Tag Archives: Food

French Onion Soup

French onion soup.  Just the name sounds fancy – It’s French after all.  I love French onion soup but I hate paying for it in a restaurant.

A while back I decided to scour Pinterest, where else, for the ultimate recipe.  I scoured.  I scoured some more.  I was confused – I assumed by the price you pay, it was an intricate recipe.  That didn’t make sense if I was reading the recipes right.  Caramelize onions, add beef broth, some spices, some wine and simmer.  Could it be that easy?  Really?

Yes.

It really is that easy.  There are a few tricks I learned but the process is simple.  You can scale it up or down depending on your needs.  Since we eat a lot of soup and it’s a great lunch, I usually make a healthy pot.

Some things to know:

  • When you’re caramelizing the onions, don’t add salt right away.  It draws the water out of the onions and makes it take longer to caramelize.  Add a bit of brown sugar when the onions are starting to get soft and turn brown.
  • It brings out the sweetness in the onions and really helps them brown well.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan with onions.  While it’s tempting to try to do this all in one batch, it actually is a bigger pain and takes longer.  It is also much easier to burn the onions.  Don’t do it.  Just don’t.
  • I use a touch of dehydrated garlic and shallot to bump the sweetness.  I buy mine here and here.
  • I also like  shallot pepper seasoning for a hint of herbs.  Mister uses this on EVERYTHING but tarragon isn’t my favorite so I use it sparingly.  It really gives a nice flavor to the soup, though.  I used 1/2 tsp.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs yellow cooking onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tbs butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 2 Tbs salt, divided
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 bouillon cubes

Melt half the butter in a large frying pan over medium low heat.  Add half the onions.  Let cook slowly stirring occasionally.

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After approximately 15 minutes, you’ll see the onions start to get some brown color.  When they look like this, sprinkle 1 Tbs salt on them.

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Keep stirring and browning.  When the look like the picture below, sprinkle half the sugar over the top.

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Keep cooking until all the onions are brown and extremely soft.  They’ll look like the picture below.

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Dump the onions in a stock pot.  Add the beef broth and turn on low.

Repeat the process of caramelizing the onion with the other half of everything.

Once the onions are all in the pot, add the wine, water, bouillon, and any other seasonings you’re using.  Simmer 20 minutes (or longer).

You could use a crock pot instead of simmering this on the stove.  It’ll just be a little longer of a process but would taste equally delightful.

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You can top with croutons and cheese – if you do, broil the cheese until it gets bubbly and brown.  Delish!

Be sure to share this soup – you’ll have a lot of friends you never knew you had!

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Crock Pot Swiss Steak

It’s no secret I love too cook.  It only makes sense that I love to eat.  What do I love more than that?  Making something amazingly easy that tastes like you spent hours slaving over a hot stove.

How do I manage it?  My crock pot.  I couldn’t live without it – without them – any of them.  People laugh when I say I own so many I quit counting.  *cough* nine *cough*  Seriously.  Before you ask, yes, I use them all.  No, not usually at the same time.  I often have two going at the same time, though.  They keep mashed potatoes hot on a holiday.  There’s no better way to serve sloppy joes.  Soup?  Who needs a stock pot?  I almost always make soup in my crock pot.  They are one of the workhorses in my kitchen.

A year ago we bought 1/4 of a cow.  It’s a lot of meat.  A LOT.  But since we had a big freezer that was nearly empty, it was a really good deal and a teacher that works with me raised the cow.  Did I mention it was a lot of meat?  Have you ever seen 40 lbs of hamburger in one place other than the store?  And that was just my share…

Needless to say we’ve been eating well.  We’re down to about 5 lbs of ground beef but I had a lot of round steak to use.  Where’d I turn for recipes?  Pinterest of course!  Most of them pointed to a mix of cream soup, french onion soup mix, and water.  As always, I used what I had and what sounded good.  I was a bit apprehensive because I’d tried this recipe a year ago and it was horrible but I tried cooking the steak from frozen.  We ate it for one meal and I threw the left overs out.  Yeah, it was that bad.  Make sure your beef is thawed if it’s frozen.  It makes a BIG difference.

This time, it was delicious.  It reminded me of the swiss steak my mom used to make when I was a kid – the only difference being she used cube steak, fried it, toiled over the stove to make gravy, then baked it forever.  I didn’t say it was AS good, but for the work involved, I will eat this a whole lot more than I’ll spend the time to make that.

I added fresh mushrooms because they were on sale today and looked great.  You could also use 2 cans of mushrooms that you drain well or leave them out completely if you don’t like them.  You could also add extra onions.  I didn’t want to kill the dish with onions – I know odd for me – but between the fresh onion and the cream of onion soup, it was just perfect (for me).

Enjoy!

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3 lbs round or cube steak

1 can cream of onion soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 package french onion soup mix

1 onion, sliced

1/4 cup water or beef broth

1 8oz package white mushrooms, sliced

splash of wine (optional – I used dry vermouth)

salt and pepper

In a hot pan, brown steaks, approximately 2 minutes each side.  Set aside.  This step is optional but I highly encourage it.  Anne Burrel says, “Brown food tastes good!” and she’s right!

While steaks are browning, mix soups and soup mix in the bottom of a crock pot.  Once mixed, add onions and browned steaks to crock pot.

Deglaze the hot pan  with water or beef broth and scrape the bottom to get all the bits.  Pour over steaks in crock pot.

Cook on low 3 hours.

Add mushrooms and wine.  Stir.  Cook on low another 3-4 hours or until beef is tender.

Serve over potatoes or rice.

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Crock Pot Beer in the Rear Chicken

Mister bought a huge club-sized package of chicken then asked me to cook it.

