Barefoot Contessa Recipe 47 Chocolate Dipped Brown Sugar Shortbread

This recipe can be found in Modern Comfort Food.

In addition to the Herb-Marinated Pork that I made last week, I was in the mood to bake. But I wanted a simple recipe that wouldn’t have me spending hours in the kitchen measuring, mixing, baking, and cleaning. After a few minutes of flipping through the Barefoot Contessa Index, I stumbled upon the Chocolate Dipped Brown Sugar Shortbread recipe from Comfort Food.

This seemed to be a somewhat straight-forward shortbread recipe. But it was the first time I made short bread before. In the head notes to this recipe, Ina said that these cookies taste just like Milanos. I mean, anything that tastes or resembles a Milano cookie has to be good, right?

While this recipe is easy and doesn’t cause an over abundance of dishes (which seems to be common with many baking recipes), this recipe does require you to get a little messy. But as Gesine Prado says, “…you have to get messy to get delicious.” After combining the dough, you need to shape pieces of the dough into logs.

I got about halfway through the shaping process when I realized that my logs probably had too much dough and would puff up a bit more than they should have during baking. It also meant I would get less cookies, but I think that was actually better for my family since it would help with controlling the amount we eat.

After baking, my prediction came true. The cookies ended up being a bit fatter than the ones in the photo. But since it wouldn’t impact the taste, I didn’t mind so much. I used a cookie scoop to ensure even sized cookies. I just used the wrong one. I should have used the smaller one, not the medium one. Oh, well. Now I know for next time!

The cookies looked and smelled so good after removing them from the oven that I had to try one even before I was able to dip them in chocolate! But as you can see in the picture above, some of the cookies lost their shape as well. Again, I think this has to do with the amount of dough used or how tightly I shaped them. Some may have been shaped a little more loosely than others, causing them to spread out more.

Once the cookies were cooled, I melted the chocolate and mixed in the melted butter. The addition of melted butter seemed odd to be at first but I did it anyway! It caused the chocolate to become a little thicker and helped it not to spread out too much.

After dipping them all in the chocolate, as directed in the recipe: only the top of the front of the cookies, I let them sit for about 45 minutes before eating one. I opted not to add the chopped nuts as called for in the original BC recipe.

Far from perfect, but still fancy-looking and definitely yummy!

These cookies actually taste better cool! At least for me. Allowing the cookie to cool gives all the flavors time to marry together and taste better. There is a LOT of sugar in these cookies, so if you eat one while still warm you won’t get the right effect since the sugar is still hot from baking.

While the cookies I made came out looking far from perfect, everyone liked them. In fact, some people recommended that they be made around the holiday season. And I think with them dipped in white chocolate and then decorated with chopped up peppermint pieces, they would look festive and taste great!

Barefoot Contessa 46 Herb-Marinated Loin of Pork

This recipe can be found in Back to Basics, page 126.

For dinner last week, I decided to tackle my first of what will eventually be many Barefoot Contessa pork recipes. To be honest, pork has never been my favorite meat. The texture, to me, is in between chicken and steak and since I’m not a big fan of steak (or beef in general), pork has always hard to swallow.

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Barefoot Contessa Recipe 45 Chicken Pot Pie Soup

This recipe can be found in Modern Comfort Food, page 58.

Wow! What a week it’s been.

As things are beginning to open up in my home state and more people are getting vaccinated, my free time is slowly beginning to return to a pre-pandemic state. While this is great overall, it means that before I know it, it’s Friday. Then I realize I didn’t post all week long. Oops.

Anyway, last week we had a few colder days combined with some rainy weather. Even though it’s April, the weather had me thinking, “Soup for dinner, soup for dinner…” late in the week. So, that’s exactly what I did. I made a soup and it was the perfect choice!

Soup for Dinner…in April?

Ina’s Chicken Pot Pie Soup comes from her most recent cookbook, Modern Comfort Food. While I have only made a few recipes from this book so far, none of them have been short of amazing.

However, I will admit that I was a bit underwhelmed by this one. I liked the idea of taking puff pastry cut-outs to act as the “crust,” the soup itself didn’t taste much different to me than her regular chicken noodle soup recipes. I have found that when I make chicken pot pie, the mixture is a little thicker and has more body to it. For me, that makes pot pie heartier and more comforting. This soup, despite its name, still tasted and looked like soup. Perhaps it just wasn’t thick enough or maybe some of the flavors are off.

The world may never know!

This Week’s Cooking

Last weekend I had big dreams in the kitchen. My original post mentioned something like I would make three recipes all in one day. Well, that was a little optimistic. I only ended up making one (the soup).

