joyeux cuisine

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

caramel corn.

My dad makes really delicious treats for us. Most notably Chex Mix, coffee cake, and caramel corn. I have fond memories of my dad getting out the giant paper bags, popping a whole bunch of popcorn and whipping up some caramel corn. It was a good time in our house those days. This recipe is not my dad’s but it is just as delicious. Okay, maybe a tiny bit less delicious; dad knows best.


This recipe came from the pastor’s wife of the church I attended in Illinois during the last few years I was there during and after college. (Thanks, Cathy!!) Whenever I go back to visit, Cathy, my best friend Bethany, and I make caramel corn and talk until way past our bedtimes. Which is what Bethany and I did when she was here visiting last weekend. It’s kind of our thing. That and watching Parks and Rec nonstop.


Summer is almost over but I’m hanging on as much as I can. Caramel corn makes me think of stress-free days and breaks from classes. I hope it brings you good memories too!


Happy cooking, friends!

Caramel Corn
makes about 5 cups

5 cups popped popcorn
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Spread about 12 inches of wax paper out onto the counter. Spray lightly with non-stick spray.
Pour the popped popcorn into a large bowl.
In a small saucepan combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Stirring constantly bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute. Immediately pour onto the popcorn and fold the popcorn until all of it is covered in caramel. Spread into a somewhat even layer onto the wax paper. Eat immediately or wait until cool.
Store in plastic zip top bags once cool.

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hello again with rhubarb bars

Oh, hey there, Internet friends. It’s been awhile huh?
So lots of things have happened lately and I mostly forgot that I had a blog…that’s cool right? My last post was about being engaged and trying to plan a wedding but that wedding has come and gone…about a year ago. So let’s recap.

I moved back to Iowa from Illinois. I left my jobs, packed up my stuff, and headed outta there. Leaving many a great friend behind. Thankfully there’s Skype!

I got married! I went from Joy Matthews to Joy Byard and it was a extremely wonderful day. I felt so full of love and so loved, not just by Zack, but by everyone there. I wish we could time travel there now. It was perfect.
Here’s some highlights:

Zack+Joy-56  Zack+Joy-252   Zack+Joy-162  

(MANY MANY thanks to our spectacular photographer Cymone Wilder!!)
Then. My brother got married! A mere 20 days after Zack and I! (Mom cried a lot last June) I got to be a bridesmaid and that was also a really great day. We partied in a barn after they got married and it was cool. Stephanie looked beautiful and Ian looked okay too. (Also, today is their anniversary! Happy anniversary you crazy kids!)

Next. I was unemployed for awhile in Des Moines while Zack had time off from school. So I did a lot of knitting, reading, Netflix watching, and general laying around. Seriously, I read Gone Girl in one day. We also moved to a new apartment in July and then I had to leave for a week to go play in a musical in Illinois. Gotta love Les Mis.

Finally. I got a job though a temp agency and now am full time! I am so thankful for that. It’s been a pretty sweet gig so far. Our department is fairly small and we have food days sometimes, so I still get to flex my baking muscle for people there. I’ve made banana bread so often for everyone. And cupcakes and brownies. I like to think I’m pretty liked there for my food skills.

And now here we are. That’s really the highlights of the past long while. Married life is hard, but really worth it. I really enjoy having someone to make food for that really appreciates it. And that’s where the rhubarb bars come in!
Zack loves rhubarb. Me? No thank you. So I literally cannot tell you how these taste. I’ve tried so many times to like rhubarb but I can’t. Zack however said they were delicious and ate two and then said I was the ‘bestest bestest best.’ So I think they’re pretty good.

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They’re also really easy. You mix up the crust with a pastry cutter (is that what’s that thing is called??) and bake that and then make the topping. It’s pretty easy and turns out really well. They look really good too which is always a bonus.

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Happy cooking, friends!

