We love cheese. We love bread. We love onions, too. So of course french onion soup is the perfect dinner in our house (Yes, dinner. None of this pre-dinner appetizer stuff). The only thing that has held us back from fully realizing our french onion dreams have been the perfect crock to broil the end product in. However, after a trip to our local summer hippie festival, we laid our hands on 2 matching, handmade, ceramic crocks. Let the festivitating begin!
- Boil 1 beef bone, 4 chopped celery stalks, 3 chopped carrots, 1 chopped onion and 1 bay leaf for 15 minutes, then simmer for 2 hours with 12 cups of water (it will reduce & evaporate). Set aside.
- Peel and slice width-wise 4 large sweet onions, & 2 garlic cloves, add to empty stock pot with 1 stick butter and saute until soft, approximately 15 minutes.
- Pour strained beef broth mixture into the pot with the onions and add 3-4 bouillon cubes (it depends how beefy/salty you like it), simmer for 10 minutes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pour broth and onions into crock, top with sliced and toasted french bread and 2 slices of the cheese of your choice (I like provolone or mozz).
- Broil on low until brown and bubbly. Eat. Love. Awesome.
When life gets a little tough, a friend of mine and I joke around about moving to a commune on our own to be hippies and live on the land like crazy independent Amazon women. We have most of the necessary skill sets covered (booze making, cooking, clothing design, bread and butter production and a newly drafted ninja has the security aspect of the program under control – as soon as we have cheese making under our belts we can pack our bags) to make it a totally viable option in our overstressed entrepreneurial brains (no, it’s not really going to happen…I know…). Should our super fabulous commune never come to fruition and I am forced to move to a straight up hippie ranch I have come to realize that I make some damn tasty lentils.
Lentils have gained the reputation for being the peace loving legume, but they are truly more than just that – they are simple and delicious. We make them every other week or so and it seems I’m making larger and larger batches to ensure that we have some leftovers for a lunch or two – they are so good we can’t stop eating them. The recipe below is for a ‘medium’ 6 helping batch.
- Add 2 cups of lentils (you choose the color – we use the yellow/brown guys) and 5 cups of water or chicken broth to a large pot and bring to a boil with 2 bouillon cubes and a bay leaf
- Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 chopped medium carrots to the pot and simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally (you may need to add more water)
- The lentils will start to sort of break down (we like them mushy – I pretend I’m Oliver Twist), and at this point add another 1/4-1/2 cup of chopped onions and another 2 chopped medium carrots (contrasting texture! It makes mouths happy). Slowly simmer for another 8 minutes or so
At this point you can add whatever you else you like or have on hand. We have been known to chop up the lone leftover pork chop no one wants and throw that in. Leftover Christmas ham makes for super awesome lentils, and of course, a little cooked bacon makes everything better. Last night we chopped up the last reindeer sausage link that has been haunting the freezer and added a little bacon. Of course if you are one of those veggie only people, you can skip this step and add whatever else you choose.
- After your additions have had a few minutes to meet and mingle with their lentil neighbors, salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add a little garlic powder or salt as well as cayenne pepper
It’s just good stuff. And talk about cheap! You’re looking at perhaps a $3 meal here and it’s delicious. Maybe if you get good enough at making them, you too can join a hippie commune!
We try very hard to have at least one meatless day per week. We also tend to make pizzas on that meatless day as it corresponds to the only day of the week where I am home early enough to effectively rise some super kick ass dough. We each make our own concocted creation which makes for perfect pizzas each.
This week I made the following:
- A layer of pesto and light olive oil with sauteed onions and mushrooms with chopped fresh jalapenos & cabbage and sweet basil
- A little fresh mozz (which I will be finally making soon) and some grated parm and chopped green onion
- Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper – bake @ 400* for 15 or so minutes
Viola – the best little rustically handmade pizza you can get (at home). Something like this in a swanky restaurant would run you around $20 or possibly more. At home? Maybe $3. We use cheap ingredients on hand and have lunch covered for the next day too. Perfection.
We have been on a ‘tiny taco’ kick at our house. Small street style tacos with anything from halibut to ground turkey to the best pulled marinated pork you’ve ever had with rough chopped cilantro, a little cabbage, a noticeable lack of cheese (I am told the cheese part of those molten burritos we’re all so used to are not what you would call authentic), other random fixins’ and of course salsa. We have been making our own salsa and it’s so stinkin’ easy it hurts. After chatting with my friend Minerva, who runs her own handcrafted food biz with deep roots in Mexican culture and tastes, we figured that people are just lazy or honestly don’t know how easy (and cheap!) it is to make salsa. She is constantly asked to jar and sell the stuff. Why? Make it yourself! And why go to the store to pay $5 for some jar of processed junk that tastes like, well, processed stuff in a jar, when you can whip up your own batch of ‘can’t get fresher than this’ salsa for pennies.
- Chop one medium tomato – making sure to remove the seeds and guts
- Chop half an onion and throw in a bowl with the tomatoes
- Grab a few sprigs of fresh cilantro and chop, stems and all (cilantro is super cheap – .69c sometimes for a bunch and can be kept in the fridge covered in water for up to 3 weeks)
- Finely chop half a fresh, gutted, jalapeño (or more – depending on your preferred level of heat) and toss into the mix
- Squirt a little lemon juice and a little lime juice, throw a dash of salt and a dash of pepper and let your mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Stuff face with tiny tacos topped with fresh salsa that cost $1.50 – max.