Saturday, March 31, 2012

Onions Continued

Skillet Onion Bread
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions -- halved, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic -- minced
1 bay leaf
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp.  cream of tartar
1 tsp.  salt
2 tbsp.  caraway seeds
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
Additional all purpose flour
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Add onions, garlic, and bay leaf; sauté until onions are deep golden, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly. Discard bay leaf. Puree onions in processor.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350° F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt into large bowl. Stir in caraway seeds. Make well in center of flour mixture. Whisk buttermilk and yogurt in small bowl. Add buttermilk mixture and pureed onions to flour mixture; stir until dough begins to come together. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface; knead gently until dough is almost smooth, about 2 minutes.

Shape dough into 6-inch-diameter by 2 1/2-inch-high round. Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Using sharp knife, cut deep cross in top center of dough round, cutting through to bottom of dough round without cutting through outer edges. Dust top of dough lightly with additional flour.

Bake bread until light brown and crusty on outside and loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 55 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.  Makes 1 loaf
Onion Toast

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus 4 tablespoons, softened, for brushing the bread
3 onions, sliced
3 to 4 anchovy halves, chopped
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 baguette of bread
1/3 cup pitted Nicoise olives
Extra-virgin olive oil
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, chopped anchovies, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are sweet and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, holding the knife parallel to the cutting board, shave off the rounded top and bottom of the baguette with a serrated knife so that it lies flat. Cut the baguette in half lengthwise to make 2 long slices of bread. Brush both sides of each with the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. When the onions are cooked, put the bread slices on a baking sheet and spread with the onions. Garnish with olives and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake until the bread is crispy, about 15 minutes. Shower with Parmigiano. Cut into pieces and serve hot.  Makes great appetizer.  

Onion and Garlic Bread
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, yellow skinned, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme or poultry seasoning
3 grinds black pepper
1 loaf crusty French bread, split lengthwise
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano
Melt butter in a small pan over moderate heat. Add onions and garlic and season with sugar, thyme and pepper. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden in color and translucent.

Place the split bread on a baking sheet and broil until light golden. Spread half the onions and garlic on each half of bread in a thin layer. Sprinkle each side of loaf with half of the cheese and return to broiler for 30 seconds, or until cheese is bubbly.  Makes 4
Creamed Onions
1 1/2 to 2 pounds small white onions, peeled, or mixture of small white and purple onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt, to taste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Place onions in a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and enough water to cover. Bring onions to a boil; cover and cook 20 to 25 minutes, until tender. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid; set onions and cooking liquid aside. In the same saucepan, melt butter; blend in flour. Gradually add half-and-half or milk; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Stir in Cajun seasoning and paprika. Taste and add salt and pepper. Add some of the reserved liquid to thin the sauce, if too thick. Add onions to the sauce; heat through and serve.  Serves 4 to 6.

Onion Pie

3 cups thinly sliced Vidalia onions
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (9-inch) pre-baked deep-dish pie shell
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until lightly browned. Put the pie pan on a sheet pan. Line the bottom of pie crust with the onions. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and the flour together to combine. Add the milk, sour cream and salt. Mix well and pour over the onions. Garnish with the bacon and bake until firm in the center, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

 Onion Muffins

1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the egg, oil and milk; add self-rising flour, rolled oats, and the sugar. Stir batter just until mixture is blended. Gently fold in the onion, shredded cheese, and pecans; spoon the mixture into 36 small buttered and floured 1/8-cup muffin cups (gem, or miniature muffin tins). Bake the muffins in the middle of a preheated 400° oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Turn the muffins out onto racks and serve them warm or at room temperature.
Makes 36 miniature muffins.

Onion Jam

2 pounds sweet onions
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup dry red wine
Dash salt

Peel onions; cut in half lengthwise then slice thinly.
Melt butter in a large skillet or saucepan; add sliced onions and cook, covered, over medium-low heat until tender and translucent. Stir frequently.
Combine the remaining ingredients; add to the sliced onions and stir to blend. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until syrupy. The syrup should coat the back of a spoon. Pour into a bowl and cool to room temperature.
Keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days. Freeze in small amounts for later use.
You can  make a big batch of this jam and freeze it in small plastic containers.
Onion Pudding
This pudding can be made with any sweet onions.  Serve this with pork or beef, along with potatoes and a tossed salad.
3 cups chopped  sweet (can use Vidalia) onions, about 3 large onions
1/2 tsp. dried leaf thyme
1 tsp dried parsley flakes or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Dash crumbled rosemary
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp.  flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup plain soft bread crumbs, divided
1 tbsp. butter, melted
2 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Dash ground nutmeg, optional
Fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Butter a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Heat oven to 350° F. Beat egg whites in a cold medium  metal or glass bowl (Not plastic. Eggs do not get stiff if you use plastic.) until stiff peaks form; set aside. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small bowl; set aside.
In a saucepan, combine the chopped onions, thyme, 1 teaspoon parsley flakes or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, and rosemary. Add about 1 cup water; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue boiling until onions are tender; drain well.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour until well blended. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add the drained onions and 1/2 cup of the soft bread crumbs. Quickly stir in the slightly beaten egg yolks; add salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg, if desired. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites until well incorporated. Turn into prepared casserole. Toss remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs with the melted butter and fresh chopped parsley, if using. Sprinkle over the onion mixture. Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Serves 6.

