Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sun Dried Tomato Dip

I made this twice last week...once for family in town, then also for an appetizer to take out of town. Both times it was a pretty good hit...the second time I think it tasted better because it sat for 3 or 4 days in the fridge before we ate it. The flavors definitely intensify as they sit in the fridge. I only had tomatoes that were dry, not the kind packed in olive oil. Next time I will use the kind that come in oil, I have used them before and thought they had alot more flavor. I just had a package of the dried ones that I wanted to use up. I served with homemade flax seed crackers, and carrot sticks. Yum!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pan Fried Onion Dip

This was the second appetizer I made for Christmas lunch (read the post below for why)-

I used a hand blender to finish off the dip- and it worked perfectly. I served it with Stacy's Barely Naked Pita Chips and it was a great combo.

We will serve this one again!

Lamb Sausage Puff Pastry

For Christmas lunch this year, we did all appetizers and desserts instead of a big meal- it was a huge success! Plus, the women got to try out new recipes we wouldn't normally cook. This was the first appetizer I made. I couldn't find link lamb sausage anywhere, so I used ground lamb meat. I rolled out the puff pastry and cut it into 2" by 2" square pieces, put a dab of dijon mustard, and a teaspoon of cooked lamb meat. Lightly dabbed the edges with an egg wash and closed it into a pocket shape.

I thought it needed a sauce on the side so I mixed a couple teaspoons of dijon mustard with a bit of olive oil.

These were a hit! Everyone enjoyed them. Lamb has a different taste than ground hamburger meat or regular sausage, but very yummy!


We love guacamole around our house- I have used a recipe from the Adobo Cafe in Chicago for 5 years and we love it! I was a little uneasy about trying a new recipe- What I thought I really liked in the Adobo recipe was the cilantro, so I just knew I would want to add it to Ina's.

I was wrong! This was a very good recipe- I really liked the taste of the red onion, we usually use white onion.

Danny didn't like that it was chunky, he prefers smushed avocadoes- but we both enjoyed it very much!

I especially appreciated her tip on the side of the page about covering the guacamole with saran wrap right on the guacamole. It worked for me- I made this about 4 hrs ahead of time and it wasn't brown at all!

Brussel Spouts

We gave these a try the week before Christmas- they were very easy to fix (great one pan recipe). My brother was visiting and he and I and Brayden enjoyed them very much- Danny was not a fan!
You do need to move them around on the pan so they brown and crisp evenly.

Don't think these will be a regular staple at our house- but a good unique veggie to fix for parties.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Beef Bourguignon

I have been so excited about making this dish! I anxiously have been waiting for beef tenderloin to go on sale at either HEB or Kroger. My lucky day came last week. Kroger was advertising it for $8.99 a pound due to the holidays, but when I got to Kroger the butcher even had some for $5.99 a pound - YEA!!

The recipe wasn't hard it just had several steps. I did cook the beef longer than she said to. Ina said to keep it very rare and cook it 2-3 minutes per side, bit I didn't want it rare so I cooked it about 5 min per side and it was perfect. The end product was TERRIFIC!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

Forgot to take a picture of these before they were gobbled up! They were yummy! Followed the recipe exactly using full fat! They were creamy, parmesany and buttery! Took to a dinner party and they were enjoyed by all - even my husband who doesn't really like potatoes! Leftovers were reheated with a little parmesan sprinkled on top and they were enjoyed by my kids. Will be making these again!


I'm calling this Christmas Lemonade! I received a very small lemon tree from my son 2 years ago for Christmas. Last year, no lemons but the bush was healthy looking! This year, 9 lemons! And they are the best lemons I have ever tasted!! and made delicious lemonade! Simple recipe, looks pretty, taste yummy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cheddar Corn Chowder and Cheddar Dill Scones

Can you tell I'm craving cheese?! I made these 2 recipes on our snow-day. We all really liked them. I of course halved each one and still had plenty to share with my entire family, (5 more adults). I added sweet italian turkey sausage to the soup to make it more "manly" for my husband and it gave it a good flavor. The scone dough was easy to work with and form into triangles. If I remember correctly, it did take a little longer to bake than the recipe stated. The soup was easy to make and didn't take very long. I'll make this one again.

Turkey Meatloaf

My mom never made meatloaf growing up and it is not something I normally choose at a restaurant. I decided to give this one a try because it didn't have "everything leftover" in it, as I was led to believe meatloaf usually did :)
It was very easy to prepare- I only used 2 pounds of ground turkey meat and cut the rest of the recipe in half.
Danny and I both enjoyed it quite a bit- can't say I will make it very often because we had TONS of leftovers, but very yummy and tasty!

Butternut Squash

I bought the smallest butternut squash I could find, knowing I would probably be the only one eating it in my house! The squash was tougher to cut than I imagined- maybe my knife wasn't sharp enough. I did like that I only had to use one pan to prepare and cook it in.

