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French onion soup with ingredients
close-up of top of red bell pepper
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Time flies when you’re eating well. Another year has passed, leaving us with memories of warm, comforting soups, crispy broiled chicken thighs and moist summer cakes made with fresh local produce.
If you didn’t get a chance to try all of the recipes I shared in the Front Burner column or the Fridge Magnet blog in 2012, do not worry. I have put together my annual list of the 12 best recipes of the year past, and you have all of 2013 to get cookin’ on them.
Here’s to a happy, healthy new year filled with fantastic food.
Julia Child’s French Onion Soup
This recipe from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” is perfect for this cold, dreary month when you have time to stand over the stove. Also, the hot, salty broth and onions are great for nursing a cold or the flu. Don’t be in a hurry with this recipe — it takes a long time to caramelize onions properly, and you need to keep a close eye on them. But it’s worth it.
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. oil
1 1⁄2 lbs. thinly sliced yellow onions (about 5 cups)
1 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
2 quarts boiling brown stock, canned beef bouillon, or 1 quart of water and 1 quart of stock or bouillon
1⁄2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. cognac
Croutes (rounds of hard-toasted French bread)
1 to 2 cups grated Swiss and/or Parmesan cheese
1. Heat butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart covered saucepan. Cook the onions slowly (over low heat) in the butter and oil in the covered saucepan for 15 minutes.
2. Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown. Do not let them burn.
3. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.
4. Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid. Add the wine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Correct seasoning.
5. If necessary, set aside uncovered until ready to serve. Then reheat to simmer. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
6. Just before serving, stir in the cognac. Pour into a soup tureen or individual soup cups or bowls, over the rounds of bread. Top with cheese and place in oven for 15 minutes. Turn oven to broil watch carefully, until the cheese has browned. Serve immediately.
Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup
This sounds strange, but it’s sinfully scrumptious. And it’s also a great addition to any Super Bowl party. It won’t hurt if you decide to cut the beef to just a half pound. Adapted from Crockpot365.blogspot.com. Serves 4.
1 lb. lean ground beef
1⁄2 white or yellow onion, finely diced
4 cups chicken broth
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes (peel if desired)
1 cup milk
24 oz. Velveeta, cubed
Toppings of choice
1. Brown the meat on the stove top with the onion. Drain fat and set aside.
2. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, pour in chicken broth. Add garlic, bell pepper and potatoes. Stir in the browned meat and onion.
3. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in milk and Velveeta 20 to 30 minutes before serving. If you’d like the broth thicker, blend it a little with a stick blender.
4. Serve hot with toppings of choice.
Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
After all that winter eating, it’s time to lighten up. But it can still be pretty cold and blustery in March, so you can cook these flavorful chicken thighs indoors. Or, if you care to brave the wind, you can grill them outside. Adapted from Cooking Light. Serves 4.
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika (I used 1⁄4 tsp. smoked paprika and 3⁄4 tsp. regular)
1⁄2 tsp. ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
6 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. cider vinegar
1. Preheat broiler.
2. Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken five minutes on each side.
3. Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1⁄4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.
Pickled Red Onions
These fast and easy onions pair well with sandwiches, roasted meats, bread, cheeses and much more. Whenever you make a batch of pickles, be sure to use nonreactive dishes and spoons. That means stainless steel pots, bowls made of clay, enamel, glass or plastic, and wooden or plastic utensils. Stay away from aluminum, cast iron and copper, all of which react with acidic foods to create a metallic taste or discoloration.
1 lb. red onions (2 medium or 1 large), thinly sliced
1 1⁄2 cups apple cider vinegar
1⁄2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1⁄2 stick cinnamon
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. mustard seed
Dash red pepper flakes (optional)
1. In a small, nonreactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt and seasonings until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Add the onion slices and lower the heat. Simmer gently for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
3. Transfer onions and liquid to a clean glass jar with a well-fitted lid. Refrigerate while not using. Will keep for about one month.
