Product Review—Christopher Ranch Organic Peeled Garlic

I’ve decided to add a new feature to my blog where I review products. This is my first! I hope you enjoy this new category that I will be adding to regularly.

One thing that I absolutely love about It’s Organic (my produce delivery company) is that they are always adding new items to their inventory. One of their newest items is organic peeled garlic cloves from Christopher Ranch. Last week they gave me a complementary 6 oz bag to try out. Awesome! Love those guys!

Christopher Ranch Organic Peeled Garlic Cloves

Now I personally am a huge garlic lover. I use garlic in my cooking almost every day. It’s the Italian in me I suppose. I am always looking for ways to cut down on the prep time while working in the kitchen so I love the idea of not having to peel all those pesky garlic cloves by hand. I already have a million other things I am trying to do. My only concerns with a product like this is whether or not it would go bad before I could use it all (I hate wasting stuff) and whether or not flavor would be compromised.

Upon first look I thought, “Wow, this is a big bag of garlic. Is it going to spoil before I can get through it?” The answer was no. I didn’t realize until I opened the bag that rather than being one large bag of garlic cloves there were several vacuum sealed bags each containing 8–10 garlic cloves. I love that it’s just about a week’s worth of garlic. I was able to use what I wanted and placed the few remaining cloves in a small Tupperware container. It may be a little bit of extra packaging but in the scheme of things I liked that the garlic was divided up into smaller portions. It allows the unused garlic cloves to last longer and stay fresher. (Note: The packaging is 100% recyclable.)

Christopher Ranch Organic Peeled Garlic Cloves

Time to put the product to the test. Would it taste just as good as fresh garlic? I used these garlic cloves in both a Mexican dish as well as an Italian one. What better tests, right? I can promise you, no flavor was compromised in the least. Once you open the pack you can smell the strong aroma of garlic, the same aroma as you would get with fresh peeled cloves. These garlic cloves were just as tasty as ones I peeled myself. And my hands didn’t smell like garlic for the rest of the evening! The cloves were not dried out in the least. The garlic cloves still had plenty of those natural oils that give you the great flavor.

Overall, I think this is an absolutely fabulous product that I most certainly will be purchasing in the future. I looked at the price online and It’s Organic! is selling this for $3.49 a bag. I think that is an awesome deal! I would guess that you get about 4–5 bulbs of garlic per package so you aren’t paying any extra.

Here are some of the many reasons I love this product:

  • The pre-peeled cloves are a huge time saver
  • Totally affordable
  • It’s organic
  • Lasts several weeks from the time it’s purchased
  • The garlic is locally grown in Gilroy, California
  • Comes from a family owned and operated farm
  • You don’t have to worry about getting any rotten cloves
  • It’s USDA and CCOF Certified Organic.
  • 100% natural with no additives or preservatives
  • HACCP & Kosher certified
  • You’re prepared if you ever need to ward off vampires

If you are currently a member of It’s Organic! and you like to cook with garlic, I highly recommend you add this product to your box. What do you have to loose? And if you are not a customer of It’s Organic!, see if your local store carries this wonderful product. Christopher Ranch products are available in grocery stores all across the US. If you can’t find it at your local market, see if you can request that they carry it.

 

If your company has a product you would like reviewed please feel free to contact me at divadicucina@yahoo.com. I always love trying new products!

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Recipe—Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Truffles

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Truffles

This recipe is definitely an oldie and a goodie. The first time I made these was over 20 years ago when I was a Brownie. We made little boxes of these for our moms for Mother’s Day. (My mom was our troop leader so this is actually her recipe.) These are great for any occasion as individual truffles but you can also have fun with various shapes. Occasionally on Easter, my mom would make us homemade peanut butter eggs. I actually did that this Easter for my son’s teachers.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

These are super easy to make and they blow Reese’s out of the water! Come on, you know anything with peanut butter and chocolate is going to be delicious. It is a fun and easy recipe to make, so get the kids involved. What kid doesn’t like to get in the kitchen and use their hands? I hope you and your family love these as much as mine.

