Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta

Roasted Tomato and Garlic PastaI spend a good amount of time in everybody’s way in the produce section at the grocery store. I’m known to stand and stare for a few too many minutes at the piles of gorgeous fresh tomatoes and heaps of garlic heads. I can feel everyone buzzing around me, mostly annoyed, reaching across me for a ripe avocado or an extra full basket of cherry tomatoes. It’s ok and… I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m waiting for the tomatoes to tell me what to do with them. the answer is usually (and most successfully) ROAST! Even in summer. Tomatoes are bossy and they know what they (and I) like. Read more

Black Pepper and Strawberry Jam Doughnuts

Strawberry Black Pepper Doughnuts

Strawberry Black Pepper Doughnuts (10)

Remember my Summer Bucket List?  (How is your list coming along, BTW?)  

Well… I’m ticking them off.  I’m super close to meeting my running goal of 7 miles AND to celebrate, I’ve decided to cross another goal off my list:  making jelly filled doughnuts!  

To-do lists that include making and eating doughnuts… pretty smart on my part.  Life goals that include making and eating doughnuts… I feel like I’m doing a pretty great job at life.  Get in on this with me.    Strawberry Black Pepper Doughnuts

Doughnuts, luscious and buttery dough from scratch.  Sweet strawberry jam and spicy black pepper for flair.  Why not show off a little?    

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Easy Summer Shrimp Boil

Easy New Orleans Shrimp Boil

Easy New Orleans Shrimp Boil

I’ve learned something very important about New Orleans… I’ve learned that there’s A LOT I don’t know about New Orleans.  

This beautiful, majestic, haunted, steamy city I’ve called home for over a year has secrets.  Big secrets about past lives and lost loves. Small secrets about where to get the best Sazerac (still tbd) and how to make a stellar seafood boil.  

Actually… the seafood boil isn’t a small secret.  It’s important.  

The secret is heart and soul, guts, care, attention, salt, big ol’ shrimp, and boil seasoning.  Mostly heart and soul.  That’s the main ingredient.  Also… if you have a few salacious secrets, throw those in the boil too.  I think that’s why some of these New Orleans boils are so dang spicy.  

It’s Summer and whether we’re down in the swamp or not… I think we should boil ourselves some seafood, wave our neighbors over, drink cold beers and spill all of our tea.  

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Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

Hello lovely friends! 

It’s Saturday night and I’m up past my bedtime.  I’m binge watching TEDTalks while binge eating chocolate covered sunflower seeds.  I’m feeding my brain and escaping my brain.  

I’m visiting Los Angeles this week and one thing is certain.  The heat and humidity and history of New Orleans has seeped into my brain and slowed it all the way down.  I move at a different pace and it’s certainly not up to the frenzy of Los Angeles.  I’m here for the beach air and the In N Out cheeseburgers (and the friends and family), so I can deal with a bit of frenzy for the good stuff. 

Here’s some reading for our lazy summer Sunday:  

•  There’s been a lot of talk about… they way we talk.  We apologize too much.  We undercut ourselves with the word ‘just’.  We say the word ‘like’, like… way too often.  Can We Just, Like, Get Over The Way Women Talk? 

•  Empathy Is Actually A Choice 

•  Question: Is Recipe Testing a Vanishing Art? Answer:  Yes.  

•  Meet the lady who is shaping all of our jeans, she’s the fit model whose bottom is shaping a nation. Wait… shaping a nation!?  Sounds serious. 

•  I got off the plane from New Orleans into Los Angeles and pushed all of the air out of my lungs.  I’m back.  It’s fast.  I can’t find my game-face.  I’m a goner.  I’ve left Los Angeles for a calmer, more colorful, more economical (in so many ways) life.  This resonates:  Leaving Los Angeles.

