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!

Read more

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.   

Read more

How To Make The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Im not one for secrets.  Especially where chocolate is involved. 

I always have a few tricks up my sleeve and I can never keep them secrets for long.  Brown sugar baked bacon is one secret.  Sweet, salty, crisp, and perfect.  Adding that bacon to biscuits,  completely over the top good!  Brown butter in everything, most especially chocolate chip cookies…. another secret I just couldn’t keep to myself.  

Today another secret comes out.  We’re talking about the most perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  Soft, glossy, light and spreadable… and the secret ingredients are Rich Chocolate Ovaltine and heavy cream!  Malted chocolate milk powder and cream to add extra body, and a light whipped texture to our frosting.  It’s unexpected and perfect!  

I hope there is cake (and waaaay too much buttercream) in your future.  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Here’s what you’ll need:

• Three sticks (1 1/2 cups or 12 ounces) softened, unsalted butter.  I think it’s best to leave the butter out overnight to softened to room temperature through and through.  Softening butter in the microwave makes the butter more melty than soft and can break our perfect buttercream,  

•  Unsweetened cocoa powder, and lots of it.

•  Salt, to balance the mountain of powdered sugar.

•  A mountain of powdered sugar. 

•  Milk for moisture and softness.

•  Rich Chocolate Ovaltine, the chocolate malted milk powder adds a creamy softness to this buttercream and makes it extra rich, glossy, and luscious.  

•  Heavy cream because, always.  

•  Extra credit:  pure vanilla extract.  

Read more

Mini Jam-Swirled Baked Donuts and Lavazza Coffee Giveaway

Mini Jam-Swirled Baked Donuts

Mini Jam-Swirled Baked Donuts

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and, well… we need each other.  Let’s hold hands and get through this together! 

We’re going to need some tools this holiday weekend.  By tools I mean, baked donuts, strong coffee, and festive sprinkles.  Coffee, donuts, and love are fitting for every day of the year, but especially appropriate for a Valentine’s Day weekend.  I hope you sleep in and share coffee and donuts with someone you want to high-five for life.  

JTB V-DAY Coffee Collage

To celebrate the holiday I’ve partnered with Lavazza Coffee to give away a Valentine’s Day Survival Kit!  Just a few important things to inspire a lazy Valentine’s Day morning lingering over really fantastic coffee and sweet, tender donuts.  

1 •  My favorite Bodum French Press.  Makes perfect cups of coffee!  

2  •  Make if official with couple mugs.  Few things are more precious.  

3  •  A good throw blanket.  For picnic-style morning coffee adventures.  

4  •  Critical in any at-home coffee date is the perfect cup of coffee!  Lavazza Italian Coffee is my new favorite!  Dark, rich, and round coffee without a hint of bitterness. Lavazza makes home coffee feel extra special.  

5  •  Two people, lots of love, one journal.  It’s like a little time capsule of your years together!  

6  •  Mornings should smell great with this Capri Candle!

7  •  I always want to watch When Harry Met Sally and I know you do too.

8  •  No coffee date is complete without donuts!  They’re tender, sweet, and jam-swirled.  Get into it!  Here’s the pan you’ll need

9  •  Games of skill and chance on the living room floor:  checkers and chess.  

To enter to win a gift basket filled with Lavazza Coffee, a $25 gift card to Lavazza, and the rest of these Valentine’s treats, please leave a comment below with your favorite Valentine’s Day tradition.  Winner will be randomly selected Saturday February 14th at noon est! 

Read more

Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

Y‘all… it’s TIME.

It’s time for the brioche-rich, cinnamon-swirled, colorfully sprinkled cake that is KING CAKE! 

It’s carnival time here in New Orleans.  That means that we’re celebrating life, pushing the limits of indulgence, dancing in the streets (most literally), catching as many beads as we can, throwing as many beads as we can, and eating King Cake… all before Lent next Wednesday.  We have a lot to fit into this next week!  

In New Orleans, which is a world in its own, we eat King Cake between very specific dates:  January 6th to honor the Three Kings and Fat Tuesday (the madness just before Lent).

What’s with all of the colorful cake madness?  History.  We need a history lesson.

“The King’s Cake accompanies festivities to commemorate the Epiphany, the day the Magi (interpreted by some to mean “kings”) arrived in Bethlehem and presented gifts to baby Jesus the twelfth night after his birth. The cake is a reenactment of Epiphany, with a bean or baby figurine baked into the cake to symbolize Christ and is eaten throughout Carnival festivities.”  – Three Men and a Baby: A Brief History of King Cakes 

I hesitated to make this cake at home this Mardi Gras.  King Cakes are absolutely everywhere in New Orleans and really… there’s no need to make one at home.  That would be like visiting Paris and staying indoors to make your own croissants. I’m also very new to New Orleans.  Who am I to make a dang King Cake?  Well… here goes nothing (/everything).  

