You know what’s weird? Getting older. I think it must be weird for everyone.
I’m celebrating a birthday this weekend. The big 32. That just sounds strange. I was just getting used to 30, but I feel like I’m 26. Somewhere. Somehow. The numbers feel off.
I’m not the kind of person who has life goals set for each year of life. I don’t feel behind in the marriage game. I can barely handle babysitting. I’m not trying to reach the top of the baking ladder… that just sounds sticky. I subscribe to the idea that working really hard and loving people better every day will get me where I want to be each day, week, month and year. Too loose a plan? I dunno. It feels right. It requires a lot of ever-changing lists…but it feels right.
I don’t make myself a birthday cake and blog about it. Birthday cake doesn’t taste as good if you make it for yourself. It’s a thing. This year I’m going to eat as many doughnuts as my heart desires. This will probably fall in the 2 to 8.5 range… I’ll let you know where I land. Ps. My dream birthday cake is this Angel Food Cake with Vanilla Strawberries. Hint (Dad, do you still read my blog?) Hint.
Every year I make a list of things I’ve gained perspective on, and a list of things that I’m still stubbornly trying to figure out. The list is as shallow as selfies and as deep as God… because that’s exactly how life is. On the real. On the reg.
This Is That: a list
(by ‘you’ I mean ‘me’, always.)
ONE: Have honest friendships. You really can’t afford to be friends with someone who will let you have spinach in your teeth all night. You’re not that graceful.
TWO: Take as many selfies as it takes for everyone to look good in the picture. Come on… common courtesy.
THREE: You only need one good purse… and it doesn’t have to be this season’s super expensive impossible bag. Come on… a vintage Coach bag that you’ve brought back to life with leather polish is totally IT!
FOUR: Upon entering ‘the club’ where people are drinking and dancing and acting a fool (and it’s so much fun), be aware of the fact that you look like you’re in your 30′s… because you are. You’re not fooling anyone. The 25 year old guy that yells in your ear that you look 28… he’s being nice and he’s a liar. You look 32. It’s ok. Dazzle him with your awkward dance moves. He’s 25… who cares (not you!).
FIVE: You glorify being busy …but you don’t know how to stop. Maybe admitting it helps? Realtalk: You know what you should be glorifying. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with God.
SIX: Any tiny annoyance you have before two martinis will be a big yell-y ISSUE after two martinis. Think/Re-think those martinis.
SEVEN: CAPS LOCK LIVING! Think about what that means to you and run with it.
EIGHT: You’re actually really cool. Not because anyone else thinks you are, but because you think you are. The secret to being cool: just think it true. Others will follow suit.
Image credit Whitney Adams
NINE: Rappers rap about some stooooopid stuff that you, as a classy lady, do not need to be/concern yourself with. Pfffft. In their dreams. Can ladies start rapping about men with passion, integrity, a job, and nice shoes? Yea…. it’s like that.
TEN: Ask yourself ‘just who the heck do you think you are?’ in a very non-rhetorical way every once in a while. The answer is important.
ELEVEN: It doesn’t matter what size the clothing label says, it only matters that it feels good and falls well on your body. AKA… you’re not that size anymore, kick it up a notch, it’s cool, love your thighs. GEEZ!
TWELVE: When in doubt (which is often): confetti and champagne.
THIRTEEN: Go on a roller coaster at least once a year because they make you laugh-scream like nothing else on the planet.
FOURTEEN: Tell your parents that you’re glad they’re your parents. They’ll be like ‘Whaaaat!? That’s a crazy thing to say!’, but they’ll feel it in their hearts and probably buy you lunch. Do it because you mean it… not for the free lunch.
FIFTEEN: Chill out. Halle Barry is pregnant.
SIXTEEN: It’s ok to say things like ‘I don’t know.’. It’s waaaay better than arguing a point when you’re not on solid ground.
SEVENTEEN: What does it look like to dig deep every day? It looks exhausting, and kinda terrifying, and kinda like the best days that ever happened day after day after day.
EIGHTEEN: Get good at a thing and never apologize for being good at that thing. It’s all yours.
NINETEEN: Never trust someone who refers to themselves a ‘tastemaker’. Don’t be fooled. You won’t be bossed.
TWENTY: Give more, even when you think you have nothing to give… you do! Sidenote: I bought myself a Giving Key and I’m sponsoring another child with Compassion for my birthday. Yes… selfie birthday presents.
TWENTY ONE: You have a story to tell. Everyone does! Tell it proud!
Happy Birthday to Us! We all have one, and I’m glad that we do!
Other times I wrote words:
sprinkle image credit Paola Parsons
diva joy next to a bike image credit Whitney Adams
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me what I thought was a totally ridiculous question. She said, ‘How do you feed yourself?’.
Um… With a fork. Sometimes chopsticks. Occasionally my hands. Usually a shovel.
What she meant was… how do you feed your creativity? My initial answer was bewilderment. What? Don’t people just work and work until they can’t work anymore and then collapse on the couch and watch reruns of The Voice? Not everyone does that? Oh…
My friend was right. Creativity is such a bountiful blessing but it does take some tending to. Creativity can be exhausted. I reach that point in my brain often and it leaves me wondering exactly what else I can smash butter and bacon into (I’m sorry/not sorry that I do that).
Work is awesome and I’m a total fiend for it, but it’s not a creativity feeder. Couch-time is just like turning my brain to stand-by mode… welcome but not a creativity feeder. Pasta is a belly and creativity feeder. Ok! We’ve got one on the list so far.
Bike rides are also a creativity feeder. Seeing how the sun makes shapes in the world, watching people live this life, and daydreaming about the lives of my neighbors… these things totally get my brain working. Yes! Two things on our list! Now we’re cookin’.
Let’s go on a creativity-feeding, pasta-heavy adventure. I hope this inspires you get out and see your neighborhood in a new light. You don’t necessarily need a fancy bike or mason, a pair of loafers and a granola bar will do for a nice stroll. Get out there and find what feeds you (I hope there’s pasta involved).
Before we head out the door, we must assemble our snack!
Orecchiette is my favorite cold pasta shape. The little ear shape holds all sorts of pesto and pistachio goodness.
I tossed warm pasta with a pre-made basil pesto. If you’d like to make your own pesto… it’s super easy! I love this Spinach Cashew Pesto.
Cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella chunks stud this pasta. I also added salty green olives and lots of chopped pistachios. Green-themed.
Tomato Basil Orecchietti with Pistachios
serves 1 (with leftovers)
2 cups dried orecchietti pasta
about 1 cup basil pesto
1 handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves and quarters
1 handful fresh small mozzarella balls, sliced in halves and quarters
1 small handful shelled salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a good sprinkling of salt and pasta. Cook until pasta is tender through, about 9 minutes. Drain well and promptly return to the pot. Top hot pasta with pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella, and pistachios. Taste and season as necessary! It’s totally easy… it’s supposed to be.
Pasta is jarred and ready for our adventure.
