Making this bread dough is a snap; it just doesn’t get any easier than this. If you are efficient, the dough can be ready to rise in 15 minutes flat. And with a few swipes of garlic butter, a sprinkle of cheese, and a couple of cuts and twists, you can make 16 incredible cheesy garlic knots that will make you very popular. (Disclaimer: I used a lot of garlic in this recipe. If you want to maintain that popularity, don’t breathe on anybody after eating one. Or maybe swish first with a lovely red wine . . .)
I made these three ways. The easiest—Cheesy Garlic Knots—is also my husband’s favorite, so that’s the recipe I’ll give you. Instructions for the other two variations (Saucy Salami, and Olive and Fig) will be at the bottom of the post . . . worth scrolling for!
Makes 16 knots. Use whatever kind of cheese you enjoy. I like to use cheddar and jack, with a little Parmesan and Asiago for a flavorful kick.
1½ cups very warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package active-dry yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic salt
3½ cups bread flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups grated cheese, lightly packed
In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended) combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow mixture to sit until slightly bubbly - about 5 minutes.
Add olive oil, salt, garlic salt, and bread flour. Mix well using a dough hook (or if mixing by hand, use a sturdy spoon) then knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand for 7 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
FILLING: Combine softened butter, olive oil, pressed garlic, and salt. Mix well. Set aside 1 tablespoon for brushing over knots.
Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with one at a time, roll into a 12-inch by 7-inch rectangle. Spread ¼ of the garlic butter mixture over the dough. Cover with ¼ of the cheese. Beginning at long side, roll snugly. Cut the roll in half, creating two 6-inch pieces. Cut each of these in half LENGTHWISE, exposing the layers.
Stretch each piece gently while twisting until dough is approximately 9-10 inches long. Tie in a knot and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all of the dough, yielding 16 knots. Cover lightly with a towel and let the knots rise for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 400 F. Bake knots 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with reserved garlic butter mixture. Serve slightly warm.
Once yeast is bubbly, add oil, salt, and flour. Knead well and let rise until doubled.
Combine butter, oil, and garlic. (Make sure you save a little for brushing on hot knots.)
Spread one piece of dough with garlic butter and cover with a generous amount of grated cheese.
Roll snugly and cut in half.
Cut the halves in half, but LENGTHWISE this time to expose the layers. Twist and stretch, then tie in a knot
Cheesy Garlic Knots, ready to rise and bake.
Wait ’til you smell these! And if you think these are good, try one of the other variations below. Hint: don’t be too generous with the sauce or fig spread; it’ll make a big mess when you try to twist and knot!
Saucy Salami version: spread spaghetti sauce over garlic butter. Salami is added on top of the cheese. (Ignore the size; this was taken before I got smart and rolled the dough in smaller pieces.)
Saucy Salami: In addition to the Cheesy Garlic Knot recipe above, you’ll need 1/2 cup spaghetti (or pizza) sauce, and 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian dry salami.
Make knots as described in the recipe above, except after spreading the garlic butter, cover with a thin layer (about 2 tablespoons per each piece of dough) spaghetti sauce. (Pizza sauce would be good, too.) Don’t use too much or the dough will be much harder to twist and knot. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian dry salami over cheese. Roll, cut, and bake as described in the Cheesy Garlic Knot recipe.
Olive and Fig version: Add store bought kalamata/fig spread. So good! (Yes, you can make your own olive/fig tapenade if you’d like. There are lots of lovely recipes for that on Google.)
Olive and Fig: You’ll need a jar of olive fig spread. I bought this jar of spread at the grocery store, but they have a lot of brands online.
Make knots as described in the recipe above, except after spreading the garlic butter, cover with a thin layer (about 1 tablespoon per each piece of dough) olive fig spread before adding the cheese. The kalamata olives are so flavorful, and figs add a touch of sweetness. Delightful!
These are dangerous – at least around here. I can’t stop at one, and I swear they’re even more flavorful the next day if they’re stored in an airtight container. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
If you grow zucchini or know anyone who does, chances are you have a few hanging around in your fridge, or you stashed bags of grated zucchini in your freezer. Or maybe you’ll want to put your coat on and run to the store right now because this is now my official, absolute, no-holds-barred favorite zucchini recipe!
