Tuesday, April 24, 2012

French Onion Soup

Is is not wonderful how the humbleness of a vegetable, the onion, can turn into an amazingly delicious soup. French onion soup is one of my favorites. I love that it only requires just a few ingredients for a whole pot of goodness. When there is only onions, bread & cheese, make soup I say! My Aunt use to make this for me when I would visit her. I can remember to this day the little crocks she served it in and how quickly a warm and delicious dinner came together. A meal shared at her table in the kitchen in what I thought was "The Big City!" To this day, I always check out the menu when at a restaurant, looking for French Onion Soup. I seem to want to try it every where I go, just to see if it measures up to what I had with my Aunt. There are tons of variations, but I pretty much stick to her recipe and tweak it just a bit combining ingredients from a cookbook my sister bought me, "The French Country Table," simple recipes for bistro classics by Laura Washburn. Her fresh fruit tart is amazing and most of her recipes require a small list of ingredients. Classic country French food and rustic Italian is what I love. A little of her and me. I usually make a pot of this soup, laddle into the soup crocks, top with toasted french bread, some cheese and place under the broiler for a few minutes. However, may I suggest that if you are using your oven for other things and have some room, by all means, throw a pan of onions in and let them roast until soft and slightly brown. You can cool them, refrigerate and be well on your way to dinner for the next day. This is also great for a get together with many guests, you can easily double the recipe, toast your bread slices, place them on the broiler pan, top with cheese and melt for a few minutes. Each guest can laddle their own soup and top with the cheesy bread slices. I was beyond thrilled when a friend surprised me with these soup crocks. I just love them. I could easily find myself making a collection of soup crocks. Since my family is not big on onions, the four I have make the perfection collection. 

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me all you who are weary and burden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 

The days when I feel heavy hearted & filled with burdens of one thing or another, I seem to forget that if I release them to God, I find peace and a lightness that only He can lift from me. I must not forget that He only is my source of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulless, kindness & self-control.

French Onion Soup -


3 cups sliced onions ( I use a combination of regular & sweet) large just about 3 pounds
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 Tablespoon flour
2 cans (10 1/2 oz) beef broth (use the one with no msg & low sodium)
1 1/2-2 cups red wine
1 teaspoons worchestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
2 springs of thyme

1 loaf of french bread sliced 
1 1/2 cups grated cheese, Swiss, Gruyere, Pravalone, Mozarella or a mix


Saute the onions in butter and olive oil for about 30 minutes on low heat. Add the garlic and flour stirring for about 1 minute. Add the stock and wine, bay leaf and thyme. Season with salt & pepper, bring to a boil for about 20-30 minutes. Before serving, preheat the broiler. Put the french bread slices on baking sheet and broiler till just lightly brown. Leave broiler on. Ladle soup into oven proof bowls and top with a few slices of toasted bread. Sprinkle generously with cheese and cook under the broiler till cheese is melted and bubbly..

Eat Well, Sonya

Friday, April 13, 2012

Busy Day Cake

Don't you just love the name of this cake? "Busy Day" I have been making this cake since I was in elementary school. It was one of the first things I learned to baked from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that my mom gave me. I often imagine that it got it's name from homemakers that were so busy with housework, chores, working, errands, that they wanted a quick, easy dessert to throw together for after dinner. This is it! Over the past 20 years my cooking and baking has evolved to the love of simple ingredients that make delicious food. This recipe is one of them. Another short list of ingredients that is whipped up in a matter of minutes and baked under 30. You probably already have everything you need. I find that when I use the best ingredients that I can afford, my recipes taste that much better. This cake is absolutely delicious with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar, or frosted with your favorite frosting, and even better in the summer with fresh picked berries and some homemade whip topping! It's one of those desserts that like a great pair of jeans, can be dressed up or down. I am admitting that after I made this cake, I had an urge, yes an urge from where I don't know, but I put a piece in a bowl and poured some milk over the top! I really can't believe I was doing this, but with one bite, another, and another, I was hooked and ready to pour milk over the rest of the cake and devour it. I never wanted to try milk over cake, ever. Milk is suppose to be in a cup, to be drunk with the cake. After watching my husband's family do this for years, I have now crossed over to their side. It was absolutely delicious. This warm slice of cake soaking up the milk, tasting like a Snickerdoodle cookie. With just the right ratio of milk to cake there was  no sogginess at all, just pure wonderful deliciousness all in one bowl! Cake will never be the same. Trust me you have to try it. I hope that even among your busiest days, or on the days when you have some down time, you take the time to make this cake. You can never be to "busy" for Busy Day Cake! Our oldest son thinks this should be an Every Day Cake!! and it just might, they ate it all in one sitting.

