Meyer Lemon Bar Brûlée

Meyer Lemon Bar Brûlée

Meyer Lemon Bar Brûlée

Here’s what happens when you add a blow torch to your kitchen arsenal:  you find an excuse to toast or brûlée everything in sight.  When you have fire from a portable gun, why wouldn’t you top everything in sugar and crisp it?  It’s foolish not to, frankly.

Can we make nachos with a kitchen torch?  There’s only one way to find out.  

Let’s focus on the matter at hand:  buttery shortbread crust, sweet and tangy Meyer lemon filling, topped with caramelized and crisp sugar.  Brûléed sugar, because we have actual torch fire in our hands.  

Classic lemon bars, with a small stroke of genius.  

This recipe was inspired by Christina of Dessert For Two.  I happen to believe in dessert for too many, but Christina is reasonable and disciplined where I am not.  Old habits (die hard).  

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Strawberry Watermelon Lime Juice

Watermelon Strawberry Lime Juice

Watermelon Strawberry Lime Juice

Before Joy the Baker was Joy the Baker…. Joy the Baker was a low-level, middle school candy hustler.  

I used to buy candy from the ice cream truck after school, repurpose it, work it and twerk it, and re-sell the candy to other kids… at a markup of course.  I was in it for the glory and profit.  

There was a method to the hustle:  buy blow-pop lollipops, jolly rancher hard candy strips, and starburst candies.  Get them home and into the kitchen without them being confiscated by big sister or hungry mama.  

I’d unwrap the lollipops.  Somehow… and this part is hazy… heat the jolly rancher bar and wrap it around the lollipop.  Then heat the starburst candy and smash it on top of the blow-pop creating a MEGA three in one candy experience.  Four in one candy experience if you count the bubble gum inside the lollipop.  I think there was boiling water and tweezers involved.  The memory is murky. 

I’d wrap these candy knobs in plastic wrap and sell them at school.    Is that allowed?  Who knows. 

Where did this candy creation come from!?  These were the days before Pinterest.  How did we have any good ideas at all? 

Does anyone have any idea what I’m talking about?  Surely I didn’t invent this Franken-candy on my own.  Did you meld candy in your middle school years in order to hustle them and garner middle-school fame?    

I mention my monster candy creation because one sip of this juice brought be right back to my candy layering days.  In other words, this juice tastes just like candy, and it’s pink, and cold, and otherwise delicious. 

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Watermelon Wedge with Kale, Jalapeño, and Avocado

Watermelon Wedge Salad

Watermelon Wedge Salad

“I’m not so sure about watermelon and green salad.”  

I hear you.  I hear you, fan of donuts and caramels and watermelon margaritas.  Watermelon and greens?  Suspicious.  I totally get it.  

Just imagine this watermelon as a crisp, slightly sweet, juicy and delicious plate upon which you eat your salad from.  Except it’s an edible plate.  A plate that you’re going to eat.  Because actually it’s just fruit and it really is delicious with a slightly spicy kale salad.  

Its August.  We’re melting.  But we’re not going down without a fight.  Watermelon and greens to the rescue. 

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Cinnamon Sugar Funnel Cake with Peaches and Raspberries

Cinnamon Sugar Funnel Cake

Some things are better left a mystery.  It’s best not to know how many grams of fat are in a really good Pina Colada.  When drinks come with umbrellas and a side of fruit… all bets are way way off.

 It’s best not to know how many miles you’ve run when your knees are sweaty, your breath is just about gone, and you’re dog tired.  It’s the knowing that will have you talking your run-brain into stopping after the next tenth of a mile.  Maybe that’s just me. 

It’s best not to know how many people hate-follow you on Instagram photos because… how is that even a thing that people have time to do!? Good grief.  

It was best to be oblivious to the fact that we can make funnel cake… yes, the fried state fair delicacy… right in our very homes.  But now that we know, it feels like out duty to not unknown… and thus, eat a whole heck of a lot of funnel cake. 

