The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It


Onion Tarts and Sam’s Club Samples at Book Club

For this month’s bookclub, I was so totally swamped with family and friends celebrations, cooking, caroling, decorating, helping abandoned animals from those sad commercials, and doing my Christmas service work, that I totally forgot to read the book!

Of course, that is not true. I was just lazy all the way around, because there is no lazy like Christmas break lazy and Christmas break lazy don’t stop.

Everyone who read the book which was basically everyobe except me, though, liked it fine. The book was The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker. I loved her book Once Upon a Day, but I just didn’t get motivated enough to read this one. Actually, I wasn’t motivated to much at all like get dressed or brush my teeth on most days.

I did cook one thing and prepare something else for bookclub, though. Go me!

So, we had been to Sam’s and one of the many samples that I was abusing to fill Miss Helper up for free was multi-grain crackers with prosciutto on top. They weren’t too bad; she said that were good, so I had one myself. I bought the ingredients and remade them at bookclub. Simple.

I also made an onion tart, or at least that is what I am calling it.
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I found the recipe in a magazine, but then I reworked it. I liked it a lot, but I do love onions. And cheese. And tarts.
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All the way around, it was good. We also ate some chicken salad stuffed in tiny little tomatoes, sausage balls, salmon on crackers with a dill sauce, and a reuben dip that was divine. It was a good bookclub, even if I have no clue what the book was about.
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Onion Tart:
1/2 stick of butter
One three pound bag of sweet onions, peeled and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
One frozen piecrust, thawed
1/2 cup of Parmesan-I used the kind on the green container, if you know what I mean
1 egg, beaten

In a large skillet, melt the butter and then add the onions. Let them get a little tender, and then add the garlic. Cook the onions and garlic over low heat for a long time, about 45 minutes or until the onions turn golden brown. Meanwhile, line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the piecrust with a rolling pin and shape into a rectangle the size of the cookie sheet. Transfer the piecrust to the cookie sheet. When the onions and garlic are done, add half of the Parmesan and mix. Spread the onion mixture on the piecrust leaving a rim of piecrust around the edges. Fold those edges over and brush the edges with the egg.

Bake for 15 minutes at 400. Then, sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top and bake for 15 minutes more. Broil for 3 or 4 minutes if necessary to get the edges brown.

This does not have to be hot to be good, but it was really good while it was hot.



The Good Dream

In September, our book club met at my house to eat and talk about Donna VanLeire’s book The Good Dream.

When book club is at my house, I am a total spaz.  A bad book club meeting is a downer, and I could not live with myself if a bad meeting happened at my house.  I hadn’t had book club at my house since August of 2011.  I stressed to the max.

When my friend Amanda had book club at her house this summer, I kinda made fun of her for painting her front steps before our meeting.  What did I do before it was at my house? We sodded our yard, and I build two brand-new flowerbeds.   Not that we have bad get-togethers often, but the guilt of a terrible meeting with ugly flowerbeds and bad grass would be overwhelming.  Book club is too much fun to blow it by not being a good host.

Of course, though, I had nothing to worry about.  My book club friends are amazing people.  I believe we could have a good time and many laughs at a funeral.

Another thing, the book was great.  I loved it.  The Good Dream was one of those books that I thought about even when I wasn’t reading it.  I pondered the characters and what their fate would be.   The ending fit the book very well.

Also, the food was divine until we got to dessert. We never eat bad food anyway.  I fixed Trisha Yearwood’s Charleston Cheese Dip, and it was easy and so, so good.  I could have eaten it out of the dish with a fork.  It was cheesy, yummy, warm and good. I also made Paula Deen’s spicy tomato soup, but that was no big deal.  I make it a lot.  My friends brought beer cheese, pickled asparagus, and some neat dips.  Everything they make is out of this world good.

I also made cookies since they were well received last year.  I think I may have shared here about my cookies before.  My cookie recipe, friends, is the recipe that I shall take with me to the grave.  I kid you not, although I have been thinking about sharing with someone so my recipe could be shared with Miss Helper if something were to happen to me.  Morbid? Maybe.  But listen, these are awesome cookies.   I made chocolate vanilla pecan peanut butter cookies and chocolate oatmeal cranberry cookies.

For dessert, I made a caramel cake.  Twice.  In the book, the main character makes a caramel cake to share with a visitor.  She makes a lot of food in the book, and those dishes are all homemade, memorable foods for her.  I liked that.  When she made the cake, it explained in a little extra detail how she made it.  So, based on inspiration from the book, I decided to make a caramel cake from scratch using my “friend” Trisha Yearwood’s caramel cake recipe.

The day before book club, I made the twin round sheet cakes and the icing to cover them.   The cakes were almost crunchy.  They should have spent at least ten minutes less time in the oven.  When I realized this, I thought maybe the icing could save the day.

When I read the icing recipe, it called for sugar to be melted in a cast iron skillet.    Welp, I read and reread that part, and I had never heard of such.  The recipe included a stick of butter, and I just figured that it was a typo.  I decided that the butter should be melted with the sugar and that my “friend” Trisha had just made a mistake.

Have you seen Trisha Yearwood cook? The woman is the real deal.  She doesn’t make mistakes.  She is the Chuck Norris of the kitchen.

Nope, the mistake was all me.  My cake icing was as thick and crusty as gloop.  But, again, I thought it would all work out.  I iced that cake and took a good, hard look at it. It looked nothing like the picture in the cookbook.  Not even close.  Then, I tasted it.

It was awful.

Rather than go with it, I chunked it in the garbage.  I had a book club meeting that I could not ruin with a crunchy, gloopy cake.

Before book club and after school on the day of book club-no pressure or anything-I rushed to the store and bought a Duncan Hines caramel cake mix with a tub of  Duncan Hines caramel icing.  A cake has never been put together so fast before.

It was record-setting, I tell you.  Last minute cake making should be an olympic sport.

The second cake was fine, even if I was slightly embarrassed to admit it was a box mix.  My friends didn’t say a word.

It was a great meeting with great food, a great book, and great folks.

I was saved-until next time at least.




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