French Onion Soup

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What’s your fave way to eat butter? Melty with crab luxuriously dipped in it? Spread without remorse over a perfectly toasted slice of sourdough? Browned and tossed with linguine? Yep, all of it. Me, too. But today, I like my butter in a caramelized pot of onions and a copious amount of red wine. With burn-y cheese-topped croissant slices, and in soup form.

You may or may not know how I feel about soup, or how I think it belongs in its own section of the food pyramid (next to burritos), or how it’s the most giving and perfect food to share love. It’s humble, yet luxurious and deserves all of the time it needs to absorb and permeate the smell of good intention.

This soup has few ingredients, each one requiring a little bit of time and attention to ultimately create a chorus in your mouth. I suggest goggles (for the onion slicing), Van Morrison in the background, and maybe some socks so you can slide around the kitchen from cutting board to soup pot.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup salted butter
5 medium onions, thinly sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, smooshed then sliced
1 Tbs. flour
1 pinch of thyme (dried or from a sprig of fresh)
1 cup red wine (I like Cab Sauv)
1 1/2 quarts (48oz) Beef bone broth
salt and pepper to taste

1 baguette or 3 croissants, sliced on the diagonal
1 1/2 cups Gruyere, shredded

In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and a generous scatter of salt and pepper, and stir to incorporate all party-goers. Set the timer for 30 minutes and let those spicy babes mellow out, stirring every few minutes. After about 15 minutes, you’ll notice browning edges and crusties in the bottom of the pot. An obvious time to lick the spoon, right? It’s like candy. After the 30 minutes, your onion mixture will be dark brown and so beautiful. Most liquid will be absorbed. Now, sprinkle your flour and thyme over the mixture and stir, letting it absorb and cook off, 1 to 2 minutes. This will thicken your onions up a bit more. Slowly add the wine, and bring the heat up to medium high to get a solid boil. Once bubbly, lower to medium low and set the timer for 10-15 minutes. Stir every couple of minutes, scraping the tiddle-y bits from the bottom. Your mixture should be thick and deep brown and the aroma will be inviting. Increase heat again to medium high and slowly pour beef broth in, stirring into the onion mixture. Add a bit more salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil. Once bubbling, reduce to low and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice your baguette or croissants on the diagonal, about an inch thick. Lay slices on a cookie sheet and sprinkle generously with the Gruyere. Broil on the top rack until golden and melty.

Ladle your soup into bowls and float your cheese bread on top. Serve hot and enjoy.

Ribollita

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If I were to recreate the food pyramid, soup would have it’s own little cubicle, right next to burritos. Soup is an all-encompassing meal, and when earthy and robust like this one, stands alone as a proper meal. We could stop there, but you need to know about the olive oil and the bread in this MVP. You know that textural, whole satisfaction you get when you dip a piece of crisp baguette into a salty soup? All soaked and savory and blissful? Guess what. This soup is finished with chunks of crusty bread, stirred in til just thickened and THEN topped with more crusts, drizzled with your very best olive oil, and tucked into a very hot oven for 15 minutes. Top with fresh pram. And buon appetito. This Italian stew is perfection.

Find the crispiest baguette and use your best olive oil.

Ingredients:
extra virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 small creamer potatoes, peeled and diced oh-so-small
5 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (use the back of your knife)
2 stalk celery, diced
1 28oz. can San Marzano whole, peeled tomatoes (with juices)
crushed red pepper to taste (3 or 4 pinches)
1 15. oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.
1 healthy chunk of Parmesean cheese, rind cut off and the Parm grated and reserved
1 head of Tuscan kale, removed from tough stems and torn into 1 inch pieces
crispy baguette (sourdough, Dutch crunch or country)
5 cups water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a Dutch oven, heat a generous amount of olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, potatoes, garlic, celery and a generous amount of salt, and stir occasionally, until fragrant and onions are translucent. Approximately 5-8 minutes.

Drain the tomatoes over a bowl, reserving the liquid for later. Squeeze the tomatoes in your hands (I recommend doing this in the sink, because these will squirt), breaking them down, and letting excess juice strain into the bowl. Add the tomatoes only to the pot of veggies along with the crushed red pepper. Stir to combine, and then add canellini beans. Add the water, reserved tomato juice, and Parmesean rind. Return to boil.

Add the kale, one handful at a time, waiting until each handful is wilted before adding the next. Taste test! Salty enough? Spicy enough?

