Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings

The days really are warming.  There are the prettiest strawberries in the market.  It might almost be time to daydream about watermelon wedges.  But… I still need soup.  The unapologetically comforting kind of soup with soft carrots, big bites of chicken, almost too much thyme, and the fluffiest floating dumplings.  

It’s Winter comforts in Spring.  Let’s bridge the gap.  You know… like wearing a light scarf or shoes with no socks… except this is food and way way delicious.    

Chicken and Dumplings

Boneless and skinless chicken thighs to start.  I like chicken thighs because they’re more fatty and flavorful than chicken breast.  Always go for flavor!  

The meat is seasoned well and browned in hot hot olive oil.  This is where the layers of flavor begin.  

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Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate Cookies

Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate

Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate

These cookies are asking for your attention.  Not so much begging or pleading, but asking nicely for you to pay attention.  

They’re here to tell you that they’re a little to big, a little too sweet, have a little too much bacon, and yea… too much chocolate, too.  They’re crisp and they don’t care about your affection for chewy.  They’re gluten-free, but really… they never needed gluten in the first place.  They’re the boss.  They know it.  Don’t play.

Peanut Butter.

Bacon.  

Dark Chocolate.  

Get on the bandwagon before these cookies raise their voice.  Nobody wants that. 

See also:  Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes.  Sorry.  Also, not sorry. 

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Cheddar Croissant Donuts with Honey Mustard

Cheddar Croissant Donuts

Cheddar Croissant Donuts

Can you even remember who you were before you knew that we could turn donuts into croissants and croissants into donuts?  I can’t remember either.  None of that time must have been important.  It’s like life before Instagram… can we even call that life?  

 What if we add cheese to croissant donuts?  What kind of maniacs would we be?  Like mad scientists with cheese on our lips and honey mustard in our hair.  

Well… here’s how!  

Cheddar Croissant Donuts

Golden brown.  Melty cheddar.  Not a care in the world… well, fewer cares at least.

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Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet Cake

Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet

Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet

I was looking for rainbow carrots.  I was thinking we’d roast some carrots… you know, sit around a plate of carrots and just chat.

And then, nope.  

Turns out strawberries are in season!  Now.  Already.  It’s time!

Maybe still a little too soon for the white jeans and the flip flops (shut up California and Florida), but strawberries are here and we have major reason to celebrate (with dumplings).  

Come with it! 

Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet

 Strawberries have yet to reach their peek in sweetness and extreme loveliness.  When in doubt: ROAST! And there better be butter and a little bit of sugar.

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New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

It’s taken me entirely too long to get to soak my red beans.  A year!  I’ve lived in New Orleans a year and I’ve never soaked my red beans to make a pot of Red Beans and Rice.  Some nerve, really.  

Red Beans and Rice is a Monday night New Orleans tradition.  I thought Monday nights were reserved for red wine, salty popcorn, and M&M dinner… turns out I was totally mistaken.  All the way wrong.  

Red Beans and Rice is a Monday tradition because Monday was considered the “wash-day”…. laundry.  Red Beans could cook on the stove, mostly unattended, all day while the laundry was done.  Also, Red Beans could be made with the precious ham hock reserved from Sunday supper.  In other words, everything makes sense.  Ham, red beans, Monday laundry.  New Orleans is doing it right and I need to get my act (and my laundry) together.  

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

Let’s get this pot on the stove!  

Classic Camellia Red Beans, dried but soaked.  

Major soup flavors like onion, garlic, celery, pepper, and pancetta.  

Parsley and thyme for fresh herb notes.  Bay leaf for base flavors. Good chicken stock for roundness.  

Lastly, smoked sausage, sliced, for that perfect layer of salty smoky pork.  

Rice too!  And it’s almost dinner! 

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Gluten-Free and Gluten-Full Zucchini Pistachio Bread

Gluten-Free and Gluten-Full Zucchini Pistachio Bread

Gluten-Free and Gluten-Full Zucchini Pistachio Bread

First things first when moving into a new kitchen:  figure out where to put your silverware and your stand mixer.  Second things second when moving into a new kitchen:  make some sort of spiced quick-bread to make the whole house smell exactly like home.  

I’m a strong believer in this theory.  It’s important to make a house smell like a home, and no amount of banana bread scented candles will do the trick.  They would do the opposite of the trick.  

Last time I moved:  banana bread.  

This go’round:  zucchini bread two ways, gluten-free and waaay gluten-full.  Experiments and good smells all up in this new kitchen!