Rhubarb Bars
recipe from garnish with lemon
makes 9 bars

crust ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) of very cold butter cut into small cubes

topping ingredients:
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/3 cups roughly chopped rhubarb

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the crust: combine the flour and powdered sugar in a medium sized bowl. With a pastry cutter, cut in the butter to the flour and sugar until the mixture is crumbly and looks similar to sand. Spread into a greased or parchment papered 8×8 square pan and press down with the backs of your fingers. Bake for 15 minutes.
For the topping: lightly beat the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Add the flour, sugar, and salt and stir until well combined. Fold in the chopped rhubarb until all the rhubarb is covered in the egg mixture. Pour the rhubarb over the crust as soon as the 15 minutes are up and return to the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the topping mixture doesn’t move when you shake the pan. (Mine was a little jiggly still, but my taster said it was delicious anyway.)
Cool the bars completely before removing from the pan and cutting into squares.
Store cut bars in an airtight container at room temperature.

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blueberry coffee cake.

When I was growing up my dad made the best coffee cake. Sometimes the person to do all the baking in the family is the mom. But in my family both my parents like creating things in the kitchen. It’s been one of the highlights of my upbringing. In addition to coffee cake my dad makes super awesome caramel corn, Chex mix, no bake cookies, blueberry crisp, and he can pretty much grill anything you ask him to. There is no shortage of delicious food in my parent’s house. And I am so blessed by it.

My mom also supplies me with delicious ingredients for things. For example: she bought a 5-pound box of blueberries last weekend for my brother and I to share. Brother gave me the whole box, so now I have blueberries forever until he comes to claim some (which I’m hoping is never). It’s hard to figure out what to do with a large box of blueberries though, so don’t be surprised if you see lots of posts about blueberries over the next couple months. Although, half of them are going in the freezer to save for the cold winter months when I just want blueberry muffins.

This recipe turned out way better than expected. I found it online and tweaked it a little bit to change the flavors up, and it was spectacular. This is one of those foods that you can eat for breakfast or dessert or a snack in the middle of the afternoon. Which makes it even better. This also gave me an excuse to make homemade whipped cream…so bonus. The original recipe didn’t have any vanilla extract in it so I added a teaspoon of that as well as half a teaspoon of almond extract because those two flavors together really bring out the complexities of the other. I also added a little cinnamon and nutmeg to the cake part to bump up the flavor. Then I added an extra quarter cup of milk making the cake really moist. And finally I added an extra tablespoon of butter to the topping which melted in the oven and settled into the cake increasing the moist-ness even more. Worth it.

I ate my first piece of this with 3 large dollops of whipped cream while watching the sun set. It was glorious.

IMG_1182Make some coffee cake. Eat some whipped cream. Watch the sunset. Be friendly.

Blueberry Coffee Cake
adapted from allrecpies.com
makes 1 9×9 pan

1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2  teaspoon almond extract
3/4  cup milk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon
2 heaping cups fresh blueberries

For the topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
4 Tablespoons butter, cubed

Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter and flour a 9 inch baking pan and set aside.
In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir to incorporate them.
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and extracts and beat for another minute. Add flour and milk alternately starting and ending with flour. Gently fold in blueberries and pour into prepared pan.
In a small bowl combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and pecans. Using your fingers, mix in the butter cubes until a sand-type consistency is reached. Spread over the top of the coffee cake.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick into the center and have it come out clean. Cool slightly. Serve warm topped with homemade whipped cream or ice cream.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

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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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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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chocolate chip pecan pie.

Happy Easter! He is risen indeed!

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I know you’re all probably still full from your delicious meals that happened this afternoon (I know I am!) but I have to share this pie with you. Have to. It’s delicious and easy. Literally dump, stir, bake. So dang good.

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This recipe comes from my dear Aunt Karen. I love her. She’s my dad’s sister and she’s one of the strongest women I know. She’s a crafty person like I am, quilts like a boss, and also loves her cats. Love her.

I’ve been meaning to make this pie for awhile, and I finally got a reason: Easter dinner with some dear friends that haven’t been together in a long time! Em, Ang, B, RaeMa, and I got to spend a weekend together and it was glorious. Ang flew in from North Carolina, RaeMa took a bus from Kansas City, and Em drove from Chi-town. The only one of us missing was Muff-Muff. We hung out at B’s apartment for the weekend an ate food, knitted, watched movies, and swapped stories. (Sidenote: these aren’t their real names, just nice ones we have for ourselves.)

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(Ang, Em, RaeMa, Joy, and B)
I love these women. They are encouraging and real. They build me up and make me a better person. We laugh together and cry together. I hope everyone has friends like these.

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(Em and I rocking our Easter dresses)
Make some pie, watch Pitch Perfect too many times, hug your friends. Be happy.

