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  1. Tuesday, July 31

    Orzo Salad Yumminess

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    My mother-in-law Pat made a super yummy orzo salad for us on the Cape last week. It was simple and oh-so-tasty. A definite keeper of a recipe and perfect for summertime!

    Pat said normally the feta is all mixed in, unlike what you see in the photo. But a certain brother-in-law of mine doesn’t like feta (what the what?!?!), so we sprinkled it on top so Cuyler could pick it out easily. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Pat’s a good mother-in-law.

    Happy Orzo salading!

    Orzo Salad
    Adapted by Pat Maynard from a recipe from Jean Harford of Gregg Lake
    - 8 oz orzo, cooked and drained well
    - 1 small red pepper chopped
    - shaved carrots
    - parsley (and dill if desired)
    - 2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
    - 1 cup black beans or chick peas, rinsed and well drained
    - 1 small can sweet corn, drained
    - ground black pepper
    - 8 – 10 sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped or sliced
    - 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
    - 1/3-1/2 cup Greek salad dressing (Ken’s Steakhouse and Newman’s Own are great)

    Mix orzo with dressing once it has cooled a bit, breaking up any clumps. Refrigerate while you put together the other ingredients. Combine with orzo and refrigerate to combine flavors. Can adjust by taking away any of the above ingredients and adding others such as grape tomatoes, shrimp, cucumber,green onion or black olives.

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  2. Sunday, July 29

    Week 288 Menu

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    I’m having such a relaxing day enjoying time with family and exploring the marsh behind Nate’s grandmother’s home that I totally forgot it was Sunday and that I need to get a post up! Luckily I remembered before hopping in the car to head from Boston to New Jersey.

    Another week of vacation lies ahead, as well as a few days in New York City for me. Between BlogHer, SocialLuxe Lounge and a bunch of meetings, I’ve got quite a week ahead of me. Needless to say, no menu planned for the week!

    But I know you are still on the ball, so please share your menus and inspire one another!

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  3. Friday, July 27

    Le Creuset Butter Crock Giveaway Winners

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    Time to announce the two randomly-selected Le Creuset Butter Crock giveaway winners!

    Comment #181 from Lisa, who said: I’ve never seen one of these before, but I’d love one!

    Comment #342 from Janet Wilson, who said: Le Creuset and butter…what could be better?!?

    Congratulations, ladies! I hope you love your butter crocks as much as I do!

     

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  4. Thursday, July 26

    A Visit to the America’s Test Kitchen!

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    On Monday, I had the chance pop up to Boston with my daughter Cate, my niece Abby and my sister-in-law Jessica for a tour of America’s Test Kitchen. Yes, the test kitchen! It was great fun to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the kitchens and Cate has decided that she wants to work there when she grows up (Jess and I are in the same boat!).

    First off, the location is totally unmarked…we felt like Harry Potter at King’s Cross Station (thanks for that awesome analogy, Steph!). Everyone was super friendly and it looked like a totally normal office. Well, a totally normal office buried in cookbooks and kitchen equipment.

    The first stop on our tour: the library.

    They have over 4,000 cookbooks in the library, which is ever evolving and growing. The library has its own color-coded system and is pretty amazing. In the center of the library is a huge table, which is where all the taste testing happens. That table is why I want to work there. You’re sitting at your desk working when suddenly there is a call to test something. Trying out food is part of your job. Does it get better than that? Steph told us there has to be at least 21 people in a taste test for it to be legit. I would happily volunteer!

    We saw a photo shoot in action and I was supremely jealous of their assortment of boards and wood doors they use for shoots.

    Then it was on to the kitchens! There are two kitchens – a smaller one (which has about a million ovens, so it’s not really all that small) and a big one. The big one is THE kitchen, the one where they film the show. They film an entire season of the show in just three weeks in the spring. When filming is happening, all the prep work happens in the small kitchen while the main kitchen remains pristine for the cameras.

    The kitchens are all abuzz with test cooks working on various recipes and projects. There is a post-it note system, so cooks can mark the equipment they are using, and there is kitchen gear galore everywhere you look. Most of the cooks began as interns and have culinary school backgrounds.

