I love Ina Garten.
This post might as well be called ‘ an ode to Ina”.
I adore everything about her….even her button down shirts – that are tailored made just for her (why do I know this?) – with the popped collar – which makes me think of spring break and the cruise we took and the dancing we did, which brings be around to Grillz by Nelly…ad a whole top diamonds and da bottom row’s gold. Can we go back to those days? Days where spring break existed and you lived with your friends and weekends started on Thursdays? Did we know how good we had it? I don’t think we did…we were always wanting to get to the next stage. Little did we know the next stage was full of work and serious responsibility – mortgages are no one’s friend.
Yes, I some how just connected Ina to Nelly. That takes mad skills, people.
Did you know… she was a White House nuclear policy analyst. I don’t know what that entails. It seems pretty major. Therefore, she is not a classically trained chef. She is like us, a home cook with a bit of passion, a love for great ingredients, and a desire to make those around us happy and full. That she took a leap of faith on a gourmet food store and it became crazy successful. That she has since, hosted the famed Food Network Show – Barefoot Contessa, that she has written some 6+ cookbooks, and has been the inspiration for millions when it comes to hosting dinner parties, whipping up simple family dinners, or setting a table fit for a king or your best friends. This all from a whim. And major guts. For reals.
I am also, slightly in love with the fact that she lives in New England (and has an apartment in Paris…but who doesn’t love that?). I am a sucker for New England…the ocean, the homes, the food, the scenery, the accents…you name it – I love it. I sometimes get mad at the entire state of Pennsylvania. Downright angry. For if it wasn’t for the 311 mile wide state of Pennsylvania, lobster rolls and I would be so much closer. Sigh.
I have made many of Ina’s recipes…and not once have I been disappointed. And today is no different. These are a simple dessert, whipped up in a moments notice, and sure to please a crowd. I took these into work as a random Tuesday treat and they were gone before lunch. Well before lunch. Second shift only got crumbs. Not a raspberry fan? Use strawberry jam. Or blueberry.
Dear Ina. Thanks.
- 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, Room temperature
- ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2+ ⅓ Cup All-Purpose Flour
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 12 Ounces Jam, Raspberry – use high quality
- ⅔ Cup Granola, I used Bear Naked Granola (maple pecan) – make sure it is free of dried fruit
- ¼ Cup (a good handful) Sliced Almonds
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 x 9 baking dish with parchment paper (easy removal).
- Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and salt. With mixer on low, slowly add flour and salt mixture to butter mixture. Mix until the dough starts to form into a ball. It will be crumbly at first, just keep mixing.
- Press ⅔ of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan and about ¼ inch up the sides of the pan.
- Spread the jam over the crust, leaving about a ¼ inch border.
- Mix the granola with the remaining dough. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the jam. Scatter slivered almonds over crumb topping.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 45 – 50 minutes until the top begins to turn golden brown.
- Cool completely before cutting and serving.
slightly adapted from Ina Garten.
The week following a vacation is generally just a melancholic blur of work and laundry and grocery shopping and laundry and healthier eating and memories of warmth and sunshine. This goes for vacations lasting the usual 7 days or those extending towards two weeks and/or particularly those cut short at 3 or 4 days, the so-called long weekends.
This week was that week. Where nothing truly gets done, but one in which I feel exhausted and sleep deprived and a tad bloated and all sorts of hungry…hungry for butter and sugar and ice cream. Not carrot sticks and tuna salad. Ugh…so easy to fall out of a good habit and quite the struggle to jump back in.
Disney was great. The race was great. The weather was great. The food was great. The company was great. And the ears…I became slightly obsessed.
I look good as Mickey.
Happy New Year’s Eve!
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night, 2012. Let’s be honest… this isn’t a good-bye forever…I will continue to write you on checks and various other papers until at least February. I mean, just last week, I wrote 2010 on a receipt at the car repair shop, so I am guessing I will see you again around 2016 or so, when I am signing an oh-so-important document and I will try my darndest to turn a 2 into a 6…which never works as well as if it were a 5 or a 1…
Any big plans for NYE? Going out on the town, dressed to the nines, dinner and dancing, champagne toasts, and a midnight kiss? Or is it a night in with the kiddos with party hats and streamers and those noise maker thingys, which always seem like a good idea while you are standing in the middle of Target on a Wednesday afternoon, but when it is 12:30am on 01-01-insert year, and that sleep deprived child is still running around like a maniac blowing fiercely into a once-upon-a-time- good idea noise maker. And it may not be a small child running around, but perhaps a grown adult. And she might be me. If you invite me to your party…don’t le me near the noise makers. I have an affinity towards them. It is a once a year love affair. Suppose I will ever grow up? Ha!
I was going to make a champagne cocktail to ring in 2013….buutttttt, as of late, all I have had on the brain, booze wise, is bourbon and ginger ale…Don’t get me wrong, it’s worthy of an entire blog post, and maybe some day it will shine in all its glory…but not today and not on New Year’s Eve. NYE calls for champagne. And why make a cocktail out of champagne…the bubbly is rockin’ all on its own. Instead of anything fizzy or spritzy or liquor infused…I whipped together a batch of blondie brownies.
