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Ina's Decadent (Gluten Free) Chocolate Cake

We’re going through some diet trial and error here at Cassandra’s Kitchen. I was recently diagnosed with Lyme Disease and it was recommended that I eat gluten free to combat inflammation (it's working!!).  For the time being I'm eating gluten free and Cindy has been gluten free for years, so it seemed appropriate to share Ina Garten’s incredible Decadent (Gluten Free!) Chocolate Cake (it’s so good, you’ll say ‘gluten who?’).

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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

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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In The Kitchen - Jalapeño Margaritas

In The Kitchen - Jalapeño Margaritas

Kids are almost done with school, Father’s Day is this weekend and it’s finally starting to feel like summertime in NY. I thought it would be a good time to share one of our favorite summer drinks – courtesy of Ina Garten and my husband Brad - Jalapeño Margaritas. Brad loves spicy food. Loves it. So years ago, when I first got my hands on Ina’s Make It Ahead cookbook, I was thrilled to find her Jalapeño Margaritas recipe...

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Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving Menu



Thanksgiving is here and we’re busy prepping for our feast. My mom, Barbara is coming into town to help with all of the meal preparation. I’m hosting 16 people and I could not (and would not) do it without her. Here’s a sneak peak of what’s on the menu.SaveSave

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In The Kitchen - Make Ahead Meals

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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Ina's Skillet Brownies

Ina's Skillet Brownies

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 straight-forward 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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Baked Brie with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

Ingredients:
5 ounces brie cheese - rind removed and cut into medium-sized chucks
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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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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Container Sale - 20% Off, September 25th-28th

Autumn is here which means cold-weather meals and holiday cooking are just around the corner…it also means it’s time for the Annual Container Sale.

Our Clear Plastic Containers are Ina’s favorite for storing and freezing her delicious chicken stock (featured in Family Style). They are dishwasher/microwave safe and BPA free. Simple and sturdy, I use them for everything from storing leftovers and baking ingredients (and candy!) to organizing my office supplies.

Next up…Plan B Aluminum Containers. These containers live up to their name as they have saved me, and my dinner table, on multiple occasions. For the most part, I use these for make-ahead dinners, but I’ve also had the opportunity to share meals with friends – these are great for transporting, the lids stay put and I don’t have to worry about tracking down my bakeware afterward! For the winter, I’m going to take inspiration from Make It Ahead and stock my freezer with deliciousness.

And of course, the Chinese Takeout Containers. They make even leftovers special (Thanksgiving anyone?). I love to use these for kids’ treats and desserts - cookies and brownies work well. They’d also be fun containers for an easy fall picnic in the park.

All three of our containers are featured on Ina’s Easy Tips and with 20% Off, you don’t want to miss out on these kitchen staples. Use code CONTAINER20.

 - Cassandra

 

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