Tuesday, November 24, 2015

French Onion Soup

Getting ready for Thanksgiving?  I started today by making my fresh make-ahead green bean casserole (see  https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8514616033260075861#editor/target=post;postID=4499351947215440526;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=3;src=link ) and Best Broccoli Salad (see https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8514616033260075861#editor/target=post;postID=5156296508549413823;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=2;src=linkSo the next few days I'll be making easy dinners....tonight: Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken.

But back today's recipe.  I've run the gamut on making French Onion Soup.  From roasting beef bones and making homemade beef stock to the simplest of recipes.  This is absolutely on the easy end and ends in great results.  I have a Ninja 3-in-1 cooker (which I absolutely love....it combines a stovetop cooker and a slow cooker), but I've adjusted it so you can do the first step on the stove and then slow cook it on the stovetop or in a crock pot.

FRENCH ONION SOUP (4 servings)

1/4 cup butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced (I always use sweet onions)
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup AP flour
1 container (32 oz) beef stock
12 oven-baked Italian toasts
1/2 pound shredded Gruyere cheese

Place butter in stock pot.  Heat until butter is melted.  Add onions, thyme, rosemary, and S&P.  Cook uncovered 15 minutes or until onions are very tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in brandy and flour.  Cook uncovered one minute or until mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally.

Place stock into pot.  Season with S&P.  Simmer on low for about an hour or in the crock pot on HIGH for 1-2 hours.  Cover and cook.

Please three toasts into four soup bowls.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Scoop soup over cheese-topped toasts


Ladle soup into broil-proof bowls.  Top with toasts and then cheese.  Place under broiler until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Recipe Source:  Ninja: Cooking Easier, Healthier, and Better, 2014, p. 95

Monday, November 23, 2015

Herb and Caper Crusted Salmon

I had a full package of fresh dill I wanted to use before it went bad and it just so happened that I had this salmon recipe I'd been waiting to try.  I found this at the Iowa Girl Eats website where she just happened to have a dill and sour cream potato recipe.  So I decided to make an entire dinner using the fresh dill.

I won't list the mashed potato recipe (although you can find it here http://iowagirleats.com/2015/11/11/sour-cream-and-dill-mashed-potatoes/ if you need a recipe).  And then I just cooked from sliced carrots and added some butter and fresh dill.  All-in-all, it came together pretty quickly and was a really nice dinner.


1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp drained capers
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
pinch red chili pepper flakes
4 (4-6 oz) salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 400F then line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.  Set aside.

Add parsley leaves, dill, capers, lemon zest, garlic, S&P, and red chili pepper flakes to the center of a large cutting board.  Chop until the ingredients are finely minced then slice the lemon into wedges and squeeze a bit of lemon juice into the mixture to moisten.

Rub salmon fillets with olive oil then season generously with S&P.  Press the top and sides of each fillet into the herb mixture to create an even crust then place on prepared baking sheet.  Bake (about 10 minutes per inch of salmon at the thickest point) then transfer salmon fillets to plates and squeeze a bit more lemon juice on top right before serving.

Recipe Source: http://iowagirleats.com/2015/11/09/herb-and-caper-crusted-salmon/

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Muffin: Before and After



We've been putting off having Muffin groomed because her condition is failing rapidly.  But it had been over a year since she'd been groomed and she was so full of mats, even after frequent brushing.

Always before (although she hated to be bathed, groomed, and God Forbid!!!! nails cut), she seemed to get a new gitty-up in her go afterwards.  Not this time.  Bless her heart....16 1/2 years old (at her size/weight, her life-span is estimated to be about 11-12 years...her litter mate and sister, Spot, died on November 26, 2012....see post https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8514616033260075861#editor/target=post;postID=7820046978261866782;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=26;src=link ).  She has been a trooper, but I fear she is not long for this world.    She is always by my side and follows me everywhere. She is my bestest friend and I just can't imagine home without her.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Asparagus Tossed Salad

Here's a basic, simple side salad that will go with just about anything.  Three ingredients in the salad.  Make it when you can find a sale on asparagus (I got some for $1.50/lb last week!)

But it's the salad dressing that makes it.  Make extra and keep it on hand....it'll keep for months and then you can toss this simple salad after simply steaming the asparagus and carrots (it's similar to the Summer Orange Salad I make all summer long, see 6/17/15 post here: https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8514616033260075861#editor/target=post;postID=8722400561123489235;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=2;src=link.

This original recipe called for butter lettuce, which I used, but I do like my lettuce crunchy, so next time I'll use romaine.  Go with what you like.  Just go with this recipe.


2 medium carrot, sliced
1 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
8 cups torn butter or romaine lettuce

Orange Ginger Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
4 1/2 tsp EVOO or canola oil
1 Tbsp white wine or cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp grated orange peel
1/8 tsp salt

Steam asparagus until crisp-tender (microwave or oven top).  Same with carrots.

In a salad bowl, combine lettuce, carrots, and asparagus.

For the dressing:

Combine ingredients and whisk or shake until combined.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.food.com/recipe/asparagus-tossed-salad-190204

Friday, November 20, 2015

Artichoke Prosciutto Gratin

OK....there is really no way for me to oversell this appetizer.  It is out-of-this-world.  Utterly delicious.  It is an upscale version of the old artichoke (and usually spinach) dip.  It's super-simple to make and doesn't take long to cook.

