Links I Want To Eat: January 30

Just so lovely
Just so lovely
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French Onion Soup

IMG_0113 Last week, the kitchn kept posting about french onion soup, which is really all kinds of cruel. I mean… it’s not a quick, easy dish, it’s delicious beyond belief, and it’s pretty much the epitome of a perfect winter soup. Rich, savory soup topped by a salty, crunchy piece of bread, with browned and bubbly gruyere cheese on top? Uh, sign me up. They used the Julia Child version, and it really doesn’t get any more classic than Julia, right (she’s my hero)? You can go here and get the full directions with step by step photos, including a good visual of just how dark the caramelized onions will need to be. I did make a few modifications (DUH) and have listed them below:

  • When a recipe is this simple, each ingredient really matters, so I made a batch of beef broth. Our Whole Foods has packs of marrow bones, and I grabbed a 1.5 lb pack, browned the bones at 450 for about an hour, flipping once, and then put them in a crock pot with a skin on quartered onion, 2 carrots broken in thirds, 2 smashed cloves of garlic, a good splash of apple cider vinegar, and a sprig of thyme. I filled the crockpot with filtered water and let it cook on low for about 24+ hours. I got roughly 12 cups of delicious broth from this, more than enough to make this recipe and save some for later. This wound up saving me money in the end, and the broth is delicious and flavored exactly the way I want it to be. DO IT.
  • Thyme was my herb of choice, because I just think it pairs so beautifully with the flavors of the soup. I put some in the broth while making it, and put couple of stems in the soup when simmering.
  • The onions took a full hour of babysitting to get to the right color. It will seem at times that the color hasn’t changed for far too long, but resist the urge to turn up the heat. Low and slow.
  • Instead of white wine or brandy, we chose to use a delicious local beer. Rhinegeist has quickly become our favorite Cincinnati brewery, and we went with 1/2 c. of their Cougar beer. It’s a blonde ale, and light enough to enhance the soup without overwhelming it. Plus, then we had another 5.5 cans to drink. Yay!
  • We don’t have any special bowls for a soup like this. Our normal bowls are technically oven safe, but I always get nervous when it comes to putting them close to the broiler, so we just skipped that step. Instead, I pan fried stale slices of baguette in olive oil, sprinkled them with salt, and place them on the soup. Then I topped the bowls/mugs with shredded aged gruyere cheese, let them sit for a few moments to soften, and then… pulled out our brûlée torch and went to town. It’s always more fun with an open flame. Fact: when Josh and I got together, we each brought a brûlée torch into the relationship. We were meant to be.

My only regret is that it’s taken me so long to make this soup the right way.

Southwestern Quinoa Bowl With Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

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This lunch was kind of an impulse recipe. I had been thinking of making our beloved roasted vegetable and hummus mix it up salads, but I just wasn’t in the mood for hummus. I saw a few recipes for a creamy cilantro dressing that I thought might be the perfect way to brighten things up, and it all just kind of progressed from there.

Result? Total win.

Southwestern Quinoa Bowl With Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

This definitely is another choose your own adventure salad. Whatever spices and vegetables sound good or you already have, use them.

  • 1 c. quinoa, cooked in our rice cooker according to this method. I added 1/2 tsp taco seasoning, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper to the cooking water. When the quinoa was done cooking but still warm, I added the zest and juice of 1 lime, a splash of olive oil, and salt to taste.
  • We used zucchini, squash, and carrots, chopped, tossed in olive oil, with salt, pepper, taco seasoning, and smoked paprika. Roast at 450 for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway.
  • On top, we added black beans and diced avocado, plus a generous amount of cilantro dressing.

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing (based on this recipe)

  • 1 c. chopped cilantro, loosely packed
  • 1/2 c. plain yogurt (we used goat’s milk yogurt, but you could use coconut milk yogurt and omit the sweetener)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime, more if you like it tart
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp.. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. sweetener of choice (we used succinct, but sugar, honey, agave… all good)
  • Dash of cayenne

Add all of the ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. The garlic flavor will intensify over the next few days.

 

Meal Plan: January 25- January 31

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

My favorite corner of the house. Ikea hacked bookshelf by Josh
My favorite corner of the house. IKEA bookshelf hacked by Josh

January 25- January 31

Josh hacked an IKEA bookshelf for me, and this weekend we got it all set up and completely filled. This served as a good reminder for me that I really need to start using my cookbooks more, since they filled two of the cubes alone.

We got a dusting of snow this morning, though nothing compared to what we would be getting if we still lived in New York. Just enough to make everything a little bit prettier.

Stay warm, northeast.

Eat soup.

Total cost: Roughly $114

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $4.07

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal with stewed apples (recipe to come)
  • Egg in a hole

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Post 100

Ah, the infamous 100. It’s kind of crazy to think that I’ve managed to come up with 100 posts, especially considering how long I was working a New York City full time job + commute and trying to post at least twice a week. Since last May, we’ve left New York for Cincinnati, I’ve upgraded my phone, which is relevant because I take all of my photos on it (should really get a camera one of these days…), I have a cute sunny house now instead of a good apartment with mediocre light, an oddly small refrigerator and NO DISHWASHER, and I’m able to dream about having an herb garden again this year, among other things. I’ve branched out into working with yeast, and made some intensive asian dishes that left me with a massive amount of dishes and a lot of pride.

