joyeux cuisine

a blog about good food, family, friends, and life.

an update. finally.

Okay everyone. I’m still here. It’s been quite a long time since I posted last, so I figured I would give you a little update about what’s been happening over the last couple months since obviously, I haven’t been keeping up well with this whole blogging thing.  My bad.

May was full of excitement about finally graduating and starting life in the real world. It was really exciting because I got an apartment with my friend and I’d been working on organizing and job hunting and everything like that. May very quickly turned into June which was no good because I still didn’t have a job at all and had no prospects. Of all the job applications I turned in, exactly none of them contacted me at all about interviews or anything. Very discouraging. I did get to spend a lot of weekends traveling to Michigan to see my boyfriend, which was awesome because long distance relationships suck.

In June I finally heard from one of the job applications I turned in and got an interview and subsequent job at a grocery store in town in the bake shop. Pretty exciting because I kinda like baking and all that stuff. So I started my new job about halfway through June and it’s been a really interesting experience. Everyone has been very encouraging and helpful but I always feel like I’m bothering everyone with all my questions about where things are and if we have specific things and all that stuff. I am very thankful for this job, even though it is very tiring sometimes. I do really like it.

June also very quickly turned into July and with that came rent payments and I finally broke down one day and realized that I couldn’t pay my rent. (Guys. Real life is fricken’ hard.) So I called my loving mother and told her that I needed help. She graciously lent me money so I could actually pay my rent and everything was okay again. I also haven’t had any money to buy ingredients to bake with and often just eat pasta or other boring things for meals and you don’t want to read a blog about that. Hence the no blogging thing. I now also have a second job with my alma mater working with the marching band, which is very exciting. I am really excited to still have that family of crazy marching band people around me. I’m doing purely administrative work and it will be very fun.

There have been many weeks where I feel like I’m failing adulthood and that I don’t have a purpose here and all those things. But as those around me say it’s a lot harder than it looks. Life doesn’t fall right into place like you want it to. You have to work at it and no, you cannot just sit in your room and watch Netflix all day. (Unless it’s your day off. Then I say go for it.) I’m still learning how this living thing actually works. Taking care of yourself is hard work, but I’m assuming it’s worth it in the end. I hope you stick with me to hear about all the adventures I’m having and about the new lessons life is teaching me. There will be cookies. And a pretty good soundtrack.

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homemade granola bars.

Sometimes you have half a canister of oats because you made oatmeal cookies forever ago. Sometimes you also have almonds because your mom bought you a 9 pound bag of them. Sometimes you also have one and a half jars of honey because you found one in your pantry while you were moving. If you’re lucky you also have chocolate chips and coconut because you’re addicted to them. When the stars align and you possess all these ingredients it’s time to make granola bars. Better than store-bought granola bars.

Friends, there are so many granola bar recipes out there that it’s hard to sift through. Some of them have weird ingredients like wheat germ and flax seeds, but I didn’t want to have to buy anything for this recipe. I made it with things that were all in my pantry, which I call a huge success.

Granola bars are one of those things that you can make your own really easily. Dried fruit? Sure! You hate coconut? Alright. Raisins? Totally. Extra chocolate chips? Now you’re speaking my language. You can do whatever you want to make these just like you want them to.

The original recipe comes from The Sisters Cafe. I adapted it a little bit because theirs calls for krispy rice cereal, but I don’t have any so I just used some lightly crushed corn cereal squares that I’ve been meaning to make puppy chow out of. Next time I’m just going to omit them entirely though. I also added some almonds because I love chocolate and almond together. I also baked mine in a 9×9 pan instead of an 8×8 and it worked out fine. I would bake them a little longer than the time suggested though. I also toasted my coconut to bring out all the amazing flavors.

Make some granola bars. Take a road trip. Drive with the windows down and radio blasting. And then look for more jobs.

Granola Bars
adapted from The Sisters Cafe
makes 10 granola bars

2 and 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup coconut
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the coconut over that. Bake for 5-7 minutes until the edges get golden brown. Keep an eye on it though, because it can burn really quickly. Remove and cool slightly. Leave the oven on. Butter an 8×8 or 9×9 pan.
In a large bowl combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add the oats, coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips and stir until everything is coated. Smoosh (technical term) into the buttered pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool in the pan completely before cutting.
When cool cut into 10 bars and wrap each one individually in plastic wrap. Store in a cool place.