•  Is that a plastic baby Jesus in my cake?  Kinda yea.   

•  10 things to know about Mardi Gras.  Yes… Mardi Gras is only a legal holiday in Louisiana.  It’s a different world.  

•  Mardi Gras Mix Tape Zing!

Mardi Gras King Cake

Here’s what we need:  flour and salt, milk, sugar and yeast.  The makings of a fine and good yeasted bread.  

What takes this treat from bread to cake is fat and flavor.  Lots of melted butter, five creamy egg yolks, ground cinnamon, and lemon zest!  

We’re also going to need a mega amount of sprinkles.  Purple for justice, green for faith, gold for power.  And a little plastic baby to sneak into the cake after baking.  Whomever gets the cake has to buy the next King Cake… and the circle never ever ends.  

If you’re not with us here in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I hope you make this cake and fill your kitchen with the spirit of this city.  It’s special.  It’s delicious!  It’s Mardi Gras!  

Read more

Eggnog Rice Pudding

Eggnog Rice Pudding

Eggnog Rice Pudding

My December food-brain (because that’s totally a thing) is in overdrive. By overdrive I mean that exactly all I want to consume is that which is creamy, gooey, warm, and satisfying. I’ll take a pot pie of any and every sort. I’ll take dumplings in everything. Can we put cream cheese in everything from now until next May? I thought so.

Rice pudding fits perfectly into these creamy, gooey, warm, satisfying December needs. It’s ultra/ultimate/extreme/everything ever. By adding eggnog, well… now I’ve gone and done it. Christmas game ovah.

Eggnog Rice Pudding

I’ve never been one to sit down and enjoy a nice tall glass of eggnog. It’s feels like sipping melted ice cream. BUT! Something about the rich texture and pale yellow hue still has me smitten. Adding eggnog to rice pudding, adds the luscious holiday flavor and skips the too-thick for sipping situation. See? We smart.

Read more

Brown Butter Banana Cranberry Bread

brown butter banana cranberry bread

brown butter banana cranberry bread

Whenever I need to recalibrate my brain in the kitchen, I look towards the oven and towards the fruit bowl. The oven is my base, my rock, my familiar place. My fruit bowl inevitably has an embarrassing amount of near rotten bananas in it because… I mean, who doesn’t buy a weird amount of bananas every single time they visit the grocery? That can’t be just me.

Banana bread. Familiar, simple, and sweet. It’s my first base.

I’ve spent the week writing recipes for my Brunch cookbook and I feel like aaaallll of my food ideas have been poured onto those pages for the future. Let’s just go back to first base, just to rest a bit.

brown butter banana cranberry bread

It would be fair to say that this month is a crush of madness. We all do a pretty fair job of acting like we’ve got our heads on straight, but I know what’s up. I also know how many rotting bananas you have in your fruit bowl… so, there’s no escaping this bread. Embrace the simplicity. Add cranberries. It’s festive and appropriate.

Sidenote: on this Sunday’s list post we’re going to need to talk about the last episode of the Serial Podcast because EXCUSE ME WHAT!?

Read more

Inside the Baker’s Kitchen: Ginger Molasses and Dark Chocolate Cookies

molasses cookies

Molasses Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello friends!  It’s time for our third and final installment of Inside the Baker’s Kitchen with KitchenAid!  I want to show you my very favorite kitchen appliance, and also make my favorite spicy, sweet molasses cookies. 

This 5 qt. KitchenAid® Stand Mixer  is where luxury meets necessity in my kitchen.  I use it for everything from cake batters to bread loaves.  It’s just a work-horse.  The hum of this stand mixer of is exactly familiar to me… and it usually means cookies are in my future.  KitchenAid now has beautiful ceramic bowls to use with the 5 qt. stand mixers.  They’re beautiful, durable, and feel so special in my baker’s kitchen.  Really the most special thing!  

Molasses Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy edges, soft and cakey centers.  Holiday spiced, dark chocolate studded, utterly perfect because they’re cookies.

Naturally they’re topped with just a touch of sea salt.  Sweet meets salty meets perfect all around.

For more Baker’s Kitchen inspiration:  Sweet and Savory Buttermilk Biscuits and Creamy Spiced Squash Soup with Parmesan Thyme Popovers.

Read more

Butter Walnut Cookies

Butter Walnut Cookies

Butter Walnut Cookies

Cookies for the sake of cookies, for the sake of December, for the sake of Christmas, and just so we can stand at the kitchen counter and count how many of these warm, nutty, powdered sugar bites we can shove into our mouths.