    I had the chance to chat with test cook Dan for a bit about what he was working on that morning. They had cooked up a bunch of turkey breasts and were going to inject them with various amounts of sodium to determine the perfect level of saltiness in turkey. It was pretty awesome that there was a pile of needles among Dan’s equipment. Cooking doesn’t get much more precise (or science nerdy!) than that! Dan said with the needles things had officially entered the realm of weird. Love it.

    Here is a peak into the pantry.

    Steph told us that there are two grocery shoppers for the kitchens and that they spend over $500,000 per year on groceries. That is a lot of cooking! She also said they mostly shop at regular supermarkets so they are sure to get ingredients that are readily available to people all over the country. In fact, all the equipment and food that is used in the test kitchens is home kitchen sized. The only pieces of equipment that are industrial are the hoods in the kitchen, the fridge and the dishwasher, but everything else is what any of us might buy or use at home.

    Owen was not happy that I passed him off to Cate to take a photo of the scores and scores of organized-by-color dishes.

    If I were to choose one word to describe the folks at America’s Test Kitchen it would be resourceful. I cannot believe what they produce with just 120 employees…8-12 cookbooks per year, 2 magazines, 2 television shows, a radio show…the list goes on and on. It blows me away the amount of quality work they produce in that four-story building in Brookline, MA. Plus, see where those cars are parked?

    That’s the alley behind the building, which also happens to be where they film all the grilling segments for the show.  They just clear the cars out and turn it into a studio. Resourceful, no?

    We had a great time learning all about the test kitchens and even got to meet Christopher Kimball as we were leaving! Yes, he’s very tall and, yes, he was wearing a bow tie!

    To end the trip we ate lunch at Cutty’s in Brookline, a cafe started by a test cook. And that lunch was mmm mmm good, of COURSE.

    A warm and sincere THANK YOU to our friends at America’s Test Kitchen for a great morning!

    And if you haven’t checked out this infographic on how a recipe is developed by America’s Test Kitchen, you have to click here and check it out. It’s fascinating and pretty much explains why their recipes always come out so wonderfully!

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  5. Wednesday, July 25

    Better Than Cannoli

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    You know what’s better than a cannoli? A good, old-fashioned lightning and thunder storm on Cape Cod. Whenever there is a storm during our annual Cape week, I feel like it’s a little gift from Mother Nature.

    Here are a few shots of the lightning from last night. It was amazing and, of course, pictures never quite capture the majesty.

    Next to a good storm, however, not much beats this.

    Oh, ricotta-filled-cannoli-with-mini-chocolate-chips from Modern Pastry, how I love thee. (And, yeah, yeah, you like Mike’s better…we’ll just have to agree to disagree.) We won’t talk about how much cannoli I ate in a 24-hour period. Seriously, I’ll never confess!

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  6. Sunday, July 22

    Week 287 Menu

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    Good morning! We have safely arrived at Cape Cod.

    This is our view off the back porch.

    And this is our view from the kitchen window.

    And those views are the reason I have no meal plan for the week. Yay for vacation!

    I am sure many of you are still on the ball and getting your menus planned, though, so I wanted to make sure there was a place where you can post! Can’t wait to see your menus!

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  7. Friday, July 20

    Have You Gotten a Butter Crock Yet?

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    Remember when I went on and on about how I love my butter crock? Well, two years later I am still in love. I think the butter crock just might be one of my kitchen essentials. I can’t imagine my kitchen without it!

    If you haven’t heard of a butter crock, click here to read my original post. Basically it’s a dish that keeps your butter fresh and spreadable at all times. It’s the best.

    The other day as I was spreading butter on toast, I decided I needed to do a butter crock giveaway. It’s time I spread the love (pun intended!). So, I emailed my friends at Le Creuset, and they agreed to help me butter you all up (yes, another stupid pun!).

