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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Let It Be Sunday (+Monday)

let it be sunday

let it be sunday

I’ve been to Ohio and back this week.  Cincinnati to be exact.  I hosted a pie demonstration at the Cincinnati Food and Wine Festival where I made a pie, cracked some jokes, and made myself (if no one else) laugh.  I also stayed at the 21c Museum Hotel which might be the coolest hotel to ever be a hotel.

Bonus for this week:  I found a friendship bracelet on the ground, picked it up, and made the weird decision to keep it.  Judge me.  Go ahead.  I’m also working on a recipe for meringues that taste like chocolate chip cookies.  That’s a process.

There are things we should talk about.  These are them:

•  Eating: A Manifesto.  Hey ladies, we can stop torturing ourselves about the brownie and just eat the brownie.  My goodness the way we torture ourselves.  Thank you for linking to this, Molly.  It’s a sigh of relief.

•  Listed under things we still have to think about and will probably have to think about for a long time:  ISIS.  The president made a big speech about it and most of us, myself include were probably like… Ok.  Here we go.  Here’s our president making a speech about something.  But think about it; this doesn’t happen all that often.  When it happens it’s important.  When it happens it’s also very deliberate and well produced.  It’s a message and a production down to the detail.  This The Gist episode is an interesting look behind the production and nuance of a presidential speech:  Did You See Obama Pull A John Wayne Last Night?  It’s short and really interesting.

•  Something about this list of The New Establishment according to Vanity Fair makes me uncomfortable… and it’s not because I’m not on the list.  Something about it just makes my lips curl.  Maybe it’s because calling something The New Establishment makes it too too much and I like to think I’m not boss of me.

•  I just freed an innocent man from death row. And I’m still furious.  A think-piece.

•  This week was the anniversary of the September 11th tragedy.  Here’s the thing:  we’re going to think about this date every year until forever.  Two pieces really stood out to me in light of this week’s sad anniversary.  First, an F-16 pilot was ready to give her life on September 11th.  Imagine that one day you wake up and your job is to fly your plane into a hijacked civilian airplane and you decide to yes, do what is asked of you.  Second,  The Falling Man is a piece originally published in 2003 about Richard Drew’s infamous photograph of a man falling from The World Trade Center.  With a new and very powerful introduction from Tom Junod.  This is the part of life and times that is hard and complicated and in need of words.

•  When I was your age, I had to walk to school, through the snow, uphill both ways.  Yadda yadda yadda, Gramps.  25 of the Most Dangerous and Unusual Journeys To School In The World.

 Not Without Salt is a lovely blog by Ashley Rodriguez.  She is newly packaging her mega-delicious Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie in mixes.  I’m thinking this will make a great just-thinking-about-you gift!  Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix.  All you need is a stick of softened butter and an egg!  I love it.

•  I love when high school students write food blogs:  Plentiful Plate.  Go on and get it!

•  You’ve been washing your face wrong, but here’s how to do it right (from a fancy French facialist).   Also, I’ve struggled with my skin in the past…. lke big time.  This clay mask has transformed my skin for the better. It’s all-natural and majorly effective.

•  Don’t Worry Be Yoncé

•  Simple Chocolate Cake with Ganache.  Hit it, don’t quit it.

Happy Sunday (+Monday)  friends and lovers.  I’m out.

xo Joy

Fall 2014 Cookbooks!

huckleberry bar tar tine to rise again
one more thing mr & mrs glasses ny notebook
jason priestley cat dish towel drip mugs

Let’s start softening our butter.  Let’s stock up on brown sugar and pastry flour.  We’re going to need a lot of chocolate… actually, ALL of the chocolate. Yes, we’ve got a lot of baking to do this Fall.  Yes, we’re excited.  REALLY excited.  There are some big-deal cookbooks hitting the shelves in the next few months and all of them promise to overflow with buttery, sweet, and otherwise delicious possibilities.

Psst.  I know I’ve mentioned that my second cookbook Homemade Decadence comes out this October 14th!  I’m bound to mention the book at least 1.7 billion more times before the year is complete.  Get into it!  I think the book is really great (biased).

•  Huckleberry by Zoe Nathan  September 9, 2014 •  Zoe Nathan is my favorite baker / pastry brain in all of Los Angeles.  Her baking is elevated comfort food.  Huckleberry, her bakery in Santa Monica is my favorite place to eat more doughnuts than I should.  With Zoe’s recipes highlighted by Matt Armendariz’s photography, the book is exactly right.