•  It’s really hard to move to a new place.  You put the things you love in boxes, after selling or gifting or garbaging some of the other things you love.  You organize and make plans and wrangle details.  So many details. You say goodbye to people and places that are so familiar you don’t even have a concept of how ingrained they are until they’re far far away.  Moving is exciting and exhilarating, terrifying and really overwhelming.  My friend Jessica moved from New Orleans to London and has the perfect words to describe this jarring life transition.  She also make the most lovely Summer Strawberry Cake that I’ll soon make in her honor.  

 I have an unhealthy, completely unreasonable, almost comical fear of spiders.  Maybe imagining spiders with little shoes will assuage my fear?  No.  Likely not.  11 Easy Steps to Conquering Your Fear Of Spiders.  

•  This little bit of calm resonates with everyone.  F*ck That:  a guided meditation.  Just acknowledge that all that sh*t is f*ching bullish*t… and excuse my language. 

•  From Apartment Therapy:  15 Crazy Ideas That Will Make Your Life Saner.  Life hacks. 

•  I was going to make my own mosquito repellent with essential oils OR I could just silence my skin’s bacteria.  

•  Tracy made KOMBUCHA!  On my Summer Bucket.   

•  Does body posture affect emotional thinking? Did you just sit up a little taller?  I did.  How Grounded Is Your Love Life? 

•  People went on Tinder and I was like… wait, no what are we doing?  Now they have text conversations with invisible, quippy partners?  Are we really doing this?  I Was An Invisible Girlfriend For A Month.  

•  Since I’m back in Los Angeles momentarily, I thought I’d bop into a Saturday morning Soul Cycle class.  Soul Cycle is part workout, part dance club, part workout clothes fashion show.  Think:  thin thighs, expensive yoga pants, sports bras with a thousand and three straps, dark room, loud music.  It’s a nightmare that I occasionally and enthusiastically subject myself to.  Related:  The Pros and Cons of the Sexy Sports Bra.  

•  My summer skin isn’t perfectly tanned and bronzed… and I’m not even trying to fake it.  It’s mostly healthy and bright thanks to this Gentle Oat and Honey Cleanser and the is Specialty Oil Blend. These face products have changed my skin for the better  and I’m grateful.

•  Diamonds and Moonstones.  A major treat-yo-self.  Because waiting for someone else to buy you diamonds is tedious and unnecessary. 

Enjoy this day!  It’s bright and shiny!

xo Joy

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Charred Corn with Pistachio Cilantro Lime Rub

Charred Corn with Pistachio Cilantro Lime Rub

Charred Corn with Pistachio Cilantro Lime Rub

Do I have anything in my teeth?  Actually, don’t answer that.  I know I have corn and cilantro pesto from nose to chin.  The real question is, do I have green pesto, feta cheese and random cilantro leaves in my hair?  I think I know the answer.  I think the answer is yes.  

The only way to go at the deliciously charred corn on the cob is with gusto.  Relentless enthusiasm.  

Now it’s your turn.  

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Red Grape and White Peach Tabbouleh Salad

Red Grape and White Peach Tabbouleh Salad

Red Grape and White Peach Tabbouleh Salad

When I was a kid, you couldn’t pay me to eat parsley.

Actually.  That’s not entirely true.  You could have paid me in candy bars to eat parsley… but no one was doing that… that would have been a dream come true.  

Now.  Grown (mostly).  And I love parsley.  I think it’s bright, hearty, and adds just the right taste of green to summer dishes.  It’s an accent, but it doesn’t wilt or shy away.  It’s proud and confident, green and healthful.  Let’s put parsley with some fruit and call it a salad.  

Related.  Still happy to be paid in candy bars.  That’s an option.  

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Milk Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cookies

Milk Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cookies

Milk Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cookies

I have this tooth whistle.  One of my teeth, maybe it’s two… in combination with my tongue and the letter ‘s’… it whistles.  

That’s a weird way to start a cookie recipe.  With a tooth whistle.  

It’s an elusive whistle.  It arrives unexpectedly with the sound of an ‘s’, just every few months.  One short whistle and it’s gone again only to surprise with its presence months later.  Something about the stars aligning just so.  