I enjoyed the squash, but it was a bit sweet for me! Danny didn't like the texture, as I imagined. Brayden spit it right out- but right now he is not eating anything orange!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rosemary White Bean Soup, Pumped Up

I used dried Navy beans for this soup. I only had one onion on hand, instead of the 3 that were called for, so I was deficient there...I did have an ultra amount of rosemary though, just because I have such a huge bush of it and love to use it. I got a little worried the rosemary flavor would be too strong, but it was not. However, maybe because I cooked mine all afternoon in the crock pot, the rosemary "needles" all came off into the soup. I picked a reasonable amount out by spoon...but couldn't get them all. My husband did not seem to mind them floating in his soup, surprisingly. I think I might put the rosemary in a little cheesecloth bag nesxt time, so it can be removed intact. I used a hand potato masher to mash about half the beans in the pot. I wanted the soup pretty chunky.

After eating a small bowl of the soup to say I tried it as it was meant to be, I added two diced steamed organic carrots and 1/2 cup or so of chopped ham to the soup, to make it more substantial. This was our meal along with fresh baked bread. This is a pic of my steamer of carrots and ham before I added them to the soup.

If you are using this soup as the main course of a meal, and everyone wants 2-3 bowls, it probably will serve more like 4-5 than 6 people. I thought the rosemary flavor was amazing. I like my additions also, and think I will always add the carrots and ham too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just thought I'd share....

This has nothing to do with Barefoot Contessa but I found this awesome blog today with wonderful looking/sounding recipes that I thought those that love to cook or want to love to cook would like to look at. I just started looking at it today and have found sooo many recipes that I want to try...and go figure I went to the grocery store yesterday so I'm going to have to wait! She's called the pioneer woman and she even has a cookbook so if you ladies like it maybe we can do it as our next cookbook!
Here's the link

sorry it's off topic but I just wanted to share it with people b/c the recipes look awesome!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I just got an email that the movie Julie & Julia came out on Redbox today. Maybe watching it will help me get re-motivated to try something new.

Fruit & Cheese Platter

I know that this isn’t technically a “recipe” in the cookbook, but I tried to mimic the cheese platter on pages 64-67. She provided a lot of information that really help me out it all together. For cheeses I used brie, havarti with dill, aged gouda, and taleggio; it seemed like a nice blend of hard and soft cheeses . On the platter I put out grapes, Mediterranean dipping oil, ciabatta bread, prosciutto, and Kalamata olives.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another Corn Cheddar Chowder & Criytibs

The corn chowder was very good! We gave it a 9 out of 10!

I did a 1/3 of the recipe b/c I kept reading everyone's comments on how it made a lot and I didn't want to be eating everyday for a week no matter how good it is! Mine wasn't as creamy as some have suggested but I might have gotten some of the 1/3ing (word??:)) wrong but it was good none the less.

Here is what I used if anyone else wants to do a 1/3...
2c onion, 4c chicken stock, 2c potatoes (I used red also), 3.5c corn (I think next time I'll only use 3c), 2/3c 1/2&1/2, 1.5tbsp butter, 2/3tsp salt, <1/4c flour, eyeballed pepper!
I left out the tumeric b/c I couldn't bring myself to spend $5 on a small container of it! So I'm not sure what I missed out on flavor wise but it was still good.
Croutons -
These were good...nothing special but good. They may have been better if they didn't get so brown but my oven wasn't even preheated and I put them in for 17 min (which she states 15-20) so I thought I'd be good but no so! I also did the olive oil mix like I would garlic bread and cooked the bread like 5 min and that tasted good too...not sure if it was better than our usual but it was good.

BEFORE AFTER - just a little well done!

Linzer Cookies

Thanks to those of you who made these before me, they turned out pretty well.
After letting the dough sit for 30 minutes, I split it in half and rotated each section, rolling it out, cutting out cookies, putting the scraps back in a ball, and putting it back in the fridge for a while. It really helped them not be too sticky. I also used Carissa's advice and rolled it out between two sheets of wax paper- great suggestion!
(My big helper- Brayden- this was actually his first time really helping me in the kitchen- it lasted about 1 minute before he decided that eating the dough was more fun!)
I used mini cookie cutters for half the dough and dipped the cookies in chocolate- that's what I brought to our S2S Christmas party- not many were eaten, but that is probably b/c there were about 15 super yummy desserts provided!
The other half I made as Ina's recipe directed, but I used Blackberry preserves I already had- they were pretty good too!

