Sunday, February 28, 2010

French Onion Soup

I used to hate French Onion Soup, which is funny because I can eat an onion like an apple, and may have on a dare once.

I don't know what it was about the soup I though I didn't like but then I tried it at a neighbor's house. I remember seeing her pull out of the oven this small white crock that overflowed with cheese and bread. The cheese was golden and running down the side of the crock. The bread was nestled under a pile of creamy cheese, soaking up all the hearty deliciousness of beef and onion flavor. One bite of that soup and I was forever a fan.

Sadly, I can't make this soup all too often. The Good Husband is super sensitive to onion cooking and no matter how well I think I have the kitchen ventilated, his eyes will start to water. So I have to wait for a day when he won't be home for a few hours, so the onions won't bother him.

2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
5 medium onions, thinly sliced
Pinch of dried thyme
2 Tbs. dry sherry (I used white wine, just because I am not a fan of sherry)
2 Tbs. Worcestershire
3 1/2 cups Brown Beef Stock
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 to 3 slices French bread, toasted if fresh
1 Tbs. grated Gruyere cheese (I used Swiss cheese, however, since I am not a fan of Gruyere)

~Heat the oil and butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add onion and stir to coat. Add the thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, careful not to burn the onions, over medium heat. As soon as the onions start to brown, after about 15 minutes, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, covered, stirring more often, until the onions are a rich brown color, about 40 min.

~Add the sherry (or wine) and Worcestershire and cook on high until the alcohole has cooked off. Add the beef stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

~Place 8 ovenproof crocks on a baking sheet. Fill 2/3 of the way full with soup. Top with French bread and cheese and broil or bake at 450 till cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve immediately.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Godfather Sauce, a dish you can't refuse.

The Godfather is in my top ten favorite movies of all time. In high school, a friend and I were obsessed with this movie. We would ask each other all sorts of obscure movie trivia about the film (Which order does Apollonia say the days of the week in English?).

This so would have been one of those questions. Actually it might have.

But for some reason it was so funny to me to make this sauce from the movie that The Good Husband was entirely sick of me making jokes about it throughout dinner. That, or he was scared I was going to whack him.

For anyone that has never seen The Godfather, it follows the Corelone mob family in the late 40s. This scene takes place between Michael Corelone, son of the mob boss Don Vito, played by the young and smoking hot Al Pacino, and Peter Clemenza, Don Vito Corleone's caporegimes or high ranking made member of the Corelone family, played by the late Richard S. Castellano.

Olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 pound Italian link sausage, cooked and diced into bite sizes
1 batch homemade Italian meatballs
1 cup of red wine, I used Pinot Noir
2 tablespoons sugar

~"You start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic." I actually sauteed the garlic on low heat for about 10 minutes until golden.

~"Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste. You fry it. You make sure it doesn't stick. You got it to a boil, you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs. Add a little bit of wine. A little bit of sugar. And that's my trick." Yeah, basically all that.

I served this sauce over regular spaghetti but the next day TGH made a killer (heh) meatball sub.
recipe by:Peter Clemenza

Italian Meatballs

I used this recipe to make my Godfather Sauce, but it is a good universal meatball recipe.

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground lamb
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
1 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup flour

~Combine beef and lamb in a large bowl. Add garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.

~Add bread crumbs and wine to meat mixture. Mix to just combined, careful not to over mix the meat. Roll into about 16 2 inch meatballs. Roll the meatballs in the flour.

~Heat oil in a large skillet. Fry meatballs until golden brown, turning once.

~Combine cooked meatball with marina sauce and simmer on low for 15 minutes until heated through.

recipe by: The Good Wife

Monday, February 15, 2010

I have an organizing dilemma

We have no hall linen closet in our house for the guest bath. We don't have a laundry room either. We have a laundry closet, in which I want to put a linen closet.

This is what it looks like now. I have the washer and dryer pushed to one side to make room for the hampers, broom, vacuum and mop. I would like some kind of cabinets here.

We would have to take out the metal shelving, which I would be ok with loosing, if I didn't use it to line dry.


I'm thinking something like the first picture in my room inspirations might work the best. I could put cabinets above the washer and dryer and use it to store my cleaning supplies. I could then have two bars run from the cabinet to the wall on the left that I could use for clothes drying. Then on the left corner wall I could have a shelving unit that would house linens.

Or should I have the shelving unit stand next to the washer and dryer and put the drying bars on the left wall?

To give you an idea of space size - the space from the wall to the dryer is almost 3 1/2 feet or 41 inches. The space from the wall with the closet door to the backside of the closet is 3 feet exactly.

Right now the corner is about a 3x3 square of empty, unused space.

What do you think would be the best use of space? Any suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My First Ever Product Review

I told you about my up coming product review here. I told you I struggled with finding something that was both eco-friendly and something I would get a ton of use out of.

I decided to get Kinetic Go Green Glasslock Assorted 8-Piece Food Storage Container Set.

I can always use storage in my kitchen and I love that the product is glass. I don't have to worry about any chemical leeching into the foods. I used them to store my homemade baby food.

Before my freezer was crowded with plastic bags full of baby food.