Note: Finished truffles should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. My hubby thinks they are best when frozen.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 c creamy peanut butter
4 tbsp butter, softened and divided
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 lb powdered sugar
24 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chips

STEPS


  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of the butter, corn syrup, vanilla, and whipping cream until well incorporated.
  • Add the powdered sugar to the bowl, and using your hands mix until everything is completely incorporated.
  • Pinch off bite size pieces and roll into balls. As you finish the balls place them on a wax paper lined baking sheet.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  • Once the balls are frozen, in a medium microwave safe bowl combine the chocolate chips, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and 2 tbsp of water.
  • Microwave the chocolate for 1 minute.
  • Remove the chocolate from the microwave and beat with a fork. If there are still chunks, continue microwaving and stirring in 30 second increments.
  • Once your chocolate is smooth allow it to sit on the counter for a minute.
  • Dip each frozen ball into the melted chocolate and turn until evenly coated and place back on the wax paper covered baking sheet. (I find using a fork works great to remove the balls from the melted wafers so that the extra chocolate can drip off between the prongs.)
  • Once you have finished dipping all the balls place the baking sheet back in the freezer so that the chocolate can set.
  • Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Eggs

Recipe—Buttery Lemon Dill Salmon

Buttery Lemon Dill Salmon

A couple times a year I like to complete an 11-day cleanse. It is just a way to flush out all these impurities and reset my digestive system. The weight loss is a huge perk too (Down 8 lbs! Wahoo!). For some reason during this last round I was craving salmon! And I mean REALLY craving it, like every day! I was daydreaming about a big slab of salmon covered in butter, lemon, and dill. I knew that would be one of the first dinners I would prepare for myself once I was done with the cleanse. This recipe did not disappoint. The fish was super moist and all the flavors and buttery goodness really seeped into the meat. I was shocked when even my 3-year old son devoured a huge chunk of the tasty fish. This recipe for oven baked salmon is ridiculously easy to make and super quick to get on the table. It also makes for a beautiful presentation. This may just be on the menu at my next dinner party.

INGREDIENTS
1 salmon filet (1 1/2–2 lbs)
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 c white wine
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp dried dill
lemon slices (optional)

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • Pat the salmon dry and place it in a greased baking dish.
  • Rub the butter all over the fish.
  • Combine the wine and lemon juice in a small bowl and stir.
  • Pour the liquid over the fish.
  • Sprinkle the salt, lemon pepper, and dill over the fish.
  • If you are using the lemon slices place over the top of the fish.
  • Bake the fish for 20–25 minutes or until the fish flakes off easily with a fork.

Kitchen Tip—Produce Storage Chart

One of the biggest kitchen blunders I see is the improper storage of fruits and veggies. I frequently see tomatoes in the refrigerator and apples on the counter. These are big no-nos! Refrigeration is the enemy of tomatoes. It not only changes the flavor, but it turns the flesh mealy. By not storing your fruits and veggies correctly you are impacting their flavor, texture, and color. They also may not be lasting as long as they could.  I have compiled this little cheat sheet to help eliminate the guesswork. Feel free to print this out and hang it on the refrigerator or inside one of the kitchen cabinets. Hopefully, by properly storing your produce it will last longer and you will be tossing out less at the end of each week. Happy eating!

Produce Storage Chart

Recipe—Mango and Bok Choy Salad

Mango and Bok Choy Salad

My produce box was filled with lots of fabulous goodies this week. I had almost all the makings for a delicious tropical salad, bok choy, mango, and cilantro. Yum! While many recipes that include bok choy have you cook the leafy green it is also great for salads or slaws. Bok choy is light, sweet in flavor, and has a nice crisp texture. The nutritional value is also a huge plus. It’s high in Vitamins A, C, and K as well as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and it is low in calories. The dressing for this salad is sort of a citrusy vinaigrette that keeps the salad light and refreshing. This salad was the perfect cooling component for the spicy prawns I served with it. With all these bright colors I can’t help but think that this is the perfect dish for the coming spring and summer seasons.