Tangy Marinated Lentils
Have an easy spring meal of this hearty salad from registered dietitian Nancy Robbins, an adjunct faculty member at Jefferson College of Health Science and consulting nutritionist for the nursing home at Friendship Retirement Community. She likes to add chopped cucumber and a little feta or mozzarella cheese after the other ingredients have cooled completely. Serves 4 as an entree, more as a side dish.
1 cup dried lentils
2 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 medium purple onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1⁄2 small red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. chives, chopped
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. pepper
1. Bring lentils and two cups of broth to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 25 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Keep an eye on them and add more broth as needed if the lentils simmer dry. Drain and set aside.
2. Saute onion, celery and carrot in one tablespoon of oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add red bell pepper and saute two minutes more.
3. Stir in lentils and remaining two tablespoons of oil. Cool. Stir in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or chill.
I have tried for a few years to settle on a squash casserole recipe I really like. After a lot of testing and tweaking, I believe this one is a real winner. Serves 4.
4 medium zucchini or yellow squash (I blended the two)
1 small onion, chopped
1⁄2 large or 1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
Butter to grease the dish
1 can cream of celery soup
8 oz. sour cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups finely crushed Ritz crackers, divided
Salt, to taste (optional)
1⁄2 tsp. pepper, or to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13-by-9-inch casserole dish and set aside.
2. Slice squash in thin rings. Place in a large, microwave-safe dish with the onions and bell pepper and a dash of water. Cover and microwave until squash is just beginning to get tender, stopping to stir occasionally (it will only take a few minutes total). Drain off all liquid.
3. In a large bowl, mix together soup, sour cream, egg, salt, pepper, one cup of cracker crumbs and one cup of cheese. Gently fold in vegetables until all is well combined. Transfer mixture to casserole dish. Mix together the remaining cheese and cracker crumbs and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
4. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted on top and the cracker crumbs are golden brown.
Glazed Peach Cake
I stumbled across this recipe on Allrecipes.com and adapted it to suit my purpose. It turned out to be a reader favorite.
1 3⁄4 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups thawed frozen peaches, drained (save the juice)
1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
A few tablespoons of peach juice
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, peaches and nuts. Stir thoroughly to mix.
3. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until done.
4. Stir peach juice into confectioners’ sugar one tablespoon at a time until you have a glaze that is drizzling consistency. Poke some holes in the surface of the cake and spread the glaze over the entire surface while the cake is still warm.
Corn Salad with Jalapeno-Lime Dressing
This is a wonderful way to enjoy fresh summer corn. It can be prepared as directed or, if you prefer, you can grill the vegetables and then chop them up. If you are making this ahead of time, wait until just before you serve it to add the avocados.
4 ears corn, steamed and kernels cut off the cob
1⁄2 large red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 cup chopped tomatoes (or cherry or grape tomatoes, halved)
Thinly sliced onion to taste (I used about 1⁄4 cup sweet onion)
1 large zucchini, diced and blanched (or microwaved with a little water for 1 minute)
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and cut in chunks
Juice of 2 limes
1 large clove garlic, minced
1⁄2 to 1 jalapeno, minced
1 1⁄2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. sugar or honey
2 Tbsp. pineapple juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.
2. Place all vegetables in a bowl. Pour dressing over and gently stir together. Let marinate for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.
Take advantage of Virginia’s apple season by incorporating them into this delicious savory dish. Adapted from Simplyrecipes.com.
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
2 tart apples, cored and sliced
1 cup flour
4 whole chicken leg and thigh quarters
1 large onion, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1⁄2 cup brandy or apple brandy
2 cups apple cider
1 tsp. dried thyme
1⁄2 cup cream
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large, ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add apples and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Salt chicken pieces and dredge them in flour. Melt remaining two tablespoons of butter in the pan; add chicken, skin side down. Cook until browned; turn and cook until the other side has browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
4. Add onions to the pan, stirring occasionally until they begin to brown. Add brandy and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring brandy to a boil until it has reduced by half. Add apple cider and thyme; return to a boil.
