Tag Archives: #barefootcontessa

Warm Weather Appetizers But Not Hot Weather, Because Gross

Our neighbors (with babies** – yay!) invited everyone down for a last minute “just because” appetizer and dessert party. I took stock of what was in the fridge and took my cookbook collection to tell me what to make.


Can’t go wrong with Ina Garten at the Barefoot Contessa.  You can assume that because as you can see on the right, I have 6 of her books. But they have literally never failed me. (P.S I’m lying about this collection – there is another set of shelves full of cookbooks. And two binders worth of ripped out magazine recipes. OK..four binders.  OK.. four binders sorted by meal course and color coded. Sigh.)

I went with her Roasted Shrimp Cocktail.  However, I took the suggestion of “Robert Y” in the comments on the same recipe at the Food Network site and brined the shrimp, tossed in olive oil and Old Bay seasoning and preheated the pans so the undersides cooked without having to flip a bunch of shrimp – genius!.  Turned out great. In fact, I’d urge you to make this sauce instead of picking up a jar the next time you need a seafood sauce. It is easy-peasy and the taste if soooooo much better than jarred.


But I had cherries and nothing in my bajillion books was inspiring me.  To the internet!!  I decided on a sweet/savory Cherry Crostini two ways.  I adapted it from Bon Appetit’s Savory Cherry Crostini recipe and Heather Christo’s Roasted Cherry Crostini.


Cherry Crostini

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
3 cups pitted, halved cherries (I used Yellow Rainer)
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
pinch of salt and pepper
pinch of sugar
log of goat cheese
best ricotta you can find
balsamic glaze (I used this one from Trader Joe’s)
extra thyme leaves
sea salt
skinny baguette, sliced and toasted

Heat the olive oil in a saute or frying pan over medium heat.  Once hot, add the cherries, thyme, sugar, salt and pepper.  Saute until soft and just beginning to brown (3-5 minutes) but not completely mush, you want them to look like cherries.  Remove from heat and cool. I actually put it in the refrigerator for use later.

When ready to go to, spread some of either the goat cheese or the ricotta on the toasted baguette slices. Top the goat cheese one with a spoonful of cherry mixture, a sprinkle of additional thyme leaves and pinch of sea salt.  Top the ricotta one with the cherry mixture and drizzle just the tiniest bit of balsamic glaze over top.

**By the way, to me babies = anyone still talking in a tiny voice. So thanks for the party, guys!


Have a lovely week everyone.

Thanksgiving to Christmas in 37 Hours

Well another Thanksgiving in the books. This one with the oven going berserk three (3) times while turkey was in. First, beeping uncontrollably until we had to throw the breaker.  Second, decided to go into Sabbath mode (who knew?!) where it holds only the last temperature so that people don’t have to turn on the ovens during Sabbath.   Except the last temperature was now about 40 degrees lower than it needed to be to finish the turkey.  And finally, one more combo beeping/Sabbath mode until the breaker was thrown again.

Thankfully the turkey was at a safe temperature to remove to rest, so I shoved those stuffings in before my oven taught me any new religious holidays and told everyone NOT to open the oven doors until I was sure the stuffing was cooked. There is clearly a curse on me related to ovens as this is the 4th oven in 16 years in houses. Each one pulling antics like this until we gave up/it stopped working.  Perhaps I should have heeded the warning from the gypsies after all.


Made a cheese turkey. Because we all need a cheese turkey in our lives.


Did the deconstructed turkey again but used the Martha Stewart Bacon Herb Roasted Turkey Breast recipe and just put the butter mixture under the skin of each piece.  Did the Pumpkin Cornbread Sausage stuffing from last year and Pioneer Woman’s Thanksgiving Stuffing for the traditionalists. Made the cranberry sauce from my practice Thanksgiving post, Ina Garten’s Honey Orange Glazed Carrots and mashed and sweet potatoes. And buttered noodles, because my kids still eat no food.


Yep, that’s two can shaped cranberry lumps. That my kids will eat.  And Bobby Flay’s Fall Sangria. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It definitely has a lot of fall flavors and is very pretty.


Did the tables with this cute runner from Kitch Studios,

Lots of fall colors, cute teensy vases from POSH (that’s like Fishs Eddy to you New Yorkers), flowers buried in fresh cranberries, and of course, chocolate turkeys.


A good time was had by all.

DSC_0144Especially this dapper gentleman,


Who Skunk the Cat could not bring himself to acknowledge.


Someone just needs to be the cutest thing in the house all the time. #selfabsorbedcat

For dessert I wimped out (new job people! No time for baking). And besides, when I have the head baker from Pastries So Tasty living next door, I’m not going to do apple and blueberry pies any better. But I can pour cheese and caramel popcorn into a bowl like nobody’s business. Just like the Pilgrims did.


No one complained. Packed up leftovers in these containers I made with Avery labels at their design site.


Super easy to use, I highly recommend it. There’s lots of pre-made designs to choose from or you can design your own (FORESHADOWING!!!).

