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Dinner tonight, kale and cannellini beans

Hi, again:

OK, I found something else to pass along–dinner. I had another “light” dish from the Everyday Food Light cookbook. This one is on page 329, Sausages with Kale and White Beans. (You can find the recipe online here.) I’ve never had kale before, but I have to say, cooked as long as it did, it’s not bad. I’ll try using kale again one day. At 99 cents for a large bunch, it’s certainly affordable.

I decided to pull two packets of sausages out of the freezer (the stuff I bought on sale recently), but they weren’t the same thing. One was turkey brats, the other was some chicken with sun-dried tomatoes and asiago, I think–the Market Pantry brand from Target. So when I finished, I split them up–each serving had one of each in it.

And, this is what it looks like when it’s done:

Sausages kale white beans

Pretty simple, just broiling the sausages in the countertop oven (you do have one, right?) and then cooking the kale on top the stove with garlic and a half cup of water until it’s wilted all the way down. Then toss in two tablespoons of white wine vinegar and a can of rinsed cannellini beans. It’s not haute cuisine, but it’s a pretty good dinner done in a half hour or so. Not bad.

I should also mention that I just LOVE cannellini beans. If you’re not familiar with them–and I wasn’t until a few years ago–they’re white kidney beans, frequently imported from Italy. One of my favorite ways to use them is in this amazingly delicious white bean mash. I’ve also used Great Northern or White Navy beans, but that’s only because I grabbed them by mistake. Those beans are OK, and they’ll work in this recipe, but. . .just not as good as cannellini.

A few years ago when I evacuated to New Orleans for Hurricane Ike, I brought two or three cans of cannellini beans with me so I could make another Everyday Food recipe for my friends. Why? Because you can’t *get* cannellini beans in New Orleans, at least, not that I could find. Then again, I didn’t do lots of grocery shopping, and didn’t feel like explaining myself to a demo lady who got mad at me because I know how to properly pronounce “gelato.”

This too, is an Everyday Food recipe that appeared in the Houston Chronicle on April 16, 2008. How do I know this? I kept the paper–because it’s never been in the magazine or on their website, darnit. But it’s SOOOOO good. This is the *salad* of enlightenment:

White-Bean and Olive Salad

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (Creole mustard is also really good in this)

Coarse salt and ground black pepper

2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Add beans, onion and olives; toss to combine.

Happy Dining!

Spare-time cooking

Evening, Dear Readers:

Finally, I have a little something to write about! I cooked something new this evening! Let me tell you about it. . . .

But first, the back story: while I was in college (1991 to 1996) I was, out of necessity, forced to cook on Sunday for an entire week. You see, after working a 40 hour week, I went to Tulane University at night. For five years. No kidding. One semester I took a Saturday class, too. If I didn’t get some sleep during the week, I had to wait until Friday night to get some. Hardest thing I’ve ever done, and likely is why I’m frequently tired to this day. But hey–wasn’t it worth it? I graduated from Tulane! I still do this weekly, even though I have been unemployed since June. I do cook at night, but try to get as much done on Sunday as I can, even if it’s boiling a dozen eggs for a week of breakfast.

Yesterday I had to go down to someone’s house and pick up mail, and stopped at the Target in League City for a couple of things (one of which was bathroom tissue, OK?)  I decided to buzz through their meat department and see what might be on sale.

Sacre bleu! Red tags everywhere! Sausages! Grass-fed beef! Chicken Thighs! All with $2 and $3 off tickets! Let’s just say my freezer is REALLY full right now. My favorite Bare Chicken was $3 off each packet–I couldn’t resist, I bought four flat-packs of chicken thighs, the best part. I am happy.

Today I had a couple of stops to make, one of which was Kroger. I saw some Crimini, aka “Baby Bella” (Portobello) mushrooms on sale. Immediately I thought of this recipe that has been sitting on my cookbook stand for months. I just ignored it while I made other things (like the acorn squash dish. Again.)  I looked at it and realized I needed mushrooms, for one thing. So I took out one packet of chicken thighs and proceeded to thaw them in repeated courses of hot water in a baking dish. Took a while, but it worked. Mostly. Hey–the dish is fine.

So here’s the recipe from last year’s Everyday Food Light book for EFChickenCacciatore.

For many years, I have been partial to Nigella Lawson’s Pollo alla Cacciatore, because a) I saw her make it on TV and b) it’s darn good. But when I got this book when it published last year, I wanted to try it when I got to the winter dishes. Then, life happened.