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Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies

Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies

Hey can I borrow your kitchen?  Mine is a mess. It’s half of a mess.  I’ve managed to unpack my favorite coffee mugs, my stand mixer, and my mason jars.  I’ve basically unpacked everything pretty.  The rest?  The drudgery?  Not interested. Those will stay in a box for a good while until I lose my mind and can’t live without my boring black plastic tongs for another second. 

So… I’m going to need to borrow your kitchen.  I’ll come in with random bags of baking groceries.  I’ll raid your cabinets for mixing bowls and wooden spoons and I’ll make us some brownies.  

Working in your kitchen will be much better then unpacking my own.  I think they call this avoidance. Really delicious avoidance. 

Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies

My friend Gabrielle let me use her pretty marble kitchen.  I made a mess, but there were brownies in the end.  Forgiveness through chocolate. 

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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! 

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Roasted Cauliflower, Beet, and Farro Winter Salad

Roasted Cauliflower, Beet, and Farro Salad

Roasted Cauliflower, Beet, and Farro Salad

I don’t seem to have a brain for meal-prep.  I’m guilty of wandering the grocery store aisles picking up cold cereal, crackers, a really expensive bar of soap and… little else.   I’m notoriously horrible at actually making myself dinner and, as it turns out, scrambled eggs with hot sauce make a tremendously fine dinner meal.  

Understanding my shortcomings, and being entirely tired of scrambled eggs for dinner, I’ve discovered that if I have a big bowl of something in the refrigerator, I’m saved.  

Something could be a big bowl of Carrot Jalapeño Soup, a big bowl of Apple and Fennel Salad, or something like this… with hearty roasted cauliflower and sweet earthy beets.  Farro makes the salad filling and solid.  

A big bowl of something.  Good, hearty, real food that isn’t scrambled eggs that you can eat straight from the fridge… if you’re into that sort of thing (and we’re all into that sort of thing).  

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Brûlée Orange and Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Orange and Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Orange and Cream Cheese Pound Cake

 I‘m going to start a new line of pillows made exclusively out of this cream cheese pound cake.  Edible bed pillows.  Lay your head down at night and snack-and-sleep.  If we’re going to turn aaanny cake into a pillow, this is it.  

This is the softest, most tender cake thanks to both cream cheese and butter.  Sponge-y and moist without being cloying or obnoxious.  It’s the perfect pillow material.  Like memory foam but… edible cake.  

Or.  I suppose you could serve this cake sliced on platters and plates.  Also a viable option, just without the beauty rest.  Think about it.  

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Homemade Salmon and Oat Cat Treats

Homemade Crunchy Cat Treats

Homemade Salmon and Oat Cat Treats

I‘ve done a lot of research on cats.  By ‘a lot of research’, I mean that I’ve lived with an nutcase of a cat-animal for the past four years, and there are a few things I’ve learned.  My cat, in particular, is bossy and unwilling to compromise.  He’s a fan of avocado, anything I open with a can opener, buttermilk, and actually… anything that I eat, he wants to eat.  

Since I am a maker of cookies for human consumption, I feel like it’s only fitting to make healthy and wholesome treats for my monster cat as well.   

Homemade Salmon and Oat Cat Treats

The best thing about these cat treats / cat cookies, is that they’re made out of actual whole foods! Oats, pink salmon, egg, olive oil, and dried catnip because cats are crazy for it.  Cookies for cats!  Let’s do this!

Homemade Salmon and Oat Cat Treats

Tron is happy that, for once, I’m not waving him away from my food prep area.  This time, it’s actually treats for him… not my cookies and biscuits.  

No joke, three seconds after this picture was taken, Tron literally tried to tear through the bag of Purina Beyond Cat Food.  He’s not a subtle creature.   

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Baking Bootcamp: Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread

honey whole wheat loaves

Baking Bootcamp:  Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread

Sometimes I can’t believe the fun we get to have here!  All the biscuits, all the cookies, and all in the name of work!

Today we’re talking Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread!  It’s the last in our 4-challenge King Arthur Flour Baking Bootcamp!  

First we made Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread, a braided bread stuffed with loads of fresh berries, cinnamon and butter. 

We made Apple Pie Biscuits with sweet fall apples and tender biscuit dough.  

This Winter we made Gruyère and Green Olive Loaves, big salty, satisfying and cheesy loaves.   

Baking Bootcamp:  Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread

Now!  Hearty loaves of honey, oat, and wheat!  

These oatmeal studded loaves bake up light and golden!  Perfect for slicing thick and topping with softened butter, ripe avocado, or fruity jam.  

As we move through January, I find myself craving staples… simple foods that I can slather in butter for warmth and comfort.  

Baking Bootcamp Essentials IV

Here’s what we’re going to need: 

1 • King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour.  A sweeter and more mild whole wheat flour.  Perfect for adding whole wheat goodness without being too dense.  