A few things to say about the ingredients.  First and foremost important ingredient to me is the artichoke.  Every recipe I have ever used calls for artichoke hearts.  Personally, I just don't like them.....they always have a few prickly leaves on them that you end up spitting out.  I have discovered artichoke bottoms which are all lucious meat.  I can't always find them so I asked the manager at our local Publix market to see if he could order thing.  Bingo! (I just love Publix!)  The brand they found for me is Reese's.  If you can get them, try the bottoms....so much better and less wasted/discarded parts.

The next is mayo.  I am a committed Hellman's (Best Foods west of the Rockies) mayo person.  As is most of the mayo-consuming chefs (I've only heard one who preferred Duke's...I tried it....not even the the ballpark, in my humble opinion).

Lastly, fresh sage.  If you're going to indulge in the dip, you must use fresh sage (if you're making cornbread sage dressing for Thanksgiving, save a few leaves for this recipe).  It makes all the difference.  I wouldn't bother to make it if I only had dried sage to use.

Oh, one more thing....the crostini.  I usually use a good quality baguette (Panera is easily found).  I cut the baguette into about 1/4" to 1/2" thick slices.  Place on a baking dish and brush with extra-virgin olive oil.  Bake at 325F.....check at about 15 minutes.  I usually turn them over and turn the heat off until they are at the crunchiness I like.  I'll make the entire baguette and keep leftovers in a freezer bag in the freezer.  They keep for months for all the other dips, tapenades, and spreads you need over this wonderful autumn/winter holiday/football season.

ARTICHOKE PROSCIUTTO GRATIN (I made an entire batch and then ended up splitting the batch in two {it will keep for at least a week in the fridge} making two appetizer dishes each which served the two of us)

1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts or bottoms (preferably bottoms), about 1 cup chopped
4-6 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, diced
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 cup Hellman's mayo
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
Toasted slivered almonds

Mix all ingredients.  Spoon into a baking dish and bake in a 350F degree oven until bubbly (I stirred mine about halfway through to make sure it was warmed all the way through) until bubbly.  Top with toasted almonds.  Serve with crostini.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Remember the Broccoli and Cheese Casserole of yesteryear?  White rice, cream-of-something soup, processed American cheese, probably frozen broccoli?

Welcome to the 21st century!  This is an updated "healthified" version of that family staple and church-ladies cookbooks.  Bring it back to the table!  Wonderful quinoa, fresh vegetables, and an easy sauce to bind it together.  Es muy delicioso!!!


3 3/4 cups chicken broth, divided
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
2 cups small broccoli florets
4 Tbsp butter, divided
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 shallot or 1/4 small onion, chopped
3 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 Tbsp AP flour
1 cup milk (regular or 2%)
3 oz shredded Jack cheese
3 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray an 8x8 baking dish with nonstick spray then place on top of a baking sheet and set aside.

Bring 2 3/4 cups chicken broth to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan then add quinoa, place a lid on top, turn heat down to medium, and then simmer until nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.  Add broccoli then place lid back on top, remove from heat, and let steam for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and shallots, season with S&P, then saute until mushrooms are golden brown.  Add garlic then saute for one more minute.

Add remaining 2 Tbsp butter then sprinkle flour when melted and saute for one minute.  Slowly stream in remaining 1 cup chicken broth and milk while whisking to avoid lumps.  Season generously with S&P then bring mixture to a bubble while stirring constantly.  Turn heat down to medium then simmer until thick and bubbly, 5 minutes.

Remove from heat then stir in the broccoli and quinoa, and half of the cheese then scoop mixture into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top then bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.  Let sit for 10 minutes before scooping and serving.

Recipe Source:  http://iowagirleats.com/2015/02/23/cheesy-mushroom-broccoli-quinoa-casserole/

Friday, November 13, 2015

Cellophane Noodle Salad

In most of the Asian noodle dishes I make, I use rice noodles.  But I was recently thinking about an old friend of mine who would make egg rolls using cellophane noodles.  They were so good!  So why not make a noodle dish using these instead of traditional rice noodles?

Stellar idea!  I loved the lightness and texture of these noodles.  I did a couple of searches for Asian salads using these noodles and found a Jamie Oliver recipe which I used as a start (see link below for his version).  He used pork and shrimp, I omitted the pork.  He used red chiles with seeds, I used chopped red peppers.  I added edamames.  He also used an entire bunch of cilantro (coriander) and mint.....I used a fraction of that.  My recipe below is simply a guideline, most of the ingredient amounts are guestimates.  Add more or less according to your tastes.


4 oz (100 gm) package of cellophane (glass) noodles
Chinese five-spice powder, to taste
3 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 tsp sugar
8-12 oz raw shrimp, shelled and deveined, any size
handful roasted peanuts (skinned), coarsely chopped
green onions, thinly sliced
cilantro, chopped
fresh mint, chopped
fresh grated ginger, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 chopped red pepper
shelled edamames
1-2 limes, juiced
1 Tbsp soy sauce

Soak noodles in boiling water and drain.

Heat olive oil in pan.  Add shrimp, five-spice powder, ginger, sugar, and peanuts.  Cook until shrimp are pink.

Mix the remaining ingredients (green onions through soy sauce) to make the dressing.

Add the drained noodles to the shrimp mixture.  Toss with the dressing.  Add extra soy sauce and olive oil if necessary.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jamie-oliver/cellophane-noodle-salad-recipe.html