12 Hour Braised Onions

There are moments when the Universe throws a distinct pattern into my online adventures.  Take the day that I saw Barb at Vino Luci Style’s post about French Onion Soup. In the post she provided a Sur laTable recipe for slow braised onions.  Then over on Twitter, SmithBites was also talking about her love of the very same braised onions.  In my world, two things make for a pattern.  I know it’s not empirically sound, but it works for me.

So I heeded the Universe’s pattern, bought a boatload of onions, and got to braising.  As I type this, my onions are still doing their thing in the crockpot. It’s been almost 12 hours since I started them.  Clearly, while this is an easy recipe it’s far from quick.  But the beauty is that it makes enough braised onions to use for soups, sandwiches, salads, pizzas, or whatever you can imagine.

Actually, I raided the crockpot a few hours ago and pulled out a bunch of onions to add to the chicken casserole I was making for dinner.  After slicing up about a dozen onions, I had no desire to chop up another one.

***Update***

In the time that this post has been sitting in my ‘draft’ folder, I have started making braised onions on a regular basis.  Every other week or so I tie the crock pot up for day so that I can have a steady supply of these.  I have found that I use them interchangeably in recipes where onions are called for.  These onions go so quickly that they have evaded my camera lens.  The picture at the top of the post was some other recipe entirely, but it was the only photo of onions in my library.  Deb at SmithBites has some lovely pictures of them in her post.  So maybe you can mosey on over there and take a look.

Butter Braised Onions

Adapted from Sur la Table’s Gifts Cooks Love

BAH Note: Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, or have onion goggles, I recommend using a mandolin to slice the onions.  I give a range of how many onions to use.  Start with the least amount and see how much space you have left in your crockpot.  If you’ve got room for more, by all means add them.  I didn’t think about this and came very close to having more onions than my crockpot could accommodate.  Thankfully, the lid is somewhat domed so I was able to cram them all in.  In hindsight, perhaps that’s why it took mine over 12 hours to braise.

  • 8 to 12 onions –  sweet, red, or a combination, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
  • kosher salt

Slice the butter into tablespoons and place them on the bottom of your crockpot insert.  Add the onions and thyme.  Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, stir the onions.  Replace the cover and cook on high, without stirring, for another 6 to 8 hours until the onions are tender.  If you still have a lot of liquid in the crockpot, remove the lid and cook on high for an additional 1 to 2 hours or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Turn the crockpot off and let the onions sit uncovered for 1 hour to cool.

Transfer to quart jars or plastic containers and store in the refrigerator.

{printble recipe}

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Flashback Friday – Num Yummy

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 10/24/08 at Exit 51.

Num Yummy

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the commercials with Mr. Num Yummy – the guy who can’t get his face out of a cup of soup – raise an interesting question.  Namely, what food do you find so irresistible that you can’t pull yourself away? Like Pooh, sticking a paw in the buzzing hive because that’s where the honey is, I’m a sucker for caramel.

Not the sickly sweet sauce that comes from the grocery store, and not the chalky squares hermetically sealed in plastic either.  Nope, I’m talking about the smooth liquid love that only comes from a pot on your stove.   I’ve been neglecting this love of mine because I can’t resist its charms.  Having it in the house is a one way ticket out of the South Beach life.  But SFC’s birthday is coming up and I thought what better way to say I love you than to make the most cracktastic treat in the world – Chocolate Covered Matzoh Crunch.

The last time I made it, I knew I was in trouble.  My waist, if not my mortal soul, was at risk.  Its powers are that strong.  So the recipe stayed hidden away, surrounded by idols and charms to keep it from calling out to me.  But the caramel would not be dismissed.

It waited for me over at Smitten Kitchen where Deb offered a primer on Caramel Sauce.  And then it led me further away from the light with David Lebovitz’s Ten Tips for Making Caramel and How to Make the Perfect Caramel.  Which was really just its way of getting me back to where this all started with DL’s recipe for Matzoh Crunch.

