Idiot’s Guide to Roasting Garlic

I’ve known of roasted garlic for a long, long time. I’ve loved it for nearly my entire life, as I’ve been told that as a toddler I would spread 2 or 3 cloves on a little cracker and beg for more.

Despite this, I never attempted at roasting garlic until a couple of weeks ago at the ripe ol’ age of 26. Little did I know how insanely hands-off it is! You have no excuse to make this yourself. Grab a dollar, buy a few bulbs of garlic, and get to it!

How to Roast Garlic

What you’ll need:

  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • dash of sea salt
  • aluminum foil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off the tips of the bulb of garlic to expose every clove, like so:

Peel all of the dry skin from the bulb. Place on a square of aluminum foil that will be large enough to completely encase it.

Drizzle the top with the olive oil and sprinkle the salt evenly on top. Completely close the foil around the bulb and place in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the garlic is completely soft and the little cloves are golden.

Remove the cloves and do with them what you please! Mash to make a garlic spread for bread, crackers, and toast. Whisk into room-temperature butter and re-cool to make garlic butter. Add to any recipe you think could use the melt-in-your-mouth flavor of roasted garlic, such as pasta, mashed potatoes, hummus, atop your favorite grilled meats… anything is better with a little (or a lot of) garlic!

Vegan “Cheez” Sauce

I have a go-to vegan “cheez” sauce recipe that I can make in about 2 minutes that is loosely based off of a recipe from Alecia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet. It’s basically a couple of tablespoons of non-dairy milk, about double that amount of nutritional yeast, a dash of tamari soy sauce, and a dash of dry mustard. Whisk it up and put it on anything; I usually use it in wraps, on sandwiches, in salads, and just to dunk chips in.

When I was making real-deal (non-vegan) mac & cheese a few weeks ago, it started with making a roux of flour and butter, adding milk and cheese, then putting it on macaroni before baking it. I thought to myself, “Why can’t I use all vegan ingredients for this?”

So I did last week, and it worked out great! You can definitely tell it doesn’t taste the same as regular home-made cheese sauce, but my boyfriend couldn’t tell that it was vegan, so it must not have been too far off!

Vegan “Cheez” Sauce
Makes about 1 cup of sauce.

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • dash of sea salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Slowly whisk in flour and half of the milk. Bring to a boil and continue to whisk until the roux gets solid enough that it starts to pull away from the sides of the pot. It will look something like this:

Lower the heat to medium-low and whisk in remaining ingredients. Let simmer until it reaches your desired consistency.

Use with macaroni, as a dip, on tacos, or anywhere else you’d normally use cheese sauce!

I mixed about half of this sauce with four servings of mostly-cooked macaroni, put each in individual ramekins, drizzled some more of the sauce on top of each, and baked at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. It made a fantastic dinner and went great with a spinach salad!

I’ll post another delicious recipe soon that uses this sauce in another way…!

Vegan Raspberry Oat Bars

The kid in all of us reminisces about Chewy Granola Bars, Pop Tarts, and other hand-held sweet treats that were passed off for healthy snacks and/or breakfasts, right? I mean… who are we kidding? Are two S’mores Pop Tarts really part of a healthy breakfast, as advertised?

I love sweet. I love baked goods. I love the accessibility of having things like Chewy Granola Bars on hand when I need a snack or an on-the-go breakfast that will go nicely with tea or coffee. I don’t love preservatives. I don’t love factory-cooked foods.

At least, not anymore.

I found a fantastic recipe online for granola bars and although I didn’t have any nuts or dried fruits to add to the mix, adding lots of grainy, high-fiber goodness did just fine in the end. I’ll definitely be making these again, but with more mix-ins next time!

Regardless, I made these really POP! with flavor by making my own raspberry syrup in place of the maple syrup or agave the original recipe calls for. Any fruit or berry will do!