Granted, the flaky pastry might have something to do with my passion for these little puffs (you could probably fill them with cat food and I’d still love them), but the cheesy zucchini filling was so savory and delectable that I was hooked with one bite.
I considered adding ham, onions, olives, or chopped chicken breast—all of which I think would be delicious, but in this case, I wanted to appreciate the pastries in their simplest form. And I appreciated them a lot. A whole lot.
Rough puff pastry is so easy. It really is! It takes a little time because you chill it several times between the rolling/folding action, but making the dough is simple. You dump flour and salt on a work surface, chop cold butter into it, fold in cold water, and then roll and fold . . . many times. See? Easy and fun!
I make mine the day before because I think it has more flavor that way. Take it out of the fridge to soften 30 minutes before you plan to make the puffs.
Yes, yes, I’m using that potsticker press again. I’m getting a lot of mileage out of that little gadget. If you don’t have one, you can do it the old-fashioned way, with a fork.
And I do want to mention that a few of these will—in spite of your valiant efforts with egg white and potsticker press—ooze. What a horrid word. I tried to find a more appealing description but failed. It’s cheese; it oozes! But you know what? That crispy blob of cheese on the baking sheet is the best part as far as I’m concerned.
Makes 20-24 For best results, make the dough several hours before you plan to serve. The day before is even better!
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt (add ¼ t additional salt if using unsalted butter)
1 cup (2 sticks) COLD butter
⅔ cup very cold water
1 cup shredded zucchini, firmly packed (about 1 small zucchini)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup shredded fresh parmesan cheese
2 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces mozzarella (the soft, fresh kind if possible)
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon herbs de Provence (or herbs of choice)
Pinch of onion powder
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs (I used Panko, but any kind will do.)
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Place flour on work surface. Mix in the salt.
Cut cold butter into small cubes - about ½ inch square. Chop into flour mixture using a long spatula, knife, or bench scraper. Don't overwork the mixture - you should see chunks of butter larger than a pea.
Drizzle cold water over flour and butter with one hand while tossing with a spatula in the other hand. Use the spatula to scrape the messy dough into a rectangle about 5" x 8", with the short edge facing you. Lightly flour the work surface as needed.
Using a rolling pin, press and gently roll until dough is approximately 7" x 10". It will be very crumbly. Don't panic, it will come together! Use a spatula or bench scraper to lift the bottom of the dough so that the bottom edge is two-thirds of the way up. Lift and fold the top down until the top edge is at the bottom. The dough has just been folded into three equal layers. Give it a turn to the left. Repeat three more times. By the last roll and fold, it should look like dough.
Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove dough from refrigerator and repeat the roll/fold/fold/turn procedure three times. Return to refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Again, remove dough from refrigerator and repeat the roll/fold/fold/turn procedure three times. Return to refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days. (If dough has been chilled for more than 1 hour, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before making puffs.)
NOTE: While the dough is chilling you can make the filling and refrigerate it until needed.
Heat olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add grated zucchini and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute, or until softened. Remove from heat.
Add the cheeses. Stir well. If cheese isn't melted, you can heat it on low or simply knead the mixture together. Stir in the seasonings and breadcrumbs. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Heat oven to 400 F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment
With the short end of the dough facing you, and the open edge of dough on the right (like a book), cut across the middle, creating two squares. Working with one at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a long rectangle, 9" x 21".
Using a 4-inch cutter, cut 10 circles. Stack scraps flat in a pile and set aside. Place one circle at a time in potsticker press (or leave flat on work surface if using a fork to seal the puffs) and brush a little egg white around the edge. Put 2 level teaspoons of filling in the center and press firmly to close, or use a fork to seal.
Place at least 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Brush lightly with egg white (a paper towel dipped in the egg white works well) and poke the top of the puff once with a fork.
Repeat with remaining dough. Roll all of the scraps at once. Cut as many circles as possible and discard the remaining dough. (Or just pile loosely on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar before baking!)
Bake for about 12 minutes, or until puffs are a light golden brown. Move to a cooling rack. Best eaten warm.