•  Bar Tartine by Cortney Burns and Nicolaus Balla  November 25, 2014 •  I think about the meal I enjoyed at Bar Tartine in San Francisco often.  There was stuffed cabbage leaves, hearty dark green salad, and Tartine bread forever and ever and ever.  Everything is so very cared for at Bar Tartine.  I’m looking forward to the solid technique and (sure to be) unique recipes in this book.

•  Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes October 28th, 2014 •  The mighty-fine, Paris-trained pastry man who invented the Cronut has written a cookbook.  There is bound to be a mega amount of butter and classic technique.

•  Ovenly by Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga September 30, 2014 •  Ovenly is the New York bakery of our dreams and now the book can bring all of their delightful creations to our own kitchens.  This is success!

•  Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi October 14th, 2014 • The long anticipated cookbook sequel to Plenty.  Plenty More is 120 vegetarian dishes organized by cooking method and sure to be one of the most beautiful and useful books of the year.  Just the thought of this book makes me ssiigghh.

•  Top with Cinnamon by Izy Hossack September 30, 2014 •   The first book from young blogger and general wiz-kid Izy of  Her recipes are often a lovely mix of indulgence and health.  This book is sure to be perfectly styled, beautifully photographed,  and absolutely delicious.

•  Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan  October 28th, 2014 •  Dorie’s book Baking was the first cookbook to start my major cookbook collection.  Her recipes are solid, her technique is approachable and exactly right, and her flavor combinations are a perfect mix of classic and creative.  I can’t wait to add this book to my collection!

•  The Kitchn Cookbook by Sarah Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand October 6, 2014 •  This labor of love from Sarah Kate and Faith of The Kitchn feels like the answer to a lot of lingering kitchen questions.  The book is a combination of recipes, kitchen lessons, and organizational and storage tips.  It’s everything.  So very good!

•  The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum November 4, 2014.  If you have baked from The Cake Bible then you know that Rose Levy Beranbaum is an absolute legend in the kitchen.  Her recipes are thorough and exact, precicely what a baker needs. I’m ready for her lessons; they’re lasting!

Other cookbooks I’m super excited about include:

•  Mastering My Mistakes In The Kitchen by Dana Cowin October 14, 2014 •  So… wait.  The beautiful, smart, and stylish editor of Food & Wine magazine has kitchen fails!?  Really tho?

•  The Kitchy Kitchen  by Claire Thomas August 26, 2014 •  We have Claire’s Kitchy Kitchen to thank for last week’s Beer Brownies!  Claire’s book is filled with recipes that feel approachable yet special.  Recipes perfect for an intimate dinner and tips and recipes for entertaining a crowd.  I love Claire’s approach to food, decadent and comfortable.

•  Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant September 2, 2014 •  We made Oatmeal Cookie Granola.  Thumbs up!  Tracy made Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn.   Double thumbs up!

•  Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito October 7, 2014 •  The men of Baked don’t know how to write a bad book.  Their books are always classy, masculine, creative, and delicious.  I can’t wait to have their latest! I hear rumors of Praline Ice Cream Cake… just saying’.

Baking Bootcamp: Apple Pie Biscuits

Apple Pie Biscuits / joy the baker + king arthur flour

apple pie biscuits

Baking is all about sharing. Sharing recipes, sharing techniques, and most definitely sharing biscuits!

It’s time for our second challenge in the Baking Bootcamp series with King Arthur Flour!  You blew me away by baking the Triple Berry Braided Bread with me for our first challenge.  Hundreds of you participated and made the most lovely loaves of bread studded with summer berries.  I’m so happy you took the time to bake with me! It really means so much.  Let’s do it again, shall we!?

Apple Pie Biscuits

For this month’s Baking Bootcamp Challenge, we’re exploring King Arthur Flour’s Self-Rising Flour.  It’s a wonderfully light white flour combined with non-aluminum baking powder and salt.  It’s absolutely perfect for biscuits, pancakes, and muffins.  It’s a staple in my kitchen when it comes to perfectly fluffy, no-fuss biscuits.  Hop on this bandwagon and let’s get baking!  Below I’ll offer some alternatives for a DIY self-rising flour and a gluten-free option.  I want all of us in biscuit mode!

Here is a reminder of how Baking Bootcamp works:

Four Flours + Four Recipes Challenges + One Instagram #bakingbootcamp

+ Four Awesome Sets of Prizes!

The idea is simple!

