a garden, a hot pan, & a little balsamic vinegar

As you all know, October is now almost over… Halloween costumes are all over the place, the weather is finally cooling down, and the pumpkin spice latte is back behind Starbucks counters everywhere. Fall is here! So, of course, it’s the perfect time to share a perfectly summer recipe. Sweet onions are in season from roughly mid-June to mid-August, and at my parents’ house in South Carolina, we harvested them right after our wedding. This post, therefore, is a late farewell to summer. It’s both sweet and savory and fresh. And there’s a recipe, too.

Will and I had such a wonderful time rummaging through the garden. We tugged and pulled and took all sorts of pictures and laughed quite a bit. It was lovely.

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Once you have the onions, the hardest part is over. Wash them off and toss them in a bowl.
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All you need to do is add a little balsamic vinegar, some salt & pepper, and a bit of brown sugar. Basil never hurt anybody, either. Put them in a pan with butter. Heat it up.
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And then enjoy! This is about as yummy as it can get.

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Balsamic Sweet Onions

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb sweet onions
1/2 cup + 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsps brown sugar
dash of salt
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp butter
dash of pepper
DIRECTIONS:
1. Wash and peel sweet onions, cutting off tips. Cover in 1/2 cup vinegar and dash with salt & pepper, and let sit for at least half an hour.
2. Heat butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add onions.
3. Once vinegar begins to sizzle, mix in brown sugar and basil. Allow onions to simmer, stirring often. Add additional 1/2 cup vinegar as necessary.
4. Once vinegar has thickened and onions have browned, remove from heat. Enjoy!

let’s stir fry

This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of my staple dishes, complete with the Madi-seal-of-approval and all. It’s a combination of several recipes I discovered in various corners of the Internet and is the basis of about 67% of what happens in my kitchen. It’s easy. It’s tasty. It’s healthy. It’s infinitely customizable.

It’s stir fry.

The basic components are pretty simple: vegetables, meat, and sauce.

When I make this dish, I usually use tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, and sugar snap peas, mostly because I think that color in food is important. Bright, happy food makes me feel, well, bright and happy. Plus, these particular veggies have a good mixture of textures, making the stir fry both tender and crunchy in all the right ways.

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Boneless chicken breasts and a sweet-and-spicy sauce (garlic, hot sauce, ginger, brown sugar, honey, and, of course, soy sauce) round off the ingredient list. Ta da!

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You want the vegetables and chicken in a manageable size… the first step is to use whatever it takes to get them there.

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Start by browning the chicken, one side then another. And when that’s done, pour the sweet-and-spicy on top.

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See the transformation? Yum. Let that simmer for a few minutes and then add the mushrooms and sweet peas, since those are the ones that need a little more cooking time… and then throw in the broccoli and tomatoes. Now, if you want to be fancy, you can reduce the sauce on the chicken and cook the vegetables in a different pan. That intensifies the flavor. But I was lazy tonight, so one pan it is. Add salt and pepper to spice it up.

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And that’s it, folks. Madi’s stir-fry, your stir-fry. These are the basics, but once you get the concept down, you can happily use it to feed yourself for the rest of your life. Change the chicken to shrimp and make a lemon-butter sauce instead. Try it with bok choy and balsamic vinegarette. Or use bell peppers and onions, cumin and cayenne pepper for a Southwestern flair. Serve it with rice, with pasta, with quinoa. The possibilities are truly endless.

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Madi’s Sweet-and-Spicy Chicken Stir Fry

INGREDIENTS:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 c. sugar snap peas, halved
1 c. mushrooms, chopped
2 c. broccoli florets
1 c. baby tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 tsp garlic, chopped
2 tbsp hot sauce
salt & pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
2. Combine brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and hot sauce in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
3. Place chicken strips in hot oil and brown on both sides. Add sauce and simmer uncovered 4-5 min.
4. After sauce has begun to thicken, add mushrooms and snap peas and stir well. Allow to cook another 2-3 min, then add the broccoli and tomatoes.
5. When the broccoli is bright green and tomatoes are soft (another 2-3 min), remove from heat.
6. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

p.s. I owe a thousand thanks (and a kiss or two!) to my incredible fiance for taking these photos. He’s simply the best.