Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Yay!!!! Halloween is over!!!! I mean…erhmmm, I’m so sad for those of you who enjoy Halloween and have to wait another LONGGGGGGG year for it to arrive again *grins*. I, on the other hand, am 816% ready to have it gone and to move on to Fall comfort foods and cozy cool evenings, crispy leaves under my feet as the puppy drags me at a run across the yard in a vain attempt to catch the cats on her 2 inch tall legs. I crave spiced cider (preferably spiked. I have a husband, kids, cats and a dog. Don’t judge), beef stew, driving home in the afternoon, getting to our driveway and smiling as I smell the scent of a fire going in the wood stove, and flannel sheets.

One meat I tend to use more often in the Fall and Winter is pork. I love pork, but something about it just seems too heavy for eating often in the Spring and Summer. I think part of it is that I grew up before they started breeding leaner pork and I still think of pork as heavy and fatty, even though that’s not the case most of the time anymore.ย  Apples are in season this time of year too and they play soooo nicely together. I like to think God planned all of those things, because, really, could you imagine using a Spring veggie like asparagus or a fruit like strawberries with pork? Nope. Those go with other meat dishes, but not so much with pork. Pork works better with Fall and Winter foods. Like apples. And onions. And apple cider. Can we say “yummy”, class?

This dish isn’t anything new. I’m not inventing the wheel here. It’s just one of my takes on the ubiquitous pork and apples. But it’s totally delicious, extremely easy, and doesn’t take hours. Did I mention that it’s delicious? Moist, fork tender pork tenderloin, spiced and browned, then finished in a bath of apple cider and surrounded with sauteed apples and onions. So good; so comforting.

You know the drill… ๐Ÿ™‚

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

  • 2 medium onions, sliced into half moons (about 2 cups)
  • 3 apples (use your favorites. I used a mix from what we got at the orchard a few weeks back), cored and cut into wedges (leave the peel. It adds color, flavor and fiber)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
  • 2 1 to 1.5 lb pork tenderloins (tenderloins, NOT loins)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (the spice measurements for all the spices I’m giving are approximate for this recipe. You may like a bit more or less of one or another)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Smokehouse Maple seasoning (easily found in the spice aisle of your grocery store)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • salt to taste (but be careful; there is salt in the seasoning blend)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in an oven safe large non stick pan (I used my largest cast iron skillet). Add in the sliced onions and apples; sprinkle with the 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Cook over low heat until they are softened and barely fork tender, stirring occasionally. When done, remove from the pan and set aside for now.
  3. Add the oil to the same pan and heat until just below the smoking point. Carefully add in the pork tenderloins. Brown on one side, then carefully flip over. Sprinkle half the seasonings evenly over both pieces of meat. Brown the next side, then repeat with the remainder of the seasoning.
  4. Mix the raisins in with the apples and onions, then spoon the mixture alongside and over the meat. Carefully pour the apple cider in the pan along the sides. If you can’t fit it all, that’s ok. Just use what you can.
  5. Carefully slide the pan into the hot oven, being careful not slosh all over yourself (don’t ask me why I felt the need to add that warning, please and thank you).
  6. Cook at 425 for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer stuck into the middle of the loins comes out at between 135 to 140 degrees (it will come up to 145 in the few minutes you let it rest after taking it from the oven; start checking at about 12 minutes just to be safe; nothing worse than overcooked pork).
  7. Let rest for about ten minutes to firm up and come to temp, then thinly slice the meat and serve with the apples and onions spooned over it. This is delicious with noodles or rice, with the fruits and pan juices served on top of the side dish also.
Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

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Herbed Onion, Shallot & Cheese Bread

Herbed Onion, Shallot & Cheese Bread

Herbed Onion, Shallot & Cheese Bread

I love baking. I betcha never knew that, did you? I run a quiet little blog full of main dish recipes, vegan yummies (is it just me or the phrase “vegan yummies” a total contradiction in terms? hehe) and no baking whatsoever. or something like that. But really… I do love to bake. I don’t bake so that I have something to post on the blog. I blog because I love to bake. There is something about combining a bunch of ingredients, tossing them into a pan and creating something homey and comforting that appeals to the nurturer in me. And I love to share the recipes. And watch you all get fat with me. And buy stock in “fat girl pants” companies.

