Joy the Baker

Sweet Berry Lime Cake

April 30, 2013

Sweet Berry Lime Cake

This Bundt cake is my way of making cake without rreeaaalllyy making cake.  Filling, stacking, and fighting with frosting… sometimes (most times) making a layer cake is just too many steps in between me and a slice of cake.

I have sooo many tricks for doing things without doing things.  (What does that even mean?)  Mascara is my way of wearing makeup without wearing makeup.  Carrot sticks and Tic Tacs are my way of eating lunch without eating lunch.  Text messaging is my way of having a conversation without having a conversation.  Coffee is my way of waking up without waking up.

You understand me.  Let’s have cake.

Sweet Berry Lime Cake

This dessert feels like a fancied up cake mix situation without the guilt.  Wait… am I the only one that feels guilty about adding eggs, water, and oil to a mix and calling it cake?  I just know that I didn’t earn the compliments.

This cake is basically cake mix… without the mix or the box.

To be fair, I think brownies from a box are better than any brownie I could ever made from scratch.  I’m not too proud to admit that.  Delicious brownies without making brownies.

Ps.  If Sweet Berry Lime makes you think of Dr. Steve Brule’s Sweet Berry Wine… you’re a friend of mine.  If not… nevermind.  XO!

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123 Comments

Blackberry Apricot Sunflower Oatmeal

April 29, 2013

Blackberry Apricot Sunflower Oatmeal

You don’t need me to tell you how to make oatmeal.  You might need me to tell you how to make Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes, and tell you not to drink rum from a yard-long glass through the streets of Las Vegas.  Oatmeal though… I’m sure you can handle that on your own.

Maybe I just need to remind myself how to make oatmeal.  Maybe I just need to remind myself to make oatmeal at all… and eat it… and call it breakfast.   Staring at the computer first thing in the morning, thoughtlessly burning my mouth on hot coffee does not a breakfast make.

I thought it was possible that if I needed a reminder, you might need a reminder too.  Let’s breakfast!  Let’s make breakfast as healthful and beautiful as we can.  It’s a big week.  We need this.

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62 Comments

Weekend Warrior

April 25, 2013

weekend inspiration

Can we talk about our weekend inspiration?  Let’s take on the rest, the recharge, and the gathering and laughing with friends.  Can we turn the email down and the Fleetwood Mac way way up?  Can we find reason to bust out the sunscreen?  Can we order a basket of French Fries at Brunch and order another basket at 1am after a very loud night of karaoke?

Can there be cold negronis and long dog walks.  Maybe some catnip and breakfast cake?  Too much coffee and a long afternoon nap?  Oooh man… I’m just talkin’ dirty now.

My wish for you is that at least some of your weekend is a true weekend for you.  Even if there’s a clock you have to punch, or overtime in your future… I hope there is at least a moment of cake and/or sunshine and/or a snooze button and/or an extra cup of coffee.

Here’s some weekend inspiration.

I love you (seriously, I do).  Happy Friday!

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74 Comments

Goat Cheese and Roasted Corn Guacamole

April 23, 2013

Goat Cheese Roasted Corn Guacamole

I didn’t have the kind of parents that made me pure, homemade, organic, sugar-free, vegan baby food.  Not quite.

I  had the kind of parents that would throw whatever they were having for dinner into a blender (no joke) and call it dinner for their crazy screaming baby girl Joy.  I distinctly remember having Spaghetti and Meatballs in the blender… and I’m pretty sure there was some weird sort of Tofu Potato Bake blended to (probably pretty gross) perfection.  Fish sticks?  Blend ‘em.  Taco Salad?  Too far.

Why am I talking about baby blender food?  Well… if I had voice enough to make meal requests, I would surely have asked for a chip and guacamole blender baby meal.  Guacamole is a perfect food.  Even babies know this to be true.

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90 Comments

Creamy Zucchini Tarragon Soup

April 21, 2013

Creamy Zucchini Tarragon Soup

I feel like Mary Poppins would be a really wonderful soup maker.

I’m not talking about the spoonful of sugar.

It’s that magical purse she carries around.  If she can pull a coat rack and house plant out of her nanny bag, imagine the things she could coax from a giant soup pan.  Dreams!  I imagine the most lovely and effortlessly delicious soup, with a dash of cream like whaaat!?

Wait… can Mary Poppins make us all soup forever and always?

I wonder if Mary Poppins has wasabi peas and a baguette in her purse.  Probably.

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79 Comments

Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes

April 18, 2013

Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes

I can smell my neighbor’s bacon.

That’s not a euphemism.  If it were, you’d have permission to kick me in the shin and be officially grossed out.

I can literally smell my neighbor’s bacon.  His kitchen window meets my bedroom window, and I actually feel lucky that I don’t have to pay extra rent for a daily bacon alarm clock.

Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes

A good while ago, I found myself standing in a kitchen full of fancy chefs talking about the glory of a proper peanut butter and bacon partnership.  I was suspicious.  I had to test the partnership with crumbly and crisp Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies.  If you like bacon… if you like crisp cookies, you will consider these cookies a grand success.  I thought they were so bonkers that I also included the recipe in my cookbook.

