Barefoot Contessa’s Modern Comfort Food: Ultimate Beef Stew
Cookbook Overviews , Recipes / January 20, 2021

Like pretty much everyone who knows how to cook, I love the Barefoot Contessa. I have already written about two of her cookbooks on the blog: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and Cooks Like a Pro. When I saw that she had a new cookbook out, I immediately went and got it from the library. I made three recipes, all great, before I had to take it back. Then my mom gave me a copy for Christmas, so now I’m excited to make a bunch more of these recipes. Modern Comfort Food, which is comfort food made special, is perfect for living through a pandemic in winter. These are recipes you know, but made in that  Barefoot Contessa way that makes you feel like you’re living your best life. The recipes are pretty simple, but she knows just how to add that something extra that will make the food taste great. So far I’ve made scrambled egg and avocado tacos, tuna melts, and this delicious stew. I highly recommend that you check out this cookbook if you are in the mood for some comfort food.   Serves 6 to 8 3 tablespoons olive oil 4 ounces diced pancetta 3 pounds boneless…

Mad Hungry Family: Double-Decker Pork Tacos
Cookbook Overviews , Recipes / May 13, 2020

Previously I reviewed Lucinda Scala Quinn’s cookbook Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys. Now Quinn, who worked for Martha Stewart, has a line of Mad Hungry cookbooks. I picked up Mad Hungry Family from the library (before it closed). This book seems pretty similar to the other Mad Hungry cookbook. It’s full of dishes that are simple and filling, so you can feed your family homecooked meals. Quinn is a big proponent of the family meal and teaching your kids to cook for themselves. She describes great stories of sharing her love of food with her boys. I wouldn’t say these cookbooks are my favorite, but I did find quite a few dishes I would like to try out. I’m always looking for new ideas for Taco Tuesday, but this recipe might move to Sunday night. They were a little more work than my regular do-it-yourself taco setup, and a little heavy for a weeknight meal. But they were delicious, and my family loved them, so I know I will be making them again soon. Makes 1 taco 2 teaspoons vegetable oil 2 corn tortillas 1 slice mild, melting cheese, such as Monterey Jack, or Mexican melting cheese, such as queso…

Cook Something: Gnocchi
Recipes / March 25, 2020

OK, today I’m trying something new. I call it Anatomy of a Failed Recipe. I think it’s good to admit that not every recipe we try is going to work out great, even if we have been cooking for a long time. It might be the recipe isn’t great. It might be that you are trying a new technique. It might be that you substituted ingredients that did not work out. And it might be that you didn’t have much patience, so you tried skipping a step or simplifying the recipe. The reason that this recipe didn’t work out is probably a combination of all the above. So my youngest son Logan loves gnocchi. When I saw a recipe (that looked pretty simple) for homemade gnocchi in the Cook Something cookbook, I thought this would be a good project for Logan and I to work on together. It did turn out to be fun, and it was probably a good first step on the way to successfully making gnocchi. Unfortunately, the final dish wasn’t a huge success. My husband and I still ate it, but Logan didn’t (my older son is not a fan, although he was a sport and…

Smothered Pork Chops from Emeril’s Potluck
Recipes / February 13, 2020

Whatever happened to Emeril? I remember when he was super popular on the Food Network, and I was a big fan. I lived in Louisiana for a little bit, and I learned to love Cajun food. It’s become a lot easier to get pretty decent Cajun food in the Midwest, but it’s still fun to try some of these dishes at home. I have several Emeril cookbooks, and they are all good. But Emeril’s Potluck: Comfort Food with a Kicked-Up Attitude is the one I use the most. (Warning: There no photos. Just some illustrations.) His recipes are not always super simple, but they are definitely doable for a home cook. These melt-in-your-mouth pork chops, which take a little time, are a great Sunday dinner option. They are quite popular in my house!   Smothered Pork Chops Makes 4 to 8 servings 8 to 6 thinly pork chops 2 teaspoons Emeril’s Original Essence* 1/2 cup olive oil 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 4 cups thinly sliced onions 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon chopped garlic 3 1/2 cups chicken stock 2 cups water 1 pound smoked sausage or andouille, cut into 1-inch slices 1 pound russet…

The Fresh and Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook: Korean Chicken Bowls
Recipes / February 11, 2020

