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Ina's Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons

Does anything warm the soul quite like soup? With all of the crazy cold and snowy weather we’ve been having, I can’t think of another meal more comforting than tomato soup and grilled cheese. Simple and satisfying. Ina Garten’s Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons puts a special twist on the classic with a bit of cream in the soup and grilled Gruyère cheese for the croutons. I know I say this about a lot of Ina’s dishes but THIS could be my most favorite. I highly recommend committing this recipe to memory and making it often!

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Holiday Gift Guide with @StoreBoughtIsFine

Holiday Gift Guide with @StoreBoughtIsFine

Sneaking in one more post with Trent from @StoreBoughtIsFine before the end of the year. He's got a lot of friends and a lot of great gift ideas. After reading this blog, you'll wish you were on his 'nice' list. Happy Holidays and Happy Gifting..

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Entertaining with @StoreBoughtIsFine

There are lots of things I love about summer in NYC: long days of sunlight, fresh peaches, playing "identify that smell" on the streets...but the thing I don't love is my inability to entertain in my apartment. I can't imagine torturing my friends by using the oven or stovetop, creating a sauna in our sixth-floor apartment. So when the weather cools, I immediately plan the meals I've been thinking about for months... 

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Dinner Party for 16

Fall is finally in the air!! School and sports are in full swing, so we’re usually home on weekend for the kids’ soccer games, cross-country meets, birthday parties (you get the idea). Lucky for us most of our friends are in the same boat, so we decided to throw together a ‘little’ weekend dinner party. What started small ended up as a party for 16, complete with corn hole (it’s a bean bag toss game) and of course, some of Ina Garten’s great appetizers and side dishes!

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Herbed Goat Cheese in a Weck Jar

Lately at Cassandra’s Kitchen, we spend every spare moment pouring over the recipes in Cooking for Jeffrey. The response to the book has been tremendous and we’ve done our best to stock cookware, tableware, and products that Ina uses and features in the book. This week we wanted to highlight the Weck Canning Jar that Ina uses for her Herbed Goat Cheese.

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In the Kitchen - Cooking for Jeffrey

The latest Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, is available today! We are super excited and couldn’t wait to share this Arugula with Prosciutto and Burrata recipe with all of you. Jeffrey loves it and we think you will too!SaveSaveSaveSave

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Back-to-School Lunches

Back To School! I think we’re all ready to get back into a routine. New clothes are hanging in the closet, school supplies are neat and tidy, and I’m super motivated to pack my kids healthy lunches that they will actually eat.

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In The Kitchen - Make Ahead Meals

In the next few weeks Cassandra’s Kitchen will have a new addition…one of the women that works with us, Michelle, is having her third little babe! Those first few weeks at home can be a whirlwind – especially with a 4 and 2-year-old on summer vacation. We've gathering ideas for some Make Ahead Meals for Michelle and her family – with a stocked fridge and freezer, yummy food is one less thing they need to worry about.

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Pizza Party, Ina Style

Pizza Party, Ina Style

This week Cindy and I got our families together for a pizza party as a kind of ‘test run’ for Super Bowl Sunday entertaining. We took a cue from the recipes featured in Pizza Party from the Barefoot Contessa Parties! cook book…Caesar Salad with Pancetta, California Pizzas, and Ice Cream Sodas.

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Ina's Skillet Brownies

Ina's Skillet Brownie in our Mini Cast Iron Skillets

Looking to add savoir-faire to your next dinner party? Or just want to make an at-home meal extra special? My tip, serve individual portions in mini cast iron skillets.

A single serving dish adds style to any meal and makes everyone feel like you went the extra mile. (Even though you didn’t, it’s just as easy as making family-size. A little more clean up, but totally worth it for the wow factor.)

Ina Garten uses them to bake her incredible Skillet Brownies (Make It Ahead). They are nothing less than amazing and will instantly elevate your status to 'dessert royalty.' Thankfully, they aren’t too complicated. I did use Ina’s trusted Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract because I wanted them to be 'Ina perfect.' Ina's recipe is below along with some photos of my own skillet brownies.

And the skillets…they’re not just for brownies. They’re a great option for breakfast frittatas or side dishes like potato cauliflower gratins. I even use them to prepare shareable appetizers and snacks like baked brie. It's a straightforward dish, but the mini skillets add an element of polish and sophistication. I serve them as appetizers with sun-dried tomatoes and chopped spinach. Always a big hit.

Cassandra-

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Ina's Skillet Brownies

Ingredients:
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces plus ½ cup Hershey’s semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1½ ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder, such as Nescafe
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 pint vanilla ice cream, such as Haagen-Dazs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the butter, 4 ounces of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water just until the chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee powder, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together ¼ cup of the flour, the baking powder, and salt and stir it into the chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining ½ cup of chocolate chips and one tablespoon of flour together in a medium bowl and add them to the chocolate mixture. Spoon the mixture into four individual cast iron skillets (the skillets I use measure 5 inches on the top, 3½ inches on the bottom) and place them on a sheet pan. Bake for 22 minutes exactly. Don’t overbake! A toothpick inserted in the center will not come out clean. Cool slightly and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

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Baked Brie with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

Ingredients: 
5 ounces brie cheese - rind removed and cut into medium-sized chunks
½ cup chopped spinach
4 sun-dried tomatoes chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the brie in a mini cast iron skillet. Scatter spinach and sun-dried tomatoes on top of the cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once to combine. Remove from heat and serve with crackers or French bread.

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