Category Archives: Kitchen Tip

Roasted Garlic Thyme Butter



Never throw away left-over herbs again. Save them by creating compound butters that can be frozen for use later. I like to freeze mine in ice cube trays and then transfer them into a freezer bag so that they are easy to use on the run.



  • 1 large or 2 small heads garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
  • extra-virgin olive oil to cover
  • 1 cup (1/2-lb.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. finely minced fresh thyme
  • sea salt, preferably Gray salt


  1. Put the garlic cloves in a saucepan with just enough olive oil to cover them. Place over low heat and simmer until the cloves are soft and golden, 30-40 minutes. With a slotted spoon, scoop the garlic into a bowl, then mash to a puree. Immediately strain the oil through a coffee filter and reserve.
  2. Process the butter in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Add 1/4-cup of the garlic puree (save any extra for spreading on bread), 1-1/2 Tbs. of the reserved garlic oil, the thyme, and a pinch of salt. Process until well blended. Taste and add more salt if needed. Refrigerate until firm enough to shape into a log
  3. Put an 18-inch sheet of aluminum foil on your work surface. Spoon the butter down the center of the foil into a log about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Spoon into an ice cube tray or enclose in foil and twist the ends to make a sealed log, like a Tootsie Roll. Refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

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Fennel-Orange Butter



Orange and fennel is a great flavor combination. The fennel brings the flavor of anise and the orange adds a zesty citrus aspect. This butter is wonderful added to greens (collards, spinach), vegetables (carrots) or fish dishes. I was able to use one of my new kitchen tools for this recipe — herb shears. They feature a five blade construction allowing you to quickly and efficiently chop or mince fresh herbs directly into soups, salads, on roasts, and more. They were perfect for use on the fennel fronds.  I am also sharing with you one of my favorite kitchen hacks — using leftover herbs in butter preparations and freezing them. I use an ice cube tray to freeze them and then store them until needed. You can at anytime have a basil, garlic or tarragon butter for veggies, a blue cheese butter to place under a steak, or a fennel-orange butter to perk up some shrimp. A really quick, nice, easy way to bring flavor to dishes. Served here on top of Matchstick carrots with pork tenderloin  and Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower.

FENNEL-ORANGE BUTTER (Yields 8 Tablespoons)


  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • Sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • ¾ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


  1. To make the butter (up to 3 days ahead): Using a mortar and pestle or the side of a knife, mash the garlic with a pinch of salt until it forms a paste.  I cheated here and used 3 cloves of roasted garlic with a little salt added.) Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the butter, fennel, tarragon, orange zest and pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. To freeze: Drop about 1 to 1-1/2 Tablespoons of the mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze for 30 minutes to an hour. Pop them out and store in a freezer proof container. Use anytime to add a little extra something to your dish.



Sausage Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms offer so many opportunities to create fabulous meals – like this recipe from I stuffed these beauties with a ground Italian sausage mixture and topped them with freshly grated mozzarella.  KITCHEN TIP— I keep seasoned croutons on the shelf year round. Put some in a plastic bag, and crush them with a rolling-pin. These will undoubtedly be some of the best bread crumbs you will ever use. They are always fresh and ready to go whenever you need them.  I paired the mushrooms with Cheesy Creamed Spinach  for a wonderful Sunday supper.
(2 Servings)
2 large Portobello mushrooms
olive oil
8 oz. ground Italian sausage
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/8 cup milk
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon basil, chopped
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
dash cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
grated mozzarella cheese
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F and lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. Lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the Portobello mushrooms; then, lightly season the inside with salt.
3. Cook the sausage and onions over medium heat until the sausage is browned and crumbling. Remove from pan and drain.
4. Combine the eggs, milk, parsley, basil, garlic, cayenne pepper/hot sauce in a medium bowl.
5. Slowly add bread crumbs and parmesan to the mixture, stirring until just combined.
6. Add the sausage/onions to the mixture. Season with black pepper.
7. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.
8. Top with grated mozzarella, as desired.

Chicken Florentine Quesadilla



I don’t really have that many natural talents in the kitchen. I’m a good technician — after all, my mother was a Home Economics teacher, and she had us in the kitchen at a very young age. I am competent, but not that creative. However, finding great things to do with my leftovers is one area in which I do think I excel. One of my goals is to use all of the fresh things in my pantry completely. With that in mind, I decided to use the remaining Cheesy Creamed Spinach in a quesadilla along with some of the remaining Beer Can ChickenKITCHEN TIP: Turning a quesadilla is not always an easy task, and choosing the right tool is sometimes a make it or break it decision. I love using this extra-large palette knife for turning and transferring large items. It can handle everything from a quesadilla to a roast to turning a whole fish on the grill. Well worth the investment.

(1-2 Servings)


5 ounces sliced chicken breast
1/2 cup creamed spinach
3 large bella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1 large flour quesadilla
softened butter, as needed
1. Saute mushrooms and tomatoes in olive oil until tomatoes are just soft. Remove from the pan and set aside, leaving the liquid behind.
2. Add sliced chicken to the pan and cook until just warmed through. Place a large pan over medium high heat until hot.
3. Spread creamed spinach on one half of a flat quesadilla. Layer the chicken, followed by the mushrooms and tomatoes.
4. Fold quesadilla and spread softened butter over the top. Slide the quesadilla, butter side down into the heated pan.
5. Spread more softened butter over the top of the quesadilla and turn when the bottom layer begins to get brown and toasty.
6.  Cook until both sides are browned. Remove to a plate, cut in to sections, and serve.