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Posts tagged ‘Barefoot Bloggers’

Croque Monsieur

 Ah, Croque Monsieur. I cannot make you the way most recipes call for you to be made since the mister doesn’t eat pork. So, I opted to make a version with smoked turkey instead of ham. I also added some sauteed Vidalia onions…and voila…the perfect, quick and easy and filling dinner.  And to make ourselves feel even more French we ate this sandwich with a fork and knife…because the French would never, ever eat with their hands. 😉


Ham-Free Croque Monsieur

(adapted from Ina Garten’s Recipe)



  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 of a Vidalia onion,thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces sliced smoked turkey breast


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
  3. To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
  4. Saute Vidallia onion in butter or oil until it just starts to brown.
  5. Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice or 2 of turkey to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned.
  6. Serve hot.

This recipe was selected by Kathy of All Food Considered.


Chinese Chicken Salad

Ina Garten’s Chinese Chicken Salad made a quick and easy week night meal. To make it even quicker than the original recipe, I sauteed boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of roasting the bone-in chicken.  The salad was bright and colorful with an appealing combination of textures.  I found there to be a little too much dressing and next time will cut back the recipe to only make 2/3 of the amount.


Chinese Chicken Salad (from Barefoot Contessa Parties!)


  •  4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.
  3. Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

The Chinese Chicken Salad recipe was selected by McKenzie of Kenzie’s Kitchen for the first Barefoot Bloggers recipe in April.


Sauteed Broccolini

One of the bonus recipes this month for Barefoot Bloggers was Ina Garten’s sauteed broccolini. I had never cooked broccolini before.  But I wasn’t afraid. No vegetable is going to get the best of me!

It was a very simple recipe that puts all attention on the fresh veggie. I opted to slice the garlic instead of mincing it, but otherwise I stuck to the recipe.  The broccolini was buttery, garlicky, and lemony. It was crisp and delicious and went perfectly with the steak that I was serving as a main course for dinner.

So good. So easy. I will be making this broccolini again.

This recipe was selected by Mary of Meet Me in the Kitchen.



  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Blanch the broccolini in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water.
  2.   Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the lemon zest and garlic and stir. Drain the broccolini and add it to the garlic mixture and heat for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper, and toss well before serving.


Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts

Goat cheese is one of those things (and okay, I have a lot of them *pats belly*) that I just can’t resist. If I am reading through a menu and come across the words “goat cheese” in the description of a menu item I just have to order it, unless it is followed by the word bacon, in which case I immediately skip to the next item on the menu. (such a good little supportive wife I am)

So, of course I was mega-psyched when I saw Anne of Anne Strawberry’s Barefoot Blogger pick of Ina Garten’s Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts as one of the March recipe selections. This recipe can also be found in Ina’s cookbook Back to Basics. goatcheesetomatotart

The recipe got two thumbs up in my house with the request “next time, make it with meat” (I hear that so often when I make veggie dishes…sigh). Maybe I will be nice and the next time I make these little tarts I will add some chicken.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves


  1. Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
  4. Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
  5. Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.


Real Spaghetti & Meatballs

Growing up, one of my favorite meals was my mom’s homemade meatballs. A recipe that was handed down to her from her mother. I haven’t made meatballs in years and was looking forward to trying Ina Garten’s meatball recipe.

Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake selected Barefoot Contessa’s Real Spaghetti and Meatballs as the first Barefoot Bloggers recipe for February.  I made some modifications to the original recipe. We don’t eat pork and the market had no ground veal, so I used half ground beef and half ground chicken. I was also generous with the cheese. I have a cheese addiction. Lastly, I let the sauce simmer for a little longer than the recipe called for to let the flavors develop.

The resultant jumbo-sized meatballs were full of flavor. I wish there had been a little more sauce In my opinion, there was about a cup or 2 too little sauce for the amount of meatballs. The leftovers made a great lunch the next day.


Real Spaghetti & Meatballs (Barefoot Contessa Family Style, page 103)


For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • Freshly grated Parmesan


  1. Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
  2. Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.
  3. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  4. Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.

Easy Sticky Buns

I have fond memories of my paternal grandmother’s pecan sticky buns.  She used to make huge batches of them around the holidays so that there were enough for others to take home. I’ve never made my own sticky buns from scratch, and while these Easy Sticky Buns from Ina Garten were not quite from scratch they were super easy (as advertised) and quick to make.


Instead of making your own dough, you start with frozen pastry dough and spread it with brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon.  You roll them up and put them in muffin cups that have a layer of pecans, butter and brown sugar.  And once they are baked and you invert the rolls onto a plate, they are topped with a buttery sweet caramel sauce. easystickybuns2This Barefoot Blogger selection was made by Melissa of Made by Melissa. Melissa selected this recipe after seeing Ina Garten make them on the Today Show and several other programs.

Easy Sticky Buns

Makes 12

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted for the filling
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.
  3. Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.
  4. Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon), and cool completely.


Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

Now I’ve previously made banana pancakes and I’ve also made sour cream pancakes…but I had yet to make Banana Sour Cream pancakes. Now I have, thanks to Karen of Something Sweet by Karen.  Karen selected this week’s Barefoot Bloggers recipe from Ina Garten’s cookbook Barefoot Contessa Family.  The recipe was really quick and easy and totally worked for a weekday breakfast. The pancake batter has sour cream in it and once you’ve spooned the batter onto the griddle, you drop some chopped bananas on each pancake.  I also added chopped walnuts to half of the pancakes at the request of Mr. Mango. The pancakes were thick and fluffy, just like me! (although I usually am not filled with chopped bananas so this comparison can only go so far.)

I served up the pancakes with a pat of butter, more chopped bananas and some real Vermont maple syrup. Mmmmm!  They totally hit the spot as we listened to the sleet clicking against our dining room window. The pancakes were true comfort food in the middle of the ice & snow.



Banana Sour Cream Pancakes (from the cookbook Barefoot Contessa Family )


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Unsalted butter
  • 2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving
  • Pure maple syrup


  1. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned.
  5. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned.
  6. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used.
  7. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.


Pappa Al Pomidoro

Week 2 of me being left home alone by Mr. Mango– loneliness is setting in (poor me), but the house is close to sparkling clean (oh, the joy of not having to pick up after an extra person 😉 ) We both like to cook and usually split the cooking duties, although I usually end up doing the cleaning.

The day after Christmas, as I was sitting home alone, I decided to cook up one of the recipes on this month’s to-cook list: Barefoot Contessa’s Pappa Al Pomidoro. Pappa Al Pomidoro is a country Tuscan bread soup. I was mega-excited to try out this recipe since I’ve been on a bit of a soup kick the past few months as evidenced by the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Mexican Chicken Soup, Turkey and White Bean Chili, Ranchero Beef Stew, and Hungarian Beef & Potato Soup that I’ve made and posted about. I figured a soup would keep me warm & cozy in my husband’s absence. I won’t go so far as to say that I cuddled with the soup though. that would just be crazy.


The Pappa Al Pomidoro is comprised mostly of veggies, tomatoes, and bread. The bread dissolves as the soup cooks and the result is a broth that is thickened by the bread bits. (maybe not the most low-carb diet friendly soup!) I made the Pappa Al Pomidoro recipe without the pancetta in the topping and it was still super delicious and the perfect soup for a cold December evening. I loved the touch of the toasted bread and basil on top, it added a different texture and more intense basil flavor.

This delish recipe was selected by Natalie at Burned Bits, who has a wicked cute blog so be sure to stop by and check it out. Check out the recipe after the jump.


Savory Palmiers

Ina Garten’s Savory Palmiers from her Back to Basics cookbook were easy to make and were a big hit at my Christmas party. Even my super fussy brother ate them and believe me, he rarely eats any of the dishes I bring to holiday parties. *cough* It’s more a comment on his finicky eating habits than it is on my cooking, really…

Palmiers (sometimes called Palm leaves) are puff pastry dough sprinkled with fillings that is then folded several times and then cut into slices before baking.  Palmiers are traditionally of the sweet variety. These savory palmiers from Ina’s recipe are filled with pesto, goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes.  With their red, white, and green fillings, these little bites were spilling over with festive Xmas colors.

Another winner to go in my permanent recipe repetoire!  Big thanks to Becky of Random Musings of a Deco Lady for selecting this as a Barefoot Bloggers bonus recipe this month!


Savory Palmiers

  • 1 package frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto, store-bought or homemade
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, such as Montrachet
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • Kosher salt
  1. Lightly flour a board and carefully unfold one sheet of puff pastry. Roll the pastry lightly with a rolling pin until it’s 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches. Spread the sheet of puff pastry with half the pesto, then sprinkle with half the goat cheese, half the sun-dried tomatoes, and half the pine nuts. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.
  2. Working from the short ends, fold each end halfway to the center. Then fold each side again toward the center until the folded edges almost touch. Fold one side over the other and press lightly. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat for the second sheet of puff pastry using the remaining ingredients. Cover both rolls with plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Cut the prepared rolls of puff pastry into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place them faceup 2 inches apart on sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.


Coq au Vin

Snowy December Sundays are the perfect days for stews and their ilk, so I was glad that Bethany from this little piggy went to market selected Ina Garten’s coq au vin recipe for one of this month’s Barefoot Bloggers selections.


I’ve made coq au vin one or two times before.  Traditional coq au vin (and Ina’s recipe) contains bacon…since we don’t eat bacon, I simply opted not to include it.  The end result still tasted good.  I wish I had some crusty French bread to sop up the sauce.

Coq Au Vin: the bacon-free edition (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)


  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil

  • 1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
  • 1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
  • 1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2.  Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  
  3. Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to a plate and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.
  4. Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
  5. Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.