Joy the Baker

Tuna, Kale, and Egg Salad

June 15, 2014

tuna kale and egg salad

Sometimes I spend so much time painting my own nails, that by the time they’re complete, I’m entirely disenchanted  with the finished product. (Ridiculous sentence to start a blog post with.  Don’t be like me.)

The same goes for cakes.  The longer I spend folding, baking,  cooling, and frosting a cake, the less I want to slice into it in the end.  Sad story, right?

The same can be said for laundry, obviously.  Gathering, washing, drying, air drying, folding, putting away. AAHHH.  Laundry is boring and totally not delicious… so, duh.

This salad though… in and out.  No exorbitant amount of slicing and dicing.  Just enough to create a pretty pretty salad and also enjoy your efforts.  It’s the ideal balance of greens, health, and kitchen time.

Tuna Kale and Egg Salad

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Our Summer Reading List

June 12, 2014
the vacationers the leftovers to rise again
one more thing mr & mrs glasses ny notebook
jason priestley cat dish towel drip mugs
euphoria candle jtb vanilla salt

I bought a Kindle Reader.  I did.  I turned in my iPad and treated myself to a reader.  Why?  Because no one should carry Infinite Jest any farther than one’s reading nook.  It’s pretentious, not to mention you’ll likely injure your back.

See.. Infinite Jest is currently my ‘foundation book’.  I read a ‘foundation book’ and then keep a lighter alternate book.  I usually call my alternate book my ‘side boo’ which is… well, true.

It’s summer and it’s time to find some new reads!  Last Winter we dove into sad end of the pool with Break Your Heart Winter Reading which seemed perfect for the chilly days.  Nowadays, the shorter my dress the lighter my book needs to be.  I mean… let’s just live a little.

I asked you on Twitter what you’re reading this summer, and your reading list is inspired and enviable.  I took it upon myself to share your genius and claim part of it as my own.  Here’s what we’re reading this summer!!

•  The Vacationers by Emma Straub •  I always love a story that winds through the life of a family.

•  The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta • You know, before the HBO show comes out!

•  To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris • Let’s try to figure out the meaning of life, and maybe laugh about it along the way.

• One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by BJ Novak • Tell me more, dude from The Office.  Tell me more.

• The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick • I love it for the title alone.  I love it because it’s by the same author as The Silver Linings Playbook which I didn’t actually read, but I saw the movie and the dance competition scene made me spontaneously fist-pump. Right?  Let’s read this!

• Everything Is Perfect When You’re A Liar by Kelly Oxford • Is this a book about Pinterest?  Might could be.

• Jason Priestley: a memoir by Jason Priestley • Hold uuupppp.  Brandon Walsh wrote a book?  Does he talk about Kelly?  Does he talk about Andrea?  Peach Pit!?  Game over.  I’m all the way in.

• Think Like A Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner •  Clearly, judging by my fascination with Jason Priestly, I’m already thinking like a freak.  This book is more about unconventional analysis than weird 90′s fascinations.

•  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd • My mom and Oprah told me to read this book.  This needs to happen.

• Euphoria by Lily King • A love triangle in the jungle.  Duh.

• The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt • It’s only won the Pulitzer Prize.  What are we waiting for!?

• It Chooses You by Miranda July • Girl crush status forever and always on Miranda July.  This book is based on the stories behind the Penny Saver, a Los Angeles classified rag.  Bound to be exactly right.

Sooo… don’t be coy!  What are you reading this summer?

 

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Vegan Coconut and Pistachio Ice Cream

June 12, 2014

Vegan Coconut and Pistachio Ice Cream

This ice cream is the product of a good, old-fashioned, pantry stare. You know… the kind of quality time you spend staring blankly into your pantry trying to will potato chips to appear with your mind?  The kind of quality time you spend staring into the pantry wishing that all of the dried pasta, dried, beans, and jarred sauces would magically cook themselves up extra warm and cheesy so you don’t have to move a muscle.

Alas, muscled must be moved.

Luckily, this recipe is supreme in its simplicity!  These were all ingredients staring back at me from the pantry!  Coconut milk (the light variety), toasted coconut flakes, pistachios (I must have forgotten they were in there because I surely would have snacked on them if I knew), and sugar (of course).  We’re going to need an ice cream maker and a freezer, too.

