Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. It was a very interesting one to say the least but still lovely. Without going into any detail I'm greatful that our family is as close as we are. I'm thankful for each member for different reasons. We had a wonderful meal. My sister made homemade Gnocchi and sauce as well as the perfect Cranberry Tart. My dad made braciola and sausage. There were great appetizers and salad to add to the meal made by my mom. Three gifts that I was especially thankful for were cookbooks! I loved every single one of my gifts equally but these just a tad bit more! haha. I got the new Throw down cookbook of Bobby Flay! and Cupcakes by Elionor Kilvans from my brother and his girlfriend Tiff and Sweet Magic by Michael Richard from my sister and her husband. Oh and my dad got a cookbook from Lisa and Jesse titled The Gourmet Cook Book, so many recipes and not enough money to try them all. LOL
As I was going through each one I kept saying aloud each recipe haha. I can't wait to get back into blogging. I think I'm going to use my friend Bev Cole's technique and blog on the weekends. When I first got into blogging I was trying to do it more regularly which cost too much plus it unfortunately got me out of it for a while. But doing it on the weekends makes it more fun and more affordable. :) There are more than 100 recipes in the Bobby Flay book, OH MY! Some I'm not that interested in because they are seafood related but 98 percent of them I want to try!
As I think about the coming year I try not to get discouraged. I go back to Wegmans the week of January 7 which I'm thankful for. I've been out for a few months to let my shoulder injuries heal. I don't think they will ever fully heal but the physical therapist has given me insight on how to do things differently. I'm ready to go back to work but I long for a full time job. I know thousands of other people do also. The economy in this day is just terrible trying to find a decent paying job that is full time with benefits. It almost feels like they are becoming extinct. :( But I'm just thankful for Wegmans. They are flexible and I can do my baking business on the side. I hope all of your Christmas's were lovely. I'd love to hear about them! I can't wait to share with you these recipes and I hope you'll be inspired to try them as well!
To Mom, Dad, Lisa, Jess, Eric and Tiff : I love each and everyone of you very much!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Red Raspberry Chocolate Bars

This is another find from our recipe collection. I'm excited about trying these this weekend for church!


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup softened butter
1 egg
12 oz jar seedless red raspberry jam
1 2/3 cup milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a 13x9x2 in baking pan

Stir together flour, sugar, pecans, butter and egg until crumbly. Press all but 1 1/2 cups into bottom of pan. Spread jam over top. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Crumble remaining crumb mixture over top. Bake for 40-45 min. Cool and cut

Makes 3 dozen bars!

Bon Appetit!

Budapest Coffee Cake

This morning my dad and I were going through our old recipes and came across this one. It is courtesy of Karina Burda who sadly passed away several years ago. She was a dear friend to our family and we continue to think of her often. I have not made this recipe yet but am looking forward to doing so.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

3 cups flour
1/8th cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 cups sour cream
3 eggs

For the filling:

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter sugar and vanilla. Beat for 1 min. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
Sift all dry ingredients together. Add slowly to the creamed butter. Add sour cream and mix well - until smooth.
Bake in a tube pan
Place half of the batter than add the filling, repeat once more filling the top with batter.

Bake about 1 hour in a preheated oven

I hope you will enjoy this recipe!
Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 dessert: Chocolate Ricotta Pie

This year I was lucky enough to have the dessert course for Thanksgiving dinner. I, of course, did the tradition pumpkin pie but I decided to also make a Chocolate Ricotta Pie by Giada Di Laurentis from Food Network. It was new for me and they say it's not the best time to try something new for the holidays. BUT, it was FANTASTIC! The filling literally tasted so smooth it melted in your mouth. Like the Chocolate pie you cna buy at Wegmans. What was different about it was that she called to put everything into a food processor not the stand mixer. It called for two whole eggs and two egg yolks which is I'm sure what gave it the thickness. We had some whipping cream and my sister is the best at making whip cream in our family so she made some. Sooo good! It has been a VERY challenging year financially for me (as I'm sure it has for everyone) so I haven't been doing as many expensive things to make.
I still envy the fact that Julie Powell had the determination and financial resources to cook her way through Julia's cookbook in one year. But as we saw in the movie, they didn't make a ton of money and sometimes she would spend half of her paycheck on ingredients. haha :) I can still watch that movie over and over and still be inspired. Even though I can quote it almost word for word now. LOL Very seldomly do we find movies that speak to us in those ways. If I could afford to go back to Culinary School (or even pastry school) I would. I can't fathom taking any more college loans out though before I have a steady full time job. College is always a huge risk and prayerfully once someone graduates with undergrad and even bachelors will they find a job in their field. Well, I'm getting of track from the cooking part of this blog so I'd better finish now. :) Here is the recipe for you to try! I wish I could find a blog site where I could put up pictures of the things I make next to the posts.
Oh, to conclude this blog, I used a regular pie plate which worked fine. She calls to use a tart pan which I'm hoping to try next time. :)

Chocolate Ricotta Pie
Courtesy of Giada Di Laurentis

Cook Time:1 hr 5 min

Level: Intermediate

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

CloseTimes:Prep20 min Inactive Prep30 min Cook1 hr 5 min Total:1 hr 55 min Recipe Tools:


For Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Pinch salt
1/2 cup skinned, toasted hazelnuts
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly


For Filling:
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/3 cups)
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts

For the crust:
In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, cornmeal, salt, and 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, and pulse to grind. Add the butter and pulse, just until the mixture forms a dough. Press the dough over the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of an 11-inch diameter tart pan with a removable bottom. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the tart dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the tart shell in the lower third of the oven until just set, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and pie weights. Bake the shell again until golden, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

For the filling:
Add the chocolate to a double boiler, over very softly simmering water and heat until melted.
Combine the water with the sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and cool.

Add the ricotta cheese and cream cheese in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add the egg and egg yolks, 1 at a time, and process until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and the sugar syrup and pulse until combined. Pour the custard into the tart shell and bake until the custard is just set, about 30 minutes. Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup of chopped hazelnuts on top of the filling. Let the tart cool completely before serving.

