Restaurant-Quality French Onion Soup in Under an Hour!

Restaurant-Quality French Onion Soup in Under an Hour!

image via thehealthyfoodie.com

Seriously, the past few weeks I have been absolutely craving French Onion Soup. I made it twice! My sister introduced me to this recipe, and with a few tweaks it’s absolute perfection. Definitely restaurant quality! And the best part is: it takes less than an hour to make. If you don’t already have some soup-style bakeware, I found these CorningWare Mugs at my local grocery store, and they work perfectly for serving. =)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sliced onions (about 3 large onions…I used 1 red, 1 white, and 1 yellow)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 32 oz. box beef stock
  • 2 cans beef broth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup cooking sherry
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 loaf french bread
  • 1/2 lb provolone cheese slices (or cheese of your choice!)

Directions:

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in an 8 quart stock pot on medium heat, add the onions. Brown the onions, stirring occasionally (approximately 20, minutes or until the onions are tender & brown). 5 minutes before the onions are done, add the minced garlic.
  2. Add beef stock, broth, thyme, sherry, and wine.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste, and simmer (covered) for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat the oven broiler, and toast bread for approximately 3 minutes, or until toasted.
  5. Ladle soup into oven-safe serving bowls and place 1-2 slice(s) of the toasted bread on top of each. Layer each slice of bread with 2 slices of provolone. Place bowls on cookie sheet and broil in the preheated oven until cheese bubbles and browns slightly (about 6 minutes).
  6. Serve & enjoy! (But be careful, it’s very hot!)

A Great Week, In Sum

Time is going really fast lately, and I think that’s great! I miss Jon SO much and it can’t go fast enough. I’ve been staying really busy, and I have wonderful friends who take the time to come visit me & hang out. It’s pretty great. Here is the last week in sum:

Monday: In the morning I ran errands and then in the afternoon McKenzie and I had our little photo sesh with the baby shoes to announce the sex of the bebe. She’s such a good sport, it took all of 10 minutes…but then I locked us out of the building. A kindly neighbor let us in, but I need to make a *mental note to get spare keys and give them to Madison friends.* I spent the rest of the afternoon editing the photos & letting McKenzie play. BigCollageTuesday: This was McKenzie’s first day back at school from Spring Break, and THE BIG DAY to find out the sex of the baby! The appointment wasn’t until 4:30, so I cleaned house and did TONS of laundry (long overdue) to keep myself busy. While McKenzie was at school I took a long, glorious nap. I have been EXHAUSTED lately…the kind of tired that makes your eyelids feel like anvils on a thread. If you’ve been preggo, you know what I mean. When 4:30 FINALLY rolled around, we went to the appointment at Baby’s Debut here in Madison. Some people have asked McKenzie’s reaction to finding out she’s going to have a little brother…and honestly, her initial response was “EWWW! A penis!” Oh my gosh, it was hilarious. But she enjoyed seeing the baby too, and of course I love it. I would have an ultrasound every day if I could. This is my favorite pic, I think he looks so peaceful like he’s sleeping. And the technologist said everything looks great, so that’s always nice to hear. 10 fingers, 10 toes, healthy heart. At night, I wrote Jon a nice, long letter to mail off on Wednesday.wpid-KUEHL-BABY-BOY-16-WEEKS_18.JPG

Wednesday: Oh geez, I went and got my military ID at the local reserve office first thing in the morning. The photo is HORRENDOUS. I think the lady made me look like a troll on purpose. Blah. She was not friendly. And it’s so embarrassing, I’ll have to use it all the time! Urgh. I was not pleased. Anyway, I’d also had all the photos of Baby Boy printed at Walgreens, so I sent off a letter to Jon telling him the news. I’d contemplated calling the unit and asking if they could tell him, but I think a personal with photos is a little more romantical. Ya know? Then, around lunchtime my good friend Stephanie came into town for a sleepover. She’s a music teacher at an elementary school, and she brought a ukelele for McKenzie to play with. She is a rockstar with McKenzie! They sang and danced SO much, so of course McKenzie was head-over-heels! Many adorable moments ensued, including this “You Are My Sunshine” duet. *melt* We went to the mall after McKenzie was done with school. then had a lovely evening, complete with pizza & a Disney movie marathon.

Thursday: Since we’d had a sleepover, we got some delicious breakfast at Monty’s Blue Plate Diner. The food was amazing, as always. Then Stephanie had to go home, and I took McKenzie to school…after which I had another long, glorious nap. Did I mention that the weather has been GORGEOUS? I’ve been walking the dogs to school when I drop-off/pick-up McKenzie and taking the long way back home. It adds up to 2.5 miles per day (1.25 round-trip, one way). Go me, that’s more than I’ve gotten in awhile. How sad. Darn Wisco winters. =/ I’m going to make a point of walking whenever the weather’s nice.

