Tag Archives: Ina Garten

Hear Your Heroes: A Conversation with Ina Garten

Who would you invite to your fake fantasy dinner party?

Let’s assume it’s you + 3 people. No stipulations.

I’m going to say: Tina Fey, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Ina Garten.

I think we’d all have lots to talk about, no? Tina and Ina already have met on 30 Rock. Tina and Lin are both prolific writers and actors. Lin and I are both Puerto Rican. I mean, the conversation is flowing and I haven’t even opened the first fake bottle of wine yet.

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via Buzzfeed

Ina Garten spoke in Richmond last Tuesday and I got the opportunity to go and, PEOPLE, it was incredible.

Disclaimer: I am a dork and I love Ina Garten, so if either of these things offend you, just X on outta this post.

IMG_9175

The only photo I took. It is genuinely terrible. 

I think I’ve seen every episode of Ina’s show, The Barefoot Contessa. I own more of her cookbooks than anyone’s and they’re the first books I consult when I have a party, need a recipe, or need inspiration. She feels like a friend or family member. Her soothing manner of saying, “how easy is that?” is instantly calming.

I’ll admit, I cried more than once during the event. (I said I was a dork.) But honestly, I was overwhelmed by her ease and grace was really  inspired by the path her career has taken. She is even more more interesting and charming in person.

Throughout the evening, which was billed as ‘a conversation with Ina Garten’, the moderator (who was also a friend of hers) steered us through questions about her early years in nuclear energy policy at The White House, how that brought her to to buy the deli in the Hamptons called The Barefoot Contessa, how she was so out of her depth when she first owned it but then how it rose to success, how she wrote her first cookbook, and how she started with The Food Network. The biggest success of her entire career didn’t come until her late 30s/early 40s. She turned down the pilot to her cooking show and then the Food Network came back to her with a better offer. And then she turned it down again. Until they just told her, “yeah, we’re going to shoot this pilot. We’re coming in 2 weeks.” Insanity.

It was fascinating to me to hear her talk candidly about her successes and failures, but even more interesting was when she spoke so honestly of feeling overwhelmed or scared to do something new, but just doing it anyway. It’s a good reminder not to let those fears of how or why get in your way. Just do it and then figure out why you’re doing it later. You can course correct once you’ve started.

Of course, there were some wonderful entertaining tips, which I’m excited to share with y’all. Some of these are fairly intuitive, yet, I didn’t always think of them. But that’s the thing she does best—strips back the bullshit and gets to things in their simplest terms.

  • Dinner parties are about the friends, not the food. So pick a really simple meal and just enjoy yourself. As a guest, you don’t want to impose upon your host. And as a host, you don’t want to be in the kitchen all night.
  • Only invite people that you really love over for dinner.
  • The fancier the guests, the simpler the dinner.
  • Ask your guests what they don’t eat and then make one meal for everyone. Find the thread between vegetarian/pescetarian/omnivore/other.
  • Always put the two most talkative people opposite each other. If they’re next to each other, the conversation stops with them.

I think the loveliest moment of the evening was when the moderator asked Ina why she felt food/food culture has become so important now.

I’m paraphrasing here, but she said that it’s really about taking care of ourselves and connecting with people. We have high stress jobs and ‘jangled nervous.’ How generous it is to be able care for cook for someone.

Isn’t that the whole point of this life—to connect with and care for others? There is nothing I’d rather do than make someone feel cared for and loved with some fried chicken and a pie.

That got a little sappy, y’all. But Ina brings out it out in me.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled quippiness.

Ina Garten is a New York Times best selling author and has many wonderful cookbooks, which are available here.

Her newest cookbook is called Cooking for Jeffrey and comes out in October.

 

 

 

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Nearly Birthday Musings: Foods You Should Learn in your 20s

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday.

Hell, 10 minutes from now.

I’m not upset about turning 30. Truly. My bff Ally very wisely called your twenties the “middle school” of your life. So I’m excited to see what my thirties will bring. (Although, let’s face it, I was still working out a lot of the kinks in high school, including but not limited to my hair. Bangs were not for me.)

I just happened to be trolling looking on Twitter tonight and saw one of those annoying/clever Buzzfeed lists. You know, lists like: 20 Signs Your Dog is Gay. 10 Signs You Used to Watch Muppet Babies. 253 Signs You Read Too Many Buzzfeed Lists.

But this one was oddly apropos today. 26 Foods You Should Learn to Cook in Your Twenties. So, I decided to click.

