Cuddles in the kitchen

Well thank goodness this weather is insane because I am airing out my house with windows wide open, from yesterdays french onion soup adventure.  Just a friendly reminder, it was 30 degrees yesterday and most of the city was shut down with icy roads … except by noon everything was clear and roads were completely dry. So there’s that bizarre turn of events.

For some reason I had this notion that french onion soup was incredibly difficult to make.  What the heck was I thinking? It’s beyond easy!  Get yourself a mandolin to make 2 lbs of slicing onions go by in the matter of minutes; I prepped everything earlier in the day so I could come home from teaching and just start cooking.  “EVERYTHING” consisted of 2 lbs of onions for the soup and six mini ham and cheese melts, I’ve made these sandwiches before … super easy and I’ll post instructions again.

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How beautiful is that mound of onions? Yeah well it was pretty stinky and man did it linger! Oh can we talk about how impressed I am with Walmart because I was able to find Gruyere cheese … what?! I know! I almost settled for Gouda but when I ran intro the Gruyere, I did a little happy dance.  Broth, wine, Worcestershire, and balsamic vinegar – that’s it.  I didn’t have the sprigs of herbs the recipe called for so I just sprinkled in parsley flakes and tossed in 1 bay leaf (I didn’t have Thyme). Tasted fine to us!

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After boiling and simmering the soup for close to an hour, in to the oven/broiler it went. I found these cute oven safe mugs at Walmart too, perfectly sized for the right amount of soup. Geno helped me make sure the cheese didn’t catch fire, he’s such a good helper! Really, any reason to cuddle and that dog is there first in line. McLane wanted in but he’s too big to fit in my lap 😉 .

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Everything turned out perfect and I was so happy with the soup. I will absolutely make it again.  I must remember to add more salt A) while the onions are caramelizing and B) when all of the liquids have been poured. It wasn’t bland but a bit more salt would have been nice.  I do need to give a shout out to my husband though – I typically don’t cook on Friday’s but he promised to help if it meant having french onion soup.  He held up his end of the deal so I kind of had to feed him. He’s the best.

In the end, I shouldn’t have been so skeptical of this making soup … I’ve made much more labor intensive soups before so honestly this recipe was for a rookie. Impress your family, they’ll think you slaved over the stove all day. 100% classic comfort food for a cold day, perfection!

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Go ahead, clog your arteries!

I love waking up on a Saturday and realizing we have nothing planned for the day. I can enjoy my coffee (BONUS: finish it before it gets cold); I flip between HGTV and cooking channels; and figure out what this week will bring in yummy dinner delights. My plan for repeating dinners has been great, I remember the recipes and already have the pantry ingredients which means less time at the grocery store. I guess I need to update you on a few days, of course all very hectic!

Tuesday actually wasn’t too bad but I got mad when I realized I purchased “sub” rolls instead of the normal “slider” rolls for my Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Sandwiches.  You know what, it actually turned out for the better.  It was so messy when I made it the first time, the lunch meat slid all over the place and cheese became a slimy mess; don’t let that scare you – it was and still is my favorite sandwich for dinner. The sub rolls made it easier to fit the meat and cheese perfectly.  This time around to make it a bit less messy (and better for you), I didn’t add butter to the mustard/Worcestershire sauce.   Josh and I agreed that we didn’t miss the butter; I sauteed onions, honey mustard (I don’t care for Dijon mustard), and Worcestershire  – it turned out great. When everything was ready to go in the oven I stuck toothpicks in each sandwich just to ensure they’d stay together. Since the bread was dry from not using butter, I had to cover the dish with foil about half way through so the bread wouldn’t burn. I made a side salad to accompany the sandwiches and dinner was served. Easy!

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my changes: no butter in mustard/Worcestershire sauce; used ham and turkey lunch meat

On to Wednesday … I prepped lasagna rolls before lessons even started; this is a perfect dish that you can keep in the fridge until dinnertime.  If you love lasagna but don’t love the cooking time, opt for these rolls.  You’ll get the same dish in about half the time. You can make it as healthy as you’d like; spinach is a super food for Josh so I added more than what the recipe called for.  I always purchase the fat free, low fat, or light versions of the called for ingredients or you can purchase the fatty stuff and feel your arteries clog as you eat; just sayin’.  I’ve made it in the past adding diced mushrooms; I’m guessing whatever you’d layer a lasagna with, you can add it “diced” to the ricotta mixture.  Again, served a side salad; another easy dinner.

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Thursday I was treated to dinner with one of my piano families. I hate losing students to a military move but am thankful for Skype; I’ll be able to teach her even being in a different time zone.

Josh was left to fend for himself… he managed to survive.

FRIDAY, FRIDAY, GOTTA GET DOWN ON FRIDAY! (You’re welcome) If my blog becomes as popular as Rebecca Black, my life will be complete. Seriously. 😉
Mexican Stuffed Peppers – a new recipe, but who doesn’t love stuffed peppers?! I about died when I purchased stupid quinoa, that crap is expensive! $*#^&$^^%&!!!!  Rice would have made the dish “heavy” (and technically unhealthy) so in my opinion, pay for the quinoa because it was worth it. Also for two people I could have cut the quinoa in half, 1 cup of uncooked quinoa made a butt load of leftovers which I will use on Sunday 🙂 Josh was actually left to prepare most of the dish while I taught lessons, I chopped everything and wrote on a note pad what he needed to do. He sent a text to inform me of the amount of cooked quinoa … I had to quickly text back that he should save it (didn’t need another cheesy chicken debacle, lol). To spice it up a bit, we used 1 can of mild enchilada sauce and 1 can of medium… yeah, too spicy for me!  I have weak taste buds but I know Josh loves spicy food so I tried it for him; I could only eat one pepper. I’ll stick to mild sauce only and maybe heat a small sauce pan with medium sauce then spoon it over his peppers next time. Half way through eating Josh realized it was a meatless meal and then I reminded him of the lasagna rolls… also meatless.  He was impressed that I could find such tasty recipes sans meat, that didn’t leave him hungry afterwards.

