Sunday, February 23, 2014

How to Roast Garlic

I cook with garlic a lot.  It is a cheap and simple way to add big flavor to recipes.  However, when I want to really boost the flavor of a dish, I use roasted garlic.  When garlic is roasted, something magical happens.  Seriously.  It mellows and becomes soft and sweet and creamy.  Just delicious!  You can use it in place of regular garlic in any dish or add it to dips, stir it into mayo to make a delicious spread, put it on pizza or in pasta sauce, the sky's the limit!  I made some the other day and used it to make hummus.  It was so good and good for me, to boot!  Plus, it was super easy.  Here's how I did it:


1 head of garlic (If you are doing it, you might as well make more than one.  If you don't, you'll wish you had)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cut the very top of the head of garlic off, exposing the cloves.  Like this:

Place the garlic on a piece of foil big enough to wrap around it.  Drizzle with a little oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Wrap the foil loosely around the garlic, sealing ends.

Bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes.

It comes out golden brown and very soft.  Cool a little, then squeeze the garlic out of the skin.

Store in a little jar or a zip top bag in the fridge.

I call these little golden nuggets of yumminess!  I could've just spread them on crackers and eaten as is.  But, I used it in hummus instead.  Don't freak when you see peanut butter in this recipe.  I cannot find tahini (sesame paste).  By mixing peanut butter and sesame oil, I get a similar result.  It's a great substitute.


1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 head of roasted garlic
1 TBS peanut butter
1 TBS sesame oil
Olive oil

In a food processor, mix chick peas, roasted garlic, peanut butter and sesame oil.  Pulse until mixed.  It will be coarse.  Stream in olive oil while processor runs until you get a smooth consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  I like to let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour so the flavors can develop.

This hummus is delicious!  That roasted garlic adds a sweetness that is just perfect.  This dip is a great snack with crackers, chips or veggies or put it in a pita with lettuce and tomato for a light lunch.

I hope this has inspired you to roast some garlic.  Now that you see how easy it is, why wouldn't you?

Thursday, February 20, 2014


If you read my blog, you know that I have an Old School Italian husband who can be a picky eater.  If I would let him (and by that I mean if I cooked it for him), he would eat a giant plate of pasta and meatballs every single day.  I do my best to vary his diet, but once in a while I indulge his big Italian appetite.  Tonight was one of those nights.  I made braciole.  Braciole is meat pounded thin, stuffed, browned and simmered in sauce.  You can use beef, but I like using thin, boneless pork chops.  It is absolutely delicious!  Here's how I do it:


1 lb. thin, boneless pork chops
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (zip toasted bread in a food processor)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley (Italian)
1 - 2 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper
A large jar of spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Place a pork chop in between two pieces of plastic wrap.  Pound gently until thin with a meat mallet (or a rolling pin or a small pot).

Repeat until all the pork chops are pounded thin.  In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Add enough olive oil to make the mixture glossy and damp, not too wet! (Between 1 and 2 TBS)

Salt and pepper to taste (a few pinches of each).  Then, season the chops with salt and pepper.  Add about a tablespoonful of stuffing to each chop.

Roll the chop tightly and secure with a toothpick or two (depending on how big your chops are).

After all of the chops are rolled and ready, sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them.  Heat a little olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Brown the chops on all sides.

Once they are browned, remove them and set aside.  Drain off excess oil.  Pour 1/2 cup of broth into hot pot to deglaze the pan.  Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  This is big flavor you don't want to lose.

Then, add spaghetti sauce, water, sugar and salt & pepper to taste.  Remove the toothpicks and return the browned chops to the sauce.

Simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve with pasta.

They turn out tender and so delicious!  My old school Italian husband could eat the whole pot!  Indulge your big Italian appetite and make some braciole.  Mangia!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pronto Pizza Puffs

My son never eats lunch at school so, by the time he gets home he is starving!  I made these pizza puffs for him the other day and they were a hit!  If you need a quick snack that'll fill up hungry kids (or adults) this recipe fits the bill.  It's so easy, in fact, I feel dumb calling it a "recipe".  It has three ingredients.


1 can crescent rolls
Shredded mozzarella (or an Italian blend)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Unroll the crescent rolls and lay them out on a cookie sheet.  Place 4 pepperoni on each roll.

Put a little cheese on top of the pepperoni.

Fold one of the small corners over the filling.

Then fold the long corner over the filling and small corner.

Finally, fold the other small corner over and press lightly.

Bake for 10 - 13 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up.

These were easy and my son gobbled them up!  If you want, you can add a little sauce before you put on the pepperoni, but not too much or they will be soggy.  I like to dip them in warm marinara sauce.  My son likes them as is.

To make them a little healthier, use reduced fat crescent rolls and turkey pepperoni, then add a few veggies on top.

These are too easy not to try!  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hunny Bun Cake

My son, aka pickiest eater ever, loves Honey Buns.  When I buy them, I have to hide them.  Seriously, he'll eat the entire box and make himself sick.  By the way, he is not a little kid anymore.  He's in high school.  Yeah.  I say this, not to embarrass him, but to emphasize how much he loves Honey Buns!  So, when he made the high school baseball team, I had to make this "Hunny Bun" cake to celebrate.  It has the same flavor profile as the classic snack cake, but tastes so much better.  This is one scrumptious cake!



1 box yellow cake mix
2/3 cup oil
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream


1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tsp cinnamon


1 cup powdered sugar
1 TBS milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix, oil, eggs and sour cream.  Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Spread half of the batter into the prepared baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon.  Sprinkle this over the batter.  Carefully spread the remaining half of the batter over the filling.

Bake for 44 - 48 minutes or until golden brown.

In another bowl, mix powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.  If the icing is too thick, add a tiny bit more milk to thin it out.  You won't need much!

Prick the surface of the warm cake with a fork several times.  Then, spread the icing over the cake.  Cool before cutting.  Store at room temperature.

The sour cream in the recipe makes this cake super moist!  It has just the right amount of sweetness and a wonderful spice from the cinnamon.  Perfect with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk, if you're a growing boy.  Now, if I can just keep him from eating the entire cake.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Crockpot BBQ Ribs

I have always been afraid to make ribs.  I had too many questions!  How do I get them tender?  Do I really have to babysit them for hours?  Do I need a smoker?

Finally, I found this recipe in AllRecipes Magazine.  It looked so easy and the reviews were great.  Plus, you use a crockpot, which I love!  So, I gave it a try on Super Bowl Sunday.  It worked beautifully.  The ribs were delicious and super tender (pun intended, ha ha).  I changed the sauce recipe a little to make it more to my family's tastes.  Here's how I did it:

Note:  You can easily double this recipe as long as you have a large crock pot.


2 lbs ribs (baby back or rib tips, I used tips)
1 cup BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce

This recipe starts in the oven and finishes in the crockpot.  This is really important!  It helps brown the ribs and it gets rid of some of the fat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Season the ribs with salt and pepper.  Place in a shallow baking dish.  Brown in the oven for 15 minutes.  Turn over and brown another 15 minutes.  Drain the fat.

Put the ribs in the crockpot.  Mix BBQ sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, oregano, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.  Pour over ribs.  Turn to coat.

Cover and cook on low 6 - 8 hours.

These were awesome!  They were tender and smoky and sticky and a little sweet.  Wonderful!  I will never be afraid to make ribs again.  Please try this recipe.  You'll love it!