Recipe Share

Hey all – I’ve been a busy bee in the kitchen lately trying new some recipes and whipping up some of my favorites. Nothing original, just scouring the web and tweaking where necessary. I thought I’d share and hopefully inspire you to get your booty off the couch and in the kitchen!

Ina Garten’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup – Great for summer because you can eat it cold.  In a few months enjoy a happy winter weekend by eating it warm with a grilled cheese sandwich. Yum. My tweaks: use half the salt it calls for (Ina Garten if you’re reading this, your cardiologist called, stop using so much salt) and use low sodium chicken stock. Slightly annoying that you have to run this through a food mill. If you don’t have one you could get around that step by removing the tomato skins after you roast them and then running the soup through a blender for a few seconds. You won’t get quite the same consistency, but it would be ok in a pinch.

Ina Garten’s Chicken Salad Veronique – This is chicken salad jazzed up with green grapes and tarragon. I typically don’t like tarragon because it has an anise (licorice) flavor, but it really works here. Again, go easy on the salt. This salad is great on a crispy ciabatta bread.

Giada De Laurentiis’s Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetable – This was surprisingly SO good. The recipe calls for two zucchini and two squash but just use two squash (unless they are freakishly small). There was no way four would have fit in the pan. I didn’t have the dried Italian herb mix it called for – actually that’s not true, I found a jar of it that expired in 2008 – so I just made my own. I combined dried thyme, rosemary and oregano and it was fine. I also used plain mozzarella instead of smoked.

Ina Garten’s Tabbouleh Salad – I made this for the first time about a month ago and I’ve made it four times already. I can’t get enough of it and it’s actually healthy. Great on its own but even better in a warmed up pita. When I saw Ina G make it on her show, she used chicken stock instead of water so that’s what I did the first time. Never again. The chicken flavor was a terrible match for the lemon, herb and vegetable flavors. Since then I just do what the original recipe says and use boiling water. Aside from a little bit of olive oil, there is no fat because it’s just herbs, veggies, and wheat bulgur (very healthy grain that has the consistency of couscous). I also like to add a little avocado just before serving. That negates the no fat thing but come on, it’s avocado!

And of course you can’t forget dessert… Ina Garten’s Peach and Blueberry Crumbles – so good and perfect for summer because you can use up those peaches.  I will definitely tweak this for fall and winter with other fruits (pear and apple?). This one I actually got around to taking a picture of before I put it in the oven but I was so overwhelmed by the delicious smells coming from the kitchen that I forgot to snap a picture of the finished product. Let’s just say it was bubbling and delicious looking. I also did not have the small ramekins that the recipe called for so I made four LARGE crumbles instead of six reasonable portions. I had no trouble finishing the larger one 🙂


PB Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

I’m involved in a cookie swap tomorrow so I headed over to Tasty Kitchen to find some inspiration. These immediately caught my eye and after making them this morning, I can tell you these are perfect for cookie swaps, holiday parties and lonely Friday nights.

The recipe said it would yield 36 cookies but it made 72 for me. Weird! Yes, I made them a little smaller than usual because I used a mini scooper to portion out the cookies, but they’re definitely not half the size of regular cookies. Anywho, that’s one of the reasons that this recipe is perfect for a cookie swap.


1 cup of salted butter (2 sticks), softened but not melted

1 cup of creamy peanut butter

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of light brown sugar

2 extra-large eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (Original recipe does not call for this but I think it should have. So there.)

1 bag (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips

1.5 cups broken up pretzel pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Break up pretzels in a ziploc bag and set aside.

Microwave butter for 30 seconds until it’s softened. Add to the bowl of an electric mixer and combine with both sugars and peanut butter. Mix until well combined.

Add both eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture until everything is incorporated. At this point my mixer started growling at me like, “Don’t even think about adding one more ingredient to this bowl.” Add the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces and stir together to combine. Apologize to mixer.

This was the first time I used my mini-ice cream scoop (this is not the one I actually have, but you get the idea) to portion out the dough and even though my cookies came out a little funny looking, I would do it again. It was cleaner and faster and I licked my fingers a whole lot less.

Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes until the cookies are lightly browned on top. Let them cool for a minute on the pan and then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy with milk!

Thanksgiving Menu Ideas Part II

As if turkey and potatoes weren’t enough?? Here are the other veggies I’ll be making this year:

Asparagus – So easy to prep, so easy to jazz up, so delicious to eat, so smelly to pee. Oops, did I just say that? I did. Because it’s the truth. Just hold your breath.  It’s good practice for diving and getting rid of the hiccups.

Back to the asparagus. Wash the stalks, break off the bottoms (they’ll naturally snap off where they should), spread them out on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, jazz up. I’ll be sprinkling the asparagus with chopped up pancetta before cooking (or prosciutto? I never remember the difference) and adding grated parmesan for the last minute. Because I’m using the pancetta, I won’t add salt but normally you would salt them before roasting. 400 degrees for fifteen minutes. Yum.

Carrots – Wash them, peel them, cut them into similar sized wedges, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, roast for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. Sprinkle with chopped up dill before serving. Hell to the yeah.

String Beans – I’m steaming them because I know I won’t have room in my oven or on my stove top. I was tempted to make this amazing sounding green bean casserole from Pioneer Woman, but between the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other fattening goodies … well, I just had to draw the line somewhere.

Cranberry Sauce – Last year I made Barefoot Contessa’s; it was ok but a little too citrusy for me. This year I’m making this one I found on Epicurious. Have you been to Epicurious? It’s amazing! Go now!

Stuffing (Dressing) – I’m not one to make actual stuffing (that means it’s cooked inside the bird) because it takes longer to cook and then your bird gets dry. Nobody likes a dry bird. Just like nobody puts Baby in the corner. It’s just not done! Stuffing that’s cooked on its own is actually called dressing. I wasn’t going to make it but yesterday I said to Matt, “It’s ok that I’m not making stuffing, right?” And he said, “I really love stuffing.” So… I’m making stuffing. Dressing. Whatever. This cornbread stuffing from Tyler Florence looks great so I’m giving it a try!

I’ll take pictures and get reviews from friends on Saturday. Happy Fakesgiving!

Thanksgiving Menu Ideas Part I

Hey there, November. When did you get here? Oh! A week ago? Hmmmm…that means Thanksgiving is only eighteen days away. This year I am (thankfully) not hosting Thanksgiving. Once Matt and I were married we decided to start alternating where we go and this year it’s my family’s turn so we’re headed to my aunt and uncle’s house. (Sidenote: Marrying someone of a different religion is awesome because I never have to share my holidays and Matt never has to share his. We only have to split Thanksgiving – not bad!)

Although we’re not hosting this year, we are having Fakesgiving for the second time. Fakesgiving is our pre-Thanksgiving friend celebration.  If you’re hosting and need some ideas, or even if you’re just bringing a dish somewhere, here is what I’m making:

Turkey – Forget everything you’ve ever heard about getting up pre-dawn to put your turkey in the oven for a million hours. It’s completely unnecessary and it dries out the bird. Follow Ina Garten’s instructions and you won’t be disappointed. I sort of combine two of her turkey recipes but it’s best to follow this one.  Instead of using truffle butter I use regular softened butter because I’m poor. I also put one or two halved lemons in the turkey cavity.

Here’s my turkey from last year!

Can you tell how deliriously tired I was here?  Note to self: you need to take off the day before Thanksgiving if you’re hosting.

Gravy – I made Ina Garten’s gravy last year for Fakesgiving and it was horrible. I rectified that for Thanksgiving and followed The Pioneer Woman’s recipe from here. I ignore everything that has to do with the giblets (she boils them and uses the water and then cuts them up for gravy – no thank you).

Mashed Potatoes – Last year I made Ina Garten’s because they are rich and creamy beyond belief (that could have something to do with the butter, sour cream and whole milk – just a guess). Mashed potatoes need to be made right before you serve dinner and there is just too much going on with turkey carving and veggie roasting to bother. Also, they require the mixer and they didn’t all fit in the bowl so I had to do two batches and it was a headache and a half. They’re absolutely worth making for a regular dinner but forget making them for twenty people for Thanksgiving.