It’s just that things get a little out of hand once you know you can make things like funnel cake and Beer Battered Onion Rings and Homemade Ranch Sauce right in your kitchen… in your very own kitchen… and you don’t even have to be wearing pants (although you should for hot oil safety… seriously).  

Cinnamon Sugar Funnel Cake

I should also mention that making homemade funnel is pretty dang easy.  There’s one part where we get nervous and hold our breaths a bit… but other than that, too easy.  We’re in real trouble now. 

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Black Pepper and Strawberry Jam Doughnuts

Strawberry Black Pepper Doughnuts

Strawberry Black Pepper Doughnuts (10)

Remember my Summer Bucket List?  (How is your list coming along, BTW?)  

Well… I’m ticking them off.  I’m super close to meeting my running goal of 7 miles AND to celebrate, I’ve decided to cross another goal off my list:  making jelly filled doughnuts!  

To-do lists that include making and eating doughnuts… pretty smart on my part.  Life goals that include making and eating doughnuts… I feel like I’m doing a pretty great job at life.  Get in on this with me.    Strawberry Black Pepper Doughnuts

Doughnuts, luscious and buttery dough from scratch.  Sweet strawberry jam and spicy black pepper for flair.  Why not show off a little?    

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Red Grape and White Peach Tabbouleh Salad

Red Grape and White Peach Tabbouleh Salad

Red Grape and White Peach Tabbouleh Salad

When I was a kid, you couldn’t pay me to eat parsley.

Actually.  That’s not entirely true.  You could have paid me in candy bars to eat parsley… but no one was doing that… that would have been a dream come true.  

Now.  Grown (mostly).  And I love parsley.  I think it’s bright, hearty, and adds just the right taste of green to summer dishes.  It’s an accent, but it doesn’t wilt or shy away.  It’s proud and confident, green and healthful.  Let’s put parsley with some fruit and call it a salad.  

Related.  Still happy to be paid in candy bars.  That’s an option.  

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Campfire Baked Bananas At Home

Campfire Bananas At Home

Campfire Bananas At Home

I can just smell the campfire now.  I can feel that tinge of burn in my eyes from the smoke, and I can hear the John Denver.  

Campfires remind me of the last nights of sleep away summer camp.  When I sat with a group of girls… girls who just a week earlier had been complete strangers, now absolute best friends… bidding farewell to our Summer time together, wondering how we’d ever live without each other, without craft hour, without the flagpole song, without the knot workshop, without sliding down the big hill on a giant block of ice.  Just HOW will we go on?  

We’d sing Leaving on a Jet Plane and cry… all the way CRY and promise friendship and love and more summers to come.  Then we’d eat these bananas gooey chocolate and marshmallow bananas, sleep one last night in our bunks, fold up our sleeping bags (impossible for child hands), and wait for our parents to come  pick us up to take us back to home-summer with all of its daytime television and chores (uuugh chores).  

I’m still figuring out how to recreate that campfire feeling here in New Orleans.  I think it’s too humid for fire.  Is that a thing?  I think, yes.  Luckily, I have an oven that heats itself with fire and I can hustle up the most gooey part of my memories: baked bananas, in foil, with a glorious mess of toppings.   

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Sweet Plum Sorbet

Sweet Plum Sorbet

Sweet Plum Sorbet

I always wanted a ponytail.  A ponytail I could position extra high on my head with hair long enough to cascade down to my shoulders, cheerleader-style, youthful, bouncy.  The kind of hair, that you can flip around to express various emotions, from bitchy to bored to flirty.  

I don’t have ponytail hair.  Never did.  

What I’ve always had is a fine, curly, frizzy, perfectly acceptable, head of hair that I’m completely grateful for.  It’s just not ponytail hair.  It’s not hair I can whip around to express my enthusiasm for life.  

That’s how hair works, right?  

Summer fruit, all of the gorgeous peaches, apricots, strawberries, and plums… they’re like a gorgeous, shiny, lustrous, perfectly bouncy, high ponytail.  Showing off, effortless… a little enviable even.  