Truth to tell, there are lots of great recipes in this book, separated by seasons. During the summer, I made both the Grilled Tilapia with Cherry Salsa and a pork chop recipe with a peach/onion relish. Both are AMAZING and absolutely delicious. “Diet?” Forget it!

I gave my elderly neighbor one serving of each, because her gourmet-cook sister was out of town for a while, and I didn’t want her to starve while her sister was gone. (I always say that to her when I bring over something to try–and she loves it.) Actually, she can cook, she’s just not the kind I am, or her sister. I bring her delish food occasionally, although she fussed at me the last two times because I wasn’t working. But she enjoyed them just the same.

Anyway. . .

This dish really was as easy as they say it is, and it was pretty tasty, too.

Four servings in about fifteen minutes.

Four servings in about fifteen minutes.

Now, I have to say that although this dish is easy, you MUST read the directions before proceeding. Why? Well. . .I put the chicken in with the mushrooms and garlic, and realized it just before I microwaved it for 2 minutes. I was picking the chicken bits out by hand, which made it longer than 15 minutes. DUH.

I’m not really a fan of microwave cooking, but I have to say for a quick dinner, this definitely hits the spot (even though I got Crimini mushrooms instead of Shittake.)

Confession: back in the 80’s, I attempted to cook a Thanksgiving turkey in a microwave. Well. . .I was a military wife in far-flung North Carolina in 1984, where you still had to talk to an operator to make a long-distance call. Heck, any call when I first got there. The results were not bad, just not something to be proud of. I had a bigger microwave than I have now. Obviously I learned how to correctly roast a turkey later.  My spouse and his buddy ate it and were nice about it, since we were all far from home. That part of my life is long over, although I do have an affection for Marines because of it.

Do not try to cook a turkey in a microwave, OK? Maybe little turkey parts, but not a WHOLE turkey. At least give me points for ingenuity.

I’ll be able to have this again three times this week, as well as something else I literally tossed in the pot while the Chicken Cacciatore was cooking in the microwave:

Beef stir fry

About a pound of stew meat, cut into smaller pieces. Sliced up the stems from the mushrooms and used a bag of organic frozen mixed veggies bought on sale at Target. A little olive oil, a little sesame oil, a little soy sauce and a splash of Chinese cooking wine, dump it in a big chefs’ pan on high heat, don’t forget to stir it, and I’ve got more ready-to-eat meals this week. I actually ate one serving of the chicken, but the beef stir-fry only made three servings. That’s OK, I can make something else, or have a breakfast (which is a whole different story.)

Easy meals this week!

Easy meals this week!

All us foodies will miss Everyday Food magazine in the new year, but the website and the books will live on. If you’re planning to cut calories this year, Everyday Food Light is a good place to start. The recipes generally have less than 10 ingredients that are readily available, and all of them are under 500 calories per serving. (That means if you eat the entire recipe, it’s 2,000 calories, and you shouldn’t eat anything else today.) Check it out and see what you like. Me, I’m leaving alone anything with tofu or edamame in it, since I’m allergic to soy. But there are plenty of recipes to chose from, plus you can always go to the website to find something else.

I hope to eventually get the other two Everyday Food books; but who knows, there could be one or even two more published under that moniker.

Next up is going to be a sausage and kale recipe with Cannellini beans–my favorite! I don’t have any kale, but that’s OK, I’m not in a hurry. I’ll let you know how that one works out too. I love sausage.

Happy Dining!

Au revoir, Everyday Food (part 2)

Well, the last issue of Everyday Food is now out on the street, and this is the letter that came with it:

EverydayFoodFinalLetter

There are, as usual, some delicious looking things, including the Peppermint-Meringue Brownie Cake on page 92. (I’d like to try this one: now to find an occasion to make it for.) This month’s Everyday Food Loves column is about phyllo dough, and a nice recipe for an almond-pear tart that also looks good. But because I had some leftover sage from Thanksgiving, so I decided to make the recipe on page 85, Sausages with Acorn Squash and Onions:

SausagewithAcornOnions

The section is called Sheet Pan Suppers,where you literally throw everything on a sheet pan and bake it in the oven. This particular recipe looked good, and in addition to the leftover sage, I haven’t had acorn squash in a really long time.  (Here’s the EDF article on squash, including acorn.)

