French Onion Soup

This time of year is perfect for a nice hot soup!  I was too cozy to go to the store and I wanted to use what I had on hand, so I decided on French Onion soup.  I served it in small bowls but next time I want to try serving it in a hollowed out bread bowl.

This recipe has such great flavor and was pretty easy to make.  I substituted provolone cheese for Gruyere, but either works.  It also reheats well.


French Onion Soup
photos by halftomatohalfpotato
recipe adapted by food network 
serves 6

-1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 4 onions, sliced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
-salt & pepper, to taste
-1 cup red wine
-3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
-2 quarts beef broth
-1 baguette, sliced
-1/2 pound grated Gruyere (or provolone)


-Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat
-Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, and salt & pepper; cook until the onions are very soft and
 caramelized, about 35 minutes
-Add the wine, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the
 onions are "dry", about 10-15 minutes
-Discard the bay leaves
-Dust the onions with flour and stir
-Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the
 raw flour taste
-Add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes
-Season with salt & pepper, to taste
-When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler
-Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer
-Sprinkle the slices with Gruyere and broil until golden brown and bubbly
-Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top

onions when first started

onions shortly after adding wine

onions ready to be added to broth


3 Cheese Macaroni & Cheese

The holidays are a time for family, loved ones...aaaand usually indulging a little more than usual!  Since we got snowed in today, I decided to make a classic comfort food for everyone to enjoy.  

I used 3 different cheeses this time, but you can use just one cheese or any other combination of cheeses that you prefer.  Also, I omitted the mustard (because I forgot!) and it was still fine.

If you want to make this a healthier version, I would suggest using whole wheat pasta, skim milk (or greek yogurt), and low-fat cheese.


3 Cheese Macaroni & Cheese
recipe and photos by halftomatohalfpotato

-1 8 oz box of elbow macaroni (or small shells)
-4 Tablespoons of butter
-4 Tablespoons of flour
-2 cups of milk 
-1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
-1/2 cup of American cheese
-1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese
-2 teaspoons dijon mustard (optional)
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-pepper, to taste
-1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs or Panko 

-Preheat oven to 400°F
-Cook macaroni al dente, according to package directions
-Drain and set aside
-Heat a large saucepan to medium-low heat
-Add and melt butter
-In a small bowl, mix flour, salt & pepper
-Slowly add flour mixture to melted butter in saucepan and stir until blended (use a whisk or fork)
-Slowly pour in milk, stirring constantly
-Continue stirring and bring to a boil
-Stir in mustard
-Slowly stir in cheese
-Stir until all cheese is melted and has a smooth consistency, remove from heat
-Mix pasta into cheese mixture
-Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
-Pour the pasta/cheese mixture into the baking dish
-Sprinkle breadcrumbs all over the top 
-Bake for about 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned 


Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge/Italian Stewed Chicken

Hello! I have to say I was super excited (and surprised) when I was offered the chance to create a recipe for Crock-Pot! The challenge was to create a recipe or modernize an old one, for the launch of Crock-Pot's new website. For this I'll receive a personalized Crock-Pot "Create a Crock", which lets you upload family photos and other images to your own personalized slow cooker.

I'm going to use photos of my grandmother's handwritten recipes to personalize my new Crock-Pot.  As I searched through her old wooden recipe box, I realized there was no better way to honor her, than to modernize one of her recipes for this challenge!

I originally made Italian Chicken & Potatoes for this challenge.  The recipe is great but I didn't like how it turned out that day. Ok, I totally overcooked it!  I will share that recipe with you in the near future because it is great (when you prepare it correctly!)

Anyway, I decided on an Italian Stewed Chicken.  This recipe takes a little bit of prep work but once you throw it in, you will have an amazing meal waiting for you!  You can always do the prep work the evening prior, refrigerate overnight, then transfer to the Crock-Pot the next day.

It doesn't take very long but I imagine if you let it cook longer, the chicken will fall apart and this will be more like a hearty stew/soup.  I served this over pasta but it also tastes great with crusty bread, or by itself.


