Creamed Onions and Mushrooms

Creamed Onions & Mushrooms || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes This little dish and I go way back. I don’t remember the exact year, but dates aren’t important when it comes to love. Yes, it’s true. I love these creamed onions and mushrooms. I know it’s kind of a weird to have emotions for food, but I’m a weird person and putting emotions into food is part of what makes me love food even more. Not only is this dish filled with emotions of love, it’s also filled with emotions of happiness and memories. Growing up, we always spent Thanksgiving at my Grandparent’s house. I don’t remember the details, I don’t even remember which family members were always there, but I remember my Grandfather’s stuffing (a French recipe from his family, made with sausage and chicken liver…it was the one time I would make an exception for eating liver because this stuff was to-die for!), and these creamed onions and mushrooms that my Grandmother would make. They were, hands down, my two favorite items at the Thanksgiving table. Every year, when the holidays roll around, I can’t help but crave them. In my world, no Thanksgiving table is complete without either. Last year was the first time I had been to Thanksgiving at my Grandmother’s in a while. So many things have changed (my Grandfather’s stuffing recipe is, sadly, long gone), but her creamed onions had not. Despite being 95 years-old (yes, she still cooks for herself every day!) they were just as good as the ones I remember from childhood. Mine don’t taste nearly as delicious, but if I’m cooking as long as she is, I have a lot of Thanksgivings to practice…..

Creamed Onions & Mushrooms || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes

Creamed Onions & Mushrooms || Runway Chef Creamed Onions & Mushrooms || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Creamed Onions & Mushrooms || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes

Creamed Onions & Mushrooms
Serves 4
Pearl onions and mushrooms in a creamy gravy; A perfect addition to the table during the holiday times
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb fresh (or 16 oz frozen bag) pearl onions (see notes)
  2. 1 1/2 cups (about 5 oz.) of sliced mushrooms
  3. 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  4. 2 1/2 tablespoons flour
  5. 1/3 cup of water (see notes)
  6. 1/2 cup milk (2% recommended; see notes)
  7. 1/2 cup half & half (see notes)
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  9. 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  10. 1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
  11. 1 teaspoon of thyme, tarragon, or Herbs de Provence
  12. 2 tablespoons of dry sherry
Instructions
  1. In a medium-large saucepan, set over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and sauté the sliced mushrooms until they are golden brown, about 5-7 minutes (if the mushrooms start to stick at any point just add a little more butter). Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set them aside in a small dish.
  2. Using the same saucepan, add the peal onions and 1/3 cup of water and let simmer over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Remove water and onions separately and set each aside. (This step can also be complete in a separate saucepan while the mushrooms are cooking.)
  3. Next, melt the 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the same pan. Once melted, turn down the heat to low and add in the flour, whisking the butter and flour together creating a rue-like mixture. Keeping the pan on low heat, add back in the 1/3 cup of water, as well as the milk, half & half, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and thyme. Keep stirring until mixture thickens (feel free to add cornstarch or more flour if it's not thickening....I would recommend adding the flour about 1/2 tbsp. at a time, stirring and waiting a few minutes to see if it thickens more before adding additional flour).
  4. Once stirred together, add back in the 16 oz of cooked pearl onions and the sautéed mushrooms to the pan, slowly stirring so the onions and mushrooms get coated in the gravy mixture. Add in the sherry, once again mixing all ingredients together.
  5. Let simmer, on low heat, on the stove top, or if made in oven-safe pan, place in oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. I typically let this simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  2. This dish can be made in advance, which makes it great for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holiday dinners. You can either prepare the entire dish a day in advance, then store it in the fridge, in the pan with the lid on and then just reheat it for about 15 minutes prior to serving, or you can make this the morning of your big meal and allow it to simmer either on low heat on the stove or in a crockpot set to low heat.
  3. For the onions, I use a bag found in the frozen section of Trader Joe's. You can also found them in the produce section and peel them yourself (something I do not recommend) or you can find them in jars. If you use jarred onions, simply use the liquid they come in instead of boiling them in water.
  4. For the milk and half & half, you can use all milk (2% is best, as you want a creamy texture), all half & half, or you can use a mixture of 50% heavy cream, 50% water, or a combination of any of the three. For me, I typically base this on what I have in the fridge at the time, which usually tends to be milk and heavy cream.
  5. You can substitute port for the sherry.
Adapted from A family recipe
Adapted from A family recipe
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
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Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine

Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Kenwood Vineyards. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

The countdown is officially on. T-minus 7 days til it’s turkey time people! And I don’t know about you, but I’ve already been dreaming up all of the goodness that I will be stuffing my face with. I mean, how could I not?! It’s the ultimate foodie day. Believe it or not, though, it’s not just the food that I want to gobble up this time of year. I also gobble up the chance to slow down and spend time with family and friends, or the opportunity to host holiday gatherings, and participate in holiday activities. To me, the holidays are more than just food. They are like warm, fuzzy blankets thick with memories, traditions, scents, and stories and I look forward to when I can wrap myself up in them every year, making them thicker with new memories and traditions each season. Mulled wine isn’t a holiday family tradition, per se, but the aromas that arise while making it are a part of my holiday “blanket”. It’s basically like liquid gingerbread, or, as some people say, Christmas in a cup. For me, the scents bring back memories of my Grandfather making his special turkey stuffing, or helping my Grandmother cook, or the first Thanksgiving where Mr. RC’s family and mine met for the first time. Wine and wonderful aromas were involved in all of those memories, memories which have now come full circle to me making mulled wine for the hubby and I to enjoy while we take in the holiday times. Fun and memories aside, remembering to give thanks and give back is always a crucial part of our holiday season, as well. It can be easy to take for granted the family we have by our side, the food we have on our tables, the roof over our heads, and the clothes keeping us warm. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or not, Mr. RC and I always make an effort to tell each other the things we are grateful for. I also keep a gratitude journal to write down three things I’m grateful for each day. And volunteering to those less fortunate has always been, and still is, a big part of my life. When I heard about Kenwood Vineyards, the wine I used in today’s mulled wine recipe, I was intrigued, not only because we’re wine fanatics, but also because of their partnership with WhyHunger. Wine + a good cause? I’m all ears! WhyHunger is a leader in the movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to healthy, affordable food and also through grassroots solutions for self-reliance and community empowerment. Kenwood Vineyards, a winery located in the heart of the Sonoma Valley, is dedicated to making premium wines that truly represent the Sonoma’s world-renown vineyards. They source grapes from dozens of vineyards, many farmed sustainably, and their wine is made  in a “small lot” or “cuvee” style, meaning each lot from each vineyard is kept separate the entire process to allow the wines to reach their fullest flavor potential. This Thanksgiving, Kenwood Vineyards has partnered with WhyHunger to do their part in ending hunger. Not only are they matching contributions made to the charity, but they will also be donating $25,000. Whether giving back is already a family tradition or not, I suggest mulling up some wine and then mulling (I had to, sorry!) over ways you can get involved. Here are a few ideas to get you started- 

  1. Make a donation to the Kenwood Vineyard/WhyHunger food drive.
  2. Buy an extra turkey for Thanksgiving dinner and donate to a local soup kitchen who will be serving Thanksgiving meals.
  3. Cook an extra turkey on Thanksgiving. Make it into sandwiches, then pass them out to homeless people.
  4. Spend time as a family, either before or after your Thanksgiving dinner, serving dinner at a local soup kitchen.
  5. Invite someone who has no family to dine with you and your family on the holiday.

How do you and your family give thanks and give back during this time of year?

Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes

Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine
Serves 6
A tasty drink with festive aromas ("Christmas in a cup!") that's perfect for warming up during the holiday season
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 bottle (750 ml) of red wine (I used Kenwood Vineyard's Pinot Noir)
  2. 1 cinnamon stick (about 4 inches long)
  3. 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
  4. 15 grates of fresh nutmeg
  5. 5 whole cloves
  6. 1 large pinch of dried ginger
  7. 1 large pinch of allspice
  8. 2 grates of black pepper
  9. 1 tablespoon of brandy (see notes)
  10. 2 tablespoons of orange cognac (see notes)
  11. 1 tablespoon of molasses
  12. 4 tablespoons of honey
  13. 1 orange
  14. 1 lemon
  15. 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional; see notes)
  16. Fresh fruit for garnish (optional; see notes)
Instructions
  1. In a large crockpot set on high heat place all the spices. Let them cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This step will help the aromas to fully release before any liquids are added.
  2. Next, add in the brandy, cognac, molasses, molasses, and honey. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
  3. Lastly, add in the wine and the citrus fruit. For the orange and lemon, I like to peel them, cut them into sections, then squeeze the juice into the wine mixture, before tossing in the fruit as well as the peels.
  4. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Add in the cranberries (if you are using them, which you definitely should, as they soak up all the spices and wine making one tasty treat at the bottom of your glass!), stir, then turn the heat to low and continue cooking for another 1- 1 1/2 hours. Serve immediately or turn the crockpot setting to "Keep Warm" until you are ready for the wine.
Notes
  1. This is perfect for holiday festivities and parties. Not only does it smell great, but it serves a lot of people, it's easy to throw together and it doesn't require much effort or maintenance. It goes great with appetizers, as well as popcorn for those holiday movie nights.
  2. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for large gatherings.
  3. Leftovers can be stored directly in the crockpot. Just place the lid on and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days. This also makes it super easy to reheat.
  4. You can prepare this up to a day in advance. Just start heating it about an hour before you're ready to serve it. If you are planning to serve this at a party or gathering, just make sure to turn the setting back to the "Keep Warm" once the drink is heated through.
  5. For the dried fruit- Feel free to use whatever kind you like, cranberries, apples, apricots, etc are all good.
  6. For the cognac and brandy- Feel free to use only one of them, just make sure to do a full 3 tablespoons of whichever one you choose. You can also omit the brandy and cognac entirely.
  7. To make fruit garnishes, I used a pear, which I sliced into about 1/4 inch thick slices. I then used a mini cookie cutter to gently cut out shapes. You can either drop the fruit shapes directly into the mugs or you can place them on wooden skewers.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
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Happy Hour

Happy Hour {Central Park castle} || Runway Chef {It only took us 4 1/2 years of wandering Central Park to find the castle…}

I apologize in advance if the better part of this post looks like fall threw up all over it. Since I know snow is just on the horizon, I’m trying my best to hang onto every last drop of burnt orange and buttery yellow that I can. In fact, while there are still plenty of signs of fall in Central Park, snow was already on the ground when we ventured upstate last week for a little trip to the Culinary Institute of America. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for snow. But I’m learning to savor things in the present so I don’t have to look back at something that I missed in an effort to too quickly move onto the next thing. The changing seasons is as good a place as ever to practice being present. While everyone else is all like “I’ve got my tree up and my stocking hung and cookies baked for santa”, I’m just over here trying to catch the last leaves falling from the trees….

Are you hanging onto fall like I am, or have you already embraced the holiday spirit?

Happy Hour {salted caramel & coconut brioche donut} || Runway Chef {Salted Caramel & Toasted Coconut Brioche Donut from the CIA}

Happy Hour {fall in Central Park} || Runway Chef {Peeking at fall through the castle windows}

Happy Hour {Trader Joe's truffle products} || Runway Chef {You could say we like truffles…}

Happy Hour {Culinary Institute of America} || Runway Chef {I was a huge fan of the cooking themed street names on the CIA campus}

Happy Hour || Runway Chef

Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas

Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas || Runway Chef #giftideas Can you believe it’s already time to start thinking of holiday gifts? I can’t. Which means I’ll be the girl, hair a mess, clothes disheveled, mascara running, sweatpants half tucked into UGGS, buying her gifts the night before Christmas (I apologize in advance to those receiving my gifts….you may or may not be getting the last questionable item at the end of the clearance rack). To help you not be like me, I decided it was time to start the holiday gift guides. Long before Christmas arrives, there’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and a million and one holiday parties, so it seemed appropriate to kick things off with a few holiday-themed hostess gift ideas. All of the items listed would be cute wrapped up in a festive towel, or nestled into a little basket, and almost every item on the list, save two, are under $25 dollars. Let’s hear it for affordable gifts! Also, stay tuned…by the end of the week I will have themed gift guide boards over on my Pinterest and watch my sidebar for a link to a holiday shop filled with all my favorite gifting things (you know, in case any of you want to buy me a gift…). And further down the road, I’m excited to be sharing a variety of homemade gifts, because homemade is always better than the clearance rack. It’s going to be a good gifting season, kids!

1. An Ornament (so many good ones here, most for under $20; these would be cute for outdoor lovers, $24.00)

2. Hot Cocoa Mix + Winter-themed Marshmallows (snowmensnowflakes, or other festive flavors)

3. Rosemary Tree ($39.95)

4. Balsam Soap ($9.00) + Towels ($8.00-$20.00)

5. Bottle Opener ($38.00) + Mulled Winter Punch ($15.00), or Mulling Spices ($6.99) & A Bottle of Wine, or A Bottle of Glogg (A mulled Swedish drink, $5.99)

6. Holiday Cocktail Book ($6.00) + Festive Straws ($6.00) + Fun Cocktail Stirrers ($12.00)

7. Winter Candle ($32.00); Other wintry scents here ($16.00) or here ($18.00)

8. Pancake Mix ($10.95; gluten-free mix here) + Log Cabin Maple Syrup ($14.00) or Polar Bear Maple Syrup ($14.99)

9. Cookie Cutters ($8.00) + Edible Stars ($6.82) or Glitter ($6.91)

More Hostess Gift Ideas

Blue Shoes

Blue Shoes {Beanie, Striped Button-up, Red Plaid Scarf, & Blue Booties} || Runway Chef Saturday was a brutal reminder, a reminder that I need to make like a bird and migrate south. It was the first time we had snapped outfit photos since the arctic temps had descended upon the city and it was also a brutal reminder just how horrible an idea outfit photos in the freezing cold actually are (#fashionbloggerproblems). I must have been drunk when I willingly volunteered myself to do something so ridiculous. I mean, it’s hard enough for me to look put together on a normal day, but when it’s below 30 degrees? Forget about it. Literally. Forget those 10 layers you’d normally be wearing, because no one wants to see a walking plaid marshmallow, no matter how trendy plaid is right now. Forget those UGGS, because even though they are like warm, fluffy little chariots for your feet, they are also “tres grande faux paus” in the eyes of many fashionistas. I know, I know. I brought this all on myself. But, aside from the blistering winds, dropping temperatures and severe cases of frostbite (ok, not quite), there are actually a few things that I’ve come to love about the arctic tundras of wintertime fashion shoots. Had it not been for cold photos, I wouldn’t have learned to layer my many scarves. I wouldn’t have pushed my fashion boundaries to the edge of my cold tolerance boundaries. And I’m about 99.9% positive that my feet would be indefinitely glued inside my UGGS, never allowing me to discover the beauty of things like blue booties, and let me tell you, blue booties (especially ones that are comfortable enough to walk the city streets all day) trump blue frostbite any day. Of course, you better believe I’ve not given up hope on a fashion blogger migration plan, but until then, I’ll be using my blue booties to help me (bravely) conquer the cool city streets.

Blue Shoes {Beanie, Striped Button-up, Red Plaid Scarf, & Blue Booties} || Runway Chef Blue Shoes {Beanie, Striped Button-up, Red Plaid Scarf, & Blue Booties} || Runway Chef Blue Shoes {Beanie, Striped Button-up, Red Plaid Scarf, & Blue Booties} || Runway Chef Blue Shoes {Beanie, Striped Button-up, Red Plaid Scarf, & Blue Booties} || Runway Chef Blue Shoes {Beanie, Striped Button-up, Red Plaid Scarf, & Blue Booties} || Runway Chef Blue Shoes {Beanie, Striped Button-up, Red Plaid Scarf, & Blue Booties} || Runway Chef Joe Fresh Beanie // Forever 21 Sunnies & Scarf // J.Crew Shirt // Thrifted Coat // Vigoss Jeans c/o // Report Signature Booties via DSW c/o // Chanel Bag

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