Grilled Whole Onion

1 large whole sweet onion for each person
Large bowl of cold water
Hot pepper sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

Put the unpeeled onions into the bowl of water and place a plate on top so they will stay submerged. Soak for 30 minutes. This will help prevent burning on the grill. Drain well and place the onions on a hot grill. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the onions, or until tender enough to pierce with a fork. Turn and rotate onions several times while cooking. The onion will slip out of the outer charred skin easily. Serve with butter, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper.

Grilled Sweet Onions

4  sweet onions
4  tbsp. butter
4  slices bacon, cut in half crosswise
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown sugar

Peel onions, removing a thin slice from the top and bottom of each. Make 4 cuts down through onion without cutting through (about 3/4 of the way). You'll have 8 wedges with each bottom still intact. Carefully cut out centers of onion to about 1 inch. Place 1 tablespoon of butter in the center of each onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cross 2 half strips of bacon over each onion and top with a sprinkling of brown sugar. Wrap each onion in foil and grill, covered, over low coals or off to the side (indirect) over medium or hot coals. Very large onions will take about an hour, small to medium about 30 minutes.  Serves 4.

Onion Roll Up

Whipped cream cheese
8 slices deli ham
16 thin green onions

Spread cream cheese over deli ham.  Cut the deli ham in half.  Place one cleaned and cut green onion with white part on each ham slice and have remaining green portion outside of the ham.  Roll up tightly.   This is a variation of the sweet pickle appetizer I make.  I like to serve both at family get togethers.  They are always gone before the meal begins.  

My Story

As a child I hated onions and anything that had them in it.  I have learned to appreciate the flavor more as I have aged but I still hate raw onion.  I usually grate the onion on the smallest grate on a grater when a recipe calls for raw onion like potato salad or I use onion powder in my cooking.  With this in mind most of my family already knows the story of me, my brother Dion, and the onions, but I’ll put it in writing.  We used to get together every Christmas at a lodge and have a two day food feast staying over night and eating 3 huge meals as a family.  Dion usually took the biggest meal which was the Sunday noon meal and would fix his potatoes and onions and his pulled pork and onions.  I volunteered to assist him with the meal one year thinking that he took on more than anyone else financially.  He asked me to bring onions and I said I would do the potatoes that year.  I brought two onions because I don’t use a lot of onion in my cooking.  He wanted a huge bag of onions and was very upset with me.  He went to the store and bought a bag. That is the difference in men vs. women in cooking.  Sorry Dion. Lesson you can’t please everyone.  I don’t love onions but I like the flavor of them. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Jello Shots

Isn't this a great idea?  You cut an orange, lemon or lime in half and clean it out and fill them with jello.  You can turn them into Jello shots for the adults. I'll be trying it the kids version and use the Jigglers recipe.
 J E L L O!


Onions are cool-season vegetables that can be grown successfully any where. Onions may be grown from sets, transplants or seeds.  In buying sets, you need to get varieties that are appropriate to the northern climate.   I simply buy mine from my local grocery store in early spring.  High temperatures and low humidity are advantageous during bulbing and curing. Onions have shallow roots and compete poorly with weeds and grasses. Timely shallow hoeing and cultivation are important, especially when the onions are small.

Onions may be eaten raw, broiled, boiled, baked, creamed, steamed, fried, French fried and pickled. They are used in soups and stews and combination with vegetables and meats.


Onions rank as the sixth largest vegetable crop in the world and was worshipped by Egyptians of antiquity because of its unique, spherical shape and concentric rings. Egyptian artists regarded onion as one of the most important foods and attributed it powers of eternity. On Egyptian relieves and wall paintings, onions are depicted in gold, and artists awarded it an exalted status.  Researchers traced the origins of onions to Asia and domesticated uses to 3500 B C. Undoubtedly wild onions grew much earlier and were used as flavoring by imaginative cooks.

All members of the onion family offer some protection against heart disease. Research suggests that oils in onions (as well as other members of the onion family) help to lower LDL in the blood stream while increasing HDL levels. Mature, dry onions are also a good source of fiber. Only scallions and green onions contain vitamin A.

Nutrition FactsNutrition Facts
(1/2 cup fresh green onions, chopped)
Calories 13
Dietary Fiber 1.2 grams
Protein 0.9 grams
Carbohydrates 2.8 mg
Vitamin A 2,500 IU
Vitamin C 22.5 mg
Iron 0.9 mg
(1/2 cup chopped, mature onions)
Dietary Fiber2 grams
Protein1 gram
Carbohydrates 6.6 grams
Vitamin C6 mg
Vitamin B60.2 mg

Onions From Sets

Growing green onions from sets is probably the simplest method for the home gardener. The plants are quickly established and become vigorous and strong. Onion sets may be used to produce both green onions and dry onion bulbs, though production of really premium dry onions requires methods described in the following section.