Italian Stewed Chicken
recipe and photos by halftomatohalfpotato
serves 6

-3.5 lbs chicken breasts, cut into cubes
-1 cup flour
-Salt & Pepper
-3 Tablespoons olive oil
-2 stalks celery, finely chopped
-1 onion, finely chopped
-2 bay leaves
-1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
-12 cloves garlic, smashed
-1/3 cup chicken stock
-1/2 cup white wine
-1.5 teaspoon red wine vinegar
-fresh parsley for garnish, finely chopped

-Combine flour, salt & pepper in a plastic bag
-Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture, one at a time
-Make sure chicken is coated evenly, shake off excess flour, set aside
-In a skillet, heat half of the olive oil over medium-high heat
-Place chicken in skillet in small batches
-Sear until golden brown on both sides
-Remove chicken from skillet and set aside
-In same skillet, add the rest of olive oil, celery and onion
-Saute until softened (about 3-5 minutes)
-Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes
-Add wine and chicken stock and simmer for about 8-10 minutes
-Transfer to Crock-Pot, stir in tomatoes and bay leaves
-Place chicken on top and cover
-Cook on low for about 3 hours, or until chicken is cooked through
-Remove bay leaves and transfer chicken to serving dish
-Stir vinegar into sauce
-Pour sauce over chicken and serve


Cinnamon & Sugar Crockpot Almonds

I first came across this recipe on Pinterest and it reminds me of the nuts (not the crazy kind) you get on the street in NYC (which I love), but even better!

I have a holiday work party on Saturday and thought these would be a great gift for my co-workers!  The recipe was super easy and super tasty and made my house smell amazing!


Cinnamon & Sugar Crockpot Almonds
recipe adopted by detrimentalbeauty.com
photos by halftomatohalfpotato

-1 1/2 cup sugar
-1 1/2 cup brown sugar
-3 Tablespoons cinnamon
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1 egg white
-2 teaspoon vanilla
-3 cups raw almonds
-1/4 cup water
immediately after adding to crockpot

after adding water

-In a medium sized bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside
-In another medium sized bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla until it’s a little frothy. Add almonds
-Make sure the almonds are thoroughly coated in the egg white mixture
-Add cinnamon mixture to the almonds and toss until coated
-Spray crockpot with non-stick cooking spray, thoroughly coating
-Add the mixture of almonds/sugars to the crock pot and turn it to low
-Cook for about 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes
-Add the 1/4 cup of water and stir well (This ensures a crunchy coating)
-Cook another 45 minutes or so, making sure to stir every 15 minutes to prevent burning
-Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread the almonds flat to cool
-The almonds will be sticky at this point, so make sure you separate them a little and have no large
-Let cool (although they are quite tasty warm!) and store in an air tight container

finished product :)



Baking Blunders

Hello...Happy Thursday! 

I'm not much of a baker, although I have been experimenting more and more.  Unlike cooking, baking is all about precision and most of us have experienced some type of mishap with our sweet treats.

I came across an article today that I wanted to share with you on the top "baking blunders".  Click the link below to help you avoid these common mistakes. 

Top Baking Blunders


Homemade Pasta

Ok, ok!  I'm well aware that I am extremely behind on my posts!  I started working full time and although I have still been making tons of great dishes, I haven't really had the time to blog about them.  Please bear with me!  Here is a post from June (I know!)...

Yesterday was Father's day and I wanted to make a special dinner for my dad and grandfather.  My dad isn't very picky and will pretty much eat anything you put in front of him!  My 92 year old grandfather immigrated here from Italy, so I thought it would be nice to treat him to the real deal...homemade pasta!

Homemade pasta is so delicious!  If you've never had it, you need to try it immediately!  I can always tell the difference when dining out.  Making it IS a process, but only takes a few minutes to boil and the result is well worth the work.

With the help of my mother, I used my grandmother's recipe and kneaded everything by hand like she used to.  I also used an old school pasta machine (also my grandmothers), which makes the process easier, but it's not necessary.


