an army wife's guide to life

food and homemaking goodness

Garlic Bread done Right

Garlic bread is just about my most favorite thing ever. But there is such a thing as bad garlic bread, and I’ve made plenty of it. This time, though, I was determined to do it different;y. It was determined to make really, really good garlic bread. There’s two versions in the picture above. One with cheese and one without. I always need a cheesy version for my hubby, and the more cheese, the better. I happen to like my bread non-cheesy, so I just split it in half, and cheesed half of it for him. Not much is different between them, and anything you want to do to tweak it, go for it and let me know so I can try it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 1 loaf of bread (I used a French loaf, but any bread is gonna work)
  2. 3-4 cloves of garlic,  minced (or 2 Tbsp minced garlic if you buy it by the jar)
  3. Fresh parsley
  4. 1/2 stick of butter
  5. Mozzarella cheese (optional)

So first things first, you’re gonna want to set your butter out to come to room temperature. While you’re doing that, you can mince the garlic (or use a garlic press, which I totally should have done) and chop the parsley as well. Once the butter is at room temperature, I put everything into my stand mixer and mixed it with the paddle attachment until it was all combined.

While that was doing its magic, I lined a baking sheet with tin foil (to eliminate the mess), preheated the oven to 350°, and sliced the bread in half. I used half a loaf for the two of us and it was gone so fast, so plan accordingly. Spread the butter on the bread and then I sprinkled a little salt on top, just to enhance the flavor, I also added a little extra garlic powder, because I’m a garlic junkie. If you want it cheesy, add as much or as little cheese to the top as you want. Bake it off for 15 minutes or so. My oven seems to cook a little more slowly than I’m used to, so keep an eye on it, you might need less time. It’s done when the butter is melted and the top looks golden and the bread is crispy. If you cheesed it, it should be slightly browned. Then again, that’s just how I like it. Doneness is totally up to you, it’s not like you can undercook bread that’s already cooked.

All that’s left after that is to enjoy. I made Ravioli and homemade pasta sauce, but I was looking forward to the bread more than anything, and boy was it worth it.

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Ravioli Soup

So this is going to be another pictureless post, because I’m an idiot who likes to forget how to take pictures. Also because my camera is out of batteries at the moment and I’ve been too lazy to put new ones in. Anyway, around here, it’s been rainy and cold and, well, perfect soup weather! This is the time of year I love the most. It’s just starting to get cold, and I’m starting to dream about all the soups I’ll get to eat through the fall and winter. It never really happens the way I plan it, but it’s always nice to dream about. And the first seriously rainy, cold day is usually the day I make my first soup.

That day just happened to be yesterday. And as it happened, I already had a soup in mind to create, so I jumped on it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Spicy Italian Sausage (I used three links, which I pulled out of their casings, but you could use a pound that was never cased in the first place)
  2. A medium sized onion, roughly chopped
  3. About three cloves of garlic, peeled and minced (you can add more or less depending on your tastes, or leave it out if you don’t keep fresh garlic around [but seriously, who does that?])
  4. A (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes (not the fire roasted kind…and the ones I used were canned in sauce, so I didn’t drain them)
  5. A (8 oz) can of tomato sauce (to give an extra kick of tomatoey goodness)
  6. Two boxes of beef stock (I don’t know what size…sorry, but use the boxes, not the cans because they’re bigger. If you go with cans, you might need, like, four or so…maybe)
  7. Onion powder
  8. Garlic Powder
  9. Italian Seasoning
  10. A bag of Mini Raviolis (I used cheese, but you can use any variety…but seriously, the cheese was good)
  11. (Optional) I also added about a tablespoon of tomato paste, because I have a tube that needs to be used and I’ve been adding it to everything…it’s not strictly necessary, though

So once you’ve chopped up your onion and garlic, you’re going to put them in your pot with a little olive oil and get them going until they start to get soft. (If you’re me, you’ll add some salt and pepper at every stage, just to make sure all the flavors are coming out the way they best can, but that’s just me.) Once they’re starting to soften, you can add the Sausage and brown it, breaking it up as it cooks. (Again, I add some salt and pepper here.) Once you’ve got the sausage cooked through, you can add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste (if you have it) and the beef stock. I recommend adding them in that order, because if you add the stock  first, things tend to splash (call it experience). To that you’re going to add that onion powder, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. I didn’t measure, but it was probably a little less than a tablespoon of each, and you’ll want to definitely add salt and pepper at this point, to your taste.

Here’s the thing about adding salt and pepper to taste with a soup: I find that with any soup (or long-simmering sauce for that matter) you’ll want to let the whole thing come to a boil and then cool slightly before you get aggressive with the seasoning. This lets everyone get happy in the pot and figure out their balance. then you can add the salt and pepper a little at a time, stirring and (most important) tasting between each addition, until the flavors are balanced. This is the difference between an alright cook and a great one.

Once you have everything balanced, you’re going to want to let it simmer at least half an hour. Just remember that the longer you let it go, the richer and deeper the flavors are going to get. I started mine at 9:30 in the morning, and we ate at 6:30 that night. I just kept the stove on low all day and gave it a rest when it was looking a little low. I also ended up adding some water because of how low the soup was looking, since we had guest coming and I didn’t want to not have enough. Adding water, though, is completely up to you. Just like the salt and pepper, it’s all about taste.

When you’re ready to eat it, you simply cook the ravioli according to package instructions (not in the pot,but separately) until they start to float (that’s how my mom taught me to tell if they’re done.) Then simply strain them, ladle a few into the bottom of your bowl, and ladle the soup on top. Then top with Parmesan cheese, because cheese makes soup delicious.

This pot fed four people, and most of us got seconds, so it would probably feed up to eight people without seconds. Just trust me, though, they’ll probably want seconds, cuz this is an awesome soup.

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