So after I get back from New York I’m going to say a few Hail Mary’s, sprinkle some holy water, and let the devil back into the kitchen.  If you don’t hear from me in a week, please send help.

My GEMomsperience Experience

I’ll ask you to forgive me but I’m about to tell this story out of sequence.  See, my trip to Louisville started with a whole separate adventure involving a bloggy friend, cucumber spread, and rain.  But in the interest of being somewhat timely, I need to talk about the second part of the trip first.

Actually, I need to preface all of this by saying that when it comes to winning things, my track record sucks.  Giveaways, raffle tickets, lottery scratch offs….I never win.  But like the Maryland Lottery once said, you gotta play to win.  So from time to time I take a chance and hope that Lady Luck smiles upon me.

Most recently this took the form of me entering a contest on the LoveFeast Table blog.   {Tangent}  Do you know the LoveFeast ladies?  Maybe not in real life, but online?  You should.  Kristin and Chris Ann personify what it means to let your passions guide your life and being open to going where that journey takes you.  Take a moment and click on the link over in that there sidebar under B’more Bloggers.  {End Tangent} Anyhow, Love Feast had been invited to participate in GEMomsperience and the folks at GE were letting them bring one of their readers along.  So despite not really understanding what GEMomsperience was, I entered the competition to be their guest at the event.  And guess what?  I freaking won.

Color me giddy.

So what exactly was GEMomsperience?  Unlike that timeshare sales pitch you have to sit through in order to get the free vacation, this was not GE trying to give us a hard sell on their products.  Sure, we got to oooh and aahh over washers, dryers, refrigerators, and induction cook tops.  And maybe we even got to see for ourselves that the Advantium oven will go from zero to well done fillets in 13 minutes flat.  {Tangent}  You really should ask the Googley about Advantium.  It’s the oven equivalent of the swiss army knife…regular oven, convection oven, microwave, and proofing oven.  Unfreaking believable.  {End Tangent} But GE wanted to understand more about our relationship with appliances in real life.

What goes into our decision making when we buy appliances?  What functions are important to us?  What functions would we like to see?  {Tangent}  If a self cleaning microwave ever becomes a commercial reality, you can thank GEMomsperiece.  {End Tangent}.  How do we use the products in our own homes as opposed to how the designers and testers speculate that we will?

It was an opportunity to have a conversation.  To talk with, not to be talked to.

It was also an opportunity to cook with GE’s chefs in their kitchen center.  Chef Brian and Chef Joe made us all feel like pros as they walked us through preparing pan friend chicken breasts, red eye gravy, and micro greens salad.  I have started to stalk their blog waiting for that chicken recipe to go up.  I’m tempted to try and wing it from memory because the results were spectacular.  The red eye gravy recipe came home with me and is demanding that I make it promptly.  Maybe I’ll see if Lady Luck won’t look my way again so soon because BAH needs this dish.  {Tangent} Perhaps if I would have checked this post on the Chefs’ blog BEFORE I arrived in Louisville I might not have had that unfortunate cucumber spread experience. {End Tangent}

I can’t say enough about how well we were treated by GE.  Not just in the tangible things like travel and accommodations.  Yes, it’s nice to be treated like a VIP.  But it’s  nothing compared to the experience of having every person you encounter from the organization genuinely wanting to hear your opinion.  Talk about feeling important.  Big thanks to GE for bringing a diverse group of bloggers together and for giving us an amazing experience.

Now for the disclaimery stuff.  GE covered all of my travel expenses and hotel accommodations.  They provided transportation while in Louisville and basically made me feel like a rock star.  They did not once suggest that I write about my experience.  But I own GE appliances.  I use GE appliances.  So I can speak objectively about my real life experiences with their products. Such as….could someone at GE please tell me why detergent packs refuse to dissolve in my GE dishwasher?  That thing is a godsend to me but it really burns my biscuits to have to run it twice because there’s some kind of fail going on after I close the door.

