically for savory and other just for sweets.

5 • Having Colorful Mixing Bowls is the kitchen equivalent of having a great black dress in your closet. Necessary treat.

6 • Vegetable Peelers with good finger grips to peel apples in a flash!

7 • I inherited a Marble Rolling Pin from a family friend and now I don’t know how I’ve gone without one for so long! This piece has great weight and can be chilled in the refrigerator prior to rolling to keep our doughs more amiable.

8 • Don’t skimp on good Silicone Spatulas. The ones that melt along with the butter are just infuriating.

9 • Is it normal to have a completely mismatched set of Measuring Cups, or should I just treat myself to a matching set like this? Don’t answer that…

10 • Same goes for the Measuring Spoons… it’s nice to have a full matching set.

11 • I go through Paring Knives like I go through socks.  How is it possible to have them one day and then lose them the next? I don’t know.  Clearly I have an issue.

Apple Pie Biscuits

Let’s get baking!  #bakingbootcamp

photos in this post by Jon Melendez

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Beer Brownies

September 8, 2014

Beer Brownies

I have a soft spot for brownies.  Well… actually, don’t we all?

Brownies were the first thing I learned how to bake in the kitchen.  My parents kept the flour, sugar, and those gnarly bars of unsweetened chocolate in a little cabinet just within reach of my little 8 year-old body.  It only took me one nibble of the unsweetened chocolate to figure out that it was not at all suitable for sneak-snacking… but the box of unsweetened chocolate had step-by-step instructions on how to turn the dark blocks into something entirely delicious, aka BROWNIES!

In our house filled with whole wheat fig bars and date rolls, I felt like a wizard… like an actual wizard… because I could make brownies.

Beer Brownies

I still feel like a wizard.  I mean… brownies are magic! Dense, moist, waaay chocolate-y, chewy at the edges, earnest, and everything!

There are so many great Fall cookbooks hitting the shelves this year!  I need to make us a list.  There’s just too much good!

One of the books I’ve been looking forward to most is The Kitchy Kitchen by Claire Thomas.  Claire is the beauty and brains behind the blog The Kitchy Kitchen and she’s turned all of her amazing food-brain-thoughts into a lovely cookbook!  Among the goodness in this book (it has an amazing soup chapter) are these BEER BROWNIES!

Think about it.  Dark stout beer with all of its earthy bitterness + dark chocolate with all of its deep sweet fruit undertones.  This is a very good marriage.  Right on, Claire!

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Let It Be Sunday

September 7, 2014

Let It Be Sunday

Hello my friends!  Welcome to another edition of This Is Your Life Sunday.  Just look at you living!  Take a little time to yourself!  I’m really glad you’re here.  Everyone insists on talking about the end of Summer and I say no!  I’m still wearing white shorts and sunglasses despite the September calendar.  No ‘Welcome back from Summer’ emails for me, please.  I’ve been here in my Turn Down For What t-shirt for months.  So…. there you have it.

The world continues to be a shaken up mish-mash of heartbreaking and beautiful things.  Here’s what the week has for us:

•  Inside the Failed Raid To Save Foley and Sotloff is a heavy-sigh… to put it mildly.  President Obama is in search of a strategy and not one bit of it seems easy of clear-cut.

•  You know how hackers elbowed their way into the cell phone photos of celebrities and released a bunch of nude photos for all to ooogle at?  That’s really rude and intrusive.  Question:  is a women’s privacy is less important than male pleasure.  Does that question make you uncomfortable?  Me too.

•  Are we wired for negativity over good?  I think the answer lies in the fact that I more often remember the negative blog comments over the positive ones.  Dangit brain!

•  Are you nerding out about Tuesday’s Apple announcement?  Wait… are you already standing in line?  Too soon.  Too soon.   The Verge compiled their thoughts on the new iWatch.  Is it weird that the possibility of this makes me really nervous?

•  On the flip side, how about a distraction-free iPhone.  There’s relief in there.  Think about it.