Note: You can use a regular head of bok choy or about 4 baby boy choy. Baby book choy has a milder flavor but both will work well with this recipe.

Mango and Bok Choy Salad

INGREDIENTS
4 c bok choy, mostly greens with some stalks thinly sliced
1 1/2 c red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 mangos, diced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp limejuice
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt

STEPS

  • Combine the bok choy, cabbage, mango, celery, green onions, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the rice vinegar, limejuice, sugar, olive oil, soy sauce, and salt until most of the sugar and salt are dissolved.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.

Recipe—Chicken Cordon Bleu Rollups

Chicken Cordon Bleu Rollups

My son loves chicken strips dipped in honey mustard and he also loves croissants. (Who doesn’t, really?) I whole-heartedly made this for him because I knew it would be a hit with the munchkin. Turns out the whole family loved them! This recipe is so simple, quick, and cheap to make. My little guy was even a wonderful helper in assembling them, and of course he made sure to be on quality control check while we were putting them together. Little rascal. I just served these with a big green salad for a balanced dinner. We had plenty of leftovers and they reheated extremely well in the oven. I’m definitely keeping these in mind for appetizers too. They were a perfect finger food and were fun to eat and make!

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c honey
1/4 c yellow mustard
1/8 c mayonnaise
1 lb chicken breast tenders
1 tbsp butter
2 cans crescent rolls
8 slices Swiss cheese, cut in half
8 slices ham cut in half lengthwise

STEPS

  • Combine together honey, mustard, and mayonnaise in a small bowl or measuring cup.
  • Place the chicken tenders in a large Ziploc bag and add in 1/2 of the honey mustard sauce and toss to coat.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the saucy chicken breast tenders flipping once until done, about 10–12 minutes.
  • Separate the crescent rolls into the individual triangles.
  • Spread the remaining honey mustard on each one.
  • Place a slice of the Swiss cheese on each crescent triangle and then top with a slice of ham folded in half.
  • Top each with a cooked breast tender.
  • Roll up the crescent starting at the wide end and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. (The parchment paper helps make cleaning up the melted cheese a breeze!)
  • Repeat with remaining chicken tenders and crescents.
  • Bake for 18–20 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe—Garlic Parmesan Wings

Garlic Parmesan Wings

So I am totally on a low carb kick right now. I am determined to loose this extra weight in preparation for summer and just to feel better overall. A lot of people ask me, “How can you do low carb? Don’t you miss all the good stuff?” My response is, “Uhhh…NO!” One of the reasons I love low carb is that you still get to eat really good food. Look at these garlic Parmesan wings, NO CARBS! Zero! Zilch! And while they are short on carbs they are most certainly not short on flavor. I actually made these for a party last weekend and they were a hit! When I told my husband what I was making for the party he told me he probably wouldn’t eat any. Well, guess who was standing over the kitchen sink chowing down on these wings? He just could not resist them. They smelled so incredibly good! And tasted just as scrumptious. I highly recommend these wings even if you aren’t watching your carbohydrates. They were super easy to make and a real crowd pleaser. By the end of the night several people had asked for the recipe. That my friends, is a very good sign.

INGREDIENTS
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried rosemary, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried cumin
3 lbs chicken wings
4 tbsp olive oil (I used some roasted garlic flavored that I had on hand. Delish!)
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, finely grated

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • In a small bowl combine oregano, rosemary, salt, and cumin. Stir to combine.
  • Place the wings in a large bowl and sprinkle with the seasoning mixture. Toss to coat.
  • Place all the wings in a single layer in a baking dish.
  • Bake for 23–27 minutes or until the wings just start to turn a golden brown.
  • Place the cooked wings in a large mixing bowl.
  • Drizzle the wings with olive oil and toss to coat.
  • Season the wings with the basil, garlic, and Parmesan and again toss to coat, making sure they all have an even coating of all the flavorful goodness.

