Joy the Baker

Gloria Hope

January 27, 2014

gloria hope

Last Friday I talked about SHOWING UP.  Showing up despite fear.  Showing up despite discomfort.  Showing up with open eyes and open hearts and reaching out to people in need.  The words are a big deal no matter how you’re deciding to show up this year.  Turning those words into action is an even bigger deal.

I’m in Uganda with Compassion International this week.  I’ve never been this far from home, and while I like to consider myself a person who travels a lot, there’s still a bit of anxiety shaking around in my belly.  I can feel the far away.

Halfway through our flight from Amsterdam to Uganda this past weekend, I realized I was going to have to set some things aside.  The scarf I’d been using as a security blanket for the past day and a half of travel would have to go in the warm Ugandan climate.  The neck pillow… outta here!  Did I really need that thing anyway?  Hand sanitizer… just enough already.

More real than the material comforts though, I realized way up in the air between continents, that I’d also need to set aside my comfort zone, my sense of normalcy, and my ridiculous weekday morning social media schedule because something much bigger is at work.

Can we talk about it?

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Creamy Avocado Hummus

January 27, 2014

Creamy Avocado Hummus

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!

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A Bit Of Book Nostalgia

January 26, 2014
hustle jtb lip gloss nail polish deb
statement necklace mr & mrs glasses ny notebook
jtb cranberry cake cat dish towel drip mugs
gold french press candle jtb vanilla salt

I’m loading my iPad up with books, audiobooks, and podcasts in preparation for my long flight to and from Uganda. Long long flight.  For one reason or another, I’ve downloaded a lot of personal classics: books that I take comfort in.  I guess it’s the literary version of comfort food like tater tots for me.  I feel so out of my element traveling this far from home and it feels good to be grounded in stories that remind me of growing up.  Here are a few of my favorites.  What did you read growing up?  My favorite part of book posts is when you share what you love.  Happy Sunday!

If you’ve ever driven through the center of California then you understand John Steinbeck.  He’s my boo.  He’s my everything.  Of Mice and Men •• sealed the deal for me when I was young then East of Eden destroyed me in the best way possible.

To Kill A Mockingbird •• There is not one piece of this story that is out of place.  It’s perfect.

Remember the first time you cried about a mouse in a book?  It was Flowers For Algernon ••.  Remember the first time you cried about a mouse in a movie?  Fievel in An American Tail.  Sorry.

If I ever have a daughter, I think I’m going to slip this book onto her desk when she’s 11 years old and quietly back away. Judy Blume says it all Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret  ••.  Also Freckle Juice might come in handy.

 Lafcadio •• Shel Silverstein had some major sparkle-magic in his day, boooy did he! I have a soft spot for his books because I learned how to read with them.  They stay feeling special.
Watership Down ••  Bunnies make us cry.
The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe •• This book gave me a whole new appreciation for my grandmother’s armoriors.  CS Lewis is one of my favorite authors on faith.  Till We Have Faces is beautiful.

A Light In The Attic •• The poems in this book are about being curious, being young, and being human.  It’s perfect.

The Witches •• I read Roald Dahl growing up and knew I wanted to be a writer.  His granddaughter Sophie Dahl is author to one of my favorite cookbooks.  Runs in the family, I see.

I still can’t believe that Memoirs of a Geisha •• was written by a man.

Flowers In The Attic ••  I’ve never been good at reading scary stories.  This book proved it.

A Widow For One Year •• John Irving knows how to create characters that we care about.  I still think about his people.  Crazy.

Have a happy Sunday, my friends!







2014: Showing Up

January 24, 2014

showing up

There’s something about this year for me, something strong that is inviting me, imploring me, pushing me, even daring me to SHOW UP.

2014 doesn’t feel like one of those years I can kick back with my feet up and just see what happens.  This year is asking for much for than that.  I could easily set SHOWING UP aside for next year, or the year after that… but the time when I push off big challenging life things for future years is long gone. There’s just no time for that.  This year is asking me to get out of my box, get out of my comfort zone, and to be present in all of it.

I like what this year is asking of me, and by ‘like’ I mean that my eyes are extra wide and I’m a little (a lot) nervous.

