Monday, October 31, 2011

Caramelized Onion and Gouda Bites

Thanks to Kitchen Play, we have been eating pretty good around here! The thing I most enjoy about participating in Kitchen Play's Progressive Party Menu is that I try foods and techniques in the kitchen that I would normally not try or even know about. This month's sponsor, the National Onion Association, can be proud of the recipes that various food bloggers created centering around onions.

This is my entry for the Amuse Bouche course. Megan knocked it out of the park with her Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Vol-Au-Vents. When I saw the figs and fig vinegar in this recipe, I knew I had to try it. One of my new loves is a fig spread that I found at Whole Foods, I subbed the fig spread for the fresh fig slice that Megan called for, mainly because that is what I had on hand (well, and I love it). I also opted for Back to Nature's Multi-Seed Rice Thin Crackers instead of the Vol-Au-Vents so that I could make these gluten-free.

These were super-delicious! A tasty bite! I also did not use goat cheese, but a lovely goat milk gouda that I recently discovered at Whole Foods. It is hands down one of my favorite cheeses right now. It is a mild gouda that takes on the flavor of whatever you pair it with. It was fabulous with the fig spread and fig vinegar drizzled over it.

Speaking of the fig vinegar. Take a look at this:

I know that isn't the best photo, but I had to add it for a couple of reasons: 1) I have never reduced vinegar, so that was new technique for me and 2) I picked up this beautiful Lodge piece at a garage sale for $1. I just love that! It is the perfect size for melting butter or reducing vinegar (please ignore my dirty stovetop...I had been cooking all day!).

These were so yummy that I think I need to host a party just so I can serve them!

Gluten-Free Red Onion Cutney

This is my entry for the dessert portion of Kitchen Play's Progressive Party Menu. You read that right...dessert! Yes, onions can be dessert!

This month's sponsor is the National Onion Association and I couldn't be more pleased.

Jamie created this Red Onion Chutney and I'm so glad she did! It's yummy.

I simply made it gluten-free by serving it on brown rice crisps instead of crostini. I also used a raw aged cheddar instead of goat cheese, which has nothing to do with gluten and everything to do with what I had in the fridge! Either way, it was delicious!

Here are the ingredients all lined up and ready to go (minus the olive oil, because I uh...forgot to set it out there!

The beautiful onions ready in the skillet to soften.

I loved the addition of a jalapeno pepper and cinnamon.

And here are the little bites of heaven!

I will definitely be making these again.
Thank you Kitchen Play and Jamie for giving me this wonderful recipe!

Steak, Asiago and Horseradish Cream Pizza with Caramelized Onions

Back again with another entry in Kitchen Play's Progressive Party Menu. This time with a nifty little combo of flavors paired together for a gourmet pizza.

This month's sponsor is the National Onion Association. Anyone that promotes onions is a friend of mine! I can't live without onions.

Elle's New England Kitchen created this recipe and suggested that it might go together well as a pizza. I went the pizza route for a few reasons: 1) I love pizza. 2) I had a Socca bread recipe I was dying to try and this was the perfect excuse.

I found the Socca recipe in a free Kindle download called Gluten-free, Hassle-free. Socca is a traditional bread from France and Italy that is made out of chickpea flour.

The only thing I changed in Elle's recipe was that I used socca bread for a pizza and I used Asiago cheese instead of blue. I love blue cheese, but did not have any in the house at that time.

Here are those glorious onions as they are slowly caramelizing. The house smelled terrific!

Here is a very big, juicy sirloin tip steak cooked just as Elle has suggested.

And here is the pizza! A bit rustic looking, but I've heard that rustic is all the rage right now so I'm in!

Socca is a bit tricky to work with until you get the hang of it. It is a batter the consistency of crepe batter so you need to have the heat just right and that gently twisting and rolling action of the wrist! I liked the socca and I liked Elle's recipe, so I think I'll keep them both.

Friday, October 28, 2011

You MUST try this salad.

It's official. I'm addicted to Kitchen Play's Progressive Party Menus. When I saw that this month's sponsor is the National Onion Association, well, I almost cried (pun intended). I love onions.

I also love salads, but I have to admit that I am a little less than creative when it comes to making them. I usually end up with a green salad with chopped veggies. Well, I just tried the:

Avocado Grapefruit Onion Salad with Creamy Onion Dressing

From Fuji Mama.

I'm warning your tastebuds right now. They are about to be overloaded with a wonderful mingling of delectable tastes. This salad is superb. You need to make this salad as soon as possible.

