Creamy Vegan Herb Salad Dressing

Creamy Vegan Herb Salad Dressing

Creamy Vegan Herb Salad Dressing

Consider me an occasional fan of tofu.

My parents were early adopters of tofu.  Remember back when health food had as much cheese and potatoes as tofu?  Sure… there was the weirdest brown rice ever, but we covered it in cheese and sauce and all was right with the world.

Nowadays, I’m an occasional tofu enthusiast.  Count me among the few who just realized that you can make a delicious dipping and salad dressing from TOFU!  Did you know this?  Were you keeping it from me?

This thick dressing is creamy, satisfying, and doesn’t read as tofu per say… not that that would be a bad thing, but you know what I mean.   This dressing is more Ranch in distinction.  Herby, bright, and almost so good you want to rub it on your face (which is weird).

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Roasted Tomato and Pesto Grilled Cheese

Roasted Tomato Pesto and Brie Grilled Cheese

Roasted Tomato Pesto and Brie Grilled Cheese

Here’s what we’re going to do:

We’re going to go to our refrigerators and gather all of the delicious things.  If those things are roasted, pesto-ed, and melty… that’s ideal.

Truth be told, sometimes all I have in the fridge is orange juice and bendy celery… that’s why God invented bourbon and those Chinese take-out menus at the bottom of my junk drawer.  Orange juicy and bendy celery aren’t allowed in this sandwiches.  Not on this day… when there is precious Brie and pesto in the refrigerator.

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Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup

creamy roasted red pepper soup

creamy roasted red pepper soup

I’m notorious for making a giant pot of something-or-other and eating it (sometimes begrudgingly) all.week.long. Soups are good for long-term consumption especially if you add a small pat of butter and a splash of heavy cream after each subsequent reheating.  Did this soup get more delicious?  It sure did!

I can make it through four straight days of soup consumption before I revolt and treat myself to (really, anything but soup) a giant cheeseburger, french fries, and all of the bourbon.

Since we’re staring this Monday straight in the face, I thought I’d start our week off with a staple.  Something savory and healthful to get us through the week with grace and strength.  I’m rooting for us.

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Sausage, Cheddar and Grits Frittata

Sausage, Cheddar, and Grits Frittata

Sausage Cheddar and Grits Frittata

I fell down such a strange Internet rabbit hole this week.  There were makeup tutorial videos, doomsday prepper podcasts, and a weird amount of frittata recipe googling.

While I still don’t know how to properly apply bronzer or survive the apocalypse, I can make one damn fine frittata.  Award-winning  (according to me).

Frittata is Italian for “I’m too lazy to make quiche crust.” It’s a simple baked egg dish that can house just about any filling that you can dream up and can be served morning, noon, or night.  Wow.  Frittata is also Italian for “Eat this. You’re welcome.” Don’t worry.  I’m fluent.

Whatever we do, can we not call it a crustless quiche?  That just sounds sad and lazy and makes me wonder who is enjoying crust without me.

Let’s talk about this frittata, because I sure did put grits in it, and I’m not even sorry.

Sausage Cheddar and Grits Frittata

 This frittata (as the name above would suggest) is home to spicy Italian sausage and cheddar cheese.  Eggs of course, because a frittata isn’t a frittata without eggs.  The HECK YES elements of this frittata are the dollops of cheesy chives grits that stud the dish.  Soft creamy eggs meets cheesy baked grits?  Spicy and sausage, too?  It’s a very good idea.

Weekend breakfast idea complete.  You should drink more coffee and keep your pajama pants on until at least 3pm.  For sure.

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Roy Choi’s Furikake Kettle Corn

Roy Choi's Furikake Kettle Corn

Roy Choi's Furikake Kettle Corn

I’m don’t have a cool party trick.  I’m not double jointed.  I’m not a gymnast or former cheerleader.  I can’t curse in Russian.  I never could do one of those beer funnel things.  My tap dancing skills really need some work (mostly because I never had them in the first place).  I can play a few jazz tunes on the piano, but that always ends up being more embarrassing than impressive.