Vegan Toasted Coconut and Pistachio Ice Cream

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Beer Battered Onion Rings and Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

June 9, 2014

Beer Battered Onion Rings with Buttermilk Ranch Dip

We’re looking down the barrel at Father’s Day so it’s time to start thinking about beer and bow ties and burly dudes with beards bouncing babies on their laps, right?

It’s hard for me to pin down the right Father’s Day celebration.  My dad is unique, he likes classic literature, pie, gossip, and emojis.  It’s like… what do you get the man that already has everything?  Seriously.

Mother’s Day celebrations seem easier.  I’m pretty sure most moms just want a mimosa and a little peace a quiet.  Dads are more of a wildcard.

Can onion rings be the answer?  I’m pretty sure the answer is HECK YES, because I’ve never seen anyone (beard or not) walk away from homemade onion rings and ranch dressing.

Beer Battered Onion Rings with Buttermilk Ranch Dip

Let’s start with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing because onion rings must be dipped, on the real on the reg.

I mean… we can do it for the dads.

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Snickerdoodle Strawberry Shortcakes

June 6, 2014

strawberry shortcake

I’ve been in California most of the week under the fog of one of those really unfortunate summer colds.  A raw throat and clogged nose just feels so unjust when the sun is shining and people are drinking margaritas in bikini tops.  I mean… really.  I’m waving the white flag.

I’m hoping that sweet strawberries will help ease me back into tip-top summer shape, because right now I’m sitting on the sidelines, missing the margaritas (and the bikini tops, too?).  At the very least, my benched status has cinnamon sugar shortcakes and extra juicy strawberries.  I’ll be back in the game soon, so soon!  Please/Thanks!

Snickerdoodle Strawberry Shortcake

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Let It Be Wednesday

June 4, 2014

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I’m back under sunny California skies this week, and I must say… the dry air is lovely and the burgers are fantastic! Also my hair is instantly flat, which kinda feels weird now.

I plan on living it up while in Cali.  Actually, I’m always trying to live it up.

This week I’m going to visit my favorite Los Angeles spots.

I’m going to eat as much In n Out as I can.  In six days I think I can make it there three times.  That shouldn’t be too out of line.

I’m going to have one of Zoe Nathan‘s doughnuts at Huckleberry because she seriously (most seriously) makes the best doughnuts in the entire city.

I’m going to have a Negroni and Eveleigh.  I’m going to have an ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery, followed shortly thereafter by an ice cream at Scoops.

I’m going to need a French Dip Sandwich from Philippes, and a sunset view from the new Ace Hotel downtown.

Then definitely a trip to Soul Cycle.  And a nap.

I can fall right back into a Los Angeles routine.  If you’re ever visiting, I wrote all about some of the best spots around town here:  I Love You, Los Angeles.  It’s true.  I really do love it!

In other news, it’s Wednesday.  Another day in a regular ol’ life.  Right?  Here’s what is in my brain and on the Internet:

•  Oh Joy and Love, Taza have created a new app!  It’s called Pippit! It’s pretty rad!  It’s Instagram meets blog feeds meets shopping.  I can only imagine how much work and collaboration it took to put together!  Check it out.  I’m joythebaker (duh) if you want in on my action.

•  Exciting news!  I designed three sets of awesome, summer-inspired nail wraps with Scratch Nail Wraps and you can order a box now through their monthly manicure subscription! The box comes with the three sets of nail wraps from Joy the Baker, a bonus nail polish, and cocktail recipe card and a cute little bonus gift too!  I’ll give more peeks inside the box soon, but the nails above are part of the collection!

• There are a few things I simply can’t buy at the grocery store because I’ll eat the entire bag in one sitting, without fail, because I have noooo will power!  Those pink and white frosted animal crackers!?  Don’t even look at me!  They’re my favorite thing in the world and I absolutely can’t  buy them.  I’d now like to introduce you to Pink Frosted Animal Cracker shower wash!? So… would smelling like the cookies be heaven or torture?  And what are the chances I chug the bottle?

• Matias Antuiga celebrated his 40th birthday by running 40 marathons in 40 days.  I swear… I run a mile and I’VE HAD IT!  Can we talk about Pink Frosted Animal Crackers again?