Chop the butter into the flour. (That’s Irish butter – so yellow!!)
Drizzle with one hand and toss with the other.
Corral it into a rectangle and roll it out. I know it’s a mess; just keep rolling!
The first “fold”. Make an attempt to lift the bottom edge up two-thirds of the way.
And then fold the top down over the bottom to create three equal layers. Ugly shaggy layers. It’ll get better, I promise.
Repeat three times and you’ll end up with dough! See the small butter pockets? That’s okay. They’ll blend in eventually. Chill for 30 minutes, then repeat and repeat. The rolling and folding just take a few quick minutes.
Grate the zucchini
Saute briefly in olive oil
Add the cheese.
Add breadcrumbs and seasoning. Stir.
Work with half at a time.
Roll out thin and cut 4-inch circles
Brush edge of rounds with egg white and put filling in the center. Press firmly, using a potsticker press. (Or you can fold it and use a fork.)
Brush with egg white and poke a fork in the top, then bake
Scraps should be stacked flat and rolled all at once. (One time only.)
I used lots of pictures and probably too many words; making these melt-in-your-mouth treasures is a lot easier than it appears. Remember that if you’re making these for a party or guests, the dough can be made several days ahead of time, making the assembly go very quickly.
I may be adding a couple more zucchini plants to my garden next year. You might want to grow a few too!
If you’re making snacks for a football game, these spicy appetizers will be a guaranteed fan favorite. Meatballs are dipped in a fiery glaze and baked in a spicy puff pastry wrap. Set aside some of the glaze for dipping, and watch the hearty treats disappear.
I have a real aversion to storebought frozen meatballs, but if you like them, by all means, use them and save yourself some time! I used ham balls because I had just made a bunch of them. They were wonderful, (you’ll find the Taste of Home recipe here: Brown Sugar Glazed Ham Balls) but beef would be great too!
I admit to being a total wimp when it comes to spicy foods, so I ask you to use your judgment and season the glaze to taste. You may want to add a whole lot more hot sauce that I used. If you’re making your own meatballs, you could add a little Chinese hot mustard to the raw meat, or red pepper flakes for another layer of spiciness. This is a recipe that is just begging for you to make it your own!
If you want to use store-bought puff pastry (not phyllo dough!) you can roll the spices onto the dough before cutting out the circles.
If you make your own dough, don’t panic if it’s very, very crumbly and messy at first. With each roll, fold, and turn, it will get more cooperative. Every time I make this I think I’ve done something wrong, but it always comes together!
The dough can be made ahead, which will make the assembly a snap. I even cut out the circles, dusted them with flour, and stored them in a zipper-type freezer bag for 3 days and they worked perfectly. I left the dough a tiny bit thicker and cut out smaller circles, then when I was ready to use them I used a small roller to thin and enlarge the dough.
When you dip the balls in glaze and roll in breadcrumbs, your fingers will get messy, so either get an assembly line going or be near a sink or bowl of water.
After baking, immediately move pastries from the cupcake pan onto a cooling rack so the bottoms won’t get soggy.
The tops will open up a little during baking to show the top of the meatball. If you don’t want this, you can go with Plan ‘B’ and use two smaller rounds of dough (imagine a flying saucer) like this:
It’s a little bit more work, but pretty. Not sure if “pretty” is critical if you’re making this for a group of football fans, though! Your call.
The pastry on the left uses two rounds. The one on the right uses one larger round.
Makes approximately 24 appetizers. Pastry dough can be made ahead and stored for a day or two in a heavy plastic storage bag.
SPICY ROUGH PUFF PASTRY:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon spicy garlic seasoning (or ½ teaspoon garlic salt and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes)
1 teaspoon Chipotle seasoning - more to taste.
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
⅔ cup very cold water
⅔ cup brown sugar
⅔ cup grape jelly
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons chili paste
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne (more to taste)
a few dashes hot sauce of your choice
24 cooked MEATBALLS, approximately 1-inch to 1½-inches
1 cup breadcrumbs (I use Panko)
1 egg plus 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
PASTRY: Combine flour and seasonings directly on work surface.
Cut cold butter into small chunks, 1-inch or less
Using a bench scraper, knife, or sturdy spatula, chop butter into flour until butter pieces are about the size of a large pea.