SHOWING UP is a choice.  It’s a bold choice.  It takes guts.  In my experience, SHOWING UP can be accompanied by feelings of self-doubt.  Fear inspired self-doubt… the most annoying kind.  Feeling like:  Who do I think I am?  Do I really have enough to offer?  Do I have enough faith?  Do I have the right words?  Is there enough kindness in my heart?  The answer is YES of course!  I am everything I need to be. I am are enough. I am SHOWING UP!  That’s it.  And where I show weaknesses, God steps in and is like.. BOOM!  Thank heaven for that.

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Blonde Brownies with Chocolate Chips and Marcona Almonds

January 22, 2014

marcona almond and chocolate chip blondies

I found this recipe in this month’s issue of Food and Wine magazine.  It was one of those Jerry Maguire moments.  I’ve had these before.  You know… ‘you had me at hello’.  It’s ok.  I can still say that.  I grew up in the 90′s sooooo, just let it happen.

These blondies are studded with dark chocolate and Marcona Almonds.  Marcona almonds come from Spain and are slightly lighter and more creamy than the California variety.  You can usually find them roasted in olive oil and tossed with sea salt which makes then extra snackable.  I love them on top of these brownies because the saltiness balances the sweet of the brownies and the extra roasting makes the almonds dreamy.

marcona almond and chocolate chip blondies

Brown sugar is the base to Blonde Brownies.

Is ‘Blonde Brownie’ an oxymoron?

Brown sugar and butter also happen to be the base ingredients of chocolate chip cookies.  Consider the two to be really delicious cousins.

marcona almond and chocolate chip blondies

It’s time.

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Year Six

January 21, 2014

6 years of jtb

I’ve had a hard time starting this post about my sixth year as Joy the Baker.  I feel like there’s a lot to say, but really, I say a lot of things all the time…. so is there?

Every January I like to go back to the very beginning of Joy the Baker.  The first post.  The post where I’m like… ‘hey, so I guess I’m here and doing this thing on the Internet now’.  In the very first post on Joy the Baker, I was trying to explain the French culinary term Mise en Place to you. I spelled it wrong.  That was the first and last time I’ll ever try to explain anything French.  Out of my element.  What you didn’t know about me at the time was that I had finagled my way into a head baker position at a bakery.  I knew nothing about production baking so I was in waaaay over my head.  My general motto at the time was ‘just make more scones!’.  Being a production baker is hard hard work.  Not for the faint of heart.

It all started on a borrowed laptop, with a borrowed camera, on a stolen Internet connection.  Glamorous.

What’s so cool is that from all that silliness we’re here together! In the last six years, you’ve seen me make a best friend, you’ve seen me date various boys (which I totally don’t talk about anymore…), you’ve seen me develop an obsession with New Orleans, and write silly words about turning 21… for the youth.  You’ve seen my photography change, my writing change… you’ve seen me change.  Weird.   In return, I’ve been lucky enough to meet you at book signings, connect with you over social media,  and have even joined you in your kitchen through Instagram.  It’s all so rad.  Really!

This year in particular I’ve finished my second book (woot woot October 2014), and have finished a 14 episode web series which I was silly and annoying enough to call Bonkers Awesome.  I’m trying a lot of things and it means so much to me that you’re here to witness it.

What you might not know, and what I should definitely tell you more often, is that it means so much that you’re here with me. I treasure you (and I mean it when I say it).

What follows are a few of my favorites over the years.

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Morning Glory Oats

January 20, 2014

Morning Glory Steel Cut Oats

I’ve been battling a cold for the last  few days and I must say… I’m a complete baby.  It’s ridiculous that a little fever and a stuffed nose have me straight freaking out that I’m going to suffocate in the middle of the night. Let’s not even talk about all the paper towels I’ve used as tissue, and all the weird home remedies I’ve Googled and actually tried.  I’ll tell you now that sucking on raw garlic is worse punishment than a sore throat.  I wouldn’t recommend it.

This creamy, sweet, and chewy steel-cut oatmeal was far from punishment.  It’s my sniffle-inspired salvation.

Morning Glory Steel Cut Oats

You know those Morning Glory muffins you might see at coffee shops?  They’re part carrot cake, part morning muffin.  Brown sugar, grated carrot, spices, and coconut.  We’re throwing all of that in a pot with steel-cut oats.  Yes!  The new cookbook Whole Grain Mornings has this recipe.  That book is a winner!

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Bonkers Awesome Grapefruit Cucumber Cocktails

January 16, 2014

Bonkers Awesome Grapefruit Cucumber Gin Cocktails

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!

