How easy was that?

When I first started baking, I made the assumption that watching the Food Network would help introduce me to baking techniques, recipes and tips that would get me excited about baking. Little did I know that most of the cooks on the channel would appear hokey, gimmicky, or downright unqualified to speak on any food-related matter. Quite frankly, I found most of them off-putting and nauseating.

However, two personalities did stand out: Nigella Lawson and Ina Garten. Those who have read my blog know my fondness for anything Nigella. But, my appreciation for Ina came a bit slower. This is because I always thought of French cooking as pretty inaccessible, seeing as my taste leaned more towards Italian food. My outlook changed when I was shopping in a gourmet foods store, and Ina Garten herself happened to be there signing her cookbook, Barefoot in Paris. Well, I jumped at the chance to meet her, purchased her cookbook, and immediately got in line. When it was my turn, I explained that I had never made any French food but I was excited to try. As she signed my book, Ina responded that she hoped her cookbook would help me with my task and even pointed out some recipes to try first! For the life of me, I have no idea which ones she pointed to because I was too excited to meet her. But, I did resolve to give her and French cooking a try. I’ve made several recipes from Barefoot in Paris, including coeur a la crème and profiteroles with crème anglaise.

Ever since then, I’ve loved watching her on the Food Network. Not only because she’s just so laid back when she cooks, she also sticks to what what she knows, country French and Hamptons recipes. She doesn’t have to sell herself because her cooking does that for her. Her tips are genuinely helpful and her mannerisms are natural. Ina can make bœuf bourguignon or peanut butter and jelly bars and still remain classy and effortless.

Today I made Ina’s chocolate cupcakes and peanut butter icing. This recipe was rather easy to make. The chocolate cupcakes looked so good coming out of the oven, I almost didn’t want to ice them!

However, when I tasted the peanut butter icing, I almost fell over. It was that good! It tasted very similar to a peanut butter filling found inside one of the Girl Scout cookies.

I know I’m not the only one out there with an affinity for Ina! In fact, there’s a project in the works that several bloggers are working on, including myself, April at The 21st Century Housewife, Chaya at My Sweet and Savory, Faith at An Edible Mosaic, Louanne at Louanne’s Kitchen, and Mia at Bright Morning Star! All will be revealed in due course, but until then, crack open your Ina cookbooks or peruse her recipes online and make something of hers today. You’ll definitely say, “How easy was that?” when you’re done!

39 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ker-Yng
    Mar 06, 2011 @ 19:07:42

    You got the autographs of both the celebrity cooks you admire! How awesome is that? 😉 My mum and I both enjoyed watching Barefoot Contessa too, I have her ‘B C at Home’ book. Your cupcakes look very delicious!! Curiously awaiting the unveiling of your project!

  2. Trevor Sis Boom
    Mar 06, 2011 @ 19:37:52

    When Ina and decided we could each see other people I didn’t realize she was about to go runoff and have an orgy! I’m excited to see what you ladies have cookin’. I have had these cupcakes in my ‘to do and bring to work’ list for over a year. They sure look like winners!

  3. angela
    Mar 06, 2011 @ 20:36:54

    Those look great. I am not a fan of regular frosting; I am always very excited to see the peanut butter version! It is delicious.

  4. Kim- Liv Life
    Mar 06, 2011 @ 20:43:24

    I really like Ina too! However, I missed this recipe… peanut butter and chocolate is my combo, and these cupcakes look so tempting! Nicely done!

  5. BumbleVee
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 00:41:50

    Couldn’t agree more about “off-putting” cooking show hosts…. some of them are downright strange …..

    Ina is pretty real….. almost….

    these look interesting… must give them a try.. off to check your other goodies….

  6. curtorimfoodieszone
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 04:18:36

    I clearly remember ur wonderful Nigella meets :-)and now u top that with this.
    Babe ,ur really blessed , these are wonderful experiences that we love in life.
    The post is perfect ,looking forward not only to more , but to working with u in Ina’s Garden, it will be fun , specially with these amazing cupcakes with good frens like u:-)
    Lots of love and happy sunshine,

  7. Elaine
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 06:58:23

    I love Ina and have several of her cookbooks and have made quite a few of her recipes. I always make her meatloaf recipe using ground turkey. She is also one of the few shows I DVR from Food Network. Your cupcakes look beautiful right out of the oven and frosted. Peanut butter and chocolate are my very favorite combinations, so I will have to make these for sure. How wonderful that you got to meet her!

  8. Bizzy
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 07:02:13

    How easy was that?

    Great job. Great cupcakes. Great post.

