Joy the Baker

Spinach Soup with Garlic Thyme Croutons

February 27, 2013

spinach soup with garlic thyme croutons

Soup is my restart button. Once I get started with the powdered sugar and beignets, it’s a slipper slippery slope that only leads to handfuls of caramel corn, and stacks of chocolate chip cookies.

Something savory, green, and surprisingly filling is the only way to stop me from digging through the freezer for a pint of ice cream.  I have a problem.  It’s called will power… and I don’t think I have any.

spinach soup with garlic thyme croutons

I want to talk about green things today.  We should.  We really should.

We should talk about buttery croutons too… because who wants soup without crisp, butter-soaked, garlic-infused croutons.  No one.

Aaaand here we are on the slippery slope again.  There’s no helping me.

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Buttermilk Beignets

February 24, 2013

Buttermilk Beignets

Apparently one is not allowed to have a pity party upon returning from vacation.  Such pathetic events are extravagant, really… and one should just buck up and answer her dang emails and do her dang laundry.  Just because one is several hundred miles away from the sweet doughy pastries of Cafe du Monde does not a pity party justify.

It turns out that vacation can feel closer to home when you decide to, you know… throw powdered sugar and fried dough around the house.   It’s pretty much that easy.  Who knew?

This is what it looks like to throw powdered sugar around Cafe Du Monde.  If you ever find yourself in New Orleans (and I pray that you do), please spend at least one very late night and one early morning enjoying beignets and coffee.  Dreams come true!

Buttermilk Beignets

Invite some friends over.  Gather around a hot pot of oil, take out an extra pair of frying tongs.  Measure out as much powdered sugar as you think you’ll need for a fresh batch of beignets, then double it…. then pour some powdered sugar over your head (just for good measure).  We’re all the way in.  Let’s do this!

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147 Comments

Toasted Oat and Coconut Muesli

February 22, 2013

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I always welcome an opportunity to change my mind.  Is that actually a true statement?  Not exactly.  I can be hard-headed.  Let’s talk about muesli.

I’d always categorized muesli in the part of my brain that tolerates both cold oatmeal and mushy bread.  It’s a very tiny part of my back-brain that I generally ignore.

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I love granola, but we all know that granola is easy to love.  It’s the sexy/crunchy/toasty version of oats and nuts.  Add chocolate to granola and it’s like eating oat candy.  Muesli makes you work for it.  It’s not sugared or overly sexy.  Muesli makes you accept its simplicity and actually be grateful for it.  Grateful for simplicity.

Wait… did a breakfast cereal just teach me lessons about life?  I think so… that was awesome.

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126 Comments

Hello again, New Orleans!

February 19, 2013

cathedral, new orleans

Do people write love songs about New Orleans?  Do they write sonnets?  Hold a boom box over their heads to profess their love to this city?

Or do they just visit and return home full of gumbo, beads, bloody marys, and just a tinge of regret?

Beads in New Orleans

I spend twelve glorious days in New Orleans this Mardi Gras season and I came away feeling different.  There’s something about this city that feels nostalgic.  It goes much deeper than the colorful plastic beads and French Quarter fortune tellers… it’s a feeling that lingers in the air.  It feels like all that once was in this city is still so close.    It’s hard to describe.  Maybe it’s the passing streetcars, the above ground tombs, and the always uneven cobblestone.  Something seeps from the ground here, and it feels old and relevant.

joy, new orleans

New Orleans is special.  It’s proud.  It’s colorful.  The city  totally wants you to come for a visit, and come back to stay.  What follows are the things I saw and the things I loved.

(If I were actually standing in the middle of the two center windows I’d be a much more successful blogger… I’m cool with imperfection.)

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96 Comments

Black and White Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

February 18, 2013

black and white chocolate dipped pretzels

I really did have the best intentions this Sunday.  I had a whole list of tasks I wanted to accomplish from unpacking my travel luggage to, you know… organizing my belt drawer and other such Sunday tasks.  The best of intentions, really.  Truth is I spent much of the day melting white chocolate, dipping pretzels in white chocolate, and standing in the kitchen eating melted white chocolate with a spoon… I was staring at the wall eating melted chocolate with a spoon(!!!!).

If I could hide these dipped pretzels from myself, I would.  Be warned/send help.

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Lime Cordial, Three Ways

February 16, 2013

Lime Cordial, three ways.

Home is where the desk is.  Home is where the dirty dishes are.  Home is where the paper straws, cookbook collection, and to-be-folded laundry is.

It’s good to be home from New Orleans.  It’s good to be home knowing that I cleaned my desk before I left… I sometimes surprise myself.

lime cordial inspiration

I picked up this Gourmet Special Edition Pasta Magazine at the airport in New Orleans because I wanted to fill my brain with pasta carbs on my journey home.  I thought it would inspire me to make copious amounts of ravioli upon my return.  I think reading this magazine on the plane inspired my seatmate’s hungry belly (I could feel you reading over my shoulder, sir) and inspired me to, strangely enough, make Lime Cordials.

This could be a clear sign that I’ve eaten too much jambalaya and crawfish.

Lime Cordial, three ways.

Limes will be my restart.  I’ll be back on the pasta and beignet train shortly.

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57 Comments

10 Real-Talk Blog Tips Part II

February 11, 2013


on blogging

Two years ago I revealed some blogging truths in something called  10 Real-Talk Blog Tips.  There’s a lot we don’t talk about when it comes to the business of blogging because we want to make things look easy… you know, like all of us bloggers wake up with perfect cat-eye makeup and Bundt cakes that slide effortlessly out of the pan every single time.  Truth is, it’s messy and haphazard.  Some of us have editorial calendars and secret staff photographers.  Others of us just fly by the seat of our pants and super stress out when tax time comes around.  It’s a mixed bag.  