Luckily, no matter what hair grows from our head, high ponytail or not… it’s our time.  It’s Summer and the markets are bursting with sweet fruit flavors.  Let’s get at em!

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Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake

Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake with maple

Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake with maple

Because it’s Monday.  Because it’s just about summertime.  Because we like fruit with our breakfast.  Because we’re grown and we can do what we want…  we get to drink lots of coffee and eat lots of cake for breakfast.  

Blueberries, oats, and pure maple syrup make anything breakfast so… CAKE it is!  

Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake with maple

I’ve been experimenting a lot with gluten-free baking lately.  I’m sure you’ve noticed.  It’s possible you have a question mark in your mind about it.  Well… I want to learn how to bake without wheat.  Baking is such a science and I know how wheat flour interacts with leavening and liquid.  Gluten-free flours are a whole different science.  I want to know that I can still make fluffy cakes and flakey biscuits in the absence of wheat.  So far I’ve had some major fails and happy triumphs.  This is one of the triumphs.  

Eventually I’m going to try making my own gluten-free flour blend to use in my kitchen but I’m still getting my footing.  Right now I use King Arthur Flour’s Gluten-Free Flour and I’m going to give Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef’s All-Purpose Flour Blend.  They know what’s what!  

If you’re hoping for more gluten-FULL coffee cake recipes, here’s your jam: 

•  Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Brown Butter Glaze.  A recipe from my cookbook Homemade Decadence.  

•  Pear Crumble Coffee Cake.  You might not be in the mood for pears, but I think strawberries would also be mega! 

•  Coffee Coffee Cake Muffins.  I mean… let’s make our cake taste like coffee! 

•  Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins.  These really are THE BEST! 

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Fresh Raspberry and Gin Slushies

Fresh Raspberry and Gin Slushies

Fresh Raspberry and Gin Slushies

I have very fond memories of a stained red tongue, way sticky fingers, and a messy stained t-shirt from those convenience store/ cherry-sweet slurpees.  You know… the ones that come with that long plastic straw with the scooper on the end?  Heaven for an eight year old.  Follow that slupree with a good run through the sprinklers and I’m pretty sure there was nothing better.  

We’re grown now (right?).  We have bills to pay and really… I don’t think we give ourselves enough time for slurpees.  

Fresh Raspberry and Gin Slushies

Until now.  

Say hello to adult slurpee-ing featuring fresh raspberries, lime, and  hallelujah for gin!  

We can skip the sticky fingers and stained shirts these days, but I really wouldn’t be above a god run through the sprinklers.  

Let’s go! 

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Elvis Ice Cream Snackwiches

Elvis Ice Cream Snackwiches

Elvis Ice Cream Snackwiches

It’s part laziness… putting ice cream between two crackers and calling it a treat.  

There’s some guile… folding crisp bacon, banana, and peanut butter into sweet vanilla ice cream.  

It’s all-the-way riiight… dipping anything and everything into melted milk chocolate.  

Elvis Ice Cream Snackwiches

So here we are.  

Crackers in hand.  Bacon in our ice cream.  Melted chocolate all over the kitchen.  And we have Elvis to thank.  The man who made a peanut butter and banana sandwich ultra popular would surely have been wooed supreme but these frozen treats.  

It’s summer snacking!  Long live the King (and bacon in ice cream).  

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Peach and Buttermilk Lassi

Peach and Buttermilk Lassi

Peach and Buttermilk Lassi

I‘d easily enjoy a daily diet of milkshakes and french fries.  Steady. I’d never flinch.  It would be a dream.  

In related news, I just spent the last six minutes browsing milk shake machines on Amazon.  

Milkshake diet aside, I’m currently content with my fresh peaches, yogurt, and blender.  It’s the reasonable alternative to milkshakes day and night. 

This lassi is packed with healthful yogurt, fresh summer peaches, tangy buttermilk, and peach pie spice.  The fact that it’s flecked with peach skin feels like a bonus.  It’s summery, healthy, chilled, and supremely refreshing.  