I *used* to have my own sage plant, where I could just pick some, but with everything that happened this summer, it sort of dried up. I’ll get another one again one day. I like fresh sage.

Oh, I’ll be making this again. More than once, I tell ya. Probably in the toaster oven, if I can figure out how to make it come out the same way.

It’s as easy as they say it is, and it’s definitely worth it. This is what it looked like when I took it out of the oven the first time to sprinkle the cheese and sage on:

The first time it comes out of the oven. At this point, you turn up the oven to “broil.”

Then you toss on the sage and cheese, it goes back in the oven, and when it comes out, toss on those chopped dried cherries.

Yeah, it’s good. It’s not beef bourignon, it’s not trout almondine, it’s not poached salmon, but it’s good for a quick weeknight meal. Heck, quick meal anytime. Dried cherries are a good thing on this dish, too.

I haven’t had acorn squash in a long, long time, I was peeling the skin off the flesh. And I realized it might be edible. Well, heck, I ate the skin, because it was much softer than it was before. So, if you’re game, eat the whole acorn squash, OK? Just get rid of the seeds.

Hey–I wonder if I can plant the seeds. Hmmm. . .it’s an idea.

If you can find the final issue of Everyday Food, grab it, and turn to page 85 to learn how to make this dinner for yourself tomorrow.

Happy Dining!

The Hot Mess

So, today was Thanksgiving, and I did indeed bake some Babycakes goodies and made The Soup Of Enlightenment. (YUM!!) I also made some Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas on page 42 of Barefoot Contessa Foolproof. It’s similar to hummus, but no tahini (sesame paste.)  It’s literally two cans of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) some chicken broth, added to some cooked tomatoes, minced garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.

I also walked for 90 minutes tonight. And did some pushups. Envy me. Especially in a little black dress. (One of these days.)

Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas was one of the samples from the book they served to us in line at Sur la Table when I went to see Ina Garten on November 12th. I didn’t remember it being watery. . .not sure what I did, but I think I might have accidentally a) over-processed the chickpeas and b) didn’t cook the tomatoes long enough. Oh, well–turn the heat up and let it boil out? Yes, in a cast iron frying pan. It worked. Now I have some delicious stuff in my fridge to nibble on with celery. (The book recommends “shards of grilled country bread;” that’s not something I normally have around.)

I’ve heard a new slang term that I think truly describes many a kitchen disaster: The Hot Mess. I was watching the first episode of the new Hot In Cleveland season online (on TVLand.com, OK?) and heard Valerie Bertinelli’s character Melanie use that term to describe her new job situation. What it came from was describing someone, usually female, who is, well, a mess–bad dresser, drinks too much, whatever. Lindsay Lohan fits this description perfectly; so does Britney Spears. A “hot mess.” Bigger mess than the usual.

We’ve all been there, right?

While making my delish Tuscan Smashed Chickpeas, I started thinking about many a “hot mess” I’ve had in the kitchen, and while they were not fun when they were going on, they’re pretty amusing now. . .and better with no witnesses. Like the Thanksgiving a couple of years ago when I was slicing onions to brine a turkey the day before. My aunt called, and I wanted to talk to her, so I did. While using one of those mandolins to slice onions. I forgot to pick up the holder thingy, and when I got to the bottom of the onion, my thumb hit the blade. Sharp blade. Sharp hit. Lotsa blood. None got anywhere else but the two dishtowels I grabbed to stop the bleeding. Didn’t go to hospital, and it healed up all by itself. Eventually.

I did that once before, slitting open the middle finger of my right hand–not my driving finger, thankfully. I was trying to separate frozen sliced cheese so I could make my new husband a sandwich. No, I didn’t bleed on that, either. But I did go through some bandages that week.

A couple of years ago I bought a head of cauliflower because it was on sale, and finally decided to just roast it in the toaster oven on the convection setting. Well. . .it roasted all right. It was burned to a crisp. DARNIT. A whole head of cauliflower into the trash. I set it aside to cool, and I just idly picked up a piece and ate it.

DELICIOUS.

I’m serious–if you don’t like cauliflower, BURN IT! It gets rid of the chalky taste and it’s SOOOO GOOD. That was an accident that turned out good. They don’t all turn out that way.

“Hot mess” would also be a good way to describe the last attempt I made at making gravy from the turkey. I don’t LIKE gravy, therefore, I don’t MAKE gravy. Every year someone *else* has made gravy. I stay away from it, because it truly was a mess the last time I tried it. And they never let me forget it, either.