  9. Kathy
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 07:49:12

    Wow! Your cupcakes look amazing. I also love Ina. I have all but one of her cookbooks! How great to get her to autograph your book!

  10. Mary
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 09:50:45

    You did a really nice job with these. I agree that Ina and Nigella are both wonderful at what they do. It’s nice to see cooks who cook rather than perform. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  11. Laural (bhealthier)
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 10:03:05

    OMG! I felt the same when I watched Food Network… I really like Ina and Nigella though. I can’t wait to hear about this mystery project!!! Can I join!?

    Lovely cupcakes indeed! I was actually going to use peanut butter frosting for my banana cupcakes I did last week but I chose cream cheese. I guess I will just have to make cupcakes again this week! Ha ha.

  12. Cher
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 10:37:50

    Oh, sounds like something exciting is coming up. I am intrigued.

  13. ryan
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 12:25:01

    Great post and oh so yummy cupcakes! I love anything with chocolate and peanut butter. I agree with you completely about FN chefs and love for Ina! That is so neat that you got to meet her! I’ll have to try these. Must go eat lunch now as I’m starving after reading your post. 🙂

  14. Sarah
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 13:34:32

    I love Nigella! I find her very soothing to watch! Ina’s story totally inspired me. I love her too! I’m excited to see what you have in store!

  15. Ronda
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 13:40:50

    Those look very tasty. I love Ina too.

  16. Cakelaw
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 14:30:21

    These cupcakes sound Devine! They look good unfrosted, but the frosting really pushes them into the stratosphere.

  17. Liz
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 16:12:11

    Beautiful cupcakes!!!! I’m a huge Ina fan, too….her recipes never fail~

  18. mimi
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 16:28:18

    I really have to thank you for bringing me a sample, these cupcakes rock! It was my first time tasting peanut butter icing and I must say that it is very, very, very good. I will have to try this recipe…thanks again!

  19. claire
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 16:45:28


    I am about to post recipes from it too! If I loved peanut butter icing I would be all over this!

  20. Joyti
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 17:29:03

    Yum! The very first cookbook I ever bought was by Ina Garten. She’s so lovely, and calm, and elegant…

  21. sanya
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 22:14:37

    You’re excitement over the icing got me excited! Sounds like it was amazing! Can’t wait to see your project! I’m intrigued!

  22. Jessica
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 22:42:26

    It was nice of Ina to show you which recipes to start with. The lighting in your photo looks good! Good job!

  23. Andrew
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 22:59:36

    That’s cool that you were able to meet Ina! This post makes me want cupcakes…..

  24. erica@fashionmeetsfood
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 08:25:43

    this looks absolutely wonderful! I am your newest follower!


  25. sara
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 11:12:52

    YUM, these look amazing! Chocolate + peanut butter is pretty much my favorite combination in the world. 😉

  26. Renee
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 15:55:56

    Those look delicious!!! I so need a cupcake right now!!

  27. torviewtoronto
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 20:24:22

    delicious looking muffins

  28. Jackie (
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 02:40:24

    I’m a huge fan of Ina. Her elegant recipes are always so amazing and simple to make. I love the way you piped the swirls of peanut butter icing on these delicious chocolate cupcakes.

  29. Domestic Goddess Wannabe
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 05:35:07

    Well, you know how I feel about Nigella but Ina seems to have some great recipes too – will need to look her up!

  30. NN
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 05:43:50

    Deadly cupcakes!! But so hungry right now I might risk death…

  31. Mary
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 06:07:53

    Omigosh, that looks so good. Nice work. I love Miss Ina too. She is the best..I like the squash soup recipe in the Barefoot in Paris book.

  32. Missy
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 10:47:37

    WOW! That looks so GOOD! Great job.
    Btw I too like Barefoot in Paris.


  33. Chunklet's Mom
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 18:59:14

    Your cupcakes look amazing!!! Love the peanut topping )

  34. Mary
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 19:06:46

    I’m not a huge cupcake fan, but those look amazing! I bet they taste great too, and you really can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter. I only have one Ina cookbook, her first, and I love the ginger chicken recipe in it. I must find that and make it again soon…

  35. Becky
    Mar 11, 2011 @ 15:41:37

    Those look delish! I recently tried Martha’s recipe for chocolate cupcakes that had peanut butter swirled into the batter. And then I put chocolate ganache on top for a frosting… might be another one for your to try if you like the Chocolate & PB combo.

  36. Priya Mahadevan
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 12:04:49

    Oh – those looks so delicious and yummy love the peanut topping 🙂 –

    Apr 09, 2011 @ 10:34:41

    Peanut butter…wow never thot of that combo …its sounds n luks yummy.

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