Joy the Baker

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

September 30, 2009

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

If this blog were written by 13 year old me instead of 28 year old me… I can safely say that I would blog about these White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies every. single. day.

One bite of these cookies and… oh heavens!  I feel like I’m being dropped off at the mall to meet my friends on a hot summer day.  We speak Gibberish and Pig Latin.  We are fluent enough in both made up languages to combine the two into one mega made-up language.  It’s pretty sick.

One bite of these cookie and I have tragically frizzly triangle hair and my twenty dollar allowance in my pocket.  My friends are trying to convince me to see Jurassic Park and all I want to do is sit on a bench with a bag of White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies from Mrs Field’s and try to muster up the courage to go talk to the cute cashier at Sbarro Pizza.

One bite of these cookie and, yes… I’m wearing overalls.  Yes.. I only have one strap buckled.  Yes… one hanging strap on overalls is super cool.

Who knew one bite of a cookie could be so transforming…. and awkward.  It’s a good thing I don’t make these very often.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

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Summertimes 2009s

September 27, 2009

Summertimes 2009s 

Holy Heck!  When did Fall sneak up on me!?  I could use a deep breath… how about you?

Here we are at the end of September and I’m more than ready to go shopping for winter tights and oversized sweaters… not to mention jumping in the kitchen to bake up my favorite pumpkin cookies.  Seriously.  Have you made these pumpkin cookies yet?  They’re my reason for living from October through January.  

Now is not the time to talk cookies.  Can I show you a few things!?  I want to show you what my summer looked like…. up close… personal… on the fly.  All captured by my trusted camera phone.  Remember when we played the camera phone picture game a few months back?  I’m at it again.  Come take a peek and then tell me what you were up too all summer long!

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Red Velvet Cake with Fluffy White Frosting

September 23, 2009

Red Velvet Cake

Ooooh God.  This is embarrassing.  This is about to happen.

Here’s a small excerpt from Joy’s (before she was the Baker) diary circa late 1996.  I had strong feelings about a lot of things back then… my first crush named Hayden, my best friend turned enemy, the television show Seinfeld, making the volleyball team and…. MTV’s The Real World.  Yea… I’m not so sure about that last one either.  I dunno.  Here’s an actual excerpt:

Um.  Diary.  Seriously.  (P.S.) Real World Miami sucked just to let you know.

Reasons to be on Real World…

1) I’m athletic… DUH

2) I’m funny… so how bout them Dodgers… who’s on first… knock knock.

3) I’m diverse.  I’m a black girl (woman).

4) Kissing.  But not on camera.

5) I’m from Los Angeles… with bright lights and clear skies.

6) I’m a country music lover… Come on baby let’s go to Vegas.

*HELL-OOO

My heavens! I laughed out loud when I found this little gem in my teenage diary. Ooooh but believe me… that little book is full of all sorts of priceless wallowing and poetry so terrible… so foul… that I can barely even stand to revisit it. This little list though…. hot dang… so funny.  I think I love reason number three the most.  Why did I feel the need to put the ‘woman’ in parentheses?  My heavens.  What a weirdo.

I just had to get that off my chest… now, cake.

Red Velvet Cake

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135 Comments

Homemade and Handmade Pasta

September 22, 2009

Pasta Making

Can I tell you a secret?  Sometimes I lack all confidence in the kitchen.  It’s true.  Sometimes a project will keep me up at night.  Sometimes the ingredient list will just baffle me.  Sometimes I hold my breath as I incorporate the ingredients, or I second guess myself and reread the recipe with every turn of my spatula.

It’s the absolute truth.  Sometimes I just need someone to hold my hand through a new recipe… or I at least need to be allowed to throw my hands up and call uncle at any point during the process.

I tell you all this so you know that when I stepped in the kitchen to make pasta this past weekend… well… I was totally intimidated.  I wasn’t sure I could pull this off.

I know… I know… everyone was telling me how easy it was.  Frankly, I was convinced they were liar liarpants.  For real.  Handmade pasta!?  Easy?  Not possible.

Well, let me be honest.  Pasta isn’t as entirely easy as everyone would have me believe.  That’s not to say it’s impossibly hard…. not at all.  For me, making pasta by hand just involves a little talking to myself, a big area where I could throw flour all around, a rolling pin and willingness for a good arm work out, and a few hours set aside for doughing… mostly just patting it, talking to it, and walking around the house showing it to whatever family member would pay attention to me.

The end result is beyond… BEYOND comforting.  The process was super satisfying, and really?  So Much Fun!  Pasta!  I made pasta!  Daaang!  I’m going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for this one.  Don’t mind me… I’ll be done in a minute.

Pasta Making

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106 Comments

How To Make Cake Flour

September 20, 2009

How To Make Cake Flour

Cake flour.  Let’s face facts:  I never have cake flour on hand when I need it.  Luckily, there’s a super easy way to turn good old all-purpose flour into cake flour, lightening your cake crumb, making it super soft and delicious.    Maybe you already know this trick.  It’s a good one.

Here’s a step by step.  From me to you!

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389 Comments

Zucchini Pancakes

September 15, 2009

Zucchini Pancakes

Is it just me, or are there butterflies everywhere?

Maybe it’s butterfly hatching season…. that’s a technical term: butterfly hatching.  Obviously.

Exhibit A:  On a particularly rough day at work, a butterfly just about the size of my hand fluttered around me showing off its black, yellow and red wings.  Absolutely gorgeous.

Exhibit B:  Just this morning a butterfly whizzed past my nose as I rode a bike through the Oakland hills.  High speed butterflying.

I don’t even need an Exhibit C, I’m tellin’ you… there’s something in the air:  butterflies.

So, all of this beautiful fluttering action has lead me to, well… look for a little meaning in all of it.

I know… totally cheese ball, right?  It’s just that I feel something in the air.  Maybe it’s the change of season, or maybe it’s my sun sign doing God knows what to my moon sign.  Who knows?  I just feel a flood of change coming my way.  I think that’s what all these butterflies are trying to tell me.  Change is a’comin’, in more ways than I might already think.  That… or it’s just butterfly hatching season.  I don’t know.

In other news:  I have a fridge full of zucchini and I made zucchini pancakes.

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48 Comments

Things I Totally Love.

September 14, 2009

Bread.  Hell yes.

Bread.  Love.  Bread.

I’m on a tiny bit of a vacation these days.  Tiny.  Seriously.  Also… I’m kinda still working, but that’s mostly because I can’t help myself.

While I’m away… sort of away, I want to show what I love.  Can I share a bit with you?

Here’s one thing!  I love that you can now sign up to get my rambling posts in your email inbox.  Kinda sweet, right?  Just drop your email in the little “subscribe me!” box to the left.  Oooooh technology.  You’re rad.

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33 Comments

Chocolate Croissants in 30 Minutes Flat!

September 11, 2009

Easy Chocolate Croissants

I faked it.

I faked it just a little bit with these croissants.

See, these croissants were hot from the oven and onto my breakfast plate in less than 30 minutes because I used frozen, all-butter puff pastry instead of slaving over homemade croissant dough.  Real croissant dough has yeast, a bit of sugar and milk in it.  Puff pastry does not have these elements; it’s just flour, salt, water, and more butter than you care to know.

So you see… I didn’t spend the time folding and folding and folding croissant dough, I faked it.  I don’t feel one bit of bad.  In fact, I feel so good about faking it, here’s a few other things I’ve been known to fake.

I’ve faked a tan with that new and clever gradual tan lotion.  Thank you lotion technology.

I’ve faked a smile… when I’m feeling super extra awkward, or when I don’t like your perfume but you’re a friend of the family and I don’t want to be rude, or when I’m being paid to smile.  That last one doesn’t really happen… ever.

I’ve been faking being an adult for the last ten years.  Sometimes, well… it sure feels like I’m faking it.

Lastly, as discussed above… I fake a dang good chocolate croissant.  Here’s what’s what on that!

Easy Chocolate Croissants

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Cookies plus Coffee minus the Kitchen

September 10, 2009

Ferry Building, SF

After extensive… and I do mean extensive research, I’ve determined that certain items always taste better if someone else makes them for you.

It’s like when someone else draws a bath for you… maybe with bubbles or salts, and perfectly warm water.  Dang, that’s a good bath… somehow way better than it would have been if you turned those bathtub faucets yourself.

So, what items always taste better if someone else makes them for you?  Perfect macarons and the day’s first cup of coffee.

Cookie and a coffee?  And I don’t have to move a muscle in the kitchen?  It’s already delicious.

Now let me tell you about who made them for me.

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What the Heck is Farro…? Plus an End of Summer Veggie and Farro Salad!

September 9, 2009

Summer Vegetable Farro Salad

How about a quick lesson on my newest and favorite food find?  You in?  I’m droppin’ knowledge.  Let’s talk farro!

Farro is a grain commonly and presently grown in Italy.  It doesn’t have strictly Italian roots… those roots would probably be somewhere in the Middle East, but Italy is a mighty fine producer of farro these days.

Farro is a wild cousin of wheat.  If you’re farmiliar with barley, I would say that farro is very similiar.

When cooked, farro is often shaped like a giant puffed rice.  It’s nutty in flavor and has a slightly crunchy texture.  I know it as a super healthy whole grain that keeps me full for hours and hours… an almost impossible task.  It’s full of fiber and even has a great amount of protein in it!

I most often use farro to fatten up soups or to make a nice sauteed vegetable salad.  Salads with farro are delicious warm, or room temperature, or cold standing in front of the fridge sometime past midnight.

We’re not done here…. click on through, won’t you?

Summer Vegetable Farro Salad

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Did You Win!? Did You Win!?

September 8, 2009

baggu, rishi, morning glory

I’ve got a great cure for the Tuesday Blues!

It’s time to give goodies away!

Close to 1,000 of you darling people have so graciously entered for this humble giveaway including Rishi Tea, Morning Glory Confections and Baggu bags.  A cool 15 of you won won won!  Click on through and see if you’re a winner!

What’s going on this week around these parts!?  I’ll tell ya…  coffee, cookies, what looks like the last of my summer tomatoes, and what the heck am I going to grow for Fall?  Have any ideas for me?  I’m going to need some gardening advice.

Ok… winning numbers look like this on random.org.  Oooooh!  Enticing, right?

Gift Bag Winners

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24 Comments

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

September 5, 2009

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

Sometimes I have imaginary phone conversations.  Ok… this happens a lot.  They go a little something like this:

Hello..?  Yes, hi.  I’d like to speak with the person in charge of making up all these clever food holidays like today’s Bacon Day.  Oh, that’s you?  Excellent.  I have a few additional food holidays I thought you might like to add to your calender.

How about a pizza and beer holiday every Friday of the month.  I mean… it’d just be really great if my calender could justify my food choices.  No?  You know, you don’t have to decide so quickly.  Maybe think it over a bit.   Still no?  Ok… lemme run another idea by you.

Can we make everyday at 3:30 in the afternoon National-Go-Ahead-And-Eat-A-Brownie Moment?  What?  That’s too specific?  I see.  You might reconsider this one… the people are really calling for it.

No?

Ok…. I’ll just stick to Bacon Day.  Thanks for that one.

I gotta run.  I have to tell all my friends about these Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies I just made!  Laaaater!

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

Interested in other ways to celebrate bacon!?

How about Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles or BLT’s with Homemade Mayonnaise!?

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235 Comments

Gift Bag Giveaway! So Many Ways to Win!!

September 4, 2009

baggu, rishi, morning glory

What’s the best part of going to a party?  Let me answer that for you…. the Gift Bag!!!

Now… it doesn’t happen very often now that I’m an adult, but the best part about leaving my friends’ birthday parties between the ages of 6 and 10 was the gift bag.  Something about that super bouncy ball, fake lipstick key chain and mini coloring book with crayon just set my world right.

Because there aren’t nearly enough gift bags in my adult world, I knew that my rooftop picnic must… MUST have parting gift bags.

Three companies were generous enough to make these gift bags possible.   Here’s the part where I thank them for their awesomeness and give stuff away to you, and you, and you!

baggu, rishi, morning glory

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My Favorite Red Velvet Cupcakes

September 2, 2009

My Favorite Red Velvet Cupcakes

God sure does have a clever sense of humor, wouldn’t you say!?

Yes.

Here’s how I know:  I’m dating a faaaaantastic man who… doesn’t know the difference between a pie and a cake… a muffin and a cupcake.

Funny, right?  This has to be a joke… right?

Nope.

Ok.  To be fair.  It’s not that he doesn’t know the difference… it’s just that he mixes them all up all the time.  Maybe it makes me a little crazy.  Maybe it goes a little something like this:

Me:  Simon,  what do you want for your birthday?

Simon:  A giant pie!

Me:  A pie?  You mean you don’t want a big ol’ chocolate cake?

Simon:  Oh!  Wait!  No…. I want a cake.  Wait… cakes are the big, multi-layered things with all the frosting.  Yes.  I want that.

Me:  Cake.  Not pie.  Cake.  Ok.

OR!

Me:  Hey Simon!  What do you want for breakfast?

Simon:  Cupcakes!

Me:  You mean muffins, right?

Simon:  Ooh yea.  Muffins.  Yeaaaaah.  They have the same shape!  It’s confusing.

Me:  I know.

Ok… maybe these two conversations are a bit of an exaggeration.  But seriously friends… they’re not that much of an exaggeration.  This happens to me, and I don’t see an end in sight.  Very funny God.  Luckily I have a very keen sense of humor too.  Ha.

Perhaps making up for his mix-ups, Simon is one hell of a cupcake decorator.  Seriously.

Now, I’d like to introduce you to my absolute favorite Red Velvet Cupcake recipe with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.  Wait… muffins.  No, cupcakes.  No… definitely cupcakes.  I know this.

My Favorite Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Spring Things!
Tiny Strawberry Cream Scones