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peanut butter fudge.

This is a little bit about my life right now. I graduated college two weeks ago. I’ve been applying to jobs like a crazy person. Sometimes I forget to leave my apartment. I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix. Yesterday I watched 4 episodes of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares and 6 episodes of Good Eats. I have a problem.
But I now feel like I know exactly what not to do while running a restaurant. So that’s good, right? Maybe that’ll come in handy someday. Yeah, probably not.

Anyway, this recipe is from Alton Brown. I haven’t had much luck making candies before; I just can’t get peanut brittle right. But this fudge recipe was actually pretty foolproof. And you all know that I love peanut butter (luckily, so does my boyfriend). Plus I’m driving to Michigan to spend the weekend with my boyfriend’s family and fudge is a great ice-breaker. At least, I hope so.

This fudge is really easy to make. There’s no stove involved, just a microwave. Which isn’t actually the best way to make fudge, but if Alton can do it we can do it too. This is also a sharing recipe. Don’t eat it all yourself. I mean, you can if you want, but I suggest sharing. You’ll make friends that way.

Make some fudge. Download the new She and Him album. Dance around your kitchen. It’s allowed.

Peanut Butter Fudge
recipe by Alton Brown
makes 1 8×8 pan of fudge

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound (about 3 and 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted

Butter an 8×8 pan. Cover the pan with parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.
Place butter and peanut butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cut slits in the plastic wrap to let the steam escape. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir gently. Place back in the microwave and heat for 2 more minutes on high.
When the 2 minutes are up, remove the plastic wrap and stir in the vanilla and powdered sugar with a wooden spoon. The fudge will get really thick so you may need to switch to a potato masher to combine everything. When the powdered sugar disappears, scoop into the prepared pan and smooth out with a non-stick spatula. Cover the top of the fudge with more wax paper or parchment and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
When the fudge is firm, cut it into 1-inch pieces. Store in the refrigerator.

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chicken cordon bleu casserole.

Now that I can no longer call myself a poor-college student I’ve come to the realization that I have to support myself. That means food. That means spending money. Which I sometimes have an aversion to. Especially because rent is expensive. Real life, huh? That’s pretty scary.

Fortunately I was brought up by a woman who knows a lot about freezing meals for later. She’s a pro at casseroles. I learned it all from her.

This recipe comes from my Aunt Donna, who is also awesome. It runs in our family. It’s super simple to make and it is so delicious. This is definitely a crowd pleaser. You know all about chicken cordon bleu right? It’s just chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese. This takes that and combines it all.

This easily makes a large 13×9 casserole or you can split it into two. I made two 8×8 casseroles and I’ll eat one and freeze the other one. We used to make these a lot and give them to people for meals. You can bake it halfway and then cool it completely and freeze it. When you’re ready to bake it, thaw it out and bake it the rest of the way. Easy as pie.

I ate half a pan of this by myself. No shame. At all. It was worth it.

Enjoy your last few weeks of school. Don’t freak out. Go outside, it’s nice out there.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
makes 1 13×9 pan or 2 8×9 pans

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed1 8-ounce package diced ham
10 slices Swiss cheese
1 can cream of chicken
1 tube Ritz crackers (crushed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease pan.
In the pan layer the cubed chicken, diced ham, cheese, and cream of chicken. Top with crushed crackers. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and everything is cooked through. Serve right away.
If you are making 2, bake one halfway (25 minutes) and let cool completely before wrapping with foil. When ready to use, thaw completely and bake 20 more minutes.

Keep leftovers wrapped in the fridge.

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now playing. (4)

For Mother’s Day (which is Sunday, just in case you forgot) I got my mom an awesome present. We’re going to see Celtic Thunder in Chicago in October. Let me give you some backstory about this. My mom and I love Celtic Thunder. I don’t know why, we aren’t even Irish at all. We just do. It all started about 4 years ago when they were on the PBS fund raiser thing and we decided to get the DVD. Ever since then we’ve gotten every DVD they put out. It’s a little ridiculous, but I’m really okay with it.

So to thank my mom for all the things she’s done for me over the last 22 years of my life I decided to surprise her with tickets. We’re pretty pumped.

All that to say; this week I’m sharing Celtic Thunder with you! The first song is called Belfast Polka and it’s by the Celtic Thunder Band. They’re a pretty talented group of musicians.

