Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Chicken Noodle Soup


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 two months for November desserts and December appetizers.

I’m thrilled to eat Chicken Noodle Soup nearly anytime.  Ask Dave.  I’ll eat it even if he makes it and Dave doesn’t usually make soup.  How about you?  Is there anything better when you’re hungry or don’t feel well?  It’s a whole meal in a bowl and I often add extra vegetables to add taste, nutrition, and fiber.  I don’t mind eating it a couple days in a row or for lunches for several.  I’m ecstatic if I look in the freezer and see a container waiting for me when I’m wondering what’s for dinner.  Does chicken soup really increase health?  I don’t know for sure, but I know I’m happier and feel better when I’ve had a big bowl.

The 12th-century Jewish physician, Maimonides, started the chicken soup-as-medicine trend when, in his book, On the Cause of Symptoms, he recommended the broth of hens and other fowl to “neutralize body constitution.” According to Maimonides, boiled chicken soup also played a role in curing leprosy and asthma, and–as a Jewish grandmother might put it–“putting some meat on your bones.”

In Jewish Food: The World at Table, Matthew Goodman reports on a 1978 study conducted at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach that confirmed at least part of Maimonides’ prescription: “chicken soup proved more effective than simple hot or cold water in clearing congested nasal passages.”

courtesy My Jewish Learning

I made this big pot of goodness when our kids and grandkids were coming down to visit earlier this week after the sudden loss of our sweet golden retriever, Miss Gab. (Click for the sad tale.)  This comforting potion was justly the first real meal cooked in our new kitchen, which is almost done now.  (Phewee –I include a few more photos interspersed throughout the post.) Continue reading

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 — 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

Ina Fridays–Main Courses–Chicken Chili for Two

I once heard a woman say, “You can’t make chili for two people.”  As I began to write today, thinking about that conversation did make me do just a little bit of research…because I often make chili for one or two!

Chili is American, isn’t it?  That much we think we know, but read on.  There’s also the  beans or no beans dilemma.  “If you know beans about chili, you’ll know there are no beans in chili,” Texans say.  Minnesotans go, “Huh?”  when you quote the beans line.  Then there’s the meat.  There’s chili and there’s chili con carne.  After a while, you start wondering what is in chili.  Today, there are as many variations as there are cook-offs, parties, and so on.  Chili is served regularly at Super Bowl, Halloween, and at neighborhood or church gatherings.  Here’s an interesting bit of chili lore from–just for fun:

According to an old Southwestern American Indian legend and tale (several modern writer have documented – or maybe just “passed along”) it is said that the first recipe for chili con carne was put on paper in the 17th century by a beautiful nun, Sister Mary of Agreda of Spain. She was mysteriously known to the Indians of the Southwest United States as “La Dama de Azul,” the lady in blue. Sister Mary would go into trances with her body   lifeless for days. When she awoke from these trances, she said her spirit had been to a faraway land where she preached Christianity to savages and counseled them to seek out Spanish missionaries.

 It is certain that Sister Mary never physically left Spain, yet Spanish missionaries and King Philip IV of Spain believed that she was the ghostly “La Dama de Azul” or “lady in blue” of Indian Legend. It is said that sister Mary wrote down the recipe for chili which called for venison or antelope meat, onions, tomatoes, and chile peppers. No accounts of this were ever recorded, so who knows?

Whoa!  Gives me a chill or two.  But what about your chili…just for one or two?  I often make Ina Garten’s chicken chili (among others–I love Silver Palate chili for a crowd) from Barefoot Contessa Parties.  It’s on page 232 and serves 12. But as I made it last week, it seemed a perfect meal for this blog.   To begin with, it’s made with chicken breasts (skin removed after cooking) you’ve either just roasted or have in the frig from yesterday’s dinner–or even the rotisserie chicken from the store– and it also includes vegetables that cook quickly–onions and sweet peppers.

