Sunday, June 30, 2019

Ina Garten's Crusty Baked Potatoes with Whipped Feta

This Crusty Baked Potato with Whipped Feta is genius! Next level! Game-changing! If you love feta, you simply need to give it a try.

Never has more attention been paid to the outside of a potato. Ina creates a special coating consisting of chopped rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, and salt. She coats the potatoes in olive oil and then rolls the potatoes in the special seasoning. Hallelujah! Why hasn't anyone ever done this before? I mean really... have you ever seen so much attention paid to the exterior of a potato? I'm actually a little miffed I've never thought of this before.

Next, you have the pièce de résistance, the whipped feta. If you love feta cheese, then you simply must make this whipped feta and then proceed to put it on everything you can think of.  It is that good! Feta cheese, cream cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Whip that up real good.  It's tangy, it's creamy, it's salty and it provides a wonderful creamy contrast to the baked potato. This topping is a delightful change from the traditional baked potato. It is simply incredible!

I realize that there is a major heatwave sweeping the nation right now, and it's not really baked potato season, but you simply MUST MAKE this baked potato recipe! The whipped feta is such a lovely combination with the potato. I really loved the contrast of the hot potato with the cold creamy whipped feta. The potato itself is seasoned so well and it certainly doesn't need any other seasoning. It's perfect just the way it is. It's so good I instantly wanted another one and had to hold myself back from indulging any further. I really can't rave about this recipe enough. You really should give it a try!

P.S. I also feel I have to acknowledge that this version is way healthier than your standard loaded baked potato which is full of butter, cheese, bacon, and sour cream. You simply can't go wrong with this recipe, unless you don't like feta, at which point you and I probably can't be friends!

P.P.S. I was going to make Ina's Flag Cake for the upcoming 4th of July holiday, but then I saw the episode of her show where she made this baked potato recipe and the rest was history.

Crusty Baked Potatoes with Whipped Feta
Adapted from Food Network
Recipe from Ina Garten
Serves 4

For The Crust:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
4 large (8-10 ounce Idaho baking potatoes)
good olive oil
chopped fresh chives

For the Whipped Feta:
6 ounces Greek feta, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
1/3 cup good olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

*Notes: See below for instructions on how to make the whipped feta.

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Place the rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, and sea salt in the bowl of a mini food processor and pulse 10 to 12 times (or chop finely with a knife). Spread the mixture in a shallow bowl or plate.

Scrub the potatoes, dry them well, and pierce them all over with the tines of a fork. Place the potatoes on the prepared sheet pan and rub them all over with olive oil. Roll each potato in the salt and herb mixture and put them back on the sheet pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes (depending on size), until tender. Slit the top of each potato, squeeze the ends together to open the potato, and top with a generous scoop of whipped feta. Sprinkle with chives or other herbs and serve hot with extra whipped feta on the side.

 Whipped Feta: Place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel bald and pulse until the cheeses are mixed (I used a mixer). Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Giada's Limoncello Granita

In the summertime, I don't like rich, candy-laden, ice cream sundaes with lots of heavy syrup. Something so heavy is not even remotely tempting on a sweltering hot summer day. Instead, I like light, delicate, fruity ice creams that are light and refreshing.

Giada's Limoncello Granita is the perfect refreshing summertime dessert!

This isn't your typical icy granita. This granita has some creaminess from the addition of Mascarpone cheese and it is an absolutely lovely addition. The final product is mildly lemony with a whipped texture and a creamy consistency. It's like eating fluffy lemony clouds! Seriously, so good!

I would highly recommend this recipe, but I will give you a warning. The alcohol in the Limoncello and the addition of Mascarpone cheese is just not going to allow the granita to freeze all the way through. This is ok! Expect it to be a softer creamier texture and melt easily. Melting shouldn't be an issue because you will gobble this up in no time! It is delicious!

Limoncello Granita
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

1-1/2 cups lemon simple syrup (recipe below)
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup limoncello liqueur
pinch of sea salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 lemon, zested and juiced

To make the lemon simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, lemon zest, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool about 20 minutes.

Place the simple syrup, mascarpone cheese, limoncello, and salt in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth.  Pour the mixture into an 8x8 glass baking dish. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until the mixture is firm. (Note: I read the reviews on this noticed that many said the granita didn't freeze well.  I had trouble with mine freezing as well. I think an 8x8 baking dish is too deep and therefore takes longer for the ingredients to freeze. I think a more shallow pan would help this mixture freeze faster and hold a freeze better - worth a try anyway).

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Tessa Kiros' Fizzy Orange Drink

J is for June at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week. We are making recipes with ingredients that start with J.  This week I decided J is for Juice! Orange juice to be exact!

I don't drink soda pop or coffee. I only drink tea on occasion. Most of the time I drink water and it gets a little boring. I start to crave something fruity and fizzy, especially when it's hot outside. quenches my thirst.

I love lemonade, but I wanted to try something a little different so when I found Tessa's recipe for Fizzy Orange I had to try it. Tessa says this Fizzy Orange Drink is like a fizzy orangeade and I tend to agree. It is so refreshing and delicious! I love the fizzy bubbles from the sparkling water.

When you buy your oranges chose the ones that are heaviest. This means they are full of juice. Tessa calls for the juice of 4 oranges. I'd suggest buying a few extra oranges because I found I needed 5 oranges to get the required amount of juice. Plus, an extra orange would be nice for garnishing.