The second song is called A Place in the Choir and it’s pretty awesome. It features all the guys and they are all great. Keith, the blonde tenor, is my favorite. But they are all really talented, so it cuts the cheesyness factor down a little.

Happy listening!

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things I learned in college.

Well, friends. It’s the end. My college career is over. Saturday was graduation. It’s crazy. I think I’m still in shock.
(that was a lot of little sentences that could have been covered in one. sorry English majors.)

IMG_1079This is me with a couple of my dear friends. Josh, on the end, graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and Composition. I graduated with a BA in Music. Katelyn graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work. And Stephanie graduated with a BA in Social Science.

IMG_1101This is my boyfriend (!!!!!) Zack and I. He graduated with a BA in Psychology and is going to medical school in the fall. (there’ll be more about him later.)

So for the past 3 years at the end of the school year I’ve written a Facebook note about things that I learned that year. It’s always been in list form and it usually includes serious things and funny things. And they all pertain to something that’s happened that year.
So I bring you:
Things I Learned In College (Year 4):
-Sometimes life just sucks
-Even when it’s hard you have to trust that it’ll get better
-IT GETS BETTER. IT GETS BETTER.
-Your core group of friends are the ones that will keep you sane and keep you accountable. Love them and appreciate them
-Always be open to new friendships
-Spontaneous trips to Chicago are some of the greatest
-Don’t let people get away from you if you don’t want them to
-Awkward things sometimes lead to great things
-There are some things you can’t control. Get over it
-Sometimes roommates turn out to be just the people you need in your life
-Jazz Theory isn’t as scary as it sounds
-It’s okay to be broken because everyone else is too
-Learning to trust God is a lifelong process
-Senior recitals aren’t so terrifying after all
-You still need to practice after your recital is over
-Sometimes plans change because of one thing in your life
-Listen to someone when they compliment you
-Real life might not be so scary
-It’s okay to ask for help
-Sometimes your professors give you the best opportunities
-Don’t put off homework (yes, I still need this reminder)
-The best relationships come out of nowhere and change your life for the better
-Sometimes you don’t get what you want, but you still need to try your best
-When you get disappointed, you can cry for awhile, but then you have to keep going
-You accumulate a lot of stuff. And you have to move it all. Keep that in mind

So that’s just a little bit of my senior year of college. I’m still working on getting all moved in to my new apartment, but I’m excited about what’s going to happen over the next year. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you all posted.

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peanut butter pancakes for one.

You don’t need me to tell you that peanut butter and pancakes are one delicious combination. You probably also don’t need me to tell you that after sleeping for 10 hours all you need is pancakes. You really don’t need me to tell you that when the only thing you have to do is pack up your apartment the last thing you want to do is pack. I think we’ve all been there.

These pancakes were inspired by Joy the Baker and her Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes. I still don’t know how I feel about the bacon part. But peanut butter is my jam. I also threw some chocolate chips on the warm pancakes and let them melt. Perfect.

Pancakes are sometimes made for sharing. But these aren’t. These are all for you. All of ’em. You have permission not to share. Unless you really want to and you really love the person you’re sharing with. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes.

Sleep in. Make some pancakes. Smother them in maple syrup. Then start your day and enjoy the sunshine.

Peanut Butter Pancakes
makes 4 small pancakes

1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 and 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1 spoonful of peanut butter

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate slightly larger bowl whisk the buttermilk, egg, oil, and peanut butter together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until most of the lumps are gone. Let sit for a few minutes.
Heat a griddle over medium heat. Grease griddle with butter or nonstick spray. Using a 1/4 cups measuring cup, pour batter onto the hot griddle. Cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side and then flip onto the second side. Cook until the pancake releases from the griddle and is golden brown. Repeat for all the pancakes.
Serve warm topped with chocolate chips (optional) and maple syrup (also optional).

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oreo balls. and lasts.

This week has been full of lasts. Last week of classes. Last two presentations. Last rehearsals. Last day of work. Last class party (Jazz Theory, of course). Last oboe lesson with my teacher. Last homework assignments turned in.

Two days ago I pick up my cap and gown.

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I’m still partially in denial about this happening. But it is.

We had a party in my Jazz Theory class to celebrate the fact that we all passed. And because we could. And it was awesome. All we did was eat food, watch jazz videos, and talk about our lives. That’s how to spend a last class period.