This year I’m using The Pioneer Woman’s recipe because they can be made ahead of time and baked to heat them up. We’ll see how it goes. They sure look good!


Sweet Potatoes – AKA dessert that I pass off as a vegetable. There are plenty of healthy sweet potato dishes you can make, but that’s not what Thanksgiving is about! Isn’t it the time to give thanks for the important things in life, like butter, brown sugar, eggs, and cinnamon?

There are a few options here and they’re all delicious. In the past I’ve made Ina Garten’s smashed sweet potatoes with apples and it’s great. For some reason it’s not on Food Network’s website but the recipe can be found in Ina’s Parties book. Once I made a copycat recipe of the sweet potato casserole from Ruth’s Chris. Wowee Zowee.

This year I’m making Pioneer Woman’s Soul Sweet Taters which seem very similar to the Ruth’s Chris dish. Get your stretchy pants out!

That’s it for now! In another day or two I’ll post the non-potato veggie side dishes.

Anyone else really hungry now?

For Reals Yo Onion Dip

Who doesn’t love the good old Lipton Onion Soup Mix packet o’powder for some onion dip? I know I do!

But as I was browsing through the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, I saw a recipe for Pan Fried Onion Dip. Hmmmmm…could it be better than the powder? As I found out today, YES!


2 large yellow onions

4 tablespoons of butter

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

4 ounces room temperature cream cheese.

Cut the onions in half, peel off the outer skin, and slice them into thin half circles. Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan and add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Lower the heat to low/medium and cook for another 20-25 minutes until the onions are browned and deeeelicious. Do not let them burn! Better to keep the heat a little low and let them cook longer. Burned onions = ruined dip. Let the onions cool for at least 15 or 20 minutes.

raw onions (blurry phone pictures)

onions after 10 minutes

onions after 30 minutes

Combine the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until they’re smooth and combined. Strain then add the onions and mix well. Refrigerate for an hour and serve with chips. Receive praise.

Side note: If your cream cheese isn’t softened enough, you can microwave it on 10-second increments for 20 seconds or so. Don’t let it cook!!

Apologies for no picture of the finished product. I’ll try to give you a visual – it looked like onion dip.

Everyone can roast a chicken

I used to fear cooking a whole chicken. Not anymore! While I’m still a novice at carving it (I am getting better), the cooking part couldn’t be easier. What has become a nearly weekly meal in my house is Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Chicken with Croutons. The prep takes all of five or ten minutes and then the chicken takes about an hour to an hour and a half to cook. It is so moist and flavorful, and the homemade croutons are salty and crunchy and perfect. I’m making it tonight!

Here is Ina making it.

Cheddar Corn Chowder – OMG

Yeah, I said OMG. This soup is that good. While it’s not difficult, it does take a fair amount of prep work so do all your chopping ahead of time. I also added chicken to make this more of a substantial meal. I roasted two split chicken breasts at 375 for 35 minutes and chopped them into large pieces. Perfection.

The only other warning is that this recipe makes an INSANE amount. I halved it and still filled my 5.5 quart pot. It wound up being about 10 servings when I halved it.

Since the instructions are so basic, I took a screenshot:

Oh! One more thing. Don’t bother boiling the fresh corn before you put it in the soup; it’s completely unnecessary.

Chicken with Goat Cheese and Basil

One of the fastest, easiest meals to prepare is a split chicken breast stuffed with_______  (insert your favorite ingredients here). A split chicken breast is on the bone and roasting it that way helps keep the meat moist. Even if you’re being good and not eating the skin, it’s still important to buy the chicken breast with the skin on so that you have something to hold the stuffing in while it cooks.  When it’s done, you can decide to discard the skin (Oh, the horror!).

A delicious combination I saw featured in House Beautiful is goat cheese and basil. The original recipe comes from Ina Garten (big surprise) and can be found here.

When you cook goat cheese it loses some of the strong flavor so even if you’re not a huge fan, you may still like this. Matt doesn’t love GC like I do, so for his chicken breast I use half the amount and supplement it with part-skim ricotta cheese.