Why You Hate Work.  Thank you New York Times.  The part about answering emails until you fall asleep was all too real.  Also… I don’t hate work, it’s just the emails that are such a beast.

•  Everyone is getting married and wearing flower crowns and all I want to do is eat this Mostly Veggie Baked Macaroni forever and ever.

If you need me today I’ll be dreaming up Strawberry Filled Doughnuts for us to make next week.  Also, I love you.  Happy Wednesday!

41 Comments

Sunset Happy Hour Cocktails

June 3, 2014

sunset cocktail trio

I knew New Orleans would feel different from my little beach bungalow in Venice, California.  That’s why you move across the country, right?

I knew the air would be thicker in New Orleans,  I figured the walls would be older, the people more talkative, the fried chicken more readily devoured.  The Mississippi is much more brown than the dull grey/green tones of the Pacific Ocean.  The cobble stone streets in my neighborhood are like a vortex you can fall into if you’re not diligent… like quicksand.  It’s different from the sandy beach and paved bike paths of California.

I sometimes feel like I’m underwater, without the water.  Does that make sense? It must have something to do with the fact that I’m hanging out below sea level.  It’s a real feeling.

Louisiana sunset

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The sunsets though… the sunsets in Louisiana have a really familiar quality.  They have the same dusty pink, brilliant orange, and stunning blue.  It feels very similar to the sunsets     I’d watch sitting in the sand in California.

Lately I’ve wanted my cocktails to match my sunset.  It’s my little way of creating a Pinterest-worthy moment  (just a moment) out of my day.. when the brilliant orange of my cocktail resembles the brilliant orange of the setting sun.  That moment of synergy feels really good.

As the days get warmer I find myself wanting to drink ALL the drinks.  It’s so hot and humid, I’m a bottomless pit of fresh juice.

We’ve talked about Juicing here before, but I totally understand that not all of us have the space, funds, or desire to have a fancy juicer in our kitchen cupboards.  It felt like a definite splurge item to me in terms of both funds and space.  I get it.

I keep a few Evolution Fresh Juices on hand because Evolution Fresh does all of the hard work of cold-pressing for us! Their juices are fresh and bright and sooooo perfect sunset inspired cocktails!  No big fancy juicer required.

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Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

June 1, 2014

turkey sloppy joes with buttery buns

There was a girl singing Summertime (and the living is easy) outside of my window as I made these Sloppy Joes today.  She wasn’t the best singer in the world.  I imagine that if I had the gall to sing in public, I’d be just around average as well.  A lot of times it’s way more about feel and guts when it comes to singing in the streets.  You just have to step out there and mean in.  That’s just about everything.

I’m feel the same way when I step in the kitchen to make bread.  Feel and guts, every time.

Turkey Sloppy Joes with Buttery Buns

I’ve had every intention of making homemade hamburger-type buns for (no joke) two years now.  Two years!?

I think that’s called self-procrastination.  Sometimes even the best laid plans take years to activate.  Feel and guts!  I’m telling  you.  It’s so real.

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Campfire Scones

May 29, 2014

campfire scones

Let’s go camping!  I’ll bring the steak to grill, the potatoes to bake, the entire martini bar, and enough bug repellant to upset every bug in a ten mile radius.  I’ll build the fire, too.  And maybe we could string a few lights for decoration… because we’ll definitely need all of our outgoing Instagram photos to look juuuust outdoorsy enough.   We’ll eat really well and just happen to look really great doing it!  Let’s not forget our matching flannels.  Obviously.

Now if I could just borrow your sleeping bag, and tent, and bear stick, and wolf-away ninja sword, and spider vacuum, and any other terribly essential camping survival gear… we’ll be good to go!  Are we going to need a fire extinguisher?  Please say no.

That… or we could just stay home, eat steak in the courtyard, and crank up the oven for a moment to enjoy these toasty chocolate scones.  It might be easier than the whole camping endeavor.  Maybe.

campfire scones

My friend Tracy sent me a text last weekend.  It was a photo of a toasted marshmallow-y scone-y deal from Shortcake during her recent trip to Los Angeles.  Los Angeles is like the opposite of camping, so naturally they have to add camping elements to their food.