The tart can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Return the tart to room temperature before serving.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Adirondack Weekend 2010 :)

Adirondack Weekend July 28, 2010-Aug 1, 2010

    Well it was certainly wonderful being back in the Adirondacks. I figured it has probably been around 6 yrs since I’ve been there. :( I know crazy, right? We stayed at the Lakeside Motel. We usually stay in a cottage but since we booked so close to the weekend everything was already taken. Plus, cottages only rent out for week long stays and we only wanted a 4 day weekend. Part of the reason we chose Lakeside is they advertised that they have kitchenettes. Well, I don’t know about you but a kitchenette to me is a stove top burner, refrigerator, coffee pot, microwave. All they had was a smaller than dorm size fridge, microwave and coffee pot. :( We decided lets just bring my double burner just in case. Well, we are so thankful we did. It was hilarious because since there was no room for one on the counter we cooked on the floor. Lol.
    The first night made us feel as though the weekend wasn’t going to be a good one. We ended up picking Rugby weekend to come which was a bad idea. Rugby players are VERY loud and obnoxious and drink a lot. Well the first night they were SOOO loud and they were right next us. After midnight I was so incredibly frustrated I took it upon myself to go out there. I was like “would you guys please be quiet because we keep waking up.” They were understanding and actually quieted right down. They probably figured it was Thursday night and not many people were staying there. Well they thought wrong. The owner was hardly helpful the first day. We couldn’t figure out the wireless internet because it would say we were connected but than it wouldn’t work. All he said was he knew nothing about it. Sheesh. But in the end we found out ourselves that we had to be facing their house in order to get it. Weird huh?
    But Saturday was a thoroughly enjoying day. We went by boat to their local Farmer’s Market and it was so wonderful. We tasted Adirondack Style cheese and I bought some smoked mozzarella. Ironically I wasn’t a fan of it. I guess I prefer regular fresh mozzarella.  But the guy was very friendly and gave good sized sample portions. I found a booth where the woman had a certified kitchen in her home. Hmmm, sound familiar? :) Her business name was FriendChips Bakery. Very cute. The cookies were ok but not anything to right home about. I also bought a fresh baguette to go with our lunch. So after that we enjoyed a relaxing boat ride except for boaters SPEEDING by even though it’s a 5 mile and hour speed limit. Like anyone really follows that? We did but it was annoying having almost everyone speeding on by. Even a jet skier was going so fast but right before us he stopped. Thankfully!!  After the boat ride we enjoyed a lunch of the baguette, tomatoes, and cheese. Simple but pleasant.

The Adirondack Bean To
The most exciting part of the weekend for me was going to their local coffee shop called the Bean To. It was the best coffee I’ve ever had. I had a caramel Latte the first day and a hazelnut latte the next. Outstanding. I bought a brownie too and it was out of this world. I told the owner that their coffee was the best I’d ever had and that I wasn’t just saying that either. Now that Junas in Ithaca is gone all we have for local coffee is Gimme and The Ithaca Bakery (College Town bagels). Although, I must admit I was reminded by my sister of Ithaca Coffee Co. which is indeed local. However, I don't remember getting the feeling I got today from the Bean To. It tasted so homemade and the strength of the coffee was perfect. He was taken back by my compliment and said “wow, I don’t know what to say”. Than he said they don’t have comment cards but that he wanted to give me a free bag of their coffee. :) He didn’t have to do that at all.What is so cool is they have Pasta Stick Stirrers for their coffee! Pretty awesome huh?  The name was Hammer coffee. They also had Jack Hammer hahaha. He also let me take a picture of their roaster. That’s right, they roast their own coffee   He even asked if I wanted beans in the roaster for my picture. He was so friendly I couldn’t get over it. They do indeed have a facebook page so you know I’ll be becoming a fan on there  Everything in Saranac Lake felt organic to me this time. Mom and I enjoyed dinner at Nonna Fenna Italian Restaurant. Absolutely delicious homemade Italian food. Our rolls were right out of the oven. I had the stuffed shells which weren’t heavy at all and my mom had their fried haddock. It was lightly fried so again it didn’t feel so heavy. Usually Italian food you think heavy fillings of cheese but not this place. They know how to make Italian Food light  The restaurant was just 5-7 minutes to walk, maybe not even that long. We have little herbie with us so it always makes it more challenging. We can’t all go into a restaurant at the same time or anywhere for that matter. But we managed. He’s sooo adorable and irresistable. :)
    Saturday afternoon I went for a swim in their pool. That was another disappointment Friday night. It was advertised as a heated pool but he said how they were heated by solar panels. Which is indeed heated however, the panels were facing UP not down to the pool. The reason the water was warmer was because the sun was so hot. But it was perfect  I than lounged on their comfortable beach chairs. Saturday my parents got some perspective from the owner about the place. His family used to run it but than his children all moved to different parts of the country. His wife sadly has Cancer so now it’s just him running it along with two Chinese women. They are there for the summer to experience a different culture. He provides them room and board and pays them as well.. I can’t imagine how exhausting that must be. Also, even he said how he hates Rugby Players. They never grow up and they are just down right obnoxious he said. They were really rowdy Saturday night again and he apparently went out and told them to be quiet. We didn’t even call him about it. He had a few older people there and I am certain they wouldn’t be happy with that. They were on their side as well. Friday was amazing though they were as quiet as can be. We think they went ot the Pub in town and got drunk there. At least it wasn’t at the hotel. So after Friday night being so discouraging we left with a different perspective of the owner. It just proves to not judge a book by its cover. I tired really hard to not be frustrated and to not judge but being human that’s what happens.
    We’d probably stay there again now knowing what to expect. But prayerfully next year we’ll be back in a cottage for a week. That is what I truly missed this time around. In a cottage I can bring coffee out to the porch in my pjs still and look at the water. Here I couldn’t do that because of all the people around. I truly do love the Adirondack Mountains of NY and would live there if I could. But their winters are ROUGH and not much for jobs. The guy at the Cheese shop said it is very hard to find work there. Some people have 2 maybe 3 jobs to make ends meet. It’s sad for sure but the Economy everywhere is sad. I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog entry about Saranac Lake and remember, if you’re ever in Saranac Lake you must try the Bean To Coffee Shop. It’s on a side street in a little home. Their coffee is truly heavenly