A quick simple syrup, the juice of a few oranges and some bubbly sparkling water and you'll have a delicious and refreshing drink that is a delightful summer sipper!

Fizzy Orange
Adapted from Apples For Jam
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 4

4 tablespoons sugar
one long strip orange rind, pith removed
4 tablespoons water
Juice of 4 oranges (about 1-1/3 cups)*
2 cups ice cold sparkling water

*Note: I needed about 5 oranges to yield 1-1/3 cups orange juice

Put the sugar, orange rind, and 4 tablespoons of water into a small pan.  Bring to a boil, stirring so that the sugar dissolves completely, then boil for a few minutes so that the orange rind flavors the syrup. Add the orange juice (I like to leave some fleshy bits that might get through, but no seeds) and let that bubble for about 5 minutes, or until it looks slightly denser. Allow to cool slightly then pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until chilled. When you're ready to serve, pour in the sparkling water, and mix well. Serve chilled over ice.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Chrissy Tiegan's Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups

Chrissy Tiegan published her first cookbook and I ignored it. I chalked it up to another celebrity cookbook that I didn't need. Then she published a second cookbook and I rolled my eyes and continued to ignore it. Both cookbooks were bestsellers and people raved about them and yet I continued to ignore them. I couldn't believe that people were giving these books the time of day. After all, how can a model know good food and write good cookbooks?

Then I kept seeing her recipes pop up on Instagram and each one looked more delicious than the next. I started to change my mind. On one of my trips to Target I picked up her cookbooks and quickly saw why so many people loved them! They were full of beautifully photographed food and the most delicious and completely different recipes. I bought both of them and quickly found myself bookmarking so many recipes.

I gotta tell you...these Cravings cookbooks from Chrissy Tiegan are hands down my favorite cookbooks right now! So far I've made her Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups, Crispy Bacon and Sweet Pickle Patty Melts, Parmesan Skillet Eggs, and her Skillet Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies and each of the recipes I've tried have been insanely delicious! So, this summer I'll be sharing lots of Chrissy Tiegan recipes and I cannot wait.

To start, I have these Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups and they could not be easier! If you're looking for a quick brunch dish or a special breakfast, look no further. All you need is a handful of ingredients. This recipe comes together in no time.

A few day-old croissants, some eggs, half and half, sugar, and a pinch of salt go into thin slices of ham that are made into cups. A quick soak of the bread pudding mixture and you can pop this right into the oven.  A delicious breakfast or brunch in a cute little ham package!

I really like the sweet bread pudding version, but I'm also imagining a savory version using a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard instead of sugar and vanilla.  I think both versions would be equally delicious!

Stay tuned for next week because I'm sharing my new favorite recipe, Chrissy's Parmesan Skillet Eggs. They are mind-blowingly delicious!  

Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups
Adapted from Cravings Hungry For More
by Chrissy Tiegan
Serves 3-6

6 thin slices deli ham, patted dry
3 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 croissants (3 cups chopped croissants)
Demerara or Turbinado sugar for decorating tops

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Coat 6 cups of a standard muffin tin with cooking spray.

Tuck one thin slice of ham into each cup, trying to make as much of a cup shape as possible with the edges sticking out on top. You're going to feel ridiculous doing this. It's ok. Life is ridiculous.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and half and half, then add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and a dash of salt. 

Tear the croissant(s) into 2-inch pieces (about 3 cups, so use more croissants to get to that amount if you need to). Throw the pieces into the egg mixture, toss to coat, and let sit 15 minutes.

Fill the ham cups with the croissant mixture and sprinkle each one with Demerara sugar.  Bake until the tops are golden and crusty, about 15 minutes (mine needed about 18 minutes).  Let them cool slightly, then unmold them by slipping a knife under the cups and gently transferring them to a plate. Serve with fruit, if desired.

Chrissy Tiegan's Cravings Hungry For More


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Ina Garten's Confetti Corn

When I think of summer potlucks I always think of two things: watermelon and corn. Chances are, if you invite me to any summer get together, I'm bringing one of the two.

Today, I'm all about corn.  Now, summer corn isn't ready yet, but some good quality frozen corn will work for a dish like this.This is a little different from the fried corn my mom made and the one I make all the time. The one that I make is very basic. A few diced jalapenos (depending on who I'm serving and how much heat they can handle), some butter, and some corn. That's my classic recipe and I'm sticking with it!

However, Ina Garten's Confetti Corn is a little more colorful, and it doesn't pack the heat of my version with the jalapenos, so I feel this version would appeal to the masses a little more. Ina's version is flavored with red onion, bell pepper, and your choice of chives or basil. I love the combination of corn and basil, but I had chives on hand, so I stuck with chives.

I really liked Ina's version and I'm happy I gave it a try.  I think it would be really nice with a little bit of feta cheese thrown in (I also really like corn with feta). I also think it could use a little jalapeno, but that's a personal choice.  Either way, this is a fabulous summertime side dish and you can't go wrong!

Confetti Corn
Recipe courtesy of Barefoot Contessa website
by Ina Garten
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 small bell pepper, 1/2" diced
2 tablespoons butter
5 ears of yellow or white corn (or 2 pkgs frozen organic)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped basil or chives or parsley

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saute pan.  Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft.  Stir in the bell pepper and saute for 2 more minutes.

Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt.  Over medium heat, add the corn, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the corn just loses its starchiness.  Season to taste, gently stir in the basil or other green herbs and serve hot.