2 • I use this King Arthur Flour Bench Knife just about everyday in my kitchen. It’s perfect for scraping little dough bits from the countertop… something a sponge just pitifully attacks. You might also use the bench knife to slice though the center of the rolled dough. It’s sharp too! I love this tool!

3 • Kitchen fashion is important to me. Hedley & Bennett understands my needs for a functional, durable, totally chic apron. Not too frilly. I always want to be more badass than 50’s housewife-y in the kitchen.

4 • Lovely and durable kitchen towels for resting our dough from LoomedNOLA.  

5 • Having Colorful Mixing Bowls is the kitchen equivalent of having a great black dress in your closet. Necessary treat.

6 • Loaf pans for loaves of bread and pound cakes.  

7 • These wooden spoons just get better with time.

8 • Is it normal to have a completely mismatched set of Measuring Cups, or should I just treat myself to a matching set like this? Don’t answer that…

9 • The Pyrex glass measuring cup.  A forever kitchen classic.

10 • Same goes for the Measuring Spoons… it’s nice to have a full matching set.

Baking Bootcamp:  Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread

 Let’s get baking!  We’re in this together.  Here are some important details!  

• All of these step-by-step photographs in the post were done by the incomparable Jon Melendez.

• Baking 101: The Difference Between Baking Flours for all the nitty-gritty on bran and germ and protein content.

• King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Hotline is a fantastic resource for curious home bakers to discuss your fears, concerns and eventual successes. Give them a ring! It’s magic. 1-855-371-2253

Four Flours + Four Recipes Challenges + One Instagram #bakingbootcamp + Four Awesome Sets of Prizes!

The idea is simple!

• Make the Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread and take a picture of your creation!

• Follow @joythebaker and @kingarthurflour on Instagram

• Photograph your beautiful bread and post to Instagram with the hashtag #bakingbootcamp

• When you submit a photo, you’ll be entered to win a one year supply of King Arthur Flour and a Baking Essentials box valued at $250!! Official rules and details can be found here.

By entering the challenge you’ll also have amazing loaves in your kitchen, so… you really can’t lose.

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Hearts of Palm Fries with lemon and jalapeño

Hearts of Palm Fries

Hearts of Palm Fries

 The old dip-and-fry.  It’s like the bait-and switch but much less tricky and much more delicious.  

I’ll dip and fry just about anything.  Onion rings, dipped and fried.  Raised donut dough, fried and dipped (preferably in sugar).  

This week Hearts of palm meet the fryer.  They’re tender and lightly pickled, made warm and crispy and spicy.  Have you ever had Heart of palm?  They come in a can, they’re slightly salty and soft… like canned artichoke hearts, but completely different.  They make very fine salads and fried bites… and that’s why we’re here.  

I also want you to know that I have Mardi Gras King Cake on my mind… I just have to get all of these salty fry things off my mind first.  King Cake is in our future.  

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Quick and Dirty Chocolate Espresso Cinnamon Rolls

Quick and Dirty Chocolate Espresso Cinnamon Rolls

Quick and Dirty Chocolate Espresso Cinnamon Rolls

How can I do the least amount of work, but still get the most amount of cinnamon rolls into my mouth?  Super valid question.

How long would it take to go through airport security and stand in line at the Terminal C Cinnamon?  Is that time shorter than the time it would take to make yeasted dough, roll it, fill it, slice it, rise it, and bake it?  

How can I go from zero to cinnamon roll in one hour flat?  

Here’s how!  Ready.  Set.  You know…. 

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Burnt Orange Salty Caramel Sauce

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

What are you supposed to do with a no good, very bad toothache? 

Warm salt water rinse?  An emergency visit to the dentist?  Eighty seven bottles of over-the-counter pain killers?  Bourbon?  Marathon viewing of old Seinfeld episodes?  

I’ve been trying to figure this out all week.  So far I’ve found the most solace in a pint of smooth vanilla ice cream and this sweet Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce (and an exciting appointment with my new New Orleans dentist).  

Cool story, right?  Hopefully you can treat yourself to a sweet caramel sundae without the pain.  

(Oh!  If you’re thinking that the reason I have a toothache is because I eat too much dang caramel… No.  Not listening.)   

Burnt Orange Caramel Sauce

These oranges were gifted from Martine Chaisson.  Glory be! 

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Sausage and Mushroom Risotto

Sausage and Mushroom Risotto

Sausage and Mushroom Risotto

As I move through the days, the months, the year, the seasons, I’ve noticed that my body always tells me what I need.  These days it’s all citrus juices and earth flavors.  Don’t get me wrong, I generally move through my days filling my body with coffee and sugar in various forms, paying very little attention to the little voice inside me crying for baby carrots.  