I especially love baking this time of year. Doesn’t most everyone? that whole colder weather, cozy house, yummy smells thing is great incentive. It’s also great incentive to buy a treadmill and a gym membership, but we won’t go there. Please see above about that stock option idea. ๐Ÿ˜€

My house smells amazing right now. I swear, one of the best smells ever is practically ANYTHING made with either cheese or onions. So combine cheese and onions with shallots, more cheese, Herbes De Provence, more cheese and make it all into a loaf of quick bread, and Janet is one happy camper. In all reality, I’d probably be aย  miserable camper unless said camp had a jacuzzi tub, king sized bed, room (campfire) service and the campfire was a large fireplace overlooking either the mountains or the ocean. Ahhh, daydreams. They make life worth living, huh?

If you like savory quick breads and need something fairly quick to serve with dinner (or lunch or breakfast or a midnight snack) give this a try. Beyond the fact that I promise that your house will smell divine, this tastes so good. the top is slightly crispy form the cheeses, then you get the soft tender inside with more cheese and the flavor of the shallots, onions and garlic. This is great by itself. I can also see it going well with a bowl of soup or stew as the weather gets cooler. Shovel a boatload of butter on there (use two boatloads… I won’t tell) and eat half the loaf. I won’t tell if you do that either. I’ll just be counting my money from the fat girl pants stock.

Herbed Onion, Shallot & Cheese Bread

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 4 and a half teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2/3 cup diced onion
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour (or use a cooking spray) a 9 inch loaf pan.

1)- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter until fine crumbs form. Add in 3/4 cup of the cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and the green onions. Stir well to combine.

2)-I n a small pot, melt the one tablespoon butter. Saute the onions (just the regular onion, not the green onion), shallots and garlic over medium heat, stirring frequently, until soft and tender. Remove from heat and let cool for five minutes.

3)- When cool, add the milk to the onion mix. Stir well, then add the egg, egg yolk and vegetable oil. Stir.

4)- Pour the onion mixture into the center of the bowl of flour. Using a wooden spoon (not a mixer) mix just until thoroughly combined and there are no dry spots left. This is a thick almost biscuit like dough so don’t expect it to be pourable.

5)- Dump the dough into the prepared loaf pan and pat down, smoothing the top.

6)- Sprinkle with the reserved cheese.

7)- Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

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Savory French Onion Soup Bread Pudding

I've said before & say again, tis hard to make bread pudding photograph well, especially when ones skills are limited :-p

I’ve said before & say again, tis hard to make bread pudding photograph well, especially when ones skills are limited :-p

I’ve never figured out why bread puddings get such a bad rap. The same people who will eat an entire pan of stuffing turn up their noses at bread pudding when the only difference is that stuffing is made with broth and bread pudding made with milk and/or cream. Mind you, if one has had a bad bread pudding, i.e., soggy, flavorless, shoved full of poor quality ingredients, or one of the really old ones that was pretty much just stale bread mixed with milk, sugar and cinnamon and so on, it’s understandable that a person could be leery. But heck, who hasn’t had most everything good badly cooked at one time or another?

But a GOOD savory bread pudding? One that is filled with gooey cheese, cream and butter? Really… how can you go wrong with that? Especially if you also add slow caramelized onions, beef broth and red wine?

It’s already been made clear that I absolutely love French Onion Soup with this recipe for French Onion Soup Macaroni & Cheese. Just that the combo of flavors mentioned in the above paragraph is one of those practically perfect combinations. Other than Cheetos and Twinkies *sobs and has yet another mournful moment of silence for Twinkies*

This is one I have been making for years and even my bread pudding hating husband loves it when I make it. If you’re turned off by the idea of bread pudding, just call it a strata. Pretty much the same thing with interchangeable names. This is, as I alluded to above, dripping with gooey Swiss and Mozzarella cheese, a healthy portion of caramelized onions, red wine and beef broth. The loaf of French bread that is its base is almost an afterthought here lol.

