Mint Julep Two Ways


Mint Julep Season

These bourbon laden treats were inspired by two things:  those still spring, but almost summer days that give you a hint at just how blazing hot this summer is going to be, and… this weekend’s Kentucky Derby.

Here’s what I know about Spring:

It’s green.  Once we get past the Easter Bunny stage, it’s all about blooming flowers and May showers.  Spring makes me feel like I’m in love with the world… probably because I am.

Here’s what I know about the Kentucky Derby:

Horses.  Hats.  Mint Juleps.

Here’s what I know about bourbon:

Dang, it’s good!

Mint Julep Season

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Low Fat Oatmeal Banana Bread

Low Fat Oatmeal Banana Bread

Not every morning in my life is filled with Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes and Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread… not when things like my ten year class reunion and bathing suit season loom just around the corner.  For real friends, those are two scary things.  At least I don’t have to go to my ten year reunion in my bathing suit.  Can you imagine the horror!?   Yea… so there’s always a silver lining.

I’d like to introduce you to Low Fat Oatmeal Banana Bread.  If this bread were one of your dear friends from high school, it would be that friend who wore old lady shoes because they were the most practical, and played the trombone, and was the super smart editor of the school newspaper.  This bread would be the friend that was super sensible, and sweet and just downright made you feel good about your day.

Go ahead, think of this Low Fat Oatmeal Banana Bread as your friend… and then it eat.  No, there’s nothing weird about that.

Low Fat Oatmeal Banana Bread

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Brownie Bottom Ice Cream Cupcakes

Brownie Bottom Ice Cream Cupcakes

My favorite part of my sixth grade history text books were not the pictures.  Oooooh no… too easy.  I loved the little timelines at the end of a lesson, the kind of timeline that so neatly wrapped up the life and struggles of so many people.  Distill the entire American Civil Rights Movement into a timeline.  The progression of people and actions becomes so tidy and clear.  Aaah, thanks for the timeline.

I sometimes like to think of my life in timeline form.  I pick a theme and timeline it out in my head.  Yes, this happens.

Let’s timeline out my favorite ice cream flavors from the 1980’s to the present.  Not nearly as socially crucial as civil rights, but still somehow important.


{ 1983- Strawberry Ice Cream is the only flavor in my world}  {1987- Whoa!  Bubble Gum in ice cream!?  Yes.  Want!}  {1990-  Rocky Road is the only way to go}     {1994-  Is it still Mint Chocolate Chip if it’s not green?  I say yes!}  {1999-  Cherry Garcia, will you marry me?}  {2005-  Going retro with Rainbow Sherbet, success!  {2009-  Enjoying the clever stylings of Brownie Bottom Coffee Ice Cream Cupcakes.  Consider them little cups of perfect fun right from the freezer.  For reals.}

Now that I can check “make an ice cream timeline” off my list of things to do today, let’s talk Ice Cream Cupcakes. Yes.  Yes!  Yes!!

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Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

This I Used To Believe

I believed that if I wore  a stretched out paperclip across my front teeth I would be one of the cool kids with a retainer.  It turns our that retainers only seem cool when you don’t actually have to wear one.

I believed that if I sunk down in my chair low enough in Honors Algebra, I wouldn’t be called on the answer questions that I didn’t have answers to.  I didn’t have answers to any… aaany of the questions.  In reality, that posture was like a giant, neon, blinking arrow pointed right in my direction.

I believed that if I stayed up all night chewing gum, I was bound to get the part of Violet Beauregarde in the sixth grade performance of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.  That part went to my best friend Lindsay.  What does it say about me if I still think about that from time to time?

I believed that Dylan would never leave Brenda on Beverly Hills, 90210.  Um… remember what happened in the pool?  With Kelly!? Brenda’s best friend!?  Yea… so that didn’t work out.

I believed that really good cookies simply had to have at least a few cups of all-purpose flour flour in them.  These Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies changed my mind.  Seriously.  I know you’re thinking  They’re better than you think.  Way way better.  These are great!

This post was inspired by last weeks episode of  This American Life which, in turn, was inspired by the international essay project, This I Believe.  Yaaaaay for  public radio!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

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One Pot Spring Garden

One Pot Spring Garden

There are a few reasons why you should read this post.

