I‘m back in my kitchen this week… back from making pies with you up and down the east coast… back from gently and not so gently asking you to buy my dang book… back to my roasting pan.
This acorn squash was patiently awaiting my return. Just sitting tight, waiting to be more than it already is.
I hacked my way through the protective skin (didn’t even lose a finger), removed the seeds, sliced, and drizzled.
This is the result of those efforts. Let’s make it together… I mean, right!?
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).
Can you feel it, too? Can you feel ALL the feelings happening to us? Is it the giant full moon hanging over our heads? Is it something having to do with Mercury and retrograde and yadda yadda yadda? The real question is, is there enough bourbon in the cabinet to make it right? Of course there is.
I made this most lovely and comforting almond milk. It required forethought and intention because despite (and because of) ALL of the feelings, I’m still a maker of delicious things. This combination of delicious is creamy and sweet with a hint of spice and pumpkin. Drink it from the jar. Go for a milk mustache. Howl at the moon. (Too weird?)
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.
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.
Yesterday we talked about my favorite Vegan Egg Substitutes because I feel like I should know what the heck is going on when it comes to egg-free baking.
Today we’re putting our new lessons into action and making Flax Seed Eggs for tender Banana Pecan Muffins.
It’s simple! While we aren’t necessarily glazing everything in chocolate ganache or drenching everything in browned butter, this still feels pretty great! Let’s go let’s go!
I want these muffins to be as healthful as they are delicious. That shouldn’t be too hard. Bananas are sweet and forgiving, pecans are perfect, and maple syrup is always right.
White Whole Wheat flour adds an additional heartiness and nuttiness to the muffins and cinnamon and nutmeg balance all of the flavors. We’re breakfasting!
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.
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.
Don’t look at me with those sad-clown eyes (wait… is that a thing?). It can’t be all Peach Cobbler Cinnamon Rolls around here. That’s unrealistic (though delicious) and downright daunting (though delicious).
When the day’s diet turns a bit too indulgent, I reach for a blender and try to coax whatever fresh ingredients I have into a healthy smoothie. It’s not rocket science… it’s mostly just fruit and almond milk. You know the old song and dance.
If you take away any little gem of inspiration from this smoothie concoction, please let it be the Green Tea Ice Cubes. Though so so simple, these little blocks kinda thrill me. All the antioxidants and good vibes of green tea, frozen into a smoothie friendly cube and ready for blending. It’s a clever way to add more nutrients to our smoothie meal! I’m into it.
My favorite smoothie boosters include:
• Chia seeds for their omega powers
• Maca powder for energy
• Aloha Green Juice Powder for a major boost of green and minerals
• Raw Meal Protein Powder for a vegan, gluten, and dairy free protein bang
• Big handfuls of kale, cucumber chunks, and not bacon. Whatever you do, don’t add bacon.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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…
This ice cream is the product of a good, old-fashioned, pantry stare. You know… the kind of quality time you spend staring blankly into your pantry trying to will potato chips to appear with your mind? The kind of quality time you spend staring into the pantry wishing that all of the dried pasta, dried, beans, and jarred sauces would magically cook themselves up extra warm and cheesy so you don’t have to move a muscle.
Alas, muscled must be moved.
Luckily, this recipe is supreme in its simplicity! These were all ingredients staring back at me from the pantry! Coconut milk (the light variety), toasted coconut flakes, pistachios (I must have forgotten they were in there because I surely would have snacked on them if I knew), and sugar (of course). We’re going to need an ice cream maker and a freezer, too.
Spring is teasing us.
It feels like the sun is juuuust about ready to creep out and stay. Well… it feels that way up until the time the rain pours down.
Despite Spring’s indecision, I happen to think it’s time for a Spring cocktail!
I ventured out into the French Quarter on a particularly sunny afternoon just after a rainstorm. It’s just a short walk from my front door to the Napoleon House, a building build 200 years ago. It’s first tenant, Nicholas Girod, was the mayor of New Orleans in the early 1800’s. In 1821, Girod offered his beautiful home up to Napoleon who was living in exile. Nice, right? Napoleon couldn’t make it… he died first.
Even though Napoleon never stepped foot in this house, the name stuck and now the Napoleon House is a restaurant and bar filled with history and old smarmy (I mean that in a good way) waiters.
The Napoleon House is known for their Pimm’s Cup Cocktails. Because I’m a girl who likes extra cucumber slices and a good dose of ginger ale, there’s no reason I can’t recreate these at home! And so it is.
I made Curry Hummus a few weeks back. In that recipe I made mention of Smitten Kitchen’s Ethereally Smooth Hummus. Deb achieved her heavenly hummus smoothness first by peeling each and every garbanzo bean. Pfffttt. I quickly and easily dismissed that possibility in my Curry Hummus in hopes of expediting the process and getting hummus in my face as soon as possible. Peel every bean!? No way.
The only problem is, the thought of Deb’s smooth hummus has been haunting me ever since! Dangit! Laziness backfired.
Back in the kitchen for me! This time with a recipe from the latest Food and Wine magazine for Avocado Hummus. Between the peeled beans and the creamy avocado, I really need this to be a smooth success!