Orange Yogurt

I made this for Brayden and I's breakfast this morning. I had found cheesecloth on sale at HEB before Thanksgiving, so I used it. I drained the yogurt over night and added the ingredients right before serving. We are not big fans of raisins, so I left those out.
Brayden LOVED it! I thought it was pretty good and would be a great breakfast brunch item to make.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hot Chocolate on a Snowy Day

My two boys, Hudson (almost 5) and Landon (2), waiting to go play in the snow. :) Friday night after having a great snowball fight with Ben(Daddy), we put the tree up and ate cinammon rolls and hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was so creamy and delicious, but it was a little too chocolaty for Ben. I would suggest cutting back on the chocolate and tasting it and then you can add more chocolate if need be.

Cheddar Corn Chowder

Once again, I halved the recipe and it still made a lot of soup. Right now I have 3 different kinds of leftover soup, from the cookbook, in my freezer. I think I should have a soup party!! HEB didn't have any fresh corn, so I bought frozen corn on the cob. My thinking was that the frozen corn on the cob might taste more like fresh than the frozen kernels. I also substituted yellow cheddar for white cheddar. The soup was quite yummy and comforting!

Fingerling Potatoes

I made the fingerling potatoes to go along with a yummy tilapia dish. HEB had a bag of fingerlings that I used and I loved that they were different colors. Who knew that potatoes could be purple? :)

Spinach Pie

This pie was wonderful!! I had my doubts about it, put anything wrapped in phyllo dough has to be good. :) I made this awhile back and can't remember all the details, but I think I halved the recipe and it was just the right amount.

Blackberry and Raspberry Crisp

Instead of peaches, I used blackberries and it was delicious! I forgot to take a picture until it was almost gone, but it was quite yummy.

Outrageous Brownies

I made the outrageous brownies on Saturday to bring to our Sunday School Christmas party.  The recipe was pretty simple and didn't require a mixer, which was nice.   The only issue I had was when melting the chocolate and butter.  Ina says to melt them in a medium bowl, but my bowl (which was medium sized) barely held everything and was taking a really long time to melt everything.  I recommend using a pretty big bowl for the melting process, and also cutting the butter and any large chunks of chocolate into smaller ones before melting them.  This should make the process go a lot faster. 

I thought it was interesting that Ina said to use a baking sheet for the brownies rather than a browie pan.  It worked fine for mine, but I did have an issue with my brownies sticking to the side of the pan, I'm pretty sure because I didn't butter and flour the pan well enough before pouring the batter in. 

Beware...these brownies are really tasty, but also REALLY crumbly when they come out of the oven.  I recommend allowing a few hours to chill the cooked and cooled brownies in the refrigerator before you attempt to cut and serve them.  I tried cutting mine before they were chilled, and it did not work well at all.  Crumbs and chunks were flying everywhere and I was wondering if they were going to ever hold together at all.  After chilling them overnight, they held together much better, so that's definitely the way to go if you can give it that much time. 

As always, this recipe made a ton.  I ended up with at least 25 large brownies, maybe more.  I'll probably quarter the recipe the next time I make it and make it in a smaller brownie pan.  I will be making these again.  They were delicious, way better than boxed browies and worth the calories! 

Here are some of the finished brownies.

Orange Yogurt

I made the orange yogurt for breakfast Saturday.  I used a paper towel and a sifter to strain my yogurt, and it worked like a charm, even after only straining for 3 hours.  I used Dannon plain lowfat yogurt, and it worked well.  I used golden raisins and everything else called for in the recipe, and it turned out really well.  I love how easy it was to make and that it can be made well in advance.  I think the next time I try it I might try using maple syrup, pecans, figs, and cranberries/cranberry juice.  I might also try using plain greek yogurt rather than plain lowfat regular yogurt.  I usually eat greek yogurt every day and love its thick consistency, so I bet it would work well in this recipe. 

This was very good and I'll definitely try it again.  Here's my finished yogurt.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Curried Couscous

OK, this isn't the best picture, but it does show off my new Christmas Tree...and look, Giada is even in the photo! Yes, that is my 2 year old on the big chair mesmerized by Food Network!
Anyway, the couscous was really good! I forgot the red onion, parsley(it was raining too much to go outside and pick some) and almonds but it was still very yummy! I used Craisins in mine. All members of the family ate some...although I think Evelyn the 2 year old just picked out all the dried cranberries to eat. I will definitely make this again.

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

This was surprisingly nice, I was afraid it would taste like hot licorice! It was good, I wouldn't say it was great though. Honestly it didn't have a whole lot of flavor, it reminded me of a watered down onion. The cheese helped cheer it up a bit. I think it would be better in a recipe than being a recipe itself.

Szechuan Noodles and Broccoli with Garlic

I made both the szechaun noodles and the broccoli with garlic last week for dinner one night.  My husband grilled some chicken to go with the salads, and all the dishes worked really well together.  As always, the szechuan noodles recipe made a lot, so I'd recommend halving the recipe unless you're cooking for a big group.  I agree with Darby, the broccoli with garlic recipe doesn't make a ton, so making a full recipe is probably smart. 

