A New Book on My Shelf…

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to take advantage of the time off and spend some time shopping. Yes, I even went shopping on Black Friday. But it was in the afternoon, and the stores weren’t any busier than a normal weekend. I was so exhausted from the food that I couldn’t bring myself to bake anything over the weekend. The Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart was a hit for Thanksgiving, though this time around, the mousse texture wasn’t exactly there.

I had been feeling in a bit of “funk” for the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure what was causing it. But I did know something that would help me snap out of it, so to speak.

Continue reading “A New Book on My Shelf…”

A Plan for the Future

This month has been a weird one for me, blogging-wise. Shortly after beginning my foray into cooking all Ree Drummond’s recipes, I started to lose interest for some reason. I can’t really put my finger on why it happened. But, I just accepted it and kind of went with the feeling, hoping for the interest to return one day.

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It’s Finally Done!

Hey, y’all!

I did it! I finally did it!

I finally was able to create index pages for each of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks! All 12 pages can now be viewed and I was even able to update them to where I am at with cooking through the recipes.

Click here to see what I’m talking about. I’m so happy that I was finally able to do this. It actually didn’t take me as long as I thought it would.


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My Go-To Plant-Based Cookbooks

Even though this is an Ina Garten cook-through blog, I have been broadening my recipe stash and blog posts since the beginning of 2021. Every so often I take a break from Ina’s recipes and when I do, I try to go plant-based. Over the years, I’ve toyed with going vegetarian or full-on vegan. As of yet, that has yet to happen…just look at a few recipe reviews posts.

However, I am still trying to include more plants in my diet on a regular basis. Thus, I have amassed a collection of cookbooks — both in print and on my Kindle e-reader — that have come in handy over the last couple of months.

Below, I have included photos of some of my favorites. You’ll notice that many of them are “general cookbooks.” The huge tomes that cover the gambit. Think Joy of Cooking but for plant eaters!

This book was one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I purchased! It is still a great reference and resource for me. Plus with Bittman’s extensive knowledge of all types of culinary escapades, I feel good making one of these recipes since I can trust them.

This book has a much different tone than that of Mark Bittman’s book. The author’s humor and love for food easily comes across on each page. There are some great recipes in here, and Dragonwagon’s approach to plant-based meals is much more loosey-goosey than other authors. This makes it a great book for beginners!

I call this one the “Vegan Bible.” It literally has every recipe you could ever want as a vegan. I highly recommend this book, especially since many of the recipes are approachable, even for those starting out on a vegan journey. If you are looking to buy a vegan cookbook, make it this one!

Some books that I have on my Kindle e-reader include:

Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor, the creator of the food blog Cookie + Kate. It has many wonderful recipes that are whole food and plant-based. One added benefit is many of them include ways in which to make the recipe vegan or gluten free.

American’s Test Kitchen The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by the Chefs at America’s Test Kitchen. While I know that the Mediterranean Diet is not vegetarian or vegan, it is plant-based. It uses animal protein to supplement the plant-based proteins. Even if you ignore the meat-based chapters, there are still some wonderful, tried and true recipes in this book!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into a small section of my cookbook shelf.

Until next time…

Spiral Cookbooks?

Does anyone else like spiral-bound cookbooks? Personally, I love them! I think they hold up much better than hardcover, and especially softcover ones. It’s a shame that they aren’t printed more often. I guess I’m in the minority on this opinion. After all, publishing is a business.

The two Taste of Home cookbooks I have. These are GREAT resources. So many tasty and easy recipes!

Changing it Up a Little

Hey everyone!

This week, I am thinking of breaking out of the Ina-shell once again. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve made a recipe that wasn’t out of one of Ina Garten’s books. If you follow me on Instagram, I teased that I may be cooking something out of the Gourmet Today cookbook. I still have not decided what that will be. But, I’m busy thumbing through the pages, looking for something enticing.

I will surely let you know what recipe I am making Friday morning whether I chose to make one out of Gourmet Today or another cookbook entirely. In addition to my usual Friday-night dinner cooking plans. I will also be making a chocolate cake for a family member’s birthday. However, I will not be making an Ina Garten chocolate cake. She has quiet a few recipes for chocolate cakes. They vary in shape and size, but I just want something a little different.

The cake and frosting recipe I make for the birthday celebration will be out of The Magnolia Bakery Handbook. This is a dedicated baking book and for the price, you get A LOT of recipes and information. If you buy one baking book, I think it should be this one! The recipes are easy to follow and the results are well-worth it.

I’m so excited to share with you photos of the chocolate cake this weekend and whatever recipe or recipes I decide to make for Friday’s dinner.

In other news, I may start doing more than one post a day every now and then. I’ve always wanted this blog to evolve a bit over time. I may have some general life related posts or just little “updates” about things that I am doing that day or that week.

Until the recipes are made….

P.S. The photo at the top of this page is not something I’ve made. (But boy, do I WISH I had the recipe!) I just liked it and felt it went with the theme of this post a little bit.

Review of “Barefoot Contessa At Home”

Garten’s fifth cookbook begins what I call “Quintessential Ina.” This was around the time I discovered and fell in love with her cooking show. And I think her best recipes stem from the next few books. The tagline “everyday recipes you’ll make over and over again” rings true for this book since Ina had finally settled into her target audience: untrained, home cooks.

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Review of “Barefoot Contessa Parties!”

This is part of a twelve-part series where I review Ina Garten’s cookbooks. Check back each week for the next installment in the series! The reviews will drop every Thursday afternoon at 1:30 PM.

