Sunday, January 8, 2012

How to Roast Garlic

I love things that have been roasted...chicken, veggies, chipotle peppers, marshmallows and so on.  One of my favorite ingredients though, is roasted garlic.  There is this richness that comes with roasting something. The sugars in the food caramelize and magic happens.

One dish in particular that we love is roasted garlic in is hummus, so creamy and rich and as a bonus it's good for you too! I try to keep a supply of it on hand as most all of the members of my family enjoy this.  That being said, when the local grocery is out of roasted garlic hummus I would reach for the regular feeling disappointed and not just a little cheated.  But then I experimented one afternoon when I was planning on making this amazing spinach artichoke dip.  I wanted a little more wow factor in my dip.  So a few minutes before I had to go back to work from my lunch I grabbed a head of garlic, chopped the top off, drizzled some olive oil over it in a small bowl, tossed it in the oven and left with my hopes high and my fingers crossed.

Side note here, I am super thankful for my oven.  It has such helpful options for a busy working mom.  You can program it to cook when you want for how long you want how ever hot you need it.  So I'm not advocating that you leave your oven on unattended (infact my husband cringes and double checks our insurance policy when I do this) but that is what I did.  Oh back to my garlicy goodness.

When I came home, my home smelled delightful (no not like burned lumber!).  I checked the oven and it looked great!  Now I could make my hummus as garlicy as I wanted and my dip would have a bit more pizazz.

With out further ado how to roast garlic:

1 head of garlic
Olive Oil (I used extra virgin)
Small oven save dish, knife and cutting board

Preheat oven to 350

Remove all the loose paper from the head of garlic.  As you can see I didn't do the greatest job here since I was in a rush.  Then cut the top of it off.  The top is the part with the stem.  The bit with roots is the bottom.  Cut enough that the cloves are all exposed.  Place this in an oven save dish and drizzle about 1 tbsp olive oil over it. Now bake for about 35min until the garlic now looks like it's got a nice tan.

Mine is over cooked a bit but you get the idea, yes? Now the messy part, the most fun in my opinion.  Squish the garlic out of the paper skins, cut off any dried ends if needed. You can squeeze the entire head but you still won't get it all. Check each clove to make sure no garlicy goodness is missed.

 Lightly chop or mash with a spoon to make smoother and you now have roasted garlic to add to your favorite dishes.  I'd use it in about a week, but so far I haven't had any left to keep that long.

That's it.  Really it's that easy.  Now go something and add it to your next meal.

Until we eat again!

Monday, January 2, 2012

What's for dinner?

Lately I've found my self in a 5 o'clock tizzy.  I break into a cold sweat when a member of my family asks the dreaded question..."What's for dinner?".  Arrrg!!  Yet again I have no idea.  I try to access the photographic memory (which I do not have) to remember what ingredients I have and what the contents of the fridge maybe.  The past few month's I think we have surpassed the national average of 1/2 lb of pizza per person per's such an easy, albeit not good for you, option.

I used to be really good about menu planning.  I had a beautiful weekly printout showing our activities and what was on the menu, thus enabling me to be more prepared and less manic.  Sadly this seems to have been slowly forgotten with the expansion of our family.  So with the new year I am working on a buffed up me.  I can't make me new but I can improve on what I've been blessed with.

Seeing as I'm sure I'm not the only one in this situation (you only need to search "weekly menu" or "meal planning" to see I type the truth), I thought I would take a few to share my success, tips, as well as failures and seek a few of yours while I'm at it.

When I initially attempted to begin my meal planning endeavor I wrote my families favorite meals on tabs and would put them on a calendar.  After losing tabs, and the calendar, I began to look for other methods.  There are blogs (see my right column for some of my favorites), templates, once-a-month-cooking, and sites galore.  My first tip is to look at several and figure out what you can do realistically.  Write down what you want to accomplish and see what method accomplishes this the closest.

I was enamored with cooking ahead after having my appendix out my sisters came to my home and prepared and froze a weeks worth of meals for my family.  I loved the convenience of this.  However I soon realized that a whole day of cooking was not to be for me.  Managing my little ones and trying to cook just wasn't working for me.

My next attempt and planning was e-mealz.  I found it through Dave Ramsey.  This site has been the most beneficial to me and my family.  Yes there is a small subscription cost but to me it more than paid for itself.  I could go on and on but I'll let you some investigation and trial and error on your own.

Another method I did for quite some time was a freezer group.  I, along with about a dozen other people, would get together once a month and prepare 8 entrees for a cost much less than if I made them on my own since we were buying in bulk.  This involved work on everyone's part but in the end quite worth it.  We used a book Fix Freeze Feast.  I bought a copy of my own and love it. 

Along with my freezer, another tool I find invaluable is my crockpot or slow cooker as some call it (they are the same thing, promise).  I love the ease of tossing everything in and then it's ready around dinner time.  It gives me such a giddy feeling when I come home from work or picking up the kids to know I don't have a ton to do before my hubby gets home.

Ok so there are a few of my tips and successes.  What are yours?  Do you meal plan?

Until we eat again!