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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Month of Barefoot Contessa... My Answer to "What's For Dinner?"

You might be surprised to know that even Mike and I have a terrible time deciding what to have for dinner.  He gave me the newest Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Foolproof, for Christmas, completing my collection.  As we were driving to my sister's house in St. Louis on Christmas Day, I read the entire book cover to cover and proclaimed - I'm going to make everything in this book.  He dared me.  I'm sure his encouragement was just to get himself out of the never-ending 'what do you want for dinner' daily dilemma.

As I'm sure you've noticed, I've devoted a great number of posts to Mrs. Garten - including our trip to East Hampton (where we were seated next to her at dinner!).  In fact, I've even been known to claim in an interview that my entire catering business plan was based on her book, Parties.

So, yes, I'm going to feature an entire series of Barefoot Contessa recipes on the blog... Julie and Julia style.  So what if the idea isn't original?  I know it has been done before by countless other bloggers, but I'm throwing my ego to the wind and doing it anyway.  It seems that all of my recipes and entertaining efforts are inspired by Ina, so why not give credit where credit is due. 

A Month of The Barefoot Contessa Project

The Rules : 
I will not be working in any particular order.  I will be making recipes from her other books, as well - ones that I've always wanted to make.  I will not be posting the exact recipe on my blog, but will point you to the page in the book where you can find it or a link where the recipe is featured - as a future cookbook author, I don't want to give her product away, just document my experience to inspire yours.  I will continue to write my own recipes and put those on the blog during my journey - don't worry, I won't leave you high and dry.  The project will last the entire month of January (I'll also continue to feature other topics such as home projects and travel during the month... business as usual).  I know I will not get through all of them, but I'll do my best. 

Join me!
As part of my journey, I'd like to invite you to join me.  As I post recipes from the books, I'd love for you to share your thoughts and experiences on those same recipes.

Pinterest :
I'll be posting all of the links on this Pinterest Board : The Barefoot Contessa Project, so be sure to follow that, as well.   Send me links to your posts about your Barefoot Contessa posts and I'll Pin them to the Pinterest page.   It will be a great easy resource to find all of the posts in one spot.

Facebook :
Also, I'd love for you to email me or post photos on my facebook page of your versions of the recipes.

Twitter :
I'll tweet my progress on twitter using the #JennyHobicksBarefootContessaProject to document as we go - so you'll be able to follow me in real-time.

First up, the Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin, page 122... as someone who has cooked 100's of beef tenderloins in my catering days, I wish I had known about this method sooner.  We used the recipe on Christmas Day - FABULOUS.  Can't wait to share!


  1. I got this for Christmas too, so I'll look forward to playing along! So many yummy recipes to choose from...

  2. Love the meatloaf recipe and the additional garlic sauce recipe. Have made it several times already (one time which included a tragic loss of garlic sauce and a kitchen cleanup!) Will enjoy watching your attack of this great collection. -Tonya

    1. Just clicked over to your post on your trip to the Hamptons. I think the meatloaf I mentioned from her book was from the 1770's house.

  3. How nice! My kids and I love Ina Garten and watch her show daily. I do not have any of her books yet, but I'm planning to buy at least one soon. I'm looking forward to seeing all your posts!

  4. I love this cookbook, will be interested in what you think! My favorites are the winter minestrone and the tomato soup (the grilled cheese croutons-sigh!).

  5. Jenny1:27 PM

    So glad everyone is excited! Fun to have a new project... actually I have several to start off the new year. I'll be working on a kitchen/home office tomorrow. Love the surge of energy in the new year!

  6. My mom got this for Christmas too and I read hers cover to cover. Looks like another knockout. We made the German Chocolate cupcakes and the Pumpkin Spice cupcakes for a shower last weekend. Both amazing. The pumpkin ones were especially to die for. I'm making them again this weekend!

  7. I'm a fellow Barefoot Contessa fan (I'll use the word "fan" so as to not sound like a total stalker), and have been loving her newest book. (Her pasta alla vecchia is life changing, and the meatloaf mentioned in an above comment was also fabulous.) My food-related blogging has been abysmal at best lately, so this sounds like the perfect project to get it back on track! Looking forward to following along!

  8. I love love Ina and am so excited to follow your project this month!!

  9. Love this! It will inspire me to start cooking again. I just need to add that book to my collection and you've given me a good reason too!

  10. I was buying myself cookbooks before I started cooking because I just love looking at them. I don't have any of Ina Garten's yet so I'm excited to follow your project and see how it goes before I race out and get a copy. I received the Ad Hoc cookbook for the holidays this year and am hoping to do a similar project starting in February.

  11. So fun! I have worked my way through most of her other books and am slowly getting through this one. (Orichette with sausage for dinner tonight.) I also made the Minestrone last week and it was very tasty. I love being able to add fun new items to our regular dinner rotation.

  12. I'm really looking forward to this series! I'm hoping to get this book for my birthday (in a few weeks). I've heard nothing but rave reviews from other readers. Can't wait to hear your take on it!

  13. I'm new to reading your blog. I think this is a great idea. Your first choice I thought might be good for next Christmas Eve.
    I'll be taking notes.

