My favorite recipes: French-onion grilled cheese

So I haven’t done any cooking posts in long time. This isn’t a cooking blog, so it’s cool, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy making awesome food. I wanted to share some of my favorite dishes that I’ve discovered in the last year, starting with …

French-Onion Grilled Cheese

French onion grilled cheese

I found this one in a magazine, and the only thing preventing me from making it every month is the cost. Gruyere cheese is not budget-friendly, but this meal tastes amazing, and you don’t have to be crazy about French onion soup (which I don’t even eat) to enjoy it.

It’s rich, so you should probably only make it now and then, anyway. As you can see from the pic, even the recipe got a little greasy. ;)

Annie’s Eats has a comparable recipe that uses Gouda and Gruyere cheese, along with baguette slices — yum. But I liked it a lot with sourdough bread. Wine is optional.

This is a great pick for fall. You can click the image above to see the full clipping or follow the steps that I’ve copied below.

Prepare the onions:

1. Melt 3 Tbs. butter over medium-low heat in pot.

2. Add 1 medium onion, thinly sliced. Cook and stir until softened, 3-4 minutes.

3. Season with salt and pepper. Cover.

4. Over medium-low heat, cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. About 25 minutes.

5. Increase heat to medium-high, stir in 3 Tbs white wine, scraping up from browned bits from bottom of pot. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Assemble sandwiches:

1. Heat large skillet over medium heat.

2. Spread each side of 4 slices of sourdough bread with butter.

3. Place 2 slices in skillet. Top each with 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese, half of onions, and another 1/4 cup grated Gruyere, then bread slice.

4. Cook, turning once, until golden brown and cheese is melted. 3-4 minutes per side. Makes two sandwiches.

Homemade pizza might surprise you

I admit. I’ve always been skeptical of homemade pizza. I know the pounds of grease dripping off pies from restaurants and even grocery store frozen food sections are bad for you, but somehow they always added to the taste. Gross, I know.

On a whim this past weekend, my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to make our own—hold the grease, please. So I whipped out my pizza issue of Bon Appetit (thanks, Sarah!) and read about the basics of homemade pizza-making. We didn’t have the time (or desire) to bake our own dough, but we did learn a little thing about cheeses: Pick two soft—mozzarella, stracciatella, ricotta, Robiola, etc.—and one hard, like Parmesan. As for toppings, variety matters.

To save money, we chose only one soft (mozzarella) and settled on Parmesan for our hard cheese. We selected the best pre-packaged pizza crust we could find (about $6—not cheap!) and bought a quarter pound of pepperoni from the deli (it was less expensive and more practical that way). We picked out Classico traditional pizza sauce, a smart decision, and used what we had sitting in the fridge for additional toppings.

We laid down the crust, added the entire small jar of sauce (leaving a border for the crust), mixed a generous amount of shredded mozzarella and Parmesan together, and added chopped pepperoni slices at will. We then broke up pieces of mushroom, cut up bacon (about 4-5 half slices) and ham (1-2 pieces of ham off the bone from the deli), and finally sprinkled a little more Parmesan on top to pack it all in.

All ovens are different, but we set ours on 410 degrees for 16 minutes. The result? Let’s just say I have a new all-time favorite.

A hearty snack: spring vegetable and goat cheese dip

Yesterday I made a great appetizer: spring vegetable and goat cheese dip. I forgot to snap a picture (not that my dish came out quite as presentable as the one in Bon Appétit Magazine), but you can find the recipe online.

Here’s a quick rundown of my experience making the dip:

Since I’m slow, I didn’t bother preheating the oven until I was most of the way through mixing the ingredients. Like the recipe advises, I started by preparing the 3/4″ asparagus pieces. Then I focused on everything else. I couldn’t find mild white cheddar cheese at the grocery store, so I substituted monterey jack. The only other ingredients I left out were the peas, mint, and parsley. I think peas are gross, and others seemed too minor to justify spending extra money on.

My changes didn’t make much difference—the dip was absolutely delicious, although it didn’t turn out as golden-brown as I would have liked and the remaining goat cheese (sprinkled on top before putting the dip in the oven) didn’t melt very well even after 20 minutes.

I made this dip for four people and served it with pieces of baguette. It went fast! :)

A light, healthy weekend breakfast: buttermilk oatcakes with raspberry compote

On Saturday my boyfriend and I made one of Sarah’s recipes: buttermilk oatcakes with raspberry compote. I didn’t really deviate from Sarah’s directions, so I won’t go into detail  about making them when she explains it so well already.

I did choose low-fat buttermilk, though, and we skipped the fancy syrup, using whatever we had on hand (ie., the cheap stuff). Everything was easy to make but took a little time, but to my surprise the cinnamon worked wonders (and smelled so good) with the raspberries, and the oatcakes made me less full than regular pancakes and were healthier, too. So the entire batch was the perfect amount for two people! Maybe three, if you make a nice side. I got really hungry for maple sausage by the time we were done cooking.

A little syrup or butter on top mixes well with the raspberry compote when you’re ready to eat, too. As you can see from my pictures, the finished results looked very similar to how Sarah, a much more experienced cook, made hers.

Playing with dirt—a great recipe for kids and adults who are kids at heart

A couple Sundays ago was my best friend’s birthday, and to surprise her, my boyfriend and I brought her favorite wine and made a gooey dessert: dirt. I remember first eating this deceptively named sweet in elementary school, so it was fun to try it again. I nabbed the most minimal recipe I could find off and made a few amendments of my own.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 package Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1 cup cold milk (or however much the pudding mix calls for)
  • 1 package chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip topping, thawed
  • 1 package gummy worms (or bears or whatever else you want)

We started by putting the cookies into resealable plastic bags. If you can, divy up the cookies into two halves—so that 50% of the package is in each bag. Close tightly and use a rolling pin to crush until crumbly, not fine. Set those aside.

Make the chocolate instant pudding mix in a large bowl. Use a spoon to mix for however long the box says (about 2-3 minutes on average), then let sit for 5 minutes. I find that using a wooden spoon is a lot easier than a standard whisk, since the pudding sticks to the whisk more easily and is harder to scrape off. Now add all the Cool Whip on top of the pudding, sprinkling on top of that 1/2 of the crushed cookies (this is why having two bags with equal amounts comes in handy). Now stir it all together carefully until everything is well blended—the white Cool Whip should turn light brown from the Oreos, like mud!

Now here’s where I diverted from the recipe. Instead of using plastic cups to make individual servings, I transferred the ingredients into a bigger bowl by following these steps: Once you finish mixing the pudding-Cool Whip-Oreo fusion, sprinkle 1/3 of the remaining crushed cookies into the bottom of a separate, empty bowl. Now move the entire pudding mixture into that bowl, on top of the layer of Oreos. For the best presentation, go slowly and try to cover the entire area without getting any pudding on the sides.

Now add you gummy worms or bears—go ahead, drop them all in. I tried to get the most even distribution of colored bears (FYI, we used bears because my friend hates worms!). So carefully place those on top of everything in the bowl. Now sprinkle in the rest of the Oreos, so you evenly cover—or “bury,” if you will—the gummy worms/bears.

(As a note, Haribo gummy bears are my favorite, but they were too chewy for this dessert. Use regular gummy bears instead, if you’d rather have those than worms.)

I didn’t top with any Cool Whip, although the recipe says you can. Now cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and put in the fridge. Serve chilled. Be warned, it’s very filling!

And there you go!