• Make these Apple Pie Biscuits (they’re sooo delicious!) and take a picture of your creation!

• Follow @joythebaker and @kingarthurflour on Instagram

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

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

I’ll be answering questions and sharing your photographs here on Joy the Baker. By entering the challenge you’ll also have amazing Apple Pie Biscuits in your kitchen, so… you really can’t lose.

Let’s get started!

Baking Bootcamp Essentials II

 1 • King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour is perfectly soft and rolls out beautifully for these tender biscuits.

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

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

4 • My Cast Iron Skillets are a staple in my everyday kitchen. Some are more successfully seasoned than others, but I try to keep some cast iron specifically for savory and other just for sweets.

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

6 • Vegetable Peelers with good finger grips to peel apples in a flash!

7 • I inherited a Marble Rolling Pin from a family friend and now I don’t know how I’ve gone without one for so long! This piece has great weight and can be chilled in the refrigerator prior to rolling to keep our doughs more amiable.

8 • Don’t skimp on good Silicone Spatulas. The ones that melt along with the butter are just infuriating.

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

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

11 • I go through Paring Knives like I go through socks.  How is it possible to have them one day and then lose them the next? I don’t know.  Clearly I have an issue.

Apple Pie Biscuits

Let’s get baking!  #bakingbootcamp

photos in this post by Jon Melendez

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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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Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

Hello my friends!  Welcome to another edition of This Is Your Life Sunday.  Just look at you living!  Take a little time to yourself!  I’m really glad you’re here.  Everyone insists on talking about the end of Summer and I say no!  I’m still wearing white shorts and sunglasses despite the September calendar.  No ‘Welcome back from Summer’ emails for me, please.  I’ve been here in my Turn Down For What t-shirt for months.  So…. there you have it.

The world continues to be a shaken up mish-mash of heartbreaking and beautiful things.  Here’s what the week has for us:

•  Inside the Failed Raid To Save Foley and Sotloff is a heavy-sigh… to put it mildly.  President Obama is in search of a strategy and not one bit of it seems easy of clear-cut.

•  You know how hackers elbowed their way into the cell phone photos of celebrities and released a bunch of nude photos for all to ooogle at?  That’s really rude and intrusive.  Question:  is a women’s privacy is less important than male pleasure.  Does that question make you uncomfortable?  Me too.

•  Are we wired for negativity over good?  I think the answer lies in the fact that I more often remember the negative blog comments over the positive ones.  Dangit brain!

•  Are you nerding out about Tuesday’s Apple announcement?  Wait… are you already standing in line?  Too soon.  Too soon.   The Verge compiled their thoughts on the new iWatch.  Is it weird that the possibility of this makes me really nervous?

•  On the flip side, how about a distraction-free iPhone.  There’s relief in there.  Think about it.

•  A Columbia student will carry around a mattress until her rapist is expelled.  Statement meets art.

•  I didn’t go to college right after high school and at the time it seemed like a really big deal to my family and friends.  I eventually went to college in my 20’s when I had more of an idea of who I was and what I wanted to do.  Mostly it’s about being true to who you are, even when people think you’re stone-cold craaaazy.  How to skip college and thrive.  Be true to you!

•  Joan Rivers, we’re going to miss you.  You were so much more than ‘who are you wearing’.

  I like my coffee like I like my men…. What your coffee order says about you. 

 6 things the happiest families have in common.  Dinner is a big deal.

•  We’re about to be all-pumpkin-everything but before that happens, can we eat these Shawarma Nachos forever and ever?

Have a lovely Sunday!

I love you byeeee!

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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Vegan Banana Pecan Muffins

vegan banana pecan muffins

vegan banana pecan muffins

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!

Vegan Banana Pecan Muffins

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!

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Baking 101: My Favorite Vegan Egg Substitutes

Vegan Egg Substitutes

vegan egg replacers

I’ve been experimenting with baking alternatives lately.  I don’t want anyone to miss out on baked doughnuts or chocolate chip waffles because they can’t eat / don’t like / won’t stand for eggs, wheat flour, or dairy.  It takes some real doing to find the right baking alternatives, and while I don’t consider myself a vegan or gluten-free baking expert, I want to share what works in my kitchen.

Let’s talk about vegan egg alternatives.

Eggs pull a heavy load in most baked goods.  A whole egg adds an important amount of moisture, fat, structure, and leavening to baked goods like cookies and cakes.  To replace an egg, we need to replace every aspect of what an egg provides to baked goods.  That can be a little tricky!  Eggs do a lot of work!   Here are a few of my favorites substitutes.