1 skin-on, split chicken breast per person

2 slices of goat cheese, plain or herbed, per person (about 2 ounces per person)*

2 large basil leaves per person

black pepper and kosher salt

olive oil

*1-2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese if you want to use less goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 and line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper. This makes clean-up a lot easier!

Gently wiggle your fingers under the skin of the chicken breast  to make a pocket for the cheese. Place two pieces of goat cheese and two basil leaves under the skin of each chicken breast. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil on each chicken breast and season generously with salt and pepper.

Cook for 35-40 minutes. Allow the meat to rest for about ten minutes before serving. Serve with your favorite veggies and enjoy!

A Tale of Two Dips

Last weekend I made two dips for a party: one high brow and one low brow. I love both so I’m sharing them with you!

The first is a goat cheese and ricotta dip from Giada de Laurentiis. Don’t be scared by goat cheese – it’s good. My friend Erin served this at her apartment and I was hooked. I’ve made it three times since then. And that was only last month.


4 oz. goat cheese at room temperature

1/4 cup of whole milk ricotta (part skim is ok too)

1 tablespoon olive oil for the dip, more for brushing on the crostini

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper

1 long baguette

Preheat the broiler in your oven and place a rack a few inches (maybe 4?) away from the flame.

Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch thick slices and arrange on a baking sheet.

Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Broil until the bread is just browning, remove from the oven, and flip. Broil the other side until just brown. WARNING: Watch the bread carefully -it cooks quickly!

Combine the goat cheese, ricotta, lemon zest and juice, basil, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

You can leave the dip in a bowl and serve with the bread, or you can spread a little dip on each crostini and serve it that way.

Ready for the low-brow dip? I have no pictures because I was rushed as hell when I made it.


1 can of refried beans

3 avocados

3 tomatoes, diced

1 small onion, minced

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup grated cheddar


In a large dish (I used a Corningware oval dish), spread the refried beans across the bottom. In a separate bowl, combine the minced onions with the three avocados and mash together until it’s combined but still chunky. Spread that across the refried beans. Spread the sour cream over the avocado. Add the tomatoes, between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of salsa, and the cheese. Enjoy with some tortilla chips!

Peach Cobbler

Fresh peaches are such a treat and now is a great time to get them. To tell if they’re ripe, smell the spot where the stem is (was). If it smells peachy, it’s good.

A few years ago I went to see Katie Lee Joel do a cooking demonstration at the Viking Cooking School (formerly Loaves and Fishes) in Garden City. At the time she was married to Billy Joel but in case you hadn’t heard, it didn’t work out. Big surprise there.

She was gorgeous and friendly and lovely. I bought her cookbook and one of my favorite recipes is the peach cobbler. The topping is more like a biscuit than a crumble and the focus is really on the peaches. Unfortunately, there is a typo in the recipe so I’ve had to make some executive decisions. The ingredient list calls for one and one quarter cups of sugar, but the directions only have you use one cup. I think the biscuit could be a little sweeter so I decided that the extra quarter cup should go there.

The cookbook is decent, but you can definitely tell that it’s her first one. For example in this recipe it says 4-5 peaches, peeled and sliced. Ok, how thick should they be sliced? Thinly sliced? Thick wedges? Also, peaches are practically impossible to peel, so how about a trick (which I included below, courtesy of Ina Garten)?  If you like southern food, it’s worth a read, otherwise, you can just borrow mine.


5 peaches

1.25 cups of sugar

1 cup of flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup of milk

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon of cornstarch

3/4 cup of boiling water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

To prepare the peaches, bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop the peaches in for 30 seconds. Take them out and put them in a bowl of very cold water to stop the cooking. When they’re cool enough to handle, the peels should slide right off. WARNING: Naked peaches are very slippery! Be careful when you’re slicing them. Slice the peaches into 1/2 inch wedges. Place them in an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, the baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the milk and melted butter and mix together. Evenly pour the batter over the peaches.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining sugar with the cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle it over the batter. Evenly pour the boiling water over everything. This will mix with the dry ingredients to make a nice sauce for the peaches.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until the top starts to brown. Serve warm. I’ve had it for breakfast for the past three mornings – it’s fruit!