Rosemary Thumbprints with Clementine Curd and The Day I Went to Ina Garten’s Cookie Swap (What?!)

by Julie Ruble on November 27, 2012 · 56 comments

Um. I may or may not have gone to a Cookie Swap at Ina Garten’s House.

And photos and recipes from this cookie swap may or may not have just been published in Ladies’ Home Journal.


This totally happened.

It may or may not have been one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me (it was.)

Enough fangirling, though. I know what you really want to know — the nitty gritty details! For the gorgeous photos and recipes, you need the magazine itself (look for Ina on the cover — it’s on newstands now), but I’ll be your go-to source for those gossipy behind-the-scenes details. Such as:

1. No really, Ina Garten is one of the sweetest, most hospitable people on the planet. She wasn’t a diva in any sense; rather, she made us all feel very welcome and appreciated. When she took a bite of my cookie, I admitted that I was totally starstruck, saying, “This is a life moment.” She laughed and told me about one of her life moments: when Meryl Streep tasted one of her dishes. She’s so down-to-earth, y’all.

2. No, we didn’t see Jeffrey — I so wanted him to come in and give Ina a big smooch like he does on Barefoot Contessa.

3. Ina’s breakfast indulgence? Oatmeal. Seriously! She says people are always disappointed to learn that that’s her biggest vice.

4. I found this out while eating breakfast with her before the cookie swap at her favorite restaurant, The 1770 House, which kind of blows my mind. Is this my life? Did that actually happen?!

5. Her yard is just as beautiful as it is on the show — and her garden is a sight to behold! As we were walking through it, the photographer pinched off a plump strawberry and ate it.

6. Speaking of our fancy schmancy photog, Quentin Bacon, we had a great conversation about celebrity chefs and pavlova (he’s an Aussie) on the bus to the Hamptons. He got a text message from Curtis Stone en route inviting him to a party. No biggie. I offered to attend in his stead, which for some reason was only met with laughter.

7. His last name’s BACON. Of course he gets invited to celebrity parties.

8. Joy the Baker and I caught a pedicab in NYC to a restaurant and couldn’t decide if we were having a load of fun or about to die. It was like a roller coaster that twisted in and out of oncoming traffic. Then we were way overcharged. Call it a bonding experience.

9. I took random photos of people kissing in Central Park. I hope they didn’t notice.

10. Ina Garten’s hair stylist has been doing her hair since before she was the Barefoot Contessa. I asked her if she ever felt starstruck and she shrugged and said, “She’s always been Ina to me.” How must that feel?!

11. The folks of Ladies’ Home Journal are a seriously fun bunch to be around. Our conversations ranged from food blogs to sex to religion and everywhere in between on our ride to the Hamptons.

12. The bus driver became my good buddy and NYC tour guide when I got carsick and moved to sit up front with him. Shout out to Alex!

13. Ina is even more beautiful in person — those freckles! She’s also petite — we took off our shoes for pictures with her.

14. Yes, of course I peeked in her pantry. It’s just what you’d expect: nice local products, a few items from her own product line, and tons of gorgeous dishes, all neatly arranged. We may or may not have also peeked in the freezer. Yes, she really does keep chicken stock in there! We lusted a bit after her beautiful kitchen.

As an aside, perhaps I don’t get invited to more celebrity parties because I peek in people’s pantries. Just a thought.

15. Cookie swaps that include Chandon Rosé and festive boxes spread across a gorgeous table dressed for winter are the best sort of cookie swaps.

16. You should buy Ina’s latest cookbook, Foolproof, which I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of. While it’s full of new recipes (including a mustard flank steak I already promised to make for Mike), it’s typical Barefoot Contessa: classic, elegant, and simple. You’ll love it. I read it like a novel before bed!

17. While I’m spendin’ your money, please pick up a copy of Ladies’ Home Journal — I really want them to feel how much we love reading about blogs and bloggers, and companies feel the love through sales! I’ve already bought several copies myself. LHJ is one of the few magazines really embracing food blogs and pioneering how they can work together with print media. Love that!

18. Want to see more of the article now? Here is the interview with Ina and here are all the fantastic cookie recipes! My cookies are Rosemary Thumbprints with Clementine Curd, and they’re seriously delicious.

19. I had the privilege of attending the cookie swap with some other lovely bloggers including Deb from Smitten Kitchen, Lisa from Homesick Texan, Clara from Channeling Contessa, Joy from Joy the Baker, and Zoë from Zoë Bakes. These ladies are amazing and so much fun.

20. Finally, I want you to get a chance to have the same wonderful experience with Ina that I had. LHJ is currently holding a contest called the World’s Biggest Cookie Swap. You can get details to enter and hopefully win a chance to have lunch with Ina here.

Thank you to Ina for your hospitality, and to Ladies’ Home Journal for the experience!

(Photos by Quentin Bacon. Used with permission.)

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate November 27, 2012 at 5:14 am

Ha! I thought that I recognized Lisa (Homesick Texan) in one of the pictures. Being a northern transplanted Texan myself, her book is very comforting. So very jealous of you! Looked like an absolutely fabulous time with lots of great people AND cookies… how can you beat that?

