Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : The Homemade Italian Happy Hour

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Whether you want more money to donate to charities, have maybe lost your job, are looking to start a family, or are getting married... money is on a lot of people's minds right now. So here's a money saving tip that I learned from my grandparents: Homemade Happy Hours. It can be a lot of fun to go out, get some fancy drinks, and a basket or two of appetizers... the entire time reminding yourself it's OK because the drinks are only $3 and appetizers are half off. But let's be honest: then the bill comes, you've spent way more than you thought, and now you have to tip. Or, you could spend the night in a place where you can control the music, your sports team is on a TV you can actually see, there's a short wait, and you know that they serve your favorite drinks. Home.

The Homemade Happy Hour we're sharing today is Italian-themed, and actually a pretty remarkable spread. We made toasted Crostini, Roasted Garlic, and Sauteed Olives. Just buy your favorite beer or beverage--maybe a Morena or Peroni or a bottle of Limoncello if you want to keep it Italian. These recipes are easy enough that you can make them right after work and not worry about mussing up your kitchen. And they're delicious enough that you won't miss paying extra to have someone open your beer bottle for you. Be sure to keep reading... we included lots of pictures.

Also, be sure and check out Dan & me on Our Hen House's Podcast this weekend! We love those kick-ass ladies over there, and it was a great honor to be a part of what they're doing to make the world a more compassionate place. If you're not familiar with Our Hen House, we highly recommend you check out their site.

Toasted Crostini with Limoncello
Toasted Crostini
  • 10 -12 Slices of Baquette (1/2 inch thick, and don't count the ends... we can eat those with the Roasted Galric)
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Tomato (diced) or 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Basil (chopped)
  • 1 Tablespoon Capers (No, not the mysteries... the flower buds of Capparis spinosa, a prickly, perennial plant which is native to the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia.They come in little jars and are kinda cute.)
  • 1 Teaspoon Braggs
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • Pinch of Daiya Mozzarella Cheese (shredded) per Crostini

Heat oven to 375.

On an uncovered cookie pan, place Bread Slices and toast lightly in the oven for no more than a minute and a half.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except Olive Oil, Bread and Daiya. When you remove the Bread Slices from the oven, just flip them over in the same spot and drizzle 1 Teaspoon of Olive Oil over each Slice of Bread.

Then spoon just enough of the Tomato Mix over each toasted slice of bread to cover it evenly. You will have some leftover but that's OK. Just put it in a cup for dipping crusts later. Then put the pinch of Daiya on top of the Tomato Mix and put the pan back in the oven.

Let bake for no more than 10 minutes. Check on them often. You want to remove them when the crusts are golden brown and the Daiya is melted. Serve warm and remember napkins that can be messy.

I was suspicious of trying to improve Olives. Betty was right again. These little guys are GOOD!

Sauteed Olives
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley (chopped)
  • 2 Green Onions (chopped)
  • 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 3 Cups of Mixed Fancy Olives on the Stone (this means with the pit still in it. Ours included Colossus Sicilians, Kalamatas, Spanish Green, Greek Green and Gaeta - it also included some Greek Golden Peppers that were a nice spicy addition if you like heat)

In a saute pan (or if you're like us, your amato cast iron skillet) heat your Olive Oil on a medium heat. Once you can see the Oil is warm, toss in Parsley, Green Onions, Red Pepper Flakes and Garlic mix. Let them cook while you stir occasionally until the Garlic begins to brown. Then add the Olives with whatever oil and juices you can from their container. Stir occasionally and simmer until the Olives are tender.

Remember when you serve them to provide a place to put your pits... it'll help keep the night classy.

Sometimes I think Roasted garlic looks good - sometimes not so much - but even when it's ugly - it's DELICIOUS!
Roasted Garlic
  • 1-4 Bulbs of Raw Garlic
  • 2 Teaspoon Olive Oil per Bulb
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Sliced French Bread

Heat oven to 350.

Cut about 1/4 of an inch down from the tip of the Garlic Bulb to expose cloves. Carefully peel off the paper skin from each bulb - be sure to leave just enough to hold the bulbs together. Then place them - exposed cloves up in a small oven safe dish and drizzle the Olive Oil over the bulbs. Salt and Pepper to taste. Cover with foil and put in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until the Garlic is tender when you poke them with a toothpick. Let them cool and then serve by gently squeezing the soft paste out of the roasted cloves over the slices of bread.


  1. Ooh, now I'm hungry! That Toasted Crostini looks really good. I'm adding that to the menu next week. Thanks!

  2. great idea, happy hours are always a false economy, as you end up hungry after a few drinks and then paying extra for food etc. I love the Italian theme idea too - quite healthy for new year.

  3. oh yum!!!!!!

    X Yas