5. Nestle chicken, skin side up, in the onions and liquid. Place in the oven and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Remove chicken pieces; cover and set aside.
6. Add apples back to the pan and boil until the sauce has reduced by half. Turn down the heat and stir in the cream. Serve chicken with apples, onions and sauce.
Even the kids will love my grandma’s goulash, and it is so easy to make that you can have it on the table to fill their bellies before they head out to trick-or-treat. Serves 4.
1⁄2 box elbow macaroni
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 to 3 stalks celery
2 cans (about 14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
1 small can of mushrooms
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook macaroni in boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Cook ground beef until just browned. If you used a fatty blend that released a lot of grease, drain most of that off.
3. Stir in green pepper, onion and celery and saute until vegetables start to get tender.
4. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, paprika and macaroni. Stir to combine, then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Queso Potato Chowder
This month brings soup season back around, and this chowder is a real crowd-pleaser. It combines the irresistible flavors of spicy queso dip with creamy potato soup. Make a big batch and freeze half of it — when the holidays roll around, you’ll be glad to have a quick and easy meal to heat up. From Southern Living‘s “Fix It & Freeze It & Heat It & Eat It.” Serves 6.
1⁄4 cup butter
1 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup onion, finely chopped
3 poblano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄2 (20-oz.) package refrigerated Southwestern-style hash brown potatoes
1⁄4 tsp. ground cumin
2 (14-oz.) cans low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 cups milk
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded asadero or Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings (optional): corn tortilla chips, chopped red bell pepper, chopped red onion, sliced jalapeno peppers, chopped fresh cilantro
1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add bell pepper and next 3 ingredients and saute 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add potatoes and cumin, then saute 5 minutes or until browned and tender. Gradually stir in broth, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes.
2. Whisk together flour and next 2 ingredients. Stir into potato mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat to low.
3. Add cheeses and cook, stirring constantly, until cheeses melt and the mixture is thoroughly heated. Serve with desired toppings.
Greek Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Want to impress your holiday guests? This is not your typical winter holiday recipe, but I promise it will do the trick. Adapted from noreeats.blogspot.com. Serves 4.
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1⁄2 red onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped
1⁄4 cup finely diced, seeded tomato (I used canned diced tomatoes, well-drained)
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and roughly chopped
Zest of two lemons, divided
Salt and pepper
1 (2-lb.) pork loin roast
1 slice fresh bread buzzed into crumbs
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. oregano
Pinch kosher salt
Cotton kitchen string
1 small shallot, minced
1⁄2 cup port
1⁄2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp. cold butter
1. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Saute red onion and garlic for a few minutes, or until softened. Add tomato and spinach and stir until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and stir in zest of one lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool to room temperature.
2. Butterfly the pork loin and let it lay open. Stir bread crumbs and feta cheese into spinach mixture. Spread the stuffing evenly over the butterflied pork loin and then fold it back over like a book.
3. Mix together oregano, remaining zest and kosher salt and rub over the top of the pork roast (fat side up). Tie roast together with kitchen string.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
5. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in an ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Gently place pork roast in the pan, fat side down, and brown it for a few minutes. Turn over and place in the oven.
6. Roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 and continue roasting until the pork reaches an internal temperature of about 150 to 155 degrees. Remove from oven, transfer to a serving platter or plate and tent with foil.
7. In the same pan, make the sauce by sauteing shallot in the meat drippings until tender. Add port and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking to scrape up all of the bits. Add chicken stock and simmer until the sauce has reduced by half, about 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk in butter.
8. Slice pork and serve with a drizzle of sauce.
On the blog
What were your favorite recipes from 2012? Share them on my Fridge Magnet blog at blogs.roanoke.com/fridgemagnet.
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