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Danby Fun Day July 10, 2010

Well, I'm a little irritated at myself for getting out of the habit of blogging. I won't lie money has been tight so I haven't been doing as much cooking than when I first started to blog. :( Also, when I have done cooking I have to admit, I forgot to blog about it. :( GASP! However, something that use to be just a concept and a "hope it might happen" has finally happened. I now have a home bakery! It's called Lauren's Simple Pleasures Bakery. Until the time comes to have my own Bed and Breakfast I can at least have my bakery on the side. I'm still frustrated with the hours I'm getting at Wegmans but at least it allows me to do what I love as well. For the Danby Fun Day it was just what the name says, FUN! We had positive reviews all day from people and even had repeated customers. People would come and say "I was told I had to come try your cookies"... I couldn't believe people were talking about us! It was definitely a boost of good confidence and showed me that this really will work!
I have set up the next date that we will be selling at. The Danby Federated Churches Community Yard Sale. Hey, people will be walking around getting hungry :) why not? I have also inquired about being at the Ellis Hollow Fair in September. I'm praying that will work out but it's possible I'm inquiring too late. You never know though.
For our first event I used two of Ina Garten's recipes. So in fact I was staying true to this blog. :) I made her Coconut Cupcakes and her Outrageous Brownies. However, I added a twist to the brownies. Instead of coating the chocolate chips with flour I coated Andes Candies with flour and they were so delectable. It had a hint of coffee flavor, chocolate flavor and mint. What more could a chocolate lover want? :) Both my mom and dad helped which was really nice. The bakery is going to stay true to itself and remain family run. That will be our motto. :) A good friend of mine has ordered 6 dozen of our coconut macaroons (wheat free by the way) so that is our first order outside of being at an event. The Coconut Macaroons actually sold out! We also sold out of our Lemon Tea Cookies that my dad made. He actually went back home to make a fresh batch, can't get much fresher than that! :) I was beaming the entire day! Not one stressful or bad thought came to mind the entire day even after the event was over. Even though I was technically "working" I was having fun while doing it. It was rewarding seeing people enjoying what we had baked. I'm planning on adding more wheat free items for my friends who are gluten free. I've been told there is a market for those items! I sure hope you'll check us out on face book under Lauren's Simple Pleasures and keep up with where we will be selling. :) I'm really hoping to be at an event once a month. We take orders year round so please think of us for special events or even gifts for friends. :) I can't wait to see what the next chapter of my life will lead me. :)

Happy Cooking friends!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Dinner

       On Mother's Day and Father's Day I like to make a special meal for both of them. I make meals other times of the year but on these days it's extra special. This year it's just the three of us because we celebrated with my family earlier in the week. I'm very excited about the menu. We're having Blue Cheese Burgers, a salad, grilled shrimp & tomatoes skewers. For dessert it's going to be ice cream, fruit and whipped cream. My dad literally is the hardest working man I know. Today for instance, he's had to work up at my grandmother's house in the yard and put up a new door and now he's mowing our lawn. This past year every weekend he's spent building a structure that included a one bedroom apartment along with a garage on the bottom floor. The apartment is for a family member to live in. Now this year all of our energy is going to go to the cleaning/refurnishing my grandmother's old home. That way we can put it on the market to sell.  It's going to be a whirlwind of a year but I plan to help in any way I can.
       This year's Father's Day meal is a little more special. It's special because of all my dad has done this past year and continuously does for his family and the community. He is most certainly a warrior as my mom called it. As a friend of mine and I were talking about being single she said that she and another friend of hers has said "there's no one like our dad's left." I completely agree. To find a compassionate, hard working and caring man is very difficult. In my search to find a mate it's finding someone who is also a Christian which is even harder. I look at my dad and the other men at church and how loving they are to their wives and get a bit misty eyed. The other night our church had a spaghetti dinner for the Fathers. At the end of the night one man kissed his wife before he left. I keep reminding myself that if I have to wait even 20 more years to find someone like that than it's going to be well worth the wait. Because what I've had so far doesn't even compare to the type of man my Father is.
I've learned from different chefs on food network that cooking is a way to show someone you care for them and love them. That is exactly what I'll be doing tonight. My dad really is the best dad in the world, I truly believe. I hope you like this meal Dad! I love you dearly and don't quite know what I'd do without you.

Til Next time
Happy Cooking Friends!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ina Garten's Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars...

The perfect treat! This recipe is wonderful. This is the second time I've made them. They remind you of a pb&j sandwich/peanut butter cookie... I will be bringing them to coffee hour at our church tomorrow which they are perfect for. I'm beginning to test out recipes that I think will sell well at the Danby Fun Day. For those of you reading this and are local you should definitely come out to the Fun Day on July 10th here in Danby, NY.

These bars would be great for bringing on a picnic. The next time I make them I'll have to put more of the batter on the bottom and use a bit more jam in the middle. But it was a great way to use up some things in the pantry. As I continue on with the blog it actually is nothing like Julie Powell's blog like I had intended in the beginning. But that is actually a good thing. I found the blog site that Julie had her blog on and I found someone doing the exact same project Julie did. Number one it's just too expensive to do and number two nobody's blog can top hers. She is a true inspiration for present and future bloggers. I like having my own take on food and sharing it with those who do read my blog. :)

I have always been fascinated with Chefs on the Food Network who have become Superstars from cooking. They were at the right place at the right time and had the personality to fit. Someday I hope I'll be at the right place at the right time and I'll find a career that I love doing. Prayerfully it will be my own Bed and Breakfast. It's still possible! Til than I'll keep cooking and baking. Hopefully Lauren's Simple Pleasures will be a hit around Ithaca. Anything can happen! :)

Til next time
Happy Cooking!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Picnic

It's been a very relaxing 3 day weekend. Unlike the last 3 day weekend I had off where I had a very bad sinus infection/mild bronchitis. On Saturday I attended the Singles Memorial Day Picnic at my friend Marilyn's house in Painted Post, NY. It was a lot of fun. It was the ultimate variety of all American picnic food. Today on the actual holiday we are having friends from church come over for a dish to pass style dinner. My dad is making his traditional Pulled Pork for the main entree. Pulled pork is a perfect Picnic entree. Grab yourself a bun and put on some of the yummy pulled pork and your all set. My dad also made some delicious crab cakes at the last minute that were amazing!! We've also been told there will be potato sald and a 3 been salad. For dessert I made an Icecream cake. I got the idea from Sandra Lee on the Food Network.
She had one of her fans on her show that day to demo their icecream cake. They mashed up some sandwhich cookies and than layered on the icecream. The flavors we chose were Vanilla, Chocolate, and Peanut Fudge Swirl. It's layers of cookies and icecream. Yum!
On a more healthy note, I just recently purchased the new Biggest Loser Cookbook. 6 Weeks to a healthier You. I plan to share some of those recipes with you as well. I'm going to try really hard this summer to eat healthy. I most certainly don't have a "food addiction" but I do love food. I am avid at working out but definitely need to focus more on the calorie count of what I'm eating. I hope you'll enjoy some of the recipes I share.