That makes it healthy, wealthy, and wise--and fast for chili.  Secondly, it doesn’t have beans so while you have less starch (and that sort of fiber), you also have more vegetables and less calories.  I do, truth to tell, often make a pot of beans alongside it… so that we can have beans and cornbread another day.

But you needn’t make beans; it’s great on its own.  Or there might be a can of some sort of beans on your pantry shelf (I hope) and you can use those should beans be needed.  While I look at the recipe for six (see Food Network link above/below) or twelve (in Ina’s book) and just cut it down by intuition/taste while cooking, I’ve tried to get approximate measurements for a smaller batch here. Do please consider this a guideline only and use your own judgement and tasting abilities.  While I think of it:  I also often add chopped zucchini and/ or mushrooms. Your frig might contain other wonders you’ll think of adding.  But, enough of all this.  Let’s stop talking chili and start making it.   Here’s the recipe with great thanks to Ina, who’s one of my heroines:

Ina Garten’s Chicken Chili cut down to– two servings

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1T good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
  • 1 clove garlic, minced  
  • 1 1/2 red bell peppers–or yellow (or a combination) cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Tiny pinch dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Tiny pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 t kosher salt, plus more for chicken
  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
  • 1/8 c minced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 – 1/2 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream  (beans optional)


Chicken Breasts:  (I do these first)Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, (45 at altitude) until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. 

Meanwhile, begin the chili:

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add to the pot with the basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Add baked chicken and simmer another 10 minutes or so.  Serve hot and, if you choose, with beans or toppings listed above.  Let leftovers cool completely before covering well and storing in the refrigerator for 1-2 days only.

Cook’s notes:  If you’re cooking gluten free, check the canned tomatoes and the chili powder for an ingredients list or make your own: chili powder.   If using canned beans, the same is true; check your labels or make your beans from a trusted source from scratch.

WINE:  My friend Drew Robinson has convinced me that a Syrah (all Syrah–not a blend) drinks well with something like chili.  Many folks like a barely sweet-laced beer.

DESSERT:  You’ve been so good eating a light chili, I think something warmly chocolate would be lovely.  Cinnamon chocolate chip cookies or chocolate-cayenne dipped butter cookies.  Maybe just a cup of Mexican hot chocolate topped off with a splash of Kahlua?  
Check out Ina’s whole recipe on the Food Network site here.
Watch the video of Ina making this chili here.

Who’dve thought of looking in a party book for recipes for one or two beautiful people like you?  Never know.

The first Friday of the month, food bloggers from many parts of the world join together in posting a favorite Ina recipe.  This month we have Main Courses; next month we’re cooking Dessert! 

Stop in and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up today or any day:

*Not all writers will blog Ina every week–there’s work, vacation, family–but take a peek anyway. Some bloggers will post the following day due to time change or work/family commitments.

Are you a food blogger? We’d love to have you every month or even once in a while! Email Alyce @ to join the group or link in to join us occasionally (click on blue oval link button at bottom and follow prompts) only if you’re blogging Ina! No other posts, please?! 

                                              If you like this, you might like…

Alyce’s Pumpkin-Chicken Chili

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself, and if you have time, listen up to a young singer named Jeremy Anderson. You can download his music here.  Guy does all his own tracks…sometimes 12.  On itunes, too.

Alyce — Back in Colorado with 300 boxes, no ipad cord, and a computer that is crashing daily
 ( portions published previously on my blog

Ina Fridays — Sides, Salads, and Soups –Arugula, Watermelon, and Feta Salad

I’m so ready for fall. There I said it.  Ach.  While the tomatoes are coming on (a good thing), the heat, too, doesn’t want to go away. I long for nights with the windows open and no air-conditioning white-noise drowning out the morning birds and joggers.  (Ok, the late night drunks, too; I live in the city.)

