March 2012
Sauteed Red Chard w/Clementines, Feta
& Balsamic Reduction
Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad
Cider Braised Brussel Sprouts
Hearty Kale & Potato Soup
Lemon-Herb Roast Chicken
Meatloaf Florentine
Pasta with Chard & Asparagus
Ginger-Carrot Raisin Cupcakes

I loved this cookbook!  Just about every recipe I tried was quick, easy and super healthy.  They also tasted good!  I was able to get my kids to at least try most of the recipes.  This cookbook provides nutritional information on vegetables, a discussion of whole grains, information on fats, oils and sweeteners, ideas for healthy snacks and lunchbox items, and strategies for navigating the supermarket.  It provides information on local and seasonal eating, ideas for reducing meat consumption, preparing grass fed meats, which vegetables to buy organic, and a guide to buying eggs. 

The only complaint I have is that nutritional information is not listed for each recipe.  Also, the recipes tend to feed an Army!  Overall, this is a great basic reference for anyone who would like to begin making some positive changes to their family diet for health and/or environmental reasons.  
February 2012
Herbal Iced Tea
Chicken with Tabbouleh
Wheatberry Salad
Garlic Sauteed Spinach
Roasted Winter Vegetables
Roasted Vegetable Soup with Brioche Croutons
Broccoli with Bowties
Linguine with Shrimp Scampi
Coconut Macaroons
Homemade Marshmallows

Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorite shows on the Food Network. I love that Ina is always stopping at the local market in the Hamptons to pick up some fresh produce, a bottle of wine, a warm loaf of bread and a bouquet flowers. She’s either entertaining friends at her home or packing them a lunch for a picnic at the beach. And of course there is her adored husband, Jeffrey.

I like that so many of Ina's recipes are simple and fresh. She uses a lot of garlic, lemon and fresh herbs to enliven her dishes. She also tends to use alot of salt and butter. I was especially surprised with the amount of butter used in the vegetable side dishes. While I enjoyed the flavor a pat of butter brought to the garlic sautéed spinach, adding a stick of butter to the mashed potatoes, corn pudding and polenta seems a bit excessive. She also tends to use twice as much salt as what is really needed. I don't like that she does not include the nutritional content of her recipes in this cookbook. (There may be a reason for this).     

Most of Ina’s dishes in this cookbook are fairly basic and traditional. With recipes like baked fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, flag cake and apple pie, it's very "Americana." Other popular recipes include clam chowder, fish and chips, chicken noodle soup, lasagna and spaghetti with meatballs (I wish she wouldn't include veal in this recipe). There is really nothing earth-shattering about this cookbook, although her recipes do seem to be consistently good.

If you are looking for something a little more unique (and more nutritious), she does include recipes for tabbouleh and wheatberry salads, and saffron risotto with butternut squash. Most of the ingredients for her recipes are readily accessible and fairly inexpensive. I loved the suggestion for doubling the roasted winter vegetables and pureeing the second half for a soup. This is a great idea for most any roasted veggie.

I also like that Ina includes a “kids” section in her cookbook. Although, my kids aren’t too crazy about tomatoes in their macaroni and cheese. They also did not care much for the broccoli and bowtie recipe. She includes a recipe for fruit juice shapes which I found intriguing, until I realized that it is the same exact recipe found on the back of the Knox gelatin box. I was also somewhat surprised that out of 16 dessert recipes, only one was chocolate. I made the coconut macaroons and homemade marshmallows and found myself wanting to dip them in chocolate. Oh, and if you live at 5,280 feet, do not bother with the lemon angel food cake recipe. (Trust me on this!)

*If you like pork tenderloin, Ina has a fabulous recipe in her Back to Basics cookbook. It's one of my kids' favorite meals. Personally, I don't really care for pork, but this recipe is an exception! (I usually half the recipe, using one 1.5 lb. tenderloin).

Herb-Marinated Pork Tenderloin

1 lemon, zest grated
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons)
Good olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
3 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt in a sturdy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add the pork tenderloins and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and discard the marinade but leave the herbs that cling to the meat. Sprinkle the tenderloins generously with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large oven-proof saute pan over medium-high heat. Sear the pork tenderloins on all sides until golden brown. Place the saute pan in the oven and roast the tenderloins for 10 to 15 minutes or until the meat registers 137 degrees F at the thickest part. Transfer the tenderloins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices. The thickest part of the tenderloin will be quite pink (it's just fine!) and the thinnest part will be well done. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm, or at room temperature with the juices that collect in the platter.

(Serves 6)

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