Kale and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

Kale and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese.

Kale and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese.

If you’re tired of the same old, same old for Meatless Mondays, this sandwich with its unusual combination of vegetables and cheese might just perk up your menu.  I served it with a hearty tomato soup, (read about it here.) last week when I wanted to have a meatless meal.

I had seen this sandwich recipe and earmarked it as one I wanted to try because of the inclusion of kale, with caramelized onions and two kinds of cheese.  I’ve only recently grown to like kale and I wasn’t sure I would like it in a sandwich, but surprisingly it did not announce itself too strongly.  The most prominent flavors were the onions and cheese, but the kale is quietly in the background, and you know you’re eating something healthy.  We thoroughly enjoyed this sandwich and it was a good compliment to the tomato soup.

IMG_5153

The two cheeses I used were Parmesan and smoked provolone.  The recipe calls for raclette, but it may not be widely available so a good substitute is Gruyère, or any cheese with good melting properties, like provolone.

KALE AND CARAMELIZED ONION GRILLED CHEESE

Yield:   Serves 4  ( 4 sandwiches)IMG_5141

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized kale leaves, stems removed
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium red onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 8 slices multi-grain bread
  • cooking spray
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided ( about 1/4 cup)
  • 3.5 oz. shredded raclette cheese ( about 7/8 cup)  or other shredded or sliced cheese

1.  Bring a small pot of water to a boil;  add kale.  Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until kale is bright green.  Drain;  Pat leaves dry with paper towel.

Dry kale after blanching.

Dry kale after blanching.

2.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion, pepper, and salt.  Cool 10 minutes or until onion is tender and browned, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat; stir in vinegar, tossing to coat.

Brown onions in a little oil.

Brown onions in a little oil.

3.  Heat a non-stick skillet or panini pan over medium heat.  Lightly coat 1 side of each bread slice with cooking spray.  Working with 2 slices at a time, arrange bread in pan, sprayed side down.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Parmesan on each slice.

First layer of cheese is grated Parmesan.

First layer of cheese is grated Parmesan.

Top with 1 kale leaf, one-fourth of onion mixture,

Layer on the kale and onions.

Layer on the kale and onions.

and about 1/4 cup shredded cheese, (or 1-2 slices of cheese).

Top with second type of cheese.

Top with second type of cheese.

Top with another slice of bread, sprayed side up.

4.  Toast sandwiches until browned and cheeses are melted, turning over once.  Repeat with remaining bread slices and remaining filling ingredients.

Toast till browned and cheeses are melted.

Toast till browned and cheeses are melted.

Melty, gooey cheese, savory onions, and kale on multi-grain bread.  YUM!

Melty, gooey cheese, savory onions, and kale on multi-grain bread. YUM!

SOURCE:  COOKING LIGHT  Magazine

Chicken with Mushrooms and Onions in Balsamic Cream Sauce

Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a balsamic cream sauce.

Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a balsamic cream sauce.

Challenge day # 3 without a refrigerator.  This is the requirement right now:  cook with what you have on hand, ONLY.  Going to the grocery store to fill in the blanks is not an option.   Today these were the food items that had priority for usage:  a package of 6 chicken tenders that had defrosted,  a half-package of mushrooms,  some  light cream, and part of a can of chicken broth.  To those ingredients I added 1 large onion, some balsamic vinegar and some butter to come up with what turned out to be a very good chicken dish.

The chicken tenders worked well because they cooked quickly, and remained tender in the cream sauce.  You could also use boneless chicken breasts, cut vertically in half, so they are not too thick.  The amount of sauce is plentiful, so it’s a good idea to plan rice or noodles to spoon it over.  I used a package of herbed rice pilaf with our meal.  To go along with this I used up the leftover  herbed butternut squash from day #1.

This is how I created this entree:     CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC CREAM SAUCE, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS

YIELD:   Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chicken tenders, at least 6 pieces, or 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut vertically in half.
  • Chicken Tenders

    Chicken Tenders

  • 1 large onion, cut vertically in half, then sliced into “half-moons”.
  • A large onion, cut into "half-moons".

    A large onion, cut into “half-moons”.

  • 1 pkg. mushrooms, (or less), sliced or halved

    Mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth.

    Mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth.

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup cream, light cream, or half and half
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Over medium heat, in a large skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon butter.

Hot skillet with butter melted.

Hot skillet with butter melted.

Add the sliced onions, reduce heat to low and sauté until nicely caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Remove to a bowl, and set aside.

Nicely browned, caramelized onions.

Nicely browned, caramelized onions.

2.  Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in the same skillet, add chicken pieces and cook to brown each side.  Chicken will not be fully cooked at this point.  Remove to a plate.

Chicken browned, but not thoroughly cooked.

Chicken browned, but not thoroughly cooked.

3.  Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits into the broth.  Add the cream and balsamic vinegar and stir.  Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper.  Decrease heat to low and simmer a few minutes.

Saute mushrooms, add broth and cream.

Saute mushrooms, add broth and cream.

4.  Bring heat back up to medium.  Add the chicken and onions to the pan mixture and cook the chicken all the way through.

5.  To serve, transfer chicken pieces to a serving dish, pour mushroom-onion-cream-sauce over the top and garnish with parsley if you wish.  (I did not have any parsley on hand.)

A satisfying dish of chicken,  mushrooms and onions in a rich cream sauce.

A satisfying dish of chicken, mushrooms and onions in a rich cream sauce.

Our assessment of this dish?  My husband said ” UHMMM! this is great”.  But he loves mushrooms, so anything with mushrooms in it is AOK with him.  I thought it was a very good combination of flavors.  Most importantly for me is that the chicken remained moist and tender.  I always worry about white meat chicken becoming dried out, tough and chewy, but this didn’t.  The cream in the sauce smoothed out the tang of the vinegar, with the vinegar providing a dark color to the sauce. The mushrooms and onions rounded out the dish and were a good compliment over all.  I’m glad I made rice to go with it to put the sauce on.  I will definitely be making this dish again.

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original

Challenge Day #1: Pan-Seared Steak with Balsamic Onion Sauce

Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Balsamic Onion Sauce.

Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Balsamic Onion Sauce.

Day # 1 without a refrigerator.  I produced a pretty terrific dinner today, and I also made chicken broth for a future soup.  My dinner consisted of Strip Steaks with Balsamic-Glazed onions,  Baked Butternut Squash with Garlic and Herbs, and Hasselback Potatoes.   For today’s recipe I will be telling you how to pan-sear a steak, and a quick way to make caramelized onions.

Whenever we go to our favorite steak-house, I like to order a strip steak with a pile of caramelized onions.  I almost like the onions better than the steak.  They are so rich and glossy, they turn a simple seared steak into something really special.  I had purchased a package of two strip steaks with the thought of trying to recreate this simple dish at home.  Faced with the fact they had started to defrost, I realized the time to give this meal a try was now.

The part of this dish that takes the most time is caramelizing the onions–probably about 45 minutes.  When cooking the steaks only takes about eight to ten minutes, I wanted to speed up cooking the onions as much as I could.  So here’s where I hit upon a short-cut.  I cooked the onions in a little oil for about 8-10 minutes till they started to brown,

Onions browning in a little oil.

Onions browning in a little oil.

and then added balsamic vinegar to the pan.

A nice variety of balsamic, with a hint of pomegranate added.

A nice variety of balsamic, with a hint of pomegranate added.

Two minutes later the onions were soft and fully browned.  How could that be, you ask?  Well, the sugar in the vinegar speeds up the browning process, and the steam generated by the simmering vinegar softens the onions in a flash.  Finally, the vinegar turns the onions brown.  My balsamic onion sauce may not taste exactly like caramelized onions, but it came pretty darn close.

PAN SEARED STEAK WITH BALSAMIC ONIONS

SERVES:   2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tbspns vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 boneless 8 – 10 ounce strip steaks
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tspn. minced fresh (or 1/2 tspn. dried) rosemary

1.  Heat 2 Tbspns oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 8 – 10 minutes.   Transfer onions to a bowl.

2.  Add remaining oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.    For a nicely browned and flavorful crust, pat the steaks dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook steaks, without moving, until browned on first side, 4 – 5 minutes.  Flip steaks and continue to cook until browned on second side, 3 – 4 minutes more.  Transfer steaks to a platter and cover with foil.

3.  Discard fat in skillet, return onions to pan, and set over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add 1/4 cup vinegar, rosemary, and cook, scraping up browned bits, until thick and syrupy, about 2 minutes.  Pour any accumulated steak juices into pan and mix in.  Season with salt and pepper.

4.  Slice steaks crosswise into 1/4 -inch slices and transfer to serving platter.

Slice steaks crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

Slice steaks crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

Spoon onions and sauce over steak.

Steak with Onions and Sauce.

Steak with Onions and Sauce.

SOURCE:   COOK’S COUNTRY