Janet's Notebook
Recipes Win Over Fans In Great Onion Debate

Onion Balls with Cajun Ranch!

"Leave out the onions and I'm in!"

"Onions are a must for me and salad would not be complete without them, especially the red ones."

It's an age old debate, to add onions or not to add onions! We got quite the conversation going over on Facebook about this very topic and it got me to thinking... Over the years there are so many ways that I've come to enjoy those beautiful pungent fellows. I wasn't always a believer - as a kid you couldn't have paid me my weight in jelly beans to eat raw onion - but in my adult life I've come to love experimenting with them. From the rich sweetness of caramelized onions on a burger to the decadent bite of a homemade onion ring, count me as a fan.

For those still tiptoeing around the onion fringes, there are a lot of flavorful ways to introduce the sweetness of onions into a recipe without feeling the burn of their bite. One of our favorites is a super easy dish from Wendy Garnder. Her Tasty Onion Chicken has just five ingredients: chicken, mustard, Worcestershire, butter and French fried onions. Each chicken breast gets coated in the other ingredients and is then baked, resulting in a crispy, faux-fried texture. Pre-packaged French fried onions are one of our favorite treats and a great way to introduce onion flavor to palettes of all ages.

This is my husband's favorite chicken dish," smiles Wendy, "and it's so easy to fix! I usually serve it with a salad and chicken stuffing or mashed potatoes".

Don't have chicken breasts in the freezer? No problem. Wendy says tenders work just as well, and are always a hit with the kiddos.

Another great kid-friendly recipe is good old fashioned onion dip. It's ideal for dipping veggies and when made at home you know every single ingredient you're eating.

Jenni James, aka Foodchickie, began experimenting with ways to alter her favorite dip recipe from Food Network's Alton Brown. The result was perfectly to her liking... and ours too!

"I absolutely love onion dip, and one that is made of fresh ingredients is a bonus," says Jenni.

To create her creamy masterpiece, Jenni nixes mayo and instead combines sauteed white onions with sour cream and Neufchatel cheese.

"Together they give a luxurious mouthfeel and the onion flavor shines. Try it out next time you make dip and you will be pleasantly surprised-- I am, every time!"

Toss in a pinch of salt, pepper and garlic powder and you'll have a party-ready treat that will be gone in a flash.

Which brings us to perhaps the most decadent of all onion treats, the Deep Fried Onion Ball. Yes, that's right - home cook Kathy Sills took traditional onion rings and turned them up to 100...then dipped them in ranch.

"I wanted to try something different instead of a plain onion ring!" she smiles.

By utilizing pearl onions, Kathy was able to achieve bite sized balls of fried deliciousness without much of the hassle of traditional onion rings. Similarly, her accompanying Cajun Ranch Sauce is a dippers' delight yet a breeze to prepare. A simple mixture of sour cream, ranch dressing powder, red pepper and Cajun seasoning, the sauce is cool and creamy with a punchy after-bite. Your guests will be asking for the recipe for sure.

While we may never reach total consensus in the great onion debate, these tasty recipes are certainly help bridge the divide. Be bold, give them a try, then let us hear your vote!

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Millie Johnson - Jul 14, 2013
That is one reason I like using green onions or chives. I get a nice onion flavor without the bite. I will have to try your tip. That's pretty neat !
Catie B - Jul 14, 2013
I was trying to use what was billed as a 'sweet' onion while making egg salad last week. I wasn't happy as it was strong and hot. I got the hottest water out of the tap into a bowl,and flipped the cut side down of the onion into it for about 5-7 min. No more, as I didn't have the patience to wait. It cooled down the raw, hot onion, and it made the salad perfect. I have tried this twice now, as it only takes five minutes. Thank goodness, as it is getting harder and harder to find an onion that doesn't bite back!
Louise McAuley - Jul 11, 2013
I'll have to try them (Winco) again, I haven't found their red onions to be sweet even when they're labeled sweet...
susan simons - Jul 11, 2013
Walla Walla sweets are great..Winco usally carries red sweet onions.
Melanie B - Jul 11, 2013
Louise, I use to think a few slices of thin red onion on a salad were OK because they were sweet, but you are right. In recent years they have become hot and strong. I lived in WA when I was young and Mama always talked about Walla Walla sweets. LOL. A lot of times we get sweet onions out of TX- it doesn’t' matter to me where they are from, as long as they are sweet and cooked, I will eat them.
Good idea Jamie.
Jaime Haunslicke - Jul 10, 2013
If an individual enjoys the taste of onion, they feel the taste of onion is just too strong for there personal liking. Especially the purple onion which I feel is the strongest tasting onion. Take your onion and put is Ice cold water and let it sit for 30 - 40 minutes in the ice cold
H20. This removes some of the strength especially from the purple onion.
Purple onion is somewhat too strong for me and this works for me. Just a helpfull hint from Jaime.
Louise McAuley - Jul 10, 2013
I live in Walla Walla Onion country, nice and sweet like the Vidalia. Speaking of red onions, I used to be able to buy sweet red onions but haven't had one in years! Why is this? I loved them in my salads but now they're so powerful and HOT!
Susan Bickta - Jul 10, 2013
Just bought a nice big, round, sweet, and juicy candyapple onion at the roadside stand yesterday ...... sweeter even than Vidalia ...... too bad they're only available around here in July and into August......
Melanie B - Jul 10, 2013
Me too Millie. I will occasionally add grated raw onion to a few things, but I don't care for a big chunk of raw onion. And if they have been cut and sitting awhile, the odor is overwhelming to me. I find myself buying the sweet onions instead of the other varieties. Vidalia’s when they are in season! YUM! Videlia Onion Pie. This is a big favorite for work breakfasts.
Sandy Lowe - Jul 10, 2013
I have a good friend and we raised our kid's together and we often watched each others. One day when I was making macaroni and cheese, (which I thought was bland)I decided to add a few diced onions to the mix. When I served it up to the kids you would have thought that I had tried to poison them. They were all upset because I made them eat onions!
The kids are now grown and on there own, but when we all get together at weddings and such eventually one of the kids will say "Do you remember when your mom made us eat onions" story will come up, we all get a good laugh out of it now.
susan simons - Jul 9, 2013
When I took a culinary course not to long back Chef would sweat onions rarely using raw onions. he also introduced me to cippoli (spelling) sweet onions which r now a favorite in my cooking.. I have found them fresh for 2.89lb. where as Chef said they are usually 7.00LB.
Janie Wirth - Jul 9, 2013
Onions are system scrubbers...best to eat as many as possible...look for milder varieties if you are sensitive or get heartburn but EAT ONIONS!
Nancy Gravitt - Jul 9, 2013
I do like raw purple/red onions in my salad, but the only other raw onion I like is a Sweet Vidalia onion.
Millie Johnson - Jul 9, 2013
While I HATE raw onion, I love them cooked ! From onion rings and Caramelized Onions where they really shine , to adding them to chili and anything else that calls for onion, they are fantastic and I could not cook without them !
Susan Bickta - Jul 9, 2013
Have you ever heard of CandyApple Onions??? They are available in this past of Pennsylvania this time of the year. I buy them at the local roadside stand where I buy my sweetcorn. If you see these onions ..... by all means...... BUY THEM!!!! They're sugar sweet and very juicy. LOVE THEM!!!