1.  I’m no gardener, but with a team of friends and experts, I might have just created a successful one pot garden… you can too!

2.  While this post may not be filled with butter and sugar, it is still a nice distraction from work, right!?

3.  I’m drinking wine and I’ve got a mild degree of writers block.  I’m bound to get a little punchy and make you laugh at some point.  Yes?

This year’s Spring garden… ok, my first Spring garden ever… was inspired by two things: my undying adoration of summer tomatoes and my utter annoyance at the high price of said tomatoes.

So here we are, talking tomatoes. Not just any tomatoes, but peak of the season summer tomatoes.  Besides my gradual fake tanning lotion, they might just be the best thing about the summer months.

The truth is, there’s a reason that this blog isn’t called Joy the Gardener.  I kill just about everything I put in dirt.  It’s a classic case of over enthusiasm and waaaaay too much water.  I over water and kill my plants, a fact that is sad but true.

This Spring I’ve got help.  My Mom happens to be an amazing gardener… she also happens to be retired, which leaves her plenty of time for nursery trips to counsel me on which fertilizer is best and why.  Then there’s my darling friend Rachael.  She’s blonde, beautiful, hilarious, and is oh-so-generous with the crap ton of knowledge she has about growing tomatoes.  With these two on my team, my garden can’t fail!  Now I just need someone to keep the watering can away from me.

If I can grow a tomato garden on the tiny balcony of my Los Angeles apartment, you can too.  Here’s the skinny:

One Pot Spring Garden

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Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Dear Future Husband and Future Children,

While it’s clear that the universe hasn’t yet pressed us together into a family mold, I think it prudent to get a few things about our life out in the open.  You know, for the sake of transparency.

Future Husband!  In all likelihood, I think you’re the coolest guy around.  You’re awesome.  While I’m certain there are things you do that drive me a little mad, the fact that you help me with the dishes and make me tea in the morning just makes me swoon.  I’m a little quirky.  You’re probably a little nutty too.  That’s only  fair.  You should know that I sometimes show my love in… pancakes, piles and piles of warm pancakes.  Pancakes for breakfast.  Pancakes for a snack.  Pancakes for dinner.  Pancakes.  It’s important that you like, no, loooove pancakes and understand that when I make giant plates of them for breakfast, I’m just trying to show you how much I love you.  Deal?

Future Children!  You’re super cute.  You must be just adorable.  You should know that I want to squeeze you constantly.  When I mix up your names, you should know that it’s not that I don’t know your names… it’s just that things get a little complicated when I’m trying to wrangle all y’all.  Eat your broccoli.  It will make you beautiful, or at least that’s what my Mom used to tell me.  When you feel mortified by my very presence in your teenage years, just realize that that’s all part of the game.  I’m actually not that uncool and you’ll realize that at some point.

Also, like I told your father, I’m going to make you piles and piles of pancakes some mornings.  Eat them, because I love you and you love me, and we love pancakes.

Thanks Future Husband.  Thanks Future Children.  I love you like crazy.  K.  Thanks.  Bye.

Future Wife/Future Mother,


Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

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Cookies and Spatulas: The Winners

Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 1

Do you ever have those mornings when the snooze button seems to go off every two minutes, your hair is simply inconsolable, and you discover that your favorite plaid shirt that you’ve had for half your life is  now too ripped to wear and be cool?   Do you have those mornings when you’d just like to go back to bed for another 6 hours, wake up and call it a re-do?  Yea… me too.

On those mornings, believe it or not, I turn to you all for a smile.  You’ve got words of wisdom.  You’ve got jokes.  You’ve got what I need to get through those off kilter mornings.  Thank you.  Really.

I wish I could thank each and every one of you a big batch of my chocolate chip cookies, but because that seems like too daunting a task for a morning like this, I’ll have to put the recipe in your hands and encourage you to bring some chocolate chip love to your kitchen on my behalf.

The winners of the chocolate chip cookie and super cool spatula giveaway are:

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S’mores Brownies

S'mores Brownies

Everyone has their own way of enjoying toasted marshmallows.  It’s very much a personal thing… this I understand.