Now my freezer looks like this:

What a difference. I still have some freezer bags (I made a ton of baby food) but it is mostly well contained now.

I love that I can stack the containers to make a more organized space. I placed sticky notes on the top of each lid so I could distinguish between the green cubes of peas and the green cubes of broccoli. I also love that the lids snap and lock into place so I don't have to worry about overfilling the container and having the lid pop off and get food every where.

Another benefit to the containers is the glass is super cold and thus, keeps the food super cold.

You can microwave in them but you cannot cook with them in the oven. That would be the only con.

The set contains the following sizes:
* Rectangular 1.75 cup (14 oz.) food storage container with lid
* Rectangular 4.25 cup (34 oz.) food storage container with lid
* Rectangular 8.5 cup (68 oz.) food storage container with lid
* Square 2.13 cup (17 oz.) food storage container with lid
* Square 3.75 cup (30 oz.) food storage container with lid
* Square 5.13 cup (41 oz.) food storage container with lid
* Square 11 cup (88 oz.) food storage container with lid
* Round 3 cup (24 oz.) food storage container with lid

I like having the variety of sizes and the smallest square and rectangle containers are good for single servings but I would definitely get a few more of the larger square and rectangle sizes to have on hand.

You can buy them separate or in several different set assortments here.

I would definitely recommend them.

Disclosure: I was supplied the product to review (thank you so much CSN Stores), but it in no way influenced this review. If the containers sucked, I would have told you.

The Organized Kitchen, Part 2 - The Spice Rack

I love organization. Yes, I am a freak like that. I'm fine with it. I have come to accept the fact that I will always be anal and there is no changing that.

I just thank god I can teach The Good Baby how to properly load the dish washer, since trying to teach The Good Husband is a lost cause. Poor little TGB, she will think all my organization quirks are normal and will either be completely anal like her momma or a total slob. Either way, there is therapy.

I find it the easiest to organize the kitchen. I spend most of my time in there anyway and I am always looking for something that will create less clutter and save me some time.

When we moved into The Good Home, I was about 6 months pregnant so I couldn't clean or organize the way I wanted to. TGH wouldn't let me climb on the counters and clean the top of the cabinets. I still haven't done it and I shudder to think what is up there. I spent the first day organizing the pantry alone. And then I had the rest of the kitchen to do.

Then I had TGB and was sidetracked for a good, I don't know, 6 months. Organization fell by the wayside.

I also had moved from an apartment that had only 4 cabinets to one with 3 times that space. The wedding presents we had from 2 years prior were all still in the box, unopened. So when my swollen pregnancy feet and stupid sciatic nerve started to bother me late in pregnancy, I threw miscellaneous things into various cabinets, closed the door and ate some ice cream.

Just now am I beginning to assess what I need to organize and implementing the plan.

One of the weirdly challenging things to organize was my spice collection. Before, in the apartment, I had this UGLY spice rack that housed all the jars. When we moved, I donated that thing and thought I would just put them in the pantry, since spices like the dark.

Well my spices took up too much space in the pantry, so I decided to throw them in the drawer and walk away. So when I needed something I had to dig through this mess:

There had to be a better way, I told myself. I wanted a cute spice jar collection. I originally wanted one that would sit on the counter, but decided against that since I had too many damn spices. So I decided to find some jars that would 1.) look cute; 2.) seal well and 3.) fit in my drawer.

I liked the look of apothecary jars and after a few searches on amazon, I found the perfect jars from Target. I had to order them online, so I waited for a Target coupon before finally buying them last week.

Here is the result:
I bought two sets (24 jars total) and I think I might need to buy 2 more sets since I still have some spices in there original jars. Each jar holds 4.5 oz, which is enough for most regular spices.

I love the clean look and I can easily and quickly find a spice I want. To be even more anal, the spices are in alphabetical order, so I know that sage will be in the last row, while chili powder should be in the first row. You can see a bit of the spice through the top of the jar, but I put labels on the bottom of each jar just in case.

I also put my powdered, light and dark brown sugars in separate glass mason jars to save room. When I get more spices I will likely move them to the pantry.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Potato Leek Soup

You know there are a lot of simple recipes I haven't made yet. It seems like I would conquer the simple before moving on to the complex, but most of the time I forget I haven't made even the basic of dishes.

This is one of those simple dishes.

I had never made it or any variation of potato soup before. Come to think of it, I have never even had potato leek soup before.

But I had bought some leeks, thinking I would use them in a parsnip puree, but I didn't and I needed something else to make. Then it dawned on me to make this.

And it was simple to make and very flavorful. It was quick to make, which means it might become a staple in my menus.

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 leeks, thinly sliced
3 shallots, chopped
6 – 8 russet potatoes, diced
4 cups turkey or chicken broth
1 cup milk or heavy cream
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste

~Cook leeks and shallots in butter and oil in a large sauce pan until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

~Add potatoes and enough broth to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Pour half of the soup mixture into a blender and puree. Meanwhile, use a potato masher and gently mash the potato mixture in the pan. Add the blended soup back into the pan and add the milk or cream. Heat through and served with bacon crumbles.

recipe by: The Good Wife