If you’re a new blogger, aspiring blogger, or frustrated blogger, allow me to offer you a different perspective:  it’s not all cat-eye, DIY, and stacked cookies (although sometimes it is, and that’s cool too).

(Another) 10 Real-Talk Blog Tips

One:  It’s easy, ooooh so easy, to feel like you can’t keep up with the blogging world.  Some bloggers offer up new content every few days.  Some bloggers post every single day.  Some bloggers have three kids, are learning a new language, and post multiple times a day.  It’s easy to feel like the Internet is screaming ahead of you.  I understand.  It’s overwhelming.  My advice:  go at your own pace!  You’re the boss of you.  Set a loose posting schedule that works for you, and try hard to reach those goals.  Push yourself, but be kind to yourself.  Both feel really good.

Two:  A new trend in food photography involves downloading loads of super cute fonts and creating awesome text treatments over pretty pictures of stacked  pancakes and glazed doughnuts.  It’s totally a thing.  It’s totally pretty.  Here’s the deal:  it’s ok if you don’t put text on your pictures.  

Someone had to say it.  

Just because it’s a trend doesn’t mean it’s right for your blog.  Every time I consider a trend, I think back to the time I got a short bobbed haircut because it was all the rage in junior high.  The result?  Frizzy triangle hair.  Trends can be a trap.  And yes… I am FOREVER talking about my various hair traumas.

Three:  There are all sorts of ways to rank and rate blogs.  Ignore Ignore Ignore!   Sites like Alexa will rank your blog in terms of traffic, link backs, and God knows what else.  Don’t pay any mind to Internet rankings.  Do what you do, and keep doing it better and better.  Be your own barometer.

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674 Comments

It’s Cold!

February 8, 2013

cold cures

I know nothing about blizzards.  I know very little about multiple feet of snow.  Cold wind?  I can’t even.  Freezing rain!?  Are you for serious?

I have nothing but respect for those of you that live in temperatures that fall below 47 degrees F.  Mad respect.  Also… I really like your puffy jackets.  I’ve always wanted one of those, but I can’t deal with the freezing temps that go along with that sort of cuteness.

You and your snow tolerance?  Badass.  Me?  I’ll happily hop between California sun and Florida sun and visit New York in the Spring… late Spring.

That being said… even people in California catch a chill.  It’s mostly because we insist on wearing shorts year-round (but that’s neither here nor there).

Chilly temperatures require two things:  hot water and bourbon (in various incarnations).  Let’s explore.

A pot of hot water + A few glugs of bourbon + half an orange, squeezed + a big spoon of honey.  This fragrant orange treat is for days when you’ve got the ick-sniffles and need to justify your bourbon consumption with a dash of vitamin C.  It’s like adult Nyquil without the questionable cherry flavoring.

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69 Comments

Rainy Day Reads and other things

February 6, 2013

rainy day reads

We’ve had some rainy days lately, and really… I’m always looking for an excuse to spend some quality time on the Internet.  I love that you come here looking for cookies, but please allow me to share a bit of my Internet browsings with you.

I’m a sucker for a pretty Tumblr.  That’s Real Cute, HoneyPie is everything I need. Long distance BFFs with awesome taste and good hair.

Miss Moss brings us pretty things from South Africa.  Taleggio and Mushroom Pie looks so good it makes me mad (good mad).

I love these What’s For Sipper features on the blog Brunellos Have More Fun.

Sometimes a cake is more than a cake.  Sometimes a cake is a angel that speaks to your heart.  I don’t think I can live without Tina’s Crackle Cake from The Kitchy Kitchen for one more minute.

Did you know that the internet says that you can get away with giving someone a rock for Valentine’s Day.  Clearly we’re coming to the end of the Internet.  A rock, people.  A rock.  It’s OVER.

There are exactly 1.76 million super awesome food blogs in the world.  What are you doing here!?  Have you read Top With Cinnamon?  It’s a super pretty blog and they life-hacked the heck out of these Thin Mint Cookies (no-bake aaaannndd vegan?  yea… tricky).  Read the ingredient list and you’ll either roll your eyes or play the Rocky theme song and fist pump.  You could go either way.

I’m not, what some might call: a voracious reader.  I am a voracious eater of popcorn.  I am a voracious watcher of poor-choices-television.  I am a voracious waster of time.  Calling myself a voracious reader makes me sound waaay more intellectual than I actually am, and really… I’m not fooling anyone.  Aaaaannnyway.  This month I’m reading An Altar in the World.  I didn’t know I didn’t know about this book.  It’s all about finding the beautiful and sacred in the small things.  It’s been a good book for my sometimes impatient, overreacting, judge-y heart.  (real!)

There’s more…

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85 Comments

Brown Butter Rosemary Orange Cornbread

February 4, 2013

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Biscuits.  I love.  You know this to be true because I’m forever trying to stuff them with caramelized mushrooms  or chocolate chunks.  We could talk about biscuits all day and all night… and that would feel totally reasonable to me.

I have, however, neglected another Southern-bred carbohydrate:  cornbread.  How has this slipped by me?  Criminal, really.  In an effort to right this egregious wrong, I bring you cornbread with extras… totally major/bonkers-awesome extras like browned butter, orange, and rosemary.  It’s like cornbread gets a zippy kick in the pants.

The extra butter and honey drip added to the cornbread… that’s just showing off, which is totally allowed.

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100 Comments

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