May 13, 2012: Jane’s Sausage Bread Recipe

By popular demand, I’m finally putting my sausage bread recipe in writing. (Okay, I know that some of you asked for it several months ago, but…)
I’ve honed the actual prep and cooking down to its easiest, quickest formula. No more rolling and stretching fresh pizza dough, no more crumbling the sausage. The instructions look a lot more complicated than they really are, but that’s because I’ve added notes for guidance. So here you are:

You’ll need:

1 roll (16-oz) PARK’S HOT N’SAGEY SAUSAGE (In the frozen sausage section, the wrapper is bright orange)
NOTE: Keep it frozen until the night before (or morning before) you’re planning to start this; let it partially thaw in the fridge so that it will be easier to slice lengthwise, otherwise it’s messier to try to slice evenly.

1 roll Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough

1/2 lb. (approx) Muenster cheese (or provolone, or Monterey Jack, any mild cheese – I don’t use mozzarella ’cause it’s too stringy/messy.)
NOTE: I get the muenster cheese in the bar form, since I end up slicing it lengthwise. I thinly slice off the orange outer part of the muenster before slicing.

1/2 to 3/4 lb. mushrooms
NOTE: I get the pre-sliced white mushrooms, which come in an 8-oz package, but a bit more would be optimal. (For this Saturday’s event, where I made two breads, I had inadvertently bought one pack of sliced white mushrooms and one pack of sliced baby bellas. Mixed, it turned out okay, but the baby bellas are a little more rubbery, so I’d recommend just the white mushrooms.)

2 or 3 large cloves of garlic (or several smaller cloves, or a good heaping tablespoon of jarred pre-minced garlic)

a pat or two of butter

**********************************************************************************************************
Since I usually make this for a particular event or get-together, I like to get the prep part done the night before:

– Pre-heat oven to 325;

– Slice the sausage roll lengthwise into (approx) 1/2″-thick slices (easiest if you slice it down the center, then slice each half down their centers–you should end up with 4 slices); place the slices in a foil-lined (for easier cleanup) pan that’s at least 1″ deep – I use a brownie pan – because the sausage produces a lot of grease; place in pre-heated oven and bake for approx. 1/2 hour, turning slices halfway through cooking time; you’ll want them to be thoroughly cooked, but not browned or crispy; meanwhile:

– Peel the garlic cloves and mince them in a chopper (or whatever you more sophisticated cooks use);

– the mushrooms: whether you’re using pre-packaged sliced mushrooms or whole mushrooms, they’ll need to be chopped into smaller pieces–you can combine them with the garlic cloves when you chop them, or do it separately;

– Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the minced garlic and chopped mushrooms; cook on low heat (either covered or uncovered), stirring occasionally, until both mushrooms and garlic are well-softened (approx. 15 minutes)

If you’re doing these steps simultaneously, both the sausage and the mushroom/garlic combo should end up being ready around the same time; then:

– Remove the sausage slices from the pan and blot them thoroughly in a LOT of paper towels to absorb as much grease as possible;

– Drain the liquid from the cooked mushroom/garlic concoction (you can keep the liquid for other recipes if you wish);

At this point you can either refrigerate these ingredients and go to bed, or set them aside while you start playing with the pizza dough. Either way, when you are ready to finally put the whole thing together:

– Pre-heat oven to 350

– Open the pizza dough roll and carefully (try not to stretch it) unroll it onto a very lightly greased large cookie sheet or other large baking pan (can’t use round pizza pan, as the dough rolls out into a rectangle, more or less) NOTE: I spray a little Pam onto a paper towel and use the sprayed paper towel to grease the pan. You can use a little bit of butter the same way.

– Arrange the sausage slices along the center of the pizza dough, leaving about 1/2″ to 3/4″ of dough uncovered at both ends. The sausage slices should be arranged in two-by-two form, i.e. ==; it works best if you lay them out along the shorter width of the pizza dough;

– Using a cheese slicer (for uniformity) slice the Muenster cheese bar lengthwise in approx. 1/4″-thick slices; arrange the slices on top of the sausage slices;

– cover the sausage/cheese slices with the mushroom/garlic mixture, spreading evenly;

– carefully (again, try not to stretch the dough) fold the sides of the dough over the top of the whole concoction, and pinch the open ends together to close the bread;

– bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, until the bread is more-or-less evenly golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool for a few minutes, then carefully remove it from the baking sheet – I use two spatulas so that the bread is evenly supported. Either place the bread on a serving plate for immediate slicing and consumption; or, if you’re bringing it to an event, wrap the bread in tinfoil.