We’ll need a beverage treat as well!
Strawberry, lime, and basil seem like wonderful things to smash together.
Our drink is slightly sweet (from the strawberries), has fragrant herby notes, and a little punch from lime. It’s super refreshing.
If it is your inclination to add gin… I totally feel ya… but there’s no drinking and biking. Not so safe.
Strawberry Basil Lime Smash
3 fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
juice of 1 lime
Smash strawberries and chopped basil in a small bowl. Add the strawberries and basil to a glass filled with ice. Top with lime juice and cold water. Serve. Yea… it’s totally that easy!
Adventure supplies include:
- an old painting tarp for use as a solo picnic blanket.
- an old map ripped from the Thomas Guide I used to look through in the back seat of my parents’ Jeep Cherokee.
- a canvas napkin and silver fork… because I’m worth the real-deal.
- sunglasses: designer or otherwise. (Mine are totally from Target.)
- bike gear including flashing lights and a helmet (to keep your hard head hard)
- reading inspiration. I chose the deconstructed food magazine Middlewest.
- a notebook and pencil for random bursts of creativity.
- adventure lunch and strawberry-smash drink!
- (not pictured) my Canon Rebel T5i camera… because i’m using it to shoot (duh!)
With my bag packed and my bike tires pumped, it’s time to take off!
This might sound strange. A majority of the things I say here sound strange… but, I love front doors.
I love how differently people choose to display the door that welcomes people into their space. It’s sort of like looking at everyone’s shoes.
I can be guilty of not stopping to smell the roses, or appreciate the bouganvilla, or take in the craaazy looking ivy.
Taking these little pieces of nature in makes me think I should take out my watercolor paints, right!?
I love how late afternoon light creates these bold shadows.
I played with my Canon Rebel T5i‘s Sport Mode while watching these kids at the skate park. Even just playing with a new camera mode can help me kick the walls out of the box I’m in.
I love when shadows help create new shapes in a photograph. I’m usually at home shooting food on a tiny butcher block, trying to avoid direct light and too many bright brights or dark shadows. When I’m out in the world, I want the let the brights and shadows play.
Also… just so we’re clear. The kid with the blue ball is trying to hit the other two kids in the head. Totally normal.
Also… Let’s be models.
I love Venice Beach.
Bright skies and rippled house shadows.
In the Venice Canals, Los Angeles.
Every day-explorer need a little rest and snack time.
Every day-explorer also needs a giant cone of ice cream.
Los Angeles adopts a dusty pink haze as the sun starts to set.
I love the energy around sunset at the beach. It feels like everyone slows to appreciate the sincerity of the moment.
Ugh… why don’t I just take my dang shoes off?
As the sun goes down, I like to shoot into the light, letting the sun create gorgeous silhouettes of the shapes in front of me.
Palm trees, a shuttered life guard stand, the Santa Monica Pier. It all just feels so pink and dusty and full of anticipation. Is it the kind of thing that makes you want to marry the night… or is that just me?
I hope you’re inspired to take some time, strap on your bike helmet, grab your camera, pack up your pasta, and go for a little day adventure of your own. It really doesn’t take much. Just some eyes wide open to what the world wants to show you. That sounds so hippie-dippy, but it’s totally just true. Feed yo’self!
All images captured on the Canon RebelT5i.
Friday is a dangerous day.
Friday afternoon, after a long week of words and dishes and more dishes and words… I feel very deserving.
I feel like I deserve a double cheeseburger with short ribs. I feel like I deserve a negroni or several. I feel like I should see how many Oreo cookies I can fit in my mouth… just so I know… in case anyone ever asks.
Maybe I am deserving of such indulgence. Maybe though… maybe I’m just eating my feelings a little bit. Real life. I’m just being honest.
Here we are staring Monday in the face. I’m ready for something green… and something a little less short rib-y.
A few months ago we talked about juicing. It’s totally a thing.
Takes some fruits and vegetables, mash them through a grind-y thing, drink the juice and hope it tastes good.
Today’s Apple Cucumber Celery Kale Ginger Juice definitely tasted great! Not like short ribs… but that’s good, right?
Let’s talk green, and you don’t even need a juicer to do it!
Spinach Kiwi and Chia Seed Smoothie. Spinach is totally drinkable, even without a juicer. Spinach grinds into a smoothie like a dream. Hidden greens. Not so hidden.
Kale Spinach and Pear Smoothie. Doubling the greens means super-hero status.
Apple Cucumber Celery Kale Ginger Juice
1 cucumber, sliced
1 apple, cored and sliced
2 heaping cups kale leaves, stems removed
3 stalks celery, greens and all, cut into chunks
juice of 1 lemon
1 inch fresh ginger, unpeeled is fine
Press all of the produce through a juicer. Enjoy immediately. It’s green!
I’m currently working on the pie chapter for my new cookbook… the new book that doesn’t yet have a name, but does have an awesome (and ever evolving) BRUNCH CHAPTER, and should be in your hot little hands in Fall 2014. Now though… now, I’m working on the pie chapter. It’s a humdinger. It’s a doozie.
A lot of words go into the making of a pie. A lot of butter goes into the making of a pie. A lot of proportions, and cream, and cornstarch, and hope, and confidence, and trust, and joy. Sometimes tears.
If you do it right, you can taste it all.
It’s hard to find the words to express the chaos and triumph of pie baking. It’s also hard to find the words to express the chaos and triumph of writing a book.
Whoa. Wait. Did I just have a breakthrough?
While I gather my thoughts, gather my butter, gather my pie recipes and try to get everything sorted… I’m realizing that some recipes were just too good to keep from you for so long. This is that.
I hope you make a pie this weekend. I also hope the pie plate is scraped clean come Sunday night.
I love you, it’s true.
Strawberry and rhubarb are just about jumping off the shelves in California markets. I think that might sound like a humble brag… but I don’t mean it too.
Summer is comin’ at us, and it totally wants to make out. I’m game. Let’s do this.
This dish is like having your pie and eating your crumble too.
Yes. Two crust elements.
This buttery buttermilk pie crust is going to hold all of our strawberry and rhubarb goodness.
First we have to roll it out and make it pretty.
Coconut and oat crumble is going to top our pie. This feels right.
The chaos that leads to triumph.
This pie feels like everything it is supposed to be. It’s sweet and juicy, hearty and incredibly satisfying. It’s the kind of pie that might inspire you to wave over that neighbor you’ve never actually spoken to, and offer her a slice of pie. She’ll probably look at you like you’re crazy, but no on says no to pie. Ok… weirdos say no to pie… but that’s their problem, not yours.
I feel like this is one of the best things to come out of my kitchen this year… and A LOT of things have come out of my kitchen this year. This pie shines bright.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie
makes 1 9-inch pie
For the Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoon cold buttermilk
For the Filling:
3 cups 1/2-inch thick sliced rhubarb (about 1 pound)
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
large pinch of salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup granulated sugar
large pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes OR coarsely chopped pecans
To Make the Crust:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. Add a bit more buttermilk if necessary, but you want to mixture to be shaggy and not outwardly wet.
