Category Archives: to bake.

Strawberry Rhubarb Mojito Sorbet


I know what you’re thinking.
It’s been a while—it’s just been too long.

I know, I know. I’m so sorry. You were probably thinking awful thoughts, thoughts like:  Did she die?! Has she given up on baking?!  Is she throwing her life away?!

I’m back to assure you that I’m still alive, I’m still baking, and…well, I’m still alive.

That last bit is too weighty for this fun post that is all about sorbet. Ah, yes! Light! Refreshing! ALMOST ICE CREAM BUT NOT QUITE!

Or not at all…

Anywho, after several months of what we’ll kindly refer to as “tummy troubles,” I had some allergy testing done. Long story short, I’ve been avoiding three major items: wheat, eggs, and milk. Talk about throwing a wrench into the life of someone who loves food! But, I’m surviving and having fun trying new foods and learning to live life as a carnivorous vegan.

Mmmm…meat!

This dairy-free lifestyle has also meant giving up one of my favorite things in the entire world: GoBerry frozen yogurt. It’s a cute, local frozen yogurt shop serving up perfectly tart and delicious froyo made from local yogurt and local milk and a marvelous array of toppings.

Sigh. Drool.

With warm weather on the horizon, I’m finding a need for a frozen treat that isn’t frozen grapes.

Enter…SORBET!

After buying an excessive amount of rhubarb for a berry crumble (gluten free & vegan—delicious! I can’t wait to share!), I decided that I’d find a way to get the extra into a sorbet. What I ended up with is tangy yet perfectly sweet with hints of citrus. Plus, it looks really beautiful!

I give you…Strawberry Rhubarb Mojito Sorbet!

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White Chocolate Macadamia Blondies

I have felt extremely busy this past week… and a half– holy smokes it’s Tuesday! I’m not sure if I’ve actually been busy–the level of busy that I’ve felt– or not. Whatever. It’s all the same.

And then the time change! Goodness gracious. As if I hadn’t felt tired enough! And then all of this rain!

WHEN WILL IT END?!?!

Sorry. That’s a bit dramatic.

Regardless, I made these blondies last week and wanted to share them with you.

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Mid-making I got into a heated discussion with my roommate who told me that a blondie was the same thing as a cookie which was the same thing as a brownie which was the same thing as cake. Butter-whipping, sugar-scooping Alyssa (das me) nearly had a heart attack. After she had one of these guys, she took it back…I think.

I guess that means that they were good.

When you love baked goods and your body hates wheat, life can be hard. Gluten-free flour substitutes just aren’t they same. They’re not bad, just different.

The beautiful thing about these blondies is that they’re made with almond flour (or almond meal) so it doesn’t require any substitutes. Almond meal is literally just almonds ground until they’re suuuuuuper fine. Kind of like flour…hence the name. You could even blanch almonds and make it yourself with a food-processor. But I am lazy so I just bought mine at Trader Joe’s.

Glorious!

If that wasn’t motivation enough, these blondies have macadamia nuts. If butter were a nut, it would be a macadamia. They’re smooth and light and unsuspectingly fattening. I don’t think they qualify as a “heart healthy” nut. They’re probably Paula Deen’s favorite. And they also pair amazingly with white chocolate.

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And this white chocolate situation–yum. I know some people be hatin’ on white chocolate. Not me.

I’m going to be real with you right now. I’m lazy. The evidence:

  • I took most of these photos on my iPhone.
  • I didn’t have unsalted butter so…yup.
  • I didn’t have corn starch so…we’ll get to that. Continue reading

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Strawberry Spinach Salad

 

 

Sometimes you run out of dish soap in your kitchen. Sometimes the dishes pile up in your tiny little kitchen to the point where you don’t have any counter space or clean things to eat on and cook with. Sometimes, although you really want to, you just can’t motivate yourself to leave your house in the rural cell service-less country and drive the thirty minutes to the nearest Target (especially when you were “in town” a few hours earlier…)

Sometimes those dirty dishes are a really inconvenient excuse to not cook…or bake.

