Today I started dreaming about garlic butter.

A long time ago, Greg and I used to go out for dinner a lot more than we do now.
Like many parents of smaller-ish children, we often found that going out for dinner was actually more stressful than staying in.
First we had to procure babysitters (Oma and Opa were wonderful for that, and then Jacqueline’s girls
Lauren, Alex and Hayley all took turns as they grew into teenagers, thank you very much!)
and then make sure that there was a meal for the kids left at home, along with instructions, back up plans,
activities, and then I had to deal with the false mother-guilt for leaving my preciouses behind….
ok, so that’s it’s own issue, I admit that.

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Anyway, then there was always the struggle to balance budgets and prioritize spending in a growing family.
And then, as the kids got even older, they would start to want to go out with us,
so our annual eating out tending to look like a nice dinner by ourselves sometime around our anniversary
and a fair amount of drive-thru’s and burger joints, simply because
I have an issue with taking 4-16 (yes, I exaggerate sometimes)
small people to a restaurant and then having them eat my fries and leave everything on their own plates
and spill anything not secured down to the table.  
$200 later, (not quite as much of an exaggeration, sadly)
walking out of a restaurant, I would feel a little depleted in more ways than one.

But, back in the days when we did go out to nice restaurants more often,
and when we do manage to sneak a date in nowadays,
we have always really appreciated fine dining.
You know, the kind where there are different sauces for each dish,
where words like “braised” and “cream” and “sautéd” are included in the descriptions,
and the bread is fresh baked artisan with delicious specialty whipped butter, 
where you first think there aren’t prices listed,
until you see the tiny numbers to the bottom right of the menu items and
you realize that that number 55 actually means that the entré is $55.00.

“Yikes!” every time, but we keep going back….

Now, since enjoying those restaurants come with a pretty hefty price tag,
and we really aren’t as rich and rolling in it as some might think,
I’ve had to, in recent years, curb my desire for the finer things in life to be just handed to me.
However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the finer things.
Nope. I still get them, but it’s because I’m not afraid to google things and figure out how to make them myself.

So, today, I up’ed the ante on my usual garlic bread to go with the spaghetti I threw together.

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Turns out gourmet butter isn’t that hard at all. Or expensive.

I chose cilantro today, mainly because I had some in the house for another reason,
but you can use any fresh herb – basil, maybe, or parsley or thyme or chives (thanks, Tammy Y).
Chopped it up really fine as well as crushing some garlic with my press.
Added it all to half a block of butter and added some fresh lemon juice.
Again, I had lemons on hand because I add them to my water,
but if you don’t have any, I’m sure lemon juice from a bottle will work well.

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The trick is to use a mixer and blend the butter really well.
If you are using 20°C room temperature butter, perfect.
But if you’re like me, and trying to keep energy costs down by wearing a sweater in your home,
your room temperature butter may still be rather firm and you might have to blend a little longer.
Also – the longer the butter sits, the better the flavours blend.

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As well, if you have leftover herbs, you can freeze them in ziploc bags for future use.
I certainly don’t always have fresh herbs on hand.
Just make sure all the air is out of the bag, and remember to label it,
because frozen chopped cilantro looks a lot like frozen chopped basil.

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Final step 

Bake some lovely artisan bread and serve warm with Garlic Cilantro Whipped Butter like Divino’s here in Essex.

Ok, so in my world that translates into:

Find all the odds and end bread that is left over in all the bags because
no one ever wants the last slices in the bag or
wants to use the leftover hot dog and hamburger buns for sandwiches,
and slather in Garlic Cilantro Whipped Butter and
bake at 350°F for a few minutes until melted and bread is slightly crusty.

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MMMMmmm, mmmm!

I can even get my kids to eat whole wheat bread this way.
Amazing how slathering something healthy with something delicious,
but not really healthy can affect what a kid eats.
Kinda like taking potatoes (healthy)
and deep frying them (not healthy)
gets kids to eat their potatoes.

As an added bonus today, I also played the old,
“Throw extra sautéd vegetables into the spaghetti sauce and Braun it so the the kids won’t know” trick.
Might not be gourmet, but I’m not eating tonight as Greg and I are going to a dinner meeting and I’m still a Mom.

I love my Braun.

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And, yes, Desiree, I will still make your Chicken Pesto Pasta. I’m hoping to tackle that later this week. . .