On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Gently knead into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.
To roll out the pie crust, on a well floured surface, roll the crust 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan Fold the edges under and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.
To Make the Filling:
In a medium bowl, toss together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, cornstarch, salt, and lemon juice. Toss until all of the fruit is covered in a coating of sugar and cornstarch. The cornstarch will disappear and the sugars will begin to make juice with the fruit. Allow to rest at room temperature while you make the topping.
To Make the Topping:
In a medium bowl (yea… we’re using a lot of medium bowls), whisk together flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter chunks and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the mixture until well incorporated. Some butter bits will be the size of peas, and smaller. Add the coconut (or pecans if using) and toss to combine.
To Assemble the Pie:
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator. Toss a handful (about 1/2 cup) of the topping mixture into the fruit mixture, toss. Dump the fruit mixture into the pie crust. Top generously with topping mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. It’s important to use the middle rack because if the pie is too close to the top of the oven, the coconut will burn quickly.
Bake the pie for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 35 to 45 minutes, or until the pie is juicy, bubbling, and golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 2 hours before serving. This will help the juices mellow and thicken a bit. Pie is best served just slightly warm with vanilla ice cream. Store covered in the refrigerator.
I realized this week that I use Instagram at a mini vacation from work. I click on my phone, tap into the Instagram app and scroll through images of your lives.
My mind wanders through pictures of your perfectly portioned lunch, your late afternoon coffee meeting , yes your child is totally cute… of course I’ll tap like on that picture.
You’re a farmer in the English countryside? Show me things! Help me escape!
You love taking pictures of your shoes? Sure, I’m into it. I’ll like that!
You like holding random objects up in front of a white backdrops? I’m down.
You’re Rihanna? You’re crazy and I kinda love it.
Ooh… you had a party and I wasn’t invited? That’s awkward for everyone, now isn’t it? Suddenly this mini work vacation feels bad.
Aaaand, just as easily as I click in for vacation… I can click out.
Um… Instagram vacations might not be that brain healthy. They’re cheap and easy and in-chair.
Speaking of Spring Rolls (I totally wasn’t speaking of Spring Rolls)…
I think we should unwrap and deconstruct spring rolls, load up a giant bowl, douse it in spicy peanut sauce, and have a mini eat-vacation. I did that. Obviously I took pictures… ironically, I didn’t Instagram it.
I started my Spring Roll Bowl with a big batch of softened Saifun (cellophane or bean thread) Noodles. I couldn’t find rice noodles at the store so I made eyes with these buddies.
What I love about these noodles is that they soften so easily, in a big bowl of hot water. No simmering, salting, and boiling.
After the noodles are softened, they’re topped with basically any fresh Spring Roll inspired ingredient you can think of.
This is where it gets fun!
I topped my bowl with fresh carrot ribbons, pea sprouts, thinly sliced cucumber, ripe avocado, and orange bell pepper.
Fresh herbs are really important to brighten up the bowl: cilantro, mint, and basil! Keys to the kitchen!
Lime juice adds a kick in the mouth.
Peanut sauce (I used pre-made, from a jar… gasp!) is our binding, rounding, spicy, oh my gosh soooo good element.
I made these vegetarian but they would be supreme with grilled shrimp or roasted chicken.
It’s lunch-vacation! You’ll need a napkin.
Spring Roll in a Bowl
inspired by The Fresh 20
1 (roughly 5 ounce package) Saifun (bean thread noodles) (ride noodles also work well)
1 ripe avocado, pit removed, peeled, and sliced into chunks
1 cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
1 orange or red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
1 handful sprouts (and sort you’re into)
small handful fresh cilantro leaves, torn
smaller handful of fresh basil, torn
small-ish handful fresh mint leaves, torn
1/4 cup peanut dipping sauce, or to taste
handful shelled roasted and salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
Place noodles in a large mixing bowl. Top noodles with boiling water. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until cooked through. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse with cool water. Shake the excess water out.
Place noodles on a large serving tray, or divide between 4 bowls. Top with all sorts of goodies like avocado, cucumber, pepper, carrots, sprouts, and fresh herbs. Add a protein like grilled shrimp, roasted chicken, or seared tofu if you’d like. Drizzle with peanut sauce. Add chopped pistachios and a squeeze of lime. Serve!
This is my Dance Like Nobody Is Watching Sandwich.
I’ve been pretty humble on my blog up until this point, but it’s time I tell you something: I’m an uh-mazing dancer. (This is a bald-faced LIE!)
In my dreams, I’m an amazing dancer. In reality I’m a whole lotta elbows on the dance floor. Things get real arm-y. I also have this butt move that I’m pretty sure is flawless… but I refuse to bust that move in any sort of close proximity to a mirror. I fear I may be sadly mistaken.
I dance like nobody is watching because on a dance floor, no one is watching! Everyone is too consumed with their own possibly embarrassing butt move to be concerned with me, their elbow-y neighbor.
I’d like to take this moment to kindly suggest that we also eat like nobody is watching
Maybe that means putting peanut butter and sweet pickles on the same sandwich. Go on… I dare ya.
I am not pregnant. You can put that out of your mind here and now.
I am a little crazy. You can keep that in your mind here and now.
I topped super-seeded whole grain bread with all-natural peanut butter. I layered a mega amount of bread and butter pickles over the peanut butter and drizzled the whole madness with pure maple syrup.
How can this possibly be edible?
Oooh goodness… it’s like the taste bud fairies did an ugly backflip and blessed this combination.
The peanut butter is our earthy base flavor. The pickles are a combination of sweet and tart so they know how to play nice with base flavors. Maple syrup compliments the saltiness of the peanut butter and pickles and…. you’re still looking at me like I’m crazy.
I get it. I’m weird. You’re either on the awkward-elbow-dance-train, or you’re not.
I can feel you trying to brain-taste this combination. I can feel your curiosity. Give this sandwich a try!
Oh… I should tell you now that me and your great aunt Mary are the only two people on the planet that like bread and butter pickles. If you’re scared to buy a jar of your own, just go to her house for a quick visit. Make her a sandwich too. She’ll be into it. Trust me. Your great aunt Mary and I know what’s up.
What’s that? You want to go with dill pickles!? I respect your tenacity. Get up with the get down.
Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich
makes 1 sandwich
2 slices whole grain bread (extra yummy with seeded bread)
3 to 4 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter
6 to 8 slices bread and butter pickles
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup.
Spread each slice of bread with peanut butter. Top the peanut butter with pickles. Drizzle maple syrup over the pickles. Smash on the other slice of bread, peanut butter side down. You didn’t really need these directions to make a sandwich…. but this is just the sort of thing we do.
Welcome Friday! It’s time for Mother’s Day cocktail inspiration!
It’s been a stunning week of color and brunch-fun with HonestlyYUM.