With scraper in one hand and cold water in the other, drizzle and toss until all the water has been incorporated. Don't overwork it - it should look like a shaggy mess.
Use your scraper or spatula to shape into a 5x8 inch rectangle, with a short edge facing you.
Roll out dough to approximately 6"x10", using the metal scraper to form straight edges. Keeping the short edge facing you, Flip the bottom edge up to the middle (it will be crumbly...just do the best you can) and the top edge down to the bottom. This will create three equal sized layers. Give the dough a turn to the left, lightly flouring the surface if necessary to keep it from sticking, and repeat. Repeat 3 more times. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days.
GLAZE: In a medium saucepan combine brown sugar, grape jelly, vinegar, chili paste, and cayenne. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from heat and add hot sauce to taste. Reserve ½ cup glaze in a small bowl for dipping.
Heat oven to 400 F. Grease (very lightly!) the bottom of each cavity in 2 cupcake pans.
Remove dough from the refrigerator. If the dough has been in the fridge for more than an hour, allow it to warm up slightly on the counter for a few minutes. Following the previous instructions, roll and turn two more times, then roll out dough very thin - about 15 x 22". (Similar to wonton or eggroll wrappers.)
Cut circles from the dough, keeping them as close together as possible. Stack scraps, each piece on top of the previous piece) for re-rolling if necessary. For a meatball that is 1½ inches across, you'll need a 4½-inch or 5-inch circle.
Dip each meatball in the glaze, roll in breadcrumbs (this will keep help absorb the glaze), and place in the center of the dough circle. Moisten the edge of the dough all around with egg wash and lift the dough up, pleating it around the meatball and pressing together at the top. Place in the prepared cupcake pan and brush lightly with egg wash.
Here’s the photo I entered in the CuttingBoard.com photo contest.
I have spent the last three days arranging and rearranging a variety of meats, cheeses, and accompaniments on a bamboo cutting board. I stepped out of my happy little baking world to dabble in the art of charcuterie when I was inspired by the Cutting Board and John Boos Photography Contest to try my hand at something other than taking photos of cookies and cakes.
What began as a fun project for a contest may have turned into a new obsession. Trust me, when you look at the cutting boards on Cutting Board’s website you’ll understand my sudden fascination with cold cuts and the many ways of displaying them.
Don’t worry, it’s not all about salami and cheese. I also created a super yummy bread to use in my photo—one that has swirls of garlic, olives, and cheese. The bread dough is made with pumpkin ale, and is chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. Killer!
You’ll find the recipe at the end of this post.
For my first effort, I used a light box and photographed a lovely collection of goodies. It was very attractive and (I think) appealing. But instructions for the contest said that they appreciated “originality and humor”, which my photo didn’t exactly express.
Haha, do you like the way I used camo duct tape to hold up the tablecloth in the background? Claaaaaaassy.
Well, shoot. I’d have to try again.
I pulled out the paper mache bears I made for a fair display this year and put them to work. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how many photos I had to take to get one I liked. It took me two days and three separate setups and photo sessions. The lighting was off, the light outlet under the window showed, the bear’s ear was wonky, the salami was blurry. I like to use the natural light in my dining room when I can, or my lightbox when I can’t, but these bears had to be looking through the window.
The window with the screen removed, of course. And in case you should try this at home, here’s a tip: if the photographer gets involved with reviewing her photos and forgets to close that window, a whole lot of moths will see it as an invitation to visit. Gah!
This was a real learning experience. I’m used to taking photos of baked goods, and can usually get something I like in one session. But this? Wow. I am going to dig out that Canon Rebel T3 for Dummies book and figure out my camera if it kills me.
Throughout this ordeal, I was sending photos to my daughter, asking her which ones she liked. Begging for suggestions. After hearing me complain about overexposed cheese, blurry salami, and depth issues, she finally asked me if I used my F-stop.
It seems there are other options on my little Canon Rebel T3 than Auto Focus. Who knew? Well, actually, I knew. I’d read that Dummies book, and some of it actually made sense at the time, but at my age (don’t ask) retention is sometimes problematic. So I usually use Auto Focus or sometimes play with manual and A-Dep (for when I want everything in focus). This time I played around with the AV option too, to try to get the bear heads a little out of focus so the board of food would stand out.
