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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cooking Show: Our Favorite Ina Garten Recipes

The theme for our most recent cooking show was suggested by a friend of mine who absolutely loves, loves, LOVES Ina Garten.

"Have you ever thought of doing a show featuring Ina Garten recipes?" was all she had to say to convince me that it would be the next theme for the show.  So we picked out a few recipes (I admit we had trouble narrowing it down to a few!  We'll have to do another show in the future).

We started with Pomegranate Cosmos.  Whew, they sure do pack a punch.  After a few sips, we all agreed that they were extremely refreshing and would be a great summer cocktail!

Next up: Cape Cod Chopped Salad.  Was it my love for arugula that made me choose this recipe?  My affinity for Cape Cod? My fondness for adding fruit to my salads?  Because...bacon?  Who knows?  The only thing you need to know is that this salad is out-of-this-world delicious! 

I asked my friend, Trish (an expert on all things Ina), if she had a favorite Ina Garten recipe.  Her reply:  "Shrimp Scampi!"  I googled it and the first recipe that popped up was for Ina's Baked Shrimp Scampi, which was not the scampi recipe that Trish was referring to; however, we both agreed that it looked so good that we had to give it a try!

This scampi was outstanding.  It didn't take long to disappear!  One of the participants in our dining room audience may have asked me for the recipe before she even swallowed her first bite, it was that good.

The last recipe we prepared was my recipe for Croque Monsieur, which I've altered over the years but the first time I made it I followed Ina's version.

 Do you notice anything else in this picture, something I haven't mentioned yet?

Truffle Tots!!

Not an Ina Garten recipe, but I did promise in a previous blogpost that I would post about my truffle tots soon-- click here to be taken to that recipe!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Croque Monsieur on a Croissant!

I don't know when I first became aware of the French ham and cheese sandwich known as Croque Monsieur.  Somewhere, someway, I either read about it or heard it mentioned often enough that I knew what it was, even if I had no idea what it really looked like.

My obsession, however, truly began in 2009...when I saw It's Complicated.  I'm glad "Thou shalt not covet the belongings of Meryl Streep's movie character" is not a commandment because I would still be saying penance. Hopefully, you've seen this movie and know what I'm talking about!  In the moments between the times I was laughing uncontrollably, most of my thoughts while I watched this movie were along the lines of

-"I want her house!"
-"I want her garden!"
-"I want her bakery!"
-"I want (John Krasinski's character) to be my future son-in-law!"
-"I want her purple suede boots!"

The food scenes were drool-worthy.  In one scene, when she took a baking pan out of the oven I think I may have actually said out loud, "What is that!?"  And when Alec Baldwin's character answered the question for me and said, "Is that croque monsieur?" I mentally made a note that I just had to make croque monsieur for myself.  After I bought a pair of purple suede boots, of course.  I'm still waiting for my future son-in-law to come and sweep my daughter off her feet.

She's going to hate me for writing that.

As luck would have it, Ina Garten's Croque Monsieur  popped up when I googled this recipe for the first time.  I've made a few adaptations--I use significantly less cheese, and instead of bread I decided a French sandwich calls for a croissant, oui?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Individual Braciole

There are probably as many different braciole recipes out there as there are chefs to cook them!

Different fillings, different preparation methods--adjust the fillings to suit your taste.

I keep my filling really simple--just garlic, parsley and romano cheese.  Just enough to season the beef!

If you google "braciole" you'll find lots of different variations.  I like to cut the flank steak into individual portions, which goes against the grain--pun intended, ha!--of some purists.  Others butterfly the steak so there is one huge, albeit thinner, steak to roll up.  Some people add pine nuts, additional spices, bread crumbs, sliced cheese, sausage or prosciutto.  I'm sure I left out lots of other possible additions.  Feel free to fill your braciole with whatever ingredients you like!

Today's Playlist
  • "Learn To Fly"...Foo Fighters
  • "Another One Bites the Dust"...Queen
  • "Should I Stay Or Should I Go"...The Clash
  • "Troublemaker"...Weezer
  • "Back Against the Wall"...Cage the Elephant
  • "The Denial Twist"...The White Stripes
  • "Love and Affection"...Neon Trees
  • "Chelsea Dagger"...The Fratellis

Friday, April 8, 2016

Cooking Show: Mother's Day!

We taped a cooking show last week with a Mother's Day theme.  Even though Mother's Day is still a month away, we figured we'd throw some ideas out there for those who are looking to cook up something special for Mom!

My friend, Maribeth, cooked with me.  You can see her apron in the background of this picture...we wore our special "Mommy's Helping Hands" aprons that our daughters made us for Mother's Day when they were in kindergarten.  

I don't know how many of those aprons from Mother's Day 2001 are still in existence...I think that there could be a few other moms from the Daisy troop who are as sappy and sentimental as Maribeth and I, and I'd bet they still have their aprons. (hint: Joanie, Sophia & Tina--I'm talking to YOU!)

What did we cook?  Well, we thought we'd come up with a menu that featured recipes we wish that someone would make for us.  On Mother's Day, or any day!

To start the day:  Cap'n Crunch French Toast with Berry Syrup.  With whipped cream on top.

Of course I neglected to take a decent picture during the show.  It's that dish in the center.  Click here to be taken to the printable recipe.

Here's an archive picture, from last month.  

I wish that I had cut into it, so you could see the crunchy goodness of the outside and the fluffy contrast of the inside!

Maribeth and I sipped our Raspberry Lemonade Martinis while we cooked.  We think Mom might appreciate these drinks on Mother's Day as well!  To make them (serves 2):

  • Rim 2 martini glasses with sugar
  • drop a lemon drop into each glass
  • combine 1 1/2 oz limoncello and 1 1/2 oz Stoli Razberi vodka in an ice-filled cocktail shaker
  • shake well, then evenly strain into the glasses
  • top with 4 oz pink lemonade
  • add a twist of lemon
  • cheers!

Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Because after eating Cap'n Crunch French Toast for breakfast, this light & tasty salad is about all Mom will be able to handle for lunch!

And a lighter dinner would probably be a good idea as well.  These Open-Faced Tomato Sandwiches with Garlic Mayo & Pancetta fit that bill!

And for a sweet finish on Mother's Day, you can't go wrong with Sliced Pear with Prosciutto & Honey!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Open-Faced Tomato Sandwiches with Garlic Mayo & Pancetta

These sandwiches are my latest obsession.

I thought I would wait until summer to blog about this recipe.  You know, because that would be when tomatoes are in season, and perhaps I'd make them with heirloom tomatoes of differing colors so that the photos would be beautiful.

But then I considered that lackluster winter tomatoes don't stop me from wanting to make these sandwiches twice a week!  There's just so much else going on--the crunchy sourdough bread, the garlicky mayo, the salty pancetta--all the different flavors screaming for attention.

Take it from me: don't wait until it's summertime to make these sandwiches.  Make them today!