Next to lastly, a side note to anyone who may at some point have the opportunity to be the guest of a company at an event.  Please do not go around asking for free stuff.  Besides the less than springlike weather during our visit, that was the thing that really gave me chills.  When you’re a guest at someone’s home, you wouldn’t ask them if you can have the silver.   Would you?

Lastly, the folks who made all this happen deserve to be personally thanked.  In a perfect world I would have used that 2.5 hour delay at the airport to write thank you notes to all these people.  But my world in imperfect.  So without further ado, thank you to:

Eddie Martin – Chief Marketing Officer

Range:

Ben Cecil – Merchandising Specialist

Susan Gregory – Product Manager, Global Products

Julie Muennich – Senior Marketing Merchandising Specialist

Shawn Stover – Product Manager, Built –in Cooking Products

Refrigeration:

Casie Banquer – Senior Marketing Merchandising Specialist

Rebecca LaRocque – Training Manager

Monogram Experience Center:

Chef Joe Castro

Chef Brian Logsdon

Entertaining made simple:

Wendy Sommers – Team Leader

Industrial Design:

Marc Hottenroth – Industrial Design Manager

Dishwashers:

John Nichols – Senior Marketing Merchandising Specialist

Paul Riley – Marketing Manager

Laundry:

Peter Pepe – Product General Manager, Clothes Care

Jennifer Schoenegge – Product Manager, Clothes Care

Raegen VanBogaert – Product Manager

Lighting:

Dawn Riedel – Brand Manager

And special sparkly jazz hands to Megan Robison and Nancy Wolff for all of their time and attention to make this a fantastic trip that I will never forget.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

I am starting to suspect that I have developed a raging case of Adult Onset Attention Deficit Disorder (AOADD).  I used to be the queen of following directions, reading comprehension, and recall of random information.  I was the girl you wanted on your Trivia Night team.

Much like my youthful complexion, shopping in the Junior’s Department, and cassette tapes, those days are long gone.  I now have lists to remind me about lists.  I would be hard pressed to summarize the plot of anything I’ve read in the last few months.  And I continually find myself wandering off task.  For instance, as I am writing this post, I pop over to Yahoo when it tells me that I have a new email.  From there, I open a few browser windows, read an online chat or two, and try unsuccessfully to get into Twitter for twenty minutes.  All that happens before I remember that I was in the middle of something.

In short, I get in my own damn way.

Sadly, this condition often surfaces while I’m in the kitchen.  And it leads to some interesting internal dialogue.  Let’s consider Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes.  In the bake! cookbook, they were on the pages immediately following a recipe for Carrot Cake.  So there I am, book open with absolutely zero recognition that the page says Carrot Cake and I’m thinking Pumpkin Spice.  I start prepping ingredients.  And then at nearly the point of no return, I figured out my mistake.  Luckily the two recipes shared several key ingredients in almost identical amounts.  So with some deep breathing and quick math, I was able to catch my mistake and keep going.

But had I been paying attention in the first place, I would have realized I was on the wrong damn page.

Should you ever meet me in real life and I do something so completely boneheaded that the only explanation is that I’m losing my mind, I’ll try and remember to mention that I have diagnosed myself as suffering from AOADD.

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from bake!

BAH Note:  I scaled down the original recipe which makes two 9″ round cake layers in order to make one dozen cupcakes.  The math initially involved trying to halve an egg.  Which made my brain hurt.  So instead of bringing on a migraine, I used a little more oil.  I probably could have also just used the yolk of an egg and been done with it.  Maybe next time.  Despite testing for doneness, the larger muffins were still a little wet inside. But then again, this is a very moist cake recipe.  When I ate one the next morning with my coffee, it was perfectly fine.  And nobody who sampled them voiced any complaints.