Recipe—Sweet Glazed Carrots

Sweet Glazed Carrots

I am a lover of all things carrot. Just not when they are steamed all on their lonesome. If I am eating cooked carrots I want them to have some pizzazz. This is by far my favorite way to enjoy cooked carrots, covered in a sweet and buttery glaze. So good! These are very simple, and in fact you probably already have all the ingredients on hand. These take less than 10 minutes and are a fabulous addition to any dinner.

Note: This recipe is intended to be prepared with petite carrots but I have made it with both carrot sticks and baby carrots and had equally great results. They petite carrots just make for the nicest presentation. I had whole carrots on hand so that’s what you see in the photo.

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp white vinegar
salt
5 large carrots, cut in half lengthwise and then quarters (See above note for a variety of carrots that can be used.)

STEPS

  • In a large sauté pan combine the honey, vanilla, butter, vinegar, and salt.
  • Heat over medium-high heat.
  • Once the butter is melted whisk the glaze until well combined.
  • Add in the carrots.
  • Cook until the majority of the liquid is gone and the carrots are fork tender, about 8–10 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally.

Recipe—Sugar Cookie Bars

Sugar Cookie Bars

Last month we celebrated my son’s third birthday. I knew I wanted to send him to school with some sort of treats to share with all his friends. Well, his birthday is the day after Valentine’s Day so that week is already pretty hectic for me. I didn’t have tons of time to spend on baking and frosting individual mini-cupcakes like I wanted to. I needed something easy that I could make a lot of, and fast. I stumbled upon a recipe for sugar cookie bars. I knew they would be perfect! They had a cute festive look to them and were so easy to make. They turned out perfect! They were just the right size for a bunch of toddlers and I didn’t have to frost them all individually. These sugar cookie bars are perfect for any occasion. Have fun with different festive colored frostings and sprinkles. (I love sprinkles!)

Andrew

Photo provided by my son’s super fabulous teacher Mrs. Desiree.

COOKIE BAR INGREDIENTS
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

FROSTING INGREDIENTS
1/2 c butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 c powdered sugar
2–3 tbsp milk
food coloring
sprinkles

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Using an electric mixer beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Beat in the eggs and vanilla making sure to mix well.
  • In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking soda and stir to combine.
  • Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the creamy mixture.
  • Line a xx” x xx” baking dish with parchment paper going both directions.
  • Press the cookie dough into the lined baking dish.
  • Bake for 12–14 minutes.
  • Allow cookie bars to cool completely.
  • Using an electric mixer beat together the butter, vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar until well combined.
  • Gradually add in the milk until your frosting reaches the desired consistency. (If it becomes too runny just add in a bit more powdered sugar.
  • Once your frosting reaches desired consistency beat in the food coloring.
  • Spread the cookie bars with the frosting and top with sprinkles.
  • Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour and use a pizza wheel to cut into squares with ease.
Andrew

Photo provided by my son’s super fabulous teacher Mrs. Desiree.

Recipe—Rice Pilaf

DivaDiCucina_RicePilaf

How many times have you bought a box of quick and easy rice pilaf at the store? I think we all have at some point or another, I know I’m guilty of it on numerous occasions. Ever since having my son I have become much more aware of what I am serving up at the dinner table. One night I actually looked at a box of rice pilaf as I was making it and realized that there were over 25 ingredients (none of which were veggies like this recipe has) and I didn’t even know what half of the listed ingredients were. (Scary!) This recipe for homemade rice pilaf has 10 ingredients and a third of those are veggies. (Yummy!) This recipe actually ends up being really quick and easy and tastes way fresher than the stuff you get in a box. It is super simple and yet a great side dish for almost any dinner.

Note: Be sure to taste it before serving, I noticed once I added in a little more salt the flavors suddenly really popped. The salt really helped to highlight the flavor of the turmeric.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 c long-grain rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped into small pieces
1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
1 c frozen peas
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Cook rice per package instructions.
  • While the rice is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the carrot and cook for another 5 minutes or until tender.
  • Stir in the peas, turmeric, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.
  • After the rice has sat covered per the package instructions transfer it to the skillet
  • with the veggies.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Taste and add additional salt as needed.