Relaxation in a bowl: French Onion Soup

When you are stressed and poor make this soup. Why? Because you will instantly feel warm and rich after just a couple bites and the ingredients needed to make it are soo cheap that you won’t compromise your budget and it makes loads!

So here was the big idea, I have some left over crusty wheat bread from another meal what can I do with that? Hmmmmmm, Oh yes, what about the delights of French onion soup?  I must admit to being fully smitten with the crock of onion soup served at a recently deceased Irish restaurant chain so this idea seemed like a good one. I made my own attempt with very little help (I did glance at this recipe). I decided to stay simple and use up a few ingredients I had been stock piling (What? When good quality broth in a box is on sale you get a case too, right?). So… survey says? This was a knock out! It was creamy because of the slowly stewed onions and it was rich because of the glug of marsala wine I had hanging out by the stove. All in all I was euphoric until I stepped outside and realized it wasn’t the cool 50 degrees outside I had conjured up in my imagination while slurping my soup.


French Onion Soup

3 Med/Lrg Onions sliced thinly

1 T. Butter

1 Garlic clove minced

½ t. Herbs de province

¼ C. Marsala wine or any wine

4 C. Beef stock (best quality you can get)

1 Beef bouillon cube

1 t. pepper (or more to taste) 

– Melt butter in a large soup pot or Dutch oven (you’ll need a lid) over med-high heat.

– Sauté onions in butter until almost translucent

-Add garlic and Herbs de province and stir

-When garlic is fragrant (ie you can smell it at your front door; or about a minute) add wine to pan to deglaze; simmer for aprox 2-3 minutes (until the alcohol smell starts to fade)

-Add stock, bouillon, and pepper and bring up to light boil.

-Reduce heat to low so that soup can simmer with lid cracked for at least 30-40 minutes (if you can give it an hour or two it will only be better).


Serving assembly:

2 Thick slices dry bread (there are prepackaged Holland biscuits or just cut a hunk off a loaf and let dry out in the oven on 250 for 15 or so minutes)

2 Slices swiss cheese

– Pre-heat Broiler to high heat

– Line a baking sheet with foil and mist with nonstick cooking spray

– Stack each slice of bread with a slice of swiss cheese

– Place pan under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly

– ladle about 2 cups of soup in a bowl and top with cheese topped bread, let it rest for at least a couple minutes before eating.

*I make big bowls of soup but you can do a smaller serving and use this soup like a starter or you can multiply the recipe and make enough for 4 (I would take all the measurements and multiply by 1.5 a total double recipe would probably be more like 6 servings)

**If you have those super cute little brown crocks for soup that you can put in the oven by all means assemble soup with bread and cheese and broil it in crock to get ensure those sticky melted cheese on the rim of the bowl battles J

Pan Seared tilapia

Some nights you just need something quic, some nights you need something healthy & low carb (haven’t you heard? Carbs are the devil lol), and some nights you need both. This is a meal for one of those nights.

It’s all of like 4 ingredients (sans seasonings and butter) for the main dish and if you’re me you just toss some frozen veg in a steamer bag and nuke them to just cooked perfection. After a couple sprays of your favorite healthy butter substitute and a small hunk of multi grain bread and vuala. The big take away for me was how delicious such simple (and cheap! Hello I’m on a grad school budget) ingredients could make something so fab. So give it a try with your fave ocean dweller and enjoy.


Pan-Seared Herbed Tilapia


1 Tilapia fillet

1 Garlic clove minced

1 T. chopped parsley

1 T. butter

1 half lemon juiced

1 t. lemon pepper

1 t. salt

 –         Heat pan to med-high heat

–         Sprinkle fillet with seasonings and coat with garlic and parsley

–         Allow butter to melt in pan then add seasoned fillet to hot pan.

–         Cook fish aprox. 3 minutes per side (or until opaque/flaky)

–         Just before removing fish from pan add lemon juice (you can also add an extra tab of butter now for extra tastiness) and serve.


He's concerned about his carb intake...

Croque Madame

my way (French cooks are rolling their eyes as we speak)

There is this super famous ultra luxe frenchie version of a ham and cheese sam’ich called a croque monsieur, maybe you’ve heard of it? Well I personally prefer the lady version, croquet madame. When I make it I don’t go all ga-ga for béchamel I just use a couple cabinet staples to make my quickie meal. The main reason I prefer the feminine counterpart is due to its versatility. The warm cheesy ham and egg goodness seems perfectly appropriate to eat any time of day.

This one is so easy that this is the only snap shot I got of the cooking process

If you prefer a more traditional recipe try this one, however if you go my way it will be quick and painless and still totally tasty. Biggest tip I can give: make sure the egg is just at over easy/medium. You want as much luscious yolk as possible! Second and third tip are just as simple  2) always serve with a simply dressed salad of spring mixed greens (the acid in the vinaigrette cuts into the richness of the cheese and yolk, you see I always include some of the greens in with a bite of sandwich) and 3) if you can slice your toast right off your favorite loaf of fresh bread. Do these things and I tell you what, you are in for a total treat. Bonus: telling your friends that you had  “croque madame” for lunch  while you read Italian vogue feels incredibly chic ;)


Croque Madame

2 Slices of bread

2 Slices of swiss cheese

2 Thick cut slices of ham

2 Eggs

1 T. Butter

– Heat oven to broil.

– Place bread on a sheet pan covered with foil under the broiler for just long enough to give it a light toast on the top.

– Remove pan from broil and flip bread.

– Top bread with ham then swiss cheese (this is where you would spread the Dijon mustard if that’s your thing. I hate mustard so I skip this tradition however I have tried a smear of Allouette which was pretty decent but not essential)

– Put a non-stick pan/skillet on the stove to heat for your eggs, go ahead and add your butter to the pan so that it can melt.

– Place the sandwiches back under the broiler.

– Gently crack two eggs into the warm buttered pan (or do them one at a time if you’re picky about presentation)

– By the time you flip the eggs the cheese should be bubbling golden brown so pull the sandwiches’ from the broiler.

– Assemble on the plate by place one over easy egg on top of each slice of bread.


Easy Frenchie salad of mixed greens with vinaigrette

1-2 C. Spring mixed greens or arugula

1 T. Fresh lemon juice  (good vinegar of your choice works too)

2 T. Olive oil (the best you can afford to keep on hand)

1 t. Dijon mustard

½ t. Herbs de Provence

½ t. Kosher Salt

¼ t. Pepper


– In the bottom of a large bowl mix lemon juice and mustard with herbs and seasonings (use a fork or a whisk).

– While whisking stream in olive oil until emulsified.

– Just before plating in the same bowl toss greens in vinaigrette.


* I always make the vinaigrette while the broiler is heating up. Then toss the salad after I flip the eggs.


He's wondering if he get's one too :)