Friday: McKenzie has ballet Friday mornings, then after I quickly stopped into the doctor’s office. I’ve been having the most horrible itching…like widespread, horrible itching. Like, so bad it wakes me up. They were concerned it was early pre-eclampsia, but my blood pressure was fine, so they did some labs to test for something else that’s a little more scary. I should hear back about that tomorrow. After the short doc visit, our long-lost neighbor came to visit with her 2-year-old. What a handsome little guy! We got to chat while the kiddos played, and even took the dogs/kiddos to a nearby playground to get some energy out. She gave me a great idea for a future blog: balancing dogs & kids. It’s pretty rough some days, especially being alone lately. I feel so guilty sometimes, like I’m a terrible dog owner. =( Sooo, more to come on that another day.

Saturday: We finally got McKenzie a big girl bed! She was definitely outgrowing her toddler one, and she LOVES it. I had been looking for one for awhile, and finally settled on this one…and I’m SO pleased. It’s solid wood, very sturdy, and it was on sale for $189 when I bought it. Compared to some “standard” white twin bed frames I was looking at it was a steal! Plus, it’s a space saver, and she loves using the ladder. But I spent the ENTIRE day putting it together by myself and rearranging her room (although I’m not satisfied with the layout yet). The bed took 2 hours, but it was extremely easy. We don’t have the mattress yet, but I ordered the special 6″ bunk-bed mattress, so she’ll still have ample railing space still to prevent any rolling accidents, as per suggestions in the reviews. I do love that it’s not too high for her (chest height), so I’m not too worried about her falling. I would’ve loved a bed like this when I was a kid! I think I might put up a tension rod & some curtains underneath to make the “fort” even cooler.

newbed

Sunday (today): We had a lazy morning…McKenzie slept in until 9! It was amazing. Around 1, we headed over to a 1st birthday party for my BFF’s identical twin boys! It was so cute, and her decor was awesome. It’s been so fun to watch them grow up the past year! And of course, McKenzie had fun playing with all the balloons. And there was pulled pork…the same to-die-for pulled pork recipe that I’ve posted. Yummm. Then McKenzie and I went to run some errands: a quick trip to the grocery store, and a successful trip to Michael’s (craft store)… To elaborate, I have been eying these adorable Easter Baskets at Pottery Barn Kids for the past 2 months, but I absolutely could not justify spending $30-$50 on an Easter basket…no matter how cute, even if it’ll be used every year. Anyway, at Michael’s all the Easter stuff was on clearance for 70% off, and I managed to score this Easter basket for a grand total of $5.60 (originally $16.99). I was pleased! It might not be *as* cute, but I think I can trick it out a bit. Either way, it’s definitely a cute upgrade. =)basketAll-in-all it was a great week. Finding out we’re having a BOY was definitely the highlight though. I look at those little ultrasound pictures every day. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe I’m even pregnant since I’m not that big yet! Soon enough. I’m sure I’ll be eating those words in a month. Lol. Today I am officially 17 weeks, but here is my 16 week photo since I forgot to post it last week. And no, I am not angry (as some FB commenters noted)…that is my straight face. Yes, I have an angry-looking straight face. Thanks for noticing. Haha. 16weeks.words

This week, we’re looking forward to going to visit Grandpa Jeff for a week in California. There is sure to be lots of yummy food, boat-riding, and dolphin-watching! Have a great week everyone. =)

South Carolina Pulled Pork Recipe

My good friend made this recipe for dinner when we were at her house, and let me tell you: it was memorable! The mustard-based recipe is actually very simple to make, it just takes awhile to bake to the ultimate tenderness. It’s worth the wait, I promise! Enjoy. =)

SOUTH CAROLINA PULLED PORK RECIPE

Prep Time 30min | Cook Time 6-8 hours

MEAT & RUB

  • 3-5 lbs pork shoulder roast (aka “butt roast”)
  • 3 tbsp. dry mustard (I used ‘ground mustard,’ which I found in the spice aisle)
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 1½ tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Combine all ingredients in bowl and coat meat with the rub. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. (Although, I just popped it in the oven right away.)

SAUCE

  • ½ cup dijon mustard
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (white is fine too)
  • 2 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. hot sauce (I used the Asian hot sauce Siracha)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Spicier version: ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, ½ tsp. additional black pepper
  • Combine all ingredients in bowl, refrigerate until needed.

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 225° and bake the seasoned meat for 2 hours per pound, mine was 3 lbs so I baked it for 6 hours. ((If you want to speed up cooking time, bake at 275°  for 1½ hours per pound.))
  • 30 minutes prior to completion, coat meat with ½ cup of the sauce.
  • When meat is finished, let cool for 15 minutes. This is a good time to bake the buns/rolls if they’re not already made!
  • Pull meat apart with your hands or forks.
  • Microwave sauce for 45 seconds or until warm, and coat meat with the remaining sauce.
  • You’re done! I love them served on Rhodes Texas Rolls, which I found in my grocery store’s freezer section. Enjoy!

If you make it, I’d love to hear how it turned out!

