Friday, May 22, 2015

May 22, 2015

Hello!  It has been quite a while since I've been able to sit down and write up a summary about our week and review a new recipe or two.  It feel wonderful to be sitting here, not only with another great week behind us, but three keepers to post!

I completed student teaching in early May, and now am job searching.  The school I was placed at for student teaching is down-sizing teachers, but a few districts around me are hiring so I am hoping that something works out sooner rather than later.  I'll keep you posted.  While student teaching this blog was actually a fantastic resource - I knew the recipes from here would be welcome on our dinner table and that we could enjoy dinner and conversation without wondering if all of us would be happy with the meal.  So while didn't try any new recipes while I student taught I relied on my recipe archive a lot!

This week we had a bit of a cold snap - here in late May we had 2 days that we didn't even get out of the 40s!  So I made slow cooker French onion soup; it was a keeper!!!  If you like onion soup I think you will really like this soup and because it is made in the slow cooker (just finished off under the broiler) it couldn't be easier!  However, maybe you should book-mark this for the fall?  Either way, it was delicious!

We had a few baking bananas on the counter (you know them - the kind that are too dark and spotty for anyone to enjoy unless added to a smoothie or baked goods).  I made a banana snack cake that you could eat either as "banana bread" in squares, or make it into a layer cake if you add cream cheese or vanilla frosting.  It was a keeper both ways!

We also tried a new way to cook our favorite stand-by, boneless skinless chicken breast.  Not only a new method but I also tried a sauce the pair with it!   I browned it on one side, and then when I flipped it to briwn the other side, I put it in the oven at 375 F for about 9 minutes.  Easy!  The chicken was still juicy and it was browned on both sides.  I am going to try this with pork chops next time we have those.  The sauce was definitely a keeper.

I'm back to cooking and experimenting with new recipes!  We'll see what happens this week!

Happy Cooking!

New Recipes
Slow Cooker French Onion Soup
Banana Snack Cake
Tomato-Garlic Cream Sauce

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

* 1/4 cup unsalted butter
* 6 sprigs thyme
* 1 bay leaf
* 5 lbs of yellow onions (about 16 cups), sliced
* 1 tbsp sugar
* 6 cups unsalted beef stock
* 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
* 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
* 1 tsp black pepper
* sliced french bread
* shredded Swiss cheese

1. Place the butter, thyme and bay leaf in the bottom or your slow cooker.  Add the onions, then sprinkle the sugar over the top of the onions.  Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.
2. After 8 hours, remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf.  Add the stock, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on high an additional 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the broiler to high.  Arrange bread slices to toast under the broiler, about 30 seconds on each side.
4. Ladle 1 cup of soup into a crock or mug or oven-proof bowl.  Top with toasted bread (one or two slices) and about 2 tbsp shredded Swiss cheese.  Place under the broiler for 2 minutes or until you like the look of the melted cheese.  Serve and enjoy!
5. If you want to freeze the soup, place it in the individual crocks/bowls/ramekins and freeze without the bread or cheese. 

Oh wow - yummy and easy!!!  Do be prepared for your home to smell like onions for a day or two, but what can you expect when you've just slow cooked 5 lbs of onions for over 8 hours! I made it for myself with the plan to individually freeze the remaining portions.  It made about 10 freezer portions for me, which will be fabulous to pull out one day, thaw in the fridge and reheat.  Then I'll just top it with the bread and cheese, broil it, and delight in my ridiculously easy fabulous meal!  I did find that it needed a bit more salt and pepper, so when you make this, put the salt and pepper on the table for your friends and family to add to their soup as they desire.  The recipe here is adapted from the April 2015 Cooking Light Magazine.  

Tomato-Garlic Cream Sauce

* 1 tsp butter
* 1 garlic clove, sliced
* 1 tsp white wine vinegar
* 2 tsp tomato paste
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1/8 tsp kosher salt

1. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Add the sliced garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
3. Stir in the vinegar, tomato paste, heavy cream and salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until reduced by 1/3.
4. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve, then transfer to a squeeze bottle.
5. Decorate your plate with the sauce, and serve with roast chicken, and garnish your plate with chopped chives.

Yum!!!  This sauce was delicious and went great with roast chicken.  The sauce made it seem like restaurant quality meal, but since you didn't need too much sauce there wasn't the guilt factor of eating a heavy cream sauce.  I will definitely make this again!  The recipe here is adapted from a recipe in the May 2014 Food Network Magazine.  

Banana Snack Cake

* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1 1/4 cup sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup sour cream
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 2 cups AP flour
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/4 tsp salt
* three ripe bananas (1 cup), mashed
* frosting, if desired

1. Grease two 7 x 11 baking pans (I use glass).  Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter ans sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs, sour cream and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add this flour mixture to the batter,  Stir in the bananas.
4. Spread the batter into the two greased baking pans.  Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Cool and frost if desired, or just enjoy!

This freezes well.  You can either freeze individual slices or freeze the entire snack cake.  This was delicious, super moist, and was satisfying without any frosting!  It worked great as a banana cake when I layered tow pieces together with frosting in the middle and on top.