Tracy and I are friends because in 2009 we caught each other rolling our eyes at the same thing. At some point during one of the first BlogHer FoodBlog Conferences Rocco DiSpirito was trying to sell us on the merits of frozen risotto reheated into an almost glue-like paste. Rocco was wearing one of those Madonna style Vogue microphones and jogging through the labyrinth of tables being his own frozen risotto hype man. Oh Rocco. Thank you for your enthusiasm for frozen risotto, it was bologna but you made two people friends for life.
I caught Tracy rolling her eyes at Rocco’s fist pump just as I was equally disturbed.
In my memory she says something like, “Want to grab a drink at the bar?” and I respond with a “Race you to the escalator!”. Friends for life!
While my kitchen life is haphazardly piled high, operating near chaos, Tracy’s organization situation is ship-shape. We’re incredibly different. Tracy is organized, loves even numbers, and wears black and white. I’m disorganized, don’t even want to talk about numbers, and dress like Punky Brewster.
Tracy came down from San Francisco to Los Angeles to help me organize my life. She is the only one I’d feel safe revealing the madness of my medicine cabinet to. Good grief. She only judged me a little. Also… I embraced big hair (don’t care). Welcome to the latest Bonkers Awesome episode on ulive!
It’s the weekend! Let’s consider a cocktail. Maybe it’ll inspire you to clean a bookshelf, too! Everyone should have a Tracy in their life. Oh man… for real.
Most of the country is in a mega deep freeze, and it feels like California just keeps churning out giant grapefruits and ripe avocados. It’s obnoxious, really. I should keep the fact that I’m wearing a tank top to myself. California is a spoiler state.
I’m actually toying with the idea of moving away from California. For a native California girl… that’s a pretty big deal. I’d need an air conditioner, some sort of frizz control system for my hair, and I’d sooo miss the Pacific Ocean. Thinking about moving away has me appreciating these mild California days, appreciating the produce at the farmer’s markets, and taking in the laid back attitude. I’ve always enjoyed it, but now I’m really appreciating it.
We’re all about salads and juice this month, right? I feel like I’m trying to make up for all of the cinnamon rolls I devoured in December. Seriously… I had so many cinnamon rolls! I don’t want my salad to feel like a chore, ever. That’s the absolute worst. Every salad should have a few happy ingredients: fresh citrus and ripe avocado, crispy bacon and extra cheese.
In this, the latest Bonkers Awesome episode, my friend Alex and I go on a detox (and subsequent re-tox) kick. There’s green juice, salad, and bacon involved… so… it’s not like we’re making any serious resolutions any time soon.
I’m all about the sweet and salty combination. Yesterday’s Salty Honey Pie was much more sweet than salty. Today’s humus is much more salty than sweet. It’s all about balance and treating your taste buds to the very best of both worlds.
I hope today finds you enjoying the very last day of 2013. I hope tonight you wear something sparkly, drink something sparkly, and feel as hopeful about the new year as I do. What a blessing it all is, hummus included.
All that hard work we put in this summer… all the focus, and persistence, imagination, daydreams, lazy chats, and late sunsets…. it’s time to pack all of that up in some vinegar and spices and pickle it for the Fall. All of that summer goodness doesn’t go away! It’s just gets salty and tart and puts of a thick scarf for the new season.
I always have a hard time with the transition between Summer and Fall.
Summer is my favorite season, so getting into Fall is always a kicking and screaming endeavor until it’s just cold enough to eat doughnuts and hide in big chunky sweaters.
I’m trying to embrace this farewell to Summer with a little dignity and preservation… ie: pickles.
This is my first time making pickles. It’s a whole new world! Veggies in jars with vinegar. Let’s ease our way in.
Even pickles look dreamy in sunlight and Instagram.
Hey hey pretty friend!
One of life’s great pleasures is sharing a salad over lunch. You know… one of those leisurely lunches that involve pink wine and lots of bread baskets. The kind of lunch that lasts until at least 3:30 in the afternoon. The kind of lunch where you almost run out of things to talk about… but that never happens. I covet those lunches, especially on a Monday.
Let’s share a salad! I should tell you now that I put blueberries in it. Trust me on this one. Also… call me the salad whisperer.
I have the best intentions of going to the grocery for salmon and salad most evenings. It’s just the darndest thing… I usually walk out of the store with a bag of chips, a jar of salsa, a bottle of wine, and sometimes a box of cookies (as if I don’t make enough cookies of my own). Sometimes it’s cold cereal, almond milk, and wine. Sometimes it’s just quinoa and wine.
I don’t know… I can make a pie, it’s just that dinner is sometimes asking too much.
Today I went to the grocery and picked up ingredients to make salsa… for dinner. Not just a jar.
It’s summer vegetables (with hella chips)! Justification complete.
There is a thing in the world… it’s called Really Bad Sangria. This is not that.
Really Bad Sangria is a mixture of cheap red wine (not cool, but not a crime), sliced oranges (fairly benign), and grapes (questionable, but tolerable). The combination of bad wine and boring fruit… that’s Really Bad Sangria.
Let’s talk about Really Good Sangria!
Really Good Sangria is pink. Really Good Sangria contains fruit that feels like a treat! See: watermelon and fresh strawberries. Really Good Sangria is layered with wine, and vodka, and lemon or orange liquor. Really Good Sangria is REALLY GOOD! This is that.
It’s the weekend! Get at that melon!