Pickles and Brie Grilled Cheese

pickles and brie grilled cheese

I’m on high-alert.  I’m totally overdue.

I have the distinct feeling that something awkward is about to happen to me. A few months ago I ran into an ex-boyfriend at the grocery store.  It was very early in the morning and… picture a hot mess… that was my hair.  His new girlfriend… picture flawless… that was her.  Ok.  No big deal. It happens… and directly after it happens I’m relieved that I have at least another month before I have to suffer another such awkward moment.  It’s karmic… I get it.

It’s been a few months since my last painful karmic event and I can feel it coming.  It’s like a sixth sense.  I can feel the awkward approach.  I have a feeling I’m going to run into an ex-ladyfriend.  You know, sometimes you’re friends with girls and then sometimes you stop being friends with her because you realize she has been talking some major trash about you for like… ever.  And then sometimes your worlds collide.  And you wish they wouldn’t.  And you hope, at least, you’ve combed your hair.

It’s about to happen to me.  I can feel it.

Oh.  Wait.  Are you under the impression that I get along with everyone ever?  hahahaa.  No.  I have a very short list of people I would like to cage fight.  Totally normal.

pickles and brie grilled cheese

While we’re on the topic of painfully awkward moments that I have no control over, can I come clean about a nervous habit?  I nervous eat pickles straight from the jar while standing in front of the open refrigerator.  Bread and Butter pickles are my vice.

And so this sandwich was born.

ps.  Did I just mention cage fighting?  I’m sorry (kinda).

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Year Five

year five

There is always a beginning.

On January 13, 2008 I had a really good idea.  I started a blog.  I wrote a post.  I posted a picture.  I opened up comments to anyone who might (most accidentally) stumble upon my ramblings… and  I misspelled the title of my first post (thereby setting the tone for every other word I would type in this space).

 My beginning was short, yellow-lit, and misspelled.

In the five years that I’ve lived in this little Internet space I’ve also…

lived in three different apartments, driven two different cars, and held the hands of various dudes, dates and boyfriends.  I’ve made a best friend.  I’ve created podcasts with another best friend.  I’ve traveled to London, over-eaten in New Orleans, and nursed (at least) two and two-thirds hangovers.  I’ve borrowed three cameras.  I’ve dropped one computer on the concrete.  I’ve cried at least eight times.  I’ve adopted one cat.  I’ve lost two jobs.  I’ve gotten in one bike accident.  I’ve had 89 freak-outs of varying degrees.  I’ve written one book, made hundreds of biscuits, and eaten dozens of pounds of chocolate chips.

For the past five years, this little space has always been where I want to spend my time.  When I started this blog I didn’t really think about who might come here and read it… mostly because I figured no one would. I just wanted to play with my butter, sugar, and camera.  Somewhere along the way, you joined me in this weirdo journey and I’m really so glad you did.  I didn’t know I missed you until you got here… and now I’m sure I can’t do without you.  I am so thankful for your enthusiasm and kindness.  You’re weird too!  Seriously, let’s high-five!

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Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding


Alright friends… I’m back in the game and I’m comin’atcha!

I’ve been rooting from the sidelines with salad pompoms.  I’ve tried to distract you with brightly colored juiced.  I’ve taunted you with creamy polenta that’s baked and savory and so cheesy delicious (and you should still TOTALLY indulge in that gem of a recipe), but none of it quite fills in for what you’ve come to expect around these parts.

I know what you’ve come to expect:  flaky pie crust, too many cat pictures, and a questionable amount of chocolate and peanut butter.

Ok!  I’m back in the game.  Really all it took was a few quality minutes of daydreaming about peanut butter cups… as though that’s a reasonable pastime.  Chocolate pudding meets peanut butter pudding with a few chocolate sprinkles for good measure.  Ooh happy Friday indeed!

I’m going to go ahead and check ‘make good decisions’ off my Friday list.  Done.

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Green Salad with Pink Goat Cheese Hearts


I feel like I have some explaining to do.  Everything I’ve brought to you since the beginning of the year has been savory and somewhat healthy.  I don’t know what’s gotten into me.   I think my sweet tooth might be broken.  Temporarily broken.

Everything I’ve wanted to eat lately has either been green, soupy, or French-fried.