I was very pleased to see that I’ve made just about everything on their list. I have never made homemade pancakes (I leave the homemade pancake making to my pal, Sarah, cause she’s got some mad skills). I’ve also never made mussels at home. I love mussels, but they never compare to the first time that I had them. I was on a boat in the north of Spain and the mussels were being pulled out of the ocean and cooked in white wine for us on the boat and we were eating mussels and drinking wine and on the boat and holy shit I sound like such an asshole but I don’t regret those mussels at all maybe I regret telling this story but I’m just going to go with it.

Ahem. Anyway.

I’d like to add a couple things to this list. So without further ado, a few extra items for Buzzfeed’s consideration.

27. A fried egg.

Egg cookery can be tricky. I’d say to make a perfectly cooked fried egg is important to have in your repertoire. Good for breakfast. Clutch for brinner. Always perfect to bring to the party.

28. Chicken Noodle Soup.

Beef stew (#22) is great, but that’s a heavy, cold weather, stick-to-your-ribs kind of dish. Chicken soup will soothe your soul (according to the books) and it’s plain delicious. It cannot be beat when you’re sick. It’s also great with a soda on the side.

29. An Entertaining Meal.

This is a meal that you can make when friends come over and people will be impressed. This dish doesn’t have to be gourmet, per say, but it needs to have something special about it. My go-to is Ina Garten’s portabello mushroom lasagna. It’s not a hard dish, but it’s time-intensive and I feel like it shows the people I made it for that I love them. CAUSE I DO.

Fun fact: one time I made this for a dinner party and then dropped it on the floor and had to throw the whole thing out. I laughed a lot and then bought a frozen lasagna for the party. The party was RUINED. (It wasn’t, but it wasn’t quite as delicious.)

30. Your favorite food.

I’ve saved this one for number 30, symbollically, because I have yet to master this. I love fried chicken. It is my favorite food. I’ve only made it once at home and it was ok. This year, I will master some fried chicken.

So, those are my thoughts. My final musings as a 29-year-old.

And those musings are about fried chicken.

I’m not surprised.

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Jam Thumbprint Cookies, or as we like to call them, “Jam Thumpers”

It’s Christmastime, which is my favorite time of the year: the time when it is socially acceptable to eat cookies for breakfast.

Now, you really could eat cookies for breakfast every day and be alright in my book. Hell, I’ll vote for you for president. But, at Christmastime, it’s encouraged. With a cup of coffee and the tree on, maybe a little Vince Guaraldi Trio on in the background, eet’s nice. (If you celebrate Hannukahtime or Noneoftheabovetime, this also applies. Just adjust for the appropriate religious or non-religious symbols.)

Our favorite cookies aren’t really Christmas cookies, but they are delicious. And I just realized I’ve been making them over 10 years, which is weird.

Sidenote. It’s strange to make realizations relative to time. I’ve been out of college for 7 years. I’ve been making these cookies for 10 years. I’ve been I’ve been driving for 13 years. I’ve been bad at driving for 13 years.

Anyways. These cookies are made of buttery shortbread, rolled in coconut with a little bit of sweet jam on top. They’re Ina Garten’s Jam Thumbprints, so named because you make a thumbprint in the cookie to put the jam inside. However, for some reason, my mom forgot the name one year and started calling them “Jam Thumpers,” which I really like better.

And what’s more breakfast-y than jam?

…bacon.

 

Well, this post is ruined.

Ina Garten’s Jam Thumbprint Cookies, slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style and foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut | I used a bit more, probably 10 ounces
  • Raspberry and/or apricot jam | I used raspberry and blueberry. Go with your preferences, folks.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. If dough is still a bit crumbly, add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water so that it comes together. (I added 2.)

Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls, about the size of a golf ball. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger.

SEE. I told you.

SEE. I told you.

Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

Jam Thumbprints, Jam Thumpers. Potato, Pa-tah-to.

Jam Thumbprints, Jam Thumpers. Potato, Pa-tah-to.

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The Luck Of The Irish: Or, How I Made Barbecue on St. Patty’s Day

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day. Naturally, I was craving all of my favorite Irish foods: barbecue, cole slaw, and lemon yogurt cake.

Now, before you start throwing you blarney stones at me, I have an EXPLANATION.

The weather on Saturday was damn near flawless. It was 70. I wore flip flops. I wore a tank top. I ate dinner on the patio of a restaurant. ON THE GD PATIO.

And despite the fact that St. Patrick’s Day turned colder and I should’ve been seasonally celebrating the aforementioned St. Patrick, who did…a thing…for which he will always be remembered, I was not craving anything Irish. As much I love some corned beef and cabbage, the only thing Irish I was craving was Tom Branson.

He's dreamy

He’s dreamy.