Tracy’s text message was full of enough high-fives and exclamation points to coax me into making my own version of Campfire Scones.   This feels quite right!  Thanks, Tracy!  No tents.

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Baking 101: The Difference Between Baking Flours

May 29, 2014

the difference between flours

Last week I announced the first is a new baking series called Baking Bootcamp.  I asked you to bake along with me, and we started with  Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread.  I am absolutely blown away by your kitchen prowess! Hundreds of you baked along with me and all of your handwork can be found on Instagram #bakingbootcamp.  The next recipe in our Baking Bootcamp challenge will come at the end of summer, but until then we have some learning to do!  Let’s learn about FLOUR!

So…

I started our Baking 101 series last Fall.  It was a great way for us to learn things about baking that may seem obvious or natural to some, but be completely mind-blowing to others.  We all do things slightly differently when we step in the kitchen.  Everyone has their own knowledge and rhythm.

In the series we talked about things like:

How to Read a Recipe

Why We Use Unsalted Butter

The Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda

and The Difference Between Natural and Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder.

Important things when we step in the kitchen to bake.

I’ve wanted to talk about the difference between the various flours we use in the kitchen for a long time, but to be honest… I felt a little stuck.  The truth of the matter is that I had more questions than answers when I came to describing the difference between All-Purpose and Bread Flour, and why White Whole Wheat Flour was different from traditional Whole Wheat Flour.

Thankfully, the bakers at King Arthur Flour came to the rescue… and they really do have all the answers.  I called up King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Hotline (YES!) and talked through all my nosy questions about flour!  The Baker’s Hotline is open to all of us!  1-855-371-2253.  I’m calling just as soon as I talk myself into making croissants at home.  Help!  They do.

Irene from the Baker’s Hotline was kind enough to answer my questions and the answers are detailed below.

Let’s talk about four of the most used flours in our baking kitchen!

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Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl

May 27, 2014

Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl

Be advised:  It would be best not to get in between me and my burrito.

I’m talking about the kind of burrito that’s the size of a newborn baby and served, covered in cheese and red sauce, on a scalding hot that plate that I always touch even thought I’m cautioned against it.  The kind of burrito that is filled with so much cheese, so much rice, so much stewed beef, so much guacamole… it feels as right as it does obscene.

Yea… don’t get in between me and that burrito.  It’s probably best if we don’t even make eye contact.

This (thankfully/sadly) is not that burrito.

Let’s welcome cauliflower to the table.  We’ll set aside all the beef, red sauce, and most of the cheese momentarily.

cauliflower rice burrito bowls

This recipe starts with Cauliflower Rice which I’m pretty sure is ALL THE RAGE on paleo blogs.  I make the opposite of a paleo blog, so…. this might seem a little strange.

We’re talking about the simple art of turning raw cauliflower florets into little bits of simulated rice.  It’s good, it’s really really good!

cauliflower rice burrito bowls

Cauliflower + Food Processor = Cauliflower Rice.

I used a purple and green cauliflower, not because I’m fancy, mostly because that’s what looked fresh at the grocery.

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Let It Be Sunday

May 25, 2014

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Let’s call it Birthday Sunday… BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT IT IS! (That sentence slowly evolved into an Oprah voice.  Just so you know.)

•  French girls really know how to work their scarves!  How To Tie a Scarf Like a French Girl.

 Dear Guy Who Just Made My Burrito.  I CRIED laughing.  Cried real tears.  If you’ve ever eaten a burrito you’d understand.  (Link contains explicit language, like a lot, because burritos are serious business.)

•  I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of tiny charcoal grills on amazon.  What a bizarre rabbit hole to find yourself in.  It’s summer!  I have a little courtyard.  I want to charcoal it up perhaps with this little Lodge Charcoal Grill.  Then there’s the whole charcoal and briquette rabbit hole.   I never thought I’d be googling things like: Charcoal Briquettes and Lighter Cubes and Chimney Starters.

•  Can we talk about Oprah Chai at Starbucks!?  It’s DELICIOUS! It’s charitable, and IT’S OPRAH!  I’m going to put a candle in it today and make it a birthday chai.

•  Let’s make a summer version of Homemade Lipgloss!  I’m thinking orange and bright pink tones.  Like sherbet!