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Liren November 27, 2012 at 5:19 am

Julie, you are glowing in these photos! A life moment, indeed! What an honor and a thrill it must have been to be welcomed by Ina into her home, to pose barefoot next to her, and yes, to have her taste your food. I’m so thrilled for you!

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Renee November 27, 2012 at 5:25 am

That’s just awesome! You all look so beautiful, and I recognize Joy in the picture too, right? I will have to check out the article, especially for your yummy cookie recipe! Keep doing what you’re doing. Congrats!

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Shanna@ pineapple and coconut November 27, 2012 at 5:30 am

What an opportunity of a lifetime! So happy for you!! Your cookies look and sound great! I will definitely pick up a copy of LHJ!

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Susie November 27, 2012 at 5:30 am

How very exciting…what a treat to be there with all those wonderful women!

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Kathy - Panini Happy November 27, 2012 at 6:11 am

SO awesome, Julie!!

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Mary November 27, 2012 at 11:08 am

This is AMAZING! Congrats! And you look fabulous!

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet November 27, 2012 at 11:35 am

That is freakin incredible! I would probably just die!

I can’t wait to pick up a copy of that magazine for photos:-) You look gorgeous, too!!

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Adah November 27, 2012 at 11:38 am

Wowy zowy, that’s big time, Julie! Congrats.

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Kerry November 27, 2012 at 11:51 am

That is so exciting! I’m pretty sure Ina Garten is the one woman my husband would leave me for, and I can’t blame him. What a fantastic opportunity and what a great memory!

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Julie M. November 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm

You’ve officially hit the big time girl – congratulations!! What an amazing event and one that you were meant to attend. Can’t wait to check out the article. :)

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar November 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm

SO amazing!! And those cookies?! Awesome.

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Brittney November 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

That is so amazing Julie! Congrats! You totally deserve it!

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Katrina November 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I just found your blog after reading the article in LHJ!!!!!! I love to cook almost as much as I love needlework and I am looking forward to following you. I so enjoyed the article and it sounds like you had a wonderful time :-).

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Amanda @ The Dormestic Goddess November 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

The cookies look amazing! And you look even better (your makeup? Ridiculous!)! I am SO happy you got to do this, you totally deserve it! Congrats!

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Alison @Coupon Kitchen November 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm

This is such an awesome experience!! Baking with the Barefoot Contessa? Doesn’t get much better than that! Your cookies look delicious as well.

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Vanessa November 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Congrats! Miss your pretty face :-)

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jamie @ green beans & grapefruit November 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

What an experience!!!! I can’t believe y’all had to keep it a secret for so long!!

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Becca November 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Julie! This is so so so exciting and amazing and it had to be affirming! (AND you look just absolutely radiant and lovely!) I loved reading this post and thinking about you doing what you do and how BIG this is getting for you! Perhaps one day someone will be like “You went to school with Julie from Willow Bird Baking?!?!” and I’ll be all like “Yea, but she’s just always been ‘Julie’ to me. ” :)

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sayre weir November 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm

YOU GO GIRL! looks like a blast, and the cookies look mouth-watering :)

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Kaitlin November 27, 2012 at 10:36 pm

How cool! Congratulations, Julie!

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Denise @ Creative Kitchen November 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Beautiful photos & sounds like an incredible time! I love Ina Garten….so happy you got to experience such a great time ;)

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Joanne November 28, 2012 at 1:01 am

Girl I am so enamored FOR you and so thrilled you got to do this! You’re pretty much a rockstar in my book…even more so than you were already!

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Cammy November 28, 2012 at 1:47 am

Julie, this is just so incredible! And yet, at the same time, very well deserved.

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Megan November 28, 2012 at 2:16 am

First, you look gorgeous! And so do those cookies!! Second, I am so, so jealous. I love Ina, and I’m so happy to hear that she is just as sweet and down to earth in person as she appears on her show. What an absolutely amazing experience! I will have to get my hands on that LHJ issue.

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Paula @ Vintage Kitchen November 28, 2012 at 2:36 am

Very cool cookie swap Julie! It will be a milestone in your blogging career, I´m happy for you! And those cookies look tantalizing, perfect for the holidays!

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linda November 28, 2012 at 4:26 am

What a wonderful experience!! Love that you got the opportunity!

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Foodiewife November 28, 2012 at 4:31 am

Julie, I am sooooooooooooooo jealous, but in a really good kinda way. You go, girl! You were with so much royalty, but you’ve also earned your own tiara. My lifelong dream would be to meet Ina at her own home– and it happened to you! Okay, that trumps my meeting Tyler Florence two days in a row– and him telling me he liked my blog. But to have Ina eat one of MY cookies! I’d faint, and when I recovered, I think I wouldn’t be able to speak or move. So happy for you. What a great post!

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Carol November 28, 2012 at 4:39 am

WHOA! You look great, Julie….so casual and relaxed in great company…no big deal! What fun this must have been. I’m impressed by the secrets you can keep. You could work for the CIA. Your cookies look great, as do you! Congratulations on this big deal!