HASHTAG YUM

Anyways. Warm weather! (That went away and became cold weather!) Delicious barbecue! (That was made indoors and is made of chicken and not porks!)

When you’re needing the south in your mouth (…ew….), who better to turn to than Paula Deen? She seems really nice and also, a little bit terrifying at the same time. Let me prove the terrifying point to you right now.

Um? I’m kind of terrified of Oprah, too.

I rarely crave cole slaw. But when I do, I fiend for it like an extra on The Wire. This recipe is from the Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro, who won Next Food Network Star a few years back. I prefer to think of him coming to his title as Sandwich King by more traditional means, having ascended to the throne of Sandwichlandia when is father finally succumbed to the delicious, yet fatal, pastrami-thelioma.

….that joke sure was a long way to go for a ham sandwich.

EH??!?!?

Never mind.

This sandwich is good. And simple. The sweetness of the barbecue matches up well with the cool (temperature) of the cole slaw, with a tiny heat (spice) from the sriracha. Plus, you can’t go wrong with the earthy flavor of celery seeds. Cause bonus, they WILL always get in your teeth.

I also made this Lemon Yogurt Cake by my best friend Ina Garten. Because, well, she’s great at everything. Everything except making things that are low in fat or calories. In the paragraph about this recipe in Barefoot Contressa at Home, she says that because it has no butter, it’s a lighter version of a lemon cake. Huzzah! The replacement for the butter is whole milk yogurt (healthy!) and vegetable oil (…um….). Plus, it still has plenty of sugar in the cake and essentially two glazes. I’m not convinced it’s any more healthy unless you just want to say “well, there’s NO butter in this cake. Isn’t that marvelous!” But it DOES taste good, especially with a cup of coffee. For breakfast.

HASHTAG BREAKFAST CAKE.

It was a lovely St. Patrick’s Day. Even though I didn’t wear any green. Or eat any colcannon. I’m gonna save that shit for the 4th of July.

Pulled Barbecue Chicken Sandwich, From Pauladeen.com

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 whole-wheat hamburger rolls
  • Coleslaw, optional, but….make that shit mandatory
Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium high heat. Once it shimmers, add the chicken thighs and sear until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in apple cider vinegar; using a wooden spoon stir up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add ketchup, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the pan as well as any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 40 minutes.
A simmering

A-simmering

Once chicken is cooked, shred the meat with a fork in the skillet. Toss the meat through the sauce so it’s covered. Divide the pulled meat between 6 hamburger buns. Serve alongside with some coleslaw, if desired.
Barbecue Pulled Chicken and Cole Slaw Sandwich

Barbecue Pulled Chicken and Cole Slaw Sandwich

Three-Tone Power Cole Slaw, From Foodnetwork.com

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 ounces green cabbage, finely shredded | I used a bag of cole slaw mix and supplemented with pre-shredded carrots to get to about 18 ounces of cole slaw matter. Cause I was le tired.
  • 8 ounces red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated

Whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, mustard, Sriracha, sugar and celery seed. Season with salt and pepper.

This is the only slaw picture I took...so enjoy.

This is the only slaw picture I took…so enjoy.

In a large bowl, combine the green cabbage, red cabbage and carrots. Pour over the dressing and mix together. Let stand for 30 minutes before serving. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Lemon Yogurt Cake, From Barefootcontessa.com or Barefoot at Home (copyright 2006)

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.

B.W., Before Whisking

B.W., Before Whisking

Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Cake? Or Murderous Plant from Little Shop of Horrors?

Cake? Or Murderous Plant from Little Shop of Horrors?

Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Finished Cake? Or glazed murderous plant from Little Shop of Horrors?

Finished Cake? Or glazed murderous plant from Little Shop of Horrors?

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I put my hand upon your hip: Weeks Later Super Bowl Dips

The Super Bowl was a couple of weeks ago, and I celebrated in the best way I knew how: by making dips.

Oh, also, watching Beyonce. And the football game.

And how does one best enjoy a fantastic dip? By singing 1996’s platinum hit by Freak Nasty, Da Dip. (That song actually went platinum. Google it.)

In case you forgot the lyrical genius, it goes a little something like this:

I put my hand upon your hip. When I dip, you dip, we dip.

THIS IS WHAT IS IN MY HEAD EVERY TIME I MAKE DIPS.