I enjoyed both recipes and would make them again.  Here's the finished product:

Indonesian Ginger Chicken

Above is the package of chicken that I got. It was basically a chicken cut in half.
Below is the Agave that I used instead of honey.
And below is the finished product! It made the house smell super yummy while it cooked. We all cleaned our plates except Evelyn the 2 year old...she has gotten a bit picky lately. I would totally make this again, I might experiment with other cuts of meat, I'm not real crazy about gnawing on bones. I cut slits in the skin on the top, to allow the marinade to penetrate the skin, I think it worked very well. I also basted it a couple times while it was cooking. I love that you can make it the night before, makes it super fast at dinner time!

Cranberry Harvest Muffins, Minus the Cranberries

I made the cranberry harvest muffins over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I thought they sounded Thanksgiving-y, because the recipe called for cranberries.  This recipe was really easy, the only part that took some time was roasting and shelling the hazlenuts.  Hazlenuts aren't too easy to shell, but it's definitely easier after they've been roasted. 

Figs were impossible to find in Krogers, but I was able to find dried figs from Whole Foods.  This recipe was really quick to put together and I appreciated that I didn't have to use the mixer.  My only problem was that I realized I'd completely forgotten to add the cranberries to the recipe until when the muffins were already baking in the oven.  I wondered why the recipe didn't seem to make as many muffins as Ina had estimated, and this explained it.

The muffins were a hit with the family.  They were really tasty, but I think they would have been better with the cranberries.  I think this is a recipe I'll repeat around holiday time (and other times too). 

Here are some of the finished muffins. Yum!

Cheddar Corn Chowder...With a Secret Weapon

Two weekends ago seemed like great soup weather to me, so I went for it and made the Cheddar Corn Chowder.  It turned out to be an extra good time to make soup, since my husband got sick over the weekend and about all he could eat was soup and bread. 

The soup was really pretty simple to make.  I used frozen corn instead of fresh, and I used red potatoes instead of the white boiling potatoes she calls for in the recipe (if anyone knows where to find these, let me know).  Both ingredients worked great in the soup.  The potatoes held up perfectly and the corn tasted great. 

The recipe makes a LOT of soup, so if you're not one to freeze extras or eat leftovers, you will probably want to only make half a recipe.  We've been eating on it for days and have loved it. 

Oh, and about my secret weapon...  As I've stated before, cutting onions is just about my most hated task ever.  No exaggeration.  I was really not excited to have to cut up the 4 onions required for this soup.  Usually I could ask my sweet husband to do it for me, but he was sick, so I was really in a bind. 

Then I remembered the nice white swim goggles that had last been used for my triathlon in July.  I hadn't touched them since that harrowing event, but I thought maybe, just maybe, they would come in handy for the soup making process.  So, I strapped them on and wore them the entire time I cut up the onions, and viola, they worked great!  No tears, no screaming, no sticking my head in the freezer to stop the burning sensation.  If you hate cutting onions as much as I do, I recommend heading over to your local sporting goods store and picking up some swimming goggles.  They made my soup making experience much more pleasant! 

Here's the soup.

The soup was great and will definitely be a repeat recipe, particularly when it's cold outside and I can find my swim goggles.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Orange Yogurt

I would have never thought in a million years that I could make yogurt! And coming from a person who doesn’t even like yogurt, this was really yummy. This recipe allows for a lot of culinary freedom. The recipe called for a sieve. Since I didn’t have one I decided to use my sifter instead. I figured that it was practically the same thing and that gravity would take care of everything for me and it did.

My “sieve”

The flavor of my yogurt is probably more accurately, Clementine and walnut yogurt.
"Orange" yogurt page 228

Linzer cookies

I had never heard of this type of cookie before. I have eaten it, but I didn’t know that it had such a history. Linzer cookies are traditional Australian shortbread sandwich cookies with fruit preserves in the middle. They are traditionally cut in circles with the middle missing with black currant jam so that it resembles an eye. I was unaware of this when I was making mine to look like autumn with strawberry & raspberry preserves. Either way though, I think they tasted pretty good. These cookies are my husband’s favorite Contessa cookie so far. I think I need to work on the presentation of these cookies though, because some of you have done an awesome job of presenting your Linzer cookies.

Linzer cookies page 178

Roasted brussels sprouts

We really like brussels sprouts but I had no idea that it was a winter vegetable. The night I had planned on making this, I came home from work later than I had expected but I quickly mixed the ingredients and put them in the oven with the chicken that I was making for dinner. I had dinner on the table in about 40 minutes. It was a deliciously healthy and quick meal.

Roasted brussels sprouts page 150

Broccoli with garlic

Strangely, I would recommend making the full recipe. Unlike all of Ina’s other dishes, when you half this one it doesn’t make very much. This broccoli was good but I would recommend serving it warm instead of cold.

Broccoli with garlic page 100