The answer is 3.5.  That’s how many cookies fit in a mouth.  Be careful.

I’m thinking about upcoming holiday parties, possible cookie swap situations, and general winter cookie desires.  These buttery walnut bites totally fit the bill.  Tender, crumbly, two-bites, powdered sugar clouds.

Butter Walnut Cookies

Read more

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

I don’t know whether I should rip into some yo mama jokes, flip a table, or pull the fire alarm, or just stop and shove aaaalll of the fudge into my face.

This fudge makes me feel aggressive.  Like I should beat my chest with pride.  Like I should… maybe I should stop talking.

The thing is… I feel like I made candy.  I’m pretty sure I made candy. Yup, I definitely made candy.  This fudge is the real deal.  No microwave.  No sweetened condensed milk.  We’re using  a real pot, a real candy thermometer, real cream, and we’re twerking sugar and chocolate into fudge.

Why would be so excited about doing something the hard way? Well… I think it’s important to know how to do things the old-school way before learning the quick tricks.  You know… like long division in mathematics.   (Do people do long division anymore?  That was always a special kind of torture.) Maybe long division isn’t the right analogy.  Fudge is way better than long division.

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Here’s what we’re going to need:  granulated sugar and brown sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, half-and-half, salt, vanilla extract, dark chocolate, and just because:  marshmallows, peppermint candy, and pretzels.  Turnt up.

Read more

Apple Buttermilk Beignets and New Orleans Originals

jtb x nydj

Buttermilk Apple Beignets (1)

I‘m really excited to spend my first holiday here in New Orleans.  There’s a chill and a palpable spirit in the air.

New Orleans is such a unique place, it’s only natural that I would want to dive all the way into the holiday spirit here.  I’m hitting the streets to put together a casual holiday gathering with my friends at NYDJ.  In order to make it feel as special as New Orleans, I’m stopping in at some of favorite local shops:  LoomedNOLA for sweet and cozy gifts, Keife & Co for amazing wine, and St. James Cheese Company to make the perfect cheese plate.

No New Orleans gathering at my house would be complete without freshly-fried beignets.  They’re best enjoyed from scratch with your friends gathered around a heaping plate of fresh fried dough and powdered sugar.

I hope you find loads of holiday inspiration here!  Add a little New Orleans spirit to your holiday!

zNola Originals

Loomed Nola is my favorite textile store in New Orleans.  They sell lovely Turkish cotton kitchen towels, scarves, and blankets.  It’s the perfect place to shop for a thoughtful hostess gift or a comfy treat for your best girlfriend.

Keife & Co. is my go-to spot for wine in New Orleans!  Not only is it stocked with really unique bottles, the brothers that own the shop are more than willing to find the perfect bottle of bubbly for your holiday party without totally breaking the bank.  No pretension, just great wine and bubbles!

One of my favorite stops in New Orleans is St. James Cheese Company.  Step inside and the staff will dazzle you with cheese knowledge and let you sample your way through your cheese purchase.  Putting together a cheese plate can feel rather daunting but St. James makes it easy… and it’s always fun to eat all the cheeses before you buy them!

jtb x nydj (3)

I set out into the streets of New Orleans sporting my favorite pair of NYDJ jeans.  Super flattering, fitted, slimming, and real.  They’re perfect for jaunting around town in style and hoping in the kitchen to get down with some beignets.  My style also has to be functional.  I want to feel pretty, stylish, and I definitely need plenty of room to fry up and eat my fair share of New Orleans treats.

This holiday I’ve paired up with NYDJ to bring you flattering comfort, radiant style, and a big bundle of holiday inspiration and confidence.  Let’s look great, eat well, and entertain in easy style!  Here are all the recipes you need to do it!

nydj + jtb holiday party originals

jtb+nydj holiday recipes:  for cocktail, salad, and gifting inspiration!

Read more

Let’s Leftover!

mashed potato waffles

Thanksgiving leftovers

The day after Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite day to eat… Chinese take-out food.  Anything that I didn’t boil on a stove or bake in the oven myself, please.  Anything that doesn’t taste like sage or pumpkin, please.  No pie, thank you.  I can’t with the cold gravy, ok?  Chinese take-out all the way.

If you, however, are the kind of resourceful and reasonable person that is  lovingly committed Thanksgiving leftovers, might I suggest a few things?

•  First.  Waffle the heck out of your mashed potatoes.  Melt cheddar cheese on top.  Sprinkle chives.  Take all the credit for potato genius.  Go on go on!  Mashed Potato, Cheddar and Chive Waffles!

