How do I love Ina? Let me count the ways.

Thanks to Lynn’s facebook I stumbled onto this gem of an article today.

Obviously, this makes me want to travel to the Hamptons with the hope that Ina will take me in, feed me a diet of solely consisting of her chicken chili and cart me around to all the best spots in Montauk. No? Not possible? Creepy and weird? Fine. At least she gives me something to aspire to. I need to break down some of the hidden and not so hidden gems in the article.

1) My mom eats the same breakfast as Ina and my dad wakes up at the same time as Jeffrey. Does this mean that I grew up with the North Suburban Chicago version of Ina? Discuss.

2) She eats a lobster roll at lunch because she “doesn’t like fancy food”. I’m not one to turn down fancy food (if offered and paid for of course) but I like her attitude. Also, I like that a meal with lobster isn’t automatically considered fancy to her. And by like it I mean that I find it equal parts bemusing and charming.

3) I can’t really get behind all of her gardening. Remember that time I was going to grow basil for like a week after I moved to LA and the plant automatically died and started decaying on my balcony of my old apartment? Yeah. Different strokes for different folks.

4) Weekly massages. Nuf said.

5) She thought she was boring so decided to stop being boring and did something about it. I love that she basically had a stereotypical male mid life crisis where she bought a sports car.

6) Despite the fact that she is THE barefoot contessa she and Jeffrey eat two of their three meals out at restaurants. I can totally get behind this as I am a well documented restaurant addict.

7) 60 Minutes is dullsville but she also watches The Newsroom. I now have an image of Ina and I in her what I’m sure is fabulous living room, wearing terry cloth robes and slippers post-massage. We’d sip tea, eat cookies for dessert and watch Newsroom together. It would be sort of like when Tom and Donna have treat yo self day on Parks and Rec but it would happen weekly. I’ll just quietly sit in the corner and quietly check my twitter during 60 minutes. Don’t even worry about me.

Overall, completely obsessed. Now that I have indulged myself with a little escapism I need to get back to California community property.

23 more days.

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One dish dinner & an apartment update

What with marathon training and enjoying my summer I am all over simple dinners that I can bring to work for lunch. I found this gem when going through back issues of Real Simple.

One Dish Bulger, Asparagus and Lemony Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup bulger
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375. In a baking dish combine water, bulger, salt and pepper in the bottom of the pan. On top, layer the asparagus in a thin layer. Salt and pepper the salmon and place them on top of the asparagus. Squeeze lemon on top and place the lemon, just like so…

Cover the pan with foil.

Place in the oven and back for 30 mins. When you take it out you will have two perfectly cooked meals!

In the words of Ina, “how easy is that?!”
So easy. You have no excuse not to make a fantastic dinner tonight. I don’t cook a ton of meat but salmon is my protein go-to. And the reheated lunch was delicious and didn’t have that fish-ey thing that you get with shrimp.

Apartment Update!

If you follow me on Twitter you already know that my application was accepted for apartment #2! I sign my lease on Saturday and my lease starts on July 2. I am totally getting a celebratory treat on Saturday from Tavern, since I can WALK there from my new apartment! Oh yes. You thought there were a lot of Tavern and Susie Cakes and NY Bagel on the blog last year. Just you wait.

In the meantime, here are some other pictures from the apartment for interested parties…

Living Room

The other side of the kitchen. Words cannot adequately express how excited I am to cook in this kitchen. Seriously people. See the counter space near the oven? That’s what I’m working with NOW and I don’t have a full size oven either. And there is a window. It’s love.

Love the funky knobs in the bathroom.

More than a little excited about a yellow tub. So funky. There is a matching yellow shower.

A bedroom with its own door that closes and is TOTALLY separate from the living area. I’ve been dreaming of this for years.

I cannot wait to get into my new apartment and work on decorating!

What is your décor style? I had a decorator but my style is definitely eclectic.

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad

Don’t call it a comeback. I finally took to my kitchen today for the first time in longer than I would like to admit. My eating habits during finals were pretty terrible. There were endless trips to the hot bar at Whole Foods and random snacking. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t get proper nourishment for two weeks with the exception of a few meals and truthfully, I wasn’t that hungry. My appetite came roaring back during yoga last night (a 3 min head stand will do that to you) and today I took back my kitchen with this lovely summer dish.

Today felt like January in LA. It was cool (60 degrees, and yes I realize that there was a WIND CHILL in Chicago today so I won’t complain too loudly but I did see a women in a parka today so we’re going to count it as a ‘cool’ day). I think this dish would be great at a picnic, as a bbq side dish or, you know, whenever you want to feel like it’s 4th of July weekend. This recipe is a Barefoot original so feel free to pretend you’re in the Hamptons drinking a pitcher of mojitos with Jeffery as you eat it.

Ingredients:

Serves 3

3 servings of orzo pasta

1 lemon

10 shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 minced scallions

Generous chopping of fresh dill (I used a lot because 1) I love dill and 2) I bought an obscenely large stalk at the FM this week)

1 small hot house cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and diced

1/4 small red onion, diced

Generous sprinkling of Feta Cheese

Salt

Pepper

EVO

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take 3 servings of orzo (as directed by packaging) and cook until al dente. Once the orzo is done, drain and set aside in a large bowl. Then in a small bowl, combine juice from 1 lemon (make sure to remove any lemon seeds that escape in the process of juicing), a 1/8 cup dollop of EVO, plus salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together.