Todd, the cocktail mind behind HonestlyYUM, whipped up (literallly) these incredible Raspberry Rose Fizzes. Fresh raspberries, fragrant rose, and frothy egg whites for added class. This is just beyond! Find the recipe here!
images by HonestlyYUM
We had such a wonderful time putting together these pretties for you this week! I hope you’ve found some inspiration to treat your mama right. In the very least, get a card. Mamas have an abnormal amount of love for cards.
Thank YOU for being here/being awesome. You are appreciated.
Time is a gift.
I know this because everyday feels like no one has time for anything ever. I’m not complaining. I’m not above it. I’m all up in it. No time? Guilty as ever.
Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is your time. Time at a new restaurant for one of those extra long lunches with pink wine and comfortable eye contact. Time at the dog park with a friend… when you’re mostly scared of large groups of dogs. Time on the phone when it’s late and your phone is over-heating on your face. Time in the kitchen making a very (very) special cake for the woman that took the dang time to carry you around in her body for nine dang months.
Time. Gosh it’s such a gift.
Let’s find some and share it with each other.
It’s time for cake!
No time for intimidation.
Ingredients can smell your fear. An awesome cooking teacher once told me that, and it’s totally true.
If you can whip together a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies, you can tackle a triple layer cake too. I believe in you (and so does yo’ mama)!
Softened butter is creamed with sugar then beaten with eggs The mixture will look a bit curdled. Don’t fret. It’ll come together with the help of cake flour.
We’re kicking this yellow cake up a notch with white chocolate chips. They melt while baking, but once the cake is cooled and frosted, they lend a nice sweet crunch to the cake insides.
I’ve been known to eat white chocolate chips by the handful. Help.
While the cakes bake I made the frosting and filling. The frosting: simple whipped cream, lightly sweetened, with a hint of rose water.
Rose water smells as good as you’d hope it might. It is, afterall, a distillation of rose petals.
In the whipped cream frosting, rose water lends more of a fragrance than taste. It’s subtle, delicate, and just… pretty!
Finely chopped white chocolate chunks and sliced strawberries fill this cake. Such goodness.
Also… if you look too closely into the tablespoon, you can see me taking this photo in my green pants. I’m glad you can’t see my hair.
Cakes are baked and cooled completely before frosting.
If you’ve ever tried to fudge it and frost a slightly warm cake, you know what a disaster this can be. Learn from me. Cool the cake.
I lined the edges of my cake plate with three thin sheets of parchment paper. Lining the area around the cake will keep the cake plate clean after the cake is frosted. Just shimmy the parchment from underneath the cake and you’re good to go! Mmm hmm. Easy.
Each layer of cake is topped generously with whipped cream, studded with fresh strawberry slices, and sprinkled with white chocolate.
I want a piece exactly right now.
I understand that frosting a cake can seem daunting. I totally get it.
Back in the Stone Ages when I started this blog, I wrote a little tutorial about How To Frost a Cake. Check it out if frosting a cake is a stressy prospect for you.
Tremendously helpful cake frosting tool: a warm glass of water. Cleaning the frosting knife with warm water makes smoothing the frosting easier. You don’t want to fight frosting with frosting. That never ends well.
Find the prettiest roses you can get your hands on. Put them up to your nose for a deep inhale. Then… rip their petal heads off. Cruel world, I know.
I placed the center of the rose petals in the center of the cake. Then generously arrange petals circling around the cake.
Your inspiration should be a show-stopping amount of petals. Get in the spirit!
Everyone should have a go-to, fail-safe yellow cake recipe. This is that! Deb from Smitten Kitchen knows her way around a cake. It’s moist and tender, but still solid enough to withstand a bit of manhandling, stacking, filling, and frosting. Cake flour is an important part of this cake recipe. It keeps the cake light. If you don’t have any on hand, you can make your own cake flour too!
Rose-scented whipped cream is totally divine and mom-friendly. If you aren’t able to find rose water, you could also add a splash of pure almond extract, just a touch will do. Strawberries are in season, but maybe you’re more of a raspberry person. Feel free to switch it up.
Do you eat the rose petals? Well…. no. I used the rose petals for decorative purposes only. Once the cake was sliced and plated, I removed the rose petals and got down with the cake. Also, cake will last, frosted and decorated in the refrigerator for several days. Just on the FYI.
White Chocolate Rose Cake with Strawberries
yellow cake adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen
makes 1 three layer 9-inch cake
For the Cake:
4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup white chocolate chunks
For the Frosting:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons rose water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Filling:
1/2 cup finely chopped white chocolate chunks
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
fresh rose petals, for topping the cake
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. This is a triple layer cake, so butter and flour three 9-inch cake pans if you have them. I only have two pans, so I baked two cakes, then baked the last cake after the first two were out of the oven.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.
Turn the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients. Add half of the buttermilk and beat until just combined. Add the remaining flour and buttermilk and beat until just combined. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and finish incorporating the batter with a spatula. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure there is no butter or flour hiding down there. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Divide the batter among the two cake pans, making sure that you save enough batter for the last cake to bake off. If you have three pans, divide the batter in three. Spread batter evenly in each pan then rap each pan on the counter top to help the batter settle and eliminate any air bubbles. Bake until bubbled and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Insert a skewer into the center of the cake. If it comes out dry with just a few crumbs, it’s done! Cool cakes in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
If you’re baking off your last cake round, be sure to re-grease and flour the pan before adding the last of the cake batter.
To make the frosting, combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and rose water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Once soft peaks form in the whipped cream, keep an eye on it. Continue beating just past the soft peak stage. You don’t want to over-beat the whipped cream. It should hold it’s shape but still be smooth and spreadable. Also.. you can always beat the whipped cream into more shape, but you can’t unwhip it to a smoother consistency once it’s firm.
To assemble the cake, place three strips of parchment paper onto a cake plate or cake stand. Place one cooled cake round atop the parchment paper. The paper will help keep the cake plate clean while you frost the cake. Spread a generous amount of whipped cream atop the first layer. Arrange half of the sliced strawberries atop the whipped cream and sprinkle with half of the finely chopped white chocolate.
Place another cake layer atop the frosted layer. Top with more whipped cream, the remaining sliced strawberries, and sprinkle with the remaining white chocolate. Top with the last cake later. Spread whipped cream across the top of the cake and smooth along the sides. Keep a tall glass of warm water nearby. Rinsing the knife clean will help smooth with whipped cream more easily.
To finish the cake, top with fresh rose petals. I removed the petals from the rose stem and bud. I took the center cluster of flowers and adorned the center of the cake then arranged petals from the center outward.
Store cake in the fridge until ready to serve. I’ve found that the petals will be pretty on the cake for at least a day in the refrigerator.
To serve, remove a few of the petals and slice through the cake. I removed my petals before eating the cake. I want to eat cake, but not really eat rose petals. Petals can be appreciated, adored, and then discarded.