In this, the latest installation of ‘Joy the Baker Has Lost Her Mind and Gone Savory’, I’d like to offer you an all-green salad.  The gemstone about this salad is the pink-stained goat cheese hearts.  You might consider this a healthful Valentine’s Day celebration tool.  Yea… I said the V-word.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day (I’m sorry…)… yes it is a real thing, and yes you can totally ignore the holiday should you not be the pink and red and heart-shaped cheese sort.  I made a Be My Valentine Pinterest Board just in case you need some clever pink and red  holiday inspiration.


I’m going to go watch How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Cupcake Wars until I crave chocolate pudding.  Thanks for your understanding.  Ps.  Fever ramblings?  Maybe a little.

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On Juicing

juice it

I used to be the first person to run screaming from the sound of a carrot being juiced.  Growing up, my dad was a very enthusiastic juicer and the sight of a 10 lb bags of carrots entering the house would just make my five-year old heart sink.  I knew that we were going to be drinking a lot of straight carrot juice when all I ever really wanted was Oreo cookies.

Now… in 10 lbs of carrots I see 4 cream cheese frosted carrot cakes, and 6 giant jars of juice.  There is comfort in the cake and in the juice.

You see a majority of what comes out of my kitchen here on Joy the Baker.  What you don’t see, and what I often end up eating from a giant bowl on the couch, is usually of the leafy green or quinoa variety.  Sure, I eat popcorn for dinner and sometimes eat cookies for breakfast, but I also take great efforts to balance that with things that aren’t pumped with brown butter (oooh I love brown butter).

We talk about all sorts of things here:  nail polish, apple picking, ex-boyfriends.  Today it’s juice… because I’m starting to love these brightly colored concoctions as much as I love doughnuts (almost…) (aaallllmost as much…).

phojuice fruit

Juice is suuuuch a thing right now in Los Angeles.  We don’t meet for soy lattes anymore, we meet for spin class and expensive bottled juices.  It’s feels equal parts obnoxious and healthful.  This post isn’t about juice cleansing.  I’ve done that enough times (1) to know that I enjoy lunch, dinner, and late-night handfuls of chocolate chips straight from the bag.

I wanted my juice experience to be less about the  fancy glass bottle and more about the juice.  Less about the label design, fonts, and wordswordswords.  Cold-pressed.  Raw.  Organic.  Unpasturized.  Gluten-free. Vegan.  Be radiant!  Glow!  Sparkle!  Shine!  Drink this green business!  Give us $12 for 12 ounces of apple juice. On and on and on…  I mostly just wanted  my juice bottles to stop bossing me around.  Now I have my own juicer and it feels like an adventure.

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Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Skillet Scones

roasted red pepper skillet scones

It is what you say it is.

It’s not ‘Oh Lordy I woke up late for this coffee meeting and I haven’t washed my hair in three days’… it’s called the Top Knot Bun.

It’s not ‘I can’t muster the strength to make anything other than popcorn for dinner’… it’s High Fiber Dinnertime (followed by a handful of chocolate chips for dinner, and big happy breakfast).

It’s not ‘Wasting time online window shopping’… it’s Life Research (and I just like to imagine that I can afford that dress).

It’s not ‘Irish Soda Bread’… it’s Skillet Scones (with peppers and feta and yaaaayyyy for basil!).

It is what you say it is.

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Baked Polenta with Tomato and Basil

baked polenta with tomato and basil

Remember last Friday?  I wrote a post that was essentially a love letter to the concept of the ‘restorative weekend’.  I need to come clean.

I had every intention of taking last Friday off.  I wanted to step away from the computer and just feel like I was feeding myself in ways other than recipe writing and Twitter updates.  The reality is, I spent half of the day off, and the other half of the day freaking out about not working hard enough, and… trying to sneak in a bit of work.  I finished the day feeling like I had done a bad job at both relaxing and working hard.  The worst.

Wait… I’m not complaining.  What kind of ingrate complains about taking a day off of work?  What I’m trying to say is this:  I have a problem.  Sometimes I feel like I can’t enjoy stepping away from work because everything keeps spinning without my contribution to the spin.  If I’m not contributing to the spin… then aaahhhAAAHHHHaaahh (that’s what it feels like on the inside).

What I’ve discovered is this:  I’m a work in progress… especially when it comes to winding down, unplugging, and turning the volume down to low.  I’m ok with that.

Ps.  This isn’t one of those humblebrags wherein I lament about that fact that I’m just too hardworking.  No way.  Not at all.  There’s a difference between being hardworking and being productive.  I am the former, I’m working on the tweaking the latter.

baked polenta with tomato and basil

Maybe this is all a lesson in taking it easy.

