Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

April 7th, 2010

A cookie is a cookie . . . right? Not this cookie. Ina Garten has done it again. She has transformed a ho-hum oatmeal cookie into something very special indeed. I tried to exercise my weight control strategy of portion control by eating just one cookie to see if it was worth the effort and found that I needed just one more . . . and then another. By bedtime, I could not resist a glass of milk and just one more cookie. Even my husband, who loves all things chocolate said these were really good cookies. I am trying to analyse what made them so good. Was it the buttery flavor? Was it the generous amount of cinnamon? The dark brown sugar or the vanilla? Maybe toasting the pecan pieces first brought out the nutty goodness. Whatever it was, it was a “perfect storm” of flavors that came together from the first bite to the last. The only advice I would pass on to you is that I ended up with 52 cookies and Ina says that the recipe makes 30 to 35. Mine were smaller and crispier. Not a bad thing in my opinion.

It is Barefoot Blogger Thursday again and I want to thank Leslie of Lethally Delicious for choosing an Ina Garten recipe that I normally would have passed up as just another ordinary oatmeal cookie. It is anything but ordinary. Come and join the rest of our group and cook up everything Barefoot Contessa on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month. How easy is that?


1 1/2 cups pecans
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon groun d cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 1/2 cups raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to cool. Chop very coarsely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachement, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the oats, raisins, and pecans and mix just until combined.

Using a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop 2 inch mound of dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

Caesar Club Sandwich

March 25th, 2010

It is Barefoot Blogger Thursday and time again to duplicate one of Ina Garten’s great recipes. I never worry about what choices are made by our group members every other Thursday because in my mind, there is no bad Barefoot Contessa recipe. Ina has a way of combining simple ingredients in a way that makes for an extraordinary dining experience. This week’s recipe was chosen by Karen of Shortbread and I can just see taking this wonderful sandwich in a picnic hamper on a drive along the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway and stopping at one of the overlooks, spreading a blanket, and eating a leisurely picnic with this as the centerpiece.

The idea for this sandwich came from the ingredients in a caesar salad. Ina uses a caesar dressing for the spread and toasted ciabatta bread in place of croutons. I used romaine lettuce to be true to the original salad. Ina used arugula. She included shaved Parmesan and added roasted chicken breasts, crispy pancetta, and sun-dried tomatoes to make this a substantial sandwich. The recipe can be found in her Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. If you have that book check out the picture of the sandwich. I tried to copy it in my picture below. How did I do? If you don’t have the cookbook here is the recipe.


2 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
good olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-lear parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1 large ciabatta bread
2 ounces baby arugula, wahed and spun dry (I used chopped romaine)
12 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
2 to 3 ounces Parmesan, shaved

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan skin side up. Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. Cool slightly, discard the skin and bones, and slice the meat thickly. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the pancetta on another sheet pan in a single layer. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to drain on paper towels.

Place the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until minced. Add the anchovy paste, mustard, lemon juice, and mayonnaise and process again to make a smooth dressing. (Refrigerate the Caesar dressing if not using it immediately.)

Slice the ciabatta in half horizontally and separate the top from the bottom Toast the bread in the oven, cut side up, for 5 to 7 minutes; cool slightly. Spread the cut sides of each piece with the Caesar dressing. Place half the arugula on the bottom piece of bread and then layer in order: the sun-dried tomatoes, shaved Parmesan, crispy pancetta, and sliced chicken. Sprinle with salt and pepper and finish with another layer of arugula. Place the top slice of ciabatta on top and cut in thirds crosswise. Serve at room temperature. Serves 3.

Baked Shrimp Scampi – The Barefoot Contessa

February 25th, 2010

This was such an easy dish to prepare and it is perfect for company because you can do all the prep work ahead of time and then just put it in the oven when you are ready. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a good shrimp scampi and I want to thank Jill of Insanely Good Food for picking this as the Barefoot Bloggers recipe for this Thursday.

The Shrimp scampi was rich and garlicy and paired beautifully with pasta. For some reason my crumbs did not brown as much as Ina’s as pictured in her Back to Basics cookbook, but the flavor was outstanding. Give this a try the next time you have company.


2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks ) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko crumbs
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. To butterfly shrimp, cut around the outer curve and open like a book. Cut each shrimp deeply enough to open but not to cut in half. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and toward the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

As of this moment we are heading down to Key West. I will be posting pictures and a travelogue sometime on Sunday.

Indonesian Ginger Chicken

January 14th, 2010

This is one of those recipes that you can file in your easy and do ahead file. It is time again for Barefoot Blogger Thursday and this week’s recipe was chosen by Todd of A Cooking Dad. Ina Garten’s Indonesian Ginger Chicken requires only prep time at the beginning and then it marinates in the sauce until you are ready to put it in the oven. The honey and soy sauce thicken to coat the chicken and the ginger and garlic impart a flavorful note.

The next time I make this chicken (and there will be a next time) I will make the following changes. I will add another flavor component like pepper flakes or hot sauce. It was a bit too sweet. I will take the skin off of the chicken for a lower fat version. And I will use dark meat only. Although I love chicken breasts, the thighs and legs seemed to absorb the sauce flavors better. I also halved the recipe for just the two of us. Thank you Todd for choosing another Barefoot Contessa winner.



1 cup honey
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup minced garlic (8 to 12 cloves)
1/2 cup peeled and grated ginger root
2 (3 1/2 lb.) chickens, quartered with backs removed


Cook the honey, soy sauce, garlic and ginger root in small saucepan over low heat until honey is melted. Arrange the chicken in 1 layer in a shallow baking pan, skin side down, and pour on the sauce. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan, turn the chicken skin side up, and raise the temperature to 375 degrees F. Continue baking for 30 minutes or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh and the sauce is a rich dark brown.

Stuffed Mushrooms for New Years

December 27th, 2009

Somehow stuffed mushrooms sounds like how I am feeling about now; totally stuffed. But these sausage stuffed mushrooms are totally worth the extra calories. This is the second Barefoot Blogger recipe of the month and it was chosen by Michelle of Welcome to the Club. She chose wisely because appetizers are always welcome at this time of year. The Barefoot Bloggers are a group of food bloggers who love Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, and as a group post about her recipes twice a month. Each member takes a turn choosing what recipe we will blog about. Feel free to join us. It is a lot of fun.

The sausage stuffed mushrooms would be great for any party you may be giving or attending. I actually made the stuffing ahead of time which cut down considerably on last minute time in the kitchen. The only problem I encountered was that I ended up with twice as much stuffing as I had mushrooms. The recipe calls for extra-large white mushrooms and I guess mine were too small. But for an appetizer, I don’t think you would want them any bigger as they would be too hard to eat while standing and juggling a drink and a napkin. I made a quiche with the leftover sausage mixture and it was very good. This was another fabulous recipe from The Barefoot Contessa.


Serves:6 to 8 servings

16 extra-large white mushrooms
5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine or medium sherry
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casings
6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2/3 cup panko crumbs
5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly.

Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.