I pray you are all having a glorious Memorial Day. Right now I'm remembering all the soldiers who are out in the battlefields right now protecting our Freedom or have protected our Freeom in the past. I thank each and every one of them. Including the ones I know more personally. Corey Lee Cole, Everrete Enstine, Arthur Briggs, Steve Mallory, Douglas Brock (Army Chaplan) and members of my own family who have fought in wars previously.

Happy Memorial Day Everyone and Happy Cooking!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tyler Florences' Salt and Pepper Salmon

Well last night I had the urge to splurge a bit. I bought some Atlantic Salmon  at Wegmans. I apologize to my brother if he's reading this. :)  I think he said to only buy farm raised salmon. However, it was simply delicious. He called for a tbsp and a half of butter on each slice of salmon! Plus oil for the pan. I literally only used a little over a tbsp of butter plus the 2 tbsp of oil and actually had to take some butter out to be honest. That was all it needed! Why almost steam it in the butter? Yeah it's flavorful but you definitely not eating with a piece of mind that it's healthy. I absolutely love Salmon. It's really the only fish I'll eat. Sometimes when my dad cooks pike or trout I'll eat some but Salmon is truly my favorite. Plus, it's very good for you.I didn't do it precisely as the recipe called for, I only cooked the salmon and that was it.

For some reason I have a craving for Egg Plant Parm. I've never had it before. My dad has made it but I've always been nervous for some reason. Again, I don't know how Julie Powell was able to afford cooking her way through Julia's intense French cookbook in just one year! I blogged more frequently back when I first started but than it gets hard after a while to keep it up. For me 2 meals a week to blog is plenty. I can't imagine how much it cost to do that project. But It taught her how to cook. Just like the chefs on Food Network are helping me with!

Salt and Pepper Salmon

Tyler Florence
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
Show: Tyler's UltimateEpisode: Ultimate Crispy Salmon


  • 1 salmon fillet (about 2 pounds), skin on, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Smashed New Potatoes with Peas, Lemon, and Pearl Onions, recipe follows


Run your finger up and down the center of the salmon feeling for any pin bones. Remove any that you find with a needle-nosed pliers or tweezers. With a sharp knife cutting across the width of the salmon, divide it into 4 equal portions. Lightly salt the salmon and let sit a couple minutes; this will help you get crispy skin.
Heat a 2-count, about 2 tablespoons, of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is almost smoking. Season the salmon with pepper, and rub about 1 1/2 tablespoons butter on the skin side of each fillet. Add the salmon to the pan, skin-side down. To get super crispy skin, cook the salmon almost to completion, about 6 minutes.

Flip the salmon and cook until flesh side is nicely seared, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the salmon to a platter and serve with the Smashed Potatoes.

Smashed New Potatoes with Peas, Lemon, and Pearl Onions:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds red bliss potatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (10-ounce) box frozen pearl onions, defrosted
Pinch sugar
Splash freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 slices lemon
2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen peas, defrosted
1 lemon, zested
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 heaping tablespoons roughly chopped fresh dill
1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed just above the rubber band

Put the potatoes into a large pot, cover them with cold water, and add a large pinch of salt. If they're large, cut them in half. Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain. Stick a fork into the potatoes, 1 at a time, lift them out of the colander and peel with a paring knife. Toss the potatoes into a bowl and roughly crush them. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts.

Add the pearl onions, sugar, and lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the lemon slices, peas, and lemon zest and continue cooking until the peas are hot. Season with salt and pepper. Dump the vegetables over the potatoes in the bowl, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil add the parsley and dill and taste for salt and pepper. Scatter the watercress over the top, fold it in just until it wilts and call it a day.

Til next time,
Happy Cooking Friends!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Ideas...

Well, for a few months I've been cooking from Ina Garten. She has been my biggest cooking inspiration since watching the Food Network. Well, what I've found is her meals take what feels like Forever to prepare and assemble. Which is suitable for a weekend but not a weeknight. They are also quite expensive. I'm hooked on this new personality of Food Network, Claire Robinson. Her show is 5 Ingredient Fix. Pretty amazing how few ingredients can be used for a meal! I also really enjoy Sandra Lee Semi Homemade. They are a much different style than Ina, clearly but it's more suitable for easy weeknight preparation that tastes great!

It's funny how you can be so into something for a while but than get tired of it. I think since Ina's meals were so time consuming I got a little tired of all that. But now I think this new woman plus Sandra Lee and others it will make it more interesting. I'm also going to try out some healthier foods for a while also. There is someone in my life now who is becoming health conscious and I want to support that fully! Check back with me tomorrow night because I'm trying out Giada DiLaurentis's Ground Chicken Burgers with a Rosemary garlic Mayo topped with Arugula. It looked very appealing.

I want to try Clair's fresh Tuna salad also. She had a great technique for helping to remove the fishy flavor from her kitchen. She put parchment paper on the pan and layered lemon slices down. Than she placed the Tuna on top of the lemon and wrapped the parchment paper over it for an easy clean up. Pretty clever!

Well, til next time Happy Cooking my friends!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ina's Chicken Stew With Biscuits

Earlier this week I made Ina Garten's Chicken Stew with Biscuits. It was absolutely delicious. I have to admit this was one of her easier recipes. You first have to cook the chicken and than assemble the stew. The only thing I didn't like about it was the pearl onions. I love chopped/sauteed onions but the pearls were just too big and unnecessary in my opinion. But the biscuits were the best part! So most and scrumptious! It makes great left overs too! :) I haven't done much cooking in a while. Ina's recipes I've found are more meant for special occasions. Her Greek lasagna was amazing but it took a few hours to prepare! Not suitable for a week night but absolutely delicious. I'm still going to blog about cooking but with numerous chefs. Sandra lee had a show today where everything had beer in it. It was for the German Festival and she made an awesome apple angel food cake. It was simply a store bought angel food cake and her apple topping. She soaked the apples with half water and half lemon soda pop to keep them from browning. Than she made the topping which was butter, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup and apple brandy! How cool is that? It looked amazing.

Well, I'm off to make some muffins!

Til next time friends,

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

Ina Garten
2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, All rights reserved
  • Cook Time:45 min

  • Level: Intermediate

  • Yield: 8 servings


  • 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots (4 carrots), blanched for 2 minutes
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

For the biscuits:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.
Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.