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Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie
makes 1 9-inch pie
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted and cooled
1-6 ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup shredded or flaked coconut
1-9 inch frozen pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Spoon into unbanked pie shell. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center of the pie is set. Cool slightly and serve warm with ice cream.
You can also make this a day ahead an warm up in the oven at a low temperature for a few minutes before serving.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

(P.S. I wrote this blog post on my phone. So that happened.)

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still hanging on.

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I’m here! I promise I’m still alive! It’s been a crazy few months in my life recently and I haven’t found any time for recipe making or baking of anything. I’ll just catch you up on everything pretty quickly:

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First major thing of the semester was my senior recital. But before that I had to do a pre-recital hearing to make sure that I could actually do my recital. I was more terrified for that than anything else about my recital. And, in my opinion, it did not go well. Granted, I am my worst critic and I always make everything worse than it is, but it was not good. Thanks to a generous panel and a very encouraging accompanist I passed my hearing (PRAISE GOD) and went on to do my recital. My accompanist, Dr. Anderson, was the best. He’s one of our piano faculty and I did not deserve him. He played the Strauss better than I could have ever imagined, and he kept me sane through the whole thing.

734892_10151320352141839_2022480007_nMy dad’s parents came down from Michigan (aren’t they adorable?!),my mom’s parents came over with my parents, and a bunch of my aunts and uncles came so it was a big party. When I figure out how to edit things, I’ll post some audio and give you the opportunity to hear some of the more stellar parts of the recital. I’m so relieved it’s over and I had so much fun. I’m so blessed with great faculty that came and cheered and prayed for me. So blessed by them.

The other big thing that happened already this semester was a thing called Band Winter Showcase that the marching band puts on every year. My friend Zach and I were pretty much in charge of the whole thing, making sure people showed up, writing music (which Zach pretty much did by himself), organizing, getting everything ready, etc. But the show went spectacularly! It was a blast. Feel free to watch here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJYXeOUzwMo (Part 1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA_n8taLWk0 (Part 2)

793898_10151487727908561_1049568112_oThis picture is from the large group act affectionately called “The Dragon”. I got to conduct this piece and it was so much fun. I loved it. (Picture courtesy of my friend Cymone who is spectacular at art and stuff. Check out her fliker here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pretzelday/ )

So that’s pretty much what my life has been for the last couple months. One thing right after the other. Right now I’m in the process of getting back to normal and catching up on all the homework I didn’t do…you know. Just college.

I did make an apple crisp for the first time last weekend. It was surprisingly delicious. And it helped me think of an idea to bake this weekend. I may have been writing ingredient lists in my night class the other day. I feel no shame. Hopefully I can share my idea with you this weekend, but right now I gotta go work on Jazz Theory homework (did I tell you I got the highest grade in that class last semester!? I still don’t believe it…). Extended dominants, here I come!

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getting back in the kitchen.

Well, hey there everyone. I’ve been absent for a little while (and by little while I mean about 3 weeks…). Once we got back to school from Thanksgiving Break everything got super crazy. Every year we do a performance of Handel’s Messiah and rehearsals for that started right away. The next week we had rehearsals for our annual Sounds of the Season concert. And then the next week we had finals. So…there was no time for anything except studying and practicing and rehearsing. But that’s a normal week, so I guess there’s more reasons than that for not writing or baking in a while.

It’s so weird to think that I only have one semester of college left. Not only weird but terrifying. I don’t know how to be an adult or live in the ‘real world.’ I guess that’s kind of a learn-on-the-go type thing huh. That’s what cookies are for.

Thankfully being at home and not having homework to worry about (just practicing for a recital coming up pretty quickly…) gives me more time to bake things. Also thankfully, my mom has a whole list of things to bake for cookie trays and family gatherings. Most of which are family recipes that have been around forever. We’ve already made a ton of pretzel chocolate treats, candied nuts, pecan tassies, and this morning I whipped up the dough for candy cane cookies. That, my friends, are a sacred recipe. And my favorite Christmas cookie. I am terrible at making them look like candy canes, but my mom is the master. I’m the master at eating them. Not even kidding.

So, the real reason for this post is to tell you that I’m baking soon. Promise. Until then; don’t forget to love the people around you. And play in the snow if you have some.

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