So get rid of your food prejudices for one meal and give this a try. If you like all of the above, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed here. This is so far from good for you it’s not funny but as say, a once a year treat, it’s worth it. Just make the rest of the meal light or just make the bread pudding BE the meal.

Savory French Onion Bread Pudding

  • 8 tablespoons butter, divided in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large onions, sliced in half width wise then sliced into very thin half moons
  • 1 can (about 14 ounces) beef broth
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 small loaf (about 6 to 9 ounces) good French bread
  • 3 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded REAL Parmesan cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 quart baking dish.
  2. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter along with the vegetable oil in a large deep pan. Add in the sliced onions and stir to coat them.
  3. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and allow the onions to cook for about 10 minutes on very low heat, stirring occasionally, until limp and mostly cooked.
  4. Take the cover off of the pan, turn the heat up to just barely medium and continue to slowly cook the onions until they are a deep brown.
  5. Add the beef broth and the wine to the pan. Stir to mix, then turn heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has been nicely soaked up by the “ungins” (as my dad used to call them)
  6. Meanwhile, take your French bread and cube it into bite sized pieces. Toss it into a large bowl.
  7. Whisk together the 3 eggs, the cream and the milk.
  8. When the onions are ready, toss them with the cubed bread.
  9. Pour in the cream/egg mixture and stir well.
  10. Toss the shredded cheeseย (not the Parmesan) into the mixture, stir it all well then let sit for about 10 minutes so the bread can soak up the cream. Melt the last 4 tablespoons butter.
  11. Pour all of the bread mixture into the prepared pan. Drizzle the melted butter over the top. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
  12. Bake at 350 degrees until the pudding is golden brown, puffy and when a knife is inserted in the middle, it comes out clean (other than cheese) and with no custardy mixture on it.
  13. Let sit for about ten minutes before trying to slice.

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Please Keep The Blue Box Away From Me

Caramelized Onion & Bacon Mac & Cheese

 

My kids are pretty normal kids when it comes to food tastes. Normal as in they prefer simple foods like hot dogs that have ketchup and mustard on them and nothing else. Whereas when I eat a hot dog, that bad boy better be covered in onions, sauerkraut, relish, cheese, ketchup and spicy mustard. Plus, it had better be Oscar Mayer or Nathans, not “Joes Brand Hot Dogs.,..made with all beef lips”. They like ice cream, but are perfectly content eating the container of vanilla I bought last year and forgot about, that has now gotten horribly freezer burned (“there isn’t anything wrong with this ice cream, momma”). When I eat ice cream, it usually has some weird name and bigger price tag as well as a much higher fat content ๐Ÿ˜›

It’s the same with mac and cheese. My boys (and sadly, my husband too hehe) are perfectly content with mac and cheese from the little blue box. Or even worse, from a box that has the store brand name on it and is made with something that may or may not have had intimate relations with real cheese about 15 generations back. On the days when I don’t feel like cooking, boxed mac and cheese and hot dogs is considered a wonderful, gourmet meal. Obviously, none of my kids are going to grow up and try to emulate James Beard. Though, in their defense, my three older and moved out kids all seem to have inherited my “cooking gene” and love to cook as well as experiment with food that goes beyond beef lip hot dogs.

So last night, when I made the following mac and cheese, I knew that the adults would like it (my daughter and her family were over) as well as my 2 year old grandson Lukas (Lukie… hey, we’re in the south. If a name can be changed and made to end in “ie”, we’ll do it). He will eat anything. I try to put the cats up when he is visiting… and cardboard…and his uncles…and…well, you get the point. He is the rare child who isn’t picky. The reactions were about what I expected, especially from Zachie (see?) my 15 year old. “Ewwww, I might have eaten it if you hadn’t put those onion “things” in there.” From Jordan (hard to put an “ie” on the end of his) “Whet ate the brown things in there, momma?”. From Joshie, “I don’ wanna eat, momma”. Gee, never would have guessed that was coming *rolls eyes*. From Lukie, <insert gobbling, slurping noises here>.