-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (you will also need more to dust pasta with, to prevent sticking together, 
  probably about 1 cup)
-1 teaspoon salt
-4 eggs
- 4 Tablespoons of water (approximate)
-1 Tablespoon of high quality olive oil

Blend flour & salt and create a mound on your work surface (you will need a decent sized work
Form a well in the mound and add the eggs, oil and water
Start to mix all the ingredients together and knead it until you have a smooth ball (dough should be
not be dry, sticky or tacky; if it is, add more water or flour until you have the right consistency)

Cover the dough with a small bowl and let rise for about 1/2 hour or so
Cut the dough ball into sections and generously flour your work surface
Using a rolling pin, start to roll out the dough, flipping and flouring throughout to prevent sticking
Roll until thin enough to put through the pasta machine and cut it into sections (this makes it easier to put through the pasta machine)
**If you don't have a pasta machine, roll until its as thin as possible and then cut the pasta to desired shape (i.e, fettuccine, linguine, etc)
Start feeding the pasta "sheet" through the pasta machine, decreasing the slot size each time, to thin
 it out as much as possible (the pasta will double in size once cooked)
Set the machine to desired type of noodle you would prefer
Feed the thin pasta sheet through the machine and repeat until all sheets are cut
Dust all pasta with flour and let it sit for about a half hour

Add a healthy pinch of salt to a big pot of water and bring to a boil
Add pasta and cook for about three minutes
Drain and serve your favorite way! (I used homemade meatsauce and meatballs)


Delicious Turkey Burgers

Summer is the time of year when I like to grill everything!  Grilled foods are super healthy and easy to prepare.  Grilling gives off such a great, distinct flavor that you can't achieve with conventional cooking methods...especially for meats & vegetables!!

I use ground turkey BREAST for these burgers, which is even more lean than regular ground turkey.  When making any type of burger, once you have formed the patty, create a slight indentation in the middle with your thumb.  This will ensure that your burger will stay flat and not bulge while cooking.

I eat these burgers without a bun all the time.  They are great on a salad or by themselves but what's better than a fresh grilled burger on a bun in the summer?!


Delicious Turkey Burgers
recipe and photo by halftomatohalfpotato.com
yields 4 burgers

-1 pound ground turkey breast
-1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 egg (optional)
-1/2 cup chopped onion
-garlic salt & pepper to taste
-4 buns (i used kaiser rolls this time)
-toppings of your choice (cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, etc)

-Heat grill to medium-high heat
-Gently mix all ingredients (except for buns and toppings) in a medium sized bowl until blended
  (don't overwork the meat or you will end up with a dry/tough burger)
-Divide blended meat into 4 equal sections and form 4 patties
-Using your thumb, make a small indentation in the center of each patty to prevent bulging
-Place patties on grill and cook about 6-8 minutes per side
-Place cooked patty on bun and top with your favorite toppings


Healthy Baked Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Chipotle Lime Sauce

These jumbo lump crab cakes are so good! Even though they are MUCH lighter than the typical mayonnaise filled, fried crab cakes you get at restaurants, they are still as filling and packed with flavor!

They can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or a meal.  I doubled the recipe below because I had a pound of crab meat to use. The doubled recipe produced 6 crab cakes.  I also sprayed the tops of my crab cakes with olive oil spray to help them brown a little more.

These crab cakes are good enough on their own, however, you will die when you taste this zesty sauce!   It's a little spicy but not too much heat.  I could seriously eat this every day!

You're welcome!

Healthy Baked Crab Cakes w/ Red Pepper Chipotle Lime Sauce
recipe adopted by skinnytaste.com
photos by halftomatohalfpotato
yields 3 crab cakes

For the Crab Cakes
-9 ounces lump crab meat, picked free of shells
-1/2 cup (about 13) reduced fat Ritz crackers, crushed
-1 whole egg plus 1 egg white, beaten
-2 finely chopped scallions
-2 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper
-1 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
-2 tbsp fresh cilantro (or parsley)
-1/2 lime, juiced
-salt and pepper to taste
-cooking spray

