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.