Onions can be planted as soon as the garden can be tilled in the spring, usually late March or early April in prime regions for producing onions. Good fertility, adequate soil moisture, and cool temperatures aid development.

To produce green onions, plant the larger sets 1  inches deep and close enough to touch one another (green onions are harvested before crowding becomes a problem). To produce dry onions, plant the smaller sets 1 inch deep, with 2 to 4 inches between sets. Allow 12 to 18 inches between rows. If sets are 2 inches apart, harvest every other plant as green onions so that bulb development of the remaining sets is not impeded by neighboring plants.


Keep onions free from weeds by shallow cultivation and hoeing. To develop long, white stems for green onions, slightly hill the row by pulling the loose soil toward the onions with a hoe when the tops are 4 inches tall. Do not hill onions that are to be used as dry onions. Hilling may cause the necks of the stored bulb to rot.


Pull green onions anytime after the tops are 6 inches tall. Green onions become stronger in flavor with age and increasing size. They may be used for cooking when they are too strong to eat raw. Though leaves are traditionally discarded, all parts above the roots are edible.

Remove any plants that have formed flower stalks and use immediately. They do not produce good bulbs for dry storage. Harvest in late July or early August, when most of the tops have fallen over. Allow the plants to mature and the tops to fall over naturally. Breaking over the tops early interrupts growth, causing smaller bulbs that do not keep as well in storage.

Pull the mature onions in the morning and allow the bulbs to air dry in the garden until late afternoon. On especially hot, bright, sunny days, the bulb may sunburn. On days when this is likely, remove onions to a shaded location and allow them to dry thoroughly. Then, before evening dew falls, place them under dry shelter on elevated slats or screens or hang them in small bunches. Tops may be braided or tied with string before hanging. Full air circulation for 2 to 3 weeks is necessary for complete drying and curing. Keep the dry wrapper scales as intact as possible on the bulbs, as they enhance the keeping ability.

After the bulbs dry, cut the tops 1 to 2 inches long (at or above the narrow spot where the stem bent over), and place the bulb in dry storage with good air circulation. Do not try to store bulbs that are bruised, cut or diseased, or those with green tops or thick necks. Store under cool, dry conditions. Dry onions may keep until late winter, but check them regularly and use or discard those that begin to soften or rot.

They say onions are the single most important ingredient a cook can have on hand.  Because the onion family is so diverse (chives, scallions, leeks, shallots, garlic, red onions, yellow onions, and white onions), this discussion will be limited to scallions, green garden onions and mature garden onions.

Scallions and Green Onions

Scallions can be harvested any time they look tall enough to use. Gently pull or dig well below the slender white
portion when the leaves are 8 to 10 inches high. True scallions have no bulb. Select healthy bright green tops that look crisp.

Green onions or spring onions are a step above scallions although the terms are often used interchangeably. They have a 1-2 inch bulb with green tops. The smaller bulbs are sweet while the larger ones are more pungent. Left in the ground longer, the bulb will develop and become larger.  Scallions and green onions are best harvested as you use them. For longer storage, rinse soil from bulbs and dry, peeling away the first layer if necessary, trim roots, and store in the refrigerator for up to a week in perforated plastic bags.

Mature Onions

Mature garden onions are ready for harvesting when the green top withers, falls over and starts to turn brown. This usually happens in mid to late summer. Be sure to harvest before the fall rains, mature onions will rot quickly in cool, wet soil.

Lay mature onions in a single layer on newspaper in a warm, well ventilated place to cure for a few days. Leave undisturbed until the outer skin becomes papery and crispy dry. Select unbruised onions, rub off the stringy roots, and braid the tops. Hang in bunches or place in mesh bags and hang away from moisture.  I have used old nylons and tied a knot between each onion and hung on my landing to the basement.

Freezing Onions

You can freeze onions.  Peel and dice or slice.  Blanching is not required. Onions are frozen raw.  Pack: no headspace necessary.  Pack in freezer bags.

Preparation and Preservation

Why do onions make you cry? When you cut into an onion, the cell walls are damaged releasing a sulfur compound which floats into the air. This compound turns to sulfuric acid when it comes in contact with water which is why it stings your eyes. Chilling inactivates the sulfur so it does not float into the air. Thus, no tears.  They say you can also burn a candle next to you. 

To get the onion smell off your hands,  rub your hands with lemon juice or vinegar. To freshen onion breath, chew a little parsley.

There is no successful way to preserve scallions and green onions for more than a few days. However, mature onions can be dried and hung in mesh bags or braided together and stored in a cool (50 to 60 degrees) for several months.  I have used an old washed nylon panty hose and hung dried onions in them.  Make sure the onions do not touch.  Make a knot between each onion and cut off as you use them. 


Onion and Celery Seed Relish

1 cup white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp. confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
2 tbsp. celery seeds
2 cups thinly sliced small onions, no green tops
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a salad bowl, stir together the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the celery seed, onions, and celery and mix well until combined. Cover and chill several hours or overnight. Serve very cold. Serve on sandwiches, as a side for any meal, or mix with your favorite lettuce salad. Makes 3 cups.

Serving Suggestions for Fresh Greens/Scallions

Take one cup chopped or sliced green onions and scallions and sauté-braise them in one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Cook slowly until softened and slightly golden. As the onions cook the flavor mellows, yet it intensifies.