To be completely honest, I don’t even know which photos were the result of which methods. There were literally hundreds of photos to go through when I was done.
I was through with the second session, thinking I had a couple of good shots when The Man mentioned that I should have put smoked salmon on the board, as a bear attractant. Why didn’t I think of that? We live up in the mountains, and a trip to the store usually just has to wait for my regular weekly jaunt to town, but under the circumstances, I made an exception and raced for smoked salmon and some Prosecco. (I felt that sparkling wine would be a good addition.)
So much for that. I waited until the sun went down so the light coming through the window wasn’t glaring. I set up the lights and camera. Again. Loaded up my cutting board with goodies. Again. Added the salmon and the wine. Took a ton of photos, put away the meat and cheese. Again. And then realized that:
I’d piled too many things on the board. It looked cluttered. Note to self: less is more.
I should have flaked a piece of the fish so it would look like fish. It looked like ham! (Trust me, it cost more than ham!)
By the time I stopped fussing, it was almost dark, which turned everything muddy.
I briefly considered one more try the next morning, but just didn’t have it in me. The photo without the salmon and wine would have to do.
Behind the scenes
We’ll be eating a lot of salami, nibbling on a lot of cheese, and noshing on olives for the next week or so. Or maybe I should open a deli? But it was worth it; I learned a lot, and (with the exception of a few frustrating moments) enjoyed the experience thoroughly.
And hey, in case you were wondering, sparkling wine doesn’t last. Someone had to drink it immediately, right? But I shared it with my friend.
Here’s that recipe for you. I used pumpkin ale, but any beer will do.
This soft bread with a chewy crust and delightful swirl of garlic, olives, and cheese will be the talk of your charcuterie board! Makes two small baguette-type loaves.
¼ cup warm water
½ teaspoon sugar
1 package active-dry yeast
1 bottle (12 oz.) beer. I used Pumpkin Ale
1 tablespoon olive oil
3½ - 4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup grated cheese - cheddar is great, or add in some strong cheese too (Asiago, Parmesan, Romano).
1 cup chopped olives (A mixture of green, black, Kalamata)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
In a small bowl, combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow yeast to soften 5 minutes, or until bubbly.
In a small pan, gently warm beer on low heat just until lukewarm.
In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, beer, and olive oil.
Add 3½ cups bread flour and salt. Mix with dough hook for 3 minutes. If the dough is still very sticky, gradually add additional flour until just slightly tacky to the touch. Continue to knead by machine for another 3 minutes. (If kneading by hand, after stirring in the 3½ cups flour, drop dough onto well-floured surface and knead 8 minutes.)
Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat the dough. Cover and allow to rise until double, approximately 1 hour.
Punch dough down and roll into a 9x18 rectangle. Brush lightly with melted butter. (You won't use it all. Save some for the top of the baked bread, for a softer crust.)
Sprinkle the cheese, olives, and garlic on the dough and roll up from the long side. Pinch the seam and ends to seal. Cut the roll in the middle, creating two long loaves.
Pinch the cut ends closed, and roll each loaf gently to achieve an even size.
Place both loaves on prepared sheet and let rise for about 90 minutes, or until they feel puffy. (They won't double but should come close.) Slash the tops several times with a very sharp knife or razor blade.
Place pan of water on lower rack of the oven. Heat oven to 450 F.
BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN YOU OPEN THE OVEN. THE STEAM IS HOT!
Bake approximately 25 minutes, or until bread is rich golden brown. Brush with butter for a softer crust. Cool on rack.
Place dough in greased bowl. Turn to coat and let it rise.
Combine chopped olives, garlic, and cheese.
Dough is ready to go!
Roll dough into a rectangle, add filling, and roll it up
Cut roll in half and pinch the ends shut
Place loaves on baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal
Slash and bake
Yes, I’ll be experimenting with more real food in the future. Possibly more healthy food, though I will never be able to stop baking. Nevah! Maybe I’ll have to change the blog to “The Rowdy Baker Reconsiders”, or maybe “The Reformed Rowdy Baker”. Once the Prosecco wears off I may laugh this idea off. We’ll see.
I’ve been on a bit of a binge lately, and have probably eaten my weight in hickory smoked almonds in the last month or two. My obsession shows no sign of stopping. This is actually good news for you, because it inspired me to use part of my stash to create very tasty crackers that pair beautifully with salmon dip. And Chardonnay.
I hate to appear wishy-washy by giving you a lot of options and alternatives, but some people will click out of a recipe if it says something scary like “roll the dough”. I get it – rolling dough can be messy and time consuming. I’m going to give you an alternative to that. Personally, I love rolling out dough. It may be the only exercise I have in a day!
First, the basic method:
To make flat crackers, the dough is rolled out and then cut into any shapes that float your boat. But you can also flip a mini-muffin pan over and drape circles of dough over the . . . bottom of the pan to create crunchy little cups.These are genius, because they hold more dip.
Whether you make flat crackers or cups, you’ll need to get the dough very thin – no more than 1/8-inch thick. Thinner is even better. Don’t worry, it’s easy dough to work with. The simplest way to make the flat crackers is by rolling the dough directly onto a baking sheet. You don’t need to separate the crackers – just cut them with a pastry (or pizza) cutter and bake.Or you can use cookie cutters for cute shapes, cutting them directly on the pan or by rolling your dough on a floured surface (removing the scraps for re-rolling).
From left to right – thick to thin. The thick cups were 1/8-inch, the ones on the right were probably 1/16-inch.
Once the crackers or cups are baked and the oven’s turned off, any crackers that aren’t completely hard (which would be those on the thicker side of the scale) get returned to the warm oven to dry out for 30-40 minutes. This ensures a crispy, crunchy, sturdy cracker that will store well.
For you rollingpinphobes, I had an idea that worked very well. Do you have a tortilla press? Love mine, and it wasn’t very expensive at all. Just plop a ball of dough between pieces of parchment and press down gently. Don’t press all the way or you’ll end up with a VERY thin piece of dough that will tear easily. I can cut three 2 1/2-inch circles at a time this way, and the thickness is consistent.
When I first tried making these, I assumed that the salt content of the almonds and the cheese would be enough, so I didn’t add any salt. But crackers need to be salty in my opinion, and they just didn’t quite cut it, so I added a small amount of salt to the second batch and found them to be perfect. If you’re a real salt lover, sprinkle a little on the top of the crackers before baking.
No, I don’t get a kickback for this. I just love this stuff and want to share!
I used this Sweet Onion Sugar on one batch because I crave the whole sweet/salty/savory experience, and it was a big hit. My bottle was a gift from a friend, purchased from an amazing store in Montana called The Copper Moose . . . one of those places that could make a foodie run rampant, scooping up things they never even knew existed. Danger, danger, danger.
This recipe will yield approximately 4 dozen dip cups or 2-inch square crackers.
For flat crackers you will need a large, flat baking sheet. For cracker cups, you will need a mini-muffin pan. If your muffin pan isn't non-stick, you will also need small paper liners.
Chop the almonds very fine. To save time, you can us a blender or food processor, using short pulses to avoid turning it into paste.
In a large bowl, combine almonds, cheese, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, garlic powder, and brown sugar. Mix well.
Add oil, buttermilk, and Worcestershire sauce. Use a heavy spoon or your hand to thoroughly combine. You should be able to form the mixture into a ball with your hands.
FOR FLAT CRACKERS: Roll directly onto ungreased baking sheet. Lightly flour rolling pin and the top of the dough and roll very thin, no more than ⅛-inch. Use a pastry (or pizza) cutter to cut into squares or diamonds. You don't need to separate them. Alternatively, you can use cookie cutters. Lift the scraps between the shapes and save for re-rolling. Sprinkle with salt if desired and bake 7 minutes, or until crackers are rich golden brown. Remove from oven and place baking sheet on rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Once all crackers are baked, check to see if crackers are dry and crunchy. If not, turn oven off and open the door for 30 seconds. Return crackers to warm oven for 30-40 minutes to dry out.