I like my roasted, toasted marshmallows extra crispy… extra well done.  I want that sucker on  the end of the misshapen close hanger, stuck right into the depths of the fire.  I want it to come out flaming.  That’s right, I’m a marshmallow torch girl.

Apparently, the marshmallow torch is not how you make friends at all-girl sleep away camp.  I would always get groans of disapproval from the girls that were trying to keep their precious marshmallows just far enough away from the orange coals to perfectly toast them.  Maybe they were less than thrilled with my marshmallow torch because I usually managed to set at least one of their darling marshmallows on fire just out of sheer proximity.  I considered it a favor.  Them..?  Not so much.

But these brownies aren’t really about my summer camp misadventures, are they?  These S’mores Brownies are more about fudgy, dense chocolate that bakes up with graham cracker bits and toasted marshmallows.  Toasted, not torched.

S'mores Brownies

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Confetti and Cupcakes

Easter and the Cupcake Bake Off

Did you have a great weekend?  Have you woken up with a lingering Easter candy tummy ache?  Do you still have confetti everywhere from the Cascarones?  Yea?  Me too.  I think I might have an Easter sugar hangover… I’m not proud.    Here’s a look at what Easter looks like when you combine a cupcake contest with a steady stream of champagne, a dog named Bunny and a confetti filled egg massacre.

Easter and the Cupcake Bake Off

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Happy Easter!

Vintage Joy the Baker

Happy Easter from vintage Joy the Baker.

Oooooh 1994… thanks for the memories.

There are a few things I’d like you to take note of in the photo.

-Yes, my hair is comically triangle shaped and I am trying to rock curly bangs.

– Yes, I made a bunny cake decorated with festive jelly beans.

-Take a look at that foil lined baking sheet.  I decorated it with Easter stickers.  Oh my.

– That’s my Dad standing in the doorway.  I like to think that he’s proudly standing there watching his daughter pose with a pretty stellar cake.  He might just be looking at my unfortunate hair.  Hm….

Happy Easter!

Two of my favorite things. Two of you. The Giveaway!

Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 1

What do puppies with giant paws, foggy mornings, warm chocolate chip cookies and my bright, red spatula have in common?  That’s easy… they’re just some of my favorite things in the world.

If you hadn’t already figured it out, you guys are totally up there on my list of favorite things… right up there with puppies with giant paws.  You and your cute tea cup pictures.  You with your kind comments.  You with your thoughtful recipe questions.  I just think you’re dreamy.  I suppose that’s why it has become one of my new favorite things to give things to you… let’s do it again.

Creaming butter

Two of you get two of my favorite things:  an express shipped box of chocolate chip cookies made by Joy the Baker (for someone here in the US), or a brand-spanking-new, colorful spatula (going international, because Customs doesn’t like when I send fresh cookies).

All you have to do to win some of my favorite things is leave me a comment telling me where you’re from, and some of your favorite things.  Seems fitting, right?

You’ve got until this Saturday April 11th at 10:38pm PST to get your comments in.  That’s when I turn back into a pumpkin and pick the winners.

Also… I like you!

Dutch Baby with Orange Sugar

Dutch Baby with Orange Sugar

Things that are awesome and things that are not awesome; an incomplete list.

Things that are awesome:

Summer dresses that look great with summer ponytails.

Bathing suits + Palm Springs + Rented Summer House + Sun Screen + Giant Sun Glasses + Mojitos x Infinity = Awesome.

Big, fat bumble bees… come on, they’re precious.

Pulling this beautiful Dutch Baby out of the oven on Easter morning,  sprinkling it with orange sugar and feeling like Julia Child… that’s awesome.

Things that are NOT awesome:

Otherwise perfect vintage dresses that are half a size too small.

Bathing suit shopping… exactly no one likes that, and why on earth are my legs so white!?

Bee stings on the butt.  It happens people.  It really happens.

Not pulling this Dutch Baby out of the oven on Easter morning… that’s not awesome at all.

