Happy New Year!

San Francisco

Tonight, from San Francisco, I’m raising my glass to one heck of a memorable year.

There have been highs and lows, lots of learning, some tears and plenty of beauty.

Loads of goodies have come out of my oven.  Photos have filled the memory of my computer, and silly stories have flowed out onto the Internet.

Here we are at the end and at the beginning.  Like a hop, skip and quick restart.

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Pear Spice Cake with Walnut Praline Topping

Pear Spice Cake

Kid Table.  Can we talk about the Kid Table?  The Kid Table was something that I had to endure every holiday from the age of three to um…. present.  You know what the Kid Table is, right?

The integral family socialization tool.  The foundation of society.   The folding table and chairs circa 1943 that your Grandma busts out every every every Christmas.  Who sits at this pint sized table?  Certainly not Grandpa, Grandma, or any other high ranking family members.

It’s called the Kid Table for a reason.  It’s where you dump all the kids.  In the adult mind, I think it’s the “sit down, eat your Christmas dinner, and if you’re going to throw your Jello salad at each other, I prefer to ignore it” table.

The Kid Table still exists in my family.  One small catch:  there are no more kids in my family.

Let me just say that Christmas dinner at the Kid Table is now…. more awesome than ever!  Kid Table got cool.  Kid Table is now the place to be.  Boom… youth success!

There’s nothing like wine, family smack talk with your cool uncles, and stealing all of the thunder from the main table.  They would sooooo like to think they’re the main event.  False.  Kid Table… cooler than ever!

And now… Pear Spice Cake.

Pears

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Put the Holidays in Your Face

Balls.

There is one reason why I have continued to feed myself, bathe, and otherwise keep myself alive these past few days: enchiladas. My Dad is making enchiladas for tomorrow’s Christmas lunch. I’m in. I’m so alive and I’m so in.

I’m going to come out of the next few family laden days with a camera full of pictures of my little sister doing various silly things, my uncle tormenting unsuspecting family members with a can of Redi-Whip Cream, and my Dad in several Christmas inspired aprons.

Mostly I just wanted to stop and say Hey! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Cheers to celebration, family, friends and food! It’s important. You’re important…. and I mean that. Have a great, belly filling holiday, and thanks for coming by and saying nice things like you always do. It means a lot to me.

Still looking for those last minute recipe? Here’s a few goodies you might be able to whip up without heading out to the store.

Peppermint Meringues

Just the Best Chocolate Brownie Cookies um… ever.

Make ‘em love you Apple Crisp.

Mocha Rum Cake… for serious.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Mocha Hazelnut Marble Cake

Mocha Hazelnut Marble Cake

I need to talk to you about the holidays, about the parties, about the dress, and about the cocktails. I need to talk to you about how cake, how the right cake can make it all better.

I had the perfect holiday dress all picked out. This dress would get me through thick and thin, casual and dressy. It was a simple and sassy black dress. I could do it up with colorful tights and heels or tone it down with a cardigan and scarf. This dress could go from holiday family function to night on the town…

All was fine and good until the dress actually went out on the town. Correction- I went out on the town and… well… the dress didn’t survive.

Let’s just say, that after several glasses of wine, and various other spirits, I found myself (and my dress) rolling down a rainy concrete hill. Don’t worry. I wasn’t hurt. I was protected by a hearty belly full of booze and the three friends I rolled down the hill with. It was hilarious. Memories were made. Dresses were… torn.

I now know that holiday parties are dangerous. That lesson came at a steep price: one helluva hangover and one tragically torn dress.

With my holiday dress out of commission, I was in a serious bind this weekend. Yea… the “what am I going to wear!?” bind. I decided to not sweat it. I decided that if I waltzed into a party with a gorgeous cake, not a soul would be worried about what I was wearing…

Guess what?

Toasted Hazelnuts

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Glazed Lime Cake

Lime Cake

This cake and I. Ooooh this cake and I.

We had a fight, maybe I should call it a misunderstanding.

I had expectations for this cake. I needed it to be a certain way to make me happy.  Mistakes.

I wanted this cake to be dense, but moist, perfectly golden, easy to cut and just downright irresistible. In other words, I wanted this cake to be perfect. Perfect in the ways I wanted it to be perfect. Oh Joy. It’s like I’ve learned absolutely nothing these past twenty something years.

Nothing is perfect. No, correction. Things can be perfect if imagined in your head. Real life… the real stuff is never as perfect as it is in your head. But… (oh the but). Sometimes. Most times. The imperfections are what become the most perfect part of life.

Boom. Knowledge. I just dropped it.

Lime Cake

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Eat Food. You’ll Like It.

Graham Cracker Coffee

I feel like there’s food everywhere.  Literally everywhere.  Let’s see… it all started when someone sent a fairly innocent fruit basket.  Then the neighbor dropped by with a pound of chocolate candy.  Then I somehow thought it a good idea to whip up some fudge.  Then there was the five course holiday party, and the debauchery at a bar after.  Milk Chocolate Chip Pancakes were thrown in the mix, and right now all I can think about is tacos.

See, there’s food exactly EVERYWHERE.

It’s not that I’m complaining.  Oooooh no.  I think I’m just looking forward to a little after holiday broccoli.  For the sake of my tummy.  That’s all.

It would seem that people in blog land are bringing out the big guns.

Mike of Mike’s Table whips up some Hazelnut Brittle.  Um… yes please!

Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody sets the world ablaze with Butterscotch Banana Chocolate Swirl Cake.  She also admits to having a very sneaky way with Christmas presents.  I’m glad I’m not the only one.