My Kitchen Nightmare.

The other day I decided to make these rolls, which I’d discovered on Pinterest. They looked so yummy, and I was in the mood for carbs. Long story short, I whip out all the ingredients, melt the butter, etc…then I open the flour and to my absolute horror there were nasty, tiny brown bugs crawling everywhere inside the flour. *gag* It was seriously the grossest thing ever!

This was not the first time this had happened to me, but I always thought, “Oh, I must just not cook enough!” Little did I know these little buggers were already in there when I bought it! Ewwww.

After a quick “google” some research I stumbled upon this site, which quickly explained that they are a type of tiny beetle called a weevil. *gag again*  The worst part is that their eggs are already in the flour when you buy it! GROSS. Apparently though, they are perfectly harmless and we unintentionally eat them all the time (as if that made me feel better!).

To get rid of them, the site suggests you freeze flour every time you buy new stuff (it kills all the eggs), and if you’ve been unfortunate enough to find them already, disinfect your cabinets and throw away any dry goods they may have infested. Yuck.

What is your kitchen nightmare?

Sweet Butternut Squash Soup

As I was cooking this butternut squash soup for dinner, McKenzie said, “Oh boy, that smells so good my nose can’t resist it.” One: I’m not sure she can get much cuter. And two: it really is that good. I adapted this recipe from Liz @ The Lambent Life, who has such a fun blog! I say adapted because I use nearly all the same ingredients, but I added a few more spices…namely cinnamon and sugar. God knows I have a sweet-tooth! And hey, my four-year-old’s nose couldn’t resist it, so you know it must be good. ;)

Sweet Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2½ lbs), peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 packets chicken stock powder
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (in addition to the cinnamon sticks! This makes it.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp celery seeds
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cayenne powder

In a stockpot, add chopped onion, apple, and squash. Fill pot with water so the ingredients about ¾ submerged. Bring water to a boil, stir in spices and the rest of the ingredients. Reduce to a low boil and cover. Cook until vegetables are soft, approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Veggies/apples should be completely submerged at this point. Using a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches (you might not want to use all the broth from the pot, or the soup might be too runny…use your judgement). Return to pot. Keep warm until ready to serve. Garnish with cinnamon. Enjoy!

**If you’re looking for a more savory soup (instead of sweet), omit the brown sugar, and instead add a splash of cooking sherry and about a tablespoon of garlic. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Seasonal Salads

I’m not a huge salad person…BUT these salads are amazing! I found them in the most recent Redbook issue and decided to try them. Let me tell you: they are delicious! Not traditional salads, but tasty nevertheless.

 

Lentil Salad with Provençal Pear & Gorgonzola

Prep time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes

Lentils

  • 1 cup Puy (green) lentils
  • 1 small carrot, quartered
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Dressing

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper Pears
  • 2 firm-ripe Bosc pears, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp packed brown sugar
  • 3 oz Roquefort or Gorgonzola cheese, coarsely crumbled

1. Lentils: Rinse lentils with cold water. Tie carrot, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf in a bundle with string. Place lentils, bundle, garlic, and salt in a medium saucepan and cover with 4 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain, and discard bundle and garlic.

2. Dressing: In a small glass measuring cup, whisk together all ingredients. While lentils are hot, toss with dressing in a large bowl.

3. Pears: Core pears and cut each quarter in half, lengthwise.

4. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears and sprinkle with brown sugar. Sauté on both sides until golden and slightly caramelized, 5 minutes.

5. Place lentils on a large platter. Arrange pears on top and sprinkle with Roquefort. Serve immediately. Personally, I think the pears make the salad! It’s an interesting combo of sweet/bitter.

Makes 4 servings. Each serving: 424 cal, 23 g fat, 16 g protein, 42 g carb.

 

Butternut Squash Salad with Tahini Dressing

Prep time: 25 minutes | Cooking time: 35 minutes

Salad

  • 1 butternut squash (2 lbs), peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks…(for me, peeling the squash took forever!)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 8 cups baby arugula
  • ⅓ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 4 oz Feta cheese, coarsely crumbled

Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. Salad: On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss squash, oil, paprika, salt, and pepper and spread out evenly. Roast 35 minutes, stirring halfway through, until squash is tender and starting to caramelize. Sprinkle squash with pumpkin seeds for the last 5 minutes of roasting.

3. Dressing: In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Whisk in 2 Tbsp boiling water.

4. In a large bowl, gently toss squash, arugula, parsley, raisins, and Feta cheese. Arrange on a platter. Drizzle dressing over salad.

Makes 4 servings. Each serving: 338 cal, 21 g fat, 9 g protein, 34 g carb.

I hope you enjoy these recipes! I, personally, love the Butternut Squash Salad. I’ve decided that I like to omit the feta and arugula for a simple, yet tasty, butternut squash medley. I think the raisins make it! Oh, and the candied pears on the Lentil Salad are wonderful…I might have to make them by themselves for desert sometime. =)