Maybe the real name of this blog is:  Joy the baker , five years of food and figuring it all out.

Polenta helps, as does your grace and understanding.

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What Weekends Are For

what weekends look like

I have this really destructive habit that involves me, my computer, and hours and hours of endless working.  Actually… it’s not really working.  It’s me, sitting in front of my computer, convincing myself  that I’m working late into the night when in reality, I’m just sitting in front of my computer refreshing Twitter while simultaneously flipping through Instagram on my phone.

It is destruction.

I stop being a productive computer worker when I hit hour four.  Anything after that is a half productive mixture of work, social media, and intense gummy bear snacking.

I’m trying to find a solution.  I’m trying to be more productive than.  I’ve set high standards for myself, and hanging out on Facebook isn’t really going to get me where I want to be.

Something dawned on me,  maybe working less will actually help me work more.  Does that make sense?  Of course it does.  People are totally doing this…  I just have my fingers crossed that it will work for me.  I’m trying to create a bit of a weekend for myself.  My weekend may not necessarily be a Saturday and Sunday situation, but I’m trying to make some space and time when I’m not in front of the computer typing ingredient measurements into a Word document.

Weekends are for biscuit brunch:  out on the town or out of your oven.  

what weekends are like

Think about this:  cinnamon rolls without the hustle and bustle of yeast and resting.  Cinnamon rolls meets cinnamon-sugar toast meets amazing biscuit madness!  I’d like to introduce you to Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls.

what weekends are like

I will never stop singing the praises of these Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Biscuits.  I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again: they amaze!  If you were to put a fried egg and melty Guryere cheese on these biscuits… I’d come over, we’d get married, I’d move in, and that’s the end of that.

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Spinach, Kiwi & Chia Seed Smoothie


Certain unromantic things come with adulthood:  putting away one’s laundry, paying one’s taxes, drinking one’s spinach.

Certain amazingly romantic things come with adulthood:  eating a giant bowl of popcorn with truffle oil for dinner, painting one’s shoes in gold glitter, falling asleep on the couch while bingeing on episodes of The Shield.

It all balances itself out, and… if I might say, the scales definitely tip to the positive end when it comes to adultland.

This week is all about balancing the scales and putting things in order.  I’m knocking things out, big and small (seriously though… mostly small).  I’m hanging pants on hangers.  I’m putting clean laundry away like a grown-up.  I’m ingesting coffee and gin, generously and separately, because I can (and I’m worth it).  I’m drinking my greens, all proper-like.

I’ve also eaten my weight in white chocolate chunks.  All I needed was an excuse to buy a bag.  This really is so dangerous.

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Maple, White Chocolate and Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

maple, cherry, white chocolate and oatmeal cookies

Alright Alright Aaaalllllright!  This whole 2013 business is real.  There’s no denying it.  We’re seven days in… and there’s just no stopping this year from happening.  That, in fact, is a total blessing.

January is such a strange month.  I can’t be the only one that thinks so.

Half of my friends are majorly enthusiastic about their New Year’s resolutions.  I am in total support of this… I’m just bummed that we can’t have drinks because they’re on a juice cleanse.  Half of my friends are freaking out about Valentine’s Day, and I firmly believe that it’s a) TOO SOON, and b) we’re totally too old to freak out about that holiday.  The last half of my friends (because I have three-halves of friends) are so majorly task driven that they’re emailing the world into oblivion.

In other words… help!  Where is the room for cookies in this odd summation of friends?

I’m glad you’re here.  Let’s just take this goodness in together.

ps.  HAPPY (dang) NEW YEAR!

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Honey Mustard, Broccoli & Apple Salad

honey mustard broccoli salad

This isn’t about my New Year’s Resolution.

This salad has nothing to do with the obscene amount of lasagna I ate this December.  I embrace that lasagna, every bit.

This big bowl of apples and broccoli are simply a testament to my brain-tummy.  This is what it asked for.  And I thank it (my brian-tummy)… because usually it asks for cinnamon rolls and root beer and I have to convince it otherwise.  My brain-tummy is in a constant passive-aggressive fight with my thigh-tummies.

In other news:  I can’t believe the internet continues to let me have a blog.

In ultra-other news:  Yes… this is still happening.

If we were to boil down to the essence of what I’m trying to say, it would be this:  I made a salad.  It was really delicious.  I ate the whole thing.  It was healthy and made me feels strong and capable… like my college education.  I’ll stop saying brian-tummy starting exactly right now.

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