NOTE: When I do this for an event, I allow extra time to cool the bread in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour, then pre-slice it and reheat it for 10 or 15 minutes at 300 prior to final wrapping for transport. When I do the re-heating, I partially wrap the bread, leaving the top uncovered a bit so the top gets firm and a little crusty again.

As I said, the above looks like a lot of complicated work, but it’s really not, otherwise I would probably be too lazy to make it!

Try it yourself and enjoy!

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The Watering Hole: December 9 — What’s for dinner?

Hey, Critters and Zoosters!  The table is set — What’s for dinner!?

I know you have your holiday favs running around your heads, and you’re haunting the stores for the best ingredients, so if you feel like sharing your holiday traditions, stories, and/or recipes — this is the place to do it!

This is our daily open thread and it’s Friday Foodie day — what could be better?

Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 24th: Pass the Pepper, Please?

Too Much Pepper?

If you like your turkey (or your face) extra-spicy, you can probably hire Lt. Pike to come by your house with fresh pepper spray.  I, for one, will stick with just fresh-ground pepper.

On a more serious note, I’d like to say how thankful I am, on this Thanksgiving day and every day, to have such a wonderful family.  I’m speaking of my Zoo family.  Faceless and far apart, nevertheless you are always here to share laughter, sadness, joy, outrage, ideas, photographs, or just a simple electronic hug when needed.  I have learned so much from all of you, and you have had a profound effect on my life.  To my fellow Critters and our many frequent and always-welcome guests, I thank you all for being who you are, and I’m thankful to be part of such a talented, intelligent, and loving family.

Wherever you are today, I wish you all a wonderful day, with good people around you and good food in front of you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

This is our open thread.  What are YOU thankful for?

The Watering Hole: September 23, 2011 — Schweddy Balls

Yummmm...

A bunch of Moms have their panties in a twist over the latest Ben & Jerry’s delicious creation of yumminess — Schweddy Balls.

Vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum & loaded with fudge-covered rum & malt balls.

Apparently, Schweddy Balls are a threat to the innocence of their little darlings.  Methinks these ladies haven’t heard their special boys and girls talking among themselves on the school yard.

Hey ladies, thanks for putting up a fuss about this new Ben & Jerry’s flavor — I hadn’t heard of it!

So what do you think about the fuss?  Personally, I can’t wait to get some Schweddy Balls in my mouth.  😉

This is our Friday open thread — ice cream anyone?

Watering Hole: August 29, 2011 – Tomato

For me, this is the best season of the year.  It is tomato season.

Tomatoes are native to the Americas and along with peppers, eggplant, and belladonna, are members of the nightshade family.

This fruit is so very versatile.  You can cook it and make a sauce which is great on pizza or over pasta.  Add tomatoes to soups.  Raw tomatoes make yummy sandwiches and can be added to any salad.

The only good tomato is a fresh tomato grown in season.  The tomatoes that are sold in the supermarkets in the off season have a high “yuk” factor.  Science keeps trying to genetically modify the tomato so that the consumer can enjoy the taste of fresh tomatoes all year round.  So far, they have not succeeded in creating this tomato.  Some of the best varieties are the “heirlooms“.  Tomatoes are relatively easy to grow.  One does not need much space to grow tomatoes as they can be grown in containers.  The only requirements are the warm sun, good, clean soil and water when needed.

Here’s a link to the nutritional information for tomatoes.

So grab a salt shaker and head for the tomato garden.

This is our Open Thread.  What do you think?  Speak Up!

THE Watering Hole: April 9 – Man and Nature

We have a post lamp out front. Until about three years ago, we used a 60 watt bulb controlled by a light sensor. Up to that time, a green tree frog would climb up the post at sunset and leave about dawn.

Then, we decided to put in one of those spiral bulbs that draw about 8 watts, but without the sensor. It turns out that the light frequencies emitted by that bulb work day and night at attracting insects. Now the frog or a relative is getting fat. The insects are also threatened.

Question is: should I get a light sensor which would require a 14 watt bulb but draw 3 watts 24 hours per day in order to control the frog’s obesity as well as the insect population?

I am not sure that it is the same frog, but my Granddaughter insists that is an animal she calls “Greeny”.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.