We’re still talking Mother’s Day Brunch. All week long! It’s a lifestyle.
Yesterday we kicked off our brunch menu with the mom-approved color, lavender. Today we’re talking yellow, and HonestlyYUM made you Baked Egg Tartlets. Supreme! Also check out this beautiful DIY Dessert Stand. Dessert stand meets Mother’s Day gift!? Genius.
Hop on over to check out the recipe and stand instructions at HonestlyYUM. We’re making cake tomorrow and cocktails on Friday. This life is a good one!
(images by Joy the Baker + HonestlyYUM)
My mom isn’t afraid of spiders. I am deathly, unreasonably, irrationally afraid of spiders. My Mom is the only one that will walk me down the spider-ridden stairs to my car when I stop by for family dinner. Ok… to be fair, my dad will walk me down the stairs too, but it took a lot of irrational screaming about spiders to make him understand my crazy brain.
I figure I’ll have to get over my fear of spiders before I become a mom myself. Is that normal? Does a fear of spiders dissipate during pregnancy or will I constantly be calling my mom every time I’m about to vacuum a spider (not that I’ve actually ever done that) (sorry spiders).
Because my mom saves me from spiders well into my thirty plus years on this planet, she has earned warm, lavender-scented scones. She’s actually earned so much more… but scones will have to do for now.
Spiders to scones. Yea… we just did that.
Tossing cold butter into flour might be one of my favorite past times. Breaking butter down into flour and sugar is a baking meditation. Adding fragrant dried lavender just adds to the zen moment.
Sometimes food is best color coordinated. I like pale lavender paired with deep purple blackberries.
Some berries are sliced in two. Some berries are left whole.
The idea is to get a big heaping bite of warm berry in almost every bite of scone.
Oh man… can I please write an entire book about biscuits and scones?
Please say yes.
Scone rounds are brushed with a bit of beaten egg and sprinkled generously with sugar. The idea is to create a lightly browned slightly crisp scone top.
I usually insist on eating these just as soon as they come out of the oven. With extra butter and blackberry jam? Heck yes. Be like me.
image credit: Paola Parsons
If you’re not going to eat them right from the oven, maybe you want to make them extra pretty! Erica from HonestlyYUM made this precious tiered serving stand. That DIY is coming your way tomorrow!
These scones are tender, flakey, not too sweet, but studded with sweet summer berries and fragrant lavender. They’re more on the flakey side, more flakey than dense which is how I prefer is my scones. Less dense? Maybe we can have two instead of one! That’s smarts. I hope you love them. I hope your mama loves them too. Spiders… no!
Lavender Blackberry Scones
makes 10 to 12 scones
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dried lavender
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup cold buttermilk
1 cup fresh blackberries(you can used thawed and drained berries from the freezer although the scones will have a more purple color)
1 beaten egg and granulated sugar for sprinkling on top before baking
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, lavender, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter (using your fingers or a pastry cutter) until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until some of the butter flakes are the size of peas and some are the size of oat flakes. In another bowl, combine egg and buttermilk and beat lightly with a fork. Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough. Fold in the blackberries.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times. Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds using a round cutter or cut into 2×2-inch squares. Reshape and roll dough to create more scones with excess scraps. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm. Scones are best the day they’re made, and though they can be frozen and lightly reheated in the oven if you need a future treat.
I think we should talk about Mother’s Day. It’s time.
Let’s act like we’re all sorts of prepared to honor the women that were patient through our various temper tantrums (toddler, teenage, and otherwise). If anyone is deserving of pink cocktails and warm scones, it’s our mamas.
I’m pretty sure that my mom is the best thing that ever happened to me… ever. For this reason, she deserves brunch that she doesn’t have to prepared served on dishes she does not have to wash with gifts she did not have to wrap (or help me find the tape to seal). Once a year isn’t too much to ask (actually… it’s probably waaay too little).
This year I paired up with the awesome people of HonestlyYUM for some totally proper, majorly colorful, Mother’s Day inspiration. Everyday this week, Erica, Karen, Todd, and I will bring you a different Mother’s Day recipe, craft, or cocktail, centered around a pretty (mama approved) color.
Pink cocktails. Yellow yums. Lavender treats straight from the oven. Pretty cream cake topped with white rose petals. It’s going to be a good week indeed.
Blackberry and Lavender Scones coming your way tomorrow.
These would be amazing with Tangerine Lemon Curd. Actually, most everything would be delicious with Tangerine Lemon Curd.
Delicious yellow Baked Egg Tartlets! Recipe Wednesday!
We’re having cake on Thursday! White Chocolate Rose Cake.
It’s as bonkers as it sounds.
Friday is cocktail day with Todd’s Raspberry Rose Fizz.
I’m not sure anything could be more dreamy.
We hope to inspire you. We hope you make everyone sit still at the table while you take pretty pictures with your mama. Make it memorable, for real.
Oh… ps. Remember The Flower Recipe Book I told you about a few weeks back? Brilliant Mother’s Day gift… though you still have to buy your mama flowers. You’re not off the hook.
This week is brought to you with love, care, petals, eggs, gin, and sugar from:
What are you up to this weekend!? I really really hope your answer was tacos.
It’s the first weekend of May and I can feel my insides tingling with thoughts of summer. To celebrate, I’m having an all-taco weekend. Yea… that’s totally a thing. We’re grown. We can taco when we want. Taco = verb.
What else is in your weekend? Cold beer and short shorts!? Heck yes! Let’s be friends for life. Yea… it’s that easy.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos topped with super lime cabbage slaw. I love the base flavor of beans combined with sweet and tender potatoes. Tart and crunchy slaw makes these tacos irresistible. Good living!
Kale Coconut and White Bean Tostadas. Fancy/Not fancy/Stayin’ classy.
ps. Radishes always.
Get your guacamole on!
I recently made this Goat Cheese and Roasted Corn Guacamole. ’Tis the season (and thank heavens it is!).
Should we even talk about Fried Guacamole? Oh man. This is so good it’s almost wrong.
Let there be tequila (in teacups) (because we’re classy) (and we don’t own shot glasses). I think tequila should always be paired with ice, salt, and loads of citrus. These links make for good weekending.
What’s Gaby’s Cooking has gorgeous Sunburnt Margaritas.
Love and Cupcakes made Rhubarb Mezcalaritas.
HonestlyYum made gorgeous Micheladas. I means…
This Bundt cake is my way of making cake without rreeaaalllyy making cake. Filling, stacking, and fighting with frosting… sometimes (most times) making a layer cake is just too many steps in between me and a slice of cake.
I have sooo many tricks for doing things without doing things. (What does that even mean?) Mascara is my way of wearing makeup without wearing makeup. Carrot sticks and Tic Tacs are my way of eating lunch without eating lunch. Text messaging is my way of having a conversation without having a conversation. Coffee is my way of waking up without waking up.
You understand me. Let’s have cake.
