Garlic Herb & Cheese Bread

Raise your hand if you remember the Book It! Program! I do! I do! Ok, so for those of you who don’t know, Book It! was this incentive started by Pizza Hut to get kids reading. You read a certain number of books, you earned yourself a free personal pan pizza. Win! The program actually got started back when I was in elementary school, and since back then I read like it was my J-O-B I earned puh-lenty of those free pizzas. So once a month for the better part of the late 1980′s, my Mom would take me to Pizza Hut on a Saturday so I could claim my prize. And while we were there she would also order a plate of hot cheesy garlic bread for us to share.


I honestly don’t even know if Book It! is still around, since my kids have never brought home anything from school about it. But I do know, unfortunately, Pizza Hut no longer makes cheesy garlic bread the way they used to. They’ve gone the cheesy breadstick route, and it’s just not the same. So a couple weeks ago I was making pasta for dinner and the Crazies were asking for garlic bread…and so I made this garlic bread with fresh herbs, cheese, and a loaf of crusty bread, and it comes pretty darn close to that cheesy garlic bread of my childhood. Last night I made it for the third time in the last two weeks, and since it’s just too good not to share, here it is!


Here’s what you need…some cheese, herbs, garlic, butter, and crusty bread. That’s it!


Slice your loaf of bread in half and set it aside. You can use regular French or Italian bread for this, but try to find a good crusty loaf of artisan bread that has lots of little nooks and crannies on the inside. The butter, garlic, and herbs will seep down into those nooks and crannies and be like little pockets of flavor bursting in your mouth!


Next take your basil and stack the leaves on top of each other. And hey, don’t judge my basil. The store had exactly one package left so it’s not like I had much choice in this matter. ;-)


Roll up the leaves like a little cigar.


Slice the basil straight across into little ribbons. Technically this technique is called a chiffonade…but I put folding lawn chairs in my living room for people to watch the Superbowl last weekend. Fancy terminology doesn’t get used around here much. I’m just saying. :-)


Chop up some parsley. By the way, there is no right or wrong amount here. I used four big basil leaves and grabbed a small handful of parsley. You can use as little or as much as you like and it will still be fabulous.


If you’re one of those people who are always prepared, you’ll have set your butter out the morning you want to make this and it’ll already be nice and soft. If you’re like me, it’ll be time to make dinner and your butter will still be cold and hard as a rock in the refrigerator. If that’s the case just soften it up in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds. You want it soft and spreadable, but not melted completely. Oh and P.S.! I’m using Sea Salt and Olive Oil Butter. But regular butter works fine too.


Press 6 cloves of garlic. If you don’t have a garlic press just chop the garlic as fine as you can.


Add the garlic to the softened butter.


Add the herbs.


Mix until well combined.


Spread both halves of the bread with the garlic herb butter and place them on a foil lined baking sheet.


Bake the bread at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.


Take the bread out of the oven after 12 minutes and then crank up the oven to broil. Let it preheat for a good 5 minutes so it’s nice and hot. In the meantime, evenly distribute all three types of cheese on top of the bread. You can really make this with any kind of cheese you like, but the combo my family liked best was Mozzarella, Gruyere, and a little bit of Romano.


Broil the bread for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted, bubbling, and golden brown in some spots. KEEP AN EYE ON IT! Sorry to shout at you, but everyone’s oven is different and I’ve burnt enough things under the broiler in my life to know how much it sucks.


Give the bread a couple minutes to cool down and then slice it however you want and serve. When this came out of the oven last night all my natural light was gone. So I actually rescued saved what I could of this from my crazy clan and took these photographs this morning.


