Monday, March 29, 2010

Worth the Trouble

I've made a recent discovery: Caramelized onions. They are fabulous. I had tasted them before, and for some reason assumed that it was something difficult to do. It is not. You just cut up an onion (whatever your favorite variety is) and toss it in a saute' pan with a tablespoon or two of butter or oil. Turn it on med/low and walk away. I stir them once every couple of minutes or so. Once they're a lovely dark brown/maroon color, they're done! It takes about twenty minutes, and is sooooo worth the effort! Anything you would put diced onions in is made immediately fancier. For example, last week I made tuna noodle casserole and put these in instead of just chopped onions. Actually, it didn't take any longer to prepare the whole meal, because I started the onions first, and by the time the rest of the prep was done, they were ready to throw in with the rest of it. It was easily the best tuna casserole I've ever made. Caramelized onions are sweet and have a milder and more complex flavor than they do raw. I may from now on be adding them to casseroles and sauces like this, instead of just raw or sauteed. So delicious. They also don't make your breath as toxic as a raw onion will.
For those who are curious, here's my tuna casserole recipe. It's cheap and quick, and a family fave, even for the kiddos.
1 16 oz. box of whole wheat pasta (we like rotini or bowties)
2 cans of albacore tuna, drained (milder and less fishy than it's cheaper cousins)
2 cans of cream of celery soup
1 1/2 cups grated or shaker type parmesan cheese, divided
1 medium onion
2 tbsp butter
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup cracker or bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop onion coarsely. Put them in a medium saute pan with the 2 tbsp of butter. Cook covered, on med/low heat for twenty minutes or until dark brown, stirring occasionally.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Add tuna, soup, 1 cup of the cheese, peas, and onions. Mix well.
3. Put pasta mixture in a greased baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese and bread crumbs on top. Bake until the top is golden and toasty looking, about 15 minutes.

There ya go. Cheap, yummy, easy, kid friendly.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Want a Big Bite!

I'm an unapologetic foodie.
I love grocery shopping. I love all the pretty colors of the produce bin, the briny smell of the seafood case, and the thrill of paying $.29 a pound for green cabbage.
I love the bright sweetness that a good balsamic vinegar gives to a pan of sauteed veggies. I love trying cheeses I've never had before. Prosciutto is more exciting than a box of puppies on a roller coaster (ok, maybe not that thrilling, but close).
Apparently I've passed the trait along. Hubby and I enjoyed omelets for breakfast today. We sauteed shitake mushrooms and yellow onion in bacon fat. Awesome. There's no smell in the world like that. We added those to whole-egg omelets, along with chevre and chopped bacon. It was great! The earthiness of the mushrooms balanced the tangy flavor of the cheese beautifully. But I digress...
My son, who is nearly three, sat on Hubby's and my laps asking over and over, "Can I have a big bite?" It cracks me up. As I type this, he's peeking over the top of the computer asking, "Just one more bite? Please?" I'm so very glad my little guy has a diverse palate, but chevre and mushrooms? I've never hear of a kid liking something like that. The point of this post is that you never know what kids are going to like. I see so many parents who alter their own diets to fit what they think the kids will eat. A diverse palate is something that is learned. Try something new! There's a whole world to explore in the local supermarket. and are two of my favorite websites to look at for inspiration.

Here's the recipe for the omelets:
8 eggs, beaten
4 slices center cut bacon
1 package of fresh shitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 oz. chevre cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook bacon til slightly crisp. Remove from pan, reserving grease. Chop bacon coarsely. Set aside two tablespoons of the bacon grease.
2. Cook onions and mushrooms in the grease that's still in the first pan until they are tender, but not mushy.
3. Add a tablespoon of grease to a saute or omelet pan and let that pan heat up on med heat. Pour half of the eggs into the hot pan. Cook at medium heat without stirring. Lift edges occasionally to let some of the runny eggs flow underneath the cooked part.
4. When the eggs are almost done, add half of the chopped bacon, half of the mushrooms and onions, and half of the crumbled cheese on top of one side of the eggs. Fold the other side of the eggs over the fillings. Slide onto a plate and keep warm.
5. Repeat 3-4. Serve. Optional: Chopped fresh roma tomatoes are nice on top of this when they're in season.
Have a delicious day!