Flax Seed Vegan Egg Substitute

Flax seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.  When ground and combined with water and a bit of baking powder, the fats and moisture in flax seeds can mimic that of an egg.  Flax seed substitute creates a very healthful and slightly earthy/nutty tasting egg replacement.

Here’s what to do:  To replace one large egg, finely grind 1 tablespoon of golden flax seeds in a spice grinder.  Place in a small bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of water.  Allow to sit for 30 minutes before using in a recipe.  The mixture will have thickened slightly and feel like a loose jelly.  Just before incorporating into a recipe, stir in a good pinch of baking powder.

How to use it:  I find that flaxseed egg substitutes is great in quick breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, sturdy (not delicate) cookies, and heartier chocolate cakes.

How to store the seeds:  Flax seeds can deteriorate if not stored properly.  I keep the whole seeds in an airtight container in the freezer.  This will keep the fats in flax seeds from going rancid.  I grind flax seeds as needed per recipe for maximum freshness.

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Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

I made this chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream, chopped toffee, and sea salt…. and then I shrugged my shoulders.  It wasn’t very good…. a personal shame that I’m willing to share with you.  I actually think that making a bad chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream is a crime in some states.

I should have just eaten the toffee and skipped the cake.  I did, of course, eat all of the toffee off the top of this cake before placing it in the refrigerator to forget about until late next week.  I’m sorry.  I’m a work in progress.

I hope this finds you enjoying an extra mellow Sunday morning with perhaps more coffee than usual.  I curated some of the Internet for you.  It goes a little something like this:

•  Was this August really the worst month ever?  Social media studies can give us the answer.  The answer:  kinda yeah.    

•  This week I listened to a Fresh Air Podcast from earlier this summer:  Kidnapping Is a Lucrative Business for Al-Qaida, Documents Show with host Terry Gross and journalist Rukmini Callimachi.  It’s a testament to how important and how dangerous foreign reporting can be.  Really interesting.

•  Jon Stewart is back and THANK YOU!

• Have Twitter and YouTube become the editors of the information we receive?  The New Editors of the Internet.  

•  The Emmys were last week which means red carpet madness, juice cleanses, designer dresses, jewels for days and… what on earth is a mani-cam? Why we should ask women about more than their dang dresses! What are we even doing…. for real.

•  Louisiana… we’re Losing Ground and that’s a fact.  

•  Southern cuisine has its nuance and you best get it right.  I’m learning day by day.  The Real Reason Sugar Has No Place In Cornbread 

•  What would James Bond drink in New Orleans, from writer Sarah Baird and bartender Abigail Gullo.

•  I’m starting the book & Sons next week.  I’ve read as much as I could in the Amazon preview and I want more.  Classy, right?

•  From Grad School to Jail.  Too real?  Too real.

•  On a scale of 1 to totally weird, where are we on this Crystal Skull Shotglass ?

•  These Super Power Vegan Collard Wraps looks healthful and super delicious!  I definitely want to make my own version.  They’re the opposite of doughnuts and I love it.

•  Favorite recent podcast discovery:  Slate’s The Gist.  Informative and funny smart-talk.

Get all up in this day!

xo Joy

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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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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11 Little Ways To Get Through This Monday

11 Little Ways To Get Through this Monday

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

Welcome!  Here we are, all up in another Monday.  Before we get bogged down by the possibly overwhelming details of the day, here are a few tips to get us through the day and set us up for the week.  It’s like we’re holding hands through this one… but it’s not awkward or creepy…. it’s cool.

•  Don’t skip breakfast.  Hangry 10am email responses are not a good look.  This Toasted Oat and Coconut Muesli is easy to make, super healthful, and a great weekday morning hangry fighter.

•  Look good / Feel good!  I try to reach into the back of my closet on a Monday morning.  I reach for a dress that may have fallen out of my regular rotation but used to be a look good / feel good staple.  I try to take a few extra minutes to make myself feel pretty for the day…. maybe that means a bit of eyeliner, a cute dress, a spritz of perfume, or… simply not forgetting my deodorant.  Feeling confident walking into a Monday goes a long way!

•  Treat yo’self.   Have an extra cup of coffee and a cookie too!  Just enough to be a treat without feeling guilty.  It’s Monday and thank goodness not everyday is Monday.  It’s usually during this coffee and cookie breaks that I take some time to write out my to-do list.