Combine with the orzo in a large bowl. Make sure to stir in thoroughly.

Next, chop the dill, onion, scallion, and cucumber. Set aside.

See, the dill I bought was SO freakishly large that it didn’t fit in the camera frame!

Get your shrimp out!

Put the shrimp in a baking pan, sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and EVO. Make sure the shrimps are covered in salt, pepper, and EVO and roast in the oven. This should only like about 7 mins at the MOST. Make sure the check on them so they don’t get overdone. If leftover shrimp freaks you out like it freaks ME out you could, in theory, wait to do this step until you are going to serve. The orzo stores well and you could just cook the shrimp right before you want to consume it.

Toss the shrimp in with the orzo. Then add the chopped ingredients (dill, scallions, red onions, and cucumbers). Top with the feta cheese and toss.

At this point, you can refrigerate the salad or let it sit at room temp for an hour like Ina instructs. But, if you’re like me, you photograph and eat as quickly as humanly possible because it is so tasty!

This pasta salad is delicious. The lemon and dill together felt like summer and the crispness of the onion, scallions, and cucumber was amazing. Can you promise me that if you make this you will only use the freshest of the fresh farmer’s market ingredients? Because using anything less or subbing out an ingredient just wouldn’t do the flavors justice. Roasting is by far my favorite way to cook shrimp (ok, I lie, I also have a special place in my heart for grilled shrimp) and it puts a great extra-special touch on this dish. This is the kind of thing I can see myself making on a Sunday and then bringing to work for lunch throughout the week. Oh yes, I see jealous co-workers in my future.

What meal just reminds you of summer? I could use the upper- another overcast day that requires boots might put me over the edge.

Project Food Blog Round 3: Champagne Luxury on a PBR Budget

Yesterday night I hosted a luxury dinner party for challenge 3 of Project Food Blog. Let’s just say that the theme of the night wound up being, “four guests, crazy honey”.

When I read the prompt for challenge 3 I was initially worried. “Throw a luxury dinner party?” I thought, “how can I do that when most of my friends don’t even have dining room tables?” I have maintained on this blog that just because you are a student and short on cash, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fabulous party! Personally, I think there are two keys to this: 1) use ingredients you already have and 2) use a few, really special ingredients in simple dishes. I did both last night and I think I accomplished my mission.

I decided to throw the party at my friends Catie and Emily’s house because I have a midterm on Monday and it looks like a Wills and Trusts bomb went off in my apartment. Unless dozens of pages of tiny family trees with dollar amounts next to them is your idea of luxury I knew it just wouldn’t work. Plus, Catie and Emily have a big, open concept kitchen which allows for plenty of chef to guest interaction. The kitchen is the heart of every home and I love cooking surrounded by friends. Catie’s long time friend Jackie also attended.

My favorite part of dinner parties is cooking with everyone, sharing stories and laughing. We had to start with wine of course!

Once the vino is poured the party really starts rocken’.

One of my pieces of advice if your on a budget but want to host a luxe dinner party is to use what you already have plenty of. I happen to have a ton of honey leftover from making baklava last week so I incorporated it into every course. Honey was used liberally in the creation of this meal.

Explaining the importance of using what you got

As you might have gleaned from the title of my blog I am a bit of a Barefoot Contessa fan. I love Ina because everything in her world is always fabulous and even challenging dishes are so easy and simple to make. All I want to do is move to the Hamptons and eat leftovers with Jeffrey.

I always take study breaks when Barefoot is on and yesterday was no exception. While watching I decided I had to make a cheese appetizer she was featuring: Baked Brie with Honey and Pecans. I served it with farmers market fresh honey crisp apple slices. I made this first so my guests could enjoy it with wine while I prepped the rest of the meal.

Another Barefoot classic was the entree: Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter.

This dish is amazing because it has very few ingredients and you might actually have some of them lying around the house. One thing that won’t be lying around your house if you are a twenty something graduate student is truffle butter. Lucky for me, it was on sale at Whole Food this week! Even I can afford $7 for “the finest truffle butter in the world”.

Can you believe my friends had never tried truffle butter?

This dish cooks in a matter of a few minutes.

While the pasta was being prepared I honey roasted some fall vegetables. This is a simple recipe that utilizes honey, because I have an excess of it, and some great farmers market finds including the first butternut squash of the season, carrots, parsnips, and walnuts.


If you read my blog you know I’m a sucker for roasted veggies. This is a sweet twist on your typical roasted veggie.

And then, dinner was ready.

Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter

and Honey Roasted Fall Vegetables


Dinner is served!

Who says you can’t have a luxurious meal and sit on the floor? I think we proved them wrong last night!

And then it was time for dessert… Vanilla Ice Cream with Drizzled Honey and Raspberries.

Simply delicious.

I am so glad I have made it this far in Project Food Blog and was able to serve this fantastic dinner party to these fabulous ladies! I was able to combine simple and special ingredients with the ingredients I already had to craft a tasty dinner for everyone. The best part of any dinner party is getting together with old and new friends, swapping stories and laughing. We had a wonderful, food coma inducing time. Thanks for being a part of it!