Also, sidenote, do you know the lyrics for this song? Cause I’m pretty sure it’s about sexy times. So I’m pretty surprised that I was allowed to dance at middle school dances to it. But…let’s be honest. In the scheme of sexy time song lyrics, it’s pretty mild. My future fake children will most certainly not be allowed to listen to the radio. Because songs these days are more explicit than a sex ed class. This point is perfectly illustrated by musical phenoms CDZA in this amazing video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgigpC-xAB8

Anyways. Dips. I took these two dips to my friend Emily’s Super Bowl party a few weeks back (yeah…I’m THAT behind on my blogging). I wanted to bring something football-ish, so I went for a buffalo chicken dip. And then I had to balance the supremely unhealthy buffalo chicken dip with something healthy but still delicious, so I also made roasted eggplant spread which is all vegetables.

Emily outdid herself on the spread. Her crostini selection was out of this world. (Carrot harissa crostini with crème fraiche? Yeah. That was REAL.) The best part about it all was that there were 5 people at the party and when you divided the number of snacks by the number of people, there were 1.5 snacks per person.

Seems like a perfect way to celebrate Freak Nasty. I mean the Super Bowl. I mean, what?

Buffalo Chicken Dip, from YumSugar

  • 2 8-ounce packages of reduced-fat cream cheese
  • ¾ cup cayenne pepper sauce | I used Frank’s RedHot. Also, for milder flavor, reduce the cayenne pepper sauce to 1/2 cup.
  • ½ cup ranch dressing or bleu cheese dressing | I used blue! Or rather, bleu!
  • 1 ¼  to 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and chopped (3 to 4 chicken breast halves or about 3 cups chopped)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or mozzarella | I used cheddar.
  • Tortilla chips, crackers, or vegetables, for serving | Tortilla chips, pita chips, celery sticks and cucumber slices work great here.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 1 ½-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine cream cheese, pepper sauce, and ranch dressing in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until melted.

Stir in chicken and about half of the cheddar cheese. Stir until combined.

Spoon into prepared dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake 15 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted.

Serve warm with tortilla chips, crackers, or vegetables.

This dip reheats really well, or is even great cold.

Roasted Eggplant Spread from Barefoot Contessa Family Style and FoodNetwork.com

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 1 red onion, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking.

Cool slightly.

Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper.

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Thanksgiving Recap: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Orange Icing

To quote middle aged ladies from accounting with pictures of Channing Tatum taped up to their desks who go out to lunch only on special occasions, let’s start with dessert!

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Mom made a blueberry pie. Not exactly in season, but it’s dad’s favorite. And it’s the best dessert for eating in the morning and pretending like it’s breakfast. Pie breakfast is the best breakfast. 

I decided I would knock out the gingerbread cupcakes that I had watched Ina Garten so breezily make a week before. My god, this IS easy, Ina! But you and your rhetorical questions lulled me into a false sense of security.

As this was a brand new recipe for me, I actually read it 3 times before I made it. This did not prevent me from completely leaving out a step. Imagine what would’ve happened had I only read it once. …Oh, the humanity.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Orange Icing, from FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup dark rum or water | Let’s not kid ourselves. I used rum. Why would anyone use plain water?
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream | YOU, sour cream. You will be my demise.
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup minced dried crystallized ginger (not in syrup) 

For the frosting :

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½  pound confectioners’ sugar, sieved | Genuinely think I forgot to sieve/fluff my sugar.

For the decoration:

  • 6 pieces dried crystallized ginger (not in syrup), sliced in half | My mom says she buys hers at Homegoods. Also, crystallized ginger a good remedy for upset stomachs. The more you know.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Like a boss.

Place the rum and raisins in a small pan, cover, and heat until the rum boils. Turn off the heat and set aside. When you do this at 10 am, you will feel like you are bending the rules of society. Go with it.

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Place the butter and molasses in another small pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cool for 5 minutes, then mix in the sour cream and orange zest.

OR. If you are like me. You will FORGET to mix in the sour cream and orange zest. You will feel confident! You will feel plucky! And then you will deflate, after you complete the next paragraph and you realize that you still have sour cream sitting on the counter.

Sift the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together into a small bowl. Mix with your hand until combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and mix only until smooth. 

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OH SHIT. The DAMN sour cream. At this point, my first instinct was to do what I always do when there is an emergency: tell my dad. But since this was an emergency of baking and not one of banking or braking, he could not help me in the slightest and told me to ask my Gramma. She said, “well, don’t tell your mother you messed them up and add the sour cream and orange zest in now.” So, I did. And, it worked. Phew. How did it look? Let’s not focus on that.

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Drain the raisins and add them and the crystallized ginger to the mixture with a spatula.

Divide the batter among the muffin pan (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. 

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For the frosting, mix the cream cheese, butter, orange zest and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined.

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Add the sugar and mix until smooth. I had some lumps, probably because I forgot to sieve/fluff my confectioner’s sugar. I tried to whisk them out, which might have thinned the frosting out a bit too much. But it tasted great. 

