french onion soup in 30 minutes

You guys, SOUP!  I seriously can’t get enough of homemade soup on these chilly late fall days.  I have been making all kinds over here.  But my all time favorite has always been French Onion Soup.  Sometimes I just crave that salty tavern staple but don’t want to head to order it.  Surprisingly I usually have enough ingredients in the house to throw it together.  I have made it a few times now this month and we’re not sick of it yet!  I have got it down to 30 minutes because when you crave French Onion Soup, you crave it now.

French Onion Soup in 30 minutes

There are a lot of recipes out there calling for all sorts of seasonings like bay leaves, garlic, thyme, etc.  While these are all great, I skip them completely and use one simple ingredient.  Wait for it…

To make 4 servings, I simply chop a vidalia onion into about 1 inch slices.  I place them all into a frying pan with a dash of olive oil and the secret sweetener that my friend clued me into… brown sugar!  Approximately 2 tablespoons should do the trick.  This will help caramelize your onions in no time on medium-high heat.

French Onion Soup recipe

While the onions are sweetening, I put the broth on high.  I use about 4 cups to one large onion in a stock pot.  When the water boils, the onions are ready to be transferred into the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium and all the onions and broth to tango.

In the meantime, prepare your Gruyère cheese.  I prefer to cut them in long, thin slices.

For the bread in your soup, you can go in a few directions…

  1. You can simply use croutons.
  2. You can slice up French bread and pop it in the broiler for a minute or 2 to brown it.
  3. My favorite thing to do is use bread I already have – usually a whole grain of sorts.  If I plan to make onion soup that day, I leave a few slices out to basically dry out.  So glamorous letting your bread go stale, I know.

French Onion Soup recipe

Now it’s time to put it all together.  Place the bread in your crock.  Ladle the soup in it.  Drape the Gruyère cheese across the crock in sort of a Z.  I find this gives the best cheese coverage.  Pop it into the broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese melts and lightly browns.


French Onion Soup in 30 minutes

a winter wonder: paperwhites

As the holidays are quickly approaching, everyone seems to be looking for quick and easy decorating and gift giving ideas. Well look no further!

I present to you the paperwhite cocktail garden. This was originally posted here last year on the blog.  I noticed that it has been getting some pinterest action lately so I thought I’d break down the ins and outs of paperwhites.

paperwhite cocktail

First of all, paperwhites are a bulb.  Most commonly they are forced indoors in the winter and that is why they are typically associated with the holidays. Paperwhites are the cousin of spring blooming daffodils.  You may notice some family resemblance in their flowers although paperwhites are, well, white as the name implies.

paperwhite bulbs

Optimal bloom temperatures are 65 degrees.  A warmer home will have them blooming in less time.  On the other hand, if you have a cool home, they will take longer to bloom.  It is like putting them in the refrigerator to preserve the flowers.

So let’s get onto planting them, shall we?

I like to use vintage glassware and compotes like these ice cream sundae glasses.  They are sized just right for one bulb.

vintage ice cream sundae glasses

When planting the bulb, be sure the flat, basal side is down and the pointy, fleshy side is up.  The foliage and flower will grow from there.

paperwhite bulbs

Now you may have seen paperwhites planted in stones in the past.  This is very common however I am not a fan of that method.  Most people plant them in stones or pebbles to give the bulb support because the plant becomes top heavy as it quickly grows.  When paperwhites are planted in stones, you usually see the bulb sitting on top of the stones.  But because I like to plant them in small compotes, I use soil.  The moist soil and tight container help to give support.  I plant the bulb just under the soil with the point sticking out.

planting paperwhite bulbs in vintage glasses

Once the bulbs are in the glasses, I cover them with soil and make sure there is some underneath for the roots too.  You will be able to see the roots grow in just a few days if you use clear glasses like these – fun for kids!  You’ll all see the bulbs push themselves up.  There is really some instant gratification that comes with planting paperwhites.  The grow so quickly.

planting paperwhites

Don’t forget to water and garnish how ever you like!  Cranberries optional.

paperwhite cocktail

With all of the paperwhite planting I’ve done, you would think I’d have a picture of the blooms but I don’t!  You’ll have to plant some of your own to experience the visual and fragrant flowers.  We have some for sale in the shop and we’re open this weekend…

Linking to Funky Junk Interiors


happy hour

In the mood for a winter pick me up?  You don’t have to hit the bottle this happy hour.  Check out this delightful little glass of holiday cheer!  No need to count calories because this sweet cocktail is actually a mini garden.

I took some vintage dessert glasses of my grandmother’s and planted a paperwhite bulb in each.