Personally, I thought it was pretty darn tasty and I will definitely be having leftovers tonight for my own dinner. So what was this, you ask? Well, it wasn’t blue box, that’s for sure. I made a wonderful creamy cheese sauce and mixed in a good amount of caramelized onions and enough bacon that our arteries are probably still screaming in pain even now. This was rich and creamy without being overwhelmingly so. The onions added a nice caramelized nutty sort of flavor and the bacon mixed with the cheese sauce and the macaroni was just heaven on a spoon. Yes, I used a spoon, not a fork. I didn’t want to miss any of the sauce.

You really need to try this. The sauce whips up quickly and is based on one I found on Martha Stewart’s web site and with no powdered cheese in sight. Tender pasta, creamy gooey cheese, meaty bacon and nicely browned onions. I mean really… what more do you need? Except maybe ice cream with a high fat content for dessert. Continue reading

You’re Such A Tart!

I’ve always been astounded by how the English language has so many words that have multiple meanings.ย  I mean, think about it for a second. (Swiped the following from a homeschooling website ๐Ÿ˜› )

  • crane: That bird is a crane./They had to use a crane to lift the object./She had to crane her neck to see the movie.
  • date: Her favorite fruit to eat is a date./Joe took Alexandria out on a date.
  • engaged: They got engaged on March 7th./The students were very engaged in the presentation.
  • foil: Please wrap the sandwich in foil./They learned about the role of a dramatic foil in English class.
  • leaves: The children love to play in the leaves./They do not like when their father leaves for work.
  • net: What was your net gain for the year?/Crabbing is easier if you bring a net along.
  • point: The pencil has a sharp point./It is not polite to point at people.
  • right: You were right./Make a right turn at the light.
  • rose: My favorite flower is a rose./He quickly rose from his seat.
  • type: He can type over 100 words per minute./That dress is really not her type.

See what I mean? And then we won’t even get into words with similar spellings but totally different pronunciations (rough, bough, dough, cough, through and so on and so forth). I swear, it’s all enough to make ones brain bleed. It’s a wonder that our children learn to speak and read at all. ๐Ÿ˜›

One of my favorites though is the word “tart” (it can refer to food after all so of course I like it hehe). It can mean that something is sour, can mean a woman who is a bit…erhmmm… free with her affections or it can be a word referring to a certain type of baked good. Since I am not cooking a Jezebel (another word for tart and yet another that can also be used in cooking ๐Ÿ˜› ) and while I like foods that are sour, this isn’t sour, I must be making a baked good ehh? Hmmm, now I want to make a tart tart just because I’m weird like that.

Ok, enough of an English lesson for the day. Go push your brains back into your heads and clean up the blood spills. Then go get out all the ingredients for this tart and get to cooking. I promise; you will love this. Bacon, cheese, crispy crust and the over the top yumminess of caramelized onions all combine to make this stick your face in it and inhale good. I got the original recipe from The Cooking Channel. I’ve changed it some but not a ton. I added the Swiss cheese and some extra Parmesan as well as extra bacon, a shallot and the sour cream. Ok, so maybe I changed it more than I thought now that I read that.

Bacon, Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tart

  • 1 9 to 10 inch pie crust
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 small onions, cut in half and then sliced into thin half circles
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 12 ounces bacon, cooked until crisp & crumbled
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch tart pan. Line the pan with the pie crust (I admit to having used the Pillsbury refrigerator crusts), making sure to press the crust into all the edges.
  2. In a medium sauce pot, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onions and cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until they are limp and slightly softened. Add the shallots and garlic
  3. Turn the heat down to low (about 3 on an electric stove) and cook the onions until they are brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it because it can burn easily. Stir in the rosemary and thyme then set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients.
  5. Spread into the pie crust
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the tart is firm and the top is nicely browned. Let cool before slicing or it will fall apart.

Is It Tomorrow Yet? Also, Savory Gooey Onion, Cheese & Sausage Bread Pudding

Have you ever had one of those days you just wish hadn’t happened? Not a wish to start it over, but a wish that it just disappeared and never repeated itself.

