Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

These recipes hail from the month Megan hosted cooking club (with a brunch theme). Have house guests? These are perfect  — you can prep the day before and they won’t take much time to put together in the morning. 

The following recipes are also extremely outdated and I apologize for that. In fact, I think she might have hosted spring 2009. So let’s just call this a one-year anniversary of a delicious brunch. Thanks, Megan!

Megan’s Egg Bake

10 to 12 servings.


1 loaf challah, without crust

8 eggs

1/2 lb grated Cheddar

1/4 lb grated Swiss

8 oz package cream cheese

2 cups low-fat milk

1 stick butter

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp chives

Dash cayenne


Tear bread into chunks. Place evenly in a well greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheeses. Beat together eggs, milk, salt, mustard, pepper, and chives. Pour over bread and cheese. Refrigerate, covered, overnight. Bake, covered, in oven preheated to 325 degrees for one hour or until egg mixture is set. Uncover for last 10 minutes.

Farro Salad

This recipe actually comes from Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks. A wonderful resource for lighter, heart-healthy fare. I’ve adapted it slightly. Many of these components can be made early. Simply toss together prior to serving.

6 cups cooked farro (see below)
1 cup peas

1 cup corn

Splash of Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette (see below)
4 handfuls of mixed salad greens
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped chives

In a large bowl toss the farro, peas, and corn with the Citrus Parmesan Dressing. Toss until well coated. Add the salad greens and give the salad another toss. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve in the big bowl or on a large platter topped with the crumbled goat cheese and chives.

To cook farro: Combine farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat (Heidi covers the farro with water by a couple inches and salt generously). Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and set aside until ready to use.

To make Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette: whisk together the zest and juice of 1 orange, 1 chopped shallot, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, and 1/2 cup good quality olive oil. Salt to taste.


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White Pizza with Arugula

White Pizzas with Arugula

It’s so fun to make everything from scratch, and this recipe makes it so easy. This is also from Ina Garten’s Back to Basic cookbook. I’ve clearly been reading this too much and it might borderline on favoritism.


1 1/4 cups warm water

2 packages yeast

1 tblsp honey

Olive oil

4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading


4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, Goodfella’s style

5 sprigs fresh thyme

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes


3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 oz)

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (7 oz)

11 oz creamy goat cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

8 oz baby arugula


Combine water, yeast, honey, and 3 tblsp olive oil in electric mixer. Once yeast dissolves, add 3 cups flour, 2 tsp salt, and mix on low-medium speed. While mixing, add last up of flour. Knead dough for 10 minutes, sprinkling with flour to keep from sticking. Turn dough out on floured board and knead it a dozen more times. Place in well oiled bowl, and turn to cover. Cover bowl with towel and let dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Put 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes in small saucepan over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. (Note: be sure oven is clean. I’ve smoked our kitchen out before. Not cool.)

Divide dough into 4-6 pieces. Place on baking sheets covered with parchment paper and cover with damp towel. Al to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to four hours.

Press and stretch each ball of dough into pizza circle and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush pizzas with garlic oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add each of the three cheeses. Drizzle pizzas with 1 tbslp more of garlic oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese begins to turn golden brown.

Whisk 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper together. Add to arugula and mix. Once you take pizzas out, add clumps of arugula to each pizza.

White Pizza with Arugula

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Simple. Rich. Delicious. Addictive.

I found this in Barefoot Contessa’s Back to Basics cookbook. I really love Ina Garten.

Taglierelle with Truffle Butter and Chives



1/2 cup heavy cream

3 oz white truffle butter (I confess, I’ve used black a few times as well)


1 8 oz package tagliarelle pasta

3 tablespoons fresh chopped chives

3 oz shaved parmesan


Add 1 tblsp salt to pot of water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat cream over medium heat and bring to simmer. Add truffle butter, t tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Lower heat to very low and keep warm over low heat.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook for three minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta. Add pasta to pan with cream/truffle sauce and toss to coat. Slowly add in some of the cooking water to keep creamy.

Serve in bowls with chives and parmesan on top. Add pepper if you like. Enjoy!

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Kim’s Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

Last month’s cooking club was hosted by the lovely Kim, our lone vegetarian. One of my favorite cooking club conversations occurred thanks to her eating habits, (plus a few glasses of wine and some sheer honesty).

Bianca: “Kim. To be honest, I didn’t know if I’d like you after I heard we had a vegetarian in the club. But I really do. You are fantastic.”

Kim: “Thanks, Bianca. I’m happy I changed your mind.”

Appropriately enough, her theme was a vegetarian fall harvest, which was delicious. One of the highlights from the meal was a creamy, slightly spicy pumpkin soup.

This recipe serves eight.


4 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

2 tsp minced garlic

1/8 to ¼ tsp crushed red pepper

2 tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground coriander

Pinch of ground cayenne pepper (optional)

3 (15 oz) cans of 100% pumpkin (or 6 cups chopped roasted pumpkin*)

5 cups vegetable broth

2 cups milk

½ c brown sugar

½ c heavy cream

1 tsp salt


Pumpkin SoupMelt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stir often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for another minute.

Add pumpkin and 5 cups of broth; blend well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Transfer soup, in batches to blender or food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Return to saucepan.