The one thing I did differently was to use raw sunflower seeds instead of the almonds.

This is easy to put together. Just remember to pickle the onions at least an hour before you plan to assemble the salad. Oh, and don't forget to blend the dressing in the processor. I almost forgot and I'm glad I remembered. It is yummy and the processor really brings that onion flavor out. 

Go to Kitchen Play for your chance to participate in the Party! You could even win $100! Oh, and go make this salad!!!

Pumpkin Cookies

I've been wanting to make a gluten-free sugar cookie for some time now (well, ever since I started eating gluten-free!) and the Sidecar Series at Kitchen Play was the perfect excuse! The series is hosted by McCormick and features Kid-Friendly Treats! The children and I decided to make the Pumpkin Cookies that Peabody created.

This was a lot of fun! I followed Peabody's recipe with one exception: I made THIS allergy-friendly sugar cookie instead of using the sugar cookie mix. The children had fun making, decorating and eating these lovely harvest cookies!

Ready to decorate!

And the finished product!

These treats come with a possible $50 prize. McCormick is giving away 10 - $50 prizes and you could win! But hurry, the deadline is October 31st!

Do you have yours yet??

It's all the rage. Do you have yours yet? Confused as what I'm talking about?

It's the Happy Gun!

Our five-year-old son pointed this at me the other day and said it was a Happy Gun. I said, "Shoot me PLEASE!"

Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty happy most of the time, but I bet if you asked people if they would like more happy in their life, 9 out of 10 would say YES!

So, keep alert and keep checking in. I may patent this design and do an infomercial, just in time for your Holiday shopping.

Yes, you can have your very own Happy Gun for just $9.95 plus shipping and handling.

Rendering Lard and all that Jazz

Well, it is that time of year again. The old lard jars are running empty, so it is time to render lard so we can enjoy fluffy biscuits and flaky pie crusts for at least another year or so.

If you have never rendered lard then let me share some tips to help get you started:

1. If at all possible, share the job with a friend, a good friend. You know the kind: the one that knows all your habits and weaknesses and loves you anyway.
2. Give yourself plenty of time for this project. It's not hard, but it can be time-consuming.
3. Remember the goal: yummy biscuits and melt-in-mouth pie crusts.

Okay, so back to the friend that I was speaking of. My friend Carolyn and I have been sharing this job for a couple of years now and it works out beautifully for both of us. This is how it works: when our children start asking for chicken 'n' dumplings or biscuits and we tell them "no", it's because we are running low on lard. We'll email each other for about a month or so saying we need to make lard and then finally one day we actually grab the big hunk of hog fat out of our freezer to thaw.

We decide which one us will render the fat. When making this decision, we take two factors into consideration: time and sanity. The person with the most time and the least sanity gets the job of rendering the fat. This year that person was me. Last time it was my friend. That's the beautiful thing about lard, it always works out perfectly. Once finished, we split the jars of lard between the two of us. Take a look at WHY my friend didn't have time this year.

Have you ever tried cutting up 30 pounds of hog fat? Well, let me tell you, you better have a strong arm because you just about have to wrestle it into the roaster pan. Don't despair, it can be done and once it is, you'll have yummy, beautiful, creamy white lard.

Now the easy part. Just turn the roaster oven on low heat and let it go for a day or 2 days until the cracklings are a nice golden brown. Some people leave the heat on until the cracklings crisp up and sink, which is fine, but not my preference.

Strain the lard through some cheesecloth. Pour the lard into clean wide-mouth jars and cap them. I like to process my jars in a pressure canner for 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. That way I have a nice seal on the jars and I know for sure they are shelf-stable.

Look at these lovely jars of lard! Makes my heart sing!

Now what to do with the cracklings...we made suet balls for our chickens and wild birds.

The boys loved making them. You think children love handling Play-Doh??? Just hand them a hunk of cold cracklings mixed with lard and watch their eyes light up! Of course, I cringed every time I heard a piece of bird seed hitting the kitchen floor, but it all swept up nicely in the end.

And look how happy our beloved chickens are! The little bantums were hesitant at first, but once they discovered how yummo it was, there was no stopping them.

We rolled the others up in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer so the birds could enjoy a tasty snack this winter.

Mommy is happy, Mommy's friend is happy, the children are happy, the chickens are happy...everyone is happy and happy is good!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Holocaust in America

This is a free video that I feel is a must see. Please use discretion as there are some graphic photos that you may not want your young children to see. Please do not let this deter you from watching it.