This dessert feels like a fancied up cake mix situation without the guilt. Wait… am I the only one that feels guilty about adding eggs, water, and oil to a mix and calling it cake? I just know that I didn’t earn the compliments.
This cake is basically cake mix… without the mix or the box.
To be fair, I think brownies from a box are better than any brownie I could ever made from scratch. I’m not too proud to admit that. Delicious brownies without making brownies.
Ps. If Sweet Berry Lime makes you think of Dr. Steve Brule’s Sweet Berry Wine… you’re a friend of mine. If not… nevermind. XO!
Adding lime flavor to this cake feels like a solid idea. Bright citrus + summer fruit is always a success.
I like to rub lime zest into the granulated sugar. This releases the essential oils in the lime zest and makes for a beautifully fragrant sugar. It’s one of those clever pastry chef tricks… now you know.
One bowl. No mixer. Tons of fresh berries.
I really like the direction the season is going. If you have a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon, you’re halfway there.
At this point, you’ll probably want to reach for the soup spoon and just eat the batter. I kinda did that just a little. Don’t you judge me.
Golden brown and super moist. This was almost too easy.
You could certainly drizzle this cake with a powdered sugar glaze. You could slather it in chocolate ganache. Cream cheese frosting would be totally over the top (and amazing). I opted for a simple sprinkling of powdered sugar. I like that it looks like snow. I like that it’s effortlessly elegant.
This cake is tender, moist, and fully of berry explosion bits. It’s more of a crumbly cake crumb… which I like. It makes this cake feel like the perfect breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up. Actually… I’ll find any reason to eat cake for breakfast. You know this to be true.
Sweet Berry Lime Cake
adapted from a super old family cookbook
makes 1 Bundt cake
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime zest
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar and lime zest. Using your fingers, or the back of a spoon, rub the zest into the sugar, releasing the essential oils in the zest. The sugar will be lime scented.
In a large bowl, combine lime sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, buttermilk and lime juice.
Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir until all of the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture is thoroughly combined. The batter will be fairly thick, but no lumps should remain. Add the fresh berries and gently fold in until evenly distributed through the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with coffee.
You don’t need me to tell you how to make oatmeal. You might need me to tell you how to make Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes, and tell you not to drink rum from a yard-long glass through the streets of Las Vegas. Oatmeal though… I’m sure you can handle that on your own.
Maybe I just need to remind myself how to make oatmeal. Maybe I just need to remind myself to make oatmeal at all… and eat it… and call it breakfast. Staring at the computer first thing in the morning, thoughtlessly burning my mouth on hot coffee does not a breakfast make.
I thought it was possible that if I needed a reminder, you might need a reminder too. Let’s breakfast! Let’s make breakfast as healthful and beautiful as we can. It’s a big week. We need this.
All you’ll need for this breakfast situation is a good rummaging of the cupboards. I found some old-fashioned oats, roasted sunflower seeds, candied ginger, and dried apricots.
Warm oatmeal topping time.
Realtalk: This bowl and topping piles are on a blackened cookie sheet on my desk. Blog shooting and breakfast eating together.
Maybe add a touch more brown sugar than you would on a normal day. Mondays are hard.
Almond milk for added creamy comfort.
You may not need this recipe for creamy sweet oatmeal. You’re got your hot coffee and you’re good to go. It’s possible that we all need a bit of extra comfort, healthy fuel, and morning inspiration…. this is that.
I hope your Monday is wonderful. I hope your shoes are cute and comfortable, and your day is oat-filled and perfectly caffeinated.
Blackberry Apricot Sunflower Oatmeal
makes 1 serving
1 cup water
pinch of salt
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup almond milk
For topping: brown sugar, fresh blackberries, dried apricots, roasted and salted sunflower seeds, ground flax seeds
Bring water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add a pinch of salt. Add the oats and stir until the oats are soft and have absorbed the liquid, about 5 to 7 minutes. Spoon into a bowl, top with almond milk, as much brown sugar as you’d like, a handful of fresh blackberries, coarsely chopped dried apricots, sunflower seeds, and a sprinkling of ground flax seeds. Add almond milk and serve immediately.
Can we talk about our weekend inspiration? Let’s take on the rest, the recharge, and the gathering and laughing with friends. Can we turn the email down and the Fleetwood Mac way way up? Can we find reason to bust out the sunscreen? Can we order a basket of French Fries at Brunch and order another basket at 1am after a very loud night of karaoke?
Can there be cold negronis and long dog walks. Maybe some catnip and breakfast cake? Too much coffee and a long afternoon nap? Oooh man… I’m just talkin’ dirty now.
My wish for you is that at least some of your weekend is a true weekend for you. Even if there’s a clock you have to punch, or overtime in your future… I hope there is at least a moment of cake and/or sunshine and/or a snooze button and/or an extra cup of coffee.
Here’s some weekend inspiration.
I love you (seriously, I do). Happy Friday!
I spent some weekend time with my maj Tracy from Shutterbean. I sliced into this Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake like it was my life’s work. I also played Star Wars Legos with four-year-old Cooper. Pretty much the best ever.
Sidenote: I may have ignited a previously dormant passion for Legos. We can talk about that later.
Making scones is part of a super relaxing weekend, right? These lavender scones are coming atcha in a few weeks. In the meantime, these Maple Blueberry joints are the business.
The Ivy is a Los Angeles institution.
It’s the kind of restaurant where the salads are $40, and you’re probably enjoying your lunch next to a Kardashian or three. Maybe you’re into that sort of thing. The Ivy is full of roses, which got me thinking…
I should make a Rose Cake!
I’m still tweaking the recipe, but I’ll have it ready for you around Mother’s Day.
Work feels less like work when you’re doing it with friends.
Grab you camera this weekend, call a friend, go see what you can see! It’s totally fun. Flowers, pets, and big bushes of Bougainvillea make excellent subjects.
Just call him.
He could be wearing a party hat for no reason. Call and ask.
Weekends can also all about meeting new friends, making them Ina Garten’s Baked Shrimp Scampi, and eating all mellow-like on the front patio. Elsie and Emma from A Beautiful Mess are fun people to sit outside with. They don’t look at you crazy when you go in for second and third helpings of shrimp and rice, and they bring over Whiskey Lemonades. Kindness abound.
I hope your weekend is full of work that you want to do. Sleep in like it’s your j.o.b… that has really comfy pillows.
I didn’t have the kind of parents that made me pure, homemade, organic, sugar-free, vegan baby food. Not quite.
I had the kind of parents that would throw whatever they were having for dinner into a blender (no joke) and call it dinner for their crazy screaming baby girl Joy. I distinctly remember having Spaghetti and Meatballs in the blender… and I’m pretty sure there was some weird sort of Tofu Potato Bake blended to (probably pretty gross) perfection. Fish sticks? Blend ‘em. Taco Salad? Too far.
Why am I talking about baby blender food? Well… if I had voice enough to make meal requests, I would surely have asked for a chip and guacamole blender baby meal. Guacamole is a perfect food. Even babies know this to be true.