-In a large bowl, combine crushed crackers, eggs, scallions, red pepper, mayo, cilantro, lime juice, salt 
  & pepper
-Mix well, then fold in crab meat, careful not to over mix so the crab remains in large chunks
-Gently shape into patties using a 1/2 cup measuring cup
-Chill in the refrigerator at least 1/2 hour before baking
-Preheat oven to 400°F & grease a baking sheet with cooking spray
-Bake about 10 minutes on each side, until nicely browned

For the Red Pepper Chipotle Lime Sauce

-1 tbsp roasted peppers (jarred)
-1/4 cup light mayonnaise
-1 tsp minced canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
-1 tsp fresh lime juice

-In a small blender, puree mayonnaise, lime juice, roasted pepper and chipotle chiles
-Drizzle red pepper chipotle lime sauce over crab cakes and serve


Healthy Spinach & Cheddar Egg Casserole

Good Morning!  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and if you are one of the people that is sick of making breakfast every day, this recipe is going to make your life easier!  Not to mention it's super healthy AND delicious!

Every year for Christmas, we make something called Tahoe Brunch Casserole.  It's so good but not very healthy, which is why we only eat it once a year!  I was browsing Pinterest the other day and found a recipe that reminded me of the Tahoe Brunch, but much more healthy.  The best part is that you can cut this up into squares and just heat up a square in the morning, eliminating time and effort before work!  (Don't microwave longer than 1-2 minutes or the eggs can get slightly rubbery.)

I tweaked the recipe to my liking and you can do the same if you prefer.  I used sharp cheddar but any cheese would do the trick.  I have made this with chopped tomatoes and I think mushrooms would be great in this as well.

Enjoy (not making breakfast every morning)!

Healthy Spinach & Cheddar Egg Casserole
recipe adopted by Kalyn's Kitchen
modified recipe and photos by halftomatohalfpotato.com

-1 10 oz. bag organic fresh spinach (4 cups packed)
-1 teaspoon olive oil
-1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (can use low-fat also)
-1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions (or regular onions, chopped)
-4 eggs, beaten
-4 egg whites, beaten
-1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
-salt & pepper to taste

-Preheat oven to 375ºF
-Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray
-Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add spinach all at once, and stir just until the spinach is wilted
-Transfer spinach to the casserole dish, spreading it around so all the bottom of the dish is covered
-Layer the cheese and sliced onions on top of the spinach
-Beat the eggs with Dijon mustard 
-Pour the egg mixture over the spinach/cheese combination, and then use a fork to gently "stir" so the
 eggs, spinach, and cheese are evenly combined.
-Season with salt & pepper
-Bake about 35 minutes or until the mixture is completely set and starting to lightly brown
-Let cool about 5 minutes before cutting. (The egg bake will settle down some as it cools.) 


Healthy Doggie Birthday Cake

The 27th was my dog Junior's 1st birthday!!  Although he is spoiled year round, I thought it would be fun to make him a homemade doggie birthday cake!  I searched online for a recipe with bananas (his favorite fruit) but most of them included butter. I decided to substitute applesauce for the butter and omitted the nuts.  For the icing, I just used non-fat greek yogurt and shredded carrots (for decoration).

Happy Birthday Junie!

Healthy Doggie Birthday Cake
recipe adopted by dogbirthdayshoppe.com
modified recipe & photos by halftomatohalfpotato.com

-2/3 cup ripe mashed banana
-1/2 cup applesauce 
-3 large eggs
-1/4 cup of water
-2 cups of unbleached flour
-2 teaspoons of baking powder
-1 teaspoon of baking soda
-2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
-6 oz greek yogurt (I used plain non-fat but vanilla would be good also)
-1 carrot, peeled and shredded

-In a mixing bowl, beat together mashed banana and applesauce until creamy
-Add the eggs and water.  Beat well
-Stir in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth
-Spray a cake pan with non-stick cooking spray
-Spoon batter evenly into pan 
-Bake at 350º F for about 35 minutes
-Place on wire rack until cool
-Frost with greek yogurt 
-Top with shredded carrots