Guest Post: Barefoot Contessa Smackdown

Apologies for a tardy entrance to the week here at Momsicle. K-Pants and I have been getting our calluses filed down on a beach in Costa Rica visiting friends in North Carolina, doing laundry, shopping for socks, and pondering the big bang. We’re just behind the 8.

But we have a Guest Post!! Holla.

My trusty-superhero friend Marisa is a brilliant teacher (check out her brand-new blog at, a one-time minor league baseball journalist, a Ph.D. student, and—above all—someone who licks the last drop of honey off of life’s baklava plate. She’s taken the Barefoot Contessa’s phrase “How easy is that?” to another level. Here’s Marisa showing off her SLR to make us all jealous.

As a side note, she’s a vegetarian: So if you’re tired of me throwing bacon at everything, you have a respite.

Ina Garten v. Ina-in-a-Bowl

I love cookbooks. They’re my favorite form of fiction writing. The pictures are pretty and the stories they tell are ones of effortless food-assembly with delicate ingredients laid out in multicolored bowls as the chef dances around the kitchen.

Then there’s my kitchen: Sometimes the fridge smells funky, and I think maybe we should just buy a new one and start over. Also, I’m always cooking when I’m hungry (why is that?) which means I’m only capable of monosyllabic utterances until my blood sugar returns to a functional level. [Note: this was a serious issue between my husband and me early on. We refer to the low-blood-sugar state as The Wolf.]

So when a fancy cookbook has extra steps—like stuffing pasta shells with ricotta or baking polenta in a pie plate—my friend the Barefoot Contessa and I have words.

“Listen, Ina,” I start. “I respect your aesthetic prowess. I really do. But did you chop that celery? Did you? No. A production assistant did while you were shopping at Chico’s for casual, form-flattering garden-party wear. I was teaching children to read all day. How do you think they learn to read your cookbooks? Not in front of a barbecue in the Hamptons.

This is not a productive conversation between me and Ina—not fair to the gracious Contessa, and not fair to you, the poor, hungry worker bee.

Enter the “Food in a Bowl” strategy. I skip the fancy steps by throwing food items into a bowl. You can still do this in a classy way, such as with a jaunty wrist-flick motion while kicking up one of your feet.

You will be eating a lot faster.
 Evelyn didn’t think it could be done, but this Barefoot Contessa-style recipe can be accomplished using Goya products. [Editor’s note: I am still skeptical. And where is the bacon??]

If you’re entertaining visiting dignitaries, go ahead and spend twenty minutes rolling up these ingredients into tortillas, then rebake for another twenty. Knock yourself out.

But if you want to eat RIGHT NOW, try the “Food in a Bowl” strategy. You won’t go back.

Squash Enchiladas in a Bowl

You need:
-one acorn squash
-one can of pinto beans  (I know Foodtown has these. A whole aisle!)
 [Editor’s Note: You’re right on this one. Goya even makes low-sodium beans-in-a-can now.]
-one can of enchilada sauce (You with me Foodtown? Oh yeah.)
-spinach: two big handfuls or so.
-tortilla chips

Wrap the acorn squash in saran wrap. Stick it in the microwave for 15 minutes. (Yes, that long. It won’t explode.) Go sit down for ten minutes with a Corona. At the five-minute mark, wilt the spinach and warm up the beans. When the squash is cooked, cut it in half, take out the seeds, and scoop some of the meaty flesh into the bowls. Throw in the spinach, beans, and cheese. Drizzle with enchilada sauce. Top with tortilla chips. Eat. Right now.

[I like that this recipe involves a Corona and some down time. That will give me time to dodge the missiles being thrown from the high chair, and perhaps give the Pants a bath, as well.

Please share your own life-saving dinner tips below! Happy Wednesday!]

5 responses to “Guest Post: Barefoot Contessa Smackdown

  1. Teachers whose names are Marisa (with ONE “S”, obviously) are always brilliant.


  2. Nice one. I have an acorn squash to get rid of – I’ll have to try this.

  3. Pingback: Sanity Travel Tips 4: Other People’s Kids | momsicle

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