About ten years ago, I had just moved in with my very good friend in La Marque, TX (formerly known as “ex-boyfriend,” but that’s another story.)  He’s a widower, and we were going to his mother-in-law’s place for Thanksgiving. Me, nervous. A week or two before, I made some sweet potato frites from that month’s issue of Martha Stewart Living for dinner, and they were SO GOOD! We couldn’t stop stuffing our faces! I decided I’d bring them to Thanksgiving dinner.

Of course, expanding a recipe like that doesn’t *always* work. And it doesn’t help that his comment was, “Oh, yeah, that top oven needs to be recalibrated.”

My delicious sweet potatoes were a hot mess. Ditto that goat-cheese and fig salad I brought, with the balsamic dressing. The hostess, a very nice lady, brought me some Wish-Bone; she didn’t realize that I’d already dressed it. And I never did THAT again. . .but at least I tried.

Whenever I cooked him breakfast, it became a game to see if I could get his eggs “over easy” just the way he liked them. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. There was one day that I made a breakfast that, he claimed, stunk up the whole house with the onions, and he had to leave the doors open to get the cooking odors to go away while I was working. That’s when the stray cat got in the house, and my brave feline Kismet ran that cat up the street. Oh, and I never made that one again.

Another time I decided to try a Suzanne Somers recipe for Beef Curry. I admit that I’m not completely familiar with Indian, Thai and Vietnamese cooking, but this looked pretty simple. I found curry paste in my local HEB, and went to town on this 20 minute beef curry.

Let’s just say that HE went to KFC for dinner that night. Oh, that’s a recipe I’ll never try again. Nobody could tell me what curry was hot and what wasn’t, and of course, the one I got was BURNING HOT. I try to be frugal, but this went out. Neither of us could stomach it, so KFC it was that night.

And, believe it or not, we’re friends today. Amazing.

Then there was the day I roasted my own garlic in the oven. I bought one of those little clay bakers, and did not, at the time, own a countertop (aka “toaster”) oven like I do now. Well, after an hour in the oven, the garlic wasn’t the soft, smushy thing the box said it would be. So I put it in the microwave to bake a little longer.

We’ve all done this, right?

A few minutes later, the light is off, or so I thought. The microwave oven was filled with smoke. I opened the door and smoke came billowing out, and the garlic was ON FIRE. Yes, it ignited, and all I could do was grab it with metal tongs and dunk it in some water in the sink. And that was the last time I attempted to roast garlic.

Around 1990 or so, I decided to make something fancy for a family holiday dinner (Easter, I think.)  I still have my first-edition copy of the 1984 Avon International cookbook, still in the jacket, with native-country recipes from representatives from all over the world. I have long had a fascination with Australia, although I’ve never been Down Under. (I do have friends in Melbourne who have long invited me for a visit; one day, I really am going to go.)

So I decided I would make a fancy Pavlova for dinner, a recipe from the Aussie Avon Lady. If you’ve never had one, it’s basically a large baked meringue with fruit and whipped cream on top. Whipped egg whites that are baked and left in the oven for some time after you turn it off. Turns out crispy. You have to assemble it right before serving so that the bottom doesn’t go soggy. It *should* look something like this:

Aussie Pavlova

Unfortunately, mine didn’t. That bottom layer, the meringue, went flat. As in pancake flat. So I chopped up some fruit and took it as is. Over the river and through the woods to the folks’ place. Tasted pretty good. Fortunately, nobody but me knew what it was, and that it was not supposed to be flat. I have since made pavlovas successfully, albeit not for family members.

Do you eat microwave popcorn? No, I don’t–not anymore, for a couple of reasons, namely the toxins that make the stuff taste good. But I admit, I did buy it at one time, oil, toxins and all. I was not at home, and not alone, with a friend of mine and we were going to have some. It didn’t all pop; a significant amount ended up un-popped. So we put it back in the microwave and tried again.

Flame. In the microwave. Any questions?

She swore she would never tell anyone what happened, and she didn’t; she passed away about a year later, but not from the popcorn. There are some things we do NOT try, and they don’t tell you about stuff like that on TV. Especially not cooking shows. Then again, I’m sure there’s a blooper reel from every cooking show on The Food Network. But one it ever got out, I bet Giada de Laurentiis would sue!

Just kidding, Giada. I know you don’t make mistakes on camera.

Speaking of Giada, just earlier this year, when her new book came out, Weeknights with Giada, I bought it ahead of time to get the much-desired ticket to get into the signing. I tried one of her recipes, and, well. . .I screwed it up. Used a garlic-flavored oil when I shouldn’t have, and did something else or forgot something else. . .it was edible, but didn’t taste the way she intended. So when I got to talk to her, I said, “Hi, Giada. I screwed up one of your recipes last night.” Giada said, “Uh, oh, what’d  you do?” I told her. My bad, I know. But it wasn’t as big of a hot mess as some have been. And I made that recipe again, the RIGHT way.

What *was* a hot mess was another Giada recipe, Lamb Ragu from Giada’s Kitchen. The first two times I made it, I didn’t quite get that at some point you turn the heat down. The second time I did that, I took a pink highlighter and went over the line that says to TURN DOWN THE HEAT. Never made THAT mistake again. (Delicious recipe, BTW.)

Oh, and when I cook with tomato sauce, especially a lot of it, my kitchen looks like a crime scene. I am proud of this. Yes, I clean it up, too.

Numerous mistakes have been made by NOT reading the recipe, but for the most part, I over came them. Thank heavens.

I have a brother who will tell you to never eat my cooking, because “Amy can’t cook.” I can, but. . .well, I tried to cook for him a couple of times, Let’s put it this way–he sent me an apron for my birthday that says, “Last time I cooked, almost no one got sick!” He even writes songs about my cooking. Or rather, he re-writes songs about my cooking. Maybe I’ll post the lyrics to one he re-wrote for me, called Amy’s Back in Austin. Maybe I should send it to the group who wrote the original, a band called Little Texas. It’s actually a pretty good tune, even though I’m not a country fan, but I don’t think they ever thought someone would parody it like that.

Why would a brother say such things about his sister’s cooking? After all the fabulous desserts transported over 350 miles to New Orleans for holidays? Well, it goes like this. . .

When I got married in 1996, my friend JS gave me a copy of Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook Menus. I still have it, and even used a recipe from it just recently. Well, I still lived in New Orleans, and my brother, his wife and daughter lived here in Houston. (We’ve swapped since then.) They visited for a week, and I made sure I not only invited them for dinner, but made something fantastic from that book. The Chicken Cacciatore with angel-hair pasta. The salad with the creamy balsamic dressing. The garden soup from that month’s issue of Martha Stewart Living. The raspberry cobbler with the biscuit topping. It was FAAAABULOUS, I tell you.

In my world, it was. The Queen would have been very pleased. But this wasn’t the Queen I invited to dinner.

The next day, I got a call from my brother: “What was in that soup?” Seems that my niece, who was then about 15 or so, was, well, hurling all night. Didn’t affect anyone else, just her. Ahhhh. . .then my sister-in-law tells me that she’s allergic to raspberries. . .but she forgot that she was allergic until after she’d eaten some.

Needless to say, I’ve never cooked for them again, and he continues to write songs about my cooking when the muse visits him.

Others have told me of their kitchen disasters. My good friends in Australia have also had their share of them. The wife, a teacher who graduated from LSU in Baton Rouge, told me that she’d once made a birthday cake for her husband when the beaters broke in the cake. She thought she got all the parts out, but just to be safe, they were very careful when they ate it!

My mother told me one of my favorites–she always baked birthday cakes for kids’ birthdays; ours as well as relatives, since she was the best at it, particularly the decorating part. (Mom also convinced me that I would not be able to bake my own wedding cake. I could have, but. . .it was easier to let someone else bake it.)  For my 17th birthday, I requested, and got, a chocolate rum cake–but no, it wasn’t boozy or anything.

Mom had a stand mixer from Sears, (circa 1975, I think) and didn’t use it every day, so it was in a cabinet most of the time until it was needed. Well, it was nearly May 9th, her own mother’s birthday, and Mom made a cake for her, too. She put all the ingredients into the mixing bowl, turned it on, and out the other end was a big roach! It had been living in the motor case for an indeterminate amount of time, and turning it on rattled its cage. Nothing got INTO the batter, it ran in the other direction. Thank heavens, or one of us would have been sent to the store to get more cake mix.

I suppose the last hot mess was the last toaster oven I had. I killed it. Six years after I received it for a Christmas gift from the aforementioned very good friend, it stopped working, and I bought another one. I really don’t want to be without one, and of course I bought the newest Cuisinart model with the convection setting, timer and exact-heat sensor on it. (On sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond, with a coupon, of course.) I use it more than the one in the stove–you can roast a whole chicken in it! Yes, I do it, too.

