Toasted Marshmallow Squares

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I stand before you with a giant smile on my face.

I imagine that rainbows and shooting stars light up the sky behind me.  I imagine I have the ability to summon a parade of ponies and sea horses… that’s how (humbly) excited I am about these cookie squares.

They’re so simple:  vanilla bean crust, cherry jam, and toasted marshmallows.  I know I haven’t invented cookies… I just feel particularly proud of these.

The possibilities with these cookie squares are endless, and yours to create.  I know you’re thinking Nutella… I know you.

However you fancy, I promise that when you make these squares, you’ll feel like summoning the pony parade.  This is real!

And… GO!

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Here I Come!

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I’m packing up the iPad and iced coffee, and I’m hitting the road!

I’m going to be out in the world this summer and I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to meet you!  Here’s where I’ll be… if you’re there too, let’s hug it out.

Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend, Menlo Park, CA:  Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

I’ll be performing a whole brunch demonstration!  There will be biscuits.  Aaannd that’s this coming weekend!

BlogHer Food Convention, Seattle, WA: June 8th thru June 10th, 2012.  

I’ll be speaking on Kitchen Mishaps on Saturday afternoon… and I’ll be loitering with Shutterbean throughout the weekend.

Book Signing at Book People, Austin, TX: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012. 7pm.

It’s a run and gun book signing!  I’ll be in Texas on the fly and I’d so love to meet you!  Please come out and get your books signed!

Teahouse Studio Food Styling Class, Berkeley, CA: July 21st, 2012.  

Shutterbean and I are teaching a super approachable food styling class.  Real life, real talk, fancy food pictures.  Come learn from us!

Big Summer Potluck, Carversville, PA: July 27 thru July 29th, 2012. 

I’m super excited to speak at this conference hosted by Three Many Cooks.  I’ll be speaking about how to be bonkers, obsessive, and sweet-toothed… and how to make it work, for real.  Totes profesh.

I know… I know… I wish I cold be everywhere.  Rest assured that I’ll pop up a few more places throughout the summer and fall, and wherever I am, I REALLY want to meet you and compliment your hair.

I can also be found, with great regularity, at Whole Foods, Venice, CA… and Intelligentsia Coffee.  I’ll probably have sunglasses on and really crazy hair.  Be warned.

As always, you can find/stalk me on Twitter and Facebook, and you can stay on top of all the madness by listening to the Joy the Baker Podcast on the reg.

I love you, I do.

(photo credit: Michael Friedman)

Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

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Say… hypothetically… you’re stalking someone on Facebook.  Totally hypothetical.

So you’re stalking.  First things first: type in name of unsuspecting stalkee.

Now, let’s just stop here for a moment.  Please please make sure you type the stalkee’s name in the search bar, and not the what’s on your mind bar.

Should you happen to type the stalkee’s name in the what’s on your mind bar…. well, their name will be your new status update.  Oooh, and you really can’t delete that fast enough.

Consider this a public service announcement.  Don’t be like me.  I’m constantly embarrassed.

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Roast these strawberries. Ok… this is when you should totally be like me.  Just don’t be like me on Facebook.

I know strawberries are lovely and beautiful fresh from the market.  But… if you’re feeling like a person that wants to turn on the oven…. OH!  The wonder!

Roasted strawberries transform from summer fruit, to warm, soft candy.

Dolloped on top of a sweet buttermilk cake?  Too good.  Game over.

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These Things I’ve Learned in Thirty Years

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I have lived a full thirty years.  Thirty years full of fumbles and mistakes.  Thirty years of accidents and apologies.  Thirty years of learning.

These are the trivial bits of thirty years of learning.  Some of these lessons it took me three minutes to learn, others… about 29 years and 347 days.

If the word ‘you’ ever appears in this list of learning, please rest assured that I am referring to myself.  I’m still learning… you, surely, are good as gold.

These Thirty-ish Things:

Go to college.  Just go.  It’s where you’ll learn how to be, how not to be, and how to set booby traps in the shower so your roommate stops using your expensive shampoo.

Learn how to apologize sincerely.

Eye contact is major.  Get into it.

Talking crap about people sometimes feels good (just admit it), but tastes bad.  It’s the opposite of eating McDonald’s.

If it hurts, don’t wear it.  At some point the pain will show.

Learn how to wear lipstick and werk.

The day you look dumb in the grocery store at 7:19 in the morning is also the day you run into that duuude you don’t want to run into, and his stupid-hot-at-7:19-in-the-morning girlfriend.  Don’t worry.  You’re buying kale and olive oil.  At least you can cook.

Overdress, always.  Unless it’s heels in a park… that doesn’t work.

(thank you for the picture above, michael.)

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Homemade Ranch Dressing

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I really wanted to be a waitress… until I really didn’t want to be a waitress.

When I was a kid, my family would go to the same Italian restaurant every month.  I was so smitten by the young waiter who always seemed more than eager to bring me a straw with my water, and offer a hearty thumbs-up when my dad ordered an extra side of meatballs.  He made his button up shirt look flawless and comfortable…. and he just had one of those faces that you wanted to see every time you were hungry.

I was super stoked when I got my first waitressing job.  …Just so excited.

I was just as happy as I could be until I realized that the restaurant I was working in served ranch dressing.  The ranch wasn’t the problem.  The problem is that people want to put ranch on absolutely everything:  french fries, potatoes, toast, burritos.  Everything!  I was a vertiable ranch dispenser.  It was so far from the ultra-smiley impression of serving tables that I had gotten as a youth… mostly because I wasn’t ultra-smiley… I was a bringer.

Thank heavens this was a good while ago.  The restaurant?  Well, it started with “The” and ended in “Factory”.  It was a little dose of real life.  It helped me realize that I’d rather be the girl making the ranch in the back… not the girl faking a smile in the front.  This is how we learn.

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Strawberry Ice

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So here’s the thing…. I made ice.

Actually, my freezer made ice.  I put strawberries and water in an ice cube tray.

Not everything is yeasted, risen, covered in cinnamon, or battered and fried.  Sometimes we need something as simple as… ice.

If you’re still with me, just imagine all of the possible combinations!  Blueberry lime ice.  Strawberry mint ice.  Pineapple ice. Lemon raspberry ice.  Cocktail enhancers!

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Consider the real-life application of Strawberry Ice:  in lemonade (with or without vodka).

Any real-life application in my house usually involves my cat.

You might also consider Strawberry Cream Puffs aaaand Strawberry Upside Down Cake with Cardamom.

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Kale Coconut and White Bean Tostadas

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Let’s just be real… Mondays are hard.

Sometimes Mondays are hard because Sundays are hard.

Sometimes Sundays are hard because you pay $5.00 for a little container of organic blueberries, bake them into a beautiful Bundt cake, and flip the baked Bundt only to have half of the cake actually leave the pan.

Sometimes you flip a warm Bundt too soon because you’re hungry.

Sometimes… (ok, all times) PreNatal vitamins (for all their awesome hair growing and folic acid goodness) are not breakfast.

Sometimes you just need to regroup, put on neon pink lipstick, take another trip to Whole Foods, and hope you don’t run into anyone you know because your bangs are greasy.

Sometimes you just need an easy lunch before any further misfortunes take place.

Sometimes you just need to bust out your dearheart Mother Mary plate and settle in with some good eats.

This is that.

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How to Make: Summer City Shoes

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Glitter is not food. Well… Unless it’s in sprinkle form. Sprinkles are totally food.

Gold glitter belongs on shoes. Golds sprinkles, on cupcakes.

Today I’d like to explore the value of glitter.

It’s shoes! Let’s make our own fancy, totally cheap, totally cute summer shoes.

Theres gold, and sparkle. There’s heart shapes… And we didn’t even have to spend too much money at Steve Madden to make it happen.

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French Onion Soup Sandwiches

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Sometimes I can’t tell whether or not I’m doing a good job.

I realize this sentence might sound trite and indulgent, and downright silly… but I mean it.  Sometimes I can’t tell.

I’ve realized that part of the reason I can’t tell what’s going on in the ‘good job’ department is because… nothing ever stops anymore.  Never.  Emails never stop.  Twitter rarely slows down.  Food ideas keep flowing.  And email… did I already mention emails?  I used to categorize jobs as ‘well done’, partially because they were… done!

Do you remember when things were actually done?

I know what you’re thinking… it’s my responsibility to make things both done and good.  You’re right.  Good and done.  I’m working on the done, and I’m working on the good.   I’m chasing them down.  I’m fueled by melty onion sandwiches.  I’m even writing this business in the streets!

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Now… I could have written ‘do well’, but I meant ‘do good’, as in… deeds.  Perhaps I should have written ‘ do done’.

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Let’s talk sandwiches!  We’ve got a French soup inspired sandwich today… but there is other sandwich madness you might be into.  Since you’re here, and all:

Green Goddess Tea Sandwich.  Ham Cheese Pickle and Potato Chip Sandwich, right!? and. Coffee Bacon Sandwiches.

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Asparagus and Gruyere Tarts

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Things I Like Because of Other Things I Like:

I like black and white striped shirts because they are the perfect compliment to bright pink lipstick.

I like super short fingernails because they are just begging to be topped with bold red nail polish.

I like deep navy blue because it makes me crave the burn of spicy grained mustard.

I like dusty blue hair because it makes beauty feel lighthearted and unexpected.

I like baking with asparagus because it reminds me of nature’s beautifully green and imperfect lines.

It feels like every bit of life can inspire another bit of life.  There’s something endlessly exciting about that… like everything belongs.  The best place to be inspired by belonging?  Pinterest.  Are you obsessed yet?  It’s the spot for food, color, and inspired living.

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Hello, New Orleans!

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Some cities are just filled with magic.  London has magic.  St.Louis has spooky magic.  I think my Venice home has a good amount of sparkle magic.  But New Orleans… New Orleans is aalll magic.

I was lucky enough to visit this special city last week.  Because it was my first visit to New Orleans, I.. a) melted in the humidity.  b) was horrified by my frizzy hair.  c) drank daiquiris in the streets.  d) ate beignets several… SEVERAL times.

Want a peek?  Here we go!

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Rose Water Pistachio Fruit Salad

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It couldn’t have been easy to be my mother.  I was shy, stubborn, and resistant to change.  I’d observe a national day of tantrums every time she cut my hair.  I was obsessed with Julia Child, Lucille Ball, and McDonald’s… every McDonald’s we drove by.  Obsessed.  And I was (capslock) pissed when my little sister was born.  Just livid.

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It’s still not easy to be my mother.  I’m still shy, stubborn, and resistant to change.  My mom knows not to approach my head with a pair of scissors in her hands.  I’m still really into Julia Child.  I enjoy Lucille Ball… and if one were to hand me McDonald’s fries… I’d sure as heck eat them.  These things are all still realities, it’s just that my Mom doesn’t have to live with it all up in her house everyday.

I love this photograph of me and my mom.  In this picture she’s the age that I am now… which isn’t stressful to me at all. (Realtalk:  it’s just a teeny tiiiny bit stressful.)

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Blue Cheese, Hazelnut, and Honey Polenta

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Let’s categorize this post as not cupcakes, not pancakes, and not kale.  Let’s categorize this post as real life real talk.

Five Ridiculous Things I’ve Said to Boys that I May or May Not Have Had Crushes On:

“Oh my goodness!  You have two different colored eyes!  You look just like a dog I know!”  It turns out that’s not really the compliment I intended.  But seriously… do you know the dogs I’m talking about?

“I like your shoulder cat!”  Because a dude in raver jeans, smoking a clove cigarette, with a cat that lives on his shoulder is totally a giant heap of red flags.

“Yea.  You can totally borrow my car to pick up your girlfriend from the airport.”  Rethink!  No car + girlfriend = NO GO!  Ps. Jerk!

“Yea… I love The New Yorker.”  Be real, Joy.  You know you don’t actually read The New Yorker.  Seriously… unless Nigella Lawson is on the cover, you probably didn’t read it.  It’s ok.  It really is.

“No… it’s cool.  I’m spiritual, not religious.”  Oooh this one.  Oooh these words that are not true for me.  These words that I used to say because I thought it would make me more palatable in the dating world.  These were my worst of words… making me more palatable to the wrong people for me.  Grow up and learn things, Joy!

Learn from me.  Don’t be like me.  Don’t compare boys to dogs and project yourself as a fancypants New Yorker reader.  It’s ok if you don’t listen to vinyl.  It’s totally cool if you want to throw your cat a birthday party and hang out at church.  I’m just sayin’.  It’s cool.

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This recipe is a result of standing in the kitchen… hungry… having just taken a beautifully golden, but utterly disastrous cheese danish out of the oven.  Apparently I’m still learning how to make a cheese danish without pulling an oozing, melted mascarpone mess out of the oven.  I’m working on it.

Danish aside, I mustered up the last of the delicious ingredients I found hiding in my cupboard and pantry.  The result is a sweet and savory, breakfast and lunch dish.  It’s a delicious surprise!  Danish though?  I’m comin’ for ya.  I’ll figure you out.

Disasters happen.  Praise God for polenta and hazelnuts.

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Adaptations, On my Mind.

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Recipes knock on my door everyday.  They come in, take off their shoes, and make a complete mess of my kitchen. They stick around for a few days, really get comfortable… and then the recipes leave.  Actually, the recipes make their permanent home here at Joy the Baker… but they’re out of my life once they’re adapted perfected and cleaned up after.

But!  What if I’m not done with the recipes?  What if I want them to stick around a while? There’s not a lot of time for an extended recipe stay when I’m always trying to create something new new new… but here are five things I have in mind. Please consider this a much needed mindshare.

Take this Quick and Easy Spanakopita from Martha Stewart. This recipe is solid… although not completely quick. The Spanakopita is made with traditional filo dough, and a spinach and feta mixture. Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I believe this dish is best served with kale instead of spinach.  Really… either way it’s a lovely meal. Add spicy chili flakes for added interest.

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The real life application of Kale Spanakopita (Kale-akopita?) involves a slow fried egg and two pieces of black forest bacon.

Kale instead of spinach. Bacon instead of the absence of bacon.  Chili flakes for heat.

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Hello, London!

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London oh London, how I love you!

Can I show you some images from my trip to England?

Now… before you go thinking me all sorts of fancy, I need to make a confession.  This is the very first time I’ve used this little blue passport.  Seriously.  The first time!

Here’s a bit of London adventuring.  Thanks for letting me share!

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Mushroom and Bacon Breakfast Skillet

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What would you do if I told you that I’m in just a teeny-tiny-weeee bit of a rut?

I’ve got some nerve, right?  Soooome nerve.

Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to travel the country on book tour meeting so many of your smiling faces!  You people have been amazing!  You’ve helped me set my shyness aside, and jump out into the world with you.  You’ve welcomed me, and my book with such sunshine and enthusiasm, and I’m so so grateful for you!

I’ve also had adventures in London… and I can’t wait to show you the images.  I have a couch to sit on.  I have a kitten to cuddle with (when he’s not feeling claw-y).  I have Tracy and Michael.  I even have a man that brings flowers and hot coffee.  I mean… come on!

What the heck do I have to be in a rut about?

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I suppose ruts (I totally just typed ‘nuts’) have no rhyme or reason.

I’m coaxing myself out of this rut with a simple skillet.  I’m eating myself out of this rut with easy eggs, and well cooked mushrooms.  Bacon clearly doesn’t hurt either.  Oh, and I’m about to start reading myself out of my rut with The Happiness Project.

Note.  Very important note.  It’s not wise to go shopping for jean shorts while in a rut… with very pale legs.  That’s solid advice I wish someone would have told me.   Shopping for jean shorts is much like shopping for a bathing suit.  Not to be taken lightly.

K.  I love you!  Byeeee!

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