When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and garnish with a slice of crystallized ginger.

Image

Despite my best attempts to screw this recipe up, I actually could not. I even had more batter left over after I made the 12 cupcakes the recipe calls for. So, I made a tiny loaf of gingerbread. This cupcakes were the good kind of dense and a little spicy. The frosting was light and sweet. It had great balance and it tasted like fall. 

My folks liked it. Gramma liked it. I liked it. I even think the ladies from accounting would like it. Not more than Channing Tatum, though. I mean, did you SEE Magic Mike? He was MAGIC.*

 

 

 

 

 

*I did not actually see Magic Mike. It was like Harry Potter, right? 

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Thanksgiving Recap: I did it. Burned, Bruised & Broken. But I did it.

Hi people!

(Did you read that in a Michelle Tanner voice? I hope you did, because that’s how I wrote it.)

Well, I did it. I made the foods. And they were good. And when you read through the list of casualties, they’re not nearly as bad as I expected. 

I had:

  • 2 migraines
  • 1 fight with my whole family
  • 1 fight with just my mother 
  • 1 foot burned with hot oil while frying shallots (who does that?)
  • 1 middle finger slammed in the folding door of the spice cabinet, which ripped the skin off 
  • 30-ish f-words said in front of my Gramma, due to aforementioned foot burning and middle finger slamming 

Mom made a blueberry pie, our go-to stuffing and the gravy. Gramma made the mashed potatoes, helped prep everything and washed 10,000 dishes. But other than that, I did the rest. Like a boss. 

My plan is to recount all the hilarious tales and recipes, one a day for this week. There’s some good stuff in here, especially since we’re just starting the holiday season. Maybe something to try yourself! Maybe something you can burn yourself with or slam your finger while making! Please, be as dumb as me! 

First up will be Barefoot Contessa’s Gingerbread Cupcakes.

I started so confident. And immediately fucked them up. 

Stay tuned! 

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Parmesan & Thyme Crackers, Or How I’m Not as Good as Ina Garten

There are so many things that I love about Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa. The unbelievably fake phone calls she has with her friends on her show. Her uncanny ability to find/befriend every gay man in the Hamptons. Her outrageously amazing barn that her outrageously amazing husband Jeffrey built for her. 

Mostly, I love how easy her recipes are. 

Mostly. 

This weekend I headed over to my friend’s Jenny and Ben’s house for our annual pumpkin carving/foodathon. J has her own rad blog, which you can read by clicking here, all about her husband B’s bread experiments. B is a killer baker. Because he is a Doctor of Bread. (I know you’re reading this, B. Perhaps you are a Doctor of Trolling.) 

Anywho. J said to bring over something to munch on during the pumpkin carving and I got this dumbass idea to bake something to take over to someone who is a really good baker. Cause you know. That’s the easiest and quickest way to show them how bad you are at something they’re good at.  

I dug through my favorite of my four Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, Back to Basics, and found this recipe for Parmesan & Thyme Crackers. 

It seemed simple enough. But I’d never made it before. (Sidenote: Why do I insist upon making dishes that I haven’t made before when I don’t have all the ingredients and I need an hour and a half but I only have an hour? That’s just DUMB.) 

This is essentially a savory short bread. And to be honest, I had a couple of really good years where I was basically the shortbread wunderkind. And then I lost it. They’ve been too crumbly lately. More on that later…

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 1 cup 
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine.  With the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon water.

Yeah. So this is the part that started to screw me up. I got small crumbles. But not large ones. But you know what! I’m gonna be positive! I can still salvage this!

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Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9-inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

…Nope! Barely got it into a ball.

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When I started to roll it into a log (….ew…) it broke into giant pieces. What the HELL. Ok. Ok. Ok. I can fix this. I rolled the dough into a log (…ew…) in the plastic wrap. I saw that on Top Chef or something. It sort of worked. But I definitely had 2 small logs (….ew…) instead of one large log (….ew…)

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 3/8-inch-thick rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Some of these crackers fell apart when I cut them, so I patched ‘em up. Like some weird cracker M*A*S*H unit where I was like Hawkeye, cracking jokes but also making you think. 

A lot of the crackers were salvaged. But my dough didn’t yield nearly as many as Ina said. Look at that. The recipe called for 24 crackers. And I made… 13. 

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And they sure as shit don’t look like hers. I mean, they tasted REALLY good. But they did not look like the photo. Maybe instead of My Fake Food Blog, my thing should be that I make really ugly things that taste delicious.

I weep for my future children. :\

Oh, god. Please don’t eat my future children.

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