•  A Columbia student will carry around a mattress until her rapist is expelled.  Statement meets art.

•  I didn’t go to college right after high school and at the time it seemed like a really big deal to my family and friends.  I eventually went to college in my 20′s when I had more of an idea of who I was and what I wanted to do.  Mostly it’s about being true to who you are, even when people think you’re stone-cold craaaazy.  How to skip college and thrive.  Be true to you!

•  Joan Rivers, we’re going to miss you.  You were so much more than ‘who are you wearing’.

  I like my coffee like I like my men…. What your coffee order says about you. 

 6 things the happiest families have in common.  Dinner is a big deal.

•  We’re about to be all-pumpkin-everything but before that happens, can we eat these Shawarma Nachos forever and ever?

Have a lovely Sunday!

I love you byeeee!


Oatmeal Cookie Granola

September 4, 2014

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

I always have the best intentions of making myself some sort of celery and grapefruit juice for breakfast.  Maybe a green smoothie… with extra green.  A protein powder something-or-other.  A green powder this-or-that.  Something very Gwyneth Paltrow-y.  I have the best of intentions, really.   The very best.

Inevitably I end up standing in front of the pantry shoveling a bag of granola into my face by the handful.  It’s not pretty but it does feel right.  I sweep up after.  I’m not a complete heathen.

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

It feels like we’re making oatmeal cookies and, while I relish the idea of eating cookies for breakfast, we’re taking a slight right turn and making a hearty granola from all of our oatmeal cookie ingredients.

This recipe was inspired by the new and deliciously awesome cookbook by Jessica of How Sweet Eats.  She’s the master of tacos and cocktails and adding neon sprinkles to every dang thing.  Get yourself a copy of Seriously Delish!

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Vegan Banana Pecan Muffins

September 2, 2014

vegan banana pecan muffins

Yesterday we talked about my favorite Vegan Egg Substitutes because I feel like I should know what the heck is going on when it comes to egg-free baking.

Today we’re putting our new lessons into action and making Flax Seed Eggs for tender Banana Pecan Muffins.

It’s simple!  While we aren’t necessarily glazing everything in chocolate ganache or drenching everything in browned butter, this still feels pretty great!  Let’s go let’s go!

Vegan Banana Pecan Muffins

I want these muffins to be as healthful as they are delicious.  That shouldn’t be too hard.  Bananas are sweet and forgiving, pecans are perfect, and maple syrup is always right.

White Whole Wheat flour adds an additional heartiness and nuttiness to the muffins and cinnamon and nutmeg balance all of the flavors.  We’re breakfasting!

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Baking 101: My Favorite Vegan Egg Substitutes

September 1, 2014

vegan egg replacers

I’ve been experimenting with baking alternatives lately.  I don’t want anyone to miss out on baked doughnuts or chocolate chip waffles because they can’t eat / don’t like / won’t stand for eggs, wheat flour, or dairy.  It takes some real doing to find the right baking alternatives, and while I don’t consider myself a vegan or gluten-free baking expert, I want to share what works in my kitchen.

Let’s talk about vegan egg alternatives.

Eggs pull a heavy load in most baked goods.  A whole egg adds an important amount of moisture, fat, structure, and leavening to baked goods like cookies and cakes.  To replace an egg, we need to replace every aspect of what an egg provides to baked goods.  That can be a little tricky!  Eggs do a lot of work!   Here are a few of my favorites substitutes.

Flax Seed Vegan Egg Substitute

Flax seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.  When ground and combined with water and a bit of baking powder, the fats and moisture in flax seeds can mimic that of an egg.  Flax seed substitute creates a very healthful and slightly earthy/nutty tasting egg replacement.

Here’s what to do:  To replace one large egg, finely grind 1 tablespoon of golden flax seeds in a spice grinder.  Place in a small bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of water.  Allow to sit for 30 minutes before using in a recipe.  The mixture will have thickened slightly and feel like a loose jelly.  Just before incorporating into a recipe, stir in a good pinch of baking powder.