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Rhona @ Mrs Ellwood's Simple Life November 28, 2012 at 9:56 am

Oh Julie, I am consumed with the strangest combination of excitement and happiness for you and (I’ll be honest) more than a little bit of jealousy! Ina is so utterly fabulous, and has long been on my dream dinner party guest list! You look so beautiful in the pictures (even if you are shoeless, we can’t tell!) and the cookies sound scrummy :) So happy for you that you had this amazing opportunity!

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Robyn November 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm

WOW, you look fantastic! I’m so happy for you, what a great experience. Don’t know how you kept it under your hat?! And can we talk cookies, perfectly special like this whole event!!! Congrats and thanks for all the inspiration!

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Fran November 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Amazing! You all look cool as cucumbers too:) Beautiful food gals-we love you all.

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Erin November 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Wow wow wow! How awesome is this! Looks like you had a lovely time, as one would expect. :)

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ItalianGirlCooks November 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm

All I can say is…Wow! What an experience for all you fantastic food bloggers, there with Ina. Loved your post and of course the beautiful pictures. Your cookies look scrumptious, perfect anytime of the year, too. Love to see these food bloggers getting the recognition they deserve for all the work…great recipes and excellent creative/technical writing they offer.

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Sharla November 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Congrats – that is so awesome!!!

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Colette @ JFF! November 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Thanks for sharing, Julie! Ina is too cool. So glad you got to go and your cookies look yummy.

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Laura November 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I’m so jealous! Ina is my favorite :) Can’t wait to pick up a copy of the magazine.

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Jackie November 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Just discovered your beautiful blog! Congratulations on LHJ:)

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Denise November 29, 2012 at 12:41 am

I’ve been reading your blog for a long time so was so happy for you to have had such an awesome experience. Great photos! Congrats!

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Jenni November 29, 2012 at 12:50 am

Wow, Julie! That is so cool! I somehow missed that this happened. Saw the pic on Zoe’s blog and was all, “Hey, that’s *Julie!*” How much fun! Sounds like a wonderful time. :)

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Christina November 29, 2012 at 2:54 am

Holy moly! That’s soooo cool!! And rosemary + clementine curd sounds like heaven.

P.S. You look super-pretty in those pictures!

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Lori @ RecipeGirl November 29, 2012 at 3:44 am

Okay, you are adorable. What a fun experience! I’d have absolutely DIED watching her eat one of my cookies!!!

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Jenni November 29, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Oh my gosh, Julie!!! This is so awesome! Congrats on this super cool achievement! :)

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Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe November 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm

This sounds like a fantastic experience! And your cookies look amazing!
PS. You’re so gorgeous!

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Christen December 1, 2012 at 2:46 am

I read this article today, and it is awesome. Such great photos! I would pass out if I had an opportunity to cookie swap with Ina Garten. Quick question: what do you do with the clementine zest? Its not printed anywhere!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking December 1, 2012 at 2:48 am

Thank you, Christen! Mix the zest in at the end of making the clementine curd — it adds a lovely zing and texture :)

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Christen December 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Thanks! Now I can get to work on making these!

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Mom December 1, 2012 at 4:27 am

Very proud of you, Julie! How special to spend time with Ina and bake for her! :) I love the photos… You look beautiful! We sent copies of the magazine to Mom and Mabel, bought them for Laura, and Wanda requested one, too. They are geting hard to find we have purchased so many!! :)

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Lynzee Elzey December 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm

This is squisheroo from LJ…had to pop over and be wicked jealous some more. ;) “As an aside, perhaps I don’t get invited to more celebrity parties because I peek in people’s pantries. Just a thought.” Haha! You may be on to something there!

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Ala December 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Living the dream, Julie–you’re truly an inspiration! I’m so happy that you had a chance to live out this life moment <3 you, of all people, deserve it!

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Jenny @ BAKE December 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

these cookies are so beautiful and delicate!

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Joanna @ Chic & Gorgeous Treats December 5, 2012 at 6:21 am

Hi Julie! How’re you? I’m glad I finally stumbled upon your blog and not sure if you recall who I am, but we met at the FOODBUZZ festival 2011 last year. It took me awhile to recollect everyone whom I met as I misplaced some business cards. This post is amazing and those clementine curd thumbprint cookie are such a gem. Great photos taken together with Ina Garten and hopefully I will someday be able to meet her in person too. Stay in touch and I’m off to further explore your blog. Cheers, Jo

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marla December 14, 2012 at 4:23 am

I cannot believe how AMAZING this experience looks!! You are adorable in the photos and I have always loved Ina ~ now even more so!

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Christa December 14, 2012 at 6:54 am

I have to say this out loud, “Rosemary Thumbprints with Clementine Curd”… I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more romantic combination of words in my life. Thanks for the recipe. :)

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denise December 18, 2012 at 9:17 pm

approx how many cookies does the thumbprint recipe make? i was looking for the recipe on the willowbird site but didn’t find it.

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