Ina Fridays — Appetizers — Marinated Herbed Feta


It seems like just yesterday I was emailing blogging friends to join in a new group-blogging venture called Ina Fridays.  Nearly two years ago, we began to come together monthly to cook just one special dish from Barefoot Contessa recipes, and we’ve been here the first Friday of the month ever since.  Some of us have been regulars; some have been in and out or left the team a bit ago.  All of us have adored having a reason to, just once a month, not be the typical all-on-our-own blogger.  (Blogging can have its lonely moments and we food bloggers need friends!)  Today marks the end of my participation in the group, though some bloggers may continue on.  I may pop in once in a while, but am mostly moving on to other blogging, writing, and cooking opportunities.  I’m grateful for the time we’ve spent together, happy to have gotten to know these fine cook-writers — if only online — and am mostly indebted to all of them for everything I’ve learned from all of the posts.    I’ll miss our monthly gatherings and will look forward to seeing what new food pops up on the blogs.  Many thanks, friends.  Cook on and don’t forget to sing a new song!

Want the recipe for the ginger cookies at the top of the blog?  Click here.

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Ina Fridays — Desserts — Make Ahead Zabaglione with Amaretti


On the first Friday of each month, I blog Ina Garten recipes with a fine group of writer-cooks.  Scroll down to the bottom for links to the other posts and come back the next next month  for December appetizers. See you then!


If you’re an Ina Garten fan, you wait for the next cookbook like cheese waits for crackers…or actually, that might be “crusty bread” or “good baguette” if you’re Ina-smart.  I was sure; I would have sworn I preordered this book.  After all, I have tickets to see Ina in Denver on November 19 while she’s on the book tour. I’ve pushed it on this very blog. (No, I get no cash from Ina.)


 Why wouldn’t I have preordered it?  Day after day I watched the front porch to no avail. Finally I checked my amazon orders and there WAS NO INA ON ORDER! *$%&#  Quick like a bunny, I punched it in with free shipping; I’m amazon prime.  It arrived just in the nick of time for Ina Fridays and a Lasagna alla Bolognese birthday dinner I’m cooking for friends Saturday night.  Phew.  Et voila,



If you’d like the recipe, it’s on Ina’s website here. (Kind of a surprise.) And, of course, if you’d like to buy the book, click here or go to amazon, which you knew. Continue reading

Ina Fridays — Appetizers — Roasted Shrimp Cocktail in the Empty Kitchen


If you like old school dishes, this one’s for you.  No matter how old you are, shrimp cocktail might still sound like something your parents had before their dinner at the steakhouse or maybe mom even made them for starters for Thanksgiving one year. (Is there anything easier or more fun?)  I loved making this.  It was simple, fast, fun, and I made it just for me; the recipe — if you can call it that — is perfect to cut down for one or two.  I had to choose a dish that was so simple it screamed as I nearly have no kitchen.  My utensils consist of a table fork, knives, and a skinny spatula.  I have a bowl and a plate. And a rimmed baking sheet. My cutting board.  Nearly everything else is in the basement or packed away in the garage as we await demolition of our kitchen, which was scheduled next week. And now is put off at least a week or two while we do an asbestos abatement.  Hmph.  Our timeline said we’ll be done by the last week in September.  You heard it here; put it on your calendars and Nah-Nah-Nah me later.

This is the main part of my one-butt kitchen, a good old galley I love.  Great working triangle.  I had the same cabinets in a townhouse in Germany and have always loved plastic cabinets (melamine.)  Just wipe them off.  Very ’80s Euro.  I’m going to shed a few tears when it starts to disappear.  Cabinets are going to Habitat for Humanity.

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Ina Fridays — Main Dishes — Blue Cheese Burgers with Garlic Grilled Potatoes and Alyce’s Instant Pickles


 INA FRIDAYS –First Friday of every month. Come cook some Ina with us this weekend.  Scroll down to join the group. ♥♥♥         Upcoming:  Desserts:  July 4.     Check out Ina Fridays on Pinterest.

As a cook and a lover of my friends and family, one of my frequent questions to pose is:

What’s your favorite meal?

People will often need a moment because we have so very many things we love.  I myself can unequivocally answer,


This even though I often live on eggs, don’t particularly want to live without asparagus, and am rarely more pleased than when there’s beef stew for dinner.  I like great individual artisan pizza, take-out or delivery pizza, homemade pizza (my son makes the best), and probably only draw the line at frozen pizza — though I’ll eat Lou Malnati’s anytime, good Chicago girl that I am. I love pizza so much that I’m not picky. (Ok, I don’t do Chucky Cheese.)  But I’m amazed how many times Americans will answer, “Hamburgers”  when it comes to their favorite food. They include fries more than half the time, I’d wager. (Click HERE for a list of Top 50 American Foods.)  And while they love a great or famous burger from a bar, I think they’re even happier with a summertime grilled-at-home version or even a drive-in dive sandwich. (If I jump in the car, I can be at Cy’s in two minutes with a green line down at the corner.)  Continue reading

Ina Fridays — Appetizers and Drinks — Whiskey Sours


 The first Friday of every month, I blog INA FRIDAYS (all Ina Garten recipes) with a great group of cooks.  Scroll down nearly to the bottom to check out the list of blogs participating, then read up and cook some Ina this weekend!  ♥♥♥

To say that I’m not a cocktail drinker would be almost totally true.  Sweet drinks and I are not fond nor permanent partners.  That said, I’m sitting here drinking the above cocktail while I type.  (Was I supposed to throw it away?)