How to use it:  I find that flaxseed egg substitutes is great in quick breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, sturdy (not delicate) cookies, and heartier chocolate cakes.

How to store the seeds:  Flax seeds can deteriorate if not stored properly.  I keep the whole seeds in an airtight container in the freezer.  This will keep the fats in flax seeds from going rancid.  I grind flax seeds as needed per recipe for maximum freshness.

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Let It Be Sunday

August 31, 2014

Let It Be Sunday

I made this chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream, chopped toffee, and sea salt…. and then I shrugged my shoulders.  It wasn’t very good…. a personal shame that I’m willing to share with you.  I actually think that making a bad chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream is a crime in some states.

I should have just eaten the toffee and skipped the cake.  I did, of course, eat all of the toffee off the top of this cake before placing it in the refrigerator to forget about until late next week.  I’m sorry.  I’m a work in progress.

I hope this finds you enjoying an extra mellow Sunday morning with perhaps more coffee than usual.  I curated some of the Internet for you.  It goes a little something like this:

•  Was this August really the worst month ever?  Social media studies can give us the answer.  The answer:  kinda yeah.    

•  This week I listened to a Fresh Air Podcast from earlier this summer:  Kidnapping Is a Lucrative Business for Al-Qaida, Documents Show with host Terry Gross and journalist Rukmini Callimachi.  It’s a testament to how important and how dangerous foreign reporting can be.  Really interesting.

•  Jon Stewart is back and THANK YOU!

• Have Twitter and YouTube become the editors of the information we receive?  The New Editors of the Internet.  

•  The Emmys were last week which means red carpet madness, juice cleanses, designer dresses, jewels for days and… what on earth is a mani-cam? Why we should ask women about more than their dang dresses! What are we even doing…. for real.

•  Louisiana… we’re Losing Ground and that’s a fact.  

•  Southern cuisine has its nuance and you best get it right.  I’m learning day by day.  The Real Reason Sugar Has No Place In Cornbread 

•  What would James Bond drink in New Orleans, from writer Sarah Baird and bartender Abigail Gullo.

•  I’m starting the book & Sons next week.  I’ve read as much as I could in the Amazon preview and I want more.  Classy, right?

•  From Grad School to Jail.  Too real?  Too real.

•  On a scale of 1 to totally weird, where are we on this Crystal Skull Shotglass ?

•  These Super Power Vegan Collard Wraps looks healthful and super delicious!  I definitely want to make my own version.  They’re the opposite of doughnuts and I love it.

•  Favorite recent podcast discovery:  Slate’s The Gist.  Informative and funny smart-talk.

Get all up in this day!

xo Joy


Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

August 28, 2014

vegan carrot jalapeno soup

Soup is my barometer.

Soup tells me how much a restaurant cares about the details of their dishes.  It’s not the daily fish special or the fanciest steak on the menu that can tell you everything about a restaurants menu… all of the details and love and care  (if they are there) are in the soup.

I’m talking about in the development of flavors, the house-made stock, the onion dice, the thorough puree, the texture, the garnish, the temperature.  And… since soup is not one of those glitzy menu items like pork-belly-this or fried-brussels-sprout-that… soup sits around waiting for just the right amount of salt and heat and garnish to make it shiiiine exactly bright.

Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

Last week I ordered Carrot Jalapeño Soup at Sylvain, one of my very favorite New Orleans restaurants.  On point.  The soup was perfectly creamy (probably laden with an ample amount of heavy cream), and juuuust spicy enough to make me question and affirm my choices.  The soup had so much love and care, it really could have outshined any type of bacon fat on the menu.

Because some of a good thing is never enough, I made my own Carrot Jalapeño Soup, vegan and with feeling.

This soup is spicy, creamy, filling and delicious!  Dang near as delicious as this Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup, but maybe that’s just me having a thing for raw cashews.  Let’s discuss.

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