Peanut Brittle Blondies…nutty, butterscotchy, chewy, and caramelly….Plus, you get to use up that random tin of peanut brittle that your Great Aunt Lucy hands out at Christmas each and every year….or if you are like me, you have a bit left over since you made 3 batches trying to replicate a friends family recipe…either way, two birds, one stone.
Butter melting over medium heat…pay close attention. Please do not become distracted. It will turn fast!
Browned butter! Smells so nutty and almost caramel-like. Transfer to another bowl, and let cool…and go collect your other ingredients.
Besides browned butter…you are going to need brown sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and soda, egg, vanilla, and of course peanut brittle.
Browned butter and brown sugar are mixed
An egg and vanilla are added..
Next goes the flour…
And mix JUST until combined …
Peanut brittle needs to be folded in and sprinkled atop…and bake.
I hope you have a great New Years and that 2013 be filled with great joy, many laughs, good friends and family, and much happiness. Cheers!
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Stick Butter, browned and slightly cooled
- 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
- 1 Egg
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- 1 Cup Peanut Brittle, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 8×8 baking dish with tinfoil or parchment paper, leaving a little bit hanging over the edges for easy removal later.
- In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Continue cooking, swirling occasionally, until brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan and it begins to smell nutty (be patient!). Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl and let cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, blend together, with a wooden spoon, browned butter and brown sugar. Stir in egg and vanilla, mix until combined.
- Stir in flour just until combined.
- Fold in ¾ Cup of chopped peanut brittle.
- Spread batter into prepared pan and top with remaining ¼ cup of peanut brittle.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until top is golden brown and the center is just set. These are better if they are underbaked vs. overbaked.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
On days like 12-12-12 or 05-05-05 or maybe 10-10-10 … Don’t ya just expect more out of them? I sure do.
Days that only happen once a century…something special should happen. Right?
We won’t see 12-12-12 again until 12-12-2112. I will be 129.58 years old. I mean, seriously, something spectacular should happen on days like this. Unplanned greatness. As if the world had fireworks up its sleeve for days like today (or two days ago, by the time you read this). Or candy rained from the heavens. Or we all got five dollars in the mail, in a sweet little card like your auntie used to mail to you on your birthday. That would be nice.
Things like that should happen on special calender days like today…
But they don’t and so you have to make them special on your own account. If I was an elementary school teacher, I would have had a pizza party and a movie day. I watched ET in elementary smack dab in the middle of the 4th grade hallway. Track and field day had been cancelled due to rain and that was our consolation prize. But the movie and pizza on 12-12-12 wouldn’t be a consolation prize, but part of the celebration. It would be epic. Better than any Valentines Day party, that’s for sure.Read More
I made these two weeks ago. Ya know, when I was supposed to be packing for my trip to Seattle (pics to come soon, promise), but was putting it off because I hate packing. I figured baking from a new cookbook, that I picked up at the used book store for more than half off, was much more essential to life than packing for a trip that was taking flight in less than 24 hours. A trip to a used book store when I should have been picking up travel size toothpastes and a new toothbrush carrier…but wasn’t because used book stores are way more fun than the bathroom isle at Target. Just sayin’.
I procrastinate with packing from start to finish. And unpacking…don’t even get me started. I am staring at the suitcase right now. Right where I left it 3 days ago and honestly where it will remain for days/weeks to come. I need help.
Am I the only one that hates to stuff, and yes I mean stuff in literal terms, clothes and toiletrettes into a piece of luggage that will be your dresser for the next few days/weeks/months? I seriously dread this part of vacation. How am I supposed to know what I will need? I can’t see into the future. I don’t know the exact weather – the 10 day forecast is only so accurate. I don’t know the dress code to all the restaurants we will dine in. And shoes. How many pairs is too many? And I have to keep it under 50lbs or I will be charged what? Seriously? Therefore, I tend to overpack if I am heading to a place for the first time. And I will always forget something…generally a hairbrush or socks or mascara. It is just annoying…and not fun. And a whole lot of decision making. And I am Miss Indecisive. Just ask anyone who has asked me to pick a place for dinner…
Is there a help group for indecisive people?
Baking and used book stores are way more fun. These are two places where decisions are easy to make. Bake the cookies, buy the book. Done. Easy.
- 1 + ½ Sticks Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 1 + ¼ Cup + 1 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour
- 3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ⅛ Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ Cup Granulated Sugar, plus extra for dusting.
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 8 x 8inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a bit overhang the edges. Set aside.
- Whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and 1 Cup sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes), remembering to scraped down the sides of the bowl as you go along.
- Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Empty dough into middle of prepared pan and with a spoon/spatula/fingers, evenly spread dough out into prepared pan. Place in freezer for 15 minutes to firm.
- Remove from freezer and with a fork, prick holes all over dough. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 to 22 minutes until just firm to touch.
- Remove from oven and while still hot, cut cookies into squares or rectangles, and liberally sprinkle with extra granulated sugar.
- Let cookies cool completely.
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking HandbookRead More