I always have a soft spot for recipes that are just basic — not mandatory ingredients… just the framework for a dish that can be adjusted for and catered to everyone’s individual likings. As a friend of mine just told me today, it’s always best to teach skills, not a recipe!

Vegan Raspberry Oat Bars
Inspired by Healthy. Happy. Life.’s “Kitchen Sink Granola Bars”.
Makes 8 bars.

For the bars themselves…

  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 tbsp oil (I used virgin coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup ground flax (or wheat germ)
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup reserved unsweetened coconut (I used macaroon sized flakes, but you can use whichever you’d like, depending on your preferred consistency)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used organic granulated, but you can use turbinado, sucanat, or even a liquid like agave or maple)
  • 3/4 cup liquid sweetener (I made my own raspberry syrup – see the recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, salt-free nut butter (I used almond)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Any mix-ins you’d like, such as nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, goji berries, cacao nibs, dried fruit, pretzel bits, etc. I just didn’t have any on hand!

For the raspberry syrup…

  • 1 cup raspberries, washed (I used fresh organic, but you can use frozen if you’d like)
  • 2 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple, agave, etc.)

Make the syrup by putting both ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. When the raspberries begin to break down and the liquid bubbles, lower to medium-low and stir.

Break down the raspberries by using the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Once all of the berries are broken down, remove from heat.

I ended up with exactly 3/4 cup, as the recipe calls for, but if you are short, just add a bit more liquid sweetener to it until it reaches 3/4 cup.

Set the sauce aside.

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper on all sides and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the oil of your choice in a large pan over medium-high heat. When the oil gets warm, add the oats, flax (or wheat germ), and 1/2 cup of coconut to the pan. Stir every 30 seconds or so until the mixture becomes fragrant, set aside.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the sugar, liquid sweetener (this would be the raspberry sauce, if you made it), vanilla, cinnamon, and nut butter. Stir until combined. Add the oat mixture and mix with a spatula until combined.

Put the mixture into the baking dish. Top with the remaining coconut flakes (and any other toppings you want, really!) and push in so they won’t fall off of the bars when they’re done.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are golden. Using the parchment paper, lift the slab from the pan and onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into 8 portions with a very sharp non-serrated knife.

These can be stored at room temperature in a tupperware for a few days, or as long as 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Delicious and very, very good for you! In just one bar you get tons of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and just enough sweetness to make it almost cookie-like!

The best way to eat these, you ask?

Slightly warm, with some almond milk!

Leeks, Another Way

My last post was all about my first leek experience, which was a definite success; however, I had one leek left from my batch of four that I’d purchased.

I found this gorgeous recipe on one of my favorite food blogs. I didn’t have enough bread in the house, so I decided to add some sweet potatoes I’d also purchased and wing it!

Sweet Potato and Caramelized Leek Bread Pudding
Yield 6 servings.

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3/4 loaf of bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (approx. 4 cups)
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup shredded swiss or gruyere cheese
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and chopped very thin (white and pale green part only!)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp butter or margerine

Place the bread on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until dry, stirring cubes around once. (Stale bread will take much less time than fresh bread, so keep an eye on the oven.) Remove from oven when done and set aside.

During this time, put the sweet potato cubes in a microwave-safe bowl and add about 2 tbsp of water. Cover with a paper towel and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir, moving the cubes from the bottom to the top. Cover again and microwave for 5 more minutes. Set aside.

In a medium pan, add the leek and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add butter and wine, stir, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When golden brown, they’re done!

In a bowl, whisk the milk, cream, egg, egg yolk, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp garlic powder until thoroughly combined.

Spray an 8×8 inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray or olive oil. Put 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of the pan. Top with 1/2 of the bread cubes and 1/2 of the sweet potato cubes, then all of the caramelized leeks. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese, followed with the remaining bread and sweet potato and the last 1/4 cup of the cheese.

Pour the cream/egg mixture on top. Let the pan sit for 5 minutes before putting it all in a 350 degree oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Serve as a side dish along with a protein for a full meal!