•  Second.  Dutch Baby it!  This super simple, puffed, buttery, almost doughnut-y breakfast pastry is fantastic topped with any sort of fruit you have on hand.  I’m thinking cranberry sauce, orange segments, and a sprinkling of ground cloves!  Berry Dutch Baby Pancake!

Thanksgiving Leftovers

•  Third.  Sweet and salty grilled cheese with creamy brie cheese and leftover cranberry sauce pretty much hits the spot.  All of the spots.  Cranberry Brie Grilled Cheese.

•  Forth.  On the train to Leftover Town there are several stops.  This turkey, bacon, brie, and avocado situation is savory and satisfying and just about as ultimate as it gets.  If you were to add stuffing to this sandwich you would be a hero to many.  The Ultimate Turkey Club.

My work here is done.  Your leftover work is just beginning.  God speed.

Read more

Inside the Baker’s Kitchen + Creamy Spiced Squash Soup with Parmesan Thyme Popovers

creamy spiced squash soup

creamy spiced squash soup

I‘ve been thinking a lot about comforts.

As I’m preparing to host my first Thanksgiving in New Orleans, I’m thinking a lot about exactly how to make my guests feel comfortable.  I’m thinking beyond moist stuffing and sweet cranberry sauce, because comfortable house guests require much more than one fancy meal on a Thursday.

I’m gathering baskets filled with filtered water, fancy soaps, good hand cream, extra toothbrushes just in case, extra blankets for the bed, a lavender spray for the bathroom, and a refrigerator full of snacks and comforts.

It’s essential and ultra luxurious… and since I don’t often host a house full of family (loud, hungry, crazy crazy family), it would be fair to say that maybe I’m going a bit overboard.

I’ve made a giant batch of this creamy squash soup and added a bit of ground clove and freshly grated nutmeg to highlight the sweet squash.  Salty pancetta breadcrumbs add a bit of crunch, and the whole deal is waiting in the refrigerator for a Thanksgiving week lunch.

I expect to feel proud and accomplished, until I run out of popovers and someone asks for more.

inside the baker's kitchen

We’re back in the kitchen with KitchenAid and it’s time to work these shelves.  It feels like I’m going to have every pan and every appliance on their job this week.  For this creamy soup and crispy popovers, I’m using a few new favorites:  the 7-speed Hand Mixer which is a savior for quick baking jobs, and the Pro Line® Series Cordless Hand Blender for the smoothest, creamiest blended soups.

If you missed our first Inside the Baker’s Kitchen, be sure the check out these sweet and savory biscuits!

Read more

Brown Butter Cranberry Almond Pancake Muffins

Brown Butter Cranberry Almond Pancake Muffins

Brown Butter Cranberry Almond Pancake Muffins

Well… I mean… once you have half a bag of fresh cranberries sitting in your refrigerator, you really can’t ignore them.  Technically, you can ignore them until they soften and just about turn themselves into something between wine and jam… but that takes months and is not listed among ideas that are good.

These particular fresh cranberries were left over from the Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie:  a good idea that I will continue to support.

It’s the weekend which means it’s time for warm things straight from the oven, preferably covered in maple syrup.

Read more

Mushroom and Mash

Mushroom and Mash

Mushroom and Mash

I just realized something essential to my next week.  Um… this is my first Thanksgiving!  This is the first year, of my 33 years in the world, that I’m hosting my first totally-grown, matching-casserole-dishes, not-paperplate, make-all-the-pies THANKSGIVING at my New Orleans apartment with aaallll of my family.

I’m pretty sure this is a big deal.

I need a plan.  I really need a plan.

Nervously tapping my foot, biting my nails, and drinking toooooo much coffee is not a plan, right?  It’s the opposite of a plan.

I’m putting together a meal that is simple, casual, non-traditional, and filled with sides and pies.  I’m not cooking a turkey… which either makes me THE WORST person, or a genius.  Probably the worst, but even knowing that, I’m still not doing it.  We’re going to enjoy a giant pot of gumbo and aaalll of the Thanksgiving sides, including these fluffy and earthy mashed potatoes.

The plan is coming together (and also includes a triple batch of this Mac and Cheese).

Mushroom and Mash

Being bigtime thankful is also part of the plan.  Thankful for New Orleans, and visiting family, and warm gumbo, and mashed potatoes with roasted mushrooms.  Thankful for all of the good and the gnarly and everything in between.

The Internet wants us to succeed next week:

•  I’m definitely into group games… unless I have to act something out and hope people guess it:  10 Thanksgiving Games To Make The Holiday Fun For Everyone

•  These Molasses Spice Cookies are developing quite the reputation here in New Orleans.  I also love Jessica’s Thanksgiving Dos and Don’ts.  