I’m always delighted by its presence.  Like I’m part bird and party fairy for just half a second.  I think so hard about what I’m trying to say that when part of it comes out as a whistle… well that’s just a bonus.  

I know it’s just a tooth whistle.  But I’ve come to cherish it.  

I mention my tooth whistle today for two reasons, because… I was thinking about it, and that’s how this whole blog things works.  You have to endure banal stories about my teeth in order to get the very best cookie recipes.  But also… a truly stellar, gooey, delicious, addictive, PERFECT cookie recipe is as elusive and delightful as a tooth whistle.  The stars have aligned and our cookie is here.  

Milk Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cookies

These cookies come from the brilliant sweet-treat mind of Graham Blackall.  You know Graham from the blog Glazed and Confused, or perhaps his King Cake French Fries.  Lordy.  I like the way he thinks.  

Cookies in cookies.   

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Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

 Hello and happy holiday weekend, friends!  Are you still decked out in red, white, and blue?  Do you still have a sparkler in you hand?  Is that s’mores I see in the corner of your mouth?  Understandable.  We’re in the middle of summer living it up.  Actually… most of you are living it up.  I’m spending a weird amount of time alone with my cat and watercolor paints and active dry yeast.  You’ll reap the benefits of my solitude.  Not to worry.  

I hope you find a good breeze and some afternoon summer sun.  Here’s what the Internet has to tell us this week:  

•  In light of the three vicious terror attacks across the globe this past month… In light of the tremendously savage way he humans treat one another sometimes:  The Problem of Evil.  Let’s not be afraid to call it what it is.  

•  Take some time to read the story of Clemantine Wamariya.  At the age of six, she and her sister escaped the Rwandan genocide, struggled as refugees all over Africa, found refuge and education in the states and… went on Oprah.  Actually, it’s much more storied and powerful than my trifling introduction.  Everything is Yours / Everything Is Not Yours

•  What will you do with your 106 years on earth?  Sir Nicholas Winton saved 669 children destined for Nazi concentration camps.  

•  What I learned from leading tours about slavery at a plantation.  Good grief.  

•  A new class of app promises digital… therapy.  We don’t need an app.  Let’s just put down our phones.  Related: the rise in popularity of coloring books for adults.  We want OUT.  

•  Ex-lovers meet each other for the first time after 30 years and they make really deep eye contact.  Not going to lie, I cried.  The Artist Is Present.  Related:  I, too, take all my breakups to The Great Wall of China.  

•  Frida Kahlo’s letters to Georgia O’Keefe.  

•  Women, stop saying ‘Just’ so much, you sound like children.  Just when we’re trying to work ‘Sorry’ out of our systems.  I’m guilty of many ‘just’ bombs.  

•  I have dishwasher issues.  It’s mainly that I’ll load it, begrudgingly and NEVER EVER unload it.  Why is unloading the dishwasher the worst chore of all. WHY!?   You’re Loading The Dishwasher Wrong:  a chore and a power struggle.  

•  Stop Buying In Bulk.  We don’t need that much stuff and we might just be wasting it.  Do we all just need smart fridges… or maybe just more time to calmly make ourselves dinner.  

•  Kanye West.  I feel like maybe if we ignore him… he’ll go away.  Can that please be true?  I know that linking to him is the opposite of ignoring him.  At least Freddie Mercury is making fun of him.  

•  Currently and still listening to Amos Lee:  Live at Red Rocks.  Click on ‘Jesus’.  I mean… just get this dang album. 

•  I’m trying to put together a Summer Reading List for us but I’m having a hard time.  There’s last years Summer Reading List if you need inspiration.  

 Here’s two books that I’m genuinely reading:

     •  Dark Places by Gillian Flynn  It’s dark… This title is no joke.  

     •  Stir:  My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor

Have a lovely day.  I’ll see you real soon. 

xo Joy

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The 7 Rules of Compliment Club

Compliment Club

Compliment Club

COM•PLI•MENT // noun // a polite expression of praise or admiration.  