In the absence of a party trick there is this:  Roy Choi’s Furikake Kettle Corn.  Praise the Lord above.  This is SO FOR REAL GOOD.

Roy Choi's Furikake Kettle Corn

There’s a lot we need to talk about.  I know that I’ve mentioned the work ‘furikake’ like it ain’t no thing and you might be like.. um, WHAT!?

Furikake is a sweet and savory Japanese spicy that is meant to be sprinkled over white rice.  In furikake you’ll find, dried fish flakes (bonito), seaweed bits, sesame seeds, sugar, salt, and (in the case of my furikake) wasabi.  It’s a magic seasoning that encompasses every sweet, salty, savory, and umami desire.  Find Wasabi Furikake (with fish flakes) here.  Find Furikake (without fish flakes) here.

To our kettle corn we also add Corn Pops (YES a cold cereal), finely chopped bacon (burnt is best), finely chopped dried pineapple, red pepper flakes, chives, and browned butter.

Should I step back a bit and let that sink in.  Those are some crazy flavor combinations.

This recipe comes from Roy Choi, the god-father of the food truck movement in Los Angeles.  This magic popcorn is served at his restaurant A-Frame in LA.  Happy Hour, get to it!

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Apple + Fennel with Pistachio + Apricot

apple + fennel with apricot + pistachio

It feels like we’re in the middle of things.  Like we have to begrudgingly set down our watermelon and water balloons and pick up our infinity scarf and pumpkin spice latte.  Seasons don’t happen in a snap.  There’s a transition period… a kind of grace that allows us to take a deep breath, absorb our days of sunshine and beach breezes to ready ourselves for the crisp nights and spiced cider.  What we crave in the transition can be tricky.  I find myself gobbling all of the peaches and dreaming of apple fritters.  Truth be told, I’m always dreaming of apple fritters, that’s no surprise.

apple + fennel with apricot + pistachio salad

This salad feels like a lovely transition.  Fresh apple and fennel make it easy to move into Autumn.  It’s no time to crank up the oven for a roast when I find myself still craving fresh and bright flavors.

We’re also adding fresh arugula for its peppery notes, salty roasted pistachios, sweet dried apricots, and salty parmesan cheese.  It’s all about balance!

This recipe is inspired by Chef Nathan Lyon.  His seasonal cookbook is a staple in my kitchen.

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Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

vegan carrot jalapeno soup

vegan carrot jalapeno soup

Soup is my barometer.

Soup tells me how much a restaurant cares about the details of their dishes.  It’s not the daily fish special or the fanciest steak on the menu that can tell you everything about a restaurants menu… all of the details and love and care  (if they are there) are in the soup.

I’m talking about in the development of flavors, the house-made stock, the onion dice, the thorough puree, the texture, the garnish, the temperature.  And… since soup is not one of those glitzy menu items like pork-belly-this or fried-brussels-sprout-that… soup sits around waiting for just the right amount of salt and heat and garnish to make it shiiiine exactly bright.

Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

Last week I ordered Carrot Jalapeño Soup at Sylvain, one of my very favorite New Orleans restaurants.  On point.  The soup was perfectly creamy (probably laden with an ample amount of heavy cream), and juuuust spicy enough to make me question and affirm my choices.  The soup had so much love and care, it really could have outshined any type of bacon fat on the menu.

Because some of a good thing is never enough, I made my own Carrot Jalapeño Soup, vegan and with feeling.

This soup is spicy, creamy, filling and delicious!  Dang near as delicious as this Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup, but maybe that’s just me having a thing for raw cashews.  Let’s discuss.

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Muffuletta Pasta Salad

muffuletta pasta salad / joy the baker

muffuletta pasta salad / joy the baker

Some might say that you haven’t lived until you’ve had a muffuletta sandwich at its birthplace: Central Grocery in New Orleans.

For those of you who have yet to live (dramatic,right?), a Muffuletta is a sandwich made when a soft loaf of Italian bread is topped with olive spread, a pickled Italian vegetable medley called giardiniera, salami, mortadella, ham, and provolone.  The sandwich is also often has parsley, vinegar, and olive oil, and is pressed together to marry the flavors.  It’s a dang good sandwich.  There’s no denying it.  The muffuletta was made popular back when New Orleans was just a youngin’  by the lunch habits of Italian immigrants, and ooooh how thankful we are for (among other things) their sandwich sensibilities.

Muffuletta Pasta Salad by joy the baker

Before I dive into full-blown muffuletta-land, I’m doing to tinker around with a pasta salad version.  There’s lots of chopping and cubing.  It’s meditative, don’t fight it. I cubed salami, ham, roasted chicken, and provolone.  Crisp celery and raw onions and garlic for kick.  Olives.. a lot, and sliced.  Parsley and dried spices.  Dignified and delicious, all of it!

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Homemade Steak Sauce

Homemade Steak Sauce

Homemade Steak Sauce

I’m not the meatiest of carnivores.  I’m in it for the toppings.

I’m most interested in a steak when it is topped with a ludicrous amount of A-1 sauce and/or bleu cheese.  Hamburgers with exactly toooo much cheddar cheese.  Yes, please.  I’ll sign up for lobster because of the clarified butter.  And most every East LA taco truck is amazing because of its seasoning, sauce, and salsas.

Join me in saucing just about anything and everything.

My refrigerator is filled with a menagerie of little jars filled with sweet, sour, and spicy sauce concoctions.  Butter too… obviously lots of butter.

Steak is a special occasion in my refrigerator.  Because it’s Summer.  Because I’m experimenting with being a grown-up lady who grills over charcoal.  Because I made a fancy-pants Homemade Steak Sauce…  it’s a very special occasion.  STEAK!

Homemade Steak Sauce

Serving suggestion:  on grilled skirt steak, in abundance, like a BOSS.

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Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

roasted tomato and feta guacamole

roasted tomato and feta guacamole

I wish there was some sort of Willy Wonka-style candy factory that produced savory avocado delights instead of candy.  In addition to that statement making me sound stone-cold craaaazy, the reality of that sort of factory would be absolutely AMAZING!  Don’t lie.  You want in.

I’d totally Veruca Salt my way all up in there.  No shame.

Since there is no fantasy-land avocado factory I’ve settled for roasting a big ol’ bunch of cherry tomatoes, and tossing them (along with just a little too much feta) into a batch of creamy do-no-wrong guacamole.

Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

Don’t roasted cherry tomatoes look a little bit like candy?  If candy were vegetable.

Related and rhetorical:  why won’t I shut up about candy!?

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Extra-Special Deviled Eggs

Extra-Special Deviled Eggs

Extra-Special Deviled Eggs

I’m the most dangerous person at your dinner party.

I’m the one that lingers near the Deviled Eggs at a party.  (If not Deviled Eggs, I can also be found lingering near the homemade guacamole or cheese plate.)

You’ll never ever know how many Deviled Eggs I’ve eaten because I pop the entire bite in my mouth while you’re looking down at your wine glass…. and I chew quickly.  I go back for seconds (which you think are my firsts).  I go back for thirds and fourths (which you think are my seconds).  I will clear you out of nearly every Deviled Egg on your appetizer table.

The worst part is (my breath?) that I have no remorse.  I eat all of your eggs then I casually move along (…probably to the table with wine).  I’m the worst.  I really am.  At least I won’t mess with your music selection, unless I do.  Again… I’m the worst.

Extra-Special Deviled Eggs

These eggs are extra-special because they’re dill-y and radish-y, and I was feeling extra-special when I made them.  Just let it happen.

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One-Pot French Onion Pasta

one pot french onion pasta

one pot french onion pasta

I’m already anticipating Sunday.

Talk about putting the cart before the horse.  We haven’t even hopped around the weekend enough to make it to Sunday.

Sundays, I would argue, are the worst.  Actually… they’re the BEST but only between the hours of 8am and noon when we’re sleeping in, churching, brunching, or napping after pancakes.  After noon on a Sunday I find myself in the unfortunate task of pretending to be relaxed while stressing about the week to come.  We’ve talked about this before.  It’s called The Sunday Stresses, and it’s more real that we deserve.

Luckily there’s PASTA.  All healing, all comforting, all filling PASTA.  Thank you, Lord.  For real.

I have pasta every Sunday night.  I spoon myself an embarrassingly large bowl, sit cross-legged on the couch, watch Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee and just tear through a bowl.  I’m trying to fill the pit of Sunday Stresses and pasta usually works, until it doesn’t… but even still.

One Pot French Onion Pasta

This One-Pot pasta comes together easily and makes the house smell like an onion dream.  There’s just something so right about the smell of cooking onions.

While the onions, thyme, and chicken broth flavors have more of a Fall feel to them… well, The Sunday Stresses know no season.   Let’s just get some quality couch time in.  Let’s make out with pasta, just a little.

NOT WEIRD AT ALL!

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Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Let’s just all admit that it’s weird that I made soup.  Hot soup.  I didn’t even have the decency to make cold soup.  It’s heat hot, it’s spicy hot, it’s just all up in your face hot… smack-dab in the middle of summer.

Some nerve, really.

I need to openly admit that I really miss (I mean… really miss) California Mexican food.  I’ve made so many obscure tacos in my kitchen I might as well buy a taco truck and call it a career.

This soup is SO GOOD! It’s like eating the soup version of a vegetarian enchilada… in a bowl, with a mega amount of fresh toppings!  If you’re looking to beat the heat, may I suggest enjoying this soup while sitting in front of your open refrigerator?

No?

Well.. fine then.

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The Chocolate-Dipped Potato Chip

The Chocolate Dipped Potato Chip

The Chocolate Dipped Potato Chip

Here’s the difference between you and me.  You’re armed with reason, and willpower, and common sense, and common decency.  Me?  Less so.

Perhaps it’s this lack of common decency that would lead me to dip perfectly good savory potato chips into perfectly good dark chocolate.  The result seems to be a perfectly sinister meeting of savory / sweet / and chocolate.  It’s trouble.  Nothing but trouble.

Remember that time I made Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwiches and everyone was like, UM… Joy the Baker has LOST IT!  This is that!  Except there’s chocolate involved, so maybe you’ll let this one slide.

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Snap Pea, Watermelon, and Edamame Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

Snap Pea, Edamame, and Watermelon Salad

Snap Pea, Edamame, and Watermelon Salad

I’m in need of a California salad.  The kind that’s heavy on the green, unique, full of protein and surprises, and just generally sexy.  The kind of salad that would wear super expensive yoga pants… if a salad could wear yoga pants (because that totally makes sense).  The kind of salad that Gwyneth Paltrow would order if she were slumming it.  You know the stuff.

That’s exactly the sort of salad I’ve been craving.

Besides… I’ve had a watermelon on the counter staring me down and this week I’ve found the perfect combination of hunger, energy, and guilt to actually slice into it.

Come on, let’s salad!

Snap Pea, Watermelon, and Edamame Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

This recipe is inspired by The Lemonade Cookbook.  Loads of great sandwich, salad, and well… lemonade inspiration in this super fresh, California cuisine book.

I love combining greens and sweet fruit in the summer.  It’s pretty amazing that watermelon and onions can find their way into a dish together and work as a team, right?

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Avocado and Lime Shrimp Cocktail

Avocado and Lime Shrimp Cocktail

Avocado and Lime Shrimp Cocktail

I think we’re obligated to treat ourselves to some proper summer days this season.  Lazy days with sunshine, iced tea, and a cool breeze if we can get it.

I had a proper Summer Sunday this past weekend, and I have the pink toasted skin to prove it.  I tend to be really bad at sitting on the beach with loads of free time and not even one bar of cell service, but the shores of Mississippi are slowly teaching me a thing or two about slowing down and unwinding.  I’m also re-reading Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways which is very much like food for the soul.

Speaking of food… that’s why we’re here, right?

Hot summer days calls for light and fresh foods… and beignets, but that’s always.

Avocado and Lime Shrimp Cocktail

I have been craving a shrimp cocktail dish that doesn’t involve cocktail glasses filled with sweet ketchup and dangling pink shrimp.  I found this recipe for something called Mexican Shrimp Cocktail that combines my love for avocado and salsa with my love for shrimp cocktail.  It’s fresh and spicy and I totally used store bought Pico de Gallo because all of that chopping would work up an unnecessary sweat.

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Tuna, Kale, and Egg Salad

tuna kale and egg salad

tuna kale and egg salad

Sometimes I spend so much time painting my own nails, that by the time they’re complete, I’m entirely disenchanted  with the finished product. (Ridiculous sentence to start a blog post with.  Don’t be like me.)

The same goes for cakes.  The longer I spend folding, baking,  cooling, and frosting a cake, the less I want to slice into it in the end.  Sad story, right?

The same can be said for laundry, obviously.  Gathering, washing, drying, air drying, folding, putting away. AAHHH.  Laundry is boring and totally not delicious… so, duh.

This salad though… in and out.  No exorbitant amount of slicing and dicing.  Just enough to create a pretty pretty salad and also enjoy your efforts.  It’s the ideal balance of greens, health, and kitchen time.

Tuna Kale and Egg Salad

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Beer Battered Onion Rings and Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Beer Battered Onion Rings

Beer Battered Onion Rings with Buttermilk Ranch Dip

We’re looking down the barrel at Father’s Day so it’s time to start thinking about beer and bow ties and burly dudes with beards bouncing babies on their laps, right?

It’s hard for me to pin down the right Father’s Day celebration.  My dad is unique, he likes classic literature, pie, gossip, and emojis.  It’s like… what do you get the man that already has everything?  Seriously.

Mother’s Day celebrations seem easier.  I’m pretty sure most moms just want a mimosa and a little peace a quiet.  Dads are more of a wildcard.

Can onion rings be the answer?  I’m pretty sure the answer is HECK YES, because I’ve never seen anyone (beard or not) walk away from homemade onion rings and ranch dressing.

Beer Battered Onion Rings with Buttermilk Ranch Dip

Let’s start with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing because onion rings must be dipped, on the real on the reg.

I mean… we can do it for the dads.

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Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

turkey sloppy joes with buttery buns

turkey sloppy joes with buttery buns

There was a girl singing Summertime (and the living is easy) outside of my window as I made these Sloppy Joes today.  She wasn’t the best singer in the world.  I imagine that if I had the gall to sing in public, I’d be just around average as well.  A lot of times it’s way more about feel and guts when it comes to singing in the streets.  You just have to step out there and mean in.  That’s just about everything.

I’m feel the same way when I step in the kitchen to make bread.  Feel and guts, every time.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

I’ve had every intention of making homemade hamburger-type buns for (no joke) two years now.  Two years!?

I think that’s called self-procrastination.  Sometimes even the best laid plans take years to activate.  Feel and guts!  I’m telling  you.  It’s so real.

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Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl

Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl

Be advised:  It would be best not to get in between me and my burrito.

I’m talking about the kind of burrito that’s the size of a newborn baby and served, covered in cheese and red sauce, on a scalding hot that plate that I always touch even thought I’m cautioned against it.  The kind of burrito that is filled with so much cheese, so much rice, so much stewed beef, so much guacamole… it feels as right as it does obscene.

Yea… don’t get in between me and that burrito.  It’s probably best if we don’t even make eye contact.

This (thankfully/sadly) is not that burrito.

Let’s welcome cauliflower to the table.  We’ll set aside all the beef, red sauce, and most of the cheese momentarily.

cauliflower rice burrito bowls

This recipe starts with Cauliflower Rice which I’m pretty sure is ALL THE RAGE on paleo blogs.  I make the opposite of a paleo blog, so…. this might seem a little strange.

We’re talking about the simple art of turning raw cauliflower florets into little bits of simulated rice.  It’s good, it’s really really good!

cauliflower rice burrito bowls

Cauliflower + Food Processor = Cauliflower Rice.

I used a purple and green cauliflower, not because I’m fancy, mostly because that’s what looked fresh at the grocery.

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