Carmelized Onion, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Tartlets

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Ina Garten was the lady who first helped me realize that homemade food can be just as delicious, if not more so, than eating out. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love eating out. I can never resist the temptation to hit up my favorite spot for local margaritas and chips, and no homemade popcorn tastes as good and artery clogging as movie theater popcorn. But in my teenage years, Ina Garten’s recipes showed me I can cook, and it can taste good.

I first made these tarts when my friends and I back home got together for weekly cooking nights the summer after our freshman year in college. We went through many of Ina’s recipes (hello roasted potato and leek soup) that I have made multiple times since. These tarts were also part of my first dinner I made entirely by myself for my parents and my aunt.

These tarts are pretty simple but involve a few steps to prep. But they turn out great. I made mine a smaller side to serve as a side dish this time, but they are great when you make ’em bigger and serve as a meal with salad or soup.

CARMELIZED ONION, TOMATO, AND GOAT CHEESE TARTLETS
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS

2 onions, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2-4 ounces goat cheese
Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tomatoes, sliced
Herbs de Provence

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F. Prepare baking sheets.

In pan, combine olive oil and onions. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir in white wine, thyme, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.

Roll out sheet of puff pastry slightly. Cut into small tart-size squares (about 1 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch). Place on prepared baking sheets. Spoon onion mixture evenly across tarts. Place tomato slices on top. Crumble goat cheese and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for 20-15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Sprinkle herbs de Provence on top. Serve warm.

Philly Cheesesteak

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I am a Texan gal, so I have a love for barbeque brisket, burgers, and Tex Mex. But my parents are northeasterners, so I also love seafood, Italian subs, and cheesesteaks. My parents grew up in the Philadelphia area, and besides loving to visit to see family up there, I also love to eat sandwiches. And lots of them.

I am on a constant search for how to create the perfect cheesesteak in my own kitchen. Now there is a lot of contention surrounding the cheesesteaks based on people’s personal preferences. What type of cheese should top your cheesesteak? Provolone, American, or Cheese Whiz? Should there be peppers? Mushrooms?

While I love squirting cheese whiz on Ritz crackers (who else loved to make pretty cheese whiz designs on their crackers or see how tall you can pile it before your cheese tower collapses?), I am not a huge fan of it on my cheesesteaks.

This cheesesteak recipe reflects how I like mine: with provolone, mushrooms, NO peppers (bell peppers are the devil’s handiwork in my mind), and topped with ketchup. Make according to your own preferences following the same method. Just don’t tell me if you use peppers.

PHILLY CHEESESTEAKS
From The Little Kitchen

INGREDIENTS

4 soft hoagie rolls
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces mushrooms
1/2 pounds rib eye steak
Salt and pepper
Provolone cheese
Ketchup, for topping

INGREDIENTS

Preheat oven to 250°F. Slice your hoagie rolls and prepare four pieces of foil.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt one tablespoon of butter and add onions and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Cut the rib eye into thin slices against the grain. Chop the slices into small pieces. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan. Add half of the rib eye, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-4 minutes. Top with cheese. Cover with lid and cook until melted, 1-3 minutes. Stir in half of the mushroom and onion mixture. Divide the filling between two hoagie roolls. Repeat with remaining steak, mushrooms, onions, and cheese. Tighly wrap each sandwich individually with foil. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes. Eat immediately, topping with ketchup if desire.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Veggie Flatbread

 
 

What is the difference between a flatbread and a pizza?  Besides an extra $3 at most restaurants for a fancier name, I am not really sure.  In my mind, pizzas usually have a sauce base and cheese while flatbreads are often dressed in oil and vinaigrettes and don’t require cheese.  So I define this dinner as a flatbread.  Call it whatever you want- it will be delicious under any name.

This dish is inspired by a sandwich I tried in Lubbock within my first few days of moving.  After unpacking boxes, assembling furniture, and waiting on movers for two days, my parents and I were in need of a filling lunch that would be quick.  I ate the most amazing vegetarian sandwich at a deli nearby my apartment.  It was so delicious that we ate there again the next day. My parents left, I finally finished unpacking and started adjusting to my new life, but I could not stop thinking about that sandwich.

Since I am a poor student that is often too tried to change out of my PJs and get off my couch, I decided to replicate this dish at home.  I was a little skeptical that my version would not taste as good either due to my cooking ability or the fact that I was really hungry when I first ate the sandwich (and stressed, stressed eating is always a tricky memory).  But my worries were for nothing- this flatbread turned out DELICIOUS.  So delicious that I have eaten it many times, which is huge for me since I tend not to remake the same dinner often. Adding some chicken would be a great addition for those who need their meat.