Busy days. This verse in Joshua 3:9 got me thinking, Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come and listen to the words of the Lord your God. "Come and listen." Are our days too busy and filled with too much to do, places to go, people to see, never ending list that we forget to come and listen. How do you come and listen?, Psalm 5:3 says that In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. I love how it says "in the morning you hear my voice" before your day starts and gets busy. Starting your day alone with God, quietly, laying your requests, praising Him, giving thanks and listening for His voice with expectation that He is going to respond. Let us not get so busy that we forget that This is the day that The Lord has made!

Busy Day Cake 
(Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step by Step Cookbook) What is great about this cake is that you can make it your own. Change out the extract for lemon, orange or almond. Add some grated lemon or orange zest. How about a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice whatever mood you find yourself in.


1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla


Grease & flour a 9x9" square cake pan. Preheat oven to 375.

In mixing bowl add butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add 1/2 the milk, egg and vanilla. Mix well and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the milk. Beat for 2 minutes more. Turn into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until tester comes clean. Cool and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, frost with your favorite frosting. During the peak berry season, top with fresh berries and a dollop of whip topping, or place a piece of cake in a bowl pour some milk over the top and enjoy a sweet moment.

Eat Well, Sonya

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter, and Oh My Lemon Meringue Pie!

Easter is one of my favorite Holidays. I do remember our Easter's growing up. Mom would make my sister and I matching dresses and some of them where crocheted. Just gorgeous. My sister and I for many years always had matching outfits, and my brother was dressed in a color that matched as well. We had a huge breakfast at Grandma's, sometimes an Easter egg hunt and the best Easter baskets ever. Then after Easter service where the everyone was dressed to the nines, we would have Easter dinner at Grandma's. I think lemon meringue pie is the quintessential dessert for Easter. Big pillow puffs of meringue, which I love to eat right off the whisk and a bright, very lemony, I mean where your cheeks pucker in a bit and Hello lemony tart flavor. I like my lemon meringue pies more on the tart side with just a touch of sweetness. Our Mom would make one every Easter and Thanksgiving. Her pies where masterpieces. The crust was always perfect, and she would make these beautiful individual meringue puffs. I remember her taking a cookie sheet placing a piece of foil over it and marking out six 4" circles on the foil. She would lightly spray it with cooking and spray and then fill each circle with the meringue, making them tall and full. They would get baked just till the peaks were getting brown and then she would pull them from the oven. Once the crust and the filling were cool, which I never did ask why she never made her filling from scratch, but always used the Jello pudding and pie filling, she would fill the crust and gently remove the meringues and place them on top of pie. I haven't followed in her steps, except for making the crust from scratch. I do make my own filling and top the entire pie with meringue. I like it when you don't see the lemon filling and your guest are wondering is it lemon, grapefruit, key lime chiffon, etc, etc.... I do know one thing is that Mom's pie was delicious and there were never any leftovers. She was an amazing cook and baker among many other things that she did well. There is no doubt about how fun Easter is with dying eggs, baskets, dressing up, baking and enjoy a meal with family & friends. More than all of that, with Spring and the rebirth of all things greens, we too can have a rebirth, because Amen, and Praise The Lord, Jesus was victorious over death! Have a blessed Easter!

The Easter story continued- Matthew 28:1-7 After the sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came  down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you." 

I just love that "is going ahead of  you into" Do you ever hear little ones say, "you go or you do it first?"Well, my friends, Jesus is ahead of us first, he has already gone there, waiting for us, we just need to follow.. 

Lemon Meringue Pie 
(Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster)


1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract (for that extra lemony flavor)
3 lemons (grated zest of 2, juice of 3)
6 large eggs, separated
4 Tablespoons butter cut into pieces
1 pre-baked pie shell (use your favorite recipe or if your not into making crust, a frozen pie shell or the refrigerated dough works just as well)
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon extract, lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups of water in a heavy bottomed saucepan placed over medium heat and stir to combine. Stirring constantly until the mixture begins to boil 6-7 minutes, and continue to boil, stirring until it is thick and glossy for about 1 minute more.

Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl and then whisk 1/2 cup of the hot sugar mixture into egg yolks  until smooth. Pour the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sugar mixture and whisk constantly over very low heat for about 4 minutes, until it thickens to the consistency of pudding. Be very careful not overcook the custard, it will curdle if it is cooked to long over the high heat. 

Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and the lemon zest, and pour into the pre-baked pie crust. 

To make the meringues, place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat for about 1 minute until they begin to thicken. Increase the speed of the mixer to high and continue beating until the egg whites are frothy. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until the whites form soft peaks. The peaks will hold their shape when you lift the batters out of the bowl.

Spread the meringue over the filling touching the sides. Hide the filling with the meringue!!
I like to make swirls and peaks with the back of the spoon. Bake the pie on a center rack in the oven for 10-12 minutes, just till the peaks are turning brown. Cool for at least 1 hour before serving. 

Eat Well, Sonya