Sunday, September 24, 2023

Ina Garten's Baked Sweet Potato Fries with The Best Sweet Potato Dipping Sauce


 Dear Ina,

Thank you for your excellent recipe for Baked Sweet Potato Fries. I will be eating them regularly from now until Kingdom Come. It is an excellent recipe that is seasoned well and I LOVE THEM big time!

The reason for my letter is to ask if you've ever dipped your sweet potato fries in this amazing sweet potato dipping sauce. The sauce is a creamy, smoky, and spicy combination of three simple ingredients: mayonnaise, paprika, and Sriracha. The sauce is simply heavenly and pairs perfectly well with your sweet potato fries. Your fries and this sauce = perfection!

Trust me, I should know because I ate the entire batch of sweet potatoes all by myself, dipping and dunking away in complete bliss. Then I turned around and made another batch! Yes, your sweet potato fries with the dipping sauce is that good!

If you don't like things too spicy Ina, then cut back a little on the Sriracha, but do try the sauce. It really is ALL THAT and more. Who knows...this sauce could be all the rage at your next party in the Hamptons! It certainly was a big hit here in Georgetown, Kentucky!

Love and Gratitude,



Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Recipe via Food Network

by Ina Garten

 Serves 3-4

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450F. Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3 long spears. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil. Spread the potatoes in one layer. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until light browned. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve  hot. Note: You may wish to bake these on a parchment as the sugar turns dark and sticky and is a little difficult to clean. 





Add everything into a mixing bowl and whisk together until combined.

*Dipping sauce recipe courtesy of The Big Man's World

 Fall Flavors @ IHCC


Sunday, September 17, 2023

Ina Garten's Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 I have been wanting to make this Ina Garten Ultimate Grilled Cheese for ages. Problem is sometimes Ina makes you feel like you need everything to be the best of the best and with today's grocery prices that's hard to do!

About a week ago, I ordered a bread box called Wildgrain, filled with artisan breads that were direct shipped to my house. The bread comes already baked, but frozen, and you bake it to reheat it. This is their sourdough loaf and the quality is pretty good, so I decided to make Ina's Ultimate Grilled Cheese.
Then I procured the aged Gruyere, the extra-sharp cheddar, the Parmesan, the 1 cup of mayo (have you noticed the price of mayo lately?) and the applewood smoked bacon. I am now in the neighborhood of $30 to make some grilled cheese and I'm not even counting the artisan bread. Ina, you really know how to write some EXPENSIVE recipes.

This recipe seems a little fussy, but it's really not. We need fresh bread, cooked bacon, grated cheese, and a very tasty mayo-Dijon-Parmesan sauce. We butter the outside of the bread and then on both sides of the interior bread we dollop the mayo-Dijon-Parmesan sauce (that stuff is delicious so slather a good bit on). The we add the pieces of bacon and a good amount of the Gruyere and extra-sharp Cheddar. 

Ina uses a panini press, but I don't have one- and personally I don't want anymore kitchen appliances- so I make mine the old-fashioned way. Truth be told, this is a great grilled cheese. I love the mayo-Dijon-Parmesan spread. I love the combination of Gruyere and extra-sharp Cheddar and I love the addition of the bacon. I would recommend this if you're looking for a great grilled cheese recipe. We all loved it and You really can't go wrong here, but I just don't know if it is THE ULTIMATE. 

Ultimate Grilled Cheese

Recipe adapted from Food Network

by Ina Garten

Serves 6

12 slices thick-cut bacon, such as applewood smoked

1 cup good mayonnaise

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 white pullman loaf or sourdough bread, sliced 1/2" thick (12 slices)

6 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature

6 ounces aged Gruyere or Comte cheese

6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar

Preheat the oven to 400F. Arrange the bacon on a baking rack set over a sheet pan in a single layer and roast for 10-20 minutes, checking regularly until crisp. Drain on a plate lined with paper twoels and cut in 1-inch pieces.

Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, Parmesan salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Lay 12 slices of bread on a board and spread each one lightly with butter. Flip the slices and spread each one generously withe mayonnaise mixture. Don't neglect the corners!

Grate the cheeses. Distribute the bacon evenly on half the slices of bread. Pile 1/3 cup grated cheese evenly on top of the bacon and top with the remaining bread slices, sauce side down.

Meanwhile, heat an electric panini press or a skillet. When the press is hot, cook the sandwiches for 3 to 5 minutes in batches until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. If using a skillet, cook the sandwiches slowly over the lowest heat, allowing the cheese to melt. Cook until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown. Allow to cool for 2 minutes. Cut in half and serve warm.

Wine and Cheese @ IHCC

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs with Garlic Butter

  I think it's safe to say that most everyone loves a saucy meatball served over rice, right? I suppose that's why I kept thinking about Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs with Garlic Butter served over rice that kept popping up everywhere from Tieghan Gerard's Half-Baked Harvest blog. 

Tender chicken meatballs with a creamy coconut curry sauce, drizzled with a spicy garlic butter?  Yes, please. Sign me up.

Also - this recipe uses that Thai red curry paste and that stuff smells so aromatic and fragrant...I just look for different ways to use it!

Here's the part where I'm going to keep it real: I love all the ingredients for this; I followed the recipe as written; all my ingredients were fresh, but this was just ok. There was some kind of flavor that we didn't care for and we ate it, but I wouldn't make it again. 

I don't usually mind when we don't care for a dish because it helps me to know what we like and what we don't like. The problem with this one is that we do like everything and we expected to love it, but for whatever reason this recipe just didn't work for us.

Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs with Garlic Butter

Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

by Tieghan Gerard

Serves 6

1-1/2 pounds ground chicken or pork

1-2 tablespoons spicy curry powder

3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

1 shallot, chopped

salt and black pepper

chili flakes

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup Thai red curry paste

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

2 orange or red bell peppers, sliced

2 cups canned full-fat coconut milk

1 tablespoon fish sauce (or soy sauce)

1/2 cup chopped Thai basil, or cilantro

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

limes, for serving

Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. 

Add the chicken, curry powder, shallot, 1 tablespoon tamari/soy, salt, and pepper to a bowl. Mix until just combined. Coat your hands with a bit of oil, and roll the meat into tablespoon-size balls (will make 15-20 meatballs) placing them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, until the meatballs are crisp.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt together 1 tablespoon butter, the curry paste, and ginger. Cook, 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the peppers, coconut milk, 3 tablespoons tamari/soy sauce, and fish sauce(soy sauce). Slide the meatballs into the sauce and simmer 5 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, melt 5 tablespoons butter, the garlic, and a pinch of chili flakes. Cook until the butter is browning and the garlic crisps.

Serve the meatballs and sauce over bowls of rice. Drizzle the butter over the meatballs and top with basil or cilantro. 

Tailgate Treats @ IHCC

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Garden Fresh: Creamy Roasted Cherry Tomato Ricotta Pasta {My Fave Summer Pasta Recipe}!

 I love garden fresh pasta dishes that I can throw together with ingredients from my own backyard: cherry tomatoes, basil, and oregano!Have you tried this hand-dipped basket ricotta? It is amazing...creamier and fresher and softer and just a step above the regular storebought ricotta we've been getting for years.Homegrown cherry tomatoes are just a step above the rest. Sweeter and just so different than the storebought varieties. I grew a mix of red and yellow. My basil and oregano grow so well in the backyard. I love being able to step out back and cut fresh herbs!

I'm convinced the best smell in the world is cherry tomatoes, garlic, oil, red pepper flakes and fresh herbs baking away in the oven. The aroma is so heavenly that people will be lining up in the kitchen! Just look at all that flavor! Use a spoon a stir in the fresh ricotta to create a flavor-packed sauce for your pasta. I mean doesn't it just look mouth-watering?