•  I’m taking my first Barre3 class in New Orleans next week.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed I don’t look like an idiot… but I will and that’s ok.

•  Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown is my favorite show on television.  His book Medium Raw is all up in my queue because my friend Tracy just bought the audio book and I have to do most things that she does.

•  I’m waaay into the new Black Keys album Turn Blue.  Summertime tunes.

•  This is Dali.  This is Warhol.  This is Pollock.  The life and work of famous artists in illustration.  It’s so good!

(Above dress by Girls From Savory because I think someone might ask, and also because their dresses are cute and comfortable and super flattering.  No, I don’t think I’m a fashion blogger. Just sayin’.)

I’m going to go eat all the beignets now!  Have a happy holiday Sunday!

I love you.  (Insert: lip emoji)

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Baking Bootcamp: Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

May 22, 2014

Triple Berry Yeasted Cinnamon Swirl Bread // King Arthur Flour + Joy the Baker

I first started Joy the Baker because I wanted partners in baking. Strange really, considering that when I started Joy the Baker I was working as a baker in a rowdy kitchen.  Still, I would find myself coming home in the middle of the afternoon, still looking around for people to bake with.  Maybe I was a little obsessed…

Where do obsessed people go to find friends that understand them?  The Internet… obviously.

(What feels like) ages ago I joined an online baking group called The Daring Bakers.  Every week a different member would bring the group a new and challenging recipe, we’d all make it, post the results and photographs on our respective blogs, and otherwise totally dork out on our accomplishments.

Being part of The Daring Bakers was instrumental in helping me grow my blog audience, helping me make great baking friends online, and helping me realize that I really should never attempt to make a baguette in my home oven ever again… all really important things.

Now, I wanted to bring some of that community spirit back to Joy the Baker! I want us to take on baking challenges, get in the kitchen, and share all the goodness that comes out! We’re partnering with King Arthur Flour on a 4- part baking challenge called BAKING BOOTCAMP!  You guys… this is going to be good! The goal is to learn the differences between the most popular flours we use in the kitchen, and to get in the kitchen (each and every one of us) and take on 4 different baking challenges with new knowledge and confidence under our apron strings!

Triple Berry Yeasted Cinnamon Swirl Bread // King Arthur Flour + Joy the Baker

Four Flours + Four Recipes Challenges + One Instagram #bakingbootcamp

+ Four Awesome Sets of Prizes!

The idea is simple!

•  Make this braided Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread (it’s sooooo good!) and take a picture of your creation!

•  Follow @joythebaker and @kingarthurflour on Instagram

•  Photograph your beautiful braided bread and post it 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 cinnamon swirl bread in your kitchen, so… you really can’t lose.

Let’s get started!

Baking Bootcamp Essentials

Here’s what you’ll need for our Cinnamon Swirl Bread Baking Bootcamp:

1 •  King Arthur All-Purpose Flour  is perfectly soft and reliably sturdy for this braided bread.

2 •  I use this King Arthur Flour Bench Scraper 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 scraper as a 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 Skillet 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 • Powdered Sugar Sifter because dumping it straight from the bag onto our finished bread is way more dramatic and clumpy than we want it to be.

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 weigh 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.

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Fresh Juice and Sweet Tea Shot Bites

May 19, 2014

Fruit Juice Shot Bites / joy the baker

My mom taught me the valuable lesson of never taking candy from a stranger.  I’m pretty sure she never said anything about taking Jell-O shots from a stranger.  Technicality?

I should preface this introduction by saying… don’t be like me.

A few weekends back I was celebrating Jazz Fest with some friends.  There’s a certain spirit here in New Orleans that I’ve never encountered anywhere else. As we left the all day music festival… dusty, sun-tired, and thirsty, we found ourselves smack-dab in the center of an epic neighborhood block party.  Backyard gates were open to reveal full bands playing to the street, people set up folding tables with steaming crock pots selling gumbo, grills racked with meats for sale or not sale, and…. in the midst of the happy chaos… a girl in a neon wig selling Jell-O shots off of a simple plastic tray.

I was like a moth to the flame.  Again… don’t be like me.

It took a whole 2.2 seconds of deliberation before one of my fine friends offered up dollars for the little novelty shots… from a stranger… in the streets.