Grilled green onions -- Wash and trim 6 to 8 green onions. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over onions. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Seal foil around onions. Place on the grill, on the side away from direct heat or over low coals. Grill for 30 minutes. Serve with other grilled foods.

Chop fresh scallions and use to top beans, fresh lettuce salads, or use to perk up and add crunch to any cooked vegetable.

Mushrooms and Onions

Starts with about ten to twelve medium sized mushroom caps. Shiitake mushroom stems are a bit tough so just use the caps. One of the things I've learned in using mushrooms is that they will stay fresh and firmer longer if you'll store them in the refrigerator in a paper sack.

Melt about two tablespoons of butter in a large sauce pan. Add a couple tablespoons of chopped onions.
Add a clove or two of crushed garlic. Stir over a medium heat until the onions are transparent.
Add the mushrooms.  Rinse them and add them whole to the sauté.  Add a teaspoon of soy sauce.
Cover for about two minutes until they are wilted.  These will cook in no time so be careful not to over cook them. Shiitakes prepared this way can be the perfect complement to any meal.  Make it a medley of mushrooms, not just Shitakes.   

Fresh Guacamole

2 small, ripe avocados (preferably Haas)
1 tbsp minced red onion
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press
1/2 small jalapeno chili, minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)*
2 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 tbsp.  juice from 1 lime

Halve 1 avocado, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Using fork, mash lightly with onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until just combined.

Halve and pit remaining avocado. Using a dinner knife, carefully make 1/2-inch cross-hatch incisions in flesh, cutting down to but not through skin. Using a soupspoon, gently scoop flesh from skin; transfer to bowl with mashed avocado mixture. Sprinkle lime juice over and mix lightly with fork until combined but still chunky. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and serve. (Can be covered with plastic wrap, pressed directly onto surface of mixture, and refrigerated up to 1 day. Return guacamole to room temperature, removing plastic wrap just before serving.)  Makes about 1 1/2 cups

*If you like very hot guacamole do not take the seeds out.  If you want a mild guacamole, deseed and take out the ribs of the jalapeno.

French Onion Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 large sweet onions, peeled, sliced and separated into rings
2 (10.5 ounce) cans condensed beef broth or 6 instant bouillon cubes and 3 cups of hot water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup seasoned croutons
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or shredded Swiss cheese (I prefer fresh mozzarella)

Melt butter in olive oil in large saucepan on medium low heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown and caramelized, stirring frequently.  This will take around 20 minutes.

Add broth, 2 cups water, and Worcestershire Sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes.  I love the new flavor packets now in grocery stores rather than bouillon cubes.  I use both the canned broth and add two flavor packets for twice the flavor.

Preheat broiler. Ladle soup evenly into 4 large ovenproof bowls. Top with croutons and cheese. Broil 2 to 3 min. or until cheese is melted.  Yield: 4 servings

Persian Spinach Dip with Caramelized Sweet Onion

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed (or 2 (12-ounce) boxes frozen chopped spinach)
2  diced sweet onions
2 tablespoons butter
1 pint plain yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted in a 300º oven
In a large pan, cook the spinach in the water that clings to the leaves until it wilts. Drain, rinse under cold water and gently squeeze out the excess liquid. Chop finely and reserve.
In a medium pan, cook the onions in the butter over medium heat until well caramelized and golden brown. Cool and then mix with the spinach, yogurt, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts and serve as an appetizer or as a dip for pita bread and crudités (colored pepper wedges, Belgian endive, celery lengths, cucumber boats, snow peas, sweet onions cut into single layer wedges, scooped out plum tomato wedges, and any colorful vegetable that is more or less boat shaped to hold a chunky dip).  Serves 6

Oven-Fried Onion Rings From America’s Test Kitchen

I saw this on America’s Test Kitchen program on PBS.  They claim they are suppose to be best fried onion rings.  Try it to see if you don't agree.
Dredge the onion slices in a thick batter of buttermilk blended with egg, flour, and seasonings or your choice. The thick coating seals the onion tight so that it steams and becomes tender.

After trying a wide range of options Test Kitchen settled on a blend of crushed saltines and potato chips for the crust. The combination yields a texture and flavor most resembling that of deep-fried onion rings.

Bake the battered and crumb-coated rings on liberally oiled, preheated baking sheets. Be very careful when positioning the rings on the very hot sheets.  Bake until crisp and golden.

Wrapped with Ham or Bacon

This is a variation of the ham wrapped pickle.  Spread cream cheese on ham and wrap it around the end of a scallion.  Makes a wonderful appetizer.  You can grill the scallion first if you wish.  You can always wrap anything in bacon.  Grill the scallion and wrap in bacon.

Blooming Onion and Dip

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. ketchup
2 tbsp. cream-style horseradish sauce
1/3 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1 pinch ground black pepper
1/3 tsp. cayenne pepper

Blooming Onion:

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/3 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1 large sweet onion
3/4 cup vegetable oil for frying

To make sauce: In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, 1/3 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon oregano, a dash ground black pepper and cayenne pepper; mix well. Keep sauce covered in refrigerator until needed.