Nicole of Baking Bites makes Mexican Hot Chocolate Linzer Cookies and I love her for it.

When did Gingerbread Popcorn enter the world?  I’m glad it did!

Linda is obviously trying to get me to move to Australia for her Churros with Dulce de Leche Sauce.  Her plan might just work.

See?  Food everywhere!  Good food too!

Enjoy the links.  I’m going to go find some tacos.  It feels like the right thing to do.

Oh and one more thing.  Yes, that’s a random picture of my morning coffee up top.

Milk Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

Milk Chocolate Chip Pancakes

These are the four pictures that are going to make you seriously consider why you aren’t in your kitchen right this second making these pancakes.

These are the four pictures that might just have you prioritizing the next few hours, the next few days, heck(!) your entire weekend around these pancakes.

Milk Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Milk Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Milk Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Yea… that just happened. I just dropped that madness on you. I know… totally unfair.

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Peppermint Meringues

Peppermint Pops

There are some things in the world that make me feel like an adult. Most of the time my brain likes to idle in the fact that I’m somewhere between ten and twelve years old. When I thought I was pretty cool. When I thought I had a pretty good handle on things. Before the painfully awkward Blossom hats and frizzy hair set in.

Something has happened though. Time I suppose. I’ve turned around and been hit square in the face with what feels like adult things.

Um… retirement plan? Yea… I have one. It’s totally weird.

Going to the airport by myself? Um… hello!? I need an adult to carry my boarding pass and my ID and to make sure I have matching socks on! Oh… I am the adult. Seriously?

Shoe shopping. No one is there to pinch the edge of my shoe and make sure I have enough toe room. How am I supposed to know if they fit!? I can’t very well pinch my own shoes!

And then there are things that show me that maybe I’m not so adult after all.

My Mom still nags me to write holiday and birthday thank you notes.

I love hot chocolate with marshmallows. I mean seriously. Come on! That’s some good stuff.

And these Peppermint Meringues remind me of the soft after dinner mints that I used to horde from my favorite Italian restaurant growing up. Do you know the mints I’m talking about? The somewhat chalky, melt in your mouth, white mints? I’m still a sucker for those things. I may have eaten them for dinner a few weeks back. Don’t judge me.

Peppermint Pops

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Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Chocolate Chocolate Peppermint

Here’s what I love most about my blog and its readers:

– I can sit at my lap top in awe of my split ends until I figure out something clever to say to you about cookies.

-You’ll indulge me if all I want to talk about is how I’m a smitten kitten.

-You’ll understand when I tell you that I made these peppermint cookies mostly so I could eat the cookie dough cold from the fridge.

– You, dear and darling reader, have made me a millionaire. Well, a millionaire in blog hits. I just realized that I’m well over a million hits on Joy the Baker. Rock and Roll, right? Thanks to you and all of your clicks, I’m feelin’ like a rock star. Bless you and Thanks.

– Here’s how it works- I made some cookie dough. I baked some cookies. I took pictures of them. I threw the dough in the fridge. I drank some whiskey. I pulled the dough out of the fridge. I made more cookies. I ate them. I had company. We ate them. Sorta. Then we forgot about them and remembered the whiskey. That’s how the whole thing works and you like me for it.

Q: How awesome are you? A: So totally awesome.

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Peanut Butter Fudge Treats

Peanut Butter Fudge Krispy Treats

Some things are over the top for even me. Some things are so good that they actually hurt. I’m a real sucker for all chocolate and peanut butter combinations… but really!? Chocolate, peanut butter AND Rice Krispy Treats? Out of control. I think I pulled a baking muscle. These bars are so rich, so over the top, so peanut buttery, that I think I need to stick to only baking broccoli this weekend. I think I hurt myself.

These are just the treats I want to pawn off on my neighbors and coworkers. They’ll thank me, and they’ll hate me. I can live with that.

Peanut Butter Fudge Krispy Treats

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Cranberry Coffee Cake

Cranberry Coffee Cake

I feel like I’ve been haunted by the three bags of fresh cranberries I bought about a month ago.

You’d think I’ve baked enough cranberry filled goodies to make these cranberries a thing of the past. Nope. Between the Banana Cranberry Bread, the All Purpose Cranberry Apple Cake and the Cranberry Sauce, how did I still have a lone back of cranberries dancing around in my fridge?

I’m happy to say, that with this deliciously moist and golden Cranberry Coffee Cake, my days of withering cranberries in the fridge are over. But… um… I kinda miss them. I’m thinking numerous Prosecco and Cranberry Cocktails are in my future, which means… more fresh cranberries! I hope you’re not sick of cranberry recipes yet. It ain’t over, this baker would really like a cocktail.

Cranberry Coffee Cake

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Almond Banana Bread

Simon Bakes

I remember when I was a kid, I used to entice my little sister into the kitchen to cook with me. That sounds sweet and cozy, right? Well… I had slightly more selfish intentions. I had plans for my sister once we hit the kitchen: I would do all the fun stuff like measuring out sugar and chocolate, and she would do all of the not so fun stuff, like getting the flour containers out of the pantry, reaching for bowls, and doing all the dirty dishes. Baking always seemed like more fun if I had someone to do all the grunt work for me.

That sort of fun in the kitchen with my sister didn’t last long. Lauren very quickly caught on to my tricks, and before long we were sharing the dirty dish responsibilities.

Since then, I’d like to think I’ve become a much more accommodating kitchen partner. Ask Simon. You know Simon, he’s that crazy kid fromFoodproof. We made Almond Banana Bread together. It went swimmingly, and I don’t think I made him do the dishes.

Simon Bakes

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