Now add about 3 cups of the torn bread into the pot, stirring to combine. Simmer over low heat for about 8 minutes, allowing it to thicken. Remove from heat and top the soup with remaining bread pieces, just covering the surface evenly. Drizzle olive oil over the bread generously, and place in center of oven for 10 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and top with copious amounts of parm.

Can be made a day ahead – this only enhances the flavors more. Stop just after adding kale. When ready to serve, bring to medium high heat, simmer, and proceed with bread process.

Jammy Sammy Chocolate Cookies

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Valentines Day is approaching and I am loving it this year. We have found LOTS of love this year. I’m not just referring to the gooshy love either… We’ve found love in our kind neighbors and our co-workers, our endlessly wonderful parents and even our UPS delivery guy (holler, Jeremy! Yep, it’s another Amazon delivery!) Love is everywhere. Tiny and enormous. And it deserves cookies.

I WAS going to call these Linzer cookies, but they’re not the traditional,  buttery type of cookie that calls itself Linzer. So in classic form, I’m adding an -y to the end of the name to make them jammy and sandwichy. They’re not buttery or crumbly. They’re rather soft. The BEST part of these little love nibbles is that you get jam with every bite! Its like you get the very best center bite every time.

I’ve made them 3 times this week and I think this recipe is the one. I also made a GF/Low sugar version, but my (very) honest and somewhat unfiltered mother tried them and survey says: “Back to the drawing board!”

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2–2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • Splash of vanilla
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1-2 poofs of cinnamon
  • Jam of choice (I love tart raspberry)
  • Powdered sugar and more cocoa for dusting

Combine flour, salt and baking soda in small bowl. In stand mixer or larger bowl, combine sugars, butter, eggs, vanilla and cocoa. Mix just until soft, malleable dough forms.

Preheat oven to 325°.

If the dough is too soft, chill for 30 minutes. Otherwise,  take just over half and roll out on floured work surface.  Roll to about 1/4 inch. Use a cookie cutter of choice (I used a round  3″ circle) to cut approximately 12 cookies. Fill the cookie sheet, leaving only an inch between. You can probably fit all of the bottom halves on one sheet. Bake for 7 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool.

While the bottoms are cooking, repeat the same process with the top halves. Take remaining dough and use first cutters to make approximately 12 cookies. Now, use a smaller cookie cutter to cut center shape. If you don’t have a small cookie cutter,  look around the kitchen to find endless shape possibilities… playdough cutters, bottle tops, tube noodles! Fill the cookie sheet again, and bake for 7 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool.

While the toppies are cooling, prepare the filling. I used my favorite raspberry jam, placing about a tablespoon on each cookie,  leaving enough space around the edges to deter spillage.

Once the toppies are completely cool, use a small mesh strainer to sprinkle cocoa powder or confectioner’s sugar on top. Now place the toppies on the bottoms, giving them a little twist to me sure they’re secure.

Plate, and share with everyone you love!

Optional filling: chocolate! Melt 1/2 cups of bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips with 3 Tablespoons butter in 20 second increments in the microwave. Cooking it too quickly will cause it to burn and glop. And that means hard, un-spreadable filling.

Spicy Stella Soup

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When I find ANY recipe that my very picky 8 year-old asks for seconds and thirds of, I not only write it down, I name it in an attempt to promote to her again and again, that she really loved it once before.

This was a completely random soup I made last year, when I found a bag of yellow split peas on the very back of my cupboard. Half a bag, really. Have you ever made something and tasted it and loved it. But then questioned if it was some weird personal taste preference? I did that with this, but again… the picky kid liked it. Salty and smooth (to hide the veggies) with some lumps and some spicy. And it’s red, so that’s fun.

This requires* an overnight soaking of the split peas, so plan accordingly. And also an immersion or standard blender.

*I find it hilarious that my auto-corrct chooses “tequilas” as a more probable word than “requires.”

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups dried yellow split peas, soaked in water at least 12 hours
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 32 oz. chicken broth (for quickie broth, Trader Joe’s has my fave)
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • Sriracha (to taste) or your favorite spicy sauce
  • A splash of red wine if handy
  • Salt, to taste

In a soup pot, heat a generous amount of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and a healthy pinch or two of salt. Saute until tender and fragrant.

Add the drained split peas and stir to combine. Add a bit more salt and let it meld for a couple of minutes.

Add the broth, an additional 2 cups of hot water and another pinch of salt. Heat to boiling and simmer until the peas are no longer crunchy, about 30-40 minutes. Add the tomatoes and wine, and let simmer. Taste and add more salt and the wine, if you like. Simmer for 20 minutes or so. Smple the broth. Tasty? Now add the Sriracha. I make two big, heart-shaped “boops,” but do your thing!