To make the batter: In a medium bowl, beat egg and add milk. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, ground black pepper, oregano, thyme and cumin; mix.

To slice onion: slice 1 inch off of the top and bottom of the onion and remove the papery skin. Use a thin knife to cut a 1 inch diameter core out of the middle of the onion. Now use a very sharp, large knife to slice the onion several times down the center to create 'petals': First slice through the center of the onion to about three-fourths of the way down. Turn the onion 90 degrees and slice it again in an X across the first slice. Keep slicing the sections in half, very carefully until the onion has been cut 16 times. Do not cut down to the bottom of the onion. (The last 8 slices will be difficult, be careful).

Spread the 'petals' of the onion apart. To help keep them separate you could plunge the onion into boiling water for 1 minute and then into cold water.

Dip the onion into the milk mixture and then coat it liberally with the flour mixture. Again separate the petals and sprinkle the dry coating between them. Once you're sure the onion is well-coated, dip it back into the wet mixture and into the dry coating again. This double-dipping ensures you have a well-coated onion because some of the coating will wash off when you fry the onion.

Heat oil in a deep fryer or deep pot to 350 degrees F.  Make sure you use enough oil to completely cover the onion when it fries.  Fry the onion right side up in the oil for 10 minutes or until it turns brown. When the onion has browned, remove it from the oil and let it drain on a rack or paper towels. Open the onion wider from the center so that you can put a small dish of the dipping sauce in the center.

Bacon Onion Bread

10 strips bacon
2 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
4 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 package onion soup mix
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Fry bacon until crisp - drain on paper towel and crumble. Reserve 2 tbs of fat. Mix water, yeast, and sugar in a 4 cup glass measuring cup let stand until foamy. Whisk in bacon fat and eggs. Stir in flour, onion soup mix, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.  Add yeast mixture and beat with electric mixer five minutes or until mixture is smooth and glossy, stir in crumbled bacon. Cover bowl and let stand 45 minutes in a warm place until batter has doubled. Beat batter briefly with a wooden spoon and divide into 3 lightly greased 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 X 2 1/2 loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 35 - 40 minutes or until 1 1/2 inch from top of pans. Bake 30 - 35 minutes in a 375 degree oven until just golden brown. Turn out on wire rack and cool completely. Store in air tight container.

Stores - Refrigerator 5 days - Freezer 3 Months.

VARIATIONS: -Use 2 tbsp. Olive Oil in place of bacon -substitute a vegetable soup mix for an onion mix -substitute dill for pepper.
Onion Dip

3 large white onions, julienned
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 pounds sour cream
5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese or cheese of your choice
1/2 cup chopped chives
1 lemon, juiced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a thick bottomed pan over medium-low heat caramelize the onions with the olive oil, stirring often (sauté for a long period of time to release the natural sugars). This will take about 15 to 20 minutes so be patient. Use small amount of water to help release the sugars that will stick to the bottom of the pan. Add all other ingredients and bring up to a warm temperature*. Remove from the stove and puree with a hand blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper.
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

My FB Story

I found this article posted on FB.  It was very interesting and I shared it on my FB page.  I thought I just had to share it on my blog also.  I have no idea how much is true but I'm cutting and pasting it just as I  got it on FB.  It would be worth researching when I have time.  Take it with a grain of salt.  I’ll be trying the next time I have a virus though and will be more careful with raw onion in the future.

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu... Many of the farmers and their families had contracted it and many died.

The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different, the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn't believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser. She said that several years ago, many of her employees were coming down with the flu, and so were
many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must
work. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.

The author noted:  "Now there is a P. S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:

Thanks for the reminder. I don't know about the farmer's story...but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia, and, needless to say, I was very ill... I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar, and place the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs...sure enough it happened just like that...the onion was a mess and I began to feel better".

Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

This is the other note.   Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don't know what to blame. Maybe it's the onions that are to blame. Onions absorb bacteria is the reason they are so good at preventing us from getting colds and flu and is the very reason we shouldn't eat an onion
that has been sitting for a time after it has been cut open.

LEFT OVER ONIONS ARE POISONOUS - I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of mayonnaise. Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist. Ed, who was our tour guide, is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed's answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially-made mayo is completely safe.  "It doesn't even have to be refrigerated. There is no harm in refrigerating it, but it's not really necessary."  He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the summer picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table, and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.

Ed says that, when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the 'victim' last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it's not the mayonnaise (as long as it's not homemade mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It's probably the onions, and if not the onions, it's the potatoes.   He explained onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion. He says it's not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.   It's already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!).   Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you'll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put in your sandwich, you're asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.

Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.  Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to use it to cook the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

Article was a real eye opener.  I'm not a lover of raw onion so I stay away from them.  I cook with them and use onion powder often.  I'll be careful not to save unused onion in the future. 