You probably won’t have any leftovers, but if you do you can totally refrigerate and reheat them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to go devour the rest of this for breakfast. Enjoy! :-)

Garlic Herb & Cheese Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Is there anything better than fresh hot bubbling garlic bread right out of the oven?
  • 1 Whole Loaf Crusty Artisan Bread
  • 8 Tablespoons (2 sticks) Land O Lakes Sea Salt & Olive Oil Butter, Softened
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, Pressed
  • Handful Fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped
  • Handful Fresh Basil Leaves, Sliced Into Ribbons
  • 1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
  • ½ Cup Gruyere Cheese, Shredded
  • 2 TBS Pecorino Romano Cheese, Shredded
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice the bread in half, lengthwise, and place both halves on a foil lined baking sheet with the cut side facing up.
  3. Add the butter to a small bowl. Add the herbs and garlic and mix until well combined.
  4. Evenly spread the garlic and herb butter on both halves of the bread.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12 minutes.
  6. Remove the bread from the oven and preheat the broiler for at least five minutes.
  7. Evenly distribute all three types of cheese on both halves of the bread.
  8. Broil for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is hot, bubbly, and golden brown in some spots.
  9. Cool for 1-2 minutes, slice, and serve.
  10. Leftovers should be refrigerated and reheated in the oven.



Blue Moon Braised Beef

Have you ever started making dinner and suddenly realized you’re a few ingredients short of a full recipe? Yup. Been there, done that! You could just pick up the phone and call Brooklyn’s (or whatever your favorite local pizza place is), or you could use what you have and come up with something that turns into a new family favorite. Like this beef.


This recipe was a happy accident that happened one night last Fall when I wanted to make pot roast but realized I didn’t have any potatoes, or carrots, or most of the other normal stuff I throw in my pot roast. So I improvised with what I did have and discovered the nirvana that is Blue Moon Braised Beef.

This recipe looks like it has a lot of steps, but mostly it’s just browning meat and veggies and letting them simmer in flavorful liquid, AKA, braising. Braising is a great way to cook inexpensive, tough cuts of meat. By cooking them “low and slow” you wind up with something that’s tender and bursting with flavor. There’s very little hands on time involved, which leaves you with lots of time to wash the dishes, prepare sides, or drink coffee and read a magazine. I’d go with option C, but maybe that’s just me. ;-) Another benefit to braising is that it makes your house smell fan-freaking-tastic all day long! If someone were to walk into your house and smell this while it was cooking, they’d think you spent all day slaving in the kitchen. But really all you basically did was throw some stuff in a pot and put in the oven. They’ll be none the wiser, and you’ll be a rockstar.


Here’s what you need to get started.


Let the chuck roast rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Then liberally sprinkle on some s&p.


Cut a large white onion into big chunks.


Smash and peel three cloves of garlic.


Slice one large orange in half. Put one half back in the refrigerator for later, and cut the other half into slices.


Heat the oil in a large dutch oven and sear the roast on all sides until you have deep golden brown crust.


You’ll probably have to use tongs to hold the roast up and sear the sides. This whole step should take about 10-12 minutes tops, and it really makes such a difference in the end!


Once the roast is seared on all sides, remove it from the pot and set it on a plate off to the side. Add the onions and garlic to the pot.


Stirring often, cook the onions and garlic until they’re soft, fragrant, and just starting to caramelize on the outside. This should take about 3-5 minutes. If the bottom of the pot looks like it’s getting too dark you can splash in a couple tablespoons of water.


Add zee tomato paste. I don’t know what it is about beef and tomato paste, but they’re like peanut butter and jelly man. Both good on their own, but put them together and magical things happen!


Add both bottles of Blue Moon. I suppose you could use another kind of beer, but this is hubby’s favorite and we always have it in the house.


Then add the beef stock. Listen…if you don’t have beef stock, just use water. I’ve made this beef with both and the beef stock adds more flavor, but if you don’t have it on hand water works fine too.


Toss in one bay leaf.


Then add a few sprigs each of rosemary and thyme. You don’t really have to tie them into a bundle. I had these tied together because I intended to use them for something else I wound up not making. So they were already in the refrigerator waiting for me, just like this. But it’s not necessary to tie ‘em up. Unless you’re into kinky stuff like that. :-)


Now add the orange slices. P.S. If you’re not adding oranges to Blue Moon when you drink it, you’re doing it wrong. You’ll have to trust me on that one, and give it a try!


Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Once it’s boiling remove the pot from the heat and return the roast to the pot. Cover with a lid and place the pot in a 325 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Then lower the heat to 250 degrees F and continue to cook for a total of 3 1/2 – 4 hours.