I thought it’d be fun today to check out my 5 most popular posts out of the last 100:

5) Loco Moco Remix

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This isn’t a traditional loco moco, which is rice, hamburger patties, and fried eggs drenched in gravy. While that dish is a Hawaiian classic for many reasons, it’s also not something you can eat without wanting to take a nap immediately afterwards. This version is a lot lighter, with coconut rice, ground pork, and a spicy soy reduction. We pretty much lick our bowls clean with this one.

4) Chicken Noodle “We Won’t Be Sick For Christmas” Soup

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I grew up on Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, which is why I’ve never been a huge fan. When Josh started to get sick the week before Christmas, I decided to make my own version, and now I’m in love. This soup is so delicate and fragrant due to the scallions, cilantro, ginger and star anise, plus it’s full of all of the nutrients you need when you’re feeling crummy. It’s also really easy, because if you’re the one sick, you don’t want to do much more than dump a bunch of ingredients in a crockpot so you can go watch bad movies on the couch.

3) Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Mix It Up Salad

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I’ve been making this salad for years now and it’s still one of our favorites (and might be on next week’s meal plan due to this reminder). It’s extremely adaptable, healthy, filling, and I love how each bite can taste so different depending on what combination of ingredients you get on your fork. Ugh, now I’m craving it.

2) Strawberry Mint Water

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I love that the second most popular recipe isn’t even really a recipe, and I almost didn’t even post it. Who knew that leftover strawberry tops and mint leaves could make water so delicious, though?! We now love to throw our fruit scraps into a jar of filtered water, especially in the summer. Pineapple core with a few apple slices is also a winner.

1) Salty Honey Pie

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This Joy the Baker pie was so good… there are hardly words, which is probably why it was so popular! It was also a good reminder that I really need to make myself attempt pie crust. I don’t know what my mental block is about it, but sometime (in the next month?!) it WILL happen. It helps that Josh bought me Joy’s new book, Homemade Decadence, for Christmas and there are a lot of tips for pie crust. Victory will be mine.

I hope that my next 100 posts include me stretching my culinary skills more, mastering pie crust, cooking a little more often from my cookbook collection, and attempting at least a few more crazy asian dishes.

Shanghai soup dumplings, I’ve got my eye on you…

Meal Plan: January 18- January 24

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Biscuit Love
Biscuit Love

January 18- January 24

We spent the weekend in Nashville, cleaning out the last of the stuff from our storage unit there (hooray!), catching up with friends and family, and visiting the pre-opening of our dear friends new restaurants, Biscuit Love. If you’re ever in Nashville, do yourself a favor and eat some delicious brunch. Get a mimosa.

Traveling on the weekends like that always throws us off a little in terms of shopping and prep, which means I have lunch prep to do today. Luckily it’s an easy lunch and the sun is shining. I’ll take it.

Total cost: Roughly $135

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $4.82

Breakfast

  • Egg in a hole
  • Oatmeal

Snack

Lunch

Dinner

No-Butter Butterscotch Pudding

9F0BF675-DE04-4AF6-9D4C-E581C3C98F59   Every once a blue moon, you’ll see a recipe, know that you already have all of the ingredients necessary, make it, and eat it all in one day. One glorious day. When Deb from Smitten Kitchen recently posted a recipe for butterscotch pudding, I immediately started to wonder if it’d be good with coconut milk in place of the milk. As I continued to read the recipe, I discovered that Deb had already suggested switching out the dairy for coconut milk and coconut oil. SOLD! I surprised Josh with serving of pudding when he got home from work, and he loved it so much that he ate the entire thing standing in front of the fridge, and scraped up the remnants with his finger. I’m not sure there’s any higher praise. I topped one with some whipped coconut cream, but our favorite topping combination turned out to be mini semisweet chocolate chips and flaked sea salt. The added crunch and the mix of the salty and sweet… heaven. This might be one of the most dangerous recipes I’ve made, mainly because I have these ingredients on hand at all times. Consider yourself warned. Also, I definitely recommend pre measuring the ingredients and having them ready to go. Sugar burns quickly. No-Butter Butterscotch Pudding (recipe from Smitten Kitchen) Makes 4 servings

  • 1.5 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1 generous pinch of sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, very well shaken and smooth
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the brown sugar. Let it heat up and bubble a little, stirring often. Don’t let it burn or start to smoke, which can easily happen (I actually had to throw out my first oil/sugar mixture. My b). Add the salt and cornstarch and stir to combine into a thick paste. Whisk the coconut milk into the paste in a small, steady stream. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring frequently until it starts to simmer. Let it simmer for at least a minute, still stirring, until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. This is a good time to (carefully) taste the mixture and see if it needs any more salt. Divide the mixture into 4 glasses or pudding cups and let chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Top with whipped coconut cream, chocolate chips, flaked sea salt… whatever you’d like.