But, the cookies I had planned to make are still calling my name, so they will be made today and I can’t wait to try them! According to the headnote, Ina says her Chocolate-Dipped Brown Sugar Shortbread cookies taste just like a Milano!

That’s reason enough for me to try them, right?

Dinner tonight will be of the pork variety. This will mark the first recipe I tackle under the Pork & Lamb heading in the recipe index. I am not a big fan of pork, but I’ve never had lamb. So I’m continuing to put those recipes off for as long as I can!

Until next post, readers!

Friday Cooking 4/16/21

I know this post is a little earlier than usual. But I’ve been having some busy days and I have to write when I have the time to write. So here it is!

This Friday, even though Spring has been here for almost a month, the meteorologists are predicting a chance of snow for my area. Yes, you heard me correctly. Snow!

To be fair, it is not entirely unheard of for Connecticut to see snow in April. It just hasn’t happened recently. Plus, we’ve gone WEEKS without true “winter weather.” So snow in the forecast has most people feeling a little bummed.

In an attempt to perk myself and my family up a little with the possibility of snow, I decided to make dinner for us and maybe even dessert. I’m not quite sure what I will be making, but it will be a main dish and at least one side dish. I will also try to whip something up quickly for dessert.

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com

Come back next week to see I ended up making.


For those of you who are long-time readers of this blog, you may have noticed that the posts have been fewer and far between more recently. For that, I apologize. I hope that soon I can get back to my regularly scheduled program, meaning a more consistent, albeit not as often posting schedule.

Posting every day started to feel like “work” to me. I don’t want this blog to feel like work. In fact, one of the reasons why I started this blog was to have an outlet and something to look forward to when I wasn’t working.

That said, April will be a transition month for me and the blog. I’ll be cooking a bit less often and the blog will only get two to three posts per week. It will mainly be the recipes I made earlier or the week prior. An occasional herbal update will be included as well.

Herbal Update 4/13/21

Another Module of Science

Over the last few weeks, I have been working on the second module of the Phytotherapy Diploma program at Heart of Herbs school. This module is a bit more self-directed than the other one was. Which makes things a little more difficult for me. While there are clear guidelines for what I should be studying, making sure I study each point can be a challenge.

That said, I do hope to finish this module by the end of the month. I have been able to dedicate time to studying for the herbal program almost every night for the last two weeks. This has helped a lot with consistency and feeling like I am “doing something.”

Soon, I will be turning my attention to the quiz at the end of the module. Everything is open-book/open-note in this program. So, I’ve started a Google Doc with the questions and I notate the answer as I come across it. Many of the questions are multiple choice, but there are five short answer ones. I will begin working on those this week.

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I am really looking forward to the next module of this program: Ethnobotany. This is something I’ve had an interest in since college when I first took a botany class. Interestingly, I was also enrolled in a couple anthropology courses that same semester. So, I think the blending of the two piqued my interest.

While I am looking forward to the Ethnobotany module, the true herbalism studies are still a bit of ways away. There are a couple more modules to complete before I can officially begin the Master Clinical Herbalist program. This is the place where I think my interest will really pick up with this program and I will fall in love with herbal medicine once again. It is also where I hope that these herbal updates become a little more interesting to read (and write, if I’m being honest).

I totally understand the need for the background in the sciences that we are studying such as human A&P, botany, microbiology, etc. After all, one of the reasons why I opted for the full PTD (Phytotherapy Diploma) is because it includes all this other information. I know, deep down, I will have a more well-rounded understanding of all things herbs by the time this journey is over. But, I’m really looking forward to making my own medicine, growing herbs, and feeling a connection to them.


Program Evaluation/Notes

There were a few reasons why I decided to I wanted to document my herbal journey while completing this program. You can read about them in more detail in this post. But, I also want to use this opportunity to help others if they feel inclined to go on an herbal journey themselves. So, every so often, I will kind of “review” the program I am doing. My reviews will always be honest, but polite. Also, since this program was recently re-done, there still may be some kinks that the school is working out. REMEMBER: These opinions are my own. I am not getting any type of compensation from any herbal school to write a review of their programs, whether it be positive or negative.

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

When I first began this program I was extremely impressed. The first unit in the Phytotherapy program is a welcome unit which is very helpful. It goes over housekeeping information. The first module with actual course material for my PTD program is on Human Anatomy & Physiology. I was impressed with this unit. Included in the course was an A&P coloring book that some students may benefit from. After a few general units pertaining to this topic, each subsequent unit was dedicated to a certain body system. For many of these body systems, there were PowerPoint presentations, embedded course videos, handouts, and more. Each unit ended with a quiz or some type of activity.