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon 5 spice powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and place a regular muffin tin on a half sheet pan.  Spray the top of the pan with nonstick spray, line the cups with muffin or cupcake papers, and set aside.

Combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Place the brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and use a spatula to mix in about a third of the pumpkin until there are no sugar lumps remaining.  Use a whisk to mix in the remaining pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla, adding each one at a time and stirring well between each addition.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet in thirds.  Use a standard ice cream disher to scoop the drop the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cupcakes are risen and firm and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a rack and cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning the cupcakes out to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crystallized ginger, optional

Place the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl and use a whisk or electric mixer to combine.  Sift the confectioner’s sugar into the bowl one half cup at a time, whisking until it is completely absorbed after each addition.  Add the vanilla and whisk until the frosting is smooth.  After frosting the cupcakes, roughly chop the crystallized ginger and use to garnish the cupcakes.

{printable recipe}

Kerrygold Mac and Cheese

No, I haven’t gotten back together with ATK.  But I still have some of their recipes floating around my kitchen which need to make their way to the blog.  Like this stovetop mac and cheese.  I’ve had it in my life for almost four years and yet I haven’t yet shared it with you.

And that’s just wrong.  Because in the world of quick and easy cooking, it doesn’t get much better than this.  In the time it takes to get your water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente, the sauce is ready to receive the macaroni and coat it in its luscious, creamy goodness.  I think that should be enough motivation to put this on your menu soon.

Confidential to Jenna…I know you didn’t exactly hit it off with the last stovetop mac and cheese I raved about.  I hope you’ll have a better experience with this.

Kerrygold Mac and Cheese

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

BAH Note: The recipe I worked from was actually a “lighter” mac and cheese that used low fat this and light that.  I personally don’t eat pasta often.  So when I do, it’s a big deal and I go all out.  If you find you’re making this on a regular basis, you may want to consider using the reduced fat versions of milk, evaporated milk, and cheese.  Also, ATK didn’t name the recipe Kerrygold Mac and Cheese….that was all my doing.  Do yourself a huge favor and try it at least once with Kerrygold Cheddar…and you’ll see why.  But note that the blocks of Kerrygold are only 7 ounces.  That missing ounce didn’t make any difference in my sauce.

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup milk or half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • kosher salt
  • cayenne pepper or chili powder (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to the package directions until it is al dente.  If your pasta is done before the cheese sauce is ready, drain the pasta and leave it in the colander while the sauce finishes.

Mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the milk or half and half in a small bowl until dissolved and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk together the evaporated milk, the remaining 1/2 cup milk or half and half, and dry mustard in a pot or dutch oven and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat slightly and whisk in the cornstarch mixture.  Continue to simmer, whisking often, until the sauce thickens and is smooth, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

Once the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and add the grated cheese.  Stir until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is smooth.  Stir in the pasta, taste for seasoning, and add kosher salt as desired.

Let the macaroni and cheese sit for about 5 minutes before serving, garnished with a very light sprinkle of cayenne pepper or chili powder.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Slow Motion

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 4/22/09 at Exit 51.

Slow Motion

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the obvious.  Remember that fable about the tortoise and the hare?  What was the moral of that story?  Right, fastest isn’t always best.

There are countless examples of how we have become a society that minimizes the value of being leisurely; no need to enumerate them here.  The point remains that we pride ourselves on how much of anything we can cram into as little time as possible.  It’s sad when you think about it.  Because that thinking touches every part of our lives, including how we eat.

Well Duh!
photo by me

If faced with the option to either commit several hours to preparing dinner at home or popping through some random drive thru as you multitask through a day, which are you going to choose?  It’s ok, you can tell me.  I know that the easy answer is the drive thru.  But is it always the best answer?

Looking at what I’ve been cooking lately, I’ve got my fair share of recipes that will never end up on 30 Minute Meals.  These are strictly weekend recipes for when I have the luxury to spend  an hour, or three, on a dish.  But do not think that all that time is actively spent at the stove.  Please, have you met me?  I would never suggest such a thing.