With the soup on low heat, add brown sugar and mix. Slowly add milk while stirring. Add cream and salt. Adjust seasonings to taste. (More cream if too spicy). Pumpkin Soup

*To make pumpkin puree, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350 until soft (45-60 min). Cool, scoop out flesh.*

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The Right Way to Bake a Potato

Twice Baked Potatoes

During a NY visit to my East Coast family, my Uncle Steven taught me how to make his version of the baked potato. There we were in his kitchen, martinis in hand. “I’m going to show you the right way to make a potato,” he said. There was no argument about it.

The secret ingredient is bacon. You fry it up in a pan, and then roll the potatoes around in the grease for a few minutes. I really need to start cooking lighter. My apologies. But really, he was right. This method provides a crispy skin, and a potato that is full of flavor.

I was feeling cheesy so I chose to make a twice baked potato. Depending on your tater preference you don’t have bake twice. Just simply add your toppings of choice after baking and serve as is.



Several slices of bacon

Shredded cheese


Fresh chives


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large pan, cook bacon. Remove bacon from pan and reserve for later. Keep heat on.

Rinse and scrub potatoes. Pat dry.


Stab several times with a fork.

Roll potato in heated bacon grease for several minutes.

Remove from heat and bake for 1 hour. (ALERT. In order to prevent a grease fire, cover bottom of oven with liner, or let potatoes rest on aluminum foil beds).

If you’re not twice-baking, simple slice open the potatoes and stuff with your flavor additions of choice.

If you are, slice open the potato and let cool for a few minutes. Gently push sides of potato in, towards each other, to loosen innards. Leave oven on.

Baked Potato

Now, carefully spoon out potato guts into a separate bowl.

Baked Potato

Add cheese, butter, and chives to mixture and stir to combine. Salt and pepper as needed.

Restuff potatoes.


Wrap bottom half of potatoes with foil, and bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes. Remove, sprinkle bacon on top, and enjoy.

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Lasagna Bolognese

Lasagna Bolognese

Fall is by far my most favorite time to cook. The recipes are so warm, hearty, and comforting. Italian is kind of the epitome of all these descriptors. I found this recipe for Lasagna Bolognese in my Fall Entertaining edition of Cooks Illustrated.

Bolognese is different from the Americanized lasagna we typically come across. Rather than using mozzarella or ricotta as a filler, it has a creamy Bechamel sauce made from a mixture of milk and flour. It was absolutely delicious, with perfect portions of meat, cheese, and creamy sauce.


Meat Sauce:

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

1 medium celery, chopped

1/2 small onion, chopped

1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 ounces ground beef

8 ounces ground pork

8 ounces ground veal

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups white cooking wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Bechamel Sauce:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup flour

4 cups whole milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

Noodles and Cheese:

1 package “no-boil” lasagna noodles

2 cups parmesan, grated


Process chopped carrot, celery, and onion in food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to bowl.

Chop whole tomatoes in food processor until finely chopped.

Heat butter in large, deep pot over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, and onion and stir to coat. Cook for about five minutes, stirring every now and then.

Lasagna Bolognese

Add ground meats and cook for about a minute, using a large spoon to break up meat into small pieces.

Lasagna Bolognese

Add milk and simmer to cook for 20 to 30 minutes, continuing to break up meat with spoon. Add white wine and simmer for 20-30 minutes more.

Lasagna Bolognese

Stir in tomato paste. Add chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until meat sauce thickens. Let cool afterwards.

Lasagna Bolognese

As the meat sauce simmer, melt butter for Bechamel sauce in medium to large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for one to two minutes, whisking the entire time. In small batches, whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, continuing to whisk. Add salt, reduce heat to medium/low. Simmer for ten minutes, stirring constantly. (Make sure milk doesn’t burn at bottom of pan!) Transfer to another bowl and let cool.

Add 3/4 cup Bechamel sauce to meat sauce and stir. Cover lasagna noodles with hot water and let soak for about five minutes. Remove noodles and place on paper towels. Spray 13 in. by 9 in. baking dish with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

To prepare lasagna, pour about 1 cups meat sauce in baking dish. Even out with spatula. Place three noodles on top, close together, but not touching.

Lasagna Bolognese

Spread 1 1/4 cups meat sauce over noodles, (not entire pan, just to the edge of the noodles). Pour 1/3 cup Bechamel sauce over meat sauce.

Lasagna Bolognese

Sprinkle 1/2 cup parmesan on top. Repeat layering of noodles, meat sauce, bechamel, and cheese, until you come to the final layer of noodles.

Lasagna Bolognese

Add remaining Bechamel, then remaining parmesan.

Lasagna Bolognese

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray, cover lasagna dish, and bake for 30 minutes.

Lasagna Bolognese

Take off cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool for 15 minutes, slice, and enjoy!

Lasagna Bolognese

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Red Wine Sangria

Red Wine Sangria

Sangria is a sort of wine punch with Spanish origins. You can make it with red or white wine. It’s a simple way to spice up a glass of wine during a cool fall evening. This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated.


2 oranges, one sliced, one juiced

1 lemon, sliced

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup triple sec

1 bottle cheap red Spanish wine


Put sliced fruit in large pitcher or other container. Pour sugar on top.

With a large spoon, crush fruit slices to release juices. Pour orange juice, triple sec, and red wine on top. Let sit for two to eight hours. Serve over ice and enjoy!


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