I figured that if wonky flavor combinations could be cookied, they could just as easily be pancaked.  Also… sliced bananas and maple syrup make everything breakfast.  Let’s just cross this line.  I’ll call my neighbor, he’ll bring the bacon.

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111 Comments

French Bread Pizza: 2 Ways

April 17, 2013

French Bread Pizza: 2 ways

Two things you should know before this whole pizza extravaganza begins.  One: a ‘maj’, short for major… is a best friend.  Two:  Tracy is my maj.

I met Tracy a few years ago.  We caught one other rolling our eyes at the same thing.  It was frozen risotto that deserved our collective eye roll.  To be fair… it was gross and we were hungry.  Tracy is the kind of friend that you can bring to a party because she’ll compliment all the girls (most sincerely), give all the guys a much needed ribbing (most sincerely), and laugh at fart jokes.  She’s a crowd pleaser, and if you tend to be on the quiet side, like me… Tracy is a ringer.  She’s such a win.

French Bread Pizza: 2 ways

Also… if you were to say a sentence to Tracy like, ‘Hey what should I make for my blog?’, she’ll have the right answer… which is French Bread Pizza, always and forever.

Tracy and I live many miles apart, but found ourselves in the same kitchen this week.  This sort of rare occasion calls for carbs and cheese.  There was sausage and cheese, chicken and barbecue sauce, and a tremendous amount of laughter.

Tracy made Greek French Bread Pizza and Sausage and Pepper Breakfast French Bread Pizza… and she did a thing with Tapatio that made my heart kind of swoony.  Check it, don’t wreck it.

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91 Comments

Kale + Blackberry + Beet + Almond Milk Smoothies

April 14, 2013

three almond milk smoothies

What’s in your morning routine?  I make my bed, splash my face with cold water, drink a giant glass of lemon water, and try to forget about the giant bag of dark chocolate chips I’ve been meaning (and failing) to hide from myself.  I try my best to start things off well, with some clarity and conscious eating… that’s because it’s easy to reason with my relaxed morning brain.  By the time dinner rolls around it’s nearly impossible to talk my brain out of popcorn, wine, and handfuls of chocolate chips.  Morning is my power hour.  Dinner looks like a breakup rom-com where a heartbroken girl eats her weight in everything ever.

It’s a new Monday.  It’s a new week.  Let’s start things off feeling great!  The morning is on our side in three major ways.

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100 Comments

Too Much Cheddar and Jalapeno Muffins

April 11, 2013

too much cheddar and jalapeno muffins

I did two things accidentially-on-purpose this week.

I put too much dang cheese in my muffins… which was such an awesome accident.

There was an incident between a spoon and a jar of Nutella:  accidentally-on-purpose.  Should we talk about the pickle jar that I decimated for no good reason?  No.  It was an accident (on purpose).

I also bought a pair of wedge sneakers (ohhh heck YES I did)… and my elongated calves could not be happier. I suppose I should tell you now that the real-talk you might expect around these parts also includes talk of super trendy, totally ridiculous shoes.

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87 Comments

What It’s Really Like

April 9, 2013

pie split

Hello my darling friends.

I’ve bombarded you with a ton of melted cheese, buttered popcorn, and chocolate chunks lately.  I feel like we haven’t had the proper amount of time to catch up.

Can we just take a breath together.  Maybe have an extra cup of coffee or another half glass of wine?  Let’s absorb this Wednesday the best way we know how.

You may or may not know that I’m currently working on my second cookbook.  It’s a blessing.   It’s totally exciting.  It’s a dream come true x 2.

I’ve heard people compare writing a book to giving birth to a child.  I get it.  Writing a book is laborious and time-consuming and… actually, I totally don’t get it, nevermind.

I haven’t had any back pain or swollen ankles or excruciating pain while writing this book.  Although… I’d like to sign up for an epidural here and now, if you’re offering (which you aren’t).

Diptic

You know what happens when you have a baby?  It comes out and people are STOKED.  You know what happens when you write a book?  It comes out and people write a review on Amazon.

I was doing some deep thinking this morning while washing the dishes produced from a failed pie recipe testing session…. writing a book is exactly like this for me:   I get dressed up, fancy but not tooooo fancy, to go to a friend of a friend’s party.  (stay with me… this is a very detailed analogy… there were a lot of dishes to do).  I’m wearing an outfit I feel pretty confident in, but I’m wearing my favorite, wear-them-waaaay-too-often flats because I’m interested in foot comfort on this particular evening.  I get to the party and (to my horror) discover they this particular house has instituted a no-shoes-in-the-house policy.  Gracious Lord in heaven please help me.

First panic:  I know I don’t have a pedicure on these feet, and things are starting off a little less than perfect.  Second panic: Do.My.Feet.Stink!?  I have no way of knowing…. AND!  Since this is my very own anxiety nightmare, I can’t go to the bathroom to check, I can’t leave the party, I can’t insta-pedicure my feet… I just have to sit with the self I’ve created.