It was good.  It was green.  It was Jell-O.  The moment felt exactly as it should, so right with a splash of reckless.

My block party Jell-O shot got me thinking about how I could fancy up Jell-O + vodka.  Oh the possibilities!

Would it be too soon to say I’ve found my new calling?  How about… I’ve found my Memorial Day Weekend calling:  super couture Jell-O shots, sans jello, added cucumber and gin.

YES.

fancy juice and tea shot bites / joy the baker

Notice that I’m calling these treats Shot Bites and not Jell-O Shots.

While they are small and jiggly and boozy, they are made from unflavored gelatin and not Jello-O brand stuffs.  Using unflavored gelatin give us some breathing room to create flavor combinations that move beyond the Jell-O box.  We really need to move beyond beyond beyond the Jell-O Box.

We’re talking about fresh cucumber juice, lots of lime juice, fresh ginger, strawberry puree from sweet strawberries… we’re going all out!

For these four recipes I used a few different ice cube trays:  

Hexagon Ice Cube Set.

Heart-Shaped Ice.

The Perfect Cube.

You might also consider mini disposable cups, or a mini muffin tin.  Choose your path.

Everything I learned about fancy Shot Bites I learned from The Kitchn.

Here are the basics:

Fresh Juice and Sweet Tea Shot Bite Math

1 cup liquor + 1 cup non-alcoholic liquid + 2 envelopes (5 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin

Let’s talk about this math.  This formula represents the maximum amount of alcohol we can use to create these shot bites.  Any more alcohol will mess with the gelatin and our Shot Bites won’t set up properly.  Heed the math.  For each of these recipes, I used about 3/4 cup alcohol because I tend to like a less boozy bite (aka college was ten years ago).  We can just replace any of the missing alcohol with whatever non-alcoholic liquid we’re using. On that note, you could leave out the alcohol completely to make these bites family-friendly.  Remember, 2 cups total liquid meets 2 envelopes of gelatin.  With that math, you can make so many delicious things!

Sweet Tea, Bourbon, and Lemonade Shot Bites // joy the baker

First up!

Sweet Tea.  Ginger Lemonade.  Bourbon!

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Cherry Pie Bars

May 19, 2014

cherry pie bars

I was standing in line at the corner store just trying to be still.  I’m pretty sure I was a ticking time bomb and the slightest nudge would have been catastrophic.

I had just walked half a mile with my groceries from a place that sells groceries to a corner store for a small bottle of tequila (for a recipe, so what!?) and to say that I was hot would be an understatement.  I was steaming.  The back of my hands were sweating.  I mean… the back of my hands!

The man in front of me was diligently swiping his payment card and pressing the appropriate buttons when a woman entered the store just audibly exasperated.  She was hot, too.  I’m not sure of the exact status of the back of her hands, but I’m guessing… sweaty.  The man in front of me looked up from his task and said to me, “Remember May in August”.

More steam rose from my head.

I’m not sure what kind of pleading panic look my eyebrows betrayed but he also said, “It’s hot, but it’ll be ok”, and then walked out with his groceries.

So… I guess summer is coming.  I should hydrate.  I should also buy more tequila.

I want to honor summer by adding cherries to my kitchen, but it feels like it’s just a little too soon considering that a) cherries are still about a million dollars per pound, and b) I’m afraid that pitting super expensive cherries is just not worth the hand sweats.  Also.. ew!

Cherry Pie Bars // joy the baker

Here’s our ode to summer featuring frozen cherries.  They come pre-pitted and the excess cherries can be used as an ice pack to beat the heat.

I’m afraid this isn’t going to be the last time we talk about the weather.  It’s so real.

Cherry Pie Bars // joy the baker

Let’s get at this quick!

Our butter is melting. I’m not even kidding.

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Let It Be Sunday

May 18, 2014

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It’s Sunday.  Let’s settle in.

Letters of Note is the most beautiful and satisfying site I’ve found in a long time.  It’s filled with lost and found letters in history.  I love this letter from W.E.B DuBois to his daughter.  This letter from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) to his wife swells my heart.  And Elizabeth Taylor wrote a letter to her lost cat… which I totally understand.  So many insightful words on this site, and there’s also Letters of Note:  the book.