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Remember the diabetic dessert I wrote about the other day? It was a huge success; we both love it.  Since a.f.c. is so sugary, it balanced out the other ingredients that were f.f. or s.f.; you wouldn’t think it was a “diet” dessert.  Josh checked his sugars before eating a small square, it was 88 so he took 2 units of insulin to be safe (every 15g of carbs = 1 unit of insulin); after eating the dessert he checked it again and it was only 105! For those of you not having to live a diabetic life style, he could have taken only 1 unit of insulin to balance out this dessert.  This means the dessert isn’t really all that “bad” for you. So eat up and enjoy a no-bake cherry cake (one square per day, don’t be greedy) 🙂

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Redemption!

By now I’ve got about 15 new recipes under my belt… it’s time to start repeating our favorites (reuse your ingredients before they go bad!!!!).  It’s nice to ask Josh, “Hey, do you want ham and swiss Hawaiian rolls for dinner?” and he knows what I’m talking about!  I used to ask “what do you want for dinner?” and his answer “whatever”.  Surely he doesn’t mean “whatever” but honestly if I served up a bowl of cereal, he’d be content.  Boys are creatures of habit and I have finally figured out that no matter what I cook, he will eat it or else he’ll be in the pantry for cereal.

Last night was a repeat and it was even better than the first time! I make sure to write down improvements or things I didn’t care for on each recipe.  If you tweak a recipe so much from the original and it still isn’t what you expected, I’d say it’s time to toss that recipe. Third time’s the charm, right?  Back to the turkey burgers we devoured last night, I made them about a month ago and felt it was time to bring it back and make it better.   Once again Martha Stewart has a winner *SHOCK!*; Dijon mustard, Swiss cheese (my substitute for Gruyere cheese), breadcrumbs, and scallions.

Yeah so, the two grocery stores near my house do not have Gruyere… it’s a little too fancy for this area and I haven’t been able to find it at the commissary either.  I’m sure Whole Foods has it but that’s a 20ish minute drive- just for cheese, LOL.  I looked up substitutes and I’d have to say those cheese lovers out there were passionate about what you could actually use as a sub for Gruyere cheese.  I committed a sin by using Swiss (by their terms) but anything they suggested, womp womp womp, the stores didn’t have those as well!  One guy suggested Swiss cheese and he got chewed out! NO! How dare you insult the flavor of Gruyere by using Swiss! CONDEM YOU TO EATING FAST FOOD FOR LIFE!  I went with the guy who got yelled at and decided “I’ve got your back, bro”, let’s try Swiss cheese. Needless to say, the burger didn’t poof up in flames for using such a low class cheese… the burger was super duper

Here are a few pictures from last night’s dinner
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1) veggie medley: green peppers, red onions, yellow squash, zucchini & any marinade of your choice! Lawry’s has a herb and lemon sauce, so good! I’ve also used the Kraft Anything dressings, roasted red pepper is our favorite. Stick in the oven on 400 for about 30 min (cover is you notice the veggies starting to brown on the edges). I prepped this dish in the morning before I started my day, use your newly purchased mandolin… it took me maybe 5 minutes. Plus they got to marinate alllllllllll day in yummy goodness.
2) sweet potato fries: admit it, everyone loves a good french fry every once in a while.  These are obviously the healthier option over regular fries. Pop these in for the last 15 minutes of the veggies.
3) turkey burger: you know it, had to stick in the oven with Josh working late. I’m still scared to use the grill.  I put these and the fries in the oven together, when the veggies & fries were done, I switched on the broiler (HI) for maybe 5 minutes just to brown the meat. The turkey was cooked to perfection, nice and juicy!  How to make it better (IMO): add more shredded cheese and mustard. As much as I hate mustard, I love cheese.  The two flavors balance each other out and who doesn’t love EXTRA cheese?!

Since everything was in the oven at the same time, Josh decided that we should two-step around the kitchen… rather, in a small circle which led to me becoming dizzy.  A few circles, a spin, and a dip… ok back to dinner.  He’s so cute with his WBS (white boy syndrome), has to concentrate on the steps and counting. I give him a “A” for effort. My music skills are starting to rub off on him.

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1) want to cut calories? Use the 100 calorie bread, you won’t feel gross after eating this burger; you’ll want to actually eat the veggies and fries.
2) toppings! I had some leftover red onion from my veggie medley, pickles (FREE FOOD CHOICE: NO CARBS!!), and Swiss cheese. Don’t forget your ketchup and mustard!

A delish dinner for the start of the week, redemption from that beef flavored spaghetti on Friday. Tonight I’ll be making the ham and Swiss rolls as mentioned earlier…. You’ve got the recipe, now try it! They are very messy, FYI. I will be adding toothpicks to hold them together while being served (learned that the hard way the first time around).

TURKEY BURGER RECIPE
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