Remove from heat and let it cool for 10-15 minutes (longer, if you’re using a heat-hating blender to smooth it.) Use an immersion blender or standard blender to smooth the soup. Hide those veggies! Mask those peas! One day you won’t need to, but today is not that day!

We serve it with crusty sourdough bread, melty butter and a leafy green salad. Enjoy!

Banana Pancakes

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The clock just struck 8:00 a.m. which means I probably have an unfinished cup of coffee somewhere and the tiny humans are asking if they can have cookies for a “snack.” Nobody likes eggs this week and I try to save toast and jam for “we have six minutes until school starts” mornings. I see a few freckled bananas and we have every milk except for cow juice. Banana pancakes for the crowd-pleasing win!

I’ve made these lots of times, and I’ve used coconut, almond, cow’s milk and today, buttermilk! They’re all tasty! The finishing touch is the bananas foster-esque topping at the end. It gives that fancy feeling of a real restaurant in the comfort of wearing your husband’s bathrobe.

Ingredients:

  • For the Pancakes
  • 1 c. whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • healthy pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 to 1 cup milk of your choice
  • 3 very ripe bananas, smooshed smooth
  • For the Banana Topping:
  • 1-2 bananas, sliced into 1/2 inch thick coins
  • A handful of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons buttah

This is a one-bowl delight.

In a large bowl, smoosh the bananas to smooth. Add the egg, milk and sugar, and whisk to combine. Add flour, baking powder and salt and stir to combine.

In a buttered skillet, over medium heat, drop the pancake batter to your desired size. Once edges are bubbly, flip. Repeat until you’ve made all the tasty cakes. Keep the skillet on…in the SAME skillet, (I know, right?) add the sliced bananas, butter and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has become dark and caramelized.

Plate up your pancakes, top with bananas and enjoy! Tastes great with Kidz Bop in the background.

French Onion Potato Casserole

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I did NOT see this one coming. Today we snagged a produce box with some beautiful onions and some solid potaters.  I swooped up five of those onions and sliced ’em so thin. Then I carmelized those beauties into a candy-like, buttery, savory submission.  THEN. Well then I just waited for an idea. And it came to me! A flood.  Autumn. Thanksgiving. Potatoes. World chaos. Apples. Masks. School. Mom hugs. Overwhelm.  Gratitude. From that came a desire to make a warm and cozy casserole. WITH the carmelized onions. Obvi.

This has alottttta dairy. Its a delicious #YOLO dish and you’ll have no regrets.

A note on the carmelized onions: I thinly sliced 5 onions (and 3/4 of a partially eaten apple one of the kids left on the counter). I heated generous amounts of olive oil and butter and tossed the onions in with generous salt and a couple pinches of sugar. I heated over medium high for about 25 minutes, until the liquid began to absorb. Then I turned the heat to medium low, stirring occasionally. I kept it on medium low until I got the caramel crunchies. About 25 more minutes. Your onions will cook down drastically BUT you’ll have enough for a few solid spoon tastings. So don’t fret.

  • Carmelized onions (see above)
  • 6 Russet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 3 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded and divided in half
  • A healthy splash of heavy cream
  • 4 Tbs. Kerrygold button
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • Fresh thyme

In large pot, boil potatoes in beef broth until very tender. Drain. Add 1/2 of the gruyere, cream, butter, sour cream, and eggs. Whip it, whip it good. Then smooth into bottom of your fave casserole dish. I used an odd sized 7×11….An 8×8 would be perfect. Spread the onions evenly on top of potatoes and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 40 minutes until its beautifully bubbly. Turn broiler to high and broil for 1-2 minutes, browning cheese. Top with thyme and serve.

OMG.

Weeknight Thai Curry Soup

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Six hungry eyeballs staring at me as soon as I walk in the door. Eight, if you count the dog. Fall is tiptoe-ing in (hooray!) which means the nights are darker sooner and the dinner clock starts ticking as soon as I put on my post-work stretchy pants.

This is a fragrant, pungent and flavorful comfort food that we make weekly. Its generous, versatile AND flexible. You can make it veggie, chicken-y or vegan (ditch the fish sauce). Or super spicy! Also, and perhaps most importantly, it is QUICK and low-cost. Boo to the YAH.

*Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of broth (your choice)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3 Tbs. Red Thai curry paste
  • 8 drops of fish sauce (trust!)
  • 2 cups basmati rice, cooked
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1 carrot, sliced thinly
  • 3/4 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1 baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced bell pepper
  • 1/2 can sliced water chestnuts
  • Scallions for garnish
  • Sriracha

*You have endless options for veggies. Eggplant, radishes, broccoli, squash… veggies and measurements are up to you!

In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions, carrots and mushrooms and lightly stir. Add salt to taste and stir again. Add curry paste and stir until incorporated. Add broth, coconut milk and fish sauce and bring to simmer for about 5 minutes. Finally, add bell peppers, water chestnuts and bok choy and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Pack cooked rice into small cup or shallow dish (for the rice dome effect) or scoop into shallow bowl. Ladle curry over or around rice and garnish with scallions.

Enjoy!

Buttery, Creamy Mushroom Soup

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I used to be a mushroom naysayer. The texture and the whole fungus thing really sealed the deal. But THEN I tasted them in browned butter, garlic and a splash of red wine and now I’m a total groupie.

I’ve never tasted the classic, canned cream of mushroom soup, but I can kind of imagine the sound it makes as it glops out of the can. Like a suction-y schlopppppp sound. I don’t think this tastes like that. Its salty and warm and buttery and feels like liquid cozy.

Bonus: it’s QUICK, the ingredients list is short and my pickiest human asked for seconds!

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons Kerrygold butter (trust me on the Kerrygold)
  • 12 oz. brown or white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 cups of your favorite, richest broth (I used chicken broth)
  • A healthy splash of heavy cream

In a Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Once it starts to smell fragrant (like brown buttery goodness), add garlic and stir. Cook for one minute and add mushrooms with a generous pinch of salt. Lower heat to medium low, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes. The mushrooms should be smaller, dark and glossy. Lick that spoon! Remove about 1/4 cup of the mushrooms and set aside.

Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and then let simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Add your heavy splash of cream (maybe a scant 1/4 cup). With an immersion blender (or once cooler, in a blender or food processor), blend until smooth. Add in your reserved mushrooms and serve. Mmmm mom mmm. Even tastier as lunch for the next day!

Brown Butter Monkey Muffins

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I wake up to this little monkey sitting on top of me at the crack of dawn most mornings. Geared up and ready for a good day. This morning she asked for monkey muffins. I had no idea what that meant, but I also knew I had three perfectly spotted bananas. A few spotted nanas and some nutty browned butter makes these perfect for a hungry monkey of any size.

My little monkey

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, I used Kerrygold
  • 3 freckled, very ripe bananas, smooshed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 poofs of cinnamon

In a large saucepan and over medium low heat, slowly brown the butter. It should bubble and foam and turn brown at the pan’s edges after about 5 minutes. Swirl and stir as it browns. Inhale that glorious party. Remove from heat and scrape into a bowl. Let it harden a bit to room temperature or stick it in the fridge for about 20 minutes to solidify slightly.

Once butter has cooled, add the sugar and 3 eggs, and whisk to a smooth batter. Add bananas and whisk to incorporate.

Preheat oven to 350° and line muffin tin with cups (or butter individually to prevent sticking).

In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add to banana mixture.

Scoop batter into muffin tins, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes.

Let cool slightly and pop them out. Enjoy with your favorite zoo animal.

Easy Peasy, Extra Cheesy: One Skillet Taco Tuesday Pie

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It’s a Tuesday-Monday….the first day at work (well, work at home work, where you’re also homeschooling and trying to clean the baseboards) after a three-day weekend, and quite frankly, I’m done doing dishes today.

Also. I’ve been craving beef. #iron

This is an easy, cheesy weeknight dinner. More of an “eyeball it” recipe, if you ask me, but I’m listing a good estimate of my measurements.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef, turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 tiny can jalapenos, diced (or fresh!)
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • Your fave taco seasoning (I use chili powder, cumin, cayenne and garlic powder)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Pepper Jack…)
  • Garnish: Cilantro, diced tomatoes, more jalapenos, sour cream, avocado…the list goes on!

Preheat your oven to 350°.

In your iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and a healthy pinch of salt. Once softened, add meat, breaking it up into smaller pieces over medium high heat. Stir in spices. Add jalapenos and bell pepper and mix to combine. Taste…you might need a little more salt…

Remove from heat and stir in eggs. Sprinkle cheese on top. Maybe you need more cheese. Sprinkle some more.

Put ‘er in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. The cheese should be bubbly.

Remove from oven, and sprinkle with tomatoes and cilantro. Cool for a few minutes and serve, pie-style. A dollop of sour cream, some hot sauce there…a little avo…

Enjoy!