Life. It’s crazy. Lunch. It’s delicious.

Trader Joe’s was having this killer deal on strawberries this week- $2.99 for a pound. Let’s just say that someone that I know ate the whole pound in roughly 24 hours and had to go back to Trader Joe’s last night and get some more.

I put them on homemade frozen yogurt (I’m working on perfecting a recipe!) I ate them for breakfast. I put them on a salad. Ah hem, this person did all of those things.

This salad is simple & simply delicious. This salad can bring a little love (and color) to your life when the weather has consisted mostly of rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow.

 

It takes 3 minutes & you know you wanna…

 

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Lemon Blueberry Bread

Food is the way that I care for people. I’m not always very good…err…very eloquent with my words. Especially if I have to say them outloud.

However, I’m pretty well-versed in food.

I firmly believe that things like sugar and butter say “I love you!” louder than most words that I could string together.

I made this bread for a boss’s birthday a few years ago. Since it was sort of a “free game” type of deal in the office, one of my selfish, male coworkers ate most of it. But as he choked down nearly half of the loaf, he kept remarking that it was “like, the best bread [he’d] ever had.”

His passion for the Lemon Blueberry Bread was evident. It was literally all over his face.

And I agreed. It was pretty dang good. And pretty dang easy.

Lemon Blueberry Bread

I needed a snack idea. I needed it to be easy. I needed it to be yummy. I needed it to be easy to serve. And I needed it for that night.

I had all of these ingredients on hand, which is just wonderful, so Lemon Blueberry Bread it was!

Don’t get me wrong, I love blueberries, but they are so not the star of this bread. The best part of this treat actually isn’t even the bread part- it’s the lemon glaze. It’s sweet and tart and totally changes your life. Without it, this bread would be ehhhh. But the lemon, it makes it mmmmmmmm.

Lemons are one of my favorite things. They make me think of springtime and sunshine and warm days and barbecues  They’re beautiful and tasty. I like lemons in my water and in my baked goods. My signature dessert is a lemon square. That is a different post for a different time. My friend Nikki told me that I should open a bakery, name it Lemon, and only serve things made with lemon. I see very few things wrong with this idea.

This recipe contains both lemon zest AND fresh lemon juice. This is a win-win.

Prepare to be dazzled.

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Pralines & A Culinary Trip to Nawlins

I love new places. I love them more than new faces. I’ve realized that quite a bit over the last year.

New faces are hard…because they talk and need attention. New places are great because they’re just begging to be explored…and eaten from.

If you haven’t been to New Orleans, Louisiana, you have not yet lived. Seriously. New Orleans has a culture that is so vibrant, so beautiful, and so unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been.

Before I explored the beautiful city, I equated New Orleans with Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, and topless ladies. Gosh, was I an ignorant fool!

New Orleans is full of comfort food, beautiful people, unique architecture, phenomenal music, and a whole lot of fun. Besides eating out, my favorite activity while I was there was the Rock ‘n Bowl with some killer Zydeco music. Gosh, I danced like a foolish wet noodle.

So sweet.

Because New Orleans is down South, they do food right. They do food delicious.

Crawfish etoufee. Yes, please.

Gumbo? Yes, definitely.

Alligator sausage po-boy? You had me at sausage.

Beignets? Take me to Café Du Monde and bring on the powdered sugar.

But these little guys, they are a delightful piece of sugary goodness.

Pralines. [Pronounced “pray-leans.”]

Now, before I went to NOLA, I thought that a praline was JUST a candied pecan. That is not true. These are pralines. They are not just candied nuts. They’re globs of candied nuts. And they are wonderful.

They are so sweet. Just thinking about them get my mouth watering and my cavities burrowing deeper into my uninsured teeth. Yikes!

Pralines are a candy. Don’t be scared. It will be fine. You don’t even need a thermometer for these guys.