About halfway through I flipped the roast over. You don’t really have to do this, but I’m one of those people who has a hard time just leaving things alone. If you’re doing this in the crockpot or you have to be out of the house while this is cooking, it’ll be just fine if you don’t turn it over.


You know it’s done when the beef is fork tender and falling apart. Remove the roast from the pot and put it on or in something with sides to catch the little bit of liquid that will inevitably come along with it. I find a quarter sheet pan works great.


I let the meat cool slightly and then shredded it with two forks and my fingers. Snacking is perfectly acceptable!


In the meantime, strain the sauce from the pot through a wire mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Cook the sauce over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it reduces by about half. This should take about 25-30 minutes. Add the shredded beef back into the reduced sauce.


Remember that other half of the orange? Squeeze it into the sauce and stir. You’re doing this because it really adds a bright, fresh, citrusy flavor that goes really well with the herbs and beer in the sauce. Now it’s time to eat!


Pile a bunch of that glorious juicy shredded beef onto your favorite carb.


Make two right away, because one won’t be enough.


And if you’re like my husband, you’ll want to throw some jalapeños on there. Just ’cause. And that’s it! Enjoy. :-)

Blue Moon Braised Beef
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
This recipe looks like it has a lot of steps, but it’s really very simple. The actual hands-on time is minimal and the results are tender juicy beef that’s bursting with flavor!
  • One 3 to 4lb. Chuck Roast
  • Kosher Salt, To Taste
  • Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 3 Tablespoons Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 Large White Onion, Cut Into Large Chunks
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled and Smashed
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1 Cup Beef Stock (Can Substitute Water)
  • 2 12oz. Bottles Blue Moon Beer
  • One Large Orange, Half Sliced and Half Reserved
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Dried Bay Leaf
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Season the beef liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef and sear on all sides, about 10-12 minutes total. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside.
  3. Add the onions and smashed garlic to the pot. Cook and stir for about 3-5 minutes, or until the onions and garlic are soft, fragrant, and just starting to caramelize on the outside. Add tomato paste and stir it in.
  4. Add the two bottles of beer, 1 cup of beef stock or water, a few sprigs each of rosemary and thyme, the bay leaf, orange slices, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, remove the pot from the heat, and return the beef to the pot. Cover with a lid and place the pot in the oven.
  5. Cook for 30 minutes at 325 degrees F and then lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F. Cook for a total of 3½ to 4 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender and falling apart.
  6. Remove the beef from the pot and set it aside. Strain the sauce through a wire mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Discard the solids. Cook the sauce over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s reduced by half. This should take about 25-30 minutes.
  7. use two forks to shred the beef and return it to the sauce. Squeeze in the juice from the reserved half of the orange. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  8. Serve on toasted buns, over a bowl of mashed potatoes, or just dig in with a fork. No matter how you serve it, this is good stuff!


Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Hey you guys! It’s really freaking cold outside. You know, just in case you hadn’t noticed. Even here in North Carolina our temperatures have dropped down into the teens and single digits over the last couple days, which almost never happens in this area. People are fuh-freaking out…and probably justified in doing so since homes here don’t normally come with double-paned windows or insulated pipes or any of that other stuff. To stay warm and cozy we’ve been eating hot sammies, soup, and I made ice cream!


What? Hang on, it gets better.

The last week of 2013 Harris Teeter was running some pretty awesome deals. If you follow me on Instagram you know I scored 10 lbs. of bacon for $13.98. Heck yeah! I went back and picked up another 10 lbs. on the last day of the sale and noticed they also had buy 2 get 3 three free on ice cream. So I went for it. Naturally.

So yes, I already have a freezer full of ice cream, a polar vortex passed through my neighborhood, I am supposed to be conserving energy and not plugging in anything non-essential, and I made this Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Does this make me a rebel? Or are ice cream makers essential? I guess some people get their jollies from matching their underwear to their outfit. I, apparently, get mine from matching my middle of the afternoon snack to the weather. Welcome to weird wacky world. I can’t explain it either.