Yeah. me too. Today was such a day.

I’m sure some of you have read me talking about (writing about?) my kids. I have six children, five boys and one girl, ranging in age from 25 on down to 3. I also have 5 grandchildren. As I’ve said before, I started having kids at age six… honest. ๐Ÿ˜€

One of my kids more frequently mentioned, if not here, on my FB page, is my son Jordan. Jordan is sixteen but is always going to be my baby. He is the sweetest boy you could ever know. But he is also Autistic, mildly intellectually challenged, has a severe case of ADHD, some OCD, and other things falling into the emotional/mental disabilities spectrum. He has the emotional and intellectual abilities of about an 8 year old. He is sweet, funny, loving & enjoys helping people. He loves to work with tools though that can end up with broken gadgets and bikes and what have you lol. He loves to “invent” things cooking but rarely does anything of it turn out to be edible. Heck, we all know what THAT’S like though huh? ๐Ÿ˜€ He loves our cats and adores his siblings. He worries about me and wants to take care of me forever.

He also can get overwhelmed when stressed out, discouraged, angry or pushed too hard. He doesn’t like rules and will rebel if he thinks that one is unfair. He wishes he could do everything but frequently tells me that he feels like he can’t do anything right, is stupid and doesn’t fit in anywhere. Those are the days that I feel my heart crack into little pieces. When he is upset and something (usually chaos or being pushed too hard) triggers him, he can also become violent and aggressive. Not in the bullying sort of way. When he is aware of himself and his surrounding, he wouldn’t hurt a flea and has been known to carry flies outside so that they wouldn’t die. But when he gets upset, he is no longer cognizant of how he is acting. he is pure adrenaline. Today was one of those bad days. He has been doing poorly in school, in part, in my opinion, because they are expecting too much academically from him. He is a sophomore who should have extreme modifications in his work but doesn’t. So when he feels like a failure, he doesn’t try and acts up to get out of working.

Today, something happened that made him lose control. From what I have been told, he sat in the wrong chair in class and rather than say the obvious “oh well, what does it matter? and let him sit there (it was a chair for petes sake!), it was turned into a control issue by the teacher and others were brought in to “help”. It ended with him being restrained (way bad move with an autistic child who doesn’t like being touched other than to be hugged), his biting and spitting on a teacher (again; think young child and temper tantrum) and him being suspended. Now, I agree with the suspension. He can’t be allowed to do that and there have to be consequences. But it didn’t end there. The school is pressing charges of assault against my 16 year old Autistic, mildly retarded, IQ of around 75 boy.

I want someone to explain to me what they think will happen to an extremely vulnerable mentally challenged boy in jail or juvenile detention. He isn’t the type to be able to fend off someone who wanted to hurt him or do other things to him. He would cry, he would beg for me to help him though I wouldn’t be there, he would fight as well as he could but ultimately he would lose. The problems he has also have led to poorer than usual muscle tone and strength. But they want him in jail. They want to take him and put him with men or boys who have REALLY committed assault, have raped, have committed armed robbery, have done drugs, abused parents or siblings and God knows what else.

I want this day to disappear. I want to hug my children and hide them in a cave so no one can ever harm them. I want him to be whole.

There is no subtle way to lead into a recipe today so I won’t try. I’ll just post it.

As Scarlett O Hara said, “After all, tomorrow IS another day”. Dear God, I hope so.