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I made Oreo Balls. They were delicious. Want to know how to make friends? Feed them Oreo Balls. Done. A stranger becomes your best friend. (but only until the snacks are gone. that’s the catch.)

These are just crushed up Oreo cookies and cream cheese covered in chocolate. That’s all. You barely need a recipe. You don’t even have to turn on an oven. Glorious.

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Make some Oreo balls. Share them with new people. Share them with old friends. Stop and enjoy what’s happening around you. Be thankful.

Oreo Balls
from Kraft Recipes
makes approximately 48 balls

1 package Oreo cookies
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature4-6 squares semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate, melted OR 1 package milk chocolate chips, melted

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside. Place all the cookies in a gallon sized plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, finely crush the cookies. This could also be done in a food processor. In a large bowl mix the crushed cookies and the cream cheese with a spatula until the cream cheese is mixed well into the cookies. Form into 1 to 2-inch balls and place on the cookie sheet. Freeze for about 10 minutes or until set. Dip the balls in the melted chocolate using a fork to get a somewhat even layer and place back on the cookie sheet. Place in the refrigerator until set.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge until the disappear. Give them about 10 minutes.

(Note: I’m pretty sure Oreo is copyrighted or trademarked or something by Nabisco. Just so you know. That’s not mine.)

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now playing. (3)

OBSESSIONS.

That’s what I’m calling this edition of now playing.
(Subtitled: I don’t want to do all the stuff that I really need to do.)

First: Frank Ticheli’s Simple Gifts: Four Shaker Songs. I love this piece. For my conducting class we have to make a program for an imaginary band and my imaginary kids are playing this (among other things). It’s so great. The last movement is an arrangement of Simple Gifts, which is the quintessential hymn tune. This version is recorded by the Iowa State University Concert Band, so shout-out to my home state!

Second: Cups/When I’m Gone by Anna Kendrick. It’s from the movie Pitch Perfect (also obsessed) but this is the music video version and, no joke, I’ve been listening to it all day. And if I haven’t been listening to it, it’s been stuck in my head. It is a cover of another band, Lulu and the Lampshades (gotta give credit) but it’s great. Either way, I dig this song. It’s definitely one of those songs that’s going around the internet and will be forever. Brace yourselves.

Happy listening!!

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peanut butter cupcakes

Woah guys! This is my 50th blog post!! That is crazy to me. A lot of things have happened in the last 50 posts. I (in no particular order) started my senior year of college, made some new friends, turned 22, got discouraged, was encouraged, watched a lot of movies, got a boyfriend, did a lot of homework,signed a lease on an apartment, and had a senior recital. I mean, that’s only a few things of the hundreds of things that have happened. I’m really thankful for everything that’s happened this year because it’s been a really great learning experience.

In honor of this 50th post I’m going back to the beginning; peanut butter and chocolate. The first recipe I shared with you guys so many months ago was Batter Up Brownies. Peanut butter brownies with chocolate chips. Still one of my favorite recipes in the world. But really anything with peanut butter and chocolate is good. Therefore: cupcakes!

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I have more cupcake liners than any one person should have. But that’s okay. I’m always ready to make cupcakes. These cupcakes have been in the making for a long time. Plus, I haven’t really baked a lot recently and I think it’s affecting my homework. I don’t know for sure if there’s a correlation there, but I’m just gonna go with it.

These cupcakes are really delicious. The inside is really moist but the cake is really dense. That pairs really well with the chocolate buttercream frosting. I could have done with a little stronger peanut butter flavor, but it was still pretty freaking good. And I won’t judge you if you throw some chocolate chips into some of the batter. In fact, I would encourage it. It obviously can’t hurt them!

Make some cupcakes, share cupcakes with someone you really like, watch some Doctor Who, enjoy the weather (no matter what it may be).

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
makes 18 cupcakes
adapted slightly from Taste of Home

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 and 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line one cupcake pan plus half of another pan with paper liners and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugar until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and whisk together. Add half of the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Beat well. Add half of the milk to the butter mixture and beat. Add the rest of the dry mixture and beat until combined. Add the rest of the milk and beat until the batter is smooth. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
Frost with desired frosting and eat.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
frosts 24 cupcakes

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat butter until smooth. In a separate bowl sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add to the butter and mix on low until combined. Add vanilla and milk and beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Store any leftovers in the fridge.

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