  14. What a great idea! Looking forward to soaking up all the delicious inspiration! I can't wait to finally be in my new kitchen and start cooking again. There are so many fantastic ideas here. I forgot to add Ina's new cookbook to my wish list. Maybe I will treat myself!

  15. This sounds like a fab project Jenny and I cannot wait to more about your cookbook!

  16. happy new year, jenny! i wish you and your sweet family much happiness in 2013!! a JSH cookbook in the works?!!!?!! how exciting!!! congratulations!! i hope you share more details soon. as for "foolproof" it's amazing. as usual. i actually prefer it over the "how easy is that" cookbook. too bad you aren't on instagram. a bunch of us have been making and sharing reviews on her new recipes for the last couple months. the penne with vodka, the minestrone soup, and the chocolate peanut butter glob cookies have been my very favorites so far, although everything i've made has been really good. enjoy working your way through! {i'm slightly impressed u had the will power to wait till christmas!! ;)} xo, tessa

    1. Jenny6:39 PM

      Thanks, Tessa! I'd love to hear more about the instagram reviews... I do have an account, just never use it : ) Can you give me the details on joining your discussion?! Would love to add that as another option for sharing this Barefoot project besides facebook, twitter and pinterest. Thanks for the help!!!


    2. jenny, i would love for you to join the instagram crowd! :) i was on IG for a long time but only as a private user and i didn't follow anyone. several months ago i went in search of favorite bloggers that had disappeared from the blogosphere and found them active on IG. Now i rarely read blogs, maybe once a week, but I'm addicted to IG. It feels more real and a bit more personal, the way blogging used to be, plus it is much faster than constructing a blog post, which for me, with a busy toddler, is a plus! anyway, the "Foolproof" topic has been all over IG, even in my group of friends and followers. My IG user name is: "nineandsixteen", and a few of us have started hashtagging our barefoot pics:, but there are 1000s of barefoot pics and other hashtags. hope to see you on there soon!! xo, tessa

      ps. your beef tenderloin looked delish. i have a tried a true recipe that I love {not Ina's. gasp.} but now i'm intrigued, i will have to give this one a whirl, but it's definitely special occasion food! :)

  17. Hi Jenny,
    Just did a posting about Ina because she is my all time favorite cook. Please check the post out on - "Ina Garten in the Hamptons and Elsewhere". I too own all her cookbooks, recommend her recipes to everyone, and use dozens of them myself (to the accolades of the recipients).

    Love your blog and your sweet Emma. This endeavor should be fun for you and us.

  18. I just love Ina as well. I totally love everything she does, her taste in foods, places she shops, everything. This is exciting, I will jump in and out of project as my time permits.

    p.s. Jenny, there is no other blogger like you. So, please know how rare and special you are.

  19. Teresa9:25 PM

    This sounds like a fun project and I look forward to following along.

    I have been following your blog for a month now and I want to say thank you for your wonderful recipes. I made the white cheddar chive strata for guests and it went over well. I also made the blue cheese sauce twice now for two holiday dinners and it is amazing! I hope you and your family have a Happy New Year and look forward to following your blog this year.

  20. I'm in! I'm a huge Ina fan and have also worked my way through most of her cookbooks and this is next on my list (also received for Christmas). Can't wait to join you!
    Katie (friend of Sarah Shaw's :)

  21. What a great idea! Can't wait to follow along and join in on the fun!!

  22. I can't think of a more worthy lady and cook to duplicate. She is my favorite, too! Looking forward to your series...

  23. I cannot wait on your take of the recipes.. I have "Foolproof" and have been making my way through that book already! Good luck and lots of fun.. xo marlis

  24. i'm so excited for this project! i am diving into Foolproof and have already made the raspberry crumble bars (pg. 210) twice. my new favorite. it will be fun to see what you try and read your reviews. i seem to cook exclusively from the book of Barefoot these days so bring it on! PS: i actually went to a Foolproof book signing and met her in person - just as lovely as you can imagine!

  25. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Can't wait for your project. Ina is my favorite and you are a close second. Love your blog and I think I am going to have to treat myself to the new cookbook so I can REALLY follow along.

  26. NJ Heather12:26 PM

    Fantastic idea, Jenny! I also received Foolproof for Christmas and cannot wait to follow along with you! I've already made the pasta alla vecchia - DELISH! I'm looking forward to trying everything else :)

  27. The Barefoot Contessa is my all time favorite. I love her and her food so I'll be following along with interest. Happy eating!

  28. This will be fun. I received her book as well, I love her! Her recipes always turn out.

  29. I love the Barefoot Contessa! I have all her books now too! I knew this was one of the reasons I like you so much! We have the Contessa in common.!! :) Look forward to your upcoming posts. :)

  30. Natalie D7:32 PM

    "Foolproof" was definitely accurate for the Penna alla vecchia bettola. I was distracted while making it and dumped the tomatoes in without draining them. The sauce was rich and delicious and could have passed for a soup it didn't even need pasta! Real comfort food.

  31. I really like the Without shoes Contessa! I have all her guides now too! I realized this was one of the factors I like you so much! We have the Contessa in typical.!! :) Look ahead
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