•  A to-do list is essential!  Monday to-do lists must never take themselves too seriously.  Ideally they’re speckled with easy tasks like “make and drink coffee, twice” as well as unexpected tasks like “walk the long way to lunch”.  All of the hardline stuff about emails, deadlines, and commitments will fill in the rest of the madness, but take it easy on yourself.  Take it eeeaaasssyyyy.

•  Go for a walk.  Seriously.  Do the dang thing!  Maybe that means taking the long way to lunch, a quick jaunt around the block on a bathroom break, a step away from the keyboard and the endless tasks to change up the air we breathe.  It really does lead to a change in brain space.

•  When in doubt, watch people whale for a minute or two.  It’s oddly entertaining.

•  Decide that you have the time to do something distinctly un-Monday.  Bust out the stationary and write a quick letter to your grandmother, to your best friend, or to your mama.  Something about Mondays make us feel like we don’t have time for these small and loving moments.  It just takes a few minutes and it’s distinctly un-Monday.

 Listen to a thoughtful podcast or a new playlist!  I love Snap Judgement’s The End of the Line.  This playlist will be blasting in my kitchen this Monday morning.  Real!

Subtract the Internet when the Internet is too much.  Maybe it’s seeing everyone on Instagram in Mexico, on a road trip, or eating all of the things.  When the Monday Internet makes me feel the least bit bummed, jealous, or otherwise not awesome…. I’M OUT!  Check right on out.  Mondays are hard enough without having to see everyone you know/don’t know on Instagram enjoying Tulum.  Peace.Out!

•  Make an evening plan.  Last minute happy hour date!  On the fly dinner out!  Pink wine!  Call a friend!  Popcorn on the couch! Plans large or small… an after work situation is a lovely carrot to dangle in front of your face.

•  When all else fails, have a doughnut and scream into a pillow until Monday subsides.  Fairly effective though a touch melodramatic.

Remember, tomorrow is Tuesday and what a blessing that is!  Go easy and be kind to yourself.  Have a great week!  Tomorrow we’re making doughnuts and that’s really good news.

Let It Be Sunday

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

I’m thankful for this weekend.  I walked to the farmer’s market to get tomatoes and peaches while the gettin’ is still good, found a still-warm crusty loaf of bread to compliment the produce, and treated myself to fresh chèvre and farm eggs.  They feel like little treasures… and I’m going to eat them all.

This week felt so FULL, right?  A lot of feels to feel.  Take a moment to acknowledge all of the things we need to process in a week:  what’s for breakfast and what the heck is for dinner, what’s going on with Jay-Z and BeyBey, how should my brain work out what’s going down in Ferguson, how did I manage to run out of coffee, why is a four-year-old eating at The French Laundry, I want that sweater, I want that lipstick, I want to know why people are so horrible, I’m not brave but James Foley was, where is my wallet, I can’t find my phone, I recognize that person from somewhere, why am I yawning so much, laundry, blog, family, email email email, coffee, WEEKEND.  I mean… it’s A LOT.

Here’s what’s on my mind, in the world, and on the Internet this week:

•  Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.  We have learned this all too well this week but we’ve known. We’ve really known: Evaporated.  We know how James Foley died, but this is how he LIVED.  

•  In a place where saying what you mean can be very, very dangerous, these unmasked men stand behind words they believe.  A Syrian town’s tribute to James Foley.

•  17 Things About ISIS and Iraq You Really Need To Know.    They are among THE WORST and that’s the understatement of the year.

• “I Wear This Uniform and I Should Stand Up Here and Tell You I’m Sorry.”  We might never be done talking about what happen in Ferguson until things like this stop happening.

•  “For more than a decade, it was Michelle Lyon’s job to observe the final moments of death row inmates – but watching 287 executions did not come without a cost.”  The Witness.  

•  It’s super weird to be The Last Generation To Remember Life Before The Internet.  One word:  encyclopedias.

•  I’m on a budget and I don’t like it.  I love it.  I hate it.  I love it. is surprisingly easy to set up and it’s a game changer when it comes to being a grown-up and taking control of your dollars.

•  “If I always had clarity, why would I need faith?” How To Make a Decision.

 How You Got Hooked On Coffee.  We’re all just little habit machines.

•  Speaking of our coffee habits… I’ve treated myself to a monthly Tonx Coffee Subscription  and I LOVE it!

•  Shichimi Togarashi Caramel Corn.  Huh and YUM!  Japanese seven spice mix meets sweet popcorn!