This guacamole is simple but earnest in its decadence. All it requires is a bit of the good ol’ smash-bang treatment.
This version of guacamole-land has avocados living in the same house with roasted corn, pickled jalapeno, goat cheese, chives, and lots of lemon.
Goat cheese in guacamole!? Yah. Believe the hype.
Bowl. Spoon. Chopped spice and onions.
Let’s just ready our chips, shall we?
Adding crumbled goat cheese to guacamole means it is irresistibly creamy. Beyond! Goat cheese also adds a bit of tang to the rich and creamy avocados. Corn is charred over a flame and adds those alluring bites of burnt but sweet corn. I like to be generous with the lemon juice and waaay heavy-handed with the pickled jalapeno. I want my guacamole so spicy it hurts so good. Yes, I just typed that… just let it happen.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from my a cookbook in my glorious stack of Spring reading. It’s from Gaby Dalkin’s Absolutely Avocado. This book screams summer… which screams margaritas… which screams YES please now thank you. So, there’s that.
Goat Cheese and Roasted Corn Guacamole
adapted from Absolutely Avocados
serves 2 people who love guacamole, 4 people who don’t totally love guacamole
3 ripe Haas avocados
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
corn cut from 1 roasted cob*
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeno, (I used about 1/3 cup)
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
tortilla chips for serving
*To roast the corn place corn over a low flame burner and rotate every 10 seconds to char on all sides. If you don’t have a gas burner, a outdoor grill is wonderful as is the broil setting of your oven. Cut charred corn from the cob once it’s cool enough to handle.
Cut each avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit from the avocado and discard. Scoop the meat out of the skin and place in a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese, charred corn bits, chives, lemon juice, and jalapeno. Mash with a fork until mostly smooth, but a few avocado chunks remain. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and re-season if necessary. Serve with tortilla chips. Guacamole can we stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one day. You should having a problem coaxing people to finish it.
I feel like Mary Poppins would be a really wonderful soup maker.
I’m not talking about the spoonful of sugar.
It’s that magical purse she carries around. If she can pull a coat rack and house plant out of her nanny bag, imagine the things she could coax from a giant soup pan. Dreams! I imagine the most lovely and effortlessly delicious soup, with a dash of cream like whaaat!?
Wait… can Mary Poppins make us all soup forever and always?
I wonder if Mary Poppins has wasabi peas and a baguette in her purse. Probably.
I made this soup on a day that I needed soup… and a day when I needed soup to be easy.
This zucchini soup went from coarsely chopped veggies, to a hot broth bath, to blender soup magic. It’s incredibly simple and majorly satisfying.
This soup can be as meaty or vegan as you’d like. It’s entirely flexible. Chicken stock versus vegetable stock. Butter versus olive oil. A sprinkling of parmesan cheese or a smattering of chopped toasted almonds. Tarragon is essential. It has a bright anise-like flavor that really compliments the base zucchini flavor.
Adding a bit of cream to finish is decadent, but the soup is dang delicious without it. I made the soup with and without cream and I happened to eat the entire bowl of cream-laced soup… just sayin’.
This soup recipe comes from the center of my stack of Spring reading inspiration. The new Daphne Oz book, Relish is disarmingly sweet and has some really lovely recipes that inspire sharing and caring. Also… I think reread East Of Eden because it tears my heart apart then puts it back together-ish. Lastly, kitten toe hair is a thing. I can’t deal (but I can).
Creamy Zucchini Tarragon Soup
recipe from Relish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sweet yellow onion, about 1 1/2 cups
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 medium zucchini, chopped, about 5 cups
2 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream, optional
white truffle oil for garnish, optional
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Add zucchini and tarragon leaves and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until zucchini is cooked through and soft.
Transfer soup to a blender, place a towel over the blender and puree until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pot and stir in cream, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of white truffle oil and a few tarragon leaves.
I can smell my neighbor’s bacon.
That’s not a euphemism. If it were, you’d have permission to kick me in the shin and be officially grossed out.
I can literally smell my neighbor’s bacon. His kitchen window meets my bedroom window, and I actually feel lucky that I don’t have to pay extra rent for a daily bacon alarm clock.
A good while ago, I found myself standing in a kitchen full of fancy chefs talking about the glory of a proper peanut butter and bacon partnership. I was suspicious. I had to test the partnership with crumbly and crisp Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies. If you like bacon… if you like crisp cookies, you will consider these cookies a grand success. I thought they were so bonkers that I also included the recipe in my cookbook.
I figured that if wonky flavor combinations could be cookied, they could just as easily be pancaked. Also… sliced bananas and maple syrup make everything breakfast. Let’s just cross this line. I’ll call my neighbor, he’ll bring the bacon.
We’ve made pancakes here before. We aren’t being completely revolutionary.
In this incarnation, we’re also mixing all-natural peanut butter and crisp-cooked bacon to the buttermilk batter.
It’s hard to chop crisp bacon when all you want to do is sneak every little chopped piece into your mouth. I speak from experience. May a few extra slices of snacking. This comes from experience.
Letting the pancake batter rest for a few minutes while the griddle heats is ideal. The batter thickens a bit, creating mega fluffy pancakes.
These pancakes have a surprising and incredibly delightful savory quality. The salty bacon pairs with the nutty butter and creates some deliciously (almost mouth-confusing) savory notes. Douse the pancakes in pure maple syrup and we’ve achieved the coveted sweet and salty combination. It’s dreamy delicious! I found myself eating these pancakes fresh from the skillet while standing over the sink. No table, chair, or fork required. The unique combination speaks for itself: crazy good.
It’s the weekend! Let’s go. Let’s go!
Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 slices crisp bacon, cooled and cut into small pieces
butter or oil for cooking pancakes
* I cooked my bacon on a foil lined baking sheet in the oven. You could also pan fry the bacon and reserve some of the bacon grease for frying the pancakes. Whaaaat!? Yea.
In a medium bowl beat together eggs, butter, peanut butter, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well until mostly smooth. Fold in bacon pieces and let batter set for a few minutes.
Heat a nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Add a teaspoon of oil or butter to the pan, or spray with cooking spray.
Pour 2 Tablespoons of batter onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles that form start to pop. You can also gently lift up the pancake to make sure the bottom is not overcooking, if it is the pan may be too hot and you will need to adjust the heat. Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Let cooked pancakes rest on a heat proof plate in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.
Serve with sliced bananas and pure maple syrup.
Two things you should know before this whole pizza extravaganza begins. One: a ‘maj’, short for major… is a best friend. Two: Tracy is my maj.
I met Tracy a few years ago. We caught one other rolling our eyes at the same thing. It was frozen risotto that deserved our collective eye roll. To be fair… it was gross and we were hungry. Tracy is the kind of friend that you can bring to a party because she’ll compliment all the girls (most sincerely), give all the guys a much needed ribbing (most sincerely), and laugh at fart jokes. She’s a crowd pleaser, and if you tend to be on the quiet side, like me… Tracy is a ringer. She’s such a win.
