Monthly Archives: October 2012

Look at Me

French Onion Soup

We survived Sandy!  Unfortunately so did the annoying holly tree in our front yard, apparently my totally authentic tree removal dance wasn’t very effective.  On a positive note we did keep power throughout the Frankenstorm so we were able to have a mini-Harry Potter marathon which will hopefully continue tonight/tomorrow.  Before the storm hit I went on a baking rampage, figuring if we were going to be stuck in a cold house without power we would need certain supplies.  So with that thought in mind I made a double batch of cookies and some Sourdough Bread, first time  using our starter Gunther.  I had made sourdough bread once before using a kit which resulted in bread that was far from sour.  I decided to take advantage of being stuck at home last week for less than pleasant reasons, and finally make a sourdough starter.  Gunther isn’t very fancy, no buttermilk or cream was used in his creation, but he has survived an entire week and produced his first loaf of bread so we are off to a promising start.

With the creation of the sourdough I wound up with two loaves of bread and decided I needed a recipe that would take care of a few slices.  I also needed a recipe that would keep me off my feet, since the medication I was on at the time made me a little wonky.  Enter: French Onion Soup.  The original plan was for me to start the soup and then hubby would take over, but the potent (and delicious) Spanish Onions caused him to retreat from the kitchen area.  Luckily French Onion Soup requires lots of sitting between steps so everything turned out perfectly!

French Onion Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

1 hour, 10 minutes

serves 4-5


3 tbsp EVOO

1 tbsp oregano

1/2 tbsp thyme

1 tsp salt

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 large Spanish Onions, sliced

4 cups vegetable stock

4 slices bread (optional)

1 cup cheese, shredded & divided (optional)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the spices, stir well and cook for 30 seconds before adding the onions and garlic. Cook for 20-25minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  2. Once caramelized, add the vegetable stock then turn heat to high. Once the soup has come to a boil, cover and turn heat to low and allow soup to simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Optional: Meanwhile melt the cheese on the toast until the cheese is brown and bubbling. Serve over the soup and enjoy!

In order to keep it vegan friendly, I used the last of my oregano bread and left the sourdough for another day.  Another option for toasting the bread would be broiling it directly on top of the bowls of soup, using French Onion Soup bowls or other oven-to-table safe serving dishes.  I decided to not use my FOS bowls at the last moment due to MIA oven mitts.

Of Sugar

Roasted Vegetables

Growing up there were a few vegetables that never made an appearance on our table, and when I got older and started cooking for myself I tended to avoid them as well.  Beets, brussel sprouts, and turnips – I figured I had gone 20+ years without them, why change?  I was 25 when I had my first brussel sprout and with that realized they were actually rather good.  Turnips followed shortly after thanks to a great root vegetable recipe that I had to try.  Then there are beets, I try them at least once a year just to insure that I still can’t stand them.  Maybe one day I’ll try them and, like brussel sprouts, find them enjoyable instead of torturous. When that day comes, if it comes, I’ll be sure to post about it!  Until then I’ll enjoy eating those “other vegetables” that are typically ignored.  This recipe doesn’t mask them under cheese or hide them in a sauce sauce or disguise them as something they aren’t, which is why it works so well.  The bitterness of the brussel sprouts plays off the sweet crispness of the carrots with the turnips in the middle insuring that everyone in the roasting pan plays nice.

Roasted Vegetable

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

serves 6 as a side dish


1 lb carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 lb turnips, sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 lb Brussel sprouts, well washed and halved

3 tbsp EVOO

1 tbsp thyme

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease a roasting pan and set aside.
  2. Mix the EVOO, thyme, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Add the vegetables to the bowl and toss well. Pour vegetables and dressing in to the roasting pan.
  3. Roast for 20minutes, remove from oven and stir the vegetables, then roast for a final 25minutes.
  4. Serve with anything!


the carrots can be replaced with sweet potatoes, in order to keep something sweet in the pan

I’m submitted this to /52weeks for Roasting Week, and hope that the lack of meat will be overlooked.  I’m looking forward to the vegetarian themed week coming up, even if every week is vegetarian week on my blog.


Chocolate Mousse

This past week Joe and I celebrated six months of marriage, because yes I am that dorky.  I decided that I wanted to do a special Joe-centric dessert that was more than just my standard creme brulee.  I started scanning my cookbooks for something that would wasn’t too complicated but still special enough the occasion.  I debated doing a Chocolate Cake, but didn’t think I could top the one my sister just did for Joe’s birthday.  With that I decided to start focusing on desserts similar to creme brulee, but with a chocolate component.  That narrowed it down to pots de creme and mousse, and in the end I decided to go with the mousse.

My experience with mousse is extremely limited, had it once in High School and that was it.  However that experience came back to haunt me when it came to the first batch.  See when my friend in HS made the mousse she was slightly off with some of her measurements which resulted in a very boozey, and delicious, chocolate milkshake concoction.  Stephanie’s French class may night have appreciated the oops, but our geometry class was more than willing to help her take are of the extras.   I certainly didn’t intend to recreate that mistake but that’s certainly what happened with the first batch.  Luckily I split the recipe so I still had two wine glasses full of perfect mousse.  I’m pretty sure my issues had to do with not blending the chocolate long enough and using cold eggs.  For the second batch I allowed the liquid to double in the blender and used room temperature eggs.