COMPLIMENT CLUB, it would follow, is a group of people whom actively, enthusiastically, sincerely, and frequently offer words of praise to the people around them.  My maj Tracy and I came up with Compliment Club as a way of encouraging each other to send good vibes into the world.  It’s not an exclusive club… you should totally hop on in! 

Let’s talk about compliments.  You’ve likely gotten them when you’re wearing a flattering dress, when your hair is flipping the right way at the right time on the right day, when you’ve made an impression on someone… BOOM!  Sometimes they drop a compliment in your lap.  It feels great!  It feels like you’ve been seen and appreciated for your hard work to be a good human.  Right?  

Well… giving is more important that getting.  I think it was Socrates that said that.  Definitely Socrates.  

There are some guidelines for offering compliments.  We can’t just go throwing them around willy-nilly.  Here are the rules of Compliment Club.  Join.  Follow them.  Let’s be better together.  (I sincerely mean that… don’t look at me like I’m crazy.)  

•  First rule of Compliment Club (yes… we can talk about Compliment Club): Look for the positive in other people.  This is imperative.  You can’t offer a sincere compliment if you aren’t looking for the beauty in the people around you.  Naturally, sometimes seeing the light in people is easier than others. In gridlock traffic?  Hard…. very hard to see the good in people.  Behind the lady writing a check in the express lane at the grocery store?  Challenging…. extremely challenging to see the beauty in that situation.  

It’s ok.  Not every moment is the right time for a sincere compliment.  But!  If you’re regularly looking for the good in people, those moments of frustration will likely (hopefully) have less of a tinge.  

•  The second rule of Compliment Club:  Be genuine.  Mean what you say.

Stay away from hyperbole.  Hyperbole is saying things like “oh my gosh you’re the best person in the world.”  An exaggeration.  I mean… they’re probably great, but literally the best person in the world?  Is that accurate?  

I’m guilty of hyperbole.  I think it’s the way of the Internet these days… exaggerating to make things sound like the best, the biggest, the coolest thing EVER.  Hyperbole has no place in a genuine compliment.  It actually makes the compliment rather empty.  

Root yourself in the compliment.  Stand tall in it.  I think we use hyperbole to separate ourselves from the genuine words we really want to say.

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Costa Rican Breakfast

Costa Rican Breakfast

Costa Rican Breakfast

There’s something people don’t tell you about Costa Rica:  time slows (almost) all the way dooowwwnn.  It’s magic.  Like time gets stripped away leaving luxuriously long mornings followed by, luxuriously lazy afternoons, followed by impeccable… truly impeccable sunsets.

It’s like island life.  But not an island.  It’s beach life.  The sun stays high and the air is just mellow.  Completely mellow.  

I visited Costa Rica last year and still wonder about the paradise-heavy time warp.  Why does that happen in Costa Rica and not on any given Wednesday in my New Orleans life?  

Here’s hoping the Costa Rican time warp can be a state of mind no matter what my longitude and latitude.

I suppose it starts with breakfast.  Shall we?   

Ps.  When I returned from Costa Rica last year I made this Banana y Leche con Cafe and I don’t regret it one bit.  

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Mini Peanut Butter and Chocolate Baked Donuts

Chocolate Peanut Butter Baked Donuts

Chocolate Peanut Butter Baked Donuts

I wonder if tastebud tastes are inherited.  If so… I inherited my love (let’s go ahead and call it an obsession) with chocolate and peanut butter from my mother.  She’s the queen of spooning every last bit of peanut butter out of the PB and Chocolate ice cream.  She’s the master of making a holiday dessert called Peanut Butter Balls which are a glamorous mixture of butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar, dipped in chocolate.  Birthday cake?  You can guess, I’m sure.  

What I’m saying is, all of this chocolate baking and peanut butter dipping… I come by it honestly and I’d like to pass it on to you.  

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Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

The night sky in New Orleans turns a dusty shade of pink during a summer thunderstorm.  The lightening brightens everything with light and contrast and I always hold my breath for the crack of thunder.  New Orleans is extra palpable in the summer months.  She’s breathing deep and will not be ignored.  