Also… if you were to say a sentence to Tracy like, ‘Hey what should I make for my blog?’, she’ll have the right answer… which is French Bread Pizza, always and forever.
Tracy and I live many miles apart, but found ourselves in the same kitchen this week. This sort of rare occasion calls for carbs and cheese. There was sausage and cheese, chicken and barbecue sauce, and a tremendous amount of laughter.
Let’s start with sausage and cheese.
There’s a back story behind this very simple combination of meat, dairy, and carbohydrates.
In grade school, I was allowed to buy one school lunch a week. My choice was always a grease-bomb of a French Bread Sausage Pizza and I was convinced it was the best that had ever happened to me.
Don’t even get me started on chalupa and chocolate milk day… amazing(ly horrible).
I respect the simplicity of these pizzas. The sausage is spicy. The sauce is generous, as is the cheese.
These speak directly to my 9-year old heart. I just had no way of knowing that I’d go from eating this pizza at a kid-crowded cafeteria table to standing over the kitchen sink devouring a too hot slice.
Sausage and Cheese French Bread Pizza
makes 2 pizza pieces
1 French bread individual sandwich loaf
olive oil, salt, and pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup cooked spicy Italian sausage
1/2 cup (or more to taste) shredded mozzarella cheese
crushed red pepper flakes
fresh parsley for topping
Slice individual French bread loaf in half and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast under a broiler until edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and top with pizza sauce, cooked sausage, cheese and red pepper flakes. Return to the broiler and heat until cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.
The second French Bread Pizza is inspired by my current adult cravings.
I love the combination of sweet, salty and spicy. Basically, I want my food to taste like everything it can. That sounds a bit bratty… maybe I never grew out of that.
This pizza combined barbecue sauce with shredded chicken, red onions, and just enough (which is a good amount) of cilantro. Kick the regular pizza sauce to the curb, but welcome the melting cheese with open arm.
The sweet and spicy notes are out of control in these pieces.
I clicked the shutter three times, then I started eating. Enough is enough, ya know?
My 9-year old self is so pleased that my (older than) 29-year old self still respects the art of the French Bread Pizza. This feeling is only amplified by having a maj that can get down with a simple cheesy and bready situation with no shame. There’s power in that.
BBQ Chicken and Cilantro French Bread Pizza
makes 2 pizza pieces
1 French bread individual sandwich loaf
olive oil, salt, and pepper
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (or more to taste), divided
3/4 cup shredded cooked chicken
3 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for topping
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
crushed red pepper flakes
Slice individual French bread loaf in half and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast under a broiler until edges are golden brown. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup BBQ sauce with shredded chicken, onion, and cilantro. Stir until everything is coated in sauce. Divide remaining BBQ sauce to top the toasted bread. Top with chicken mixture. Top with shredded cheese and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Return to the broiler and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove from the oven, top with fresh cilantro leaves and serve immediately.
What’s in your morning routine? I make my bed, splash my face with cold water, drink a giant glass of lemon water, and try to forget about the giant bag of dark chocolate chips I’ve been meaning (and failing) to hide from myself. I try my best to start things off well, with some clarity and conscious eating… that’s because it’s easy to reason with my relaxed morning brain. By the time dinner rolls around it’s nearly impossible to talk my brain out of popcorn, wine, and handfuls of chocolate chips. Morning is my power hour. Dinner looks like a breakup rom-com where a heartbroken girl eats her weight in everything ever.
It’s a new Monday. It’s a new week. Let’s start things off feeling great! The morning is on our side in three major ways.
I love that three completely different smoothies can come from this display of ingredients.
It’s all about color! We’re talking about the deep green of kale, bright yellow of pineapple, pretty purple blackberries, and beets that are just dying to stain your fingertips magenta.
Our constants, our rocks, our anchors in the storm will be frozen banana chunks and cold Almond Breeze Almond Milk.
I’ve coaxed you into putting greens in your smoothie before, haven’t I? This Kale, Spinach, and Pear Smoothie started this whole green smoothie kick in my kitchen.
Pairing pineapple with kale really brightens the flavors and makes the smoothie feel like a tropical kale vacation. Wait. That doesn’t tempt you? Don’t worry. This smoothie doesn’t taste like a salad in a blender. The kale flavor really mellows when pulverized in the company of pineapple and vanilla almond milk.
Kale, Pineapple and Almond Milk Smoothie
makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies
1 banana, sliced into chunks, frozen is ideal
1 heaping cup fresh pineapple chunks
1 giant handful of coarsely chopped kale leaves, center rib removed from the kale
1 cup cold Almond Breeze Almond Milk
1 tablespoon honey (optional, but nice for added sweetness)
Remove kale leaves from their rough center stalk and coarsely chop. In a blender, combine banana, pineapple, chopped kale leaves, almond milk, and honey (if using). Blend until smooth and no big kale bits remain. Add more almond milk if the smoothie is too thick for your taste. Enjoy immediately.
We’ve gone down the green road, now let’s talk purple.
Blackberries are both tart and sweet. They’re moody, and I respect that. I paired blackberries with a vanilla goat’s milk yogurt, and oat flour. Oat flour is made by placing old-fashioned oats in a small spice grinder until pulverized into a powder. It helps make me feel full and totally eases any belly unrest. An extra kick of vanilla from the almond milk, and pure vanilla extract really bring home the vanilla and berry theme.
Vanilla, Blackberry, Oat and Almond Milk Smoothie
makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies
1 banana, sliced into chunks, frozen is ideal
1 heaping cup frozen blackberries
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (I used goat’s milk yogurt)
1 cup Almond Breeze Almond Milk
2 tablespoons oat flour (old-fashioned oats ground in a spice grinder)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a blender, combine banana, blackberries, yogurt, almond milk, oat flour, and vanilla extract. It’s easy. Blend until smooth. Add more almond milk if the smoothie is too thick for your taste. Enjoy immediately.
Did you think for a minute that I’d leave you a smoothie with strawberries and bananas and call it a day? Noooo way. Not around these parts. I’ve added roasted, cooled, and peeled beets to this smoothie. It’s added fiber, folate, and major magenta coloring. I’ve also thrown in freshly ground flax seeds for some good omega action.
This smoothie is packed with good, but doesn’t taste like drinking a beet salad. It’s sweet, pink, and filling. It’s totally my new favorite.
Strawberry Beet Smoothie
makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies
1 banana, sliced into chunks, frozen is ideal
1 heaping cup sliced strawberries, frozen is awesome
about 1/3 cup steamed beets (I used two about half a large beet)
1 heaping tablespoon flax seed meal
1 cup Almond Breeze Almond Milk
In a blender, combine banana, strawberries, steamed and cooled beets, flax seed meal, and almond milk. Blend until smooth. Add more almond milk if the smoothie is too thick for your taste. Enjoy immediately.
Sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze.