A Squared

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Honey Mustard & Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

Yesterday I shared an easy yet flavorful homemade tomato soup recipe with you. Today, I have its soulmate recipe to share: a seemingly fancy, yet shockingly simple grilled cheese sandwich.

A grilled cheese sandwich is both one of my favorite comfort food recipe and also one of my go to's when I need to make dinner in a hurry. All you need is good bread, flavorful cheese, and butter and you've got a satisfying meal. Bonus points if you dress it up like I did this sandwich!

A good sharp cheddar makes a great base for this sweet and savory sandwich. A little homemade honey mustard adds some nice sweetness and great zip (from the Dijon) and it all comes together with sweet caramelized onions. This sandwich only requires a few ingredients and caramelizing the onions is really the only time consuming part of the process-- and it can be pretty hands off, so you can get the rest of the sandwich prepped while the onions cook.

With this recipe you can make a favorite comfort food recipe into something really special!


  • 3 Tbs. butter, divided
  • 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion
  • 1/4-3/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth, as needed
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 Tbs. honey
  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • 4 thick slices of cheddar cheese

Heat 1 Tbs. butter and the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once melted, swirl in the pan and add onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onions are very soft and slightly browned, at least 15-20 minutes. Pour in the wine or broth (as needed) to deglaze the pan throughout the cooking process to prevent onions from getting too browned. Remove onions from heat and set aside.

Spread remaining butter equally on the outside of each of the 4 slices of bread.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and honey until fully combined. Spread the honey mustard mixture evenly on the inside of each of the four slices of bread.

On one slice of bread (buttered side out), layer 1 slice of cheese and top with an even layer of caramelized onions. Top with the second slice of cheese and the second slice of bread with the buttered side facing out. Repeat with second sandwich.

Place both sandwiches carefully in the hot skillet and cover. Cook for about 4 minutes or until cheese begins to melt and the bottom side is golden brown. Gently flip the sandwich over (being careful not to lose the onions inside), cover again, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden.

Remove from skillet, allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, slice, and serve warm.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Roasted Tomato Soup

Soup season has officially arrived, so ladle yourself a bowl and enjoy this crisp fall weather!

I love making homemade soups in the cold weather months-- especially when I have a long lazy Sunday to let it simmer for hours. Life has been busy lately though and I haven't had tons of time at home to cook low and slow batches of soup. So, instead I've been looking for some faster alternatives that use clever shortcuts to achieve a similar rich slow cooked flavor in less time. In order to get there faster with this tomato soup, fresh tomatoes, onions, and garlic are roasted until lightly caramelized, bringing out some deep sweet flavors. The ingredients are simple, but flavorful-- and it all comes together in just under an hour.

I have tried many a homemade tomato soup recipe, but this was for sure one of the best-- it is even husband-approved! And the amount of flavor is deceiving: you'll definitely think this soup was slow simmered all day.

And because nothing goes better with a hot bowl of tomato soup than a gooey grilled cheese sandwich, stop back tomorrow for a tasty sandwich recipe to accompany this warming roasted tomato soup!


  • 2.5-3 lbs. Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced and divided 
  • Additional salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice all of the tomatoes in half and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Quarter the onion and add to the baking sheet, along with olive oil, Kosher salt, and pepper. Toss well to coat all the vegetables with evenly with oil. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes.

Carefully scoop the contents of the baking sheet into a large stock pot, including any liquids. Pour in the vegetable stock and add the bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in half the basil leaves and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Next, you'll want to puree the soup: You can do this directly in the pot with a handheld immersion blender or by carefully ladling the mixture into the base of a blender and pureeing until smooth (in batches, if needed).

If pureed in the blender, pour back into the pot and heat until warm. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with remaining basil.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Recipe Round Up: 10 Squash Recipes Perfect for Fall

Among the many things that I love about fall, the food has to be at the top of the list! Hearty fall produce makes for some of the most flavorful dishes of the year-- and squash is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with at this time of year. Whether it's pumpkin, acorn, spaghetti, or butternut (my favorite!), there are millions of different ways to cook with squash... and they're all delicious! It was tough to narrow down, but here are 10 of my favorite fall recipes featuring squash:

1. Butternut Squash with a Rosemary Pecan Parmesan Crust  - I can't even tell you how good this flavor combination is... and the presentation is so lovely, that this squash would be right at home on the Thanksgiving table!

2. Healthy Fall Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash - An easy, healthy, flavorful meatless pasta dinner featuring sweet roasted butternut squash. It doesn't get better than that!

3. Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash White Pizza - Pizza is one of my favorite foods all year round, but with butternut squash, sage, and bacon it becomes a totally fall appropriate dinner.

4. Cherry Pecan Pumpkin Bread - Pumpkin isn't just for pie, but also one of my favorite ingredients for fall baking. Try it with chewy dried cherries and toasted pecans in this breakfast bread!

5. Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing  - This salad is not only beautiful, but full of flavor. It's the perfect starter for a fall dinner, meatless lunch, or just add grilled chicken for a satisfying dinner salad.

6. Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins - Pumpkin and chocolate is a genius combination. Enjoy those flavors in these hearty muffins bulked up with oats!

7. Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash & Chipotle Soup - Add some heat to the sweetness of butternut squash in this creamy warming soup.

8. Ravioli with Cream Acorn Squash Sauce - Squash on squash in this recipe with a simple creamy acorn squash sauce ladled over sweet butternut squash ravioli. It just tastes like fall.

9. Tomato & Mozzarella Roasted Spaghetti Squash - This cheesy flavorful baked squash is the perfect way to put a healthy twist on pasta night. Add a few meatballs if you prefer a non-meatless meal.

10. Butternut Squash Ravioli with Pears & Walnuts - Pears and walnuts (and a little sage) are a wonderful way to dress up butternut squash ravioli. Adding fruit to your pasta may sound odd, but trust me-- this one is a can't miss!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chocoate Chip Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars

It's pumpkin season-- and pumpkin season makes me happy!

And I love doing a little baking during this season. So at the first sign of a chill in the air, I picked up a few cans of pumpkin puree and spent an afternoon in my kitchen baking and experimenting. And these chocolate chip pumpkin oatmeal bars are a must-bake for this season!

These bars are an easy and delicious fall dessert recipe and they're a hybrid of two of my favorite baking recipes: these pumpkin muffins and these blondies. They're not super sweet, but have a great pumpkin spice flavor, chewy texture, and a little decadence from the addition of dark chocolate chips. Chocolate and pumpkin is one of my favorite flavor combinations-- the deep spicy flavor and the richness of dark chocolate is a really genius combo.

Because these bars are so easy to make, they're perfect for fall entertaining, bake sales, or as a great treat to bring along to any party this season. They're a delicious crowd pleaser!


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1  cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour (or use cooking spray made for baking-- it has flour in it) a 9 in. x 13 in. baking dish.

Place butter in a large glass mixing bowl and microwave on medium low until completely melted. Add pumpkin puree, brown sugar, orange juice, and zest to the melted butter while still warm and stir well until smooth and fully combined. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

Once the brown sugar mixture has cooled, beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in gradually (I find that adding it in 3 or 4 parts works well), mixing until combined before adding more of the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter to the prepared baking dish and use a rubber spatula to spread it out evenly. Bake until the blondies are golden and just brown around the edges, about 25-30 minutes. You'll want to insert a toothpick to test the center.

Remove from the oven and let the bars cool slightly. Carefully invert onto a metal rack (they are so buttery that they should just fall out of the pan) and allow to cool completely. Slice into squares and serve.
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