It’s been a big week.  Sun-filled.  Sweaty.  So so sweaty.  I’ve been in the kitchen cooking up recipes for the blog and the brunch book.  Tron (when he’s not laying in the bathroom sink) is trying to convince me to make him an indoor-outdoor cat.  I’m doing a lot of yoga and looking like an absolute spazzzzz.  They don’t call it a practice for nothing.  

I hope your days are starting to feel warm and slow and sometimes stormy.  Here’s what this week has for us:  

•  We’re human and we build societies and rules and all sorts of ridiculous things for ourselves.  We build a structure and sometimes we build it wonky and have to reevaluate what we’re doing and how we’re treating each other. These words from the Supreme Court make marriage for all.  It’s a mark in history and here we are, alive for it!  

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.

It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.  

It is so ordered.”

• What is going on? Three terrorists attacks on three continents, Friday.  

•  How New Orleans stopped making jailing a business and reduced its jail population by 67%.  Spoiler alert:  New Orleans still has a heck of a lot of people incarcerated.  

•  What if authors were payed every time someone turned a page?  Amazon is about to find out.  

•  We talk about our guts a lot lately.  There’s much going on.  Can the bacteria in your gut explain your mood?  Surprise surprise, stress is a nasty beast.  

•  Turning to a ghostwriter for a personal toast.  This is pretty fantastic.  

•  Extremely Important:  Why women apologize and should stop.  Taking sorry / not sorry to a different level.    

•  Meet the 63rd Black Woman With A Physics Ph.D in American History.  She used to help me with my Spanish homework in high school.  Go on and GET IT, Chanda! 

•  Meet people where they need to be met.  Nowadays, that’s with a text:  How the crisis text line is saving lives.

•  The essential guide to happiness at work, with Rashida Jones.  

•  This was unexpectedly beautiful to me:  14 perfect French words and phrases we need in English

•  David Lebovitz went to visit the Le Creuset Factory in France.  

•  11 things to remember when you think you’re not good enough. Helpful more often than we’d like to admit.  

•  What happens when a man spends two weeks eating nothing but food made for women?  Try to give me a thumb-sized brownie and see what happens… I’ll bite you.  

•  The life-saving ‘undo send’ feature is now an official part of Gmail.  Um… we’re also going to need this for text messages and ten year old emails.  Thanks.  

•  10 Most Annoying Food Package Quirks.  Shrink wrapped cucumber WHY!? 

•  5 things that will make your kitchen more Parisian 

•  A Sad Cat’s Diary.  Half of love is just… low.  

•  Have you put together your Summer Bucket List?  May I suggest that this lovely travel watercolor kit be on your list?  It’s so great! 

Go enjoy this day!  It’s just too good to waste.  

xo Joy

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Campfire Baked Bananas At Home

Campfire Bananas At Home

Campfire Bananas At Home

I can just smell the campfire now.  I can feel that tinge of burn in my eyes from the smoke, and I can hear the John Denver.  

Campfires remind me of the last nights of sleep away summer camp.  When I sat with a group of girls… girls who just a week earlier had been complete strangers, now absolute best friends… bidding farewell to our Summer time together, wondering how we’d ever live without each other, without craft hour, without the flagpole song, without the knot workshop, without sliding down the big hill on a giant block of ice.  Just HOW will we go on?  

We’d sing Leaving on a Jet Plane and cry… all the way CRY and promise friendship and love and more summers to come.  Then we’d eat these bananas gooey chocolate and marshmallow bananas, sleep one last night in our bunks, fold up our sleeping bags (impossible for child hands), and wait for our parents to come  pick us up to take us back to home-summer with all of its daytime television and chores (uuugh chores).  

I’m still figuring out how to recreate that campfire feeling here in New Orleans.  I think it’s too humid for fire.  Is that a thing?  I think, yes.  Luckily, I have an oven that heats itself with fire and I can hustle up the most gooey part of my memories: baked bananas, in foil, with a glorious mess of toppings.   