Chocolate Kahlua Moose

Serves 4-5


1 cup light cream

2 tbsp Kahlua

1 egg & 1 egg yolk

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips


  1. Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once it comes to a simmer add the eggs and Kahlua, continue to simmer for 20minutes. Stir frequently and make sure the mixture doesn't boil.
  2. Break up the chocolate chips in a blender, using the crush or chop function, and then slowly add the hot liquid to the blender. Turn setting to puree and blend well for at least 5 minutes. The mixture will expand to around 4 cups.
  3. Pour in to wine glasses or ramekins and place in the fridge for at least 6hrs to set. Enjoy!

Even the non-set mousse still found a home and tasted similar to a Kahlua milkshake, which is not a bad thing in my opinion.

Shark Under Water

Quinoa with Acorn Squash

Another new seasonal vegetable!  Acorn squash was once of the seasonal squashes I had always seen at the market, but since it’s normally right next to the butternut squash I would skip over it.  This time I went straight for it and grabbed a large white squash.  Typically I got for the mid-range options but since I had two recipes to try I knew I would need a bigger than normal baby.  Once I got home I split it down the middle, wrapping half and placing in the fridge for later in the week.  The other half was seeded, reserving the seeds for a tasty late-night snack as well as a topping for the quinoa.  I had debated how to cook the squash, before deciding to saute this half and bake the second half so that I could try out the two most popular methods.   The “base recipe” is one I have used many, many, many times with other gourds that way I could get a good comparison between the acorn squash and those I have had in the past.

Acorn Squash with Quinoa

Serves 3-4


3 tbsp EVOO

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 red onion, diced

1 tbsp paprika

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 1/2 lb acorn squash, cubed

1 1/2 cups quinoa, well washed

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup water

greek yogurt (optional)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the spices, stir and cook for 30seconds before adding the garlic and onion. Cook for 5minutes before adding the squash and cook for an additional 7-10 minutes. The squash should be tender with glossy flesh.
  2. Add the quino, vegetable stock, and water then turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir, cover, and turn heat to low. Allow to simmer for 20minutes then fluff the quinoa and Serve! I topped mine with greek yogurt but sour cream or nothing would also work.

I wasn’t impressed with how well the squash didn’t stand up to the recipe, but the taste was still amazing which is what really matters.  At the last moment I decided to top it with some Greek Yogurt, just to see what it would do and I really enjoyed the creaminess it added to the dish.  As a bonus there is also a coupon on the linked website, so great excuse to give it a try if you haven’t! (btw this company has no idea who I am, just noticed the coupon offer when I went to find a link to the brand I used)

For the seeds after making sure they were dry and clean, I coated them in olive oil and tossed them in a mixture of paprika, cayenne powder, and salt and then sauted them in EVOO.  I cooked them until they were a nice golden brown shade, stirring frequently to prevent popping and burning.

Trapped In

Mexican Casserole

For the most part I’m pretty good about buying things and then immediately using them, partially because I like a clean kitchen and partially because my lack of a pantry demands that.   I write my grocery lists and menus for the week on Saturday, and do my best to stick to those occasionally allowing some extra staples to sneak in.  Every now and then however I’ll get got up in some “sale” going on and over fill my pantry with an ingredient that I use but not enough to really justify buying three or four cans of.  Coconut milk frequently falls in this list, as do un-salted canned diced tomatoes, and bags of all types of rice.  This results in a stuffed cabinet that prevents me from being able to see the item I really need (MIA: pineapple chunks) which results in more over purchasing.  It’s a vicious cycle but this month I was able to take care of a fair amount of the bulk after being motivated by October’s Random Recipe challenge.

This month we were challenged to grab an item lurking in the back of the cupboard and DO something with it.  The first thing I grabbed, some black bean soup, wound up being extremely expired so that went straight to the bin.  The second item was a can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes – Original recipe, which I was very excited about.  For cookbooks I decided to utilize my oft neglected Slow Cooker cookbook to find the perfect recipe for these tomatoes.   Enter: Mexican Casserole – from the main dishes section.

Mexican Casserole

Serves 4-6


2 cups rice, precooked

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1 can "Mexican" style tomatoes

1 cup favorite salsa (I used salsa verde)

2 cups black beans, presoaked

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 jalepeno, diced

1/2 cup olives, diced (optional)

1/2 cup cheese, shredded

1 cup chips, broken


  1. Add everything but the chips and cheese to the slow cooker. Stir well and cook on low for 3hrs or high for 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Add the chips and cheese and cook on high for at least 30minutes, with the lid partially removed.
  3. Serve topped with any (or none) of the following: sour cream, salsa, cheese, green onions, and/or guacamole.


Instead of cooking in the slow cooker for the final 30minutes, I baked in the oven for 30minutes at 375.

I did have to make some dietary changes to the recipe, for the original recipe substitute the black beans for ground beef, and also finished it off in the oven since I didn’t trust my slow cooker to properly crisp the chips.   The best part about this recipe is that it’s extremely versatile, and has the potential to clear the cabinet of more than one neglected can.  One of the side panel variations suggested using velveeta or a similar cheese product in place of the shredded cheese, something that many of my friends have lurking in their cabinets.  All in all this dish was a great success, which is why I’m also sending this over to /52weeks for Casserole Week.