Crap.  I don’t like chicken thighs.  I don’t have chicken thigh recipes.  What the heck am I going to do?

Pinterest! That’s what I’m going to do!  Pinterest!  My lifesaver!

I made this recipe with part of the package. I still had half a package.  What to do?  I LOVE beer in the rear chicken.  Here’s my adaptation for the crock pot.  It isn’t quite as flavorful because it’s missing the definite charcoal smoke flavor BUT it’s still pretty good.  Mister will probably eat this right out of the fridge cold.  I can also see myself making this into chicken salad, too.

2 lbs chicken thighs

1/2 tsp seasoned salt

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

sprinkle of pepper

1 can beer

Place chicken evenly on the bottom of a 3 or 4 qt. crock pot.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Pour beer into pot (I used half a can – just enough to come about half way up the sides of the chicken.=).  Cook on high 2-3 or low 4-5 hours or until chicken is done.  Remove from crock pot.  Serve.

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Honey Bourbon Garlic Sesame Chicken

I like Chineese food.  Mister loves chinese food.  Little Bug loves omlette soup (egg drop).  We eat it plenty.

There’s an awesome restaurant right across the street from where my parents live.  They opened the same year that my parents moved into their condo.  We eat there often and know all of the people that work there.  A few weeks ago, they had a fire in the grease trap.  It was a total loss but everyone got out safely.  While they plan on rebuilding, it takes time and we’re desperate for Chinese.20140208-165441.jpg

Mister’d bought a package of chicken thighs and didn’t cook them.  I scoured pinterest and couldn’t find what I was looking for.  This is the closest I could come.  As always, I had to switch it up a bit so here’s what I did:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (breasts could be substituted)

1 tsp. dried minced garlic

1/2 tsp toasted onion powder

1/4 tsp dried minced onoin

7 oz honey

1/4 cup tamari

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup bourbon

2 Tbs sesame seeds

1 Tbs corn starch

1/4 cup cold water

drizzle of sesame oil (optional)

green onions (optional)

  1. Put chicken in 3 qt crock pot.  Sprinkle wiht onions, onion powder, and garlic.
  2. Mix honey, tamarai, ketchup, vinegar, and bourbon in a small bowl.  Pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-5 hours, or until chicken is cooked.
  4. Remove chicken from crock pot and chop.
  5. Remove sauce to a 2-qt stock pot.
  6. While chopping chicken, turn sauce on medium and simmer 10 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken slightly.
  7. Mix corn starch and water in a small bowl until dissolved.  Whisk into sauce.  Return to a boil and simmer 3 minutes.
  8. Return chicken to pot.  Add sesame oil if desired and stir.
  9. Serve over white rice or noodles.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion if desired.
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Orange Creamsicle Cookies

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I’ve been looking at pinterest.  I know.  It gets me in more trouble than a little bit.  I’d seen a number of “cake mix cookie” recipes.  I was intrigued.

Could they be that easy?

Could they be that good?

I had to try.  This afternoon I was shopping with Little Bug and Ahma (my mom).  I grabbed two cake mixes for “eventually” when I wanted to bake.  Tonight is “eventually”.  I know – I didn’t waste any time did I?

Mister is working late tonight and I got Little Bug to bed early.  What to do?  I’m feeling crafty (never good), bake-ish, and feisty   Have a glass of wine and bake!  When is that not a good idea?

I went back to pinterest and found this this recipe and ran.

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Cookie Ingredients:

1 box Duncan Hines Orange Supreme Cake Mix

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

1 tsp dried orange peel + 1 Tbs hot water (optional – I like this one)

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:IMG_0605

Preheat oven to 350 or 325 if using dark cookie sheets.

Mix egg and oil until well combined.  It will get lighter in color and be frothy.

If using it, add rehydrated orange peel.  Dump in cake mix.  Mix well.  It will be quite thick.

IMG_0606Drop dough by teaspoons onto a greased or non-stick cookie sheet approximately 2 inches apart.  I used a small cookie scoop (the one with 60 on the little sweeper).

Bake for 6 minutes and rotate the pan (front to back, top rack to bottom rack if using 2 sheets).  Bake another 6 minutes.  Cookies should be lightly set and golden brown on the bottom.

Remove from oven and immediately and gently move to a cooling rack.

Glaze  #1-IMG_0607

2.5 oz powdered sugar (approximately 2/3 cup)

1 Tbsp. Half-and-half, heavy cream, or milk

While cookies are baking, mix together powdered sugar and liquid in a small bowl.  It may be a bit lumpy and should be fairly thick.  Let sit until cookies are out of the oven.  Once you remove cookies to the cooling rack, place rack in a cool cookie sheet (to catch the drips).  Drip glaze on cookies with glaze #1 while cookies are still hot.  The glaze will thin a bit and turn opaque.  Immediately mix glaze #2 and let cookies cool approximately 5 minutes.IMG_0608

Glaze #2 –

2.5 oz powdered sugar (approximately 2/3 cup)

1 tsp. Half-and-half, heavy cream, or milk

Once cookies have cooled slightly, apply glaze #2.  Stir it well until there are no lumps.  It should be quite thick.  This glaze will sit up better and stay whiter than the last glaze.  Let cool completely.

These cookies remind me of what I remember push-ups tasting like when I was a kid.  They’re orange-y and the half-and-half in the glaze kicks in the creamy taste.  I ended up leaving out the white chocolate chips because Mister doesn’t like them and I made these for him to take to work tomorrow.  The vanilla flavor would give the cookies an extra creamy taste and a nice texture, too.

By my calculations, they’re around 80 calories each – I ended up with 43 cookies in my batch.  You can’t beat that!

Enjoy!

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