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Summer Bucket List 2015

Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List

BUCKET LIST buck•et list (noun): a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have accomplished during their lifetime.  Also, a 2007 comedic film featuring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  

SUMMER BUCKET LIST sum•mer buck•et list (noun):  a list of things that a person would like to accomplish and experience during the summer months.  If done correctly, should involve water-guns, pool time, and roller-skates.  

Here’s my Summer Bucket List.  Let it inspire you to set some playful intentions for your warm months.  

1.  Brew my own kombucha.  I’m going to use this kit, inspired by my maj Tracy.  

2.  Hang art in my house.  Bye-bye blank walls!  

3.  Work up to running 7 miles.  Straight.  I’m up to running 3 miles now.  Mind over matter.  

4.  Go to the Hollywood Bowl and picnic.  

5.  Write a short story.  Don’t let it be daunting.  

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Sweet Plum Sorbet

Sweet Plum Sorbet

Sweet Plum Sorbet

I always wanted a ponytail.  A ponytail I could position extra high on my head with hair long enough to cascade down to my shoulders, cheerleader-style, youthful, bouncy.  The kind of hair, that you can flip around to express various emotions, from bitchy to bored to flirty.  

I don’t have ponytail hair.  Never did.  

What I’ve always had is a fine, curly, frizzy, perfectly acceptable, head of hair that I’m completely grateful for.  It’s just not ponytail hair.  It’s not hair I can whip around to express my enthusiasm for life.  

That’s how hair works, right?  

Summer fruit, all of the gorgeous peaches, apricots, strawberries, and plums… they’re like a gorgeous, shiny, lustrous, perfectly bouncy, high ponytail.  Showing off, effortless… a little enviable even.  

Luckily, no matter what hair grows from our head, high ponytail or not… it’s our time.  It’s Summer and the markets are bursting with sweet fruit flavors.  Let’s get at em!

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I Stalk You On Instagram

jtb instagram collage

jtb instagram collage

We’re connected.  I have all y’all on my phone and in my pocket.  I take you with me to yoga.  You go with me on walks.  You browse the grocery store with me.  You know what’s going on in my kitchen.  You know when I’m strolling through New Orleans, wandering through Philadelphia, or visiting my family (and the beach… I miss the beach) in California.  

My favorite way that we’re connected is Instagram.  I get to see what you’ve got going into the oven and all the Joy the Baker recipes you’re celebrating your days with.  It fills my heart to see you take my recipes into your kitchen and share them with your friends and family.  That’s what this blog is all about and the fact that you spend your time and energy in the kitchen with my recipes means everything to me.  We’re in this together and seeing you bake on Instagram is a really lovely (am I stalking you?) reminder for me.  Thanks you for sharing with me.  It really means so much.  

I found the wonderful things you’re baking on Instagram using #joythebaker and #homemadedecadence.  Go on y’all!  You’re excellent.  

Here’s what you’ve baked, from left-ish to right-ish:  

•  Peach and Blueberry Pie (it’s gluten-free!) is so nice for summer and beautifully recreated by @gabriellegeiselman.

•  Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins are my very favorite muffins.  I posted this simple recipe years ago and it’s still my favorite.  Thank you, @andrealwan!  

•  Strawberry Raspberry Crisp.  Summer fruit is just too easy.   Lookin’good, @piebelly!

•  It’s always good to get help chopping the crisp bacon for these Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate Cookies.  It’s nice to share the kitchen.  @bricksonshea

•  This Marrakesh Carrot Salad is worth all of the chopping and grating.  It’s lovely.  Don’t skimp on the feta. High-five @nosh_happy!

•  Brown Butter and Pistachio Baked Donuts are the best that baked donuts can be.  So pretty, too! Mega: @maysiejones

•  Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream made with blackberries by @marisapinson.  It’s cream cheese in ice cream… I mean, what more could you want? 

•  Dust off the waffle maker because Vanilla Bean Sweet Potato Waffles and fried chicken are always in season.  Boom! Pow! @thehappylittleapron!