Note: To make in advance, refrigerate the chicken stew and biscuits separately. Bake the stew for 25 minutes, then place the biscuits on top, and bake for another 30 minutes, until done.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lauren's Simple Pleasures

Well, it's official! As of this past Tuesday we are now a Home Processing Bakery. This means we are exempt from a licensed bakery but can sell out of our home anything that does not need to be refrigerated. We can sell at Fairs, Farmers' Markets, and other events around town! We can also sell to local food stores such as Ludgates Farm in Dryden, NY, Eddydale Farm, Little Tree Orchards, etc. This is definitely a dream come true for me. It's taken quite a while because of their restrictions but it's finally here! We are not allowed to have a website unfortunately, but he didn't say anything about no blogs! haha. I figured this way I can blog about where we will be at! We are also allowed to sell right from our home. If any of you have a need for anything and don't want to buy from a big boxed store, come to us! Here are some things we will be making

Assorted Cookies, cupcakes, scones
Variety of brownies
Homemade granola bars
Assorted Cakes
Breads (we can not do quick breads though)
flavored popcorn
different kinds of pretzel candies, fudge and others

This is just to give you an idea. If you have any suggestions please let me know! Also, if you know of a fair I'd be interested in selling at please let me know! Look for Lauren's Simple Pleasures around Ithaca, NY!

Til next time,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ina's Greek Lasagna and Plum Crunch :)

Well, I haven't written much lately. I love cooking but it certainly costs a bit of money. I have to admit though, I haven't done all that well with my not eating out at restaurants. Haha. It's a fun way to catch up with friends and my favorite restaurant in town is Stellas Barn (Country Comfort). They serve the best shepherds pie I've ever had. Now it has been 3 times in the past couple of months I've been trying to go to the Ale House and something has come up. On my birthday my friends and I were suppose to go and they were closed! The Fire Dept had reserved it for a private party! BOO! We ended up going to chilis which was a lot of fun.

This week I'm going to make a brand new recipe from Ina I saw on her show the other day. It is a greek lasagna. But it is not with the normal lasagna noodles, but with mini shells. It's just a yummy combination of meat sauce, shells and almost like a custard like topping. With your usual bechemel sauce with eggs, cheese, cream and greek yogurt! I have to admit I'm a little nervous about that but mixed with the other ingredients I think it'll be fine. I've never had greek lasgna before and am looking forward to it.

I'm also going to make Ina's Plum Crunch. It looks spectacular. I have decided though that when my home bakery is up and running I don't think I'm going to make cakes. I made Paula Deen's Caramel Cake and it was out of this world! But they take too much time to prepare and I'm not sure how many of them I could produce. If anyone reading this, have any suggestions of what you think I can make? I have a good list but would love to hear other ideas from you guys. A former colleague of mine from Belle Sherman said to me "Make something without eggs or sugar and I'll buy something!" LOL I don't know if that is physically possible. I'm willing to experiment but am a little nervous I must say.

Well, I will write more after I make the Lasagna and Plum Crunch. But til next time I'd love to hear your food thoughts or suggestions for what I should make!

Take Care!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Mom's Birthday Dinner...

Today I was so happy about the success I had. I made Paula Deen's Caramel Cake. One thing I don't understand though is that It made double the amount of frsoting and caramel sauce. But, I'm so excited I now know how to make homemade caramel sauce. Plus, it's so simple. 2 sticks of butter, 2 cups of light brown sugar and 1/4th of a cup of heavy cream. But now I have lots of extra sauce and frosting. Haha. Of course I had to taste both and snacked on a little too much. But both came out perfect including the cake. I was nervous because I didn't have "self rising" flour. I took a risk and put 1 tsp of baking powder and it worked just fine.

I'm also making Giada Di Laurentis's Citrus Herb Roasted Game Hens. Oh my gosh, the smell of the Orange Zest, Lemon Zest, Mint, Thyme, onion, salt and pepper was incredible. Food network is pretty much the only network I watch now except a couple others. Thank heavens it hasn't been taken off our satellite like it has been taken off of Cable vision downstate.

I love using a wide variety of chef's recipes now, not just Ina's. I was going to make Sandra Lees recipe for wild rice but decided to simply use the recipe on the back. My mom is helping me out with that one, I must admit. I'm not that experienced with making the rice and she is. Especially since Wild Rice takes longer than regular white rice. I'm excited about this dinner. A little fancier than usual. My mom completely deserves that for her birthday. I'm so thankful for her and honestly don't know what I'd do without her. Happy Birthday Mom!!

Here are the recipes for you

Roasted Citrus-Herb Game Hen

Giada De Laurentiis
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis, 2008
Show: Giada at Home Episode: Table for Two

Cook Time : 45 Min
Level: Easy
Yield: 2 servings

  • 2 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) Cornish game hens
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest, from 2 medium oranges
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, from about 3 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons Marsala wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or currants
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature


Place an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Rinse the game hens and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, shallots, orange zest, lemon zest, thyme, mint, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub 2 tablespoons of the zest mixture over the skins of the game hens. Place the remainder of the zest mixture under the skin and into the cavities of the hens. Using kitchen twine, truss the legs together. Place the hens in a shallow 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Add the chicken stock, Marsala wine, lemon juice, orange juice, and cranberries. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the leg juices run clear. Remove the game hens and set aside. Place the flour in a small saucepan. Whisk in the pan juices. Bring the juices to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Whisk in the butter and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
To serve, remove the kitchen twine and place the hens on 2 serving plates. Drizzle with the citrus-herb sauce.
Cook's Note: Reserve 1/4 cup of the citrus-herb sauce for the Crouton Salad.

Bobby's Caramel Cake

Paula Deen
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen, 2007
Show: Paula's Home Cooking Episode: Happy Birthday

Cook Time: 35 Min
Level: Easy
Yield: 16-20 servings


For the cake:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sifted self-rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, or more if needed
  • 1 (16-ounce) box confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, optional


For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans.
Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add granulated sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

For the filling:
While cake is baking, in a saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and milk. Cook and stir over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Remove cake layers from oven and allow cake to remain in pans as you prepare to stack and fill. Remove first layer and invert onto cake plate. Pierce cake layer with a toothpick over entire surface. Spread 1/3 of filling mixture on cake layer. Top with second layer, repeat process. Top with last layer and repeat process again.

*Cook's Note: As I stack layers together, I stick them with toothpicks to prevent cake from shifting.