So that was Thursday.  By Friday at 3:00, this was happening


Theme on this tree (family room) is red, gold and music.

DSC_0176 DSC_0168 DSC_0180Front room skinny tree is decked in green and silver,

And the basement tree is an homage to the upcoming Star Wars VII movie. I assume you all have your tickets already like we do. Right? *crickets*   #Nerdfoiles


We made the garland using Avery labels and silver cord. I’m telling you, it is ridiculously easy. You’ll see this again in upcoming posts (MORE FORESHADOWING!!!!).

And finally, The Simp…..sons Christmas Village.  “Um, Dasher, Dancer….Prancer, Nixon…Comet, Cupid…Donna Dixon?”  “Sit down Simpson”


Jealous, much?

I hope everyone gets to enjoy the beginning of the holiday season. I’ll be back with some treat ideas in the near future. With labels!!


The I’ll Do it Someday Someday is Now!

Sure, some people might have days off between jobs and go away for a weekend.  A spa day perhaps?  Maybe just lounge about on the porch and read some of those eleven books stacked up on one’s nightstand?  Sure, one COULD do that. Or, presented with 10 days of no kids at home and a husband who can reach things in high places, one COULD also embark on the biggest organizing and cleaning spree since one moved in here eight years ago.  And it was done. So say we all. #Nerdfoiles.

First up, the most significant change was Drummer Boy’s room losing its nursery motif. Because he’s 9.  Yep, 9. I never said I moved with lightning speed.


And changing colors


To a sports/Minecraft/Art theme more suited to a boy of his maturity.

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Next up, our closet.  Before:




Yes, I know the tag is still on it. I’m gonna wear it this fall, I swear.

But oh, it gets worse. Don’t worry, we’re getting there.  Laundry room before:





photoOh dear, now we go down to THE BASEMENT. Actually, it’s been more cluttered. We recently unloaded the baby toys (like play kitchens, small vehicles) so there are lot less large items. I remember buying this house thinking, “Now we have a finished basement, so all the toys will be down there and I won’t have to stare at a mess all day”.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, woo, woo, oh.  Whew!

Anyway, the basement before:

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And after

DSC_0455 DSC_0454 DSC_0453


Behind the bar, before


Behind the bar, after.  Why yes, we do need more can koozies.  Thank you for asking.


And finally, the utility room. Now, by way of background for those that are new here, at the old house we had a scary, spider-filled, space between the stairs where someone could easily grab you type of basement. Thus, whenever I would accidentally go to Homegoods, I would purchase a festive red platter, enjoy it, and then send that festive red platter down to said basement. Then the next time I accidentally went to Homegoods, I’d think “Hey, I don’t have a red platter” because, you know, object permanence issues. And down to the scary Hell-mouth basement that one would go too. Tablecloths would suffer the same fate. Resulting, as some  might say, in an excess of housewares. Now, however, there is no excuse as our basement is lovely. No excuse for THIS!



Or this tablecloth tower of doooooom:


But, finally all is in order.  With napkins in drawers labeled by season, kitchen and hand towels bagged by holiday:

IMG_1300Tablecloths loaded into a dresser by size of the table:


Often used items put within handy reach:


And platters and assorted dishes organized by color. As any normal person does. Right? Normal people do that, right?!!

IMG_1283Note the number of red dishes. It was a real problem.

Along the way a number of drawers were organized (nightstand, desk), supplies were created for the holiday gift I’m going to give the neighbors (SUSPENSE – it’s only September!) and Halloween Block Party planning/organizing has begun.

But for those who only come here for the food and not the OCD ramblings of a hoarder, what were some of the food highlights I made after seven days of seven straight hours of straight up straightening up?

Made this Shrimp with Spicy Garlic Sauce from Can You Stay for Dinner.  Didn’t have green beans so I used broccoli.  Also, only used half the chili garlic sauce and it was plenty spicy for me. Did I take a picture – no, because I was too tired from all the before and aftering.

Also grilled up some very simple chicken legs.  This is a very simple, fast way to grill chicken legs with lots of flavor.


And, the never fail Ina Garten’s Baked Potato Wedges


The leftovers of which became Two Peas and Their Pod’s Loaded Baked Potato Frittata (fri-ta-ta – that’s a fun word to say) for dinner the following night.



And for dessert during my unemployment period?

Kentucky Butter Cake cookies from Cookies and Cups.


Oh, I may have also watched two entire seasons of Orphan Black at City Cousin’s insistence. Which means I also didn’t sleep very much on certain evenings.

So, ultimately, over the last two weeks we donated/gave away/boxed up for Mom’s garage sale:

  • 13 Hefty bags total of clothing and shoes
  • 4 bags of toys
  • 3 boxes of books
  • 3 boxes of ancient financial records shredded
  • 3 boxes of housewares

Buuuuuuut, nonetheless, I accidentally went to Homegoods because I had something to return (it happens!), and may have bought a new fall pillow and blanket.


Which Skunk the Cat is totally fine with.


Now go get your weekend on. I know I will as I have to go to the new job on Monday. There may be pumpkin bread involved.  Just sayin’

Happy Fall y’all.

Enjoy It While It Lasts

That time of summer break between sports ending and sports and school starting. Two weeks of nothing but easy day camps, shopping for school supplies and hanging out at the pool. Wish that it could never end.

Didn’t do much in the way of cooking.  Made some Greek chicken kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce and saffron rice.

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Chicken Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce

For Chicken
2 cups plain greek yogurt (not non-fat)
1 1/2  TBSP chopped garlic
Zest of 1 large lemon
Juice of said large lemon
2 tsp of chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 – 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red onion, cut into medium wedges
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

8 skewers

Place first 7 ingredients in a glass dish or bowl and whisk to combine.  Add chicken and cover and refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight.  If using wood skewers, soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes before you are ready to cook. To grill, heat grill to medium heat.  Thread the chicken and red onion on skewers, alternating between chicken and onion.  Grill until chicken is 165 degrees, taking care to move to lower heat if burning.  About 15 minutes total.

For the Tzatziki Sauce
I basically used Ina Garten’s recipe for the Tzatziki Sauce.  However, while Ina awaits Jeffery’s arrival from the city with a fresh bouquet of hydrangeas, she has time to drain her yogurt and shredded cucumbers for hours. She is not taking her children to the latest movie cast by her dear friend Barbara McCarthy. No, not The Stanford Prison Experiment!!  But Pixels. And if we’re going to see a movie about deadly video games, we’re going to do it in style where we can recline and be served ice-cold Fanta.


Needless to say, this left me without the requisite amount of yogurt and cucumber draining time. We did not suffer.

Saffron Rice

2 pinches of saffron, crumbled or crushed with back of spoon in  small dish
1 cup basmati rice
1 TBSP dried minced onion
2 cups low or no-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp kosher salt

Bring all ingredients to boil in a pot.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is fluffy.

I also had leftover red wine from Friday’s pizza night. So I made sangria with this cute pitcher I got when we accidentally went to Ikea after the movie.


However, the photo shoot of said sangria did not go well as I had a lot of help by someone with a bad sense of white space balance and shadows.


So we’ll make it again another time and share. But suffice to say, there is nothing LaCroix Cran-Raspberry water cannot do!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Weather – Please Make up Your Mind I’ve Got Things to Do

And pick up your toys and dirty socks from the family room! Oh, no, wait, that’s the boys, not the weather.


Do you have tomatoes that are not up to par on the summer tomato bliss meter?  No problem, just slow roast them.  Yep, that’s right, I went right from pictures of dirty socks to food.  No time for segues.


And add them to my new favorite Summer Pasta Salad just as Smitten Kitchen predicted it would be.  She never steers me wrong. Do not fear the oregano amount.  She’s right, she’s always right. I used white wine vinegar for a lighter taste and ricotta sallata as I sometimes find feta overwhelming.


Also did Garlic Roasted Potatoes from Ina Garten.  With two luminaries of cookbooks like that, it can’t go wrong.  And since we were straddling between spring and summer over the weekend, we grilled steaks but then sautéed some asparagus.


Asparagus with Pancetta

1 tsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, sliced on diagonal in 1 inch pieces
1/4 lb pancetta sliced thick and then diced

Heat olive oil in pan.   Add pancetta and stir until crisp.  Remove pancetta to a paper towel lined plate.  Add asparagus to the oil in pan.  Stir about 4 minutes.  Add 1 Tablespoon of water, stir and cover loosely and steam for about 3-5 minutes or until asparagus is bright green and tender.

Remove from pan with slotted spoon and sprinkle crispy pancetta over the asparagus.


What’s up for dessert.  How about giant Pretzel M&M Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod via What’s Gaby Cooking?  I really flattened them and thought that was better than when they puffed up.  But to each their own.


Now it is June so hopefully we’ll see some solid summer grilling weather. I made some teacher gifts of candle holders with 150 sharpened pencils and tucked in Gerber daisies in their own test tube vials.


Fake Sister had her very last day at grade school.

So after today, she and Drummer Boy will no longer be in school together.  Hang on, this computer keeps getting dust in my eyes. *misty*


Happy Last Day of School everyone!


McNamara Christmas 2013 – Ann Marie’s House

Barefoot Contessa’s Caramelized Onion Dip

The nice thing about this is you can caramelize a bunch of onions ahead of time, split them into separate freezer bags and thaw one the night before to make the dip.  Though I am no one to doubt Ina Garten, I find caramelizing the onions on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, creates an even deeper flavor.

H&H Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Snowcaps

I saw this one in Canadian House and Home magazine, which if you haven’t read, is awesome.  First, because you see different household goods than we do in the U.S.  Second, because a summer home in upper Canada is sometimes one house on a small island.  And finally, what excellent taste in decorating Mr. Michael Buble has! Continue reading