To be honest, since this course was quite costly, I was hesitant at first. I had thoughts over if it would be worth my money. After completed the A&P module, I was started to feel better about it.

Then I began the botany unit, which was one I was looking forward to. As mentioned above, this unit is a little more self-directed than the other module. And for me, that was a bit of a disappointment. I know that over the course of this program, this material is covered a few more times. But, I thought a little more effort would have been put in by the course creators. It’s basically a list of topics that need to be covered, a PowerPoint, a handout, a video and then the 50+ question quiz.

I will admit that the book that’s included with this module, Botany in a Day is one I’ve been wanting for a while. And that has proved helpful and I can’t wait to start looking at different flowers and plants and using it in the field.

I’m not saying that I’m not learning anything from this module. I was just expecting a little more direction/guidance on something that pertains directly to herbs.

We will see what the Ethnobotany module is like in a few weeks!

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Barefoot Contessa Recipe 44: Roasted Parsnips & Carrots

This recipe can be found in Back to Basics, page 179.

I was tasked with making the vegetable dish for Easter Sunday dinner. Naturally, I turned to Ina. I wanted something easy and that could be cooked on the grill. The oven was over-taken by the ham.

By needing the grill, I was left with finding recipes for roasted vegetables. Thanks to a cast iron pan we have, I was able to roast the vegetables in a similar manner as if I had been using the oven.

So, I settled on carrots and parsnips, these were a big hit with the family when I braised them a few weeks ago.

Since I cooked them on the grill and in cast iron, the vegetables cooked much quicker than they would have in the oven. To be honest, they were a little OVERDONE, but they still tasted fine.

Barefoot Contessa Recipe 43 Easy Tzatziki with Feta

This recipe can be found in Foolproof, page 76.

This recipe can be found online here.

With Easter being this past Sunday, I decided to seize the opportunity to make some Barefoot Contessa recipes. The fact that it was a holiday also meant I had a useful excuse to make an Appetizer recipe, which is one of the areas of the recipes that had been lacking. Due the pandemic, there have been less parties, so the need for apps was almost non-existent. But now there was an excuse and I found the perfect, easy recipe to make for the first appetizer that would go over well with my family.

Easy Tzatziki with Feta.

This is one of two recipes that Ina has for tzatziki. However, the other one is in Parties and is very similar to the one I made. Except, it basically has you make your own Greek yogurt. Even though these are similar recipes, I am keeping them separate since the preparation method is different between the two. There are also some ingredient differences.

Easy Tzatziki is well named since it took less than 10 minutes to throw together. It also doesn’t use many dishes which makes clean up a breeze. Another benefit to this recipe is the fact that, for the most part, you can “eyeball” the ingredient amounts. Ina does give exact amounts for almost all the ingredients, but since this is a dip, it kind of lends itself to eyeball measuring. This can be handy if you’re short on time or don’t feel like washing measuring spoons.

Though I did not serve my tzatziki with Feta cheese, the Greek foods pairs wonderfully together. This can also work well with fresh or toasted pita (which is what I used), pretzels, or just plain veggies. The dip also keeps well for a few days which makes it easy to handle leftovers.

Overall, I’d say that for my first appetizer it was a hit! Though, some people felt that the dip had “something missing” that we couldn’t really put our finger on. I figured it was because I used regular white vinegar over white wine vinegar. But the world may never know!

Magnolia Bakery #4 Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Nutella Buttercream

I recently completed my Master’s degree. So of course I had to celebrate the achievement! For me, celebrating includes baking and decorating a cake….and of course eating it! So, naturally, I turned to a recipe out of my favorite baking cookbook: The Magnolia Bakery Handbook.

I had been eyeing this recipe for quite sometime. I loved the idea of banana in a cake and combined with chocolate chips I thought “How bad could it be?” Plus it used one of my favorite ingredients. Nutella! I swear, I think Nutella was originally designed for the Gods, but it somehow made its way to Earth. Luckily for us, we now get to taste this wonderful ingredient.

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Magnolia Bakery Handbook #3

A couple weekends ago (yes, time has been flying!), I was in the mood for a chocolate treat. I didn’t feel like making a cookie and I would be having cake the following weekend (A post about that is coming later). I settled on brownies.

Luckily, the Magnolia Bakery Handbook has some wonderful brownie recipes. I decided to make the simple and basic Double Chocolate Brownies. These are a great brownie. Not too cakey, the right amount of fudgy, and very chocolatey. I felt like I died and went to chocolate heaven!

Plus, they were really easy to make. No stand mixer required!

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