 Because heat IS NOT MY FAVORITE THING, I’m always glad when cool weather appears.  Suddenly I’m cleaning house, working in the yard, roasting chickens, making chili, and generally appearing like I have a bit more energy than the dirty dish rag in the sink.  But I do think that because I’m an avid home cook, and a person who loves change, that I only get about half-way through a season before I’m longing for the ingredients and cooking styles of the next.  And that’s about where I’m at.  The h— with salads and grilled salmon and definitely the h— with white wine. Give me some red meat to cook, for God’s sake.  A couple of bottles of Pinot Noir.  Let me want a rip-roaring fire.  I long to wear a sweatshirt and jeans.  I’ve destroyed my summer sandals and shoes cooking in them; it’s time for real leather, isn’t it???  (Isn’t it?)

Tomorrow I’m cooking dinner for the cover artist for my book, the talented Daniel Craig and his lovely wife, the accomplished and beautiful pianist (St. Paul Conservatory) Kim Craig.

Available Fall, 2013–

Dan’s an inventive, top-flight commercial artist, and I thought I’d cook him a steakhouse meal as a thank-you for joining my team. (You feel pretty alone writing a book until you have an editor, designer, and artist.)  Just to have Dan to talk to once in a while has been so heart-warming for me.  Sharing my little baby with him.  Trusting him to “get” my focus.  Believing in his abilities–and he in mine.  Anyway, I splurged on some Kobe beef, and am making crostini with homemade fresh cheese and grilled tomatoes (with Champagne), traditional Caesar salad, Old-School Twice-Baked Potatoes, Lemon Green Beans, and Tin Roof Sundaes — with homemade sauce as well as homemade ice cream.  (I made David Lebovitz’ Salted Butter Chocolate Sauce.)  Tin Roofs, you might guess, are Dan’s downfall.  And, you knew it, the temperature is supposed to hit 91 degrees F.  Insert nastiness of your own making.  I’ll share one difficulty:  Dan drinks beer or white wine. I’ve got to jump down into my small (but sweet) cellar and see if I have a big, oaky, chewy Chardonnay that will stand up to a steak. I might have ONE Fisher Chard. (Do you know Fisher?  Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful California–actually Sonoma, not Napa winery.) Otherwise, I’m putting myself at the mercy of Thomas Liquors. I’ll admit that I’ll open a red for Dave and me.  (We are still waiting on some editing and production items before the book goes to press.  Hopefully soon!)

Lemon Green Beans here.

Today, already up in the ’80s, I’ll admit I was glad to have something cool to pull off for supper–Ina’s Arugula, Watermelon, and Feta Salad.  But I sure hope next month’s blog happens with it’s 50 degrees F so I can leave something in oven for a couple of hours.  In between, I have to move.  So if you’re a once a month reader, you’ll catch me on the flip side living in Colorado full-time again and cooking at-altitude recipes.  So 50 degrees–it’s a real possibility!

Our Colorado front yard (west) in the late fall.  In the far distance is Pike’s Peak!

As this recipe is posted on line, I felt free to re-print it here; I do include the link below.  This is a hearty, but heart-healthy salad that could serve as a main dish or a side. If you’re taking it to someone’s house, put it together and dress it when you arrive so the melon doesn’t “melt”  around the edges.  For Weight Watchers, leave salad plain and let each guest dress their salad. The devil is in the details, i.e. the vinaigrette.

Just for fun, I took this salad outdoors and photographed it in different parts of my garden.

arugula, watermelon, and feta salad                  
              6 servings

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup minced shallots (1 large)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

6 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/8 seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
12 ounces good feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced
1 cup (4 ounces) whole fresh mint leaves, julienned

Directions:  Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, salt, and pepper.  Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion.  If not using within an hour, store the vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator.   Place the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl.  Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well.  Taste for seasonings and serve immediately.