FOR CRACKER CUPS: Turn mini-muffin pan upside down. Lightly grease non-stick pans, or cover each metal cup with a paper liner if your pan isn't non-stick. Roll out dough on floured surface, or press balls of dough between pieces of parchment in a tortilla press. Dough should be no thicker than ⅛-inch. Thinner is better! Cut circles that are 2½ inches and drape the dough circles over each cup, shaping gently. If any holes or tears appear, patch them with a pinch of dough. Bake 7 minutes, or until rich golden brown. Move pan to cooling rack and allow cups to cool for at least 5 minutes before lifting each one carefully from the pan. Remove paper liners if you're using them. Once all the cups are baked check to see if cups are dry and crunchy. If not, turn off oven and open door for 30 seconds. Place cups on a baking sheet and return to warm oven for 30-40 minutes to dry out.
Flaky little pie crusts stuffed with corned beef, cabbage, carrots, and onions will be the hit of your St. Patrick’s Day party. These savory treats are also a great way to use leftover corned beef, and are easy to pack in a lunch.
Did I say leftover corned beef? The only way that ever happens around here is if I cook two roasts! And now that The Man has had a taste of these hand pies, I may have to cook three.
I originally made these with green pie crust. You know . . . going with the whole green theme. I don’t have a problem eating green baked goods; green doughnuts taste just as good as normal doughnuts, right? But to be honest with you, the green crust didn’t photograph very well.
If you want to do it for fun, just add a few drops of green food color to the buttermilk before you add it to the flour. (I may have gone a little overboard with the coloring.) Hand pies with shiny golden brown crusts are lovely, and can be used for any occasion, so I’ll just let you choose.
I also played with the crust and made shamrock shaped pies. The half circles are easier to make – definitely less time consuming, but the shamrocks are pretty cute. They just have those little corners that you have to pay attention to and get sealed properly. If you’re up for a challenge and you have a large shamrock cookie cutter, give them a whirl!
Makes approximately 24 hand pies if using 4-5 inch circles.
2 cups cooked corned beef, finely chopped
1 cup grated cabbage and carrot mixture, finely chopped
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
2 teaspoons mustard, yellow or Dijon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon flour
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs (1 egg is used for egg wash)
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup cold butter
1 cup cold shortening
½ cup buttermilk (you may use regular milk)
2 tablespoons vodka (or vinegar, if you prefer)
In medium bowl, combine corned beef, cabbage and carrot mixture, and green onions.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, flour, sugar, garlic powder, and 1 egg. Pour into the meat and vegetable mixture and stir well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add butter and shortening and, using a pastry blender, blend together until small lumps no larger than peas remain.
In a cup or small bowl, combine the buttermilk and vodka (or vinegar). Pour all at once into the dry ingredients and toss with a fork (or your fingers) until combined. Mixture should form a ball when you press it together with your hands. Divide into 3 disks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 F.
Whisk together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water in a cup to make an egg wash. Set aside.
On a floured surface, or between two pieces of lightly floured parchment, roll once piece of dough out at a time to about ⅛-inch thickness. If using parchment, you may need to lift the paper and sprinkle dough with flour to keep it from sticking and to keep parchment from wrinkling.
Using a 4-inch round cutter or large shamrock cookie cutter, cut as many pieces as possible. Cover scraps and put aside to re-roll all at once at the end. If you have a small roller, the shapes can be rolled gently to make them a little larger and thinner. 5 inches is perfect.
Brush one piece lightly with egg wash. Add approximately 1 heaping tablespoon of filling. For half circles, fold the circle over. For shamrocks, cover with another shamrock shape. Press firmly around the edge of the hand pie, then use a small fork and go around it again to seal.
Poke a few small holes in the top of each pie and brush lightly with egg wash. Place on parchment covered baking sheets.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the bottoms turn golden brown. Serve warm.
Salmon dip in a crusty football-shaped bread bowl is a lot more fun and imaginative than little smokies or chips and salsa! It uses one of my easiest bread recipes, and the salmon dip is a snap to throw together. Find it here: Succulent Salmon Dip (in a crunchy football bowl!)
This beautiful glazed football really is a meatloaf; just not the kind you’re used to.
Instead of using beef, I combined ground ham and pork and held it together with ground oatmeal instead of bread crumbs, for a scrumptious, gluten-free entree.