    Two of you lucky, randomly-selected people will win your own Le Creuset butter crock. I just received one of my own and I love it even more than my original butter crock. It has a larger capacity, and there is a fill line painted on the inside for the water. I didn’t think I could love a butter crock more than I already did…but I do!

    To enter, simply leave a comment on this post before Midnight PT on Thursday, July 26. (U.S. shipping addresses only, please.) Two winners will be announced on Friday, July 27.

    Good luck! And Happy Buttering!

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  8. Wednesday, July 18

    Chicken Marsala #1

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    As you know, I was looking for chicken marsala recipes a few weeks ago. It really is one of my favorite Italian dishes and, surprisingly, I’ve never tried making it from scratch. A few of you shared some delicious looking recipes – thank you!! I’m excited to try them!

    For my first pass at chicken marsala, I used the Cook’s Illustrated recipe combined with a few of the recipes that you shared. The result was a delicious, solid recipe that I will definitely be making again…after trying out a few of the other recipes you shared, of course!

    Without further ado…the recipe!

    Chicken Marsala #1
     
    Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and a few other recipes
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Poultry, Pasta
    Cuisine: Italian

    Ingredients
    • 4 chicken breasts, cut into halves and pounded thin (some of thicker pieces I also cut horizontally to make them thinner from top to bottom, and then pounded them out)
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp pepper
    • Olive oil or vegetable oil (~1/4 – ½ cup)
    • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced thin
    • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
    • 1 garlic clove, minced or pushed through a garlic press
    • 1½ cups sweet Marsala wine
    • ¾ cup chicken broth
    • 4 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces
    • fresh or dried parsley
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions
    1. Place an oven-proof dish in a 200 degree oven.
    2. Mix flour, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Dip chicken pieces in flour to cover and shake of excess.
    3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place a few chicken pieces in pan in one layer and cook until starting to brown, a few minutes. Flip and cook until lightly browned on side 2 and chicken is cooked through. Place in oven and repeat the process until all chicken is cooked, adding oil if needed between batches. You’ll want to reduce the heat of the pan to medium during or after the first batch.
    4. Add a bit more oil to the pan then saute mushrooms and onions until soft and mushrooms have released their water and the water has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic and, if you are using dried parsley, about 1 tsp parsley. Cook for about 1 minute.
    5. Remove pan from heat and add the marsala wine and broth, deglazing the pan, then return the pan to high heat. Bring to a boil and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in accumulated chicken juices and whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste and, if using fresh parsley, add 2 tablespoons parsley. Add chicken to pan and simmer on low heat for a few minutes.

     

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  9. Tuesday, July 17

    Ree’s Cooking Essentials Giveaway Winner

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    Time to announce the winner of the Ree’s Cooking Essentials giveaway! Drumroll, please…

    Melanie Toth, who said “Looks great! Thanks!”

    Congratulations, Melanie! I’m sure you’ll enjoy your gift pack!

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  10. Sunday, July 15

    Week 286 Menu

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    Good morning! It’s a cereal kind of morning around our house. And a black and white kind of morning. And a Cate-finally-poured-her-own-cereal-and-milk kind of morning. I like these kinds of mornings.

    This week we leave for our annual East Coast trip! One week on Cape Cod, one week in New Jersey and I’m throwing SocialLuxe Lounge once again in New York City. We have a fun couple of weeks ahead of us! Of course, I have to survive this week first…so much to do! My menu is going to be very simple and BORING.

    MONDAY:
    - Frozen mac & cheese from Trader Joe’s
    - Lots of veggies

    TUESDAY:
    - Spaghetti
    - Salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Frozen chicken cordon bleu from grocery store
    - Wild rice and a veggie

    THURSDAY:
    - Eat out (who am I kidding, I’ll be packing AND getting carpet installed in our apartment that day. Heaven help us…)

    FRIDAY:
    - Overpriced airplane food, most likely

    SATURDAY:
    - Sweet Tomatoes Pizza in Sandwich, MA (our first night on the Cape tradition)

    SUNDAY:
    - Who knows? We’ll be in vacation mode!

    Can’t wait to see your menus for the week! As always, thank you all for sharing!

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