•  I’m not making a turkey BUT I am ordering aaallll of the gumbo from Cochon Butcher.

•  Dijon Maple Green Beans sound like juuust the ticket.  They also have bacon and feta!

•  Deb’s Pretzel Parker House Rolls!  Just pretzel everything, thanks!

• Tracy’s Creamed Spinach should be an everyday thing, don’t you think?

Read more

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie (7)

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie (7)

I’ve set out on the very serious task of brainstorming ALL of the Thanksgiving pies.  Good reason.  I’m preparing the welcome most ALL of my family to New Orleans for Thanksgiving.  There will be no turkey in my oven.  There will be no stuffing.  Green beans and cranberry sauce are a major maybe.

There will be a tremendous amount of gumbo and an equally tremendous amount of pie, Apple Cranberry among them.

In addition to a bounty of gumbo and pie, I’m also prepared for a week full of (ohhh gosh) family fun with a detailed week-long itinerary, a bull horn, a few bottles of bourbon, and a whistle.  I mean… right?

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie

Send help.

Read more

Oat and Pistachio Crumble Topped Baked Sweet Potatoes

Oat and Pistachio Crumble Topped Baked Sweet Potatoes

Oat and Pistachio Crumble Topped Baked Sweet Potatoes

These November days are quickly running away which can only mean one thing:  we’re going to need to think about Thanksgiving and let’s try not to completely freak out about it.

It’s possible… the thinking without the freaking out.  We’ll make a plan.  We’ll ask someone else to roast a turkey.  We’ll cross our fingers a few times.  It will all work out.  Part of our success includes roasting aaalll of the sweet potatoes and adding oats and pistachio.  We’re making a play on Sweet Potato Pie:   no crust, extra crumble, easy and delicious!

Oat and Pistachio Crumble Topped Baked Sweet Potatoes

When in doubt, can we just go ahead and add an oat crumble?  Hearty and sweet, buttery and spiced.  The oats make for a wholesome crumble that is both comforting and substantial.  We’re going to need the hearty oats to stand up to the butter and not shy away from the spices and sweet potato.  Balance, you know?

Read more

Pumpkin Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Pumpkin Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies (10)

Pumpkin Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies (9)

My food brain dreamed up these shortbread cookies with creamy pumpkin caramel back in June when the rest of you were thinking about watermelon and Jell-O shots, and bikini tops, and summer sunsets, and all of the amazing summer things.  I was sweating it out in my kitchen, covered in pumpkin puree, completely confused by the smell of holiday spices.

It’s about time these cookies make sense!  I mean… I’m wearing a scarf for goodness sake.  A scarf!

better homes and gardens

I made these cookies back in June for this month’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  These cookies are just one of a good handful of pumpkin recipes that fill the pages.

All I’m saying is… this is really good news on the pumpkin front.  Because there is a pumpkin front…. we’re looking right at it.

Read more

Candy Bar Cookie Bars

Candy Bar Cookie Bars (7)

Candy Bar Cookie Bars

This is me finding a solution to your Halloween candy dilemma.  It’s a problem, right?  I mean… how are we supposed to live surrounded by the mini Snickers bars?  It’s entirely distracting. Snickers breakfast lunch and dinner.  Let’s not talk about it.  Instead, let’s add butter and flour and disguise our Halloween stash into chewy sweet and salty cookie bars… all suited and booted for sharing and giving.

Suit and boot.  That’s what we do around here.

Read more

Apple Snap Cocktails

Apple Snap Cocktails (4)

Apple Snap Cocktails (4)

It’s time for a new go-to cocktail.  This summer’s negroni and sangria indulgences are long past me.  I’m looking for an Autumn cocktail that feels ample and cozy… but nothing like mulled wine or syrupy sweet pear drinks.

Has there ever been a tasty mulled wine?  I think no.

Apple Snap Cocktails

I wanted to combine the sweetness of fruit with the spiciness of the season.  Apple juice.  Fresh pressed and unfiltered.  Bourbon, naturally.  Lime and bubble water.  But spiiiiice! Needed and necessary.

Have you heard of Art In The Age?  They make the most lovely, unique organic spirits.  My favorite this season is SNAP, inspired by old school Pennsylvania Dutch ginger snaps.  Yessss, right?

SNAP is made from a neutral alcohol, molasses, ginger, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, tea, and sugar.  So so good!  Pairs perfectly with bourbon (yes!) and fresh apple.  I’ll be sipping on this SNAP all winter and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep a bottle or two around for hostess gifts.  It’s a treat.

Read more