Come cry with me tomorrow, I'll have more onion recipes.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eco-Friendly Dyes for Easter Eggs

You can make your own eco-friendly dyes out of everyday cooking ingredients. For instance, if you want a pink or red dye you can use pomegranate juice; red onion skins; beets; cranberries or cranberry juice and raspberries.  Yellow - turmeric.  If you are going for an orange color you can use yellow onion skins, paprika or chili powder.  For green try using spinach or kale.  If blue is your color try blueberry juice or purple grape juice.  Purple use a small quantity of purple grape juice, plus two teaspoons of lemon juice and a small quantity of your red you made.  Mix your 3 basic colors for more colors.

Easter Egg Dye

1 Tablespoon of a Spice or your fruit juice or veggies you have picked for their color (the more product, the deeper the color)
4 Cups Water
2 Tablespoons White Vinegar (helps the dye adhere to the eggs)

Combine all these ingredients in a pot, and bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 15 to 30 minutes (the longer it simmers, the darker the resulting color).

Now you can remove the dye from the heat and let cool and start your coloring.  The colors are even brighter and prettier than your store bought dyes. 

You might want to use gloves and make sure you cover clothes and counters.  These are permanent dyes.

Easter Ideas

I thought that I would share some Easter and Spring ideas with Spring here and Easter just around the corner in addition to posting from my  book.  Love ideas that I can do with my grandson who will be with me this weekend and next so posting a few kid friendly items.

Decorate eggs and let the kids get out the markers and go wild.  I am very blessed in that I have some very artistic grandsons.

Here is something to do with those dandelion seeds that are a comin'.  A small bottle, a label and free wishes to give away.  Going to the Super Dollar store to pick up cheap bottles.  We'll print of labels on the computer and tie them with ribbon.

Make deviled eggs that are cut differently.  What a simple cute idea.

Food Network had some beautiful cupcakes that I'm going to make.  Love this idea.

Have a great weekend.  Be happy and God bless you and yours.

Kind Hearts are the Gardens

How does your garden grow?


Kale is my favorite vegetable.  It is very high in nutrition, easy to grow, I use it in some of my favorite soups, and it has some history with me. When I speak of it, often people don't know what I'm talking about.  Kale is a type of cabbage, green in color, in which the central leaves do not form a head.  I hope if you have not tried it, you will give it a try.

As my garden gets smaller and smaller each year because it is harder for me to maintain, I will never stop planting this veggie.  It is said to be one of the healthiest vegetables.  In the last two years I have grown it in two large tubs.  

Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost.
Tender kale greens can provide an intense addition to salads, particularly when combined with other such strongly-flavored ingredients as dry-roasted peanuts, roasted almonds or pepper flakes.
In the Netherlands it is very frequently used in the winter dish  and seen as one of the country's traditional dishes, called Boerenkool.
In Ireland  kale is mixed with mashed potatoes to make the traditional dish colcannon.  Although colcannon is rarely eaten in modern Ireland, it is still popular on Halloween when it is served with sausages. 
A traditional Portuguese soup,  caldo verde, combines pureed potatoes , diced kale, olive oil, broth, and, generally, sliced cooked spicy sausage. Under the name of couve, kale is also popular in the former Portuguese colony of Brazil, in caldo verde, or as a vegetable dish, often cooked with carne seca (shredded dried beef).
Kale is eaten throughout southeastern Africa, typically boiled with coconut milk and ground peanut and served with rice or boiled cornmeal.
My Story
In my research I find curly kale is used in  Denmark, Holland, and Sweden, to make (grøn-)langkål, an obligatory dish on the julbord in Denmark, and is commonly served together with the Christmas ham  (Sweden, Holland). The kale is used to make a stew of minced boiled kale, stock, cream, pepper and salt that is simmered together slowly for a few hours.  This is how my Danish Grandmother (Grandma Gombert) fixed it and my mother fixes it to this day. 

A whole culture around kale has developed in north-western Germany around the towns of Bremen and Oldenburg as well as in the land of Schleswig-Holstein where my grandfather and his family came from.  Social clubs of any kind will have a "Grünkohlfahrt" ("kale tour") sometime in January, visiting a country inn to consume large quantities of kale, sausage and schnapps. Most communities in the area have a yearly kale festival which includes naming a "kale king".

I grow kale in my garden each year and freeze it so I can use it in the winter for creamed potatoes and ham.  I also use it in my winter soups.  There is a standing joke about me not liking any cooked green vegetable, but kale is one of the cooked green vegetables that I love.  Being 1/4 Dane and 1/4 German, guess it is in my blood. My mother is 1/2 Dane and 1/2 German and she introduced me to the vegetable and loves it as much as I do.


Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. Curly leaved varieties of cabbage already existed along with flat leafed varieties in Greece in the fourth century BC. The leaf colors range from light green through  dark green and violet-green to violet-brown. Russian kale was introduced into Canada and then into the U.S by Russian traders in the 19th century.
 Nutritional Value

Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties and is anti-inflammatory. Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamins K and C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in  calcium.  Because of its high vitamin K content, patients taking anti-coagulants are encouraged to avoid this food since it increases the vitamin K concentration in the blood, which is what the drugs are often attempting to lower. This raises the effective dose of the drug. Kale contains sulforaphane a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties, particularly when chopped.
Kale is a perennial here in Iowa and will come back if picked correctly.  It needs full sun.  You can harvest in about 2 months.
You can harvest very young leaves to use fresh in salads or allow plants to mature and use as a cooked green. Harvest older leaves by removing the larger, outer leaves and allowing the center of the plant to continue producing. Kale will be good throughout the summer months, but especially good after a frost.
Kale plants like to grow in a rich soil, high in organic matter and slightly acidic (5.5 - 6.5 pH). You’re growing it for the foliage, so a high nitrogen content is good.
Kale can be direct seeded in the garden or started indoors and set out as transplants. Start plants indoors about 6 weeks before your last expected frost date. Kale seeds germinate quickly in warm soil and should be up within 5 - 8 days.  I usually just plant mine from seed in the garden in mid May; however, I did find bedding plants at Wal-Mart for the first time last year.
You can direct seed in cold climates, in the spring, as soon as the soil can be worked and the soil temperature is at least 45 degrees F. Kale matures quickly, in about 2 months or less, so if you prefer you can start your plants later or even plant multiple crops in succession. In warm climates, kale can be direct seeded in late summer / early fall, as well as in the spring. A winter crop of kale in warmer climates can be much sweeter than a summer crop.
Cover seeds with about ½ inch of soil and don’t allow the seeds to dry out before germinating. Plants will grow more slowly outdoors than indoors under lights.
Keep your kale plants watered well. Along with cool temperatures, moist soil helps keep kale leaves sweet and crisp, rather than tough and bitter. Side dressing throughout the growing season with compost or feeding with fish emulsion will keep your kale growing. Mulch is important to keep the ground cool.
Like greens if you pick late in season, kale will have a large stalk that you should remove.  In cleaning, put in your sink filled with water and let all of the dirt settle to the bottom.  Rinse several times taking the kale that is floating on the top of the water out and draining the water.  Once washed, pull the kale from the stalk and only use the leafy part of kale.  Once clean you can put in baggies and keep for over a week or you can freeze it immediately for winter use. 
Steamed Kale and Sliced Almonds
1 bunch washed kale--about 1/2 pound
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 clove garlic to press
2 tbsp. olive oil

Toast almonds in a frying pan with no oil, watch carefully so they don't burn.  Get your steamer going full force while you roll several kale leaves up at a time and slice them into about 1/4 inch widths.  Drop them into the steamer, cover and time them exactly three minutes on high heat (this is on a gas burner; electric may not require this high of heat setting). Remove after three minutes and toss with the olive oil,  pressed garlic and toasted almonds.  Serve at once.
White Beans with Caramelized Onions and Kale
1 lb. bunch of kale (4 cups)
1 large sliced onion
1 tbs. minced garlic
1 can drained white beans
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup vegetable broth

Caramelize 1 large onion in olive oil.  Add garlic after onion is caramelized and sauté 1 minute. Turn heat up to medium and add remaining ingredients.   Simmer until kale is tender.   Salt and pepper to taste.  This can be served over rice. 
Kale with Sesame Seeds
1 lb. of kale
1 finely chopped garlic clove
2 tsp. of sesame oil
1/3 cup of water
1 tbsp. of  soy sauce
1 tbsp. of sesame seeds

Wash kale, shake water off but don't bother to dry it.  Remove stems & discard or save for vegetable broth.
Rip or shred leaves. Add sesame oil & your garlic clove to frying pan stirring 1 minute.  Do not let it brown.  Add the  water and soy sauce.  Add the kale.  When kale is tender add sesame seeds.

Kale & Brown Rice with a Kick

1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped
1 cup brown rice
2 1/4 cups water
1 tbsp. garlic/ginger/chili or 2 crushed garlic cloves, some dried chilies and a tsp crushed ginger
1 - 2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp. hot oil or olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped

Combine the brown rice, water, and garlic/ginger/chili (found in the produce section in little jars like the minced garlic.) If you can't find that, just add a bit of crushed garlic, a few dried chili pepper flakes, and some crushed ginger. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 35-40 minutes.

Steam the kale first in a tiny bit of water, when the water evaporates, add the oil, soy sauce, and chopped garlic. Stir fry until the kale and garlic are tender.

Serve either with kale on top of a rice bed, or mix it together! I made this up today, and it makes an awesome, filling (and nutritional) lunch.

Kale and Potato Soup with Turkey Sausage

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 pound turkey or chicken sausage
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
1 quart water
2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes
1 pound kale, stems removed, leaves shredded
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning, until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pot and when it is cool enough to handle, cut it into slices. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pan.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Add the water, broth, and salt and bring the soup to a boil. Add the sausage, potatoes, and red-pepper flakes and bring back to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, for 2 minutes. Add the kale and bring the soup back to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the potatoes and kale are tender, about 6 minutes longer. Add the black pepper.
Yield: 4 servings

Kale on Toasted Bread

A pound kale
Tuscan-style bread
Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Strip away the tough ribs leaves, and wash kale. Boil it in lightly salted water just until done (since the kale will wilt, start with as little water as you can.  The kale is done as soon as the leaves are tender.  Drain kale, reserving the liquid, and coarsely chop it.  Cut several slices of pane casalingo (Tuscan-style bread), toast them, cut them in half, rub them with a cut clove of garlic, dip them in the pot liquid, and arrange them on the plates. Put a 1/3-inch layer of kale on top of each slice, drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil, season with pepper to taste, and serve.