• We’re going to talk about our nails for a second.  Just a quick second.  It’s important because we get to connect two seemingly dissimilar things:  nail art and SHARK WEEK!  The latest installation of nail art from Scratch includes a set of shark inspired nail wraps.  So good.  I’m really glad people think of these things.

•  Should I get my haircut and read #GIRLBOSS because I really think the answer is #HECKYES!

•  I think that it’s really important that we all know how to take care of ourselves in the world.  I’m talking about the basics:  bathing, smiling at strangers, remembering to buy toilet paper, how to fold fitted sheets, and how to invest in our RothIRAs.  The basics, right?

My financial future is important to me mostly because I work for myself and every day is like a silent AAAHHHHHHH!  I’m building my own financial safety net but it takes time and know-how.  I’m all the way into The Suze Orman Podcast and books like Real Money Answers For Every Woman and The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom. Tsh from The Art of Simple also has some great real-talk and recourses for us about how to be debt-free.  It’s all baby steps… but super important.  Get into it!

•  I’ve been wearing this Schooner Dress from Girls From Savoy and channeling my time in Maine.

•  Did you know that we’re doing Pineapple iPhone cases now?  Is that a pineapple in your pocket or are you just happy to… nevermind. I’m sorry.

• Nearly every morning in the French Quarter a man (the same man) walks down my street singing Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come and it feels perfect every single time.

Sidenote:  R Kelly has a live-version cover of A Change Is Gonna Come and it’s SO GOOD I can’t even make eye contact with you.  It would be too embarrassing to put a link to R Kelly on my blog but… here.

•  Sometimes I find myself in the kitchen, staring at something I’m trying to make into dinner, thinking… how to I even cut this dang thing!  Most recent confusion:  cauliflower.  Halfway through trying to hack away the green leaves I thought… there’s got to be a better way… I have to know how to do this somewhere in my culinary brain.  Spoiler alert: I figured it out.  Thank you, The Kitchn.   How To Cut Cauliflower.

•  Now… cauliflower cutting became such a thing in my kitchen because I hopped on the Cauliflower Rice bandwagon which was A REALLY GOOD IDEA!  Rice made of a vegetable.  I made myself a burrito bowl last night and I’m pretty sure I’m a genius, so… success!

Next step: PALEO DIET!  Just kidding, hopefully.

• My 33rd birthday (huh!?) is next weekend and I’ve set a birthday intention that I’ve honored for the past few years.  Every year on my birthday I sponsor another child through Compassion.  After my trip to Uganda this year, a new opportunity to sponsor a child in need feels extra special to me.

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Spinach and Strawberry Chopped Salad

May 15, 2014

Spinach and Strawberry Chopped Salad

Sometimes lunch is just lunch.

It’s less about the tiny bowls, and the tenderly placed napkin, and the step-by-step chopping of each and every vegetable.

Sometimes it’s just lunch.  I think that’s a relief for all of us… right?

This salad is an extra chopped rendition of most things currently in my refrigerator:  romaine and spinach, snap peas and celery, lovely ripe strawberries, bacon left over from the Waffle BLTs, toasted pecans, and goat cheese crumbles.

Happy Friday, friends!  Let’s salad easy today.

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Homemade Decadence Pre-Order!

May 14, 2014

joythebaker

It feels like a good day.

It feels like one of those days that has been a long time in the making.  Thanks only to the passing of minutes, hours, days, and weeks… we’re here, staring ahead at the finish line, blasting Jay-Z in our proverbial headphones (because that’s what we do) (because we are champions).

So!  A few years ago I wrote the Joy the Baker Cookbook and you were kind enough to buy it at the bookstore, borrow it from the library, download it to your technology and get in your kitchen to bake.  You blow me away!  I also went on book tour and you were kind enough to let me write in your new books with permanent marker.  I only misspelled two names while signing which is totally two names too many.  Sorry!

The point of this whole story is this:

I wrote another book!

It’s called Homemade Decadence and YOU CAN PRE-ORDER IT STARTING NOW!

(I promise to keep the yelling to a minimum.)

