Tag Archives: Baking

No One & Naan

It’s only been 4 months since I posted last & 3 weeks since I started writing this. I wish so whole-heartedly that I was better at all of this that I am. Regardless. I finished something.


bread dough

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I came home tonight and I felt alone.

For the first time in the two weeks that I’ve been roommateless, I felt really alone. Maybe it was because I had no to-do list to keep me company. Maybe it was because I knew that I was exiting a car with two people whom I love dearly and entering an empty house.

My co-worker’s father died this week. Tonight was his wake. Tomorrow they will put him in the ground, whisper long goodbyes.

Death stirs up so many questions, and still for me, illuminates so many fears about family, friends, and self. And this haunting thought—it is coming for those I love.

It’s on nights like these- lonely, quiet, fearful- when you need something warm and hopeful and home.

So I mixed the flour and the sugar and the yeast and the water. I formed thin, round circles. I covered with a cloth. I waited.

There’s something about yeasted bread that gives so much comfort. The perfume of dough rising smells nothing less than home.  The feel of a loaf proofing puts magic at your finger tips.

Yeast is a magical thing. It lies dormant in our refrigerators and pantries, awakening to life with a little warmth, a little sugar. It’s comforting. It shows evidence of life—springing up, bubbling over— where there seemed to be nothing by dry, desert death.

And I heated oil over flame to transform the dough into bread, the nothing into naan. Four misshapen rounds of dough becoming bread.

I took a round from the plate where it lay cooling. I broke it, still so warm—almost too warm for my skin to take— and remembered a body broken. Remembered a death. Remembered a sacrifice—a remembrance so unexpected.

I took it and ate. I remembered and gave thanks for a life-given for my life-rescued.

I chewed and thought only of communion, thought only of doing this in remembrance of Me. Thought only of the dry, dead yeast springing up dough like my dry, dead heart springing up with new Life, new Hope. I thought only of the death which gave and which gives life.

And I was filled—with warmth, with home, with Hope. I was filled with remembrance & thanksgiving that from death springs forth life; from old springs forth new; from pain springs forth joy; from Christ springs forth communion.

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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.


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.


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!


Sorry. That’s a bit dramatic.

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

blondies 003

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.


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.


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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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.

Pralines 009Sugar

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.


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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Homemade Rice Pudding.

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November 7, 2012 · 8:05 pm