For the frosting:
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat with a handheld electric mixer until it reaches a spreading consistency. At this time it may be necessary to add a tablespoon of heavy cream, or more, if frosting gets too thick. Just be sure to add cream is small amounts because you can always "add to", but you can't take away. Frost cake and sprinkle top with chopped nuts, if desired.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ina's Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Today I decided to make Ina's Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup. Being a Very snowy day I thought it'd make a great dinner. Literally it took about 21/2 hours to do everything! From all the sauteing, dicing, bringing to boil, simmering etc. It was absolutely worth it but much more suitable for a Sunday meal. It was extremely earthy with all of the fresh mushrooms, leeks, Mayan sweet onion, and parsley. I started around 3:30 and didn't finish til about quarter of 6 but it was perfect timing for my dad. He had been out shoveling/snow blowing for that entire time period. I was happy he could come in to a hot meal. We had some nice marble rye bread to add to it. Very satisfying.

I'm beginning to realize just how time consuming Ina's meals are. I've never been one to make Sandra Lee's meals but I think I'm going to try some of hers also in the future. But I must say, even though Ina's meals cost more and are more time consuming I haven't been disappointed with any of them. The mushrooms it called for were Shiitaki, Cremini, and portobello . I decided to use regular mushrooms instead of the shitaki to save money. It worked out perfectly fine. I absolutely love mushrooms. Only sauteed though. Not raw. It is definitely a recipe worth trying out on a weekend. :) Here is the recipe for you....

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
Ina Garten 2006 Barefoot Contessa At Home
All rights reserved.


  • 5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
  • 5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day :)

For Valentines Day this year my parents and I have decided to throw a party! :) A couple of weeks ago I was getting the usual Valentines' Day blues but I've learned one thing. That is to not hate the holiday. It doesn't matter if you do or don't have a significant other. Valentines Day is to show love to anyone who is special to you. A sibling, parent, friend, etc. Who cares about the commercial aspects of it? The world does that with every holiday, I believe.

For our menu we've decided on the following,

Spare Ribs
Twice baked potatoes
Broccoli and Cauliflower with cheese sauce
Salad with mixed greens

Ina's Cheesecake that I made yesterday! It came out perfect and I am sooo happy about it.

Of course we have many drinks to choose from :) My family and I love to entertain. This holiday was the perfect excuse to do so and to decorate the house. My mom did a great job with the decorating. We're sending our guests home with goodie bags that includes a homemade chocolate bark and some cookies. :)

From now on if I'm still single for other Valentines Days to come I'm making a promise to myself to not get discouraged. Sure it is important to show love to one another all year round but Valentines Day is just another holiday. A day to show extra love to the ones you care most about. It doesn't have to  involve a significant other.

Take Care!
--Lauren :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ina's Cheesecake

Well, I did it! All these years I've been nervous about making cheesecake from scratch. It is the most successful thing I've made since I've started this blog. Well the cheesecake and the Coqau Vin the other night. When I first started to read the recipe I gasped because I forgot that I would need graham crackers for the crust and we had just gotten home from Wegmans. Well, my dad had bought some vanilla wafers so I figured, why not? Gotta use something else. I was shocked that it called for 5 packages of cream cheese. Yep!

But after all the mixing of the cream cheese, sugar and 5 eggs + 2 egg yolks I realized why. It was so silky, smooth and delicious! It came out perfect!! Plus, it didn't crack in the middle! Amazing. It's always such an encouragement having success in the kitchen. This was definitely a high point in my day. :)

Take care!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Paula Deen's Chocolate Mound Brownies

Well, yet another baking experience had to be changed. As I looked more at the Ina's recipe it called for way too much chocolate and I didn't have enough. :( Even if I halved the recipe it still wouldn't have been enough. So I looked through my other cookbooks and found Paula Deen's Chocolate Mound Brownies. That seemed like a good solution. They have pecans and coconut in them but since I didn't have pecans I just left them out. I could have added walnuts but this time I just decided to leave the nuts out completely.

I haven't tasted them yet but I hope they'll be good. It was a much more reasonable recipe to make. I love Ina but some of her recipes can be so extravagant. A lb of butter, a lb of chocolate chips plus 6 oz more etc. Ina's recipe would have made a half sheet pan of brownies lol if I had made the full recipe. Paula Deen's recipe sounded quite intriguing to try and I'm glad I did. I unfortunately can't find the recipe yet to add it on here but you can try looking it up on :)

Take Care,

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ina's Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

I'm so excited about this recipe. It's a huge one but they are Ina's Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies. She makes the regular brownie recipe (hers calls for her usual pound of butter LOL) and than once she spreads them out on the half sheet pan she dollops peanut butter around the whole thing. Then she takes a knife and swirls the peanut butter around. They look SO delicious.

Blogging has been such a fun experience. It's something that someone can do at home and at their own pace. Ina's recipes especially are perfect for the home cook. I would definitely recommend her Back to Basics cook book along with her Family Dinners Cookbook. Yes, some of the recipes are a little pricey but definitely worth making for company. I'm very excited about Valentines Day this year because we're having our first party for the holiday. I'm not a huge fan of Valentines Day but this year it's going to be different. I'm going to make Ina's Cheesecake (first time for making a cheesecake for me) and I'm going to make her Chocolate Bark to send home with our friends. It's where you melt chocolate and pour it onto a sheet pan. Than you add things like dried Cranberries, nuts, and other goodies and than let it chill. We're also going to do Chocolate dipped Strawberries. YUM. It'll be fun to decorate the house and all that jazz.

I will write more tomorrow to let you know how her Chocolate Peanut Butter brownies turn out. I'm going to bring them to my sister and brother in laws house tomorrow night for dessert. :)

Til next time,
Goodnight friends :)

Peanut Swirl Brownies
Ina Garten. All Rights Reserved


  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the prepared sheet pan. Spoon the peanut butter over the top of the chocolate mixture and using a knife, swirl it through the chocolate mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over bake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into large squares.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The first recipe I made...

Here is Ina's Linguine with Shrimp Scampi recipe. It was the very first recipe I made from her Family Style Cookbook.

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi


  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound linguine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, zest grated
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes


Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.
Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve


Ina's Pancake Recipe

This morning when I woke up I randomly decided to make Ina's pancake recipe. I"ve never made pancake batter from scratch. My dad always has. It's so simple! Unfortunately I didn't have any lemons for the zest it called for but I decided to use orange zest. I also don't have any bananas. :( I decided to add chocolate chips. You know me and my sweet tooth. :)  But they were so scrumptious. I am quite full and satisfied. I do wish I had made them bigger. Sometimes they were hard to flip. Any suggestions? The last one I made was big and that was better to flip but it wouldn't have made as many.

