Mushroom Kale Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Mushroom and Kale Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Mushroom and Kale Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Bloggers can be pretty predictable.  Since it’s December, you can count on most of us writing about tinsel and cookie swaps, peppermint coated this, mulled wine that… all the pine, all the Santa hats, all the sugar spice and nice.

Come January we’ll all be talking about salads and smoothies.  I don’t think we’re allowed to talk about fudge in January.  I think that’s actually against the law.

I have to shake loose from the holidays for a moment.  I mean… can we just sit at the kitchen counter and eat quesadillas for a while and not think about Winter cookies and holiday shopping?  That would be cool.

Let’s do that.

Ps.  The fact that these Mushroom and Kale Quesadillas are topped with sriracha makes them aaalllmost Christmas themed.  See how these holidays sneak in to stay?  Dang.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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Beer Brownies

Beer Brownies

Beer Brownies

I have a soft spot for brownies.  Well… actually, don’t we all?

Brownies were the first thing I learned how to bake in the kitchen.  My parents kept the flour, sugar, and those gnarly bars of unsweetened chocolate in a little cabinet just within reach of my little 8 year-old body.  It only took me one nibble of the unsweetened chocolate to figure out that it was not at all suitable for sneak-snacking… but the box of unsweetened chocolate had step-by-step instructions on how to turn the dark blocks into something entirely delicious, aka BROWNIES!

In our house filled with whole wheat fig bars and date rolls, I felt like a wizard… like an actual wizard… because I could make brownies.

Beer Brownies

I still feel like a wizard.  I mean… brownies are magic! Dense, moist, waaay chocolate-y, chewy at the edges, earnest, and everything!

There are so many great Fall cookbooks hitting the shelves this year!  I need to make us a list.  There’s just too much good!

One of the books I’ve been looking forward to most is The Kitchy Kitchen by Claire Thomas.  Claire is the beauty and brains behind the blog The Kitchy Kitchen and she’s turned all of her amazing food-brain-thoughts into a lovely cookbook!  Among the goodness in this book (it has an amazing soup chapter) are these BEER BROWNIES!

Think about it.  Dark stout beer with all of its earthy bitterness + dark chocolate with all of its deep sweet fruit undertones.  This is a very good marriage.  Right on, Claire!

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Oatmeal Cookie Granola

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

I always have the best intentions of making myself some sort of celery and grapefruit juice for breakfast.  Maybe a green smoothie… with extra green.  A protein powder something-or-other.  A green powder this-or-that.  Something very Gwyneth Paltrow-y.  I have the best of intentions, really.   The very best.

Inevitably I end up standing in front of the pantry shoveling a bag of granola into my face by the handful.  It’s not pretty but it does feel right.  I sweep up after.  I’m not a complete heathen.

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

It feels like we’re making oatmeal cookies and, while I relish the idea of eating cookies for breakfast, we’re taking a slight right turn and making a hearty granola from all of our oatmeal cookie ingredients.

This recipe was inspired by the new and deliciously awesome cookbook by Jessica of How Sweet Eats.  She’s the master of tacos and cocktails and adding neon sprinkles to every dang thing.  Get yourself a copy of Seriously Delish!

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Baked Brown Butter and Pistachio Doughnuts

Brown Butter Baked Pistachio Doughnuts

Brown Butter Baked Pistachio Doughnuts

That first bite of doughnut… that very first taste is success, surrender, satisfaction, joy, and celebration all wrapped up into one bite.  It’s the anticipation that makes it so great!  And the brown butter, obviously.

These doughnuts feel like an extra special treat because they’re topped (as all things should be, really…) with browned butter glaze and chopped salted pistachios.

Where brown butter and pistachios combine, the gates of Heaven open wide and welcome you in with open arms.  Not literally… but that sure is what it feels like!

Baked Brown Butter and Pistachio Doughnuts

It’s time to make an extra pot of coffee.  Call a friend.  Pull up a few chairs and relish in it all.  What a lovely life when doughnuts are fresh and pretty.

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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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Peach and Cardamom Lemonade

peach and cardamom lemonade

Peach and Cardamom Lemonade

It would seem as though I’m trying to drink my way through the rainbow, lemonade style.  First there was bright red with Beet Lemonade.  Here we have a  pretty peachy-orange color with Peach Cardamom Lemonade.  We also worked in the deep purple with Fresh Blueberry Mint Lemonade.

I’ve missed green lemonade but I figure we can work some sort of cucumber jalapeño situation into our future.

I’ll tell you now, I’m showing no signs of stopping this drinkable rainbow.  Hop on the lemonade train now!  I know you’re thirsty.

Peach and Cardamom Lemonade

This Summer is brought to you by lemons, over-ripe fruit, and a dose of sugar.  Cheers to us!

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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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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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Black and White Baked Doughnuts

Black and White Cake Doughnuts

Black and White Cake Doughnuts

I’d never go so far as to say that baked doughnuts are better than fried doughnuts.  That’s downright madness.  Perhaps we can we all just agree that they’re good… like, really really good.  Right?

Baked doughnuts are the real life version of Homer Simpson doughnuts that we get to eat without being cartoons ourselves.  They’re emoji doughnuts, in our hands, for our bellies.  Just a little bit of magic.  That’s all I’m saying.

I do have a history with baked doughnuts.  Call me biased.  See:  Brown Butter with Chocolate Glaze or Double Chocolate Cake or Sweet Apple Cinnamon.  

Black and White Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts

Today I’ve combined my love for cartoon-esque baked doughnuts with my love for Black and White Cookies and a bonus rainbow cloth because we’re worth it.

Let’s doughnut like we always do!

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Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

I lay in bed some mornings trying to will my food brain into action.

On the particular morning that these Banana Bonbon things were born into my brain, I was lying in bed thinking that I’d really like to eat Oreo cookies… but I’d like them to be frozen… and then maybe I could smear peanut butter on top… except that’s crazy… crazy good!!!

No food brain.  No.  Be reasonable.  (That’s what I think to myself as I lay in bed thinking about Oreo cookies first thing in the morning.)  We need more fruit.  Can we turn bananas into cookies?  Yes.  Let’s add peanut butter… and probably chocolate while we’re at it… and we’re going to need something crunchy… peanuts!   And let’s pull that awesome coconut oil trick to make a the chocolate as smooth as can be.

Alright food brain.  Good job!  Essentially you’ve created a chocolate-dipped frozen banana and found a way to smash peanut butter inside.  You started with Oreos cookies and, well… here we are.

Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

Think of these frozen treats as mini banana peanut butter sandwiches dipped in chocolate an topped with peanuts.  It’s beyond easy and might be one of the better ideas ever on the Internet.  Speaking of the Internet, these treats are aaaallll over the dang thing, which just goes to show that no matter how hard my food brain works, it’s impossible to think of anything brand-spankin’ new.  Still though…. still delicious!  Just saying…

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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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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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The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

I grew up in a ‘because I said so’ household.

“Why can’t I have an Easy Bake Oven?”, I no doubt said in the whiniest voice ever.  “Because we have a real oven and because we said so!” was likely the answer from my very reasonable parents.

“Why can’t I wear these filthy overalls and Nirvana inspired grunge flannel to church!?”  I’d ask my mom as we were rushing out of the house, almost late for service.  “For so many reasons, but mostly because I said so!”.  Thank goodness for mothers.

“Why can’t I drive a car like all of my friends who have cars that their parents bought them to drive!?”  Gah… what a brat I was.  My parents response was likely somewhere along the lines of, “You’re crazy.  You’re lucky there’s food in the fridge for you to eat.  You’ve only been on the planet for 16 years and we care too much about you, and our cars, and about other people on the road to ever merge the three.  Also BECAUSE WE SAID SO! Get out of our faces starting now. ”  Thanks parents.

In that vein, I bring you the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER… because I said so (and also because of browned butter).

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

I think I’ve posted this recipe on my blog before, but I’ve found a renewed spirit for these cookies after my friends at King Arthur Flour put these Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies to the test.  They asked, in step-by-step pictures of butter melting and flour whisking, if these cookies were the very best there are.  The answer is up to you, really.  Are the cookies that come out of your oven after mixing up this dough the best you’ve ever had?

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Espresso, Almond, and Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Pudding Cups

Espresso Almond and Ghirardelli Chocolate Pudding Cups

Every day I need a treat.  I need a little something that says ‘Hey, I see you trying to get through this day standing on your own two feet and you deserve this special something just for you”.

Sometimes that treat is a whole milk cappuccino with extra cinnamon.  Whole milk tastes like ice cream to me.  It’s just too good.  Sometimes that treat is a high-kick dance along to old school Beastie Boys… because, yea I’m still listening to Beastie Boys.  Often times that treat is a piece of chocolate.  A piece usually turns into a good portion of the chocolate bar… but then again, you knew that.

It’s Monday.  We’re going to need a little something to savor.  Reach for the chocolate… Or!  Better yet, make these creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet, chocolate studded pudding cups!  Actually… get someone to make it for you.  That’s the real savor.

Espresso Almond and Ghirardelli Chocolate Pudding Cups

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Banana, Leche y Cafe con Chocolate

banana y leche

banana, leche y cafe con chocolate

It’s so hard to keep that vacation feeling.  That feeling that lets me linger in bed to read a book instead of jumping up to chase the alarm and caffeine.  The smell of sunscreen, the sound of the ocean, the beauty that I don’t immediately need to Instagram.  Clean sheets, card games, lazy laughs.  It’s so good.  It always feels like waaaaay more than I deserve, with a teeny-tiny sprinkle of something that I’ve earned, but really it’s just a big fat blessing.

I spent some quality time on a tiny stretch of beach on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica last week.  Way more than I deserve.  I learned a lot.

sunset surfer with dog

I learned a lot about sunsets and how to sit and enjoy them with surfers and beach dogs.

banana, leche y cafe con chocolate

I also learned some how to survive the heat of the dry season in Costa Rica:  liquids!  For real.  I spent the entire week flailing around in the waves with a surfboard tethered to my leg and developed a healthy thirst… totally undeserved based on my surfing skills, but healthy nonetheless.

One of my favorite smoothies of choice in Costa Rica was Bananas y Leche: a simple mixture of bananas and milk.  Of course, because few things are just left to be as they are in my kitchen… of course I added coffee and chocolate.

This smoothie is just what I needed to help that vacation feeling linger a bit.  The cancelled flights and rushed airports can really harsh the vacation buzz.   Nothing a little Banana, Leche y Cafe con Chocolate can’t help! I mean… right?

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