Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi all.

Things have been a bit hectic and tiring lately. I promise to be back soon with a few fantastic, easy, new recipes for the Christmas holiday.

In the mean time, I wish everyone a safe, happy and warm Thanksgiving.

All my best,

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sausage Bread

When the world makes me tired and cranky and life gets a little too hectic, I cannot think of anything better than an autumn day at home, reading, baking, puttering about the house and making this bread.

I am an Aquarius, and not a homebody by nature. Unlike my crabby, cancer husband, who prefers to stay in his shell most of the time. I view home as a resting place. A place to recuperate before venturing back out into the world again. So it is important for me to have a well stocked kitchen, with a lot of delectable foods on hand to cozy up with when I am in nesting mode.

That's the reason I love this recipe so much. It's my ultimate, stay at home, comfort food. Something savory and delicious to bake on chilly autumn days when the oven is just begging to be turned on.

I made this for a neighbor once who had just had a baby, and her family loved it. They devoured the entire loaf in one setting. It's the type of food you can pack up easily and transport. Just add a salad and some red wine and your talking heaven in my book.

You can use any type of bread recipe you like here. A loaf of Rhodes frozen bread dough works fine in a pinch. Just thaw, roll out, add the sausage filling and bake.

Occasionally, I like to add pepperoni slices to the sausage mixture. But most of the time, we prefer it plain, with just the sausage and cheese. There's something so satisfying about the soft, yeasty, bread and the spicy Italian sausage. I can't get enough.

Sausage Bread

For the bread -

1 box Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix
Yeast packet that is included in mix
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup warm water

In a food processor, add the Hot Roll Mix, sugar, salt, and yeast. Pulse a few times to combine. Add olive oil and 1 1/2 cups warm water and mix until dough forms a ball. You want it to be the consistency of a smooth, thick, pizza dough.
Place in bowl or on a cookie sheet dusted with flour and allow to rise for 1 hour.

For the sausage filling -

1 lb. Italian Sausage
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 cups shredded mozzerella cheese
1 egg

Cook sausage in skillet along with Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Set aside to cool. After it has cooled, add cheese and 1 egg lightly beaten. The egg will help bind everything together.

On a floured surface, roll dough out into the shape of a long rectangle. Sometimes I make two smaller loaves, sometimes I like to make one giant loaf. It's your choice. Spoon sausage filling into middle of dough, then fold over edges to form a loaf shape and pinch seams shut.

Gently turn loaf onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, seam side down. Brush with olive oil. Allow to rest for another 20-30 minutes. While dough is resting preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Soup Lines

This week I will not be posting a recipe for soup, or any other food for that matter. Truth is this little blog is an experiment that has, I think, gone awry. I had hoped to make a simple and delicious soup each and every week then post about it here. Several things have went wrong ...

First off, there is the simple matter of time. I work outside the home - or at least I do for now - and the job itself, along with commuting back and forth, does take a toll. Also, I have the most spoiled family in the universe - used to me doing all the laundry, housework, grocery shopping, etc. - I often find it difficult just to make it through the day.

Next, there is what I call the Male Soup Aversion. My husband will eat just about anything, but for some reason unbeknownst to me, he does not consider soup an actual meal. And peparing two meals is a lot of work.

Lastly, every thing you've heard about the recent economy is true. After fifteen years with the same company, come January, my hubby will no longer have a job. And to make matters worse, the place I work is rumored to to be shutting down soon as well.

Cooking has become a drudgery. My heart just isn't in it. Too many things going on in my mind. But that doesn't mean we've completely stopped eating or joined the fast food masses or anything. We actually had some pretty good taco's last night. And, as I type, I have a giant blob of no-knead bread rising on the counter. There's something so therapeutic about baking bread(!).

Anyway, it does seem eerily like The Grapes of Wrath. I know at least 30 people who have recently lost their jobs. And oddly enough, when I first began this blog, on a whim, a little over a year ago, I almost called it Soup Lines. But being from Oklahoma, I quickly realized the negative connotations of such a title. Too many people like myself had family who had suffered through the dust bowl. I remember looking at photos of my grandmother's family, standing in front of a dilapidated home, with what appeared to be "snow" knee deep, but was actually a foot-and-a-half of sand. Grandma used to say, "You don't know what it's like to have to stand in soup lines."

Thankfully, the only soup I plan on standing in line for is at a local cafe. But things are a little scary right now. So if you're passing through Oklahoma and see a Chevy Equinox loaded down with pots and pans and kitchen utensils piled on top, that'll be me, with my family, headed west, or wherever the road takes us, probably to the next soup line. I hope.