Candies start with sugar. Lots of sugar.

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We’re making these pralines for our small group. Buckle up.

via Joy the Baker’s cookbook

Joy's Pralines

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup heavy cream

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

2 cups pecan halves

Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper, tin foil, or a handy-dandy silicone baking sheet. Set those guys aside. Start with a medium sauce pan with a heavy bottom. Combine both sugars, the salt, and the heavy cream and heat over medium heat. Stir. Cook until the mixture is bubbling through and smooth. The sugar should be fully incorporated. Add the butter and pecans. Stir until the butter has melted and then let the mixture boil for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. After 12-15 minutes, spoon the pecany-delicious mixture, by tablespoons, onto the prepared cookie sheets. Give them a little space because they will spread a bit. Allow to cool for a minimum of 30 minutes before removing from the cookie tray.

Pralines

Dig in and enjoy a taste of the beautiful city of New Orleans. Then buy a plane ticket and go there. Get some beignets and a café au lait at Café Du Monde and then go dance your white, noodle-y butt off at the Rock ‘n Bowl. Ride a street car to Jacquimo’s and get some Alligator Cheesecake. Leave a big tip.

If the above is not financially feasible, these pralines are a much more economical solution. But still. Put Nawlins on your Bucket List. And put one of these pralines into your belly.

You’ll thank me later.

Candy Goodness

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Pancakes: A lesson in Brinner

I can’t think about breakfast for dinner without thinking about my brother. Jamie calls it brinner. I think it’s his absolute favorite.

I think that pancakes are a good brinner option. I can’t make pancakes without thinking of Jack Johnson. And he forces me to put bananas into them there pancakes. And they always taste so right.

Brinner is wonderful for a beautifully lazy dinner. Chicken tastes days to defrost in the fridge. That requires too much forethought.  Pancakes are instant gratification. Sweet, instant gratification.

Dessert for breakfast…err…brinner, dinner.

Since turning 25, my body has made it quite clear that it doesn’t like wheat. I don’t want to share any more details than that. Luckily, gluten-free Santa brought gluten-free Alyssa lots of gluten-free goodies for Christmas.

That’s right. I’m talking about making pancakes and I didn’t even make them from scratch. That’s okay sometimes. Be real with yourself. Like, let’s be real. I haven’t showered today. I haven’t changed out of sweatpants. I cleaned 10 toilets that do not belong to me today.

Welcome to camp & conferencing.

We’re making pancakes.

We’re using:

1 ½ cups Bob’s Red Mill Pancake Mix

1 egg

¾ cup milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 banana, sliced

¼ cup pecans, toasted

We mix together the ingredients (sans banana & pecans…save those for later!) until relatively smooth. We taste to make sure it’s going to be as delicious as we hope. Suspicions confirmed.

The vanilla I’m currently using was a favor from a lovely friend’s wedding. I strategically picked my seat so that I could get the vanilla. Thanks, Marissa!



We’re getting our griddle and/or frying pan nice and hot and coating it with a nice layer of vegetable oil.

Pour ¼ cup of the pancake batter into the hot frying pan. Strategically place banana slices on the pancake. Strategically is sort of a weird word for this situation. Do your initials, make a smile, cover every inch with banana. I chose the latter option.

When it begins to bubble through, flip the pancake and cook a few minutes longer on the other side.

Repeat!

You could add chocolate chips if you’d like. I made a few with chocolate chips for my roommate just in case she comes home for dinner.

Top with toasted pecans. Drizzle with syrup.

At this point, your friend will stop by and you’ll be too busy chatting and shoving your face with banana-brown-sugar pancakes topped with toasted pecans to take a picture of the finished product.

Congratulations. You’ve just made brinner.

Thank you, Jame-Jame. Thank you, Jack Johnson. Thank you, Santa!

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Homemade Rice Pudding.

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November 7, 2012 · 8:05 pm