Cookbooking: Joy The Baker | Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread

Cookbooking: Joy The Baker | Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread - offbeat + inspired

For the longest time, I didn’t consider myself much of a baker – the idea of having to measure turned me off. I generally have more of a “let’s throw in a little of this and a little of that until it tastes good” mentality.

Enter Joy The Baker. Joy has been sharing her kitchen creations for a while, but I just started following her regularly several months ago (what the heck was I waiting for?). Her witty, endearing writing makes you feel like you’re chatting over a cup of coffee and a plate of Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes, while her recipes have the power to induce spontaneous salivation. Coffee Bacon Sandwiches will be happening very soon in my kitchen, and Dark Chocolate, Pistachio + Smoked Sea Salt Cookies inspired my own cupcake version.

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Mango Two Ways [and a giveaway with Whole Foods!]

Mango 2 ways main image 3

Happy Monday! Tiffany and I are so excited about today’s post! We’ve teamed up with Whole Foods to bring you two delicious mango recipes – one savory, one sweet.

Mango has quickly become one of my favorite warm weather ingredients. It’s incredibly versatile and works well in everything from smoothies to cocktails to the recipes we’re sharing today. Nothing says summer like the flavor of mango – and Mango + Shrimp Skewers and Mango, Rosemary + Ginger Shortbread Cookies are the perfect way to kick off the season.

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DIY Citrus Salt Scrub

DIY Citrus Salt Scrub - offbeat + inspired

I am obsessed with all things citrus. Whether it’s as simple as putting a slice of lime in my water or involves a decadent lemon-basil coffee cake (recipe for that coming soon!), I am officially smitten. My most recent citrus creation is this super easy sea salt scrub. Homemade scrubs take about 5 minutes to make (sometimes even less) and they’re not littered with harsh chemicals or additives found in many store-bought versions. They also make great gifts – although you may want to make two batches so you can keep one for yourself.

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Coffee-Maple Candied Bacon

Coffee-Maple Candied Bacon - offbeat + inspired-5

What’s better than bacon? Candied bacon with rich, earthy flavors of coffee, sweet maple syrup, caramelized sugar and spicy black pepper.

This recipe is dangerously easy to make, with only a few ingredients: bacon, freshly roasted coffee (I like using a full-bodied, dark roast such as FreshGround’s Sumatra Aceh), sugar, maple syrup and a touch of black pepper. Word of advice? Make this in small batches – or at least have friends over to share the results with. Otherwise before you know it, you’ll have consumed a shameful amount of bacon all by yourself. (Yup, I’m speaking from personal experience.)

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Spiced Bourbon Coffee

Spiced Bourbon Coffee - offbeat + inspired-6

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” 
-Edith Sitwell

In the fall when temperatures start to drop, I find myself looking forward to winter. There’s something romantic, serene and comforting about the season that forces me into hibernation. Outdoor activities give way to quiet evenings at home, and lively summer barbecues turn to intimate dinners. The first few snowfalls cover everything with a brilliant white blanket, and holiday festivities help me avoid the impending cabin fever.

Eventually, the enjoyment of winter fades away and is replaced by an eager anticipation of spring. It’s this time of year that I’m weary of the cold. The occasional sunlight teases as it warms me through my kitchen window – spring must be coming! And then I walk outside, only to turn back in my house to don a few more layers of clothing.

When everything in me craves the warmer season to come, it’s easy to forget the joys of winter. This year, however, I’m trying to be more intentional, taking advantage of what this season has to offer. Spring will come. But meanwhile, there’s still time for admiring snow-laden trees, bundling up under a cozy blanket and quietly sipping on Spiced Bourbon Coffee by the fire.

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Banana-Rum Scones

Banana-Rum Scones - offbeat + inspired-5

Years ago over one of my winter breaks in college, my mom and I spent a week together in New Hampshire. While some of my friends traveled to warmer climates, I opted for snowy mountains. I had the chance to snowboard, my mom and I snowshoed and we soaked in the beauty of the outdoors. To top it all off, we made sure to enjoy incredible food.

While wandering around the local area, we came across a quaint little bakery selling freshly baked muffins, scones and other pastries. The scones they had there remain the best ones I have ever tasted in my life. Maybe it was the beautiful evergreen trees layered with sparkling flakes and the blanket of crunching snow under my feet that made a warm scone and a cup of coffee taste so amazing. Or maybe those flaky, buttery treats were special because they were a culinary discovery I shared with my mom. Whatever it was, that experience turned me into a scone lover.

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Clean Eating | Broiled Grapefruit with Yogurt + Cinnamon

Broiled Grapefruit with Yogurt + Cinnamon - offbeat + inspired-9

I don’t mind the cold and snow during the beginning of winter, but around this time of year I start to get antsy. My love for cuddling up with comfort food in front of the fireplace gives way to a desire to eat on a restaurant patio, run along the riverfront path or head over to the neighbor’s for drinks and laughs around their fire pit.

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Coffee Cake Donuts

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

My trips down memory lane frequently take me to the Jersey shore. I shared a recipe for Spiced Rum Banana Ice Cream last year that highlighted a lot of the nostalgia I experience whilst daydreaming of East Coast summers past, and the Coffee Cake Donuts I’m sharing today are thusly inspired.

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Coffee Pudding for Two

Coffee Pudding 1 - offbeat + inspired

I’m not typically much of a sweet tooth, but I’ll admit that when the craving for dessert hits, there’s no stopping me. The real problem arises when my appetite for sugar involves an entire batch of cookies or about 10 pounds of chocolate cake (this recipe is my favorite!).

This Coffee Pudding makes the perfect amount for two generous servings. That means I get to enjoy dessert without throwing my New Year’s resolution (completely) out the window due to my usual lack of portion control.

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Cardamom Hot Chocolate + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Cardamom Hot Chocolate - offbeat + inspired 1

I remember when we had a snow day as a kid, my brother and I would head out to the backyard and sled down the hill behind our house for hours on end. When our fingers were finally numb and our clothes soaked through, we’d tromp through the garage and down into the basement to throw our jackets, gloves and hats into the dryer. Then we were off to our rooms to change into cozy sweatpants while Mom whipped up hot chocolate and built a fire. Snow days were seriously the best.

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