Bonkers Awesome Grapfruit Cucumber Gin Cocktails

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.

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Classic Lemon Bars

January 15, 2014

Classic Lemon Bars

We all know the deal around here.

I take classic recipes, add chocolate chips, add orange zest, bake them, brown them, stack them, and then shoot them.  I can’t make banana bread without first browning the butter.  I can’t make pudding without adding bourbon.  I can’t make biscuits without adding bacon.

It’s ridiculous and mostly delicious.

Sometimes though… sometimes I just want a Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Sometime I just want a Chocolate Walnut Brownie.  Some baked good should just be exactly what they are, sans bacon, sans bourbon (gasp) (but really though, we’ll survive).

Expect to see more classic recipes on Joy the Baker in the coming weeks.  I’m in the mood and here we are!

Classic Lemon Bars

Classic Lemon Bars:  bright, tart, buttery crust, aaaannnddd go!

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Tuna Catnip Kitty Treats

January 13, 2014

Tuna Catnip Kitty Treats

So I have this cat.  His name is Jules, but I call him Tron.

Sometimes you just name the creature in your house the wrong name.  It’s hard to know until you know them.  Never let me name a child. I won’t get it right.  That’s the lesson we’re supposed to learn here.

So I have this cat.  Sometimes I make him cat toys and cat treats.  It’s a thing I do with only a residual amount of shame and embarrassment.

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I first made these cat treats for my kitten about a year ago, and Design Sponge was pretty keen on them.  I made them again this weekend and my kitten-cat was pretty excited.  To be fair, he also gets excited when I buy a rotisserie chicken or slice into an avocado.  He’ll also steal a warm blueberry muffin, eat through the center of a pie, or lick the frosting off a cake.  He’s not particular about food, he’ll eat it all, and he’s a terrible person (and I love him).

Animal Jar Tops were invented by the Internet, not me.  Find out how to make them here.

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Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles with Almond Butter, Banana, and Honey

January 9, 2014

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Waffles

My recipe titles are getting longer and more ridiculous.  I know.  I’m almost sorry.

I use my waffles as bread.  It’s not often that I stack these things and drench them in maple syrup.  I just think that nice, thick waffles should be treated just like slices of bread and slathered with peanut butter, honey, and bananas.  It’s weekend breakfast meets after school lunch.. studded with chocolate because we’re grown and we can do what we want.

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Waffles

If buttermilk trips you up a bit… meaning you don’t often have the stuff in your fridge, you sure can make your own!  Here are the Best Buttermilk Substitutions.

If you’re curious about which waffle maker I use… it’s this bad boy.  I like it because it creates thick waffles, and I never have to fill the whole waffle iron.  I prefer to make imperfect single serving waffles.

If you’ve gone waffle crazy… you’ve come to the right place.  Between these  Mashed Potato Waffles and these Cornmeal Gruyère Lunch Waffles (that are actually gluten-free) I have you covered.  Also! Lemon Ricotta Poppy Seed Waffles!  Ok.  I’m done with waffles.

If you’re wondering what my next breakfast adventure will be… it’s definitely FRENCH TOAST!  Emily’s waffles and Adrianna’s waffles have me scheming.

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Podcasts I Love!

January 9, 2014

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I spend a lot of time working on my own in the kitchen, at the stove, at the dish sink, at my computer.  My cat can’t talk.  He yells with his meows, but he’s not a very chatty character.  I find that I listen to a ton of podcasts during the day.  It’s part companionship, part inspiration, part instruction.  Podcasts can be everything from big, epic stories, to friends chatting about this week’s news.  They’re incredibly satisfying and surprising. I count on them.  Do you listen to podcasts?  Here are a few of my favorites.

This American Life is the gold-standard when it comes to podcast.  Ira Glass and his team of writers and contributors put together some of the most hilarious, touching, thought-provoking stories I’ve ever heard.  Each week is different.  You never know if you’ll laugh with tears of joy and sadness.  It’s so special.  A total must for long road trips or plane rides. Similar to This American Life, Radio Lab is a wonderful podcast, my absolute favorite episode of Radio Lab EVER is Space, about the Voyager and The Golden Record.  In fact… forget the rest of this post and listen to that episode right now. It’s amazing. Similar in love and completely different in content, I also listen to the Ecclesia Church Podcast when I can’t get to church because the message is always what I need to hear.

Have you ever wanted to see the world through the eyes of two American Americans?  Uhh Yeah Dude. Perfect. Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette have recorded their comedy podcast since 2006… basically the start of the internet (not really, but you know).  It’s hard to describe what Uhh Yeah Dude is.  It’s two hilarious dudes talking about everything and nothing at all.  It’s a podcast that demonstrates a friendship that you instantly want to be a part of.  It’s a podcast that strangely starts to mean a lot to you because you feel like you become part of Seth and Jonathan’s relationship.  It’s true… and all of a sudden I sound like a weirdo.  

Savage Lovecast is the podcast version of the The Stranger‘s love and sex advice column written by Dan Savage.  This podcast addresses all sorts of love and sexuality questions and it’s super informative and fascinating.  It’s an adult podcast, for sure… and though I don’t always agree with the advice, I love the glimpse into the private lives of strangers.  I’m inherently nosy.

I know a weird amount of information about living trusts and Roth IRAs because I’m waaaaaay into the The Suze Orman Podcast.  I think it’s important to be financially informed as a single business lady in the world.  It’s empowering!  Plus, Suze Orman says ‘hey girlfriend’ all the time and I love it.  I just do.

Did you know I have my own podcast?  The Joy the Baker Podcast hosted by me (duh) and my best friend Tracy Shutterbean.  (Tracy has an actual last name that I forget to acknowledge because she’s always been Tracy Shutterbean to me.)  We talk about ‘totally important unimportant things’.  Everything from your question on blogging, relationships, food, and the 90′s.  We chat weekly.  It’s silly.  It really is.

Along with The Joy the Baker Podcast, I’m also a partner in producing a few other podcasts on Homefries.  The Art of Simple Podcast is hosted by Tsh of (you guessed it) The Art of Simple.  Tsh’s podcast is a super down to earth look into the life of creative moms just working it out on the reg.  I’m not a mom and I love this podcast.  It’s all about taking in another point of view in the world.  Also on Homefries is The Table Set, hosted by Greg, Andy and Nathan.  They have the greatest take on food, cocktailing, and entertaining and never fail to inspire me!

Slumber Party with Alie and Georgia.  Alie and Georgia put on their pajamas, hang out in a pillow fort, and chat it up with a special guest.  Alie has a pet praying mantis and Georgia know a weird amount about aphrodisiacs.  Alie and Georgia also have a show on the Cooking Channel called Tripping Out with Alie and Georgia.  They’re smart and they swear a ton.  So…

Thank you for leaving your podcast suggestions below!  I love learning new things from you!  Truly!


Bonkers Awesome Avocado Grapefruit and Edamame Salad

January 7, 2014

edamame grapefruit avocado salad

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.

edamame grapefruit avocado salad

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Baked Turkey Meatballs

January 6, 2014

 turkey meatballs 6

I took some big bites last year.  Really big bites in my life and work.

I’m talking about those almost mortifying first date kind of big bites… the kind where you can’t decide if you should take that piece of sushi in one bite or two.  The answer is always one bite because trying to divide a piece of sushi into two bites will inevitably lead to you having seaweed and pieces of rice stuck to your chin.  But that one big bite.. man… that’s the kind of bite that has you covering your mouth with your hands (both hands), deep breathing through the nose, with eyes wide that betray just the slightest bit of panic.  That was my year: full mouth, eyes wide with bits of panic, chewing through it… just chewing through it.

I’m taking this month to recollect and reconnect.  January seems like a good month for that. I want to see some friends, plan some collaborations, and sit at my desk and eat some meatballs.  That’s really all I want to do.

turkey meatballs 1

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Breakfast With A Side Of Chocolate

January 3, 2014

breakfast with a side of chocolate

I like that we’re slowly easing into this year.  It feels right.  I’ve been hanging out in New Orleans for the week plotting my steps for 2014.  Well… plotting as much as one can plot.  I want to leave room for surprises.  Those are inevitable, and mostly welcome.

While I’ve been daydreaming, I’ve been scrolling through my site just to find my footing.  Sometimes I get caught up in creating without taking a moment to look back at all of the treats I’ve made.  Today I think we should focus on Breakfast and Chocolate.  Essentials.

I’m really excited about this coming year.  It feels like a blessing.  Coming up I think we should talk about birthday cake, I want to show your more Bonkers Awesome videos, we should talk about letter writing, salt in baking, and meatballs.  I’m also taking a trip to Uganda with Compassion International at the end of January!  You’ll definitely hear more about that soon!