It’s a new year, and I should be posting about a new cookbook. But right now I have been pretty stuck on The Fresh and Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook. I even bought my own copy, which is rare. I already posted the Crunchy Lentil Salad, which I’ve been making a lot. The recipes in this book are simple, healthy, and tasty! So if you have an Instant Pot, I highly recommend you get a hold of this book. Korean Chicken Bowls Serves 4 1/2 cup soy sauce of tamari 5 tablespoons maple syrup 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 1 tablespoon Sriracha 1 clove garlic 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 cup white rice 1 cup water, plus 2 tablespoons 1 red bell pepper 1/2 red onion 1 cup fresh baby spinach 1 tablespoon arrowroot or corn starch 1/2 cup chopped green onion Sesame seeds, for garnish Add soy sauce, maple syrup, ginger, Sriracha, and garlic to the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Place chicken on top of the sauce in a single layer. To cook the rice at the same time, position the Instant Pot trivet over chicken breasts and place a 7-inch oven-safe bowl on top. Add…

Mack and Cheese
Recipes / June 1, 2019

Serves 4 to 6 2 tsp salt 1 pound elbow macaroni 2 cups whole milk 1 cup heavy cream 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 5 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese 2/3 cup sour cream 1 teaspoon black pepper 2 teaspoons dry mustard 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with a rack in the middle position. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch backing dish and set aside. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the package instructions. Drain and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and cream, being careful not to boil. While the milk heats, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly for 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warmed milk. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking frequently, or until thickened and smooth. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, whisking until fully incorporated and smooth. Add the sour cream and whisk until smooth. Add the pepper, dry mustard, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with…

Sweet Soy-Glazed Pork Chops
Recipes / January 17, 2019

Serves 2 to 4 4 tablespoons soy sauce2 tablespoons canola oil1 tablespoon light brown sugar3 cloves garlicSalt and pepper4 thin-cut bone-in pork chops (4 ounces each)2 medium zucchini (about 5 ounces each), halved lengthwise1 small onion, cut into 6 wedges1 jalapeno, halved lengthwise and seeded2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks2 teaspoons white vinegar In a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag, combine 3 tablespoons of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the brown sugar, garlic, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the pork chops and smush them around to cover with the marinade. Pre-heat a grill pan or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Brush the zucchini, onion, and jalapeno with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and grill until the zucchini and onion are tender and charred on both sides, 7 to 8 minutes per side. While the vegetables are cooking, in a medium bowl, combine the butter, vinegar, and the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Transfer the grilled vegetables to a cutting board and right away cut them into bite-size pieces. While still hot, drop them in the bowl with the butter-soy-vinegar,…

Chicken Noodle Salad
Recipes / January 9, 2019

Makes 2 servings 4 ounces soba or spaghetti noodles2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce1 teaspoon sesame oil1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey1 clove garlic, minced3/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger1 cup shredded chicken breast3 scallions, thinly sliced1/2 teaspoons sesame seedsSmall handful of cilantro leaves (optional) Cook the noodles according to directions, until they are tender yet still firm. Drain the noodles and immediately run them under cold water to stop any additional cooking. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice winter vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger. Place the noodles in a medium bowl and pour the vinegar dressing over them. Toss in the shredded chicken. Garnish with the scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds. My notes: I have been taking this salad to work for my lunch. It’s refreshing after all the heavy food I ate over the holidays. Veggie spaghetti noodles work well in this this dish, and you could definitely use shrimp, steak, or tofu instead of chicken. I will be making this dish, or a version of it, a lot! Hope you enjoy it also! Recipe adapted from The Year of Cozy by Adrianna Adarme.

Chicken Pot Pie
Recipes / October 10, 2018

Chicken Pot Pie Vegetable oil cooking spray 4 tablespoons 1/4 small white onion, finely chopped (optional)* 4 carrots, peeled and diced 1/2 cup flour 2 32-ounce boxes chicken broth 2 22.6-ounce cans condensed cream of chicken soup 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken** 1 cup frozen peas Salt and pepper 2 8-ounce tubes refrigerated crescent rolls Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13x3 (deep) baking pan with cooking spray. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter oven medium-low heat. Add the onion (if using) and saute until tender and translucent. Add the carrots and cook until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pot. Whisk in the chicken broth and continue whisking until the flour is fully incorporated. Stir in the chicken soup. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded chicken and frozen peas. Taste and season if necessary with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Open crescent dough and unroll the contents. Press the perforations together inside…

Szechuan Noodles
Recipes / September 27, 2018

This is a great lunch dish since you don’t even have to heat it up! Szechuan Noodles 6 garlic cloves, chopped 1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup tahini 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter 1/2 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup dry sherry 1/4 cup sherry or white wine vinegar 1/4 cup honey 1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil 2 tablespoons sesame oil 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 pound spaghetti noodles 2 red or yellow bell peppers, sliced 4 green onions, sliced (optional) Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the vegetable oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, honey, chili oil, sesame oil, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Puree the sauce. Boil the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. While still warm, toss with three-quarters of the sauce. Add the bell peppers and green onions; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. Add remaining sauce, as needed, to moisten the pasta. My notes: This is a long list of ingredients, but you can adjust the ingredients and measurements to your taste or what…

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