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I witnessed a murder on Monday.

It was done in cold blood. And I’m serious when I say it was right in front of my eyes.

This story is not for the faint of heart, but I feel it my duty to share with you the nitty gritty details.

I had Lola on a leash, and we were taking a leisurely stroll when we were both distracted by something on the ground.

Her hound nose was instantly drawn to it, and I feared it was a dead animal. Dogs LOVE dead animals for some reason. Specifically, my dogs love to roll in them. I have heard that this is because of their carnivore instincts- rolling in a dead animal masks their own dog smell making it easier for dogs to hunt their prey.

If you have ever been around a dog that has rolled in death, you know the scent… it is a scent to be avoided.

So, as Lola pulls herself toward the mysterious scent on the ground, I am trying desperately to pull her away from it.

Then, it happened.

In a split second, Lola dove nose first into what turned out not to be a dead animal, but rather, a mouse nest.

And she pulled out a live mouse.

She chomped on it in front of my eyes and the mouse let out a sound like a dog squeaky toy.

And I let out a noise like I was being mauled by a bear.

And boy, did that get Lola excited.

I freaked out. And that is the understatement of the century. I screamed for Brad even though he was not anywhere within earshot. Lola was so proud of her new squeaky toy that she was running after me trying desperately to show me her treasure up close. I, in turn, was trying to run away from her. However, I couldn’t risk dropping the leash and having her run off into the street.

So, somehow I get all tangled up in the leash and end up on my rear end on the very wet pavement scooting backwards still trying to avoid the now dead mouse being dropped in my lap.

In the midst of my flailing around on the ground, I skinned my elbow.

Eventually, I found my way to my feet.

Lola dropped the mouse. Apparently, she was over it.

And I spent a good five minutes looking around to insure that no one saw the hot mess called Leah. Seriously, my reaction was totally ridiculous. You would have thought that Lola had a live rattlesnake in her mouth.

Wowzer.

So, after she dropped the mouse, we simply walked on.

But, the experience was highly traumatic. That poor little mouse. I keep thinking it was probably just having a lovely nap in it’s nest fully protected from the rain, when it’s murderer came upon it and snuffed out it’s life. I just keep hoping the poor mouse wasn’t a mama mouse that was in the middle of feeding her babies. Those poor mouse babies will need serious therapy some day if so.

I don’t especially care for mice. However, that little guy seemed to be minding his (or her) own business in a grassy area in his own little nest. And now he is chewed up and spit up on the sidewalk. And somehow I have a skinned elbow because of it.

So, today…

In honor of all of the fallen mice everywhere…

Mice that went looking for warmth in a person’s home and met the dreaded mouse trap, mice that tried to cross a street and met with a cars tires, or mice that were minding their own business and met a nosy hound that turned them into a squeaky plaything…

I shall share with you a dish that is my favorite… and I’m certain it would be a mouse’s favorite.

I give you cheese.

Specifically, brie.

This recipe will make you the star of any party from here on out. It is the easiest thing in the world to make, and it goes like hotcakes (actually, do hotcakes really go all that fast?) at any gathering.

And honestly, it isn’t really even a recipe. It is 3 ingredients piled together. So, this one is an easy one my friends.

First, get out a really tacky disposable tin baking dish like the one pictured below.

Don’t judge me.

I was going for easy clean up here.

Seriously, buy a wheel of brie.

Choose the size you need based on the number of people that will be partaking. I bought only a small wheel because I was making this for four people.

Unwrap your brie, and drink in it’s glorious goodness.

I chose a double cream brie.

Sweet sassy molassey.

Now, I carefully turn my wheel o’ brie on it’s side to carefully slice off the waxy top. This is not a necessary step, but it makes the cheese retrieval much easier. Plus, I don’t really groove on the waxy flavor.

Just be careful to not remove the ooey gooey good stuff on the inside.

Here the brie is sitting in my fine china awaiting the next step.

Don’t worry if there are bits of waxiness left on top. It doesn’t matter in the least.

This is the step where we move from not-so-bad for ya to downright naughty.

Take some butter and spread it across the top of your brie.

I use the same amount of butter I would use to butter a piece of toast.

Get out a bag of light brown sugar.

And go from naughty to downright sinful.

Pile some of that brown sugar on top of your buttered brie.

Now, here comes the magic.

Pop that brie into the oven. Whenever I make this, there is usually something else cooking in the oven. So I throw the cheese in at whatever temp. The goal is to melt the cheese. So, at 400 it takes about 10 minutes. At 300, it takes about 20 minutes.

And here is the magic… when you are pregnant, you are told to avoid soft cheeses. Why? Well, the bacteria listeria of course. What you actually have to avoid is unpasteurized cheese- and those are actually pretty difficult to find in America. However, if you do happen upon an unpasteurized brie… it doesn’t even matter for this recipe. Because you are going to get the cheese so hot that if there were any listeria living in there- it will be killed by the heat.

Yay for that.

This is what the brie looks like in all of it’s glory after baking away.

Because the cheese is so rich and sweet, I like to serve it with a good sturdy and grainy cracker.

Here I have Whole Grain Wheat Thins, and they may just be the perfect accompaniment.

I had to taste test one (or 50) of these.

Truly, melt in your mouth delicious.

This is the perfect appetizer for a date night with your special someone- simply buy a smaller wedge of brie- or it is perfect for the biggest party of the year. Or, you could serve it up to your favorite mouse.

I promise that you will not go home with leftovers. Ever.

Yes, it is that good.

So, I leave you with that.

Happy Tuesday to people and mice everywhere.

XO,

Leah

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(Please read the title in the voice of the Soup Nazi– a la Seinfeld). Thank you.

As much as I dread cooler weather, it does have a benefit or two attached to it.

For one, the dogs can bear to be outside for more than 5 minutes. In fact, this ding dong kind of likes it:

Another benefit of the cooler weather is that soup once again enters my life.

I love soup.

Love. It.

And French Onion is one of my classic favorites.

Whenever I’m in a restaurant that offers the savory cheesy goodness that is Onion Soup, I tend to indulge.

But I like a homemade version better for a couple of reasons:

1. I can control the salt. For whatever reason, restaurants want to give their diners swollen ankles and restricted arteries through their version of French Onion Soup. It is always so stinking salty.

2. I can control the quality of the bread and cheese that is, in my humble opinion, the most important part of the soup.

Let me provide an example.

On vacation with my sisters, Nurse Stephanie ordered some French Onion Soup. I have no clue what kind of rock bread they used in their soup, but this is what Steph looked like trying to eat it:

Makes for a great picture and memory.

Doesn’t make for good soup.

For Leah’s French Onion Soup, here is what you’ll need for four servings.

Side Note: I almost always make at least four servings when cooking for two people. It gives the Main Man and I a lunch leftover for the busy work week.

3 T. Butter (mmmmmm!)

3 Large Yellow Onions, sliced

1 Clove of Garlic

1 Bay Leaf

1 t. Dried Thyme

2-3 Portobello Mushrooms, chopped (optional, but it makes the soup heartier and more delicious)

1/4 c. Sherry

1/2 c. Dry Red Wine (I used Chianti)- you could use white too if that is more your thing

3-4 c. Beef or Vegetable Stock

Some good white bread

Gruyere Cheese (please, please, please splurge on the Gruyere)

Let’s cook!

Get out a medium saucepan, and put your butter in there. Turn on your burner to medium heat:

Once that melts, throw in all of your sliced onions, your chopped clove of garlic, your bay leaf, and your thyme.

Your house will instantly smell UH.MAZE.ING.

I love the smell of onions and butter.

It lights my world on fire.

Stir that around effectively coating the onions with butter.

Have you seen the movie Julie & Julia?

I love the way that Meryl Streep playing Julia Child pronounces the word butter.

When I write the word butter in a recipe, I hear Meryl’s Julia voice in my head.

Let those onions cook for 3-4 minutes, and then add in your mushrooms if you so choose.

Mushrooms, onion, and thyme just make sense to me. I actually don’t understand why every French Onion Soup doesn’t include them. They add so much substance and depth of flavor.

I guess it may be because of people like my Dearly Beloved Friend Anne.

She has the most incredible gag reflex when it comes to mushrooms.

I have never seen my dad laugh as hard as he did when Anne and I were about 15 years old, and she came over for dinner. Something my mom served had mushrooms in it, and she encouraged Anne to “at least try it”.

Anne obliged.

She ended up with a red face.

Tears in her eyes.

A few dry heaves.

My dad was hysterical. I honestly don’t know how many times I have seen him laugh that hard. I guess he finds joy and hilarity in someone else’s dry heaves.

And that makes him and me not so dissimilar.

So Anne (or anyone in Anne’s camp), feel free to leave out the mushrooms.

The rest of you… throw ’em in the pot!

This is where the recipe becomes less than scientific.

You need to just let the onions and mushrooms spend some time together with the butter.

They need to get to know one another.

Cuddle up next to each other.

Love on each other.

Until the onions and mushrooms are buttery and delicious and softened.

Now it gets fun.

Throw in your sherry.

If you don’t have sherry, you can find it in your grocery store near the vinegars. It is relatively inexpensive, and a bottle of it lasts me a long time.

Now, open your red wine.

Pour yourself a glass.

You deserve it.

After all, you made it through the oppressive heat of summer.

And you made it through the day.

And you are cooking for yourself or your family or your friends.

So, yeah. You deserve it.

Add some of that wine to your soup pot.

Be careful if you are using a gas stove like me.

Alcohol plus live flame equals danger.

Let that simmer together over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

You have no idea how delicious this smells.

But you will soon.

When ya make it.

Now add in 3-4 cups of stock. The amount of stock will be determined by how hearty or liquidy (yes, I’m aware liquidy isn’t really a word) you would like your soup.

To keep this a vegetarian dish, use vegetable stock.

If you want a little more depth of flavor, use some beef stock.

Or use a mixture of the two.

Let that come to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.

Oh hey, look who finally showed up to help me in the kitchen:

Slacker.

So, at this point, the base of your soup is complete.

Take a taste of it. With all of the stock in there, it is highly unlikely that you will need to add much salt, if any at all. But taste it to make sure. Add some pepper if you’d like.

If you are making this soup ahead of time for a party or guests or just dinner for another night, allow it to cool a bit and then transfer it to an airtight container and put it in the fridge.

To warm it up, just put it back in a pot on the stove over medium-low heat until it gets to temperature.

If you are eating it right away, here is how to finish it up.

We need some bread. Preferably white, crusty, and delicious:

Drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil:

Put them under the broiler (on high) in your oven for 1-3 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on them, because in my oven toasting bread goes from perfect to well-done very quickly.

When all toasty and delicious, pull the bread out of the oven and give it a gentle rub with a halved garlic clove.

Voila! Garlic bread.

Cut that into cubes, and lets grate our cheese.

Gruyere makes a world of difference in this soup. I have made this soup with pre-shredded mozzarella or shredded swiss, and it is OK.

With Gruyere it is perfect and amazing and life changing and life giving and magical.

I’m not even exaggerating.

Not even a tiny little bit.

I’m not.

Grate the gruyere.

Now, we will build our soup.

In an oven-safe bowl.

Oven safe bowls are very important for the French Onion Soup.

If you don’t have oven safe bowls or aren’t sure if you do, we’ll have to alter the final step of the recipe for you.

But never fear, you too can still enjoy the French Onion goodness.

Ladle a bunch of soup into your oven safe bowl or crock, and top that with your cubed garlic bread.

Then add a generous portion of the grated cheese:

Then pop that into the oven under the broiler for 3-5 minutes.

If you don’t have an oven safe bowl, pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese gets all melty.

Be careful removing it from the oven. The top of the bowl is extremely hot.

And if you accidentally pick it up with bare hands, you will get blisters.

I may or may not know that from personal experience.

Serve it up with a spinach salad topped with some strawberries and chopped smoked turkey.

Give thanks for the cooler weather.

For it has brought you renewed sanity because your dogs are back out in the yard.

And it has brought you soup once again.

And truth be told, soup- especially one with ooey gooey melty salty cheese on top- makes everything better.

Yours in white bread and cheesy goodness,
Leah

I hate to say it.

Summer seems to be winding down.

School started in most of the city this week.

And the days are getting shorter.

The temperatures are more bearable.

I even wore a long sleeve shirt the other morning when I first woke up.

Sigh.

There is a silver lining though.

This time of the year, to me, is optimal grilling season.

Cooler evenings make for more enjoyable nights on the patio. Standing outside cooking in front of a fire is not only bearable, it is delightful.

So, we grill.

And we grill a lot.

And this week, we grilled up some burgers. Turkey burgers, to be exact.

Without further ado, I give you the Turkey Brie Bacon Burger. Mmmm. Mmmm.

This burger is inspired by a Brie stuffed Turkey Burger that Bobby Flay makes.

I changed up a few things and didn’t stuff it, so here is my version.

What you’ll need:

Ground turkey breast, bacon, a green apple, brie, onion, sage, grill seasoning, and some buns or crusty bread.

Confession.

I long resisted the turkey burger.

Something about it seems unnatural.

And not as juicy as beef.

And not as beefy as beef.

Juicy and beefy. That’s how I like my burgers. And my men.

I couldn’t resist.

Sorry.

However, the turkey burger does allow for a burger dinner without the fat content that good old ground chuck provides.

So, I have tested and tried recipes to make the actual patty taste better.

And after much trial and error, I’m happy to report that we have a Winner, Winner, Turkey Dinner!

For the burgers, I use a little tip that my brother gave me for meatballs that seems to be the key in making delicious turkey burgers.

So, first put your turkey (1.3 lb here- for 5 patties) in a bowl, and add in 1 t. of sage and 1 T. of grill seasoning:

Then, do my brother’s magical trick.

Take a big ole white onion.

Or yellow onion.

Or red onion.

Or heck, a large shallot.

I don’t care.

Use a microplane or grater to grate the onion into the meat:

Keep going.

Work up a sweat.

Burn off some pre-burger calories.

Until you have 2-3 T. of grated onion.

Gently mix it all together.

Form your patties with love.

And throw them on the grill.

Now, I assume you know that turkey burgers have to be cooked all the way to well done.

If you didn’t know, now you do.

While you have your grill master (AKA the Main Man) handling the burgers, it is time to get working on the toppings.

I just had an inspired idea.

We should cook some bacon.

After all, this burger is made of turkey breast which is very lean.

And it will be topped with a fruit, for goodness sake!

We deserve some fat and bacon.

Agreed?

Agreed.

Oh Mama.

Me Likey.

While that is frying, let’s pull together our other toppings.

Thinly sliced green apple.

Crisp, tart, cold, delicious.

And a few slices of brie.

I got the double creme kind.

Wowza.

Now, we shall build a better turkey burger.

Take your crusty bread and slice off two pieces.

Put your freshly grilled burger on there.

Top with some brie, bacon, and your apple.

I added a little dijon mustard too.

Now that is a burger.

Dare I say, that is a turkey burger that could stand up and face off with any beef burger.

I guess I do dare say it.

Because I did.

Serve it up with some grilled zucchini and a simple salad of spinach and mango (or any other fruit).

This is juice-drippin-down-your-chin good.

Happy Cooler evenings and Optimal Grilling Season friends!

Faithfully yours in bacon and burgers,

Leah

This post is about love.

Specifically, unhealthy and possibly detrimental obsessive love.

A love that I have for cheese.

I love cheese so much.

I love it so much that I would marry it if I could. Sorry Brad.

I also love cheese because it is the perfect quick and easy appetizer to have at or bring to a party. It looks kinda fancy and tastes completely delicious, but takes 1.2 minutes to put together on a tray.

So if you are like me, and you work full time- this is the type of appetizer that you can throw together after work without much fuss or mess.

Here are some of my go to favorites.

Brie is soft and delicious all on it’s own. Spread it on a cracker, and there ya go!

Or, you can take it up a notch. I dare you to. You won’t regret it.

Well, you might regret it after you eat an entire block of rich, delectable brie.

To take it up a notch, chop up some dried cranberries and mix em in with some brown sugar. Take your berry/sugar mixture and put it on top of your brie. Stick it in the oven or microwave until it gets all melty and hot.

Now, put it on a cracker.

You may never bake again. Better than the best dessert.

Or how about this one?

Blue Stilton AKA Creamy, Yummy Blue Cheese

Its a little more pungent in flavor, but it is a perfect appetizer. Want to see how to take this one up a notch?

Ok, here is is:

Honey! The little bit of sweet balances the stronger flavor nicely.

Either drizzle a bit on the whole darn block of cheese, or put a small dish of it near the blue for eaters to help themselves.

Now, for cheese three.

The classic cheddar- well, classic with a twist:

English Cheddar with Caramelized Onions.

I am weak in the knees.

My stomach has butterflies.

Is this love?

It may seem impossible to make this cheese even better, but here’s what I like if I’m going to be fancy.

Those are dried apricots, but really any dried fruit will do. I just serve it alongside the cheddar.

So, for a party (or lets be honest, a Sunday night dinner), I would take these three cheeses and arrange them with their pairings on a pretty platter. I’d put some assorted crackers next to it, and there ya go.

Not so coincidentally, a good cheese platter traditionally contains a soft cheese (brie), a blue cheese (stilton), and a hard cheese (cheddar).

Like every good meal or appetizer, this one is completely customizable to what you like. More and more stores are carrying bigger and better cheese selections, and most stores will let you try and try and try.

I may or may not do my own personal tasting once a week.

Experiment.

Fall in love.

Over and over again.

By the way, these gems are for a weekend get together and I cannot wait to gobble them up with some great pals.

Happy Friday!

Leah

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