You won’t be tossing this pigskin around – you’ll be dipping chunks into glaze or slapping a slice of it on a crusty piece of bread and chowing down!
The idea for this meatloaf came from an old Taste of Home recipe for Brown Sugar Glazed Ham Balls, which my family loves. I made a lot of changes, so it’s a loose adaption, but credit definitely has to go to them for the idea!
My first attempt was prettier. The football was baby-butt smooth and flawless. But after I took photos and we ate half of it, I realized I’d forgotten to add the cheese “laces”. I also decided that I wanted less filler. I am not a fan of frozen meatballs; they always seem spongy to me. My first meatloaf had excellent flavor, but was kind of spongy…reminiscent of (dare I use this word in my blog?) Spam. I wanted meaty!
So I cut the ground oats and egg in half, and we absolutely loved the second recipe. It had a little bit more flavor, and much better texture, though it wasn’t quite as pretty. Don’t get me wrong – the first meatloaf was very, very tasty – but if I have to choose, I’ll go with substance over beauty any day!
Here’s how smooth the first one was – just in case you LIKE a smoother texture, and/or want it to look perfect:
I ground a pork shoulder roast and a nice butt portion ham for my meatloaf. You don’t have to do this (see TIPS, below), but I wanted to play with my new grinder.
No grinder? Find ground pork at the grocery store, and grind the ham in a food processor.
Serve your meatloaf with dark rye bread or crusty French bread for hearty sandwiches, or just dip chunks of the meat in small bowls of the glaze. Delish!
I’ve been pouting all week because the Seattle Seahawks didn’t make it to the Superbowl, and in a fit of petulance I almost decided to hold out and wait to post this blog until next year – when they will certainly be going all the way. But I love you guys, and respect your right to root for an obviously inferior the team of your choice. I’ll be a good sport and post the recipe now.
If you don’t have a meat grinder, you should be able to buy ground pork (NOT sausage!) at the grocery store. You may even be able to coax a butcher into grinding a ham for you, but if you have a food processor, I recommend you do it yourself. A butcher is not going to take the time to cut all the tough skin off the ham, and you really don’t want that in your meat mixture.
When the football is cooked and the meat thermometer is removed, let your meatloaf sit for 10 minutes before adding the cheese, because meat juice will probably bubble out of the hole for a few minutes, so the cheese wouldn’t stick.
I use an old coffee grinder for grinding my oatmeal. A food processor or blender will work too. Grind it fairly fine, but not into flour!
If you plan to provide glaze for dipping or drizzling, you might want to increase the glaze recipe. You’ll have a good cup of glaze left over, but…it’s so good! (I like a little meat with my glaze.)
If your glaze gets too thick, reheat it gently on low. It will turn liquid again.
Use good brown sugar – pure cane. It can make the difference between smooth glaze and grainy glaze!
1½ pounds ground ham (Easy to do in a food processor!)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
½ cup grated onion (or you can chop VERY finely)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely ground quick oats (Grind in food processor, blender, or coffee/spice grinder.)
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
¼ cup pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon maple flavoring (like Mapleine) - OPTIONAL
Heat oven to 350 F.
Combine all of the meatloaf ingredients together well. (A stand mixer and dough hook is the easiest way to go.)
Press into a ball and place in a medium size casserole dish. With damp hands, mold into a football shape. Take your time and make it as smooth as possible. This meatloaf is very lean and won't shrink much, so what you see is what you will get!
Insert meat thermometer and place in oven. Bake for 40 minutes.
When the 40 minutes are almost up, make your glaze:
Combine all glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir well.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce to medium and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add maple flavoring if desired.
Remove meat from oven. Brush generously with glaze.
Return to oven for 20 minutes.
Remove and glaze meat again.
Return to oven for 20 minutes, or until meat thermometer says 165.
Remove from oven. Brush lightly with glaze and place on serving platter.
Allow meatloaf to sit for 10 minutes, then place thin strips of mozzarella cheese on top to look like laces.
I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved thrilled I am to be posting this recipe for Savory Bacon Crackers. After countless tries, with results ranging from “marginal” to “close…but no cigar”, