Mushroom Kale Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Mushroom and Kale Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Mushroom and Kale Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Bloggers can be pretty predictable.  Since it’s December, you can count on most of us writing about tinsel and cookie swaps, peppermint coated this, mulled wine that… all the pine, all the Santa hats, all the sugar spice and nice.

Come January we’ll all be talking about salads and smoothies.  I don’t think we’re allowed to talk about fudge in January.  I think that’s actually against the law.

I have to shake loose from the holidays for a moment.  I mean… can we just sit at the kitchen counter and eat quesadillas for a while and not think about Winter cookies and holiday shopping?  That would be cool.

Let’s do that.

Ps.  The fact that these Mushroom and Kale Quesadillas are topped with sriracha makes them aaalllmost Christmas themed.  See how these holidays sneak in to stay?  Dang.

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Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

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Hi friends!  Look at us having a Sunday!

I’ve been in Nashville this week, mostly cozied up in a house trying my very best to write a cookbook about Brunch.  In between the brainstorming and typing I’ve eaten ALL the things in Nashville.  I smell like barbecue, and coffee, and tacos.  If you’re repulsed and concerned… don’t worry, I’m doing it right.

Thank you to all of you who came to my book signing at Parnassus Books.  Meeting you really is the highlight of anything I do.  I adore you.

Here’s our week on the Internet:

•  Time Magazine’s Person of the Year:  Ebola Fighters.  Read this.

•  I Can’t Be Forgiven for Abu Ghraib:  the torture report reminds us of what America was.

•  Louisiana’s Moon Shot.  The coastline is disappearing, but will $50 billion save it?

•  It’s that time of year.  Round-up, reminiscing, and that reverent thing we do at the end of a year.  2014: Year in Photographs January – April

•  As someone who has worked both front and back of house in restaurants, I must say I’m throwing up some Hallelujah hands for this one:  Los Angeles restaurant adds industry’s first Kitchen Gratuity line to checks. I hope the dishwashers are in on the back of house tip-pooling.  Real heroes.

•  The most annoying types of airline passengers.  Don’t you dare bring that fried chicken on the plane unless you plan on sharing with me.

•  Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy.  Let’s talk about how we hear things.  Mondegreen is the phenomenon of mishearing phrases to make sense in your head.  I’m a PRO.

•  The Pilots of Instagram.  Um… you guys?  I’m going to need to you to focus.  Please.  FOR REAL.

•  How I Tried To Lose A Guy In 10 Days.  100% all-the-way ridiculous.

•  I know everyone is obsessed with the Serial Podcast, but let’s not forget that Uhh Yeah Dude is actually the best podcast there is.

•  Baking = Therapy.  Who you tellin’?

•  Ladies be dressing.  The good.  The bad.  The not so pretty.

•  Did you take a moment to wish Taylor Swift a happy birthday?  So it’s gonna be forever / Or it’s gonna go down in flames.

Happy Holidays! Gifts I’m Giving.

JTB Holiday Collage

How’s your gifting this year? Do you have everything checked off your list, already wrapped, under the tree, in the mail?  Yea… meee neither.  It’ll all come together.  I just need to find my packing tape, my brain, and a little bit of free time.  Shouldn’t be too hard.

Here’s a peek at what I’m gifting the year.  If we’re the sort of friends that exchange gifts, consider this a spoiler alert.

1  •  Give the gift of cookies without actually preheating your oven!  This Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix from Not Without Salt makes the most lovely dark chocolate cookies. We’re all so inundated with sweets over the holiday season, gifting a mix means that cookies can be made in the future-future… like during the dark days of the January diet days.

2  •  Good coffee is such a luxury.  This monthly Blue Bottle Coffee Subscription is like morning luxury, delivered. Put your fancy pants on.  This mess is legit.

3  •  Unique cocktailing is a fine fine gift.!  I love Art in the Age’s SNAP.  It pairs perfectly with bourbon and apple and ice and a straw.  See:  Apple Snap Cocktails

4  • Never have there been softer kitchen towels, more luxurious kitchen towels.  Hard-working Turkish linen!   LoomedNOLA super plush kitchen towels.

5  •  ALOHA subscription!  You know I love this green powder!  This is a great subscription to gift going into a heathy new year.  Also… should we be doing all the Bikram Yoga?  Probably.

6  •  I know you know… I wrote a book!  Could you do me a quick favor and buy it and share it with everyone you know? Fantastic.  That would be great.  Homemade Decadence!   Grab a signed copy by calling Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.  They’ll ship you a signed copy.  504.895.2266

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Winter Citrus Booster with ginger and sweet potato

Winter Citrus Booster with ginger and sweet potato

Winter Citrus Booster with ginger and sweet potato

Cold season?  Nope.  Not going to do it.  Flu season?  Get right outta here with all that.  Sniffles?  Congestion?  The general drags?  Nobody has time for all that.

To keep the sickness bugs at bay as the days frost over and chill, I’m shoving every whole and healthy bit of produce I have into my juicer.  This version is heavy on the big, bright citrus of Winter, and spiked with spicy fresh ginger.

There’s no way a cold is getting me down.  #knockonwood

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Winter Reading List

the vacationers the leftovers to rise again
one more thing mr & mrs glasses ny notebook
jason priestley cat dish towel drip mugs
Let’s read all the words.  We’re also going to need a lot of blankets, a cozy pair of socks, a lot of hot chocolate with a weird amount of mini marshmallows, and a fireplace would also be nice.

Here’s what’s on my reading list this Winter.  Humanity, a splash of murder, and a bit about food.  You know… the usual.

Us: a novel by David Nicholls  •  Heartfelt fiction on life, marriage on parenting.   The real things, as they are, in a story.  Exactly what we want sometimes, right?

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng  •  Family, murder, history, culture.  All the things within.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett  •  Danger, surprise, soooo many emotions, and the Amazon jungle.  It’s everything.

Consider the Fork  by Bee Wilson  •  I love reading food writing, especially in cold weather… when I’m much more hungry.  The history of how, what, and whyyyy we eat.  It’s fascinating.

Food: a love story by Jim Gaffigan  •  What a really funny man thinks about kale, coconut water, and pretzel bread.  I mean… come on.

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky  •  If there’s any time to read about the history of salt, it’s Winter.  Also… get yo self some french fries.  Feel like a king / queen.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman  •  Reading some tragic young adult fiction isn’t a crime, it’s a page turner.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt  •  Now that I live in the South I feel bound and obligated to read this book.  Also, waiting for the Serial podcast every Thursday is too hard and I need more suspense and intrigue throughout the week.

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin  •  The man, the myth, the legend.

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Beer Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Beer Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Beer Sauce

My mom had a few predictable and necessary things she’d have to repeat ad-nauseam to my sister and me at our family dinner table night after night.  There was the inevitable ‘sit still and someone please say grace’ followed by something like ‘do NOT kick your sister under the table’ or ‘stop staring at your sister when you know it bothers her and eat your fish sticks, thank you’.

My favorite/least favorite was ‘eat your vegetables, they’ll make you beautiful’.  The vegetables she was referring to were usually barely steamed broccoli or cauliflower served nearly raw (and yes, full of nutrients… which is entirely unimpressive to an eight year old).  If the (basically raw) vegetables weren’t eaten within three minutes of leaving the steamer they devolved into sometime entirely inedible to a child that wanted nothing more than a Happy Meal for dinner.  Eat your vegetables.  They’ll make you beautiful.  Eat them.  Eat them.  No seriously.  Eat them.

We ate them.

What my mom didn’t have in mind is that I’d grow up to simmer my dinner vegetables in butter and olive oil and serve them in a homemade Cheddar Beer Sauce.  I mean… Eat your vegetables!  (roasted and toasted and awesome!) They’ll make you beautiful.  (and so will the cheese sauce?)  Oh man.  Thanks mom / Sorry mom.

Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Beer Sauce

Here’s how this happens.  Here’s what you’ll need:  a big head of cauliflower, a big pot to boil it in, butter, olive oil, lemon, and spice.

For the cheese sauce, all good things which include: milk, butter, beer, mustard, and Worcestershire.


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Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

Hello, my friends. The days here in New Orleans have been amiable, the streets buzzing with energy, and there’s just something in the air… I can’t quite put my finger on it… it’s a fussy energy. An unsettled hum.

I took the long way home on Wednesday thinking I might run into some Eric Garner related demonstrations.  No.  Just brass sounds from young boys.  I also found a few streets that I haven’t walked through in the French Quarter and the dwindling day’s light felt dusty and solemn.

The days between Thanksgiving and the end of the year are a mash, aren’t they?  It’s hard to find the room for silence amidst the holiday rush, diamond ring television commercials, blog gift guides, and cookie swaps.

The world is still churning.  Here’s what the Internet has to say about it. Distilled:

•  What the Eric Garner Grand Jury Didn’t See.  We have to see what’s going on.  We really have to see.

•  Weekend read:  ISIS: What the US Doesn’t Understand

•  The Golden Quarter:  some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971.  Think about it… civil rights, television, space travel, medicine.  And what do we have to say for ourselves now?

•  Totally Obsessed:  the new age of cultural manias.  Ultimately, we’re obsessed with being obsessed.  How trite.

•  Chris Rock on all things.

•  Here’s what we’re going to do… just so you know, it involves a shark tank and a fool-hearted sense of fear.  Let’s go!  Fear gives my brain the same rush as love.

•  How To Be Powerful Likeable and Female from Jenna Lyons.  Capable, kind, bossy, and all the other things, too!

•  Sorry food critics / NOT SORRY.  From Dallas’ top kitchens, reviewer Leslie Brenner is feeling the heat.

•  Let’s stay on these coffee trends, ok?  Flat White Coffee 

•  Meet the denim breakers:  the people who are paid to break in your designer jeans.

•  Now NBC’s The Voice sold 20 million songs without a single star.  I mean… this might-could be a problem.  What are we actually doing?

•  This blog is beautiful!  Fork Knife Swoon.  So many lovely holiday recipes!

•  Last holiday season I made Lip Gloss from scratch.  It was a very good idea.

•  Speaking of lips.  I love a nude… and these lipstick containers remind me of something my mom would have in her purse when I was young.

You deserve a great day.  Happy Sunday!

xo Joy

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Butter Walnut Cookies

Butter Walnut Cookies

Butter Walnut Cookies

Cookies for the sake of cookies, for the sake of December, for the sake of Christmas, and just so we can stand at the kitchen counter and count how many of these warm, nutty, powdered sugar bites we can shove into our mouths.

The answer is 3.5.  That’s how many cookies fit in a mouth.  Be careful.

I’m thinking about upcoming holiday parties, possible cookie swap situations, and general winter cookie desires.  These buttery walnut bites totally fit the bill.  Tender, crumbly, two-bites, powdered sugar clouds.

Butter Walnut Cookies

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Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

I don’t know whether I should rip into some yo mama jokes, flip a table, or pull the fire alarm, or just stop and shove aaaalll of the fudge into my face.

This fudge makes me feel aggressive.  Like I should beat my chest with pride.  Like I should… maybe I should stop talking.

The thing is… I feel like I made candy.  I’m pretty sure I made candy. Yup, I definitely made candy.  This fudge is the real deal.  No microwave.  No sweetened condensed milk.  We’re using  a real pot, a real candy thermometer, real cream, and we’re twerking sugar and chocolate into fudge.

Why would be so excited about doing something the hard way? Well… I think it’s important to know how to do things the old-school way before learning the quick tricks.  You know… like long division in mathematics.   (Do people do long division anymore?  That was always a special kind of torture.) Maybe long division isn’t the right analogy.  Fudge is way better than long division.

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Here’s what we’re going to need:  granulated sugar and brown sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, half-and-half, salt, vanilla extract, dark chocolate, and just because:  marshmallows, peppermint candy, and pretzels.  Turnt up.

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Kale, Avocado, Tangerine, and Sesame Salad

Kale, Avocado, Tangerine, and Sesame Salad

Kale, Avocado, Tangerine, and Sesame Salad

Forgive me, belly.  I’ve done you wrong.  I mean… I’ve done you so so so right, but wrong wrong wrong.

I’ve done you with too much macaroni and cheese.  I’ve done you with ALL of the gumbo in New Orleans, the smothered greens, the doughnuts, the doughnuts again… I’m sorry.  It was delicious so you’re welcome… and I’m sorry.

You deserve a break.  Enjoy this salad.  It’s just about time to start making fudge.  Hold on tight.

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Let It Be Sunday

let it be sunday

let it be sunday plantation

Hello my friends.  Happy Sunday!   I hope your coffee is extra hot and exactly sweet, and I hope you’ve found just a few moments of aaaahhhhhh.

I’ve had family with me in New Orleans this week and it’s been so nice to make an unfamiliar place feel exactly like home with just a mega-ton of family.  We’ve done ALL THE THINGS thanks to my well constructed itinerary, menu-planning, and desire to eat and see ALL THE THINGS.  Yes… that’s me patting myself on the back.  We visited the Oak Alley Plantation mostly because I wanted to stand in this exact spot and absorb the shade of 300 year old trees.  That’s a thing!

I made the Internet smaller for us.  Here it go:

•  We advance our circumstance in so many ways.  We have amazing freedoms.  We have Twitter and Instagram.  We have the world at our fingertips.  Yet… Reaction to Ferguson Decision Shows Racial Divide Remains Over Views Of Justice.

•  A Broken Arch For Ferguson.

•  This seems like an important point  to figure out sooner rather than later:  Do Online Death Threats Count As Free Speech?

•  Aw man.  Heavy sigh.  Flying Coach Is The New Hell:  How Airlines Engineer You Out Of Room.

•  America’s Longest-Serving Prisoner In Solitary Has Conviction Quashed.

•  Why Your Family Drives You Crazy.  Because they push your buttons… and they invented the damn buttons.

•  We mustn’t stop feeding our Serial addiction.  Five Chilling Tales for the Criminally Inclined.  I might sign up for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

•  Leftovers solved: Mashed Potato, Cheddar and Chive Waffles.

•  This date night cookbook seems like a really sweet holiday gift:  Date Night In: More than 120 recipes to nourish your relationship.

•  I’ve never wanted to knit anything until exactly right now.  I can create something this lush and fluffy with a big wooden stick!?!?  Sign me all-the-way UP:  Knitting Noodle.  

•  Can all of the gifts I give this holiday season be monogrammed? I hope so.  Monogrammed Sunshine Satchel.

•  Quite clever Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics.

•  I love this Foiled Cable Pullover Sweater.  The sheen makes it feel just slightly holiday, right!?

Aloha has a new protein powder that I really really like!  I mention this because I’ve eaten nothing but Thanksgiving leftovers, chili cheese fries, and doughnuts for the past few days.  Cry for help!

I love you.  You are tremendous.

Apple Buttermilk Beignets and New Orleans Originals

jtb x nydj

Buttermilk Apple Beignets (1)

I‘m really excited to spend my first holiday here in New Orleans.  There’s a chill and a palpable spirit in the air.

New Orleans is such a unique place, it’s only natural that I would want to dive all the way into the holiday spirit here.  I’m hitting the streets to put together a casual holiday gathering with my friends at NYDJ.  In order to make it feel as special as New Orleans, I’m stopping in at some of favorite local shops:  LoomedNOLA for sweet and cozy gifts, Keife & Co for amazing wine, and St. James Cheese Company to make the perfect cheese plate.

No New Orleans gathering at my house would be complete without freshly-fried beignets.  They’re best enjoyed from scratch with your friends gathered around a heaping plate of fresh fried dough and powdered sugar.

I hope you find loads of holiday inspiration here!  Add a little New Orleans spirit to your holiday!

zNola Originals

Loomed Nola is my favorite textile store in New Orleans.  They sell lovely Turkish cotton kitchen towels, scarves, and blankets.  It’s the perfect place to shop for a thoughtful hostess gift or a comfy treat for your best girlfriend.

Keife & Co. is my go-to spot for wine in New Orleans!  Not only is it stocked with really unique bottles, the brothers that own the shop are more than willing to find the perfect bottle of bubbly for your holiday party without totally breaking the bank.  No pretension, just great wine and bubbles!

One of my favorite stops in New Orleans is St. James Cheese Company.  Step inside and the staff will dazzle you with cheese knowledge and let you sample your way through your cheese purchase.  Putting together a cheese plate can feel rather daunting but St. James makes it easy… and it’s always fun to eat all the cheeses before you buy them!

jtb x nydj (3)

I set out into the streets of New Orleans sporting my favorite pair of NYDJ jeans.  Super flattering, fitted, slimming, and real.  They’re perfect for jaunting around town in style and hoping in the kitchen to get down with some beignets.  My style also has to be functional.  I want to feel pretty, stylish, and I definitely need plenty of room to fry up and eat my fair share of New Orleans treats.

This holiday I’ve paired up with NYDJ to bring you flattering comfort, radiant style, and a big bundle of holiday inspiration and confidence.  Let’s look great, eat well, and entertain in easy style!  Here are all the recipes you need to do it!

nydj + jtb holiday party originals

jtb+nydj holiday recipes:  for cocktail, salad, and gifting inspiration!

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Let’s Leftover!

mashed potato waffles

Thanksgiving leftovers

The day after Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite day to eat… Chinese take-out food.  Anything that I didn’t boil on a stove or bake in the oven myself, please.  Anything that doesn’t taste like sage or pumpkin, please.  No pie, thank you.  I can’t with the cold gravy, ok?  Chinese take-out all the way.

If you, however, are the kind of resourceful and reasonable person that is  lovingly committed Thanksgiving leftovers, might I suggest a few things?

•  First.  Waffle the heck out of your mashed potatoes.  Melt cheddar cheese on top.  Sprinkle chives.  Take all the credit for potato genius.  Go on go on!  Mashed Potato, Cheddar and Chive Waffles!

•  Second.  Dutch Baby it!  This super simple, puffed, buttery, almost doughnut-y breakfast pastry is fantastic topped with any sort of fruit you have on hand.  I’m thinking cranberry sauce, orange segments, and a sprinkling of ground cloves!  Berry Dutch Baby Pancake!

Thanksgiving Leftovers

•  Third.  Sweet and salty grilled cheese with creamy brie cheese and leftover cranberry sauce pretty much hits the spot.  All of the spots.  Cranberry Brie Grilled Cheese.

•  Forth.  On the train to Leftover Town there are several stops.  This turkey, bacon, brie, and avocado situation is savory and satisfying and just about as ultimate as it gets.  If you were to add stuffing to this sandwich you would be a hero to many.  The Ultimate Turkey Club.

My work here is done.  Your leftover work is just beginning.  God speed.

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These are the days.  These really are the best of days.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the email, the bills, that thing you forgot to do but remember as soon as your head hits the pillow at night, the travel, the tasks, the endless lists, the all of it all.

But these are the days, whether we recognize them as the greatest or not.  They’re here just before they’re gone forever, and it’s out very important work to enjoy, cherish, and relish each one.

I’ve been busy entertaining my family this week in New Orleans.  Essentially I’m making them EAT ALL THE THINGS.  It’s an unwieldy, impossible, and truly decadent endeavor.  We’re laughing a lot, we’re swatting at each other, telling old stories about frizzy bangs and embarrassing falls.  This morning my family and I bet on ponies, cheered at their hustle, and admired their beauty at the Fair Grounds Race Course.  I left wanting to be a jockey  (waaaay too late for that) or a professional horserace gambler (which couldn’t possibly end well).   Needless to say, I’m so thankful for these days of mega family time.

I hope you’re spending this weekend with people who love you and know all the weird in you.

I love you and I’m so glad you come here and make all the pies and all the cookies.  You know the weird in me and I’m thankful for you.

xo Joy

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Inside the Baker’s Kitchen + Creamy Spiced Squash Soup with Parmesan Thyme Popovers

creamy spiced squash soup

creamy spiced squash soup

I‘ve been thinking a lot about comforts.

As I’m preparing to host my first Thanksgiving in New Orleans, I’m thinking a lot about exactly how to make my guests feel comfortable.  I’m thinking beyond moist stuffing and sweet cranberry sauce, because comfortable house guests require much more than one fancy meal on a Thursday.

I’m gathering baskets filled with filtered water, fancy soaps, good hand cream, extra toothbrushes just in case, extra blankets for the bed, a lavender spray for the bathroom, and a refrigerator full of snacks and comforts.

It’s essential and ultra luxurious… and since I don’t often host a house full of family (loud, hungry, crazy crazy family), it would be fair to say that maybe I’m going a bit overboard.

I’ve made a giant batch of this creamy squash soup and added a bit of ground clove and freshly grated nutmeg to highlight the sweet squash.  Salty pancetta breadcrumbs add a bit of crunch, and the whole deal is waiting in the refrigerator for a Thanksgiving week lunch.

I expect to feel proud and accomplished, until I run out of popovers and someone asks for more.

inside the baker's kitchen

We’re back in the kitchen with KitchenAid and it’s time to work these shelves.  It feels like I’m going to have every pan and every appliance on their job this week.  For this creamy soup and crispy popovers, I’m using a few new favorites:  the 7-speed Hand Mixer which is a savior for quick baking jobs, and the Pro Line® Series Cordless Hand Blender for the smoothest, creamiest blended soups.

If you missed our first Inside the Baker’s Kitchen, be sure the check out these sweet and savory biscuits!

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Let It Be Sunday

all the wines

be all the wines

Happy Sunday, my friends!

I’m glad you’re here with your whole Sunday self.  This Sunday list has become my favorite post to write each week.  I treasure this time we have together to talk about world news, Uber, our personal finances and… Tinder.  Always with the Tinder these days.

I hope you’re happy and caffeinated, or at least well on your way to both.  I think you are tremendous and I’m glad we’re friends.

The Internet, smaller:

•  Tell me all of your passwords.  Do they include your cat’s name, the name of your imaginary unicorn, your first apartment number, plus an exclamation point?  Me too. From the NYTimes, The Secret Life of Passwords.  Memories, meaning, cat names, and all-the-way-on-the-inside jokes.

•  Important update regarding our morning beverage: Bone Broth is the new cup of coffee.  I’ve experimented with broths before.  I tried this Miracle Mineral Broth.  Turns out, less is more.  Turns out, more is ouch… aka the worst tummy ache on the planet.

•  Like it, or not.  The best argument for, and against Obama’s executive action on immigration.

•  There has been a lot of hubbub this week about Uber’s ability to track their riders.  It’s not right, but I’m confident in the fact that I’m entirely uninteresting to track.  BUT  would you believe that FitBit information is about to be used in a court of law?  That’s freaky.

•  What life in space is really like.  I’ve seen the movie Gravity… so it’s exactly like that, right!?

•  I’ve gotten really good at talking to strangers in airports.  Mostly strangers don’t want to be talked to in airports but when you find the few that do, good things tend to happen.  I met a man, he lives somewhere in Seattle, he travels to Peru often, he was sure to tell me he was happily married, I was sure to high-five him on his happy marriage.  He ate quesadillas and recommended this book to me:  Pie School by Kate Lebo.  Good call, stranger!  Thank you!

•  What Texting Does To The Spine.  Spoiler alert:  it’s not good.

•  On keeping our dollars right and tight: Meet Mr. Money Mustache, the man who wants you to spend money like you’re poor.

•  The Serial Podcast.  You’re obsessed.  I’m obsessed.  Here are Charts For People Obsessed With Serial.

•  Tinder seems to be an infinite source for sex, dating, and social commentary.  Tinder might be the new Twitter.  I’m scared.  Tinder Guys Unknowingly Answer Carrie’s Questions from “Sex and The City”.  

•  Nashville!  Oooh HEY!  I’m signing books and telling awkward stories at Parnassus Books on December 13th at 2pm.  Then I’m going to eat and drink all the things.  See you!

pictured above is wine times at Keife & Co.  

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Brown Butter Cranberry Almond Pancake Muffins

Brown Butter Cranberry Almond Pancake Muffins

Brown Butter Cranberry Almond Pancake Muffins

Well… I mean… once you have half a bag of fresh cranberries sitting in your refrigerator, you really can’t ignore them.  Technically, you can ignore them until they soften and just about turn themselves into something between wine and jam… but that takes months and is not listed among ideas that are good.

These particular fresh cranberries were left over from the Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie:  a good idea that I will continue to support.

It’s the weekend which means it’s time for warm things straight from the oven, preferably covered in maple syrup.

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Ten Things I Have Learned From My Cat


10 Things I Learned From My Cat

Have you met my cat-animal named TRON?  The cat previously known as Jules Cat Stevens (an entirely unfitting name for this beast of an animal)? TRON is the fluffy, hungry, lazy, crazy creature I let live in my house.  Not only do I let him live with me, but I feed him, well and plentifully.  He’s part wolverine, part shark, and cat so he deserves the best (and a lot of it), so I was thrilled when the folks at Beyond Natural Cat Food approached me about working together on a series celebrating my cat!  Just let it happen… In the coming weeks I’m even designing the perfect CatLady Gift Set (yessss), as well as tips on how to keep your cat healthy and happy.

Over our four short years together, I’ve gotten to know this TRONCAT very well.  He has taught me a handful of lessons about naps, balance, patience, judgement, and good food.

If you have a cat (or pet shark) of your own I’m sure you can relate to one, if not all of the following lessons and nuggets of life advice from TRONCAT.

Thank you in advance for letting my inner CatLady shine.

1.  Every time is nap time.  That means when the little hand on a clock is on any number, and the big hand on a clock is also on any number… you should probably nap.  Go on and get it.  Rest is important.

2.  You’ve seen your human (that girl who feeds you) MEOW the lyrics to songs.  Meowing is universal and especially effective at dinnertime.

3.  Here’s why a hiss is effective.  It’s understated and reveals fangs.  No need to be loud or over the top.  Keep calm but show everyone you’re serious. Also… you have claws for backup, but generally an understated hiss will get your point across.

4.  Most people are the worst people.  Unless, of course, they’re wearing black pants for you to rub your orange fur against… or unless they’re the person that feeds you delicious food.

5.  Scratch the people you love LESS than you scratch the people you don’t like… like, a lot less.  Also consider throwing your loved ones the occasional cuddle but always end the cuddle with a scratch across the knee.  Be nice, but not too nice.

6.  Run away from home exactly ONCE.  Always come home.  Remember, you don’t have to chase the food that falls in your bowl indoors.  Your human places it there because she makes good choices and let’s face it… napping takes priority over chasing food outdoors.

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Mushroom and Mash

Mushroom and Mash

Mushroom and Mash

I just realized something essential to my next week.  Um… this is my first Thanksgiving!  This is the first year, of my 33 years in the world, that I’m hosting my first totally-grown, matching-casserole-dishes, not-paperplate, make-all-the-pies THANKSGIVING at my New Orleans apartment with aaallll of my family.

I’m pretty sure this is a big deal.

I need a plan.  I really need a plan.

Nervously tapping my foot, biting my nails, and drinking toooooo much coffee is not a plan, right?  It’s the opposite of a plan.

I’m putting together a meal that is simple, casual, non-traditional, and filled with sides and pies.  I’m not cooking a turkey… which either makes me THE WORST person, or a genius.  Probably the worst, but even knowing that, I’m still not doing it.  We’re going to enjoy a giant pot of gumbo and aaalll of the Thanksgiving sides, including these fluffy and earthy mashed potatoes.

The plan is coming together (and also includes a triple batch of this Mac and Cheese).

Mushroom and Mash

Being bigtime thankful is also part of the plan.  Thankful for New Orleans, and visiting family, and warm gumbo, and mashed potatoes with roasted mushrooms.  Thankful for all of the good and the gnarly and everything in between.

The Internet wants us to succeed next week:

•  I’m definitely into group games… unless I have to act something out and hope people guess it:  10 Thanksgiving Games To Make The Holiday Fun For Everyone

•  These Molasses Spice Cookies are developing quite the reputation here in New Orleans.  I also love Jessica’s Thanksgiving Dos and Don’ts.  

•  I’m not making a turkey BUT I am ordering aaallll of the gumbo from Cochon Butcher.

•  Dijon Maple Green Beans sound like juuust the ticket.  They also have bacon and feta!

•  Deb’s Pretzel Parker House Rolls!  Just pretzel everything, thanks!

• Tracy’s Creamed Spinach should be an everyday thing, don’t you think?

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Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie (7)

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie (7)

I’ve set out on the very serious task of brainstorming ALL of the Thanksgiving pies.  Good reason.  I’m preparing the welcome most ALL of my family to New Orleans for Thanksgiving.  There will be no turkey in my oven.  There will be no stuffing.  Green beans and cranberry sauce are a major maybe.

There will be a tremendous amount of gumbo and an equally tremendous amount of pie, Apple Cranberry among them.

In addition to a bounty of gumbo and pie, I’m also prepared for a week full of (ohhh gosh) family fun with a detailed week-long itinerary, a bull horn, a few bottles of bourbon, and a whistle.  I mean… right?

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie

Send help.

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