These days my cravings have been undeniable.  I want big bowl of warm goodness that make me feel like I have my feet on the ground.  This earthy and salty risotto is undeniably grounding, comforting, warm, and otherwise perfect.

This is the first time I’ve made risotto on the stovetop.  I’ll walk you through my technique and mild panic.  

If the stirring is more than you can handle (no judgement, I get it), you can try this Baked Lemon Risotto.  One stir and some quality oven time.  A dream, really! 

And!  For sweeter Arborio rice indulgences:  Maple Ginger Rice Pudding.  In other words, I’m not leaving my house again until I need to go stock up on more rice.  Until then, I’ll have the Do Not Disturb sign on my door. Thaaaanks! 

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All-The-Blueberries Buttermilk Waffles

Blueberry Buttermilk Waffles

Blueberry Buttermilk Waffles

I was trying to do a thing. A thing with waffles, cinnamon, sugar, and a blow torch.
The blow torch (perhaps not surprisingly) is where things went wrong.

I was trying to make a waffle brûlée. I thought that sprinkling toasty waffles with granulated sugar, and taking a torn to them would create that irresistible sugar snap-crack when brûlée meets fork. You know?

Turns out… taking a blow torch to a waffles creates REALLY BURNT WAFFLES. Like… the most burnt. Like… someone needs to take my baker’s card away. I’m benched.

Not all things work, but you have to try.

To hide my shame and my sins: blueberries. Fresh, juicy, forgiving, and un-torched.

In other news: I haven’t messed with eeevery waffle I’ve made. I’m actually pretty waffle proficient. I just got cocky.

See:

•  Cheddar Buttermilk Waffle BLTs.

•  Mashed Potato Cheddar and Chive Waffles.  

•  Whole Grain Waffles with millet, poppy, and sunflower.  

•  Vanilla Bean Sweet Potato Waffles.  

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Lazy Mary’s Citrus Tart

Lazy Mary's Citrus Tart

Lazy Mary's Citrus Tart

 If I find the word ‘lazy’ in the title of a recipe, it’s just… I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief.  Finally, a recipe that couples my deep love for pie with my deep appreciation for sitting on my porch, sipping drinks, and talking trash.  You mean I can have both homemade pie and lazy trash-talking all in one sweet situation!?  

Well… yes, and also NO.  You can have your pie (tart), but like any good pie, you’re going to have to work for it. 

Yea.  We can talk about it.  I’m going to make us. 

calamondin tre

First, let’s talk about citrus! 

The original recipe for this lazy / not-so-lazy tart calls for a Meyer Lemon.  A whole Meyer Lemon.  Peel, pith, insides.  The whole shebang.  

Meyer Lemons are all well and good, and you should totally use a big juicy one for this recipe.  I happen to live inside this mess of citrus in The French Quarter and wanted to find a way to incorporate this crazy citrus into my tart.  

Lazy Mary's Citrus Tart

These are calamondins!  New fruit from my new city.  Tiny, very tart, thin-skinned, lightly seeded citrus fruits.  I halved these, scooped out the sneaky seeds, and added them  to a blender for the pie filling. 

It’s time. 

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Whole Roasted Onions

whole roasted onions

  whole roasted onions

Here’s how this is going to go down, my friends:  whole roasted sweet yellow onions, roasted with olive oil and butter, roasted with rosemary, roasted whole, roasted to sweet submission.  

It’s cold.  I mean… really cold.  Here’s our chance to crank up the oven, throw these onions inside and lean against the oven door as they transform from sharp and bite-y to soft and sweet.  

Oh wait… you might be one of those people who think they don’t like onions.   I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.  You exclusively like whole roasted onions.  

Now let’s carry on. 

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Winter Cocktail Hour: Grapefruit Margaritas and Vanilla Sugar Daiquiris

Vanilla-Sugar Lime Daiquiris

Vanilla-Sugar Lime Daiquiris

I‘m going to play in the sun.  Obnoxious considering I don’t live in an extra-chilly, snow-covered Winterland.  There’s no real room to complain about a New Orleans January.  Still though… I’m going to go get some real-life tropical sun because I’m absolutely positive that the answer to what troubles me in is the ocean, in the sun, and inside a small coupe glass along with lime and rum.  

Grapefruit Margaritas with a hint of Cucumber

You should totally join me in the sun… or at least in spirit and in cocktail.  

You’ll need lots of lime, all of the pink grapefruits, Patron Tequila and Pyrat Rum.  You won’t need the sunscreen.  I’m going to hog all of that.  Can you even buy sunscreen in January.  Stupid question.  Cheers to us, sunshine or snow. 

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