For now.  Let’s breakfast and let’s chocolate as we continue this ease into 2014.

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Happy New Year!

January 1, 2014
2014 datebook la mer watch jtb cranberry cake
2014 datebook mr & mrs glasses tiger sweater

Happy New Year, my friends! It’s 2014.  Time keeps tickin’ and we’re still kickin’.

Are you starting any cool projects this year?  A photo a day?  A blog post a day?  A gratitude journal?  It’s fun to think of how to document a year from the start.  My friend Tracy documents her year week by week with her My Everyday Life.

I like to start the new year fresh.  With fresh intentions, a clear calendar, a clean kitchen, a glassful of juice, and… a new pair of kicks doesn’t hurt either.

One of the most satisfying things about January is a new 2014 Datebook   ••  It feels so good to fill the blank pages with lists.  It feels like success!

My phone is for taking pictures, not telling me the time.  Duh.  I like a new watch the mark the new year.  This  La Mer Watch   ••  is part watch and part bangle.

Let’s juice it up with a BluePrintCleanse  ••  I like to spend a few days juicing at the start of the year.  After the holidays, after writing the dessert book, after a week in New Orleans… juice please juice!  BluePrintCleanse is kind enough to offer us a discount on their juices!  20% off between January 1st and January 4th using code: JOYLOVE.  Good for deliveries between now and January 31st.  Get on it!

Fresh start with Pretty Pink Lipstick  ••  It’s almost weird how easily lipstick can change my mood.

Stomp into the new year with some classy sneaks.  I like Red Converse Shoes  ••  I mean business when I wear my red shoes.

Yea I’m wearing a Tiger Sweater •• so what!?

black tote cat dish towel drip mugs

I’ve got my heart set on this Toasted Pecan and Blueberry Couscous Salad  ••  It’s part healthy and part comforting.  Perfect for the new year.

I just got Megan Gordon’s new whole grain breakfast book!  So excited to dive into Whole Grain Mornings  ••

Creamy Zucchini and Tarragon Soup  ••  Things are probably going to get pretty soupy this January.  I feel a soup kick coming on. Prepare yourself.

Happy New Year to you.  I hope you’re resting well today and gearing up for a beautiful new year.  I promise to help you make it tasty.  xo!


Curry Hummus with Currants and Olive Oil

December 31, 2013

Curried Hummus with Currants

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.

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Salty Honey Pie

December 29, 2013

Salty Honey Pie

Happy New Year my friends!  It’s just about time to tie a pretty ribbon on this year.  A wrap.

But… not before we make a Honey Pie.  It’s been a sweet year.  I mean that most literally.  It feels like we should wrap the year up with pie, because I’m pretty sure my heart is part muscle and part pie.  I’m also fairly certain that honey runs through my veins.  And so here we are… with Vanilla Sea Salt in tow.  

Let’s make a pie and call it a year… almost almost.

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Bonkers Awesome Mushroom and Onion Shells and Cheese

December 23, 2013

Bonkers Awesome Mushroom and Onion Mac and Cheese

This is the second time in a week that the Pioneer Woman has me bringing down my Dutch oven from the top kitchen shelves.  First it was the Pistachio, Orange, and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls… and now it’s this extra rich caramelized onion and mushroom Shells and Cheese.  Pasta and cinnamon rolls came successfully come from the same pot?  Gosh… it’s a good life.

These creamy Shells and Cheese are inspired by Ree’s Fancy Mac and Cheese.  Ree adds just about every cheese in the book to her mac and cheese.  Bacon, too.  Because, duh.  We have another Bonkers Awesome episode to prove it!  It’s Part II of my visit to Ree’s Oklahoma ranch.  Can I  tell you a secret?  I forgot my belt in Los Angeles for my visit to the ranch, and my boots still have mud on them.  That’s just real life.  Also in real life?  Ree’s totally ridiculous Fancy Mac and Cheese that I wanted to take on the plane home with me.

Bonkers Awesome Mushroom and Onion Mac and Cheese

Let’s talk about my interpretation!

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Last Minute Gifting: The Subscription!

December 22, 2013
hustle jtb lip gloss nail polish deb

The best thing about gift-giving is treating someone to something they wouldn’t necessarily splurge on themselves.  Making someone feel super special takes time and planning…. dangit if we’re not running short on both.  Enter: the gift subscription!

The gift subscription is no longer a cheesy wine-of-the-month club, or fruit basket club.  Nope.  The Internet has made gift subscriptions seriously cool.  You can take to the internet, find a totally niche gift subscription, and sign your friend up for a monthly gift to enjoy throughout 2014.  Some gifts are monthly, some are quarterly.  Either way it’s just enough time for your friend to forget that they have a sweet package coming in the mail.

You can make your friend a cute little card to let them know that their gift is on the way.  Trust me, in January after they’ve long forgotten about your gift, they’ll receive it in the mail and be blown away.

One of my favorite discoveries this year has been Stitch Fix  ••  Stitch Fix is a mail order personal styling service.  You fill out a detailed style profile and receive a box of five hand-picked pieces according to your style preferences.  Buy them or send them back.  It’s all up to you.  I have had wonderful luck with this service.  It’s really nice not to have to try on jeans in a dusty dressing room… that in itself makes this service awesome.  Treat yo’ self and treat a friend to a Stitch Fix gift card!  It’s rad.

Quarterly  •• Subscribe and every three months you’ll receive an awesome curated gift.  The gift curators are pretty cool.  Think:  Dooce, Food 52, Andrew Zimmerman, and the guys behind the LA restaurant Animal.  It’s great!  Totally unique.

I can’t seem to keep my nails looking right.  I blame the fact that I do dishes 5 times a day.  But I want to make sure my friends have their nail game on point.  Scratch •• is the answer!  Scratch is a Los Angeles based nail art company that provides subscribers with three sets of nail stickers each and every month.  Best of all, each month of nail stickers are designed by a different artist.  It’s the best way to make your nails looks super cute without leaving your house… and without having to wait for drying time.  I love this nail option!  I use them all the time.  They’re incredibley easy to put on.  I say this as a person who is generally terrible and careless with all things nail polish related.  This is an excellent gift!  Scratch Monthly Mani Box

I love getting crafty but heck nooo I don’t want to go to the craft store.  That’s immediately overwhelming.  For The Makers  •• is a monthly gift box with all of the little pieces necessary to put together a clever craft.  Get the pieces.  Follow the directions.  Put it together!  Feel accomplished.  It’s like Lincoln Logs in the mail… but cooler. (Although Lincoln Logs in the mail would be pretty cool.)

You don’t want to be in my house the morning I realize I’m out of coffee.  It’s really not a good look.  Spare your friends the same disaster with Craft Coffee  ••

Get out of the cocktail box with Julibox  •• It’s a boozy subscription service that sends out a cocktail recipe, spirit, and mixer every month.  At-home Happy Hour is just the best!

Turntable Kitchen is a lovely food and music blog .  Lucky for us Matt and Kasey send their love of food and music to our doorsteps every month.  The Turntable Kitchen’s Pairing’s Box  •• includes a limited-edition 7″ vinyl single along with a digital download mix-tape, a few seasonally themed dried ingredients, and three recipes along with tasting notes.  It’s dinner for you and a few friends with the perfect party music to match.  This just feels right!

Salumi Society with Boccalone  •• You know… just your monthly delivery of ‘salty pig parts’… except it’s not just salty pic party because Boccalone has a way with pork.  Their lardo is my very favorite.  Lardo… it’s exactly what it sounds like.  Meat in the mailbox!

Olfactif  ••  I require a few luxuries in life:  a good blazer and really classy perfume.  I often like to press those same luxuries on my friends.  Olfactif helps keep things classy in the perfume department.  Each month they send three large samples of perfume along with information about the artist that created it.  Pretty cool, right?

Vogue Magazine   ••  Sometimes there’s nothing more indulgent than sitting on the couch and flipping through a magazine.  Let it be Vogue!

I hope your pre-holiday weekend is going well!  I’m stepping into the kitchen to make Shells and Cheese.  Recipe for you tomorrow (fingers crossed)!

Happy Sunday!



The Book

The Web Series



Maple Blueberry Scones
Feta and Chive Sour Cream Scones
Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits
The Ultimate Club Sandwich
Pickles and Brie Grilled Cheese
Cranberry Brie Grilled Cheese

Joy, Recently

Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream
Pistachio Crusted Asparagus with Feta
My Favorite Easter Eats
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Triple Berry Dutch Baby
Milky Salted Caramel
Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Baked Potatoes
Espresso, Almond, and Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Pudding Cups
Spring Things!