I can think of plenty of better things to do with three hours…like settle in and read a book, or work my way through all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls dvd’s, or indulge in a leisurely nap on the sofa.  If I’m “hard at work” on dinner, I think that excludes me from simultaneously tackling other chores like laundry and cleaning.

Now, I understand not everyone can make that choice.  But if you can, I hope you will.  At least once in a while.  And if you do, maybe you can dine on this slow motion dinner.

what-leftovers

Braised Chicken

I got this recipe from a Wegman’s magazine.  I’ve made a few modifications so that it is more in keeping with our South Beach living.  I liked the results, but think that maybe the chicken needs to be completely naked.  The skin made the juices a little too greasy for my taste.  I also let the dish stay in the oven for a second hour, with the heat turned off, because it wasn’t convenient to eat dinner when the timer went off.   Just make sure that your lid is on tightly and there is enough liquid in the pot so that the chicken doesn’t scorch.

  • 1   pkg (about 3 lbs) Chicken (Split Breasts with Ribs, Drums and Thighs)
  • 2   Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3   Tbsp chopped shallots
  • 2   pkgs (4 oz each) gourmet mushroom blend
  • 1/2   cup dry white wine
  • 2   cups Chicken Stock
  • juice of one lemon (2-3 Tbsp)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in large pan on medium; add chicken. Brown lightly on all sides. Transfer to clean platter; set aside. Discard all but 1 Tbsp oil.

Add shallots; cook, stirring, 1-2 min. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring, 3-4 min.

Add wine; cook, stirring to loosen browned bits on bottom of pan. Simmer 3-5 min, to reduce liquids by two-thirds. Add chicken stock, return chicken to pan, and bring to simmer.

Cover; place on center rack of oven. Braise 1 hour.

Remove pan from oven. Stir in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

bake! boule

You might recall I’ve been trying to overcome my fear of yeast.  There have been some successes, some failures, and some that were too close to call either way.  So when I got my copy of Nick Malgieri’s bake! and saw that his bread recipes seemed far more accessible to my yeast averse self, I wanted to start baking immediately.  Mother Nature came through town and deposited a blanket of snow shortly thereafter which resulted in an unexpected weekday afternoon trying to coax magic out of some flour, yeast, and water.

I can not tell a lie.  I struggled with this method.  And by struggle I mean that I threw an entire batch of dough away because I was convinced that I had somehow manged to do it wrong.  The instructions and photos conveyed the notion that the dough would fully incorporate all of the flour with the deft use of a rubber spatula.  Not the first time I tried it.  And not the second either.  Both times I used half the flour to make a paste.  Both times I added half of the remaining flour and began folding.   Both times I struggled to get the first half of the remaining flour incorporated, let alone the second half.  Seeing how I got the same results both times, I decided to continue on with my second attempt and see where it got me.

Where it got me was up to my wrists in dough.  Because even my sturdiest rubber spatula could not get the upper hand.  So I chucked it aside and used my hands to gently fold the flour into the dough.  I was able to get all but about 1/4 cup incorporated.  There was a rise, some folding, more rising, and more folding all while I said a little prayer that all this work would result in something bread like coming out of my oven in a few hours.

It wasn’t until the dough had sat for an hour’s rise that my fears started to dissipate.  When I uncovered the bowl, I beheld the sight of doubled dough.  After some shaping and resting, the boules were slashed and slid into the oven.  Thirty minutes later, I pulled out the lovely loaf you see above.

I still can’t say whether my procedure was wrong or if my expectations were incorrect.  Oddly enough, I had a similar struggle with dry dough when I made Nick’s Quick Brioche.  But based on what he said at our bake! get together, his recipes are tested before they go to print.  So until I find reason otherwise, I have to say the problem lies somewhere in my kitchen.