Spinach Brownies and French Onion Soup – A Guest Post

While I’m off enjoying the sunny beaches of the Bahamas (don’t worry, I’m totally thinking about you at home wrapped tight in a cozy blanky with wool socks on your toes…suckers), we have a guest post from Chocolate & Wine. Marie is a self-proclaimed home cook whose passion for cooking began when she was 19 years old. I hope you enjoy the two recipes she’s sharing today…these Spinach Brownies sound so fun and the onion soup is going to be just perfect for my return to cold weather!

I grew up in Massachusetts, just north of Boston.  If you haven’t been watching the national weather forecasts this year, my state is the tiny one in the Northeast corner of the country that is consistently covered with a white overlay; the one where snow emergencies and parking bans are taking over my life.  You think I would smarten up and move to Hawaii, but I’m 22 and still living here.  Sad.

From the middle of November to the beginning of May, miserable is a good way to describe the conditions here.  Frigid, icy, one big snowy mess; we don’t even have sidewalks right now.  My snowboarder boyfriend loves it; I am less than thrilled.

I’m pretty sure that it’s obvious by now that I’m not about to go build a snowman anytime soon but it is perfect weather for one of my favorite winter things: soup.  And for some reason, last night I had a craving for one particular flavor.  But more about that later…

I found that I also had a desire for mozzarella cheese.  I’m not really sure why.  I just love the stuff.  And I figured if I’m going to make soup from scratch, I might as well go all out and make an appetizer too.  I’ve made it many times and my family continues to eat the whole batch in one sitting: Spinach Brownies.  Sounds weird but I promise, they are fabulous.

I first stumbled upon the recipe on another blog I love, My Baking Addiction.  I tweaked the original recipe a bit but they still make a fair showing at get-togethers and dinner parties.

Spinach Brownies and French Onion Soup – A Guest Post

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 ounce) frozen package spinach, thawed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled (I use Brummel & Brown margarine spread)
  • 1/2 onion; chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (3/4 of a cup if you like lots of cheese!)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish. Place spinach in a saucepan and fill with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Drain thoroughly and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté onions and garlic over medium heat until softened. Set aside to let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and butter. Mix in spinach, onion and mozzarella cheese.
  4. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Bake 30-35 minutes until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick comes out of the middle clean. Cool before serving.
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Adapted from My Baking Addiction

Once I was happily munching away on stolen pieces of mozzarella, I turned my attention back to the main attraction: soup.  French Onion to be exact.  Something I had never made before.  Sometimes I like to get it at restaurants but I’m usually too wary of smelling like an onion for the rest of the day.  But last night, with a wind chill of 9 degrees outside my house and no place to go but the couch to watch Glee and V, I ventured into the mysterious world of French Onion soup.

My ingredients were very simple: onions, garlic, beef broth, red wine, a few spices, and Gruyere cheese.  I must admit, the onion slicing was probably the worst part.  Everything else was an absolute breeze.  A little time consuming, maybe, but totally worth it.  I included the baguette as part of the traditional recipe and served it to my dad that way.

I, however, ate mine sans-toast.  Either way, it was amazing, if I do say so myself.


Spinach Brownies and French Onion Soup – A Guest Post

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (I use Brummel & Brown margarine spread)
  • 4 white onions (softball size), sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 bay leaf (Dry or fresh)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine (I used Frontera Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts fat-free, lower sodium beef broth
  • 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
  • Fresh Gruyere cheese, grated (enough to heap onto 2-4 crocks)

Instructions

  1. Melt butter over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  2. Add red wine, bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated and onions are dry, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Lower heat to medium-low. Dust onions with flour and stir. Cook 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to lose the raw flour taste.
  4. Add the beef broth and bring soup back to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes more for the flavors to marry. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. When ready to serve, ladle soup (get lots of onions in each crock) into heat-proof crocks or bowls. Place crocks on a baking sheet. Top with a toasted baguette slice and a mound of grated cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve while soup is still piping hot.
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Adaptad from Tyler Florence

 

Sadly, but not surprisingly, my delicious meal had no leftovers.

I’ll take that as a compliment.