That’s enough for tonight. I’d love to hear about your kitchen disasters, the ones you can laugh at now. (Someone losing a finger or toe is NOT funny, really.)  Post them below in the comments. . .if you dare.

Happy Dining!

The Barefoot Contessa In Houston!

More than ten years after being introduced to the simple but elegant food style of Ina Garten, a/k/a The Barefoot Contessa, I got to meet her today at the Sur la Table in Rice Village. It’s the same place I got to meet Giada de Laurentiis twice before (including in April of this year), and they know what they’re doing when a celebrity chef comes to visit.

It was a pretty homogeneous crowd, about 2/3 women, 1/3 men. When you’re in line to do something like that, you’re among friends. Mostly. I thought I was going to finish reading my first John Grisham novel, The Partner, but not until later. (It’s an awesome book, BTW; someone gave it to me on Saturday.)

I mentioned to Susan, the lady in front of me, that I went to a book signing with Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, on 11/2. My goodness, the look I got! Susan turned up her nose and let me know that she does NOT like Ree or her show, or her cookbooks. So I was exactly right, at least in this case, when I told Ree’s driver that Ree isn’t a River Oaks/Galleria kind of celebrity. Conservative type cooking shows aren’t popular in the fancier part of Houston. A cooking show about a adorable happily married couple, with their own four children, live on a ranch, home school their kids and produce cattle that eventually become their Tartare and Steak au Poivre. But in the ‘burbs, like the Pearland Sam’s Club, Ree gets more appreciation. Nevermind that she was an LA gal for many years.

Ok, back to Ina Garten. She looks just like she does on TV. Very nice lady, pretty, too, and she does have freckles.

As usual, the Sur La Table staff was serving up bites made from recipes in the new book, and I managed to get five bite sized nibbles of the Chocolate Chunk Blondies (page 205) Also tried the Couscous with Peas & Mint, which surprises you with the mint. Being a recently converted fan to hummus (not so much lemon that it screams at you), I enjoyed the sample of the Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas (page 42), which may show up on Thanksgiving, too. It’s really good, but it’s not *exactly* like hummus.

I should have left home earlier, but I got as much chance as anyone to meet Ina, and they were moving us pretty fast. Maybe it’s the East Hampton time thing, but Ina arrived an hour early and Sur la Table started immediately. No questions, just “Hi, I’m Amy,” she signed her new book Foolproof, and you moved on. There were a LOT of people there! I did manage to tell her that I can roast a turkey because of her books and advice. (More in my turkey post, coming soon.)

I have all of Ina’s books, but only brought one other to be autographed, the first one. (More would have been freight hauling!) However, one of Ina’s assistants had signed bookplates and handed me a few for the others, because she was only had time to sign Foolproof. I thanked her and moved on so the gentlemen behind me could have their chance.

The pictures of me (hint: red hair) were actually taken by a Sur la Table employee, who was nicely doing them for everyone. Admittedly, I look bad in one or two of them, mostly because of the bag I was carrying–it pushed the shirt forward and made me look. . .oh, nevermind.

I got to meet The Barefoot Contessa!!!

I’ve already decided that I will be making Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes, from Barefoot  Contessa At Home, (page 144) partly because of the vegetarians that will be in attendance, but mostly because it’s REALLY good. I’m also considering the “Accidental Turkey” recipe from Foolproof, because it looks really easy. And maybe, just maybe. . .I’ll show up with two more Apple Crostatas from Barefoot Contessa Parties! I brought those to a birthday party once at the request of the honoree, and one guest told me, “Don’t tell my wife–I ate five pieces!” It’s that good.

Now that it’s a bit chilly, I may make a big pot of BC Chicken Chili from Parties,, which is delicious but isn’t the same as the “chili” you’re used to, and more of the lentil stuff for me. I MUST try that new Chicken with Wild Mushrooms recipe from Foolproof, and maybe roast sausages with grapes, too.  I MUST make the new Chocolate Cassis Cake for Christmas, and some of the new Chocolate Chunk Blondies for any special activity I can find. (READ: excuse.)

Many thanks to Sur la Table in River Oaks for having yet another great celebrity chef come to Houston and visit with the peeps. It’s greatly appreciated, and we await the next personality we can’t wait to meet. (Pictures are here.)

Happy Dining!

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