This was among one of my favorite dishes of the summer and also one of my favorite dishes of the year. I made this about a month ago and just now have enough cherry tomatoes to make it again. If you're lucky enough to have some fresh cherry tomatoes, do yourself a favor and make this dish! Use some really good ricotta and be ready to be transported to one of the tastiest garden fresh pastas you will ever enjoy!

Creamy Cherry Tomato Roasted Ricotta Pasta

Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

by Tieghan Gerard

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups cherry tomatoes

6-10 cloves garlic, smashed

3-4 sprigs fresh oregano

crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

salt and black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 pound long or short cut pasta

2 tablespoons salted butter

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup fresh basil

Preheat oven to 425F. On a baking sheet, toss together the olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and a pinch each of red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. Bake 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes are bursting.

Optional: Add 2/3's of the tomatoes, the garlic, and the ricotta to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. (I skipped the blender step and just mixed these ingredients together for a chunkier version of the sauce - which we like better.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain.

In the same pot, melt together the butter. Cook until the butter is browning, then add the tomato mixture and 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, stirring until combined. Mix in the Parmesan.

Add the pasta to the sauce and butter, tossing to combine. If needed, thin the sauce with a little of the reserved pasta cooking water. Garnish with additional cheese and fresh basil, and serve! 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

My Top Five Julia Child Dishes! {Happy Birthday, Julia!}


We would hardly be where we are in the food community without Julia Child. She brought life to the world of cooking and made it what it is today. August 15th is Julia's birthday and it just feels right to share my most favorite Julia Child recipes with you!

Biftek Hache a La Lyonnaise/Ground Beef Burgers with Onions and Herbs If you make one Julia Child recipe, make this one! Not only is it one of her easiest recipes, but it is surprisingly delicious. Julia says this is how the French eat burgers - without the bun! The burger patties get dredged in flour which creates a crispy crust and the sauce is so flavorful. These burgers are rich, flavorful, and buttery delicious. In her book, Julia has various ways to change up the sauce and I highly suggest them all. We have these on regular rotation!

Supremes De Volaille A L'Ecossaise/Chicken Breasts with Diced Aromatic Vegetables and Cream I think the picture says it all. This is a stunning chicken dish and one that is so intoxicating as it cooks. The aroma and flavor of the onions, celery, and carrots in this dish are reminiscent of a chicken pot pie. It is so aromatic and comforting. It's one of those dishes that everyone would love!

Julia's Roast Chicken Okay, over the years I've made a lot of roast chicken: Tyler Florence's, Giada's, Yotam Ottolenghi's, and Ina Garten's. Trust me when I say that Julia Child's is THE BEST. Is it easy? No. Is it time consuming? Yes. Julia's method involves lots of butter and rotating and basting the chicken with butter on 5-10-15 minute intervals but it is oh so worth it! If you're looking to try a new Roast Chicken recipe this fall, please try this one! You won't be sorry. The end result is so buttery and delicious - a step above all the rest!
Supremes De Volaille Aux Champignons/Chicken Breasts with Mushroom and Cream We loved the first recipe with chicken breasts and aromatic veggies so much we tried Julia's Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream and it was equally delicious, especially for those who absolutely love mushrooms! You simply can't go wrong with any of Julia's variations on chicken breasts!
Jacques & Julia's Garlic Mashed Potatoes If you're looking for a side dish for any of these dishes, look no further than Jacques & Julia's Garlic Mashed Potatoes. You can't go wrong here, especially when you've got potatoes, butter, cream, and 10-15 cloves of garlic! This is an amazing recipes that is a people pleaser each and every single time!

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Tessa Kiros' Milky Way Ice Cream Sundae {5 Minutes or Less}

Three ingredients and five minutes and you can have the ice cream sundae of your dreams! It's as close to instant gratification you can get in the dessert world.

All you need is Milky Way bars, cream, and vanilla ice cream. You are halfway to bliss!

