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Monday, December 31, 2007

French Onion Soup - The Easy Way

I love french onion soup... so when I got my little individual soup crocks, I knew exactly what I wanted to make first! I was feeling a bit lazy, though, so I wanted an easy recipe. Living Insanity's Crockpot French Onion Soup (courtesy of Sandra Lee from the Food Network) definitely fit the bill!

I was only making soup for two, so I cut the recipe in half. (Though we still had some leftover.)

French Onion Soup (with living insanity's suggestions and my own interpretations)

1 1/2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 can (14 ounces) low sodium beef broth (recommended: Swanson's)
1 can (10 ounces) beef consomme (recommended: Campbell's)
1 packet onion soup mix (recommended: Lipton's) (the full recipe calls for 1 packet, I didn't feel like trying to figure out what half of a packet was, so I just used it all!)
French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere

Combine onions, broth, consomme, and soup mix in a slow cooker. Cook on HIGH setting for 4 hours, or LOW setting for 8 hours. Ladle soup into serving bowls.

Top with cubes of French bread.

Sprinkle cheese over each bowl.

Put soup bowls under broiler until cheese is melted. (Alternatively, place the bread on a baking sheet and top with cheese; broil until cheese has melted,about 30 to 40 seconds, and set on top just before serving.)

Voila! My fiance and I both thought this was great, and perfect for a cold, snowy, New Year's Eve!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Comfort food: Pasta and Garlic Bread!

My fiancĂ© had the night off from work (a rare occasion) so I decided to cook up something nice. His request was something we’ve had a number of times… Pasta with puttanesca sauce with chicken, zucchini and yellow squash. Typically I just buy jarred puttanesca sauce, but I thought this time I’d try to make it from scratch. I found a recipe from AllRecipes and it turned out great!

8 ounces pasta
1/2 cup olive oil (I followed the recipe reviews and used a lot less. I didn’t measure, just drizzled it in the saucepan)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped tomatoes, pushed through a sieve (I skipped the sieve part)
4 anchovy filets, rinsed and chopped (I skipped these)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons capers
20 Greek olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Heat oil in a skillet over low heat; cook garlic in oil until golden. Add sieved tomatoes, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in anchovies, tomato paste, capers, olives, and red pepper flakes. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I let the sauce simmer while I cooked up some chicken breast (chopped to bite size pieces) and then some sliced zucchini and yellow squash, then added the sauce to the cooked chicken and veggies.

We served it with Barilla PLUS pasta.

I also was in search of a new garlic bread recipe. We’ve made it a few times and I’ve never really liked it (partially due to my tendency to burn it under the broiler :-) ). I posted on What’s Cooking for some help, and nestie tandd offered this recipe. We loved it, but I will probably cut down on the butter next time, it made a lot for the size of the italian loaf.

Garlic Bread (From nestie tandd)

1 cup butter, softened (I used ½ regular and ½ light butter)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp garlic salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
1 loaf of sourdough bread, halved lengthwise (I couldn’t find sourdough, so I just used Italian)

Preheat oven broiler and put rack on top setting.
In a small bowl, combine softened butter, minced garlic and parmesan cheese. Season with garlic salt, Italian seasoning, pepper and paprika. Mix until smooth.
Spread the mixture on the cut sides of the bread, distributing evenly.
Place on cookie sheet, cut side up, and broil until brown.
You have to keep an eye on this because it will burn quickly if you are not paying attention.