•  Strawberry Cream Scones toasted, golden, and covered in sliced almonds by @michellefooter_butterscotch.  

•  Your next Sunday plans should include these Quick and Dirty Chocolate Espresso Cinnamon Rolls.  There’s chocolate in our cinnamon rolls and they’re extra speedy to put together.  Right on,  @amoore1014

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Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

Summer Solstice is my favorite day of the year.  The day that officially welcomes Summer.  It’s our (us northern Earth dwellers) longest day, tilted all the towards the sun, spinning round and round through space.  It feels like an extra special day to enjoy bare feet in the grass and warm sun on our shoulders, so let’s!

I’ve spent some very good days this month learning to love Philadelphia.  Between the gardens and parks, murals, fountains, good coffee, and great people… it’s been an easy place to love.  I say that now.  In Summer.  My blood might be too thin for  Philadelphia winter.  

Above, Amos Lee and David Gray at The Mann Center of Performing Arts.  It’s our time for long days, outdoor concerts, picnic blankets, wine in plastic cups, and sweat behind our knees. Let’s live it all for as long as we can.  

More important than the warm breeze at our backs… it’s Father’s Day!  Call your father.  While you’re at it, call my father.  Share the gratitude and love.  Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  Thank you for teaching me how to pay my bills and make really excellent biscuits.  Life skills for…. life.  

The world this week has been hard on the heart.  Here are some links that range from heartbreaking to rather trivial.  It’s the world we live in: 

•  This week, nine black men and women were murdered at The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.  These murders are hateful and racist, senseless and tragic.  They should be confounding in this day and age, but here we are.  This, from The New Yorker’s David Remnick:  Charleston And The Age of Obama.

•  Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church: a living landmark

•  “IF Giulia Enders had not contracted a mysterious illness as a teenager that left her covered with sores, she, like most of us, might never have thought much about her digestive tract, except when it was out of whack. She might never have enrolled in medical school, either, and she almost certainly would not have written a best-selling book about digestion last year…”  A German Writer Translates a Puzzling Illness into a Best-Selling Book.  

•  The book?  Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ

•  Putting A Price Tag On The Stress Of Having a Child.  Coooolll. 

•  Cheating Sleep.  How to get one over on biology and body chemistry.  But wwwhhyyy? Sleep is so precious.  

•  For our summer travel consideration:  The Best and Worst Airlines, Airports, and Flights.    

•  Get personal, be vulnerable, and tell the unconventional side of the story.  Frankly Speaking:  How I Learned to be Heard.  

•  Papa Says.  He is my father and he is always right.  

•  Tracy turned me on to Thrive Market and now I’m hooked.  Healthful kitchen products, really great prices, without yet another trip to the grocery store.  One of my very favorites:  this coconut oil.  

•  Chloe Sevigny got a hold of some stickers.  

•  Seeing as it’s the first day of Summer, I’m working on my Summer Bucket List:  all the happy things, big and small I want to do and see this summer.  So far I know I want to make my own kombucha (thanks for the inspiration Tracy!), and find a lot of excuses to wear these sweet JCrew heels.  Don’t worry, the list will be more meaningful than drinks and shoes.  

•  Two Weeks of Status Updates From Your Vague Friend on Facebook.  We should all be rolling our eyes at ourselves.  

•  Dark Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cones.  Too easy and too good.

Have a most lovely day!  Go on and live it!

xo Joy

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Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake

Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake with maple

Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake with maple

Because it’s Monday.  Because it’s just about summertime.  Because we like fruit with our breakfast.  Because we’re grown and we can do what we want…  we get to drink lots of coffee and eat lots of cake for breakfast.  

Blueberries, oats, and pure maple syrup make anything breakfast so… CAKE it is!  

Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake with maple

I’ve been experimenting a lot with gluten-free baking lately.  I’m sure you’ve noticed.  It’s possible you have a question mark in your mind about it.  Well… I want to learn how to bake without wheat.  Baking is such a science and I know how wheat flour interacts with leavening and liquid.  Gluten-free flours are a whole different science.  I want to know that I can still make fluffy cakes and flakey biscuits in the absence of wheat.  So far I’ve had some major fails and happy triumphs.  This is one of the triumphs.  

Eventually I’m going to try making my own gluten-free flour blend to use in my kitchen but I’m still getting my footing.  Right now I use King Arthur Flour’s Gluten-Free Flour and I’m going to give Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef’s All-Purpose Flour Blend.  They know what’s what!  

If you’re hoping for more gluten-FULL coffee cake recipes, here’s your jam: 

•  Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Brown Butter Glaze.  A recipe from my cookbook Homemade Decadence.  

•  Pear Crumble Coffee Cake.  You might not be in the mood for pears, but I think strawberries would also be mega! 

•  Coffee Coffee Cake Muffins.  I mean… let’s make our cake taste like coffee! 

•  Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins.  These really are THE BEST! 

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Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

The best part about going out to lunch with another lady is the unspoken assumption that, no matter what, we’re going to order French Fries.  Sure… two salads.  Sure… lemonade and ice water. Sure… we’ll browse the menu for other healthy options and then …order the fries, eat them first, and stare rather blankly at our salads.  The particular fries are from the Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange, Philly.  

Good morning and Happy Sunday!  I hope this day brings you sunshine and good shade and a tall glass of something fizzy.  The warm days are asking us to take it easy.  I say we relent. 

The Internet is big.  Here’s just a bit (big and small, sad and silly):  

•  From BBC News, Inside Mosul:  What Life Is Like Under The Islamic State.  

•  I read the story of Kalief Browder earlier this week and have thought about him and his family every day since.  “He had been arrested in the spring of 2010, at age sixteen, for a robbery he insisted he had not committed. Then he spent more than one thousand days on Rikers waiting for a trial that never happened.”  He shared his story with The New Yorker and shed some light on how and who we imprison in this country.  It’s a sad and important story.  

•  President Obama’s eulogy for Beau Biden is beautiful.   

• An interesting read from the NYT.  SEAL Team 6:  “The unit best known for killing Osama bin Laden has been converted into a global manhunting machine with limited outside oversight.”

•  I literally can.not.even. right now.  I can’t.  The never-ending story of how older people can’t understand how younger people speak.  Tale as old as time.  Song as old as rhyme.  

•  It’s like 1999 and Serena Williams still reigns supreme.  Just be better than everyone else.  Easy, right?  

•  Watch people from all over the world describe how to spot an American.  Apparently we wear a lot of sweatpants and we’re loud, jolly, and jumpy.  

•  Weekend reading:  Extreme Climber and BASE Jumper Dean Potter’s last jump in Yosemite.  Lost Brother in Yosemite.  

•  We’ve gone too far:  America’s First Certified Organic E-Cigarette Vaping Liquid.  Please, no.  

•  We’re shaving dogs into cubes now. Not a typo.  Thank you, Japan.  

•  Serengeti Selfies.  I wonder how many followers the Serengeti has on Instagram (no I don’t).  

•  Here’s what I’m listening to:  Amos Lee Live At Red Rocks.  It’s out on Tuesday, but you can listen here now! 

•  I’ve made this Garlic Braised Chicken two times this week and I’m trying to pep-talk myself into these Barbecue Ribs from the oven.     

Have a beautiful day.

xo Joy

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Mango and Jalapeño Guacamole

Mango and Jalapeño Guacamole

Mango and Jalapeño Guacamole

Sure, you could make this irresistible guacamole for a backyard barbecue, or a block party, a brunch party maybe… any event that would take you out of your pajamas, off of your couch, and into the presence of other people (gasp.) OR… you could make a giant bowl of this guacamole, keep your pajamas on and settle in for a good, old-fashioned Netflix binge.  I mean.  To me, the choice is clear.

Choose your own adventure.  I will often choose pajamas and privacy, especially where guacamole is involved. 

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