Savory, Onion, Swiss & Sausage Bread Pudding

  1. 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  3. 9 cups thinly sliced onions (about 4 to 5 onions depending on size)
  4. 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  5. 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  6. 1/3 cup dry red or white wine (I prefer to use a Cabernetย  in this)
  7. 1 loaf (about 12 ounces) French or Italian bread, cubed (I use the garlic/Parmesan loaf that many stores carry in their bakery section.)
  8. 4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  9. 1 cup grated fresh (not the dry nasty kind) Parmesan cheese
  10. 1 10 ounce package Tyson Italian Sausage Crumbles (or just use regular Italian sausage that you have cooked and crumbled)
  11. 4 eggs
  12. 2 cups heavy cream or a mix of cream and half & half
  13. 1 cup whole milk (you could try this with low fat milk and even use that instead of the cream too, but this isn’t supposed to be a diet dish lol)
  14. 1 teaspoon salt
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Melt 5 tablespoons butter with the oil in a large pan. Add in the sliced onions and the shallots. Cover and cook over low heat until the onions are tender and limp.
  • Uncover, turn heat to medium and cook the onions until golden brown and nicely caramelized. About five minutes before they look done, add in the garlic. Stir well and continue cooking.
  • When browned and cooked, pour in the wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid is gone.
  • Butter a 13×9 inch baking dish, preferably a glass one.
  • In a large bowl, combine the bread, sausage and the onions.
  • Melt the last 5 tablespoons of butter and pour it over the bread mixture.
  • Add the cheeses.
  • In a small bowl, mix the cream, milk, salt and eggs.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the bread and mix well. Stir this well for about 2 to 3 minutes to make sure all the bread has a chance to start soaking up the cream mixture
  • Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 350 until it is golden brown and cooked through, about 50 to 60 minutes. To check doneness, poke a butter knife into the middle. If it comes out wet or dripping, it’s not done. It should be the consistency of a cooked cheesecake. Firm and yet still creamy.
  • Let cool for about ten minute before you cut this.
  • This is an awesome side dish for a company dinner or a great light meal with a salad for the family. It’s also great for a weekend breakfast. It’s gooey, crispy at the edges because of all the butter used in it and cheesy and oniony and oh my, it’s SO good. One of my favorite side dishes in fact.

Call Them Delicious But Don’t Call Them Sliders

I’m not sure if I have mentioned before that I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago (yes, that gets capital letters… ๐Ÿ˜› ). I have been here in Kentucky since 1988 (Sobs as I realize I have lived here longer than some of my readers have been alive) but I am originally a city girl.

Everyone has heard of White Castle right? If you haven’t you either live outside the United States or have been here but need to periodically move away from the rock you live under. ๐Ÿ˜€ They originated right in the Midwest so I hold a rather possessive interest in them :-P. I loved them as a kid and I still love them. I was thrilled beyond sanity (not that doing something to take me past the point of sanity is difficult) when they finally opened a store not far from me. Ok, so it’s 30 miles but when you live in the sticks, near and far become very relative terms. I don’t get them often but oh my do I love those greasy little bite sized pieces of oniony heaven.

Being from the Midwest (Chicago in case I didn’t say that loud enough earlier and no, I’ve never been involved in a drive by. You have no idea how many times I’ve been asked that), I find myself getting mildly annoyed when I hear every sort of mini burger one could think of (most quite yummy but that’s neither here nor there) being called sliders. THEY AREN’T SLIDERS! THEY AREN’T THEY AREN’T THEY AREN’T!!! Ok, that’s out of my system now. However,ย  “Sliders” can only be bought at White Castle and even then, one doesn’t go in and place an order saying “I want 315 sliders”. Do that and the employees and other customers will know you spend far too much time paying attention to weird media sources. They are just hamburgers… or maybe “White Castles” if you are in the middle of Chicago ordering them. But the mini, small, tiny, minute, teenie, call them what you will, burgers that get made at home are not sliders. Shhh…don’t argue. They aren’t. Just trust me.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious and fun as hell to eat though. So make a big batch of these mini burgers ( Did you notice I didn’t call them sliders? Did ya see? Huh huh huh?) cover them with the tangy sweet onion relish and slather some extra cheese and the Cajun mayo and eat until you burst. Since these are mini, they have no calories. You knew that right? Small means no calories. The calories dissolve before they get to your stomach. Just a little FYI for you there.