Dutch Baby with Orange Sugar

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Spring Easter Meringues

Easter Meringues

Dear Spring,

You’re a great season.  In fact, you’re my favorite season of all.  Something about the orange blossoms dotting my neighborhood, and the barely warm evening sun just makes me want to squeeze you with gratitude.

Great job with all the tulips.  Excellent work with all the sweet peas.  Don’t even get me started on the asparagus…. wow!

There’s just a few things I thought you might consider… just in the interest of being the best season ever, and kicking every other season right in the backside.

First, your color palette.  Have you ever considered switching it up?  All the pastels remind me of bad baby shower party games.  Plus, you’re edgier than that Spring.  Show those other seasons what’s what.  Have you considered a fresh neon palate?  It might work wonders for your image.

Second,  can you please work on making purple the new grey this season?

Lastly,  every year when you come to town, I end up in the candy aisle at the grocery store buying giant bags of chocolate egg-shaped candies.  After I’ve mistakenly make these chocolate goodies a meal, I’m forced the throw the remainder in the trash and pour dish soap on them, keeping myself from sleep-eating them in the middle of the night.  While this may seem like more of a personal issue, your attention to this matter would still be much appreciated.

Also Spring, I made you meringues.

Stay Sweet,

Joy the Baker

Easter Meringues

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Weekend Meal Inspiration

Pizza- From Scratch

A good while back I found myself half way through a bottle of wine on a Saturday night, sitting alone on my patio watching cute cat videos on YouTube.

Wait… should I be embarrassed about revealing this to you?  Just wait… it gets better.

I was feeling pretty content with my Saturday night of wine and kittens, except, I didn’t really want to be alone.  Sometime after my last glass of wine, and before I started eating frozen yogurt straight from the container, I found myself filling out one of those online dating service profiles.  Yea… I was totally having that moment in my life.

Because there’s no shame in my game, I won’t even hesitate in telling you that filling out one of those profiles is a complex mixture of fun, excitement and nausea.  So many questions to answer.  So many clever quips to whip up.  So many ways to try and say that I’m weird and cool, and I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, and I kinda have a thing for kitten videos and wine and frozen yogurt…. without saying anything about kittens and wine and frozen yogurt.  That, after all, might come across as too weird.

What I really wanted to say was something like.. “Hey!  You’re cool.  I’m cool.  Let’s get to know each other.  I’ll make us pizza.  I’ll make us salad, but I won’t be mad if you don’t really want to eat it.  Cookies.  I can make those too.  Also… I like Star Wars, except I might call ‘Storm Troopers’ ‘Star Troopers’ on accident.  And… your Mom is going to love me, and I’m going to think she’s pretty rad too.  Let’s do this!”

It all worked out.  I think I may have had that profile up for about a month before I realized it wasn’t really my scene.  I have someone pretty awesome to make pizza for now.  He knows all about the wine and kitten videos and frozen yogurt.  He likes all those things too… plus Star Wars.  That feels pretty nice.


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Proscuitto Dijon Gruyere Puffs

Prosciutto Dijon and Gruyere Puffs

Three things are true.  Let’s go over some facts.

I’m gullible.  I prefer to think of it as less naive and more trusting.  If you tell me something, in all likelihood, I’ll believe you.  For this reason, let’s keep the April foolery to a minimum this morning.  It’s not really my style, and chances are, if you try to fool me with falsehoods or pranks today, it’ll work.  Let’s not and say we did.

This day reminds me of one particular April Fool’s Day many years back.   I thought playing a prank on my little sister would be ripe with comedy.  It involved a toilet seat, petroleum jelly, and her resulting slippery bum.  As I giggled with success, my little sister busted out her fake (but oh so convincing) cry and I was in a heap of trouble with Mom.  She’s brilliant with the fake cry… award winning.  Well played little sister… I see how you turned that around… Well played.

times onling

Lastly, and this is no petroleum jelly joke-  I was featured in the London Times this week!  Check out the interview and the photos… and say hello to London.  Normally I’d tell you how being in the London Times makes me want to yell, and jump and otherwise spaz with excitement.. but I’m trying to play it cool.  You know.. like wearing sunglasses at night, or wearing Converse sneakers with a fancy dress, or putting ham and mustard in cookies…. cool.  Let’s play it cool.

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