I hope it makes you happy.  Also, I’d totally want cheese on my fries.  

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Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Angel Food Cupcakes with strawberries

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Angel Food Cupcakes with strawberries and coconut cream

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Angel Food Cupcakes with strawberries and coconut cream

Before I was tall enough to see over and into the ice cream case at the drug store my very favorite flavor was strawberry ice cream.

I remember the ritual very well because going out for ice cream was so rare and such a treasure my eyes widen now just thinking about it.  

A scooper girl, teen-aged and likely grumpy, would wrap a small piece of tissue paper around a flat-bottomed, kinda cardboard-y cone.  She’d bend forward into the case with an ice cream scoop and emerge with a gorgeously haphazard ball of pale pink, strawberry studded, frozen cream that she’d precariously shape onto the cone.  The treasure would be passed first to my mother, who your take a giant bite out of the cone before handing it down to me.  Let’s not even talk about how frustrating it is to watch your precious ice cream being BITTEN INTO… that’s just childhood, you don’t make the rules but you do occasionally get ice cream.  I’d hold onto the cone carefully but mostly desperately, willing myself not to lick the ice cream off its perch.  

These fluffy strawberry and cream cakes remind me of the days when I was much younger, shorter, and didn’t have to buy my own ice cream.  Those are precious days, indeed.

Oh.  Quick note… once I got taller and could see inside the ice cream case for myself… my favorite flavor was that neon blue bubble gum ice cream.  BUBBLE GUM in ice cream.  Two treats in one!  Such a loophole.  Also disgusting. 

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Watermelon Peach Caprese Salad

Watermelon Peach Caprese Salad

Watermelon Peach Caprese Salad

Yea.  I definitely stood in the kitchen, staring at this gorgeous summer salad, wondering/hoping/wishing/longing to put all of these ingredients between two slices of bread to make an extra buttery, extra mozzarella-y grilled cheese.  

I think watermelon in a sandwich might be out-of-bounds.  I think this ultra fresh summer salad belongs on a plate with a knife and fork.  I think I just want to turn everything into a grilled cheese sandwich.  

Related:  Lasagna Grilled Cheese

 Summery goodness!  And the great news is that tomatoes and watermelon are only going to get better as we get deeper into summer.  

Now excuse me while I go daydream more grilled cheese situations.  

Watermelon Peach Caprese Salad

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Gluten-free Peach and Blueberry Pie

Gluten-free Peach and Blueberry Pie

Gluten-free Peach and Blueberry Pie

Just in case you’re looking for an excuse to consumer obscene amounts of whipped cream or French Vanilla Ice Cream… just in case.  Here we are!

The days are long and warming and I’m pretty sure I can smell peaches and berries in the air.  It’s intoxicating and has me daydreaming about fruit pie combinations while lingering in the produce section at the grocery.  

Today we peach and blueberry. Soon I’m thinking a strawberry raspberry pie is in order.  Don’t even get me started on apricots.  

It’s about to be a great summer! 

Gluten-free Peach and Blueberry Pie

You know how I feel about pie crust.  I’ve never been shy about coaxing large amounts of butter into perfectly flakey pie crusts.  

Sidenote:  Five Tips For The Best All-Butter Pie Crust From Scratch.  

This version of pie perfection is made with gluten-free flour.  I love the King Arthur Flour variety and the only amendment I made was to add an egg yolk to the buttermilk.  The yolk helps with binding the crust but let me be honest, the crust was still a bit crumbly.  

Here’s the nitty gritty.   

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Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

Every good baker has a lot of secrets.  

They have a secret stash of chocolate hidden in the back of the pantry (usually behind the garbanzo beans).  They have an amazing recipe for the very best Peach Pie that they share with exactly zero people.  They have a secret cookie scooper they don’t let anyone else use.  There’s the vintage church cookbook they like to keep all to themselves, the stack of good puff pastry hidden under the ice packs in the freezer, and the secret spell they cast over all of their batters before they go in the oven… because bakers are actual wizards with magical powers and everyone knows it.  

Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

The secret to these dark and fudge brownies… because I try to share all of my best secrets… is Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil.  It’s perfect for baking!  We get all of the good, cholesterol-free fats from olive oil without the overwhelming olive oil taste that we might not want in our sweet baked goods.  Oh!  Pro-tip: this olive oil is also great for frying.  It has a super high smoke-point and can withstand high temperature for frying up treats.  Win!

Now… to celebrate Bertolli’s 150th (!!!) anniversary, let’s treat ourselves to the best brownies!  

To celebrate this stellar anniversary, join me in entering the Taste of Tradition Recipe Contest! Submit your favorite family or original recipe using Bertolli Olive Oils and/or Vinegars to BertolliOliveOil.Tumblr.com for a chance to win a stellar prize:  a trip for 2 to Tuscany!  You have until July 31,2015 but don’t delay!  This is just too good not to celebrate! 

This post is sponsored by Bertolli Olive Oil.  All opinions are my own.  

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Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I banged my head against the wall one good time.  I wanted cheesecake, like a really big slice of cold creamy cheesecake, and I wanted to do anything anything anything at all NOT to make a cheesecake.   Headbang.  How can I get to cheesecake into my face without leaving my house…  without having to make an actual cheesecake?    The last time I foil-wrapped and water-bathed a cheesecake was probably 1997.  It ended in a tragically soggy crust and I’ll never do it again.  

One good bang against the wall and presto!  Ice cream is the answer.  Cream cheesy and rich to mimic cheesecake flavors,  berries because they’re purple and delicious, and chunks of graham cracker crumbs to simulate the all-important crust.  Dreams:  realized.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Basically, I’ll do anything not to get all the cheesecake flavor I can without actually making a cheesecake.  Ice cream is my latest cheesecake hack.  Past cheesecake hacks involve using a pie plate instead of a springform pan.  I’m nothing if not clever in the kitchen.  Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie.  

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Lavender-Infused Mom Collins

Mom Collins

Mom Collins

Good ol’ Tom Collins is about to get all gussied up.

The classic Tom Collins cocktail is a simple mixture of gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar, and sparkling water.  Essentially, sparkling gin lemonade.  Undeniably delicious and summery.  

This Mother’s Day update includes floral lavender which plays very well with herbaceous gin and bright lemon.  Essentially, we’re giving this classic cocktail and sweet and feminine twist because we’re endlessly clever and thirsty.  

Cheers!

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Kiwi Mint Mojitos

Kiwi Mint Mojitos

Kiwi Mint Mojitos

It’s time we start perfecting our Porch Sit game.  

A Porch Sit is a late-afternoon gathering of friends, neighbors, a dog or two, a guitar or harmonica (optional), overlapping conversations, and sweet cold cocktails.  

A Porch Sit is vital to summer, happy relationships, and good health.  They stretch on into the evening and usually coincide with snacks, some sort of pasta salad, and a small dose of half-whispered gossip.

Cocktails are only part of the equation.  Part but essential.   

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Strawberry Lattice Pie

Strawberry Lattice Pie

Strawberry Lattice Pie

It’s Summer Pie Practice Season.  Isn’t that what you call Spring?  

Beautiful strawberries are starting to hit the markets, and they’re a bit early for super sweetness, but not too early to start experimenting with pies and practicing our lattice technique!  

I hope this coming weekend finds you in the kitchen baking away.  Maybe throw some blueberries in this pie, or a handful of raspberries.  It’s the perfect time to get our Summer frame of mind right.  Also, doesn’t everyone want a pie in their house come Sunday night?  

Strawberry Lattice Pie

These strawberries are big, beautiful, and not quite sweet enough for pie.  Not to worry… nothing a little brown sugar can’t fix right up.  

For more in pie adventures, see:  Gluten-Free Strawberry Ginger Pie or Peach and Blueberry Pie… though it’s a little soon for peaches.  I suppose we just need to be more patient before we get all Summer-pie-happy.  

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