•  Rules For Dining Out  by Bon Appetit.

•  A Four Year Old Reviews The French Laundry.  Don’t forget… we have better taste than four-year-olds (though we may not be as cute).

 Power Couples on Twitter and Instagram.  Alternate title:  We’re The Butt of a Cosmic Joke.

•  Communication: The Real Reason We Yawn.

Enjoy your Sunday!  It’s a good one!


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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Dipped + Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate-Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate-Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

Some things change:  the city I live in / the friends I visit on a lazy weekend / the view from my living room window / my mega longing for California Mexican food / the frequency with which I eat fried oyster po’boys.

Some things stay the same:  the endless amount of cookies coming from my oven / my desire to eat every doughnut in town (any town) / my fear of spiders large and small / the hope that you’ll invite me to your house so I can share this giant batch of Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies with you and maybe make a few new friends in the process.

Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

Crisp.  Golden.  Peanut Butter-y Cookies.  AKA  How To Make New Friends And Not Be A Weirdo At A Pool Party.

Edible social tools are my specialty.

Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

I wasn’t sure how to tell you that I have a brick-red wall in my dining room so I just took a picture of it.  Ok?  Ok.

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Let It Be Sunday

Cafe Beignet

Cafe Beignet

Hi my friends!  Can we talk for just a moment about how great it feels to get a fresh pair of gym shoes?  I’m not one to spend a lot of money on my gym gear because it’s all meant to be sweaty and smelly and really… I’m not trying to make a fashion statement at the gym, I’m mostly just trying to avoid eye contact.  But… classic clean and fresh gym shoes?  I’m feelin’ pretty fine.  I use these new gym shoes to trot by this beignet cafe on the way to the gym.  Yes it smells good.  Of course it smells good!

There’s a lot of weight to this week which means there are a lot of perspectives to read on the internet.   There’s a lot more going on in the world than how I feel about gym shoes.  Let’s look:

•  It’s really important to understand and pay attention to why Michael Brown died in Ferguson.  We can forever distract ourselves with Instagram and celebrity news and Facebook updates, but we still have a lot to work out, don’t we America?  A lot.  Pay attention.  I’ve found the best updates on Ferguson from VOX.  And here’s a think piece.  For real.

 Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt.  A different and refreshing perspective.  Thank goodness.

•  Radius is a church in Los Angeles for people who think that church is irrelevant.

  This cat is really into this baby.  Is it normal that my cat mostly wants to attack my face?  Don’t answer that.

•  I’ve Been Blogging For Eight Freaking Years and here are the right words about it.

•  Our brains are really complex.  Writing is a high-level task.  We really just want to convey meaning.  The and hte are impossible to spot!  Why It’s So Hard To Catch Your Own Typos!  

•  Most common astrological sign for US Senators:  Scorpio.  Most common astrological sign for House members:  Gemini.  Can the Zodiac Explain Why Washington is So Messed? Maybe so.  

•  Is this meant to be so scary?  Because it is.  The Three Ring Birthing Circus

•  Why did it take us so long to get the butterknife right!?

 On: Unschooling.

•  How One Man Destroyed The Food Network.  Dramatics… but why is Guy Fieri yelling?

Enjoy this beautiful day!  I love you byeeeee!

New Orleans: ManhattanJack

joy at manhattan jack

Manhattan Jack New Orleans

I’m taking my time getting to know New Orleans.  There’s so much to learn about the food culture here.  Things like where you get your beignets, where your po’boy bread comes from, and who makes your King Cake all make a difference when it comes to New Orleans food staples.  So much pride and so much nuance.  It’s a really exciting place to explore food.

I talk about a few of my favorite New Orleans spots here, but I’d love to get down to the nitty-gritty of my experience of this glorious city.  First up:  ManhattanJack, a bakery that has quickly become my happy place.

I hope you come visit New Orleans, and I hope you eat all the things.

Best New Orleans Bakeries - ManhattanJack

I’ve made my way in and out of a hearty amount of New Orleans bakeries lately.  There’s the bakery I go to for a really good baguette, the bakery for the perfect croissant, the bakery for the best doughnut.  ManhattanJack is the go-to bakery for extra decadent, over-sized, home-style sweet treats.

Maybe the cookies are a tad too big (never a problem).  Maybe the brownies have a little too much caramel (not even possible).  Maybe the Black and White Cookies are the size of your face (and sooo!?).  Essentially it’s the bakery I want to call home sweet home.

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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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