All you need to do is melt the Milky Way with some cream in a pan and pour it over the vanilla ice cream. It's as simple as can be, but the resulting sauce is rather complex. It's kind of a cross between a hot fudge and a caramel sauce and when you pour the warm sauce over the cold vanilla ice cream the caramel sets up lightly and all those chewy bits are just the best!

My husband was so impressed with this one and declared it one of his new favorites. I highly suggest it if you're a Milky Way lover, or an ice cream lover, or just someone in need of a quick dessert. It is a winner!

Milky Way Bar Sauce

Adapted from Apples for Jam

by Tessa Kiros

Makes 2 cups

1 cup heavy whipping cream

5 (2 ounce) Milky Way Midnight Bars*

Notes: The only difference between a regular Milky Way bar and a Milky Way Midnight bar is that a Milky Way is made with milk chocolate and a Midnight bar is made with dark chocolate. I used regular Milky Way because we are milk chocolate lovers, but you do you! I also think a Snickers would work just as well, or maybe even better if Snickers is your jam. *I didn't need 2 cups of Milky Way Sauce so I made about 1/4 of the recipe, using a King Size Milky Way bar and about 1/4 cups of heavy cream.

Pour half the cream into a heavy-bottomed pan and heat gently. Coarsely chop the Milky Way bars and add to the pan, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, until they are completely melted. Make sure that the cream is not too hot and that they are completely melted. Make sure that the cream is not too hot and that nothing gets stuck on the bottom of the pan, which would ruin your chocolate. When everything is nearly all melted together, add the rest of the cream, and whisk to break up the soft lumps. Remove from the heat and carry on whisking until the sauce is completely smooth. Cover when it has cooled a bit. Serve warm or even at room temperature, but store in the fridge if you don't finish it all. Even a teaspoon of it cold or at room temperature is great for lifting the spirits.

Ovens Off @ IHCC

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Summer of Salads #10: Jacques Pepin's Zucchini and Olive Salad


This summer I turned up the notch on my veggie consumption. I was drinking green smoothies, making salads, and having meals consisting of nothing but veggies. Of course, I haven also reasoned that eating lots of veggies makes it okay to eat them with cheese. If a chef didn't write cheese into the recipe, well let's just say I did it for them!

For example, this week I chose a Jacques Pepin Zucchini and Olive Salad that was a very simple recipe consisting of zucchini, white wine vinegar, olive oil, olives, chives, salt and pepper. But to my horror, I feel like Pepin missed a perfectly good opportunity to adorn the top of this salad with crumbles of goat cheese. Right? I mean they pair so well together why wouldn't you?

And, take your time in the cheese section of your market because goat cheese has come A LONG WAY since it was first brought to market. I really like the Orange Blossom Honey Goat Cheese, but my newest obsession is the Everything Bagel Goat Cheese. Either of those version would be good here.

Pepin says to cut the zucchini into 1/4" rounds, dust it with salt and bake it for about 5-7 minutes to firm up the zucchini and heat up/cook some of the moisture out. This salad can be served warm or cold, but I enjoyed it best served warm. The zucchini pair so well with the briney olives and the creamy goat cheese. I also sprinkled my salad with a little red pepper flakes because I like things a little spicy. This was a really good salad that would make for a pretty appetizer when entertaining and/or served next to fish and/or chicken. I would definitely make it again, with cheese- of course!

Zucchini and Olive Salad

Adapted from Essential Pepin

by Jacques Pepin

Serves 6

2 zucchini (about 1-1/2 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup pitted oil-cured black olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Optional: sprinkle of red pepper flakes and/or goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the zucchini, trim off the ends, and cut into 1/4" thick rounds. Arrange the rounds in one layer on a large cookie sheet and sprinkle with the salt. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the zucchini renders some of its moisture and softens slightly.

Transfer the zucchini rounds to a bowl and toss them gently with the pepper, vinegar, and oil. Serve immediately, garnished with the black olives and chives. 

The Three Sisters @ IHCC