Joy the Baker Cookbook - Homemade Decadence

It took almost two years, 112 (estimated) pounds of butter, an eye-bulging amount of all-purpose flour, 54 (estimated) cups of heavy cream, one small oven, one photo assistant/cat wrangler, 17 online recipe testers, one recipe testing mother, one father with strong opinions about pie, one camera expert friend, one meticulous and kind editor, one eternally patient copyright editor, one designer that should get high-fives every morning, one maj, several people to lend me props,  and 8 additional pounds of body weight to create this book… and it’s almost here!

Homemade Decadence  is 125 of the most gooey, buttery, chocolatey, cocktail-y recipes I could dream up.  Each recipe has a gorgeous photo… for inspiration, daydreaming, and drooling.  The book is out October 14, 2014, but I’ll be sharing sneak peeks of the book and recipes throughout the summer.

Thank me now for not releasing this book during bikini season.  Wait… do people still wear bikinis? No, right?  I didn’t think so.

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Cheddar Buttermilk Waffle BLTs

May 12, 2014

Cheddar Buttermilk Waffle BLT

I still have daydreams of my Dance Like Nobody’s Watching jaunt in the laundromat.  I haven’t done it yet mostly because I’m scared and also… I’m not Beyonce.

The daydreams are still there.  They’ve transferred from my Venice Beach laundromat to the streets of the French Quarter.  In my daydreams I’m taking over the streets to The Naked and Famous song Girls Like You.  I’ve got all the jump moves and hip gyrating, spins and flips I need to look like… not an idiot.  It’s still just a daydream.  I know it’s been years and years of a daydream.  Your patience is appreciated.  Beyonce wasn’t built in a day.  (I just likened Beyonce with Rome AND I’VE NEVER BEEN SO RIGHT ABOUT ANYTHING EVER!).

While Rome (and dance videos) are built in daydreams… at least I’m in the kitchen cooking like nobody’s watching.

cheddar buttermilk waffle BLT

Except someone is watching…

And he’s really bossy about what happens to all of the bacon in the house.

Cheddar Buttermilk Waffle BLT

What happened here is this:  I put bacon, lettuce, and tomato in between two cheesy waffles. Nothing but trouble.

I was cooking (and smashing food in my face) like no one was watching.  Well.  No one my height was watching.  No one with thumbs was watching.  Just me, and this, and three minutes later a dance party for one.

I am the picture of (really embarrassing) success!  Dance daydreams pending.

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Buttermilk Ice Cream with Strawberries

May 11, 2014

Buttermilk Ice Cream with strawberries

I’ve always had a bit of wanderlust.  I like to call it a case of the ‘get-gones’.  I like to, you know… get-gone from everywhichwhere I am.  Just drop me off at the airport and I’ll figure out the rest… all of this to the great dismay of my parents and my cat who tend to stay in one place for extended amounts of time.

Last month I was lucky enough to be in Asheville, North Carolina where they have the most awe-inspiring blue mountains and the most wonderful chocolate.  Can I camp in the mountains and drink chocolate for the rest of my life?  I might be ok with that.

This weekend I visited St. Louis where I found seriously good coffee at The Mud House and the most lovely tea from The ReTrailer.  Can I just perfect latte art and blend healing teas for the rest of my days?  That seems really nice.

The get-gones shape me, in big and subtle ways.

Realistically thought, I can’t always be gone.  That’s just unreasonable.  There’s Instagram for the times when the get-gones turn into the stay-puts.  I mean… really.

I also find myself thumbing through cookbooks when I’m feeling travel-antsy.  (I’ve made up a lot of words in this post.)  My most recent cookbook traveling adventure is David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  I haven’t been to Paris yet, but I’m pretty sure I’m 100% ready for the Coq Au Vin.  Thank you, David.

Buttermilk Ice Cream with strawberries

David’s recipe for Buttermilk Ice Cream caught my eye.  It perfectly marries my love of buttermilk with my love of cold, churned, frozen dairy.

It’s wonderfully simple!  No egg yolks.  No tempering.

There’s heavy cream for that luscious supple texture,  buttermilk for the milky tang, and granulated sugar and vanilla honey for sweetness.  I also decided to add a splash of bourbon (which comes pretty naturally to me) to help keep the ice cream scoop able in the freezer.

This creamy, smooth ice cream is like blending frozen yogurt with gelato.  So rich and fresh to death!

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