This week I’m reviewing Ina’s second cookbook: Barefoot Contessa Parties! which was published in 2001.

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Recipe # 5 – Turkey Meat Loaf

From The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, page 138-139

I have to admit, I was not as productive this week when it came to cooking. I made dinner for the household last night and it took me quite some time to figure out what I wanted to make.

Did I want a one-pot meal type of thing? Or did I want to combine a couple recipes as an easy way to knock out more than in one day?

Well, after some deliberating and flipping through numerous pages of cookbooks, I decided I would combine three recipes to make a full meal. I also decided that I would probably be easiest for me if I kept the recipes to the same book.

That was the real challenge, though!

The first hurdle was figuring out what the main course would be. Eventually, I stumbled upon the Turkey Meat Loaf recipe out of Ina’s first cookbook. Next came figuring out the sides. Seeing as I wanted to keep the recipes in the same book, I found a recipe for fingerling potatoes which I thought would complement the meat loaf well. Tried as I might to find a vegetable recipe that interested me to pair with the meat loaf and potatoes, I realized that the The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook would not be doing it. Eventually, I found a recipe in Make it Ahead for peas and pancetta. (Post about making the fingerling potatoes and peas dish coming Sunday!)

The turkey meat loaf recipe, as written, serves a small army of 8 to 10 people (though I think that would allow for large portions), so I decided to cut the recipe in half since I only needed to feed three and I knew I would still have leftovers.

I needed a few items at the grocery store for this one, so I went and picked up the ground turkey, grown thyme, the Worcestershire sauce, and ingredients for the other recipes. When I returned home, I started to create the meat loaf, even though dinner was hours away, I figured it wouldn’t harm anything to let the meatloaf sit in the fridge for a few hours while the flavors mingled with each other.

I cooked the onions and spices as directed, letting things go for a little longer than recommended in the recipe. It wasn’t until I added the chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce that things really started to heat up — or I guess in my case, smell up!

While the onion mixture was cooling, I mixed the ground meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, and then added the onion mixture. I formed it into a loaf shape on a cookie sheet, spread ketchup on top and placed in the fridge with a piece of foil.

When dinner time arrived, I set the oven to the 325 degrees, as the recipe states. Now, since I halved the recipe, I assumed it would take about 50 minutes to cook fully. Well, that wasn’t the case. It look over an hour and the full recipe says the 5-pound meat loaf would only take 90 minutes! I think my oven temperature may be off, or Ina uses a really high-scale oven….probably both.

Once the meat loaf was done and plated, I tried some. I was impressed with how moist it was. There wasn’t a salty flavor that is usually present in the meat loafs (loaves?) I make following the Lipton soup recipe. It paired nicely with the sides I had chosen…again separate post coming at you tomorrow about that!

I think this recipe will be made frequently in my life. It’s pretty easy and really flavorful. I wonder if the flavors would be more pronounced if I had made the larger loaf? Maybe one day I’ll find out!

(Sorry, readers, no picture of this. The house was crazy around dinner time and I was also dealing with a pot of boiling potatoes and cooking a vegetable.)

Review of “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook”

This is part of a twelve-part series where I review Ina Garten’s cookbooks. Check back each week for the next installment in the series! The reviews will drop every Thursday afternoon at 1:30 PM.

We all love the Barefoot Contessa, also known as Ina Garten. The East Hampton, NY chef and lifestyle celebrity has been entertaining audiences since the early 2000s. But many fans of her Food Network show may not realize that she got her start as the owner of a specialty food store on Long Island. While the store has since closed its doors, the name, Barefoot Contessa, lives on through Ina Garten and her cooking show and cookbooks.

Ina Garten and Barefoot Contessa burst onto the scene in 1999 with the publication of her first cookbook entitled The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

With a foreword by Martha Stewart, the cookbook quickly led Barefoot Contessa to become a household name. Within a couple of years, Garten’s cooking show began airing on the Food Network and here we are almost twelve cookbook later!

I would argue that this cookbook is different than the other ones in tone. It’s almost as though she was trying to impress her readers and live up to “The Hamptons” stereotype. The narratives are filled with pretentious sentences that I don’t think are reflected in her others books. It’s almost as if her intended audience with this book was exclusively for summer home owners on ritzy coasts.

Many of the recipes promote the “summer is perfect on the Hamptons” trope by mainly benefitting people who have grills or access to fresh seafood and local farmer’s markets. What is strange to me is I think if my first foray into Ina Garten had been this cookbook, I don’t think I would be as big of a fan. Granted, I have only cooked one recipe from this book so far (see here), but all the recipes just come off as too fancy and aren’t really relatable to me.

That said, now that I am older and have had more experience with “early Ina” I feel more confident with the recipes in this book. That said, overall many of the recipes are for more seasoned palates and cooks. Another difference between the recipes in this book and some of her other is that many of the recipes are designed to be used for entertainment, so the scale of the recipes is a lot larger (in fact, her first three cookbooks feature recipes that could feed a couple handfuls of people). Many recipes in this book feed 8 as opposed to the 4 to 6 that is common in the later books.

Some highlights from this book:

  1. Sun-dried Tomato Dip
  2. Gazpacho
  3. Grilled Salmon Salad
  4. Lobster Potpie
  5. Turkey Meatloaf
  6. Kitchen Clambake
  7. Potato-Fennel Gratin
  8. Outrageous Brownies
  9. Croissant Bread Pudding
  10. Maple-Oatmeal Scones

I can’t wait to try some more of these, however I almost feel obligated to wait until summer because the food just lends itself to that season.