Read more at:

So what did I think:  A toothsome journey into a mix of textures –juicy, tender-chewy, crunchy– and ambrosial-briny tastes.  While this salad has been around a few years and blocks, I hadn’t made it yet.   Dave and I both enjoyed the luscious sweet, liquid watermelon juxtaposed with the citrusy-onion vinaigrette, peppery arugula, and salty feta.   With a piece of toasted or grilled bread, perhaps, this would be a whole meal for someone without a huge appetite.  Summery, summery contrasts! The more Dave ate this, the better he liked it.  While maybe a tad skeptical at the onset, he ate a lot, and ended up saying, “This is definitely my kind of thing!”

What made the difference:  Making this salad when Minnesota watermelon was at its peak made a world of difference.  I also splurged on Spanish (sheep) feta — a square cut from the larger cheese in brine–and was really happy with the results.  Ina’s instruction are to cut things into smaller pieces; I chose the lusher, larger cuts for grins and giggles. Why not? I like big wedges of melon.  Instead of tossing the elements in a big bowl, I served the salad composed on a large platter so that the colors showed up a bit more.   And, ok, I did use GOOD olive oil, as indicated. In fact, I used Ina’s favorite, Olio Santo. (California), available at Williams-Sonoma.  In other words, one of Ina’s primary tenets — use the best ingredients you can afford in season — was proved totally valid.  Shop well.  

Alyce’s options:  Try spinach, goat’s cheese, and cantaloupe in place of the arugula, feta, and watermelon.  
If you’d like to try a similar salad of Ina’s that uses Parmesan in place of the feta and skips the orange juice, check here.

more ina??? why not???

Anna Quindlen’s Interview with Ina. (2011)  Don’t miss this.

Keep in touch with Ina regularly; friend her on fb!

Check out the Ina Fridays fb page here.

Take a tour of Ina’s barn at House and Beautiful–Fun Slideshow

Barefoot Contessa dot com—for Ina’s blog, recipe index, book info, and more

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ina

The first Friday of the month, food bloggers from many parts of the world join together in posting a favorite Ina recipe.  This month we have Salads, Soups and Sides; next month we’re cooking a Main Course. 

Stop in and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up today or any day:

*Not all writers will blog Ina every week–there’s work, vacation, family–but take a peek anyway.

Are you a food blogger? We’d love to have you every month or even once in a while! Email Alyce @ to join the group or link in to join us occasionally (click on blue oval link button at bottom and follow prompts) only if you’re blogging Ina! No other posts, please?! 

On my Dinner Place (Cooking for One)  Blog This Week: 
  Grilled Oregano Shrimp Caesar with Tomatoes and Crostini

Sing a new song… and Shanah Tovah! to all our Jewish friends and bloggers,

Ina Fridays –Desserts and "Other" Recipes — Eli Zabar’s Shortbread Cookies Three Ways

Tiny, fluted, showered in sugar:  “Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars”
Raspberry Sandwich Cookies
Dipped in Vahlrona chocolate and topped with fleur de sel

These cookies are always on all my cookie trays in one version or another.  Each shortbread cookie is made from the same recipe, but is simply finished differently.  The recipe is Eli Zabar’s  (NYC) and I took it straight from Ina Garten, who I guess took it straight from Eli, who, it appears got it from his mother!  My cookies, however, are quite different than Ina’s.  Your cookies will be something else as well.  And while these are not terribly innovative or cutting edge, they are terribly delicious.  Addictive, in fact.  Just add coffee.  Just add tea.  Just add sherry.  Just add…you.

Continue reading

Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Israeli Couscous & Tuna Salad

   I’m going on vacation after this post. The blog is going with me.  See you late June! 

If you weren’t up for a new tuna salad, this full-of-flavor high-five salad from Ina Garten’s newest book BAREFOOT CONTESSA:  FOOLPROOF; RECIPES YOU CAN TRUST, might make you change your mind.  Made from a good many pantry ingredients (canned tuna, Israeli couscous, roasted tomatoes, olive oil) plus a short list of freshly-purchased ones (oil-cured olives, lemon, herbs), this meal comes together in about fifteen easy minutes.  While the couscous cooks, you’re doing a bit of chopping; by the time the couscous is done, you’re mixing up and serving.

Great for a hot night on the patio, you could stir this up in the morning before the heat begins–or even the night before.  Pop it in the frig and you’re all set.  Leftovers are perfect for lunches.

israeli couscous & tuna salad    (CLICK FOR RECIPE)

 Chop your fresh ingredients while the couscous cooks for about twelve minutes. Ina calls for plain Israeli couscous, but I used an Israeli couscous blend that includes orzo and a few other grains or legumes. I bought it bulk at my local grocery, but Trader Joes often carries it; you can order through the link.   Another name for Israeli couscous is pearl couscous.  If you can’t find any at all, or don’t like couscous, use orzo or a sturdy rice.  I make a salad similar to this (lots of parsley instead of basil/no olives) and use canned white beans. Recipe at end.

 Next, mix most of the fresh ingredients plus the olive oil and spices  in a large bowl.

 Strain the couscous and stir it into the tuna mixture while the couscous is still hot.

Right before serving, stir in the fresh herbs and scallions.

WINE:  A cold and crisp Sauvignon Blanc, perhaps a citrusy New Zealand bottle, would be a good choice for this salad.  No wine tonight?  Unsweetened Iced Tea with Lemon is a thirst-quenching choice.

DESSERT:  Sorbet–lemon or raspberry.

                         SO WHAT DID I THINK?

Overall, I liked it.  In fact, I liked it lots.  This is just my kind of food.  Fish, olive oil, lemons, olives…  An easy Mediterranean feel and not terribly expensive.  Good, healthy everyday eating with plenty of leftovers.  I adored the large amount of black pepper, which gave the salad a healthy warm zing without hot sauce or red pepper flakes.

What did I change?   While this is a basically healthy recipe and not terribly high in calories, I did cut the oil in half and I also cut the salt nearly in half.  The recipe calls for a tablespoon of salt, but I find Ina’s recipes sometimes a little salt heavy for optimum health.  I left nothing else out.    I did not use the jar of Italian tuna in oil called for, but rather used a can of premium, wild tuna packed in water.

What would I add? When I make this again (and I will), I’ll add another cup of fresh vegetables like chopped celery, or yellow bell peppers, or perhaps green beans cut into 1/2-inch pieces. The additional vegetables would decrease calories, increase fiber and nutrition, and stretch the recipe out a bit.  A few nuts for garnish  add some crunch, texture, character, and depth to the dish.   I had pine nuts, and added just a few on top.  Any chopped tree nuts would do, but pine nuts just fit in with this dish. 

If I had no basil, I imagine I’d be happy with fresh parsley or even parsley and thyme.

While the dish is plenty on its own, I could serve this with lots of sliced tomatoes or green peppers, a big bunch of green beans, or even a spinach salad.   If I hadn’t had dairy that day, I might add a small piece of cheese or a small scoop of cottage cheese with whole wheat crackers at the side of the plate.

 What might you do?  Big appetites would enjoy a bowl of soup with this meal… Some gazpacho or other tomato soup are two choices.  Don’t like couscous?  Make brown rice, orzo or any other tiny pasta like tubetti or ditalini.

Cook’s Note:  If serving the next day, save a little oil and lemon juice, as well as the basil and chopped scallions, to refreshen the salad before serving.

***                       ***                    ***                     ***                  ***                     ***


 The first Friday of the month, food bloggers from many parts of the world join together in posting a favorite Ina recipe.  This month we have main courses; next month is Desserts and Other or Miscellaneous Recipes.  Note:  After this round, drinks will go with appetizers instead of with Desserts and Other.

Stop in and see what our fine writers are cooking up today:

Are you a food blogger? We’d love to have you! Want to join in one time a month? Email Alyce @  or link in to join us once in a while (click on blue oval link button at bottom and follow prompts) only if you’re blogging Ina! No other posts, please?! 

It is possible some of our writers may be in and out of the Ina group periodically.  If you click on their blog and there’s no Ina recipe that day, check their index for previous entries or return another time.  Thanks.


alyce’s tuna-cannellini bean salad with feta


  • 6-7 oz can tuna, drained and flaked with a fork 
  • 15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained — or any canned white beans
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped finely
  • 4 scallions, minced (white and green)
  • 2 eggs, boiled and chopped*
  • 1 carrot, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach or parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 anchovies, smashed or minced, optional
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1T red wine vinegar
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • generous pinch each kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, crushed red or aleppo pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled or chopped feta

In a medium bowl, mix everything but the feta.  Taste and see what it needs.  Dry?  Add a bit more oil?  Bland?  Add a bit more red wine vinegar.  Spoon into bowls and garnish with crumbled or chopped feta.  Happy eating!

*I make these eggs in the microwave.  Spray a cereal bowl with PAM.  Add two eggs and poke with a sharp, small knife–once in each yolk and several times in whites.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on full power for 2 minutes.  Remove and let sit a minute or two to cool.  Carefully unwrap and tip bowl onto cutting board before chopping eggs.

Sing a new song,


Ina Fridays — Sides, Soups, and Salads– Easy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Since I’m writing a soup cookbook, I’m always interested in soups others make.  Not only family, friends, and neighbors, but also famous cooks like Ina Garten.  If I’m home and I’ve been working all day, I’m in front of the tv with my feet up at 3:00 Central Time when Ina makes one of  her appearances on Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa.  While doing a little background reading for this post, I discovered this on FOOD NETWORK’S “10 Things You Didn’t Know about the Barefoot Contessa”:

She’s never watched herself on TV. “I couldn’t possibly. If I watched a show, I don’t think I’d ever do it again,” she laughs. “Filming is still the most frightening thing I’ve done. It’s just sheer terror. I haven’t gotten used to it yet.”

Of course, it doesn’t matter to me whether or not she watches herself, but I get it.  As a longtime singer and choir director, I cannot stand to hear a recording of me singing.  In fact, I don’t like performing as a soloist; I’d rather direct.  So Ina’s words resonate with me.

Another comment she made was about cooking from recipes; she always cooks from her own books.  She doesn’t wing it at all.

“I trust them,” she says. And after all these years, she still prefers a recipe over winging it. “I’m a science person. I measure everything.”        Read more here.

 That, I don’t get.  I absolutely cook by the end of my apron strings nearly always.  I dream things up daily despite a huge shelf full of cookbooks.  Dave, my husband, says, “That was good.  Do you think we’ll ever have it again?!”  For instance:

Here’s my Ovenbaked Vegetable Soup with Poached Egg

This week, our group of veteran food bloggers is cooking up all Ina “S’s” — Soups, Sides, or Salads.  My choice was:

easy tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons

The simplest of soup ingredients (onions, garlic, chicken broth, tomatoes, orzo, cream) make up the bulk of this quick soup and, while the soup (all rights reserved) is part of Ina’s newest book, FOOLPROOF, you can also get the recipe on the Barefoot Contessa site. The most unusual aspect of this soup is its use of saffron, that lovely warm floral seasoning made from the stigma of croci, or crocuses if you will:

  CROCUS:  a small, spring-flowering plant of the iris family, which grows from a corm and bears bright yellow, purple, or white flowers.  (Oxford English Dictionary.)

So:  What did I think?  It was tasty, tasty……….

Overall, a lovely, basic and inexpensive tomato soup made more filling with the addition of orzo, small rice-like pieces of pasta.  The grilled cheese croutons were cute and yummy–a great idea and a fun addition.  You just make a grilled cheese and cut it into 1-inch segments. 