Baked Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.  With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.  Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.  Makes 6 servings.

Creamed Ham, Potatoes and Kale (Staci calls this Sunday Soup)

This is how I fix the German creamed kale that my mother and grandmother fixed.  Boil new or small red potatoes in chicken broth until tender along cubed ham, sautéed onion and kale.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I prefer using onion powder but you can use onions however you want to flavor.  Once potatoes are tender add cream or half and half or even 2% milk if you want to keep the fat down.   Once the mixture has come to a boil add corn starch slurry to thicken.   I freeze Kale and always have it on hand for soups.  You can modify this into a bacon, potato and kale soup also.

Greek Kale Salad
1 3/4 pounds kale, large stems discarded
2 whole-wheat pita breads
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut lengthwise into slivers
2 ounces feta cheese, preferably French, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the kale leaves until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Transfer the kale to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze dry. Fluff up the leaves, coarsely chop them and transfer to a large bowl.  Brush both sides of the pita breads with olive oil and bake for about 8 minutes, or until crisp. Cut the pita into wedges.  In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup of olive oil with the lemon juice and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Add the grape tomatoes, olives and crumbled feta to the kale and toss. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Serve the kale salad with the toasted pita wedges.  Yield: 4 servings

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana  (My favorite when I go to Olive Garden)
1 1/2  cups  sausage links, spicy; about 12 links
3/4  cup  diced onions
6  slices  bacon
1 1/4  tsp.  minced garlic
2  tbsp.  chicken stock
1  quart  water
2  medium  potatoes, cut in half and then into 1/4 slices
2  cups  kale, cut in half and then sliced
1/3  cup  heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place sausage links onto a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until done; cut into half lengthwise, then cut at an angle into 1/2 inch slices. Place onions and bacon in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until onions are almost clear. Add garlic and cook an additional 1 minute. Add chicken base, water and potatoes, simmer 15 minutes. Add sausage, kale and cream. Simmer 4 minutes and serve.  Makes 5 servings.  I got this recipe from a client who once managed the Dubuque Olive Garden.

My Italian Potato Soup (My own recipe)

Boil sliced red potatoes in chicken broth just covering the potatoes.  Fry Italian sausage in frying pan and drain well (you can determine how hot or sweet you want the sausage)  Add garlic and onion to taste to sausage and cook until softened (I use garlic powder and onion powder).  When potatoes are tender add 2 cups of half and half to the potatoes and broth along with well drained sausage mixture.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cut up small fresh kale and add just before serving so it can wilt or use your frozen kale if it is winter.  You can also grate Parmesan Cheese over it.  You may substitute the kale with spinach if you like.

This is my favorite soup.  I use a mild Italian sausage.  Very similar to the Olive Garden’s.

Sweet and Savory Kale

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small diced onion
2 minced cloves garlic
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
4 tsp. white sugar
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 cups stemmed, torn and rinsed kale
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic; cook and stir until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard, sugar, vinegar, and chicken stock, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the kale, cover, and cook 5 minutes until wilted.  Stir in the dried cranberries, and continue boiling, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced by about half, and the cranberries have softened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with sliced almonds before serving.  Serves 6.

Vegetable Soup with Kale

1 cup black beans
1 red onion
3 cups chopped kale
1 cup winter squash cubes
1 carton (large) fat free chicken broth
1 can mixed vegetables
2 cups tap water
Salt and pepper to taste

Dice onion and sauté  with cooking spray to soften.  Add chicken stock and water and then add vegetables.  Cook on medium heat for about 1 hour until vegetables are soft.  Number of Servings: 12

Kale Krisps
2 bunches kale, washed and dried
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Remove the stems and ribs from the kale, and shred the kale very thinly. Spread the shredded kale onto the baking sheets, and sprinkle evenly with Cheddar cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Bake the kale for 10 minutes, watching carefully to prevent burning, until the kale is crisp and the cheese is browned.  You can try different cheeses like parmesan.  Do not salt if you use parmesan.

My Lentils and Kale Soup

5 links of sweet or mild Italian sausage (take sausage out of casing)
1 package of dried lentils
1 sweet onion
1 tbsp. of garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. of salt
1/2  tsp. pepper
1 package of frozen kale (I freeze my own) or fresh kale
2 large container of beef broth

Soak the lentils in water over night to soften and drain well.  Sauté  the onion and garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add sausage and brown.  Drain off any grease.  Add the beef broth, salt, and pepper.  I have fallen in love with the new flavor packets that are now on the market.  Add the drained lentils and kale.  Simmer for an hour or until the lentils are soft.  Make sure there is plenty of broth or liquid on the lentil, sausage and kale mixture.  You can add water if the soup needs it.  Check to see if it needs more salt and pepper for seasoning.  When you serve you may top with  parmesan cheese.

Variation:  If you like spicy food you may use hot Italian sausage. 

 Hope you will plant some kale this year in your garden and start using kale for more. It also makes a great decoration on a plate

Tomorrow we are growing onions for the table.  

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.