It wouldn’t be exactly a lie.  I’m not a big drinker of spirits, though I lived through enough Minnesota summers to fall in love with very icy vodka tonics with extra lime, please.  If there’s a twofer on a cruise, Dave and I will each have a vodka tonic and since we’re on the subject, we once watched an old geezer down four in a row right in front of us as we sailed away from Quebec City.  (Walked into the dining room for dinner straight up sober an hour later, too, though he got sent home for no tie.  Returned in five with a bolo.)  Then there’s the once-a-summer margarita when someone fixes them before a Mexican feast. You can’t say no, right?  Face it, if you read this blog, you’ll know I’m a wino born and bred to the 750 ml bottle.  I’m a progressive Christian who believes that if it was good enough for Jesus — and it was — it’s good enough for me.   I’ll have a beer if the bar has wine I wouldn’t serve my dog or if my son’s been brewing.  Now that you know my drinking habits, I’ll look forward to an invitation. Continue reading

Ina Fridays — Desserts — Double Chocolate Pudding


The first Friday of every monthI blog INA FRIDAYS (all Ina Garten recipes) with a great group of cooks.  Scroll down nearly to the bottom to check out the list of blogs participating, then read up and cook some Ina this weekend!  ♥♥♥

This post is dedicated to my friend Chaya and all those she loves.

Chocolate pudding.  The words bring smiles to faces. Raised eyebrows.  We picture kids with big chocolate smiles or toddlers with their fingers in the bowl, going straight from the high chair to the bathtub when the last of the pudding is gone.  In the U.S. and maybe in quite a few other places, those words also bring to mind a box that looks something like this:


(courtesy JELLO)

And I have no beef with that box, having opened it a time or two myself when my kids were little.  In fact, it took a few years of cooking for me to realize that our simple box pudding was basically a bit quicker and not-so-rich version of pastry cream--in the vanilla flavor, I mean.  Scratch, or homemade, pudding — pastry cream’s luscious, but spoonable poor relation — is worth the extra few minutes it takes to make; there’s no doubt.  The chocolate version is, if possible, even better.  (Click here for a bona fide Emeril chocolate pastry cream recipe. Scroll down for link to Ina’s pudding recipe.)  Instead of having the sugar, cornstarch, and flavoring (vanilla extract or real chocolate) dried up in the box how many eons ago, you add them yourself, fresh,  in two shakes of a stick.


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Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Lamb Shanks + Orzo


(above– lamb shanks + orzo)

The first Friday of every month, I blog INA FRIDAYS (all Ina Garten recipes) with a great group of cooks.  Scroll down to check out the list of blogs participating, then read up and cook some Ina this weekend!  ♥♥♥

I’m a sucker for cold-weather meals.  I barely live through summer with its rosé wine and grilled suppers.  My heart was born to yearn for both red meat and red wine–perhaps because I’m a girl born and raised in Chicago where I breathed in the freezing wind off the lake and let it blow me all over the ice ponds where I cut my skating teeth. IMG_4787 (above:  my front yard yesterday)

So you can understand how I felt with a snow storm on the way, four meaty lamb shanks unthawing, and a big bottle of cab waiting on the table in the dining room.  My friend Mary Pat, my son Sean, and my husband Dave were all put on notice:

There will be lamb.  Be ready…

The day was planned around when the lamb needed to get into the oven.  A day when the temperature, for the most part, was a sweet -6 Fahrenheit… IMG_4774 (above and below:  young females in our neighborhood herd) Continue reading

Ina Fridays – Soups, Salads, and Sides – Winter Minestrone and Garlic Bruschetta


Welcome to the new More Time at the Table on!  This blog has been hosted by Blogger for the past four-plus years and will be published at both urls until all the kinks are worked out of the transition process.  Do change your bookmarks or links, please, and follow me here on Word Press! Great thanks to my gorgeous daughter Emily  (below in red sweater) who managed the migration.  So cool to have smart kids!


Once a month, I blog an Ina Garten recipe with a great bunch of food blogger friends…

A fast, hearty, healthy, rich, and inexpensive main course is what this soup is all about. A little pancetta to set the stage for the quickly sautéed vegetables bolstered by a heart-happy hit of garlic.  A big blustery can of Italian tomatoes added to chicken stock to create instant broth.  Pasta and beans to fill your tummy.  A few fresh leaves of spinach and a splash each of white wine and pesto to top it all off and make it so.

Books-Ina Garten Foolproof1

Winter Minestrone & Garlic Bruschetta (click link for recipe) comes out of Ina Garten’s most recent and seventh book,  BAREFOOT CONTESSAFoolproof — Recipes You Can Trust, published in 2012 by Clarkson Potter.  Quentin Bacon did the stellar photographs.  That’s right; this is a coffee table book even if you plan to cook from it.  You can dream with this gorgeous tome while you sip a cup of tea early in the morning.  Put it on the bedside table and then discuss menus with your partner over a glass of white wine at 11 p.m. Or drag it along to the JW Marriott in Denver’s Cherry Creek (my local escape) like I did.  One of my favorite things about this book is the way the paper feels and the quintessential new-book aroma wafting upwards each time it’s opened.  I am a book, a real book, fanatic.  (I did make my living as a librarian, as well as a choral director.  I even taught English a few years.)  It’s not that I don’t read on the iPad — or even on Dave’s Kindle — I do.  But I’m enamored of the senses provoked by books I can see, smell, hold, feel, touch, and even shelve.  There. Continue reading