One reason I made them was so I can freeze the rest and whoever wants one can toast one. :) While flipping them it just made me dream of a Bed and Breakfast even more. I truly hope that dream of mine comes true. I know it's a ton of work but I really think I will be so content if in the future that happens. Making pancakes or waffles in the morning and other breakfast items for the guests and baking in the afternoons. Of course, there's all the cleaning and errands but the other things will make up for it and it's such an outlet for creativity. Luckily I"m still young and I pray it will still happen for me. I hope you'll try this recipe out! You can look it up on Food Network's website.

Take Care!

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes
  • Cook Time: 10 min Level: Easy  Yield: 12 pancakes


  • 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


Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.
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. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins

I am so excited how beautiful these came out! Plump fresh blueberries were perfect! The batter alone tasted so delicious. I felt like a kid again tasting it.  Haha. One difference I did notice was I creamed the butter and sugar like she said for 5 minutes and it totally came together perfect. I use to not sift my dry ingredients as to why? I know it was just laziness. But now I do and it also makes quite a difference. The recipe said it made 16 muffins but she must have been using a big muffin pan because the ones I made made about 20+ perfect sized muffins.

It is definitely going to be a very reliable recipe for sure! I think I will start posting the recipes for others to try out because they are absolutely perfect. It is the best feeling in the world when you have success in the kitchen! :)

Take Care, Lauren

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins Recipe
Copyright 2002. Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook


  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 16 paper liners in muffin pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Ina's Tequila Lime Chicken

Well, yesterday 1/29/10 I made Ina's Tequila Lime Chicken. It was very tasty. Unfortunately though, I ended up putting the marinade together that morning. She said to marinade it overnight which definitely would have given it even more flavor. I absolutely love grilling in the winter. When you come outside in the bitter cold but can smell the chicken on the grill... YUM!

I definitely think my sister and her husband would love this meal. My dad made potato wedges and a vegetable to go with the meal. Very satisfying.

Here is the recipe for you to make it at home if you'd like :) Her recipes can also be found at

Tequila Lime Chicken 

Copyright 2002 Barefoot Contessa Family Style 

Cook Time:15 min Level:Easy Yield:6 servings


  • 1/2 cup gold tequila
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 whole (6 split) boneless chicken breasts, skin on
Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, jalapeno pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate overnight.
Heat a grill with coals and brush the rack with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and grill them skin-side down for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from the grill to a plate. Cover tightly and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature. 


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Culinary School....

Every now and than I get in these "disappointed in myself" moods. I have so much money in loans and nothing to show for it except some minimal life experience. Since I've been cooking I keep kicking myself for having not tried harder to complete my 1 year Culinary Certificate. 1 year! There was a lot of drama going on with some friends I had made and everything snowballed.

Now that I'm older and more determined I have this aching to go back. But is it really worth the effort and expense? I also now have my cat shadow who I love dearly. I can't bring her on campus. Campus life also doesn't interest me at all. Living in those small rooms with a roommate, not really appealing to me now. My dad was saying there are some townhouses in the town of Cobleskill. There are so many lose ends about the possibility. Seeing my chefs outfit and knife kit just make me yearn to go back even more. Like I said before about being older and more mature than when I went last time, I think I would be much more focused. Some of the chefs there are very off the cuff and use a lot of language I'm not fond of. But I think that's what it would be like in any kitchen also. Just look at the "Hells Kitchen" guy. I literally despise him. I know there are some chefs who are much more calm in the kitchen but it would be a lot to find them. There are tons of restaurants here in Ithaca but applying for anything like a line cook or something like that, without experience is difficult.

I'm just very disapointed myself for not pushing harder back than. Now I kind of feel a void and I would be more employable if I had my 1 yr A.O.S and I'd be accredited with that as well. A lot of what if's in life now and it's so difficult finding a career. Wegmans is excellent and I love it but as far as a career? Prayerfully my Bed and Breakfast will happen someday. Finding the right place for it is the challenge. All in God's timing right? There must be a reason why I didn't finish, I just can't figure out what that reason is. Cobleskill is not very far away and isn't out of the question. Anyone else reading this have similar feelings to what I have now? I'd love to know your thoughts

Take care, Lauren

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beef Bourguignon

Well, I did it! I made Ina's Beef Bourguignon today and was successful at it! There was a lot of chopping and dicing and I decided to use my knife from culinary school. :) It's simmering away on the stove and smells delicious! Lately, I've been cooking but having help with it. Today, I was the only one in the kitchen. I had my laptop downstairs with the recipe and kept referring back to it. Surprisingly It wasn't simple but it was straight forward. Drying the meat (man does it have a LOT of juice!!) sauteing the bacon, taking that out. Than searing the beef in batches, adding the onions and carrots and cooking those. I than added the beef back, added the red wine and beef stock. Pretty awesome huh? All I have to do now is make a roue with butter and flour, add that to the stew to thicken it, saute the mushroom and add that to the stew!

A lot of steps but it was easy to follow which is wonderful. I was afraid the wine might be overpowering for my liking but it isn't! I really enjoy cooking now. It gives someone a sense of satisfaction knowing they completed a dish successfully. I just can't wait til the time when I find that person who is meant for me. Someone who I can cook for and that we can even cook together. Ok, enough of that talk. LOL I'm just so proud of myself for completing it and doing it thoroughly!

Time to eat! :)

Beef Bourguignon

Copyright: 2002. Barefoot Contessa: Family Style Cookbook


  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
  • 1 can (2 cups) beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound frozen whole onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

For serving:

  • Country bread or Sour Dough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.

Chocolaty Rocky Road Brownies

Today I'm doing a couple of recipes. I had asked to make dessert for Bible Study this week so I decided to make these brownies from our Down Home Cooking Cookbook. Well, I decided to use my glad ware pan so I could just leave it there. The pan came out very wobbly even though it says you can cook/bake in them. The brownies themselves were perfect. However, the frosting I'm a little worried about. For anyone reading this have you ever noticed the difference of consistency when using fat free cream cheese in baking? I melted the cream cheese, butter, and chocolate but added the milk a little late so I'm not sure if that's what caused it. The frosting tastes good but I hope it's ok.