It’s a vegetarian, filling, and unique flatbread.  Don’t wait- go make it now.

VEGGIE FLATBREAD
 
INGREDIENTS
For the Crust:
1 package active yeast
1/2 cup water, at 110°F
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
 
For the Flatbread:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 portobello mushrooms
Salt and pepper
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, chopped
3 ounces pimento stuffed green olives, sliced
Pinch of madran curry powder, to taste
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
Olive oil, for brushing
DIRECTIONS
 
For the Crust:

Preheat oven to 475°F.


In in small bowl, dissolve yeast in water with granulated sugar.  Let sit about 10 minutes, until foamy.  In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Pour dissolved yeast over flour.  Stir together with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 10 minutes.  Let sit in a warm place and rise for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour.

For the Flatbread:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, 5-6 minutes.  Add red onions and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add carrots and olives to pan. Season with madran curry power and salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes and add sugar and white wine vinegar.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, until most of the vinegar has evaporated.  Add mushrooms and red onion to pan.  Toss and set aside.  Keep warm.

Prepare pizza stone or baking sheet.  Roll out dough to desired thickness.  Brush with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is golden brown.  Top baked dough with mushroom, onion, carrot, and olive topping.  Top with cucumber slices.  Cut into slices and devour.

Serves 2-3.

Späetzle with Caramelized Onions

I’ve celebrated my Polish ancestory with several dishes.  This was unfair to my other ancestors, so I decided that it was time to explore my German roots.  I sat down and tried to think of traditional dishes from Germany and actually came up with very little besides German chocolate cake, bratwurst, and beer.  A little research (knowledge is power!), and I decided I would attempt to make homemade späetzle.
Späetzle is an egg noodle, just a little dough-ier. With no idea how it was supposed to really look like or taste like, I looked over a few recipes and forged ahead.  Now, a picture is worth a thousand words, but I am not sure exactly what my picture of this späetzle is saying.  “I am not appetizing to look at” I think is what it is trying to tell us.  But don’t be afraid, I really liked the texture.  It’s like a really hearty pasta, very similar to gnocchi.  And it’s really easy to make (no need to buy a späetzle maker either!)

Also, some investigation into our heritage has newly revealed we are also Swedish, so I think it may be time to work some lignonberry recipes into my dinner plans…

SPÄTZLE WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS
From Cinnamon Freud, Inspired by All Recipes
INGREDIENTS
For the Caramelized Onions:
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
For the Spätzle:
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
DIRECTIONS
For the Caramelized Onions:</di

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Heat a medium pan over medium heat.  Add butter, olive oil, and onions.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let cook over low to medium heat for 30 minutes, until onions are tender and golden brown.  Add balsamic vinegar and let cook for another 10 minutes.  Keep warm.
For the Spätzle:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
 
In a bowl, whisk egg, milk, flour, white pepper, salt, and black pepper together.  To make the 
späetzle  use a cheese grater or strainer.  Place or hold strainer/grater over boiling water.  Pour batter into strainer/grated and press with the back of the spoon to force through.  Allow batter to drop into boiling water in small pieces.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes, until they float to the top.  Remove with a slotted spoon.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Toss späetzle into pan with caramelized onions.  Serve with sausage, if desired.
Serves 2.

Caramelized Onion Dip

There are only a few things in this world that will tempt me to hang around a television with a sports game on it.  This dip is one of them.  The only way I watch sports is if there is some yummy snack food to go with it.  Dips are an easy, low maintenance food to serve at any Super Bowl party this weekend.  This dip is made the night before and is served at room temperature.  No muss, no fuss.
This onion dip is so much better than those powdered dips that come in a paper package.  I have positive testimonies from people who don’t normally like onion dips.  The onions are sweet and caramelized and mixed into a creamy dip.  Serve with crackers and potato chips for a great, salty snack.

 

CARAMELIZED ONION DIP
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten
INGREDIENTS

2 large onions, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Chopped parsley, optional

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter and olive oil.  Add onions, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 10 minutes then lower the heat slightly to medium.  Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The onions should be caramelized and a light brown.  Set aside and cool.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise.  Stir in onions.  Mix well.  Let sit for at least 1 hour to overnight.  When serving, let come to room temperature.  Top with chopped parsley if desired.