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Monday, April 14, 2014

French Onion Soup Recipe!

Making French Onion soup is a chore but it is actually quite easier than I thought it would be. It just takes time to build the flavors. I never thought I would make French Onion soup from scratch but I did.

The recipe that I "followed" says you need 2.5 lbs. of onions but I used 4 onions because this soup was just for the two of us. You will also need 1 stick of butter, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 cup of Cognac, brandy or sherry, 1.5 cups of red wine, 4 cups of beef stock, 1/4 cup of flour, salt, pepper, crusty bread and cheese for the topping. The recipe also called for fresh thyme and rosemary. I did not have fresh so I used some Herbs de Provence. Worked like magic! 

Slice up the onions. I sliced them thinly so they would caramelize sooner. 

Melt the butter. 

Chop some garlic. 

Chop the herbs. I used dried. 

Add the onions to the pot and let them cook down. 

Let them caramelize and get brown. About 30 minutes. 

Once the onions are all cooked down and caramelized, add the booze. Add the wine and Cognac. 

On medium heat, let the wine reduce. 

Once the wine has reduced, add about 1/4 cup of flour to thicken the sauce. 

Add salt, pepper and more herbs if needed. 

Then add the beef broth and let it cook for about 30 minutes so the flavors get all mixed up and yummy!

Grate some Gruyere cheese. 

Cut the crusty bread.  

I had skinny bread so I have to cut several pieces.

Toast the bread and melt the cheese on top. Serve up the soup, place the cheese toast on top of the soup and voila, it's done! YUMMO I served my soup with my Croque Monsieur sandwich. OMG Delish! 

Bon Appetit! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

California, here I come! Right back where I started from! #disneysmmoms

Yes, I am headed back to my home state and hometown. I was one of the lucky bloggers who was invited to the Disney Social Media Moms conference this year. Yes, I know I am not a mom but, luckily, Disney does not discriminate against us childless peeps.

If you remember, I went to the first Disney Social Media Moms conference 5 years ago. I had given up hope that I would ever be invited back but I was. I am totally excited because you all know I am a huge Disney fan. I love all things Disney. It is exciting that this year the conference takes place at Disneyland.

I grew up in Los Angeles and Disney was a huge part of our childhood. We used to go all the time. When friends or relatives visited from Costa Rica, the must see place was Disneyland. Of course, that meant that my sister and I would get to go as well. Since we were tiny toddlers, we were Disney kids.

When I grew up the tradition continued. My friends and I would go to Disney after 6:00 pm because it was cheaper. So we would be hanging out and decide on a whim to head over to Disneyland and stay until the park closed. It was a lot of fun.

When I moved to Miami, I finally was able to travel to Disney World. We started going almost every year and it was fantastic because Disney World is huge. We loved it there. But once we moved to New Mexico, our Disney days were gone.

That is until I moved here to North Carolina and started blogging. I was one of the lucky one who attended the very first Disney Social Media Moms event. It was absolutely fantastic. I met so many people there. Had a magical adventure and wanted to go back. But alas, I was never invited again. That is until this year! WOO!!!!

I was, frankly, shocked. The magic email came at a great time. I had been in the hospital for a procedure. I came back home and curled up in bed in pain. Tom brought me my laptop and I was checking emails and there it was the magic invite! It made my healing all the faster!

For you non-bloggers, this invite is a big deal. Only about 200 bloggers and their families are invited for a magical few days of Disney fun! YAY!

We have been getting clues here and there about the speakers and events we will be enjoying. I am just glad to be able to return to California, my home state. Tom is joining me and we are meeting my sister and mom in Los Angeles so that is another plus. We will be visiting Palm Springs for a few days and seeing old friends. Well, my old friends. After a whirlwind few months, finding out we are moving, buying a house, selling a house etc., it will be nice to relax.

I know I will have lots to share when I come back. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook because I will be posting live pics while I am there! I cannot wait to see what the great folks at Disney have in store for us!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Croque Monsieur Recipe!

When we were in France, we had Croque Monsieur and French Onion soup at a little cafe.  It was delicious. Croque Monsieur is really just a really fancy grilled cheese sandwich with ham. If you did not want the ham, it is called a Croque Madame. Well, I loved it so much that I knew I would try and make it when I got home. I also made French Onion Soup for the first time as well. I will post that recipe another day. 

It was a little time consuming but it was not that difficult. I found a recipe on the Barefoot Contessa site that I liked. And you all know I love me some Ina Garten. I want to be just like her but I always fall a little short on the cooking and the money. Oh well. But here is the link to her recipe that I didn't totally follow but it was a great guideline.

You will need some bread. I had sourdough bread so I used that. You need some cheese. I used 5 cups of grated Gruyere cheese. And 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese. You need some ham. You will mustard. I used Dijon mustard. And you will need 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour and 2 cups of hot milk to make the bechamel sauce. 

Here is how I made the recipe.

I started out by putting the butter and flour in a pan and mixing them until the mixture turned creamy. 

I then added the hit milk and mixed until the mixture thickened. 

I added a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and salt and pepper. 

I added the cheese and mixed it with the sauce. Put the sauce aside and work on the sandwich. 

I then cut the crusts off the bread.

I put the bread onto a baking sheet and toasted it for about 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven.

After the bread was toasted, I added the mustard. 

I added the ham. 

I then added some extra cheese to the sandwiches. 

I put the tops back on. 

I added the sauce to the top and some extra cheese as well and broiled it until the cheese melted. I should have left it in a little longer to brown the top of the sandwich but I was hungry! 

That was it. Once the top was browned, the sandwich was done. It was amazingly delicious. I served it with some French Onion soup. (I will post that recipe next week) It was really tasty. This is perfect for a cold winter day. While it wasn't completely French, it was pretty darn close. 

Bon Appétit!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chicago's Bean and the John Hancock Observatory!

Two of my favorite places I visited in Chicago were Millennium Park and "The Bean" and the John Hancock Observatory. The Bean is actually called Cloud Gate but every calls it the bean because that is the way it looks. It is the coolest sculpture ever. I loved it.

The John Hancock Observatory was awesome because you are so high and can see everything. Part of the observatory was closed but the lakeside was open and it was cool just standing there looking out.