I’ll admit I had to change a few things in the soup AND the croutons for personal reasons…

CROUTONS:   Ina’s white bread, 2 T butter, and 4 ounces of cheese were changed to whole wheat, 1 teaspoon butter, and one thin slice of cheese so that I could eat it without going off program.  
  •  The fragrant saffron was lost on me as the tomatoes were almost overwhelming in their sweetness. (At least mine were. ) Making it another time, I would increase the amount of saffron.  Ina’s “large pinch,” might become two. 
  •  I cut the salt in the interest of health, but also in the interest of taste– from one tablespoon to one and a half teaspoons. Salt, like sugar, cuts acidity; acidity, however wasn’t the problem.
  •  I included the entire amount of black pepper, one teaspoon, but pretty much wished I’d put in a pinch of crushed red pepper despite the warm mouth buzz left when dinner was done.  Of course, I’m addicted to crushed red pepper.
Saffron threads from Penzey’s
  •  I skipped the heavy cream and instead topped my soup with a little spoonful of  plain Greek yogurt as I’m watching my caloric intake. (I’m on Weight Watchers.)  Just to see, however, I did try one single spoonful with the cream to see if it dulled the sweetness of the tomatoes.  No.  Not so much.  It was creamy and luscious, of course!  I think I’d do without if I had to choose.
  • One last thing:  as the soup sat, the orzo grew AND GREW (as pasta will do in soup) and, by the time it cooled enough for me to refrigerate it, the pasta was dominant.  Pretty much appeared to be pasta and sauce in the pot.  There are two possibilities:  one, use a small orzo (there are different sizes) or use less.

What’s cool about this is you have pretty much a little pot of sweet marinara with tiny pasta--and it’s good.  And it’s not nearly as caloric as a big plate of spaghetti, yet you still get the whole deal taste-wise.  This soup is also darned quick.  You could be eating in forty minutes total, including grilling the sandwiches.   Family-friendly, leftovers would make great lunches at work or school.  A little hot sauce and your big-eater guy friend would be swooning.  Is it foolproof?  I’d say so. Yes, I’d agree; she’s definitely got that down.  Just watch the salt.

Would you like it?  Yes, I’m sure you would.  Is it a recipe you can trust?  It says  you can on the front cover of the book.  Definitely.  Trust it.  But make it your own.

What else might you do?   

You might brown up  a couple of links of top-flight Italian sausage (slice it) and either use it for a “crouton” instead of the grilled cheese or add it to the sandwich.  If you’d like something green (imagine), chop up a half cup each of fresh basil and spinach and stir in for the last minute or two (having left out the saffron.)  You would definitely have a good glass of zin or reserve Chianti along side.  You’d probably skip dessert.  I think you’d be full.

stop in and see what our fine writers are cooking up on the first Friday of each month:

Are you a food blogger?  Want to join in one time a month? Email Alyce @  or link in to join us once in a while (click on blue oval link button at bottom and follow prompts) only if you’re blogging Ina!  We’d love to have you.

If you like this, you might like 


or my Tomato Soup Faster Then You Can Say Grilled Cheese

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Fight Hunger Due to Sequester Cuts–Get Involved:

I follow a fine blog called Leave It Where Jesus Flang It, written by the Rev. Margaret Watson, pastor for nine congregations on the Cheyenne River Reservation.  Sequester cuts have left  her elderly, handicapped, and grandparents (who are raising children) in a very troubling situation, unable to pay bills or buy food.  Children are at risk, as well.  If you click on the blog link, you’ll see the letter she’s written her congressional representatives.  If you’d like to help ease this situation, read the blog and write your own representatives or leave a comment asking how you might help directly.  Donations, of course, are always accepted by the mission.

Here are some excerpts from Margaret’s letter:

I cannot afford to feed all the people who come to my door asking for help. I have emptied my own freezer, my own cupboard in order to help these desperate folks.

In the last six months, I have done 40 funerals –six infants, two teen suicides, and many, many folks under the age 40.

Don’t punish the children and the elderly and the poor and the disabled by cutting the programs that at least keep them alive at poverty levels. 

I can only say I am shocked and depressed by my own government. Do better than this. The people you are supposed to serve deserve better.

Sing a new song;