Then I garnished each glass with a pinecone and added a cinnamon stick stirrer.

And can’t forget the seasonal cranberries to “float” on top.  They add just the right amount of seasonal color.

Now I’m just waiting for my holiday cocktails to bloom!

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Saved by Suzy


betty crocker garden

Well, actually I am no Betty Crocker.  I’ve only have a few baking recipes up my sleeve so I decided to put some rusty baking ware to another use. 

I have this great double baking pan, a rusty old cupcake pan and tons of flour sifters.  These are all prevalent finds in antique malls on the cheap or in the dark corner of your mother’s cabinet. 

I thought it would be unique to have a vignette of vintage bakeware repurposed into a holiday garden.  It all started with the sifter.  I decided to use it as a planter for the Amaryllis bulb – which by the way shows no signs of blooming anytime soon.  Hopefully we’ll get a flower on this guy come Valentine’s Day.  They are notoriously slow-growing compared to their holiday bulb counterpart – the paperwhites.

Then I planted 2 rows of paperwhites in the double baking pan.  I actually planted each row a week apart with the idea that it would extend the bloom time for these fragrant white flowers.  They’re growing rapidly!

Next I decorated the cupcake pan with some festive accessories like vintage ornaments and bulb lights.  Ha get it?  More bulbs.

 Plus a couple of paperwhites got planted in individual cupcake cells. 

Finally, the mini cyclamen found a home of its own.

And so did the mini poinsettia. 

In another flour sifter turned planter.

There you have a vignette of holiday plants putting some ol’ bakeware back to work.

Clcik here for more vintage inspired Christmas projects!

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bulb planting 101

Welcome to bulb planting 101.  This is a bulb.  Also known as an underground storage organ.  Technically called geophytes.


Just kidding.  Don’t go!  I have a helpful tip for you…

A few weeks ago, I planted over 150 bulbs in my gardens.  That can be a laborious task but I am determined to have tons of early spring blooms.


I completed the job in about 2 hours because I took a short cut.  Meet my new best friend…the auger drill bit.

Did you think drills were just for furniture, wood, walls, whatever?  Guess what!  You can totally use them in the garden too.  The power drill acted as a mini auger for me.  It is important to use an electric drill for this job.  A battery operated one will burn out quickly.  Plug in and get started planting your bulbs today.  You are running out of time in the Northeast.  They need to go in before the ground starts to freeze!

 I started with crocuses.  These teeny, tiny acorn-like bulbs only need to be planted about 3 inches deep with the pointy side up.

 Crocuses are the first to emerge in early spring sometimes when there is still frost on the ground.  Beware of the  squirrels though.  They tend to dig these bulbs up and shuffle them around the yard!


Next were the daffodils.  I planted a ton of daffodil bulbs.  These are the hardiest in my area.  They come back year after year and continue to multiple.  Yes, bulbs have offspring which subsequently equals more blooms annually.  That’s why after several years you should divide your bulbs.  (Another topic for another day.)

Daffodil bulbs are pretty big so they needed to be planted about 7-8 inches deep.  This is where the auger really came in handy.  I powered right through it.

As a general rule, bulbs should be planted 3 times as deep as they are long/tall.  Daffodil bulbs are about 2.5 inches long so they went 7-8 inches into the ground.

Always plant the flat side down and pointy side up.  The flat side is where the roots grow from and the pointy side is where the leaves and stem grow from.  I noticed that some of the planting instructions on the bulb packages said to just dump the entire lot into a hole.  That is really poor advice in my opinion.  You will not optimize your blooms that way because not all bulbs will be able to flip themselves over if necessary or if they are layered on top of each other.

Moving on to the tulips.  I planted a few dozen pink tulips following the same rules.

They bloom after the daffodils are spent so it is wise to try to plant the tulip bulbs in front of the daffodil bulbs.  Then you will have a new fresh bloom as the daffodils fade into the background in spring.

Well this is obviously more than a few dozen tulips but a girl can dream…


And finally I planted several hyacinth bulbs about 7 inches deep.  These are very wide so required a little extra work from the auger.  You can tell by the bulbs that these flowers will be blooming purple.  I think hyacinth bulbs are pretty before they even bloom!

Hyacinths are so fragrant so I planted these close to the front door.


Have you ever used an auger drill bit to plant bulbs?  I don’t think I will ever do it any other way now.

As much as I love fall and don’t mind winter, I am now looking forward to spring to see these babies bloom!  Stay tuned.  Let’s hope the squirrels don’t rearrange too much…

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HouseofHepworthsHome Stories A2Z