The great thing about the recipe is that you store the brownies in your refrigerator. Which is perfect when making them a day ahead. I had to use big marsh mellows so it looks a little bulky but I hope they'll taste good. I tend to be a worry wort especially when it comes to baking. Tonight I"m finally making Ina's Beef bourguignon. I decided to use sirloin which is MUCH less expensive than the fillets which were 17.99 a lb. These were much more affordable but still a good cut of beef. I noticed she does have a second recipe which calls for chuck roast which is much more affordable for the every day cook. I asked the girl behind the counter if she could cut the beef into 1in cubes. I remember from different food network shows that you should ask the butcher if they could do that because it saves you one less step. Plus, it doesn't cost anymore for them to do it there. 

I will post later tonight to let you all know how the beef comes out. I'm very excited. It actually doesn't look too complicated just a little time consuming. But it's all going to be well worth it! 

Take Care everybody!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chocolate chip, walnut and Cranberry Cookies

Well... I must admit, this is not an Ina Garten recipe. I'm laying low today and decided to make some cookies. I wanted a really simple recipe so I decided to do the original Nestle Tole house cookie recipe. I decided to try using parchment paper this time for some of my old pans and it worked beautifully. I added chopped walnuts and dried cranberries. The cranberries were an excellent addition. The cookies came out delicious!! I got to use my new cookie pan from my dad this Christmas.

One of the Food Network Throw down episodes showed this one set of women who make these "out of this world" cookie recipe. It's actually more of a meal because they make them to suit those who run triathlons. I'm hoping I can keep working on making them more like that for when I sell baked goods at the Ithaca Farmers Market. I hope those of you reading this and are local will come check out my families booth this upcoming summer. I'll be mostly the one their selling the items but it'll be a mixture of my dad's baking and mine. It's been a dream of mine for the last couple of years but it's been a long process with getting the kitchen licensed. The name of the bakery is going to be Lauren's Simple Pleasures Homes Bakery. I'm very excited about it. I will definitely be at the Saturday market and possibly the Dewitt Market every Tuesday and Thursday. It just depends how much we can bake to have to sell. Pretty soon I'm going to start learning how to make bread. I think that will be a big seller and there could always be one more vender for homemade bread.

Since I can't have my Bed and Breakfast quite yet this will at least be an outlet to meet even more people in Ithaca and to make some extra money doing what I love. You never know who you'll meet at those events. I'm very excited about that new adventure. Now it's getting everything finalized. I will keep everyone posted on when we will officially be open for business down there. :)

Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Good hearty Meatballs! :)

Tonight I decided to make Ina's "Real" Meatballs recipe. I had to do it differently because makes a tomato sauce from scratch and than she cooks the meatballs in the sauce. I decided to use the crushed tomatoes we bought and put them on top of the meatballs and at the last minute added some Parmesan cheese on top. They were sooo delicious. My dad kept saying how great they were which was a wonderful compliment. :) Honestly the best way to make meatballs is using ground beef, veal and pork. It makes them so tender and juicy. In Ina's recipe she uses freshly grated Parmesan inside the meatballs. Yum!

I decided to add some chopped onion and garlic as well. I've finally decided that I 100% enjoy onions. I enjoy chopping them just hate the tears from doing so. hahaha. I use to only like them sauted and diced VERY thin but I absolutely love them in French Onion soup. They were a nice crunch addition to the meatballs. Plus, it was a very simple recipe which I'm a big fan of simplicity when it comes to cooking. I do make more intermediate recipes but simple is sometimes the way to go. My dad made a delicious Pasta dish with spinach and artichokes and guess what? I love artichokes as well! I just hate scanning them through the check out. hahaha...

My sister Lisa makes this fabulous artichoke dip that is very popular when we have dinners together. Her pork recipe is the one my dad used this weekend. We are big fans of it for sure. :) I keep talking about making Ina's granola bars and I'm FINALLY doing so tomorrow. I'm on a 2 day break from work which is glorious. I have to work both weekend days this upcoming weekend but we don't have too much planned. Well, time to finish this up. My friend Heather told me about where you can share recipes with each other. If you're reading this you should definitely sign up there, it's an awesome site.

Til next time,  goodnight friends :)


 Ina's Real Meatballs
Copyright, 2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, All Rights Reserved
Cook Time: 1 hr 20 min 
Level: Intermediate 
Yield: 6 servings


For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 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


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.
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.
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.
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.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dinner Party...

Well this Saturday we had our dinner party with some friends of ours. It was a lot of fun. I made Ina's Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette and fresh Mozzarella. I'm telling you, there is nothing like fresh mozzarella. It was very delicious I must say. The thing I was most impressed with was the recipe for the Devil's Food Cake from our 30 year old cookbook. I have to say that I've never once been dissapointed with a recipe from there. Sometimes the greatest recipes are the oldest ones.

I really love to entertain. I just wish I was a little more creative with things like the table set up and all. I'm thoroughly enjoying this cooking blog. It's something to update and a lot of learning as well. I had to whisk egg whites with sugar til they made soft peaks. I started out the old fashioned way with a whisk but man, that was hard! My dad has these antique style beaters and I must say that helped. It didn't quite make it to the soft peaks but it was close enough. I should have gradually added the sugar so maybe that would have made a difference, who knows?

I'm very excited about an adventure I'm going to take this upcoming fall. I'm going by myself to the Hamptons where this blog is inspired from. I'm quite nervous I must say, but I was able to find my way through the London Heathrow Airport while traveling back (alone) from Somerset West, South Africa successfully . I've been to the city numerous times and actually going there over the summer but being by yourself is always scary. It's definitely going to be a little expensive but I figured, I better do it now. Since I started this blog I figured that would be a nice thing to look forward to and hopefully I'll have most of the recipes from this one cookbook finished. There are only 43 recipes in there surprisingly.

I have to tell you... throughout the day at work today I was daydreaming about visiting there. I would dream that I'd be walking by the old Barefoot Contessa shop (it's now a clothing store) and would just happen to run into Ina Garten. I would be shocked and tell her about my blog and she woudl say "Oh, well I'd love to have you over for dinner" HAHA  I know, it's pretty silly. But I figure everyone reading this knows how much I love her and they know my personality pretty well. I'm ok with sharing that kind of thing LOL I'm also excited because a friend of mine from SUNNY Cobleskill lives on Long Island. She was living in FL for a while but I was pleasantly surprised to find out she's back on the Island so I'm hoping to catch up with her while I'm there.

East Hampton is the very farthest end of the Hamptons so it will definitely be an adventure. But it's an adventure that is worth taking. I would definitely appreciate prayers for travel safety though when it gets closer. I'm going in September ( I know a little early in posting about it ) but I think it will be a great way to see where Ina lives and to see for myself what it's like there.