CHEESY CHIPOTLE MINI BURGERS WITH AN ONION RELISH

&

A SPICY CAJUN MAYO

  • For the burgers-
  • 3 pounds ground chuck
  • 1/2 of a 7 ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces shredded Colby jack cheese (sub your favorite if Colby jack doesn’t do it for you)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 12 packs of mini burger buns
  • For the onion relish-
  • 3 large onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • For the spicy Cajun mayo
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons salt free cajun seasoning (if you only have salted, be more careful on amounts and taste as you go so it doesn’t end up over salted)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • salt to taste if using the salt free seasoning
  1. For the mayo, mix all the ingredients together and then refrigerate until serving time. See how easy that was? ๐Ÿ˜›
  2. For the relish, add the olive oil and sliced onions to a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Turn heat down to low (about 3 on an electric stove) and cover the pan, Stirring occasionally, cook the onions until they are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, salt and brown sugar. Stir well and cook over medium heat until the vinegar is totally absorbed, about five minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.
  3. For the burgers, mix all the burger ingredients together. Don’t over work it; just mix until combined. Shape the meat into 24 small burgers. Cook via your favorite method. I used my George Foreman grill. If you’re going to use a regular grill, I highly suggest using one of those wire grill pans that holds small things unless you LIKE digging through the coals for your food ๐Ÿ˜›


A Very Cheesy Post

 

I’ve always been the indecisive sort. At least I think I have. Maybe. Yeah, I have been. I’ll let you know. That inability to make up my mind has extended to food too. I will buy something at the store because it sounds oh so good and then either forget that I got it in the first place or get it home and suddenly it doesn’t look as yummy as something else. It makes me an interesting cook I guess because my family gets different treats as my moodย  changes but it sure makes eating a difficult proposition.

But with this dish I don’t have to make a choice between two of my favorites. I love French Onion Soup. Well, I love cheese and onions and beef and it’s kinda silly to melt some cheese, throw some onions on top of it and add a steak instead of making yummy French Onion Soup. Actually, now that I write that, it sounds pretty darn good. I think. But getting back to the point here…

I also love Mac & Cheese. I mean, what’s not to love? Cheese, pasta, butter and did I mention cheese? So when I found this recipe that combines the two foods, I knew I had to try it. I am so NOT disappointed here. In theory I had planned to make it for Easter dinner and reheat it at my daughters house when we got there, but…ummm… I had to try it right? Quality control is a large part of cooking. Right? Right? There’s still some left. A little bit. Maybe if they take small bites….

But here it is. French Onion Soup Macaroni and Cheese. This stuff is cheese crack, I swear. It’s also a bit more in depth than other recipes I have posted but I promise you, you won’t regret taking the time to make this. It will go with any meal or just BE a meal. Just make sure you do a bit of quality control before you let anyone else try it. You have to be responsible you know.

This is adapted from Food Network

but I did make some changes to it.

French Onion Soup Macaroni And Cheese

TOPPING-

  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Bechamel Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces Swiss Cheese or Gruyere, grated or cubed
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, grated or cubed

French Onion Soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large white onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine (I used a Pinot Noir)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1 pound pasta, cooked (I used plain old Elbow macaroni so as to not detract from the sauce which is the star of this dish)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Topping: Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl and set aside
  • Bechamel Sauce: Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir to combine. Stir constantly, for about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium and whisk in the milk or half-and-half, adding a little at a time and cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Lower heat, season with the salt and pepper and add Swiss or Gruyere and Mozzarella cheeses. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Set aside.
  • French Onion “Soup:” Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add onions, cover, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove cover, add shallots and honey, and continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Remove pot from heat and add wine. Return to heat and stir to remove browned bits from bottom of pan. Reduce sherry by half, then add beef stock and thyme and cook until almost all liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat.
  • Grease a 3-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Combine cooked pasta with onion “soup” mixture and bechamel sauce, and stir well to combine. Transfer pasta to baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumb/Parmesan topping
  • Bake until top is golden brown and cheese is bubbly, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving or do what I did and burn the crap out of your tongue because you have no patience. Eat half of this. Tell everyone else it’s horrible and they shouldn’t eat it. Hide the rest in the fridge in a container labeled “liver”.
  • I can also see making this in individual ramekins and coating the top with even more cheese. Or erhmmm, maybe the extra cheese is just a me thing.