Writing a book is EXACTLY like taking your shoes off at a party and hoping your feet don’t stink… or hoping people don’t notice that your feet stink.  Replace ‘feet’ with the word ‘book’ if you aren’t following my (totally ridiculous) train of thought.  You spend months and months writing a thing, preparing it for the world, trying your best to make it what you want it to be…. and at the end of the day, you just have to take your shoes off and hope to God they don’t (and your dang BOOK doesn’t) totally stink.

It’s just that.  It really is.

Aren’t SO many things like that in life?  You understand, I know you do.

In other news, I’m working on a pie chapter and I need you to come over and help me eat the pies that don’t stink.  Sidenote:  I should have a bake sale.

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165 Comments

Shrimp + Grits + Cocktail

April 8, 2013

shrimp + grits

This isn’t my first rodeo.  I’ve been down this shrimp and grits road before… and I’ve taken you with me.  My last encounter with a warm dish of creamy grits and spicy shrimp was served to a gentleman whose only remark was that I had failed to remove the tails from the shrimp before serving them to him.  Really, dude?  Really!?  So ended that short relationship (not really… but sort of… FOR REAL).

I needed a redo.  Not for flavor’s sake, just for my own self… and because I totally just wanted a giant bowl of this madness.

New dating rule #37:  I graciously and happily remove a cooked shrimp tail for every car door that is graciously opened for me.  Respect, yo!

ps.  I don’t actually have thirty-seven dating rules.  I do, however, have two giant bowls of lunch.  Who’s counting (I am).

shrimp + grits + cocktail

I made these Shrimp + Grits with my friend Jonathan.  I bought the shrimp, he crashed my house with beer, cucumber, and lime… and we shot pictures on the floor by my front door (see Instagram) (we’re really fancy).

Jonathan made a bonkers cocktail to pair with the Shrimp + Grits… a Cucumber Blonde Bloody Mary.  It’s fizzy and refreshing.  It’s takes the tomato thickness out of the traditional Bloody Mary and makes this cocktail truly gulp-able.  In addition to being an awesome bringer-of-cocktails-to-my-house, Jonathan is also an incredible photographer, baker… and he’s obsessed with my cat.  All the things I look for in a friend.

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67 Comments

Buttered Popcorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

April 5, 2013

Buttered Popcorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

There’s a reason my purse is the size of international travel luggage.

I lug around a lot.  There’s my giant makeup bag full of the two things I actually use and the 87 things I sort through in search of my favorite two items.  There’s my camera, because I never know when I want to ignore it to take pictures with my iPhone. There’s a bag of smoked almonds because you do not want to see me hangry.  There’s that calligraphy pen you gave me last week… tucked safely away in a zip lock bag.

There are three pens that don’t work, one pencil, and two lip glosses.  I totally have a band-aid if you need one… I just hope you’re not in a hurry because it will take me a few moments to find it.  Safety pin?  Yes.  Toothpick?  Maybe.  Pair of shoes for spin class? Duh.

You know what giant purses are also great for?  Smuggling a massive amount of treats into movie theaters.  Yea… I’m that girl.  With my giant bag, you’d never know that I’m smuggling a gourmet picnic (with wine).

You’d also never suspect that I’d be smuggling my two favorite movie treats (popcorn and chocolate) in one very snackable cookie shape.  Just for future reference… you definitely want to sit next to me at the movies.  You’ll recognize me as the girl carrying her purse luggage across the aisle.  I apologize in advance.  Have treats; will (most likely) share.

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213 Comments

Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese Sandwich

April 1, 2013

Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I’m not much for celebrating national food holidays.  It seems like everyday there’s sooooomething.

We could get tipsy on National Mulled Wine Day… which, strangely, is celebrated on March 3rd.  We could bust out a spoon for National Nutella Day.  We could get our fingers greasy on National Fried Chicken Day.  I’m actually thinking of changing my birthday to May 14th, National Buttermilk Biscuit Day.

Did you know that there’s a National German Chocolate Cake Day?  Yea. That’s real.  I hope you have your party hats ready.

I know what you’re thinking…when is National Grilled Cheese Day?  Surely this perfect food must have a day of remembrance.  I’ll tell you what… grilled cheese is so special that it has, not just a day, but an entire month of celebrating!

This is something I can get behind.  All in!

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172 Comments

The Book

The Web Series

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Homefries

Maple Blueberry Scones
Feta and Chive Sour Cream Scones
Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits
The Ultimate Club Sandwich
Pickles and Brie Grilled Cheese
Cranberry Brie Grilled Cheese

Joy, Recently

Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream
Pistachio Crusted Asparagus with Feta
My Favorite Easter Eats
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Triple Berry Dutch Baby
Milky Salted Caramel
Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Baked Potatoes
Espresso, Almond, and Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Pudding Cups
Spring Things!