Here’s what you need to make this…salt, chocolate chips, mint and vanilla extract, coconut milk, food coloring (optional, but recommended by 3 out of 4 children of the 80′s), and sugar. There is no sugar in this picture because I had a brain freeze. Get it?! Ice cream…brain freeze. Please don’t leave me.


Start by dumping the can of coconut milk in a blender. Remember how my blender crapped out on me awhile ago? I revived it! But I still totally would not say no if someone wanted to buy me a Blendtec. *ahem*husband*ahem Oh and P.S. you know how you usually have to shake the bejesus out of a can of coconut milk? You’re about to whizz it all up in the blender anyway so no need to do that. Unless you want to. You can use any kind of coconut milk you want, just make sure it’s full fat. You want full fat so that the ice cream will be super rich and creamy. A lite/low fat/fat free version (usually what they sell in the cartons by the regular milk) will make a more icy consistency, more like a sherbet.


Now add a little kosher salt.


And some peppermint extract.


I also threw some vanilla extract in there because A. Vanilla goes with pretty much everything, and B. I didn’t want my vanilla extract to get all jealous.


Ok, now this part is optional for you, necessary for me. I grew up in the 80′s man. You remember the 80′s…when everything was more colorful in general and our parents fed us bunny shaped cakes and cupcakes decorated with coconut flakes dyed with food coloring (your parents did that for Easter…right?). My body is totally used to this artificial stuff and I can handle it. Plus I do not recall ever eating one spoonful of mint chocolate chip ice cream in my life that was not green, so…I squeezed three teeny tiny drops in there. If you skip this step, it’ll still make your toes tingle and your tastebuds do a happy dance. Promise.


Now here’s where my brain unfroze and said, “Hey crazy! You need to put some sugar in there!” And so I did.


Blend it all up and pour it into the chilled bowl of your ice cream maker. Churn the ice cream according to the instructions. For me that was about 20 minutes. If you ain’t got no ice cream maker it’s ok fine! Don’t panic! Just pour this into a container and throw it in the freezer. Every 30-ish minutes or so take it out and stir it up until it’s whatever consistency your heart desires.


Add the chocolate chips during the last couple minutes of churning. If you’re doing this without an ice cream maker, I’d add the chocolate chips when the ice cream is firm enough that they won’t all sink straight to the bottom.


This step is absolutely essential…dip your finger in there (when the ice cream maker is off…duh) and taste test.


And that’s it! Pretty easy, right?


If you want ice cream that’s less soft serve and more like hard ice cream, just transfer it to a container and freeze it for at least an hour. This was about three hours later. See? Not icy at all, thanks to the full fat coconut milk. Smooth, creamy, rich, and (as #3 says now all. the. time.) deee-licious!

This ice cream is kinda sorta special for two reasons. One, it’s egg-free and dairy-free (So long as you use chocolate chips that are non-dairy) for those of you who are avoiding those things. I know, I know…I’m awesome like that. You’re welcome! Two, it’s Mint Chocolate Chip, which is my Dad’s (and my) favorite! When I was a kid he used to feed me Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream when I was in the bath. Back then I just thought he was the most super awesome coolest Dad ever for letting me eat ice cream in the tub! Now that I’m a parent myself and I’ve watched my kids dribble drip make the worlds stickiest mess eat ice cream, I realize that my Dad was not only super awesome cool, but he was also really really smart. Well played Dad. Love ya!


This recipe can totally be doubled if you’re, like, making this in July and don’t already have a freezer full of ice cream. Just so ya know. ;-) Enjoy and stay warm peeps!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 1 13.5 oz. Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract
  • 3 Drop Green Food Coloring (Optional)
  • ½ Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  1. Place coconut milk, sugar, salt, extracts, and food coloring in a blender. Blend on high power until the sugar is dissolved, at least one minute.
  2. Pour mixture in the bowl of an ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Add chocolate chips during the last five minutes of churning.
  4. Serve right away for soft serve consistency, or transfer to a container and freeze for at least one hour for a consistency more like hard ice cream.
*If you don’t have an ice cream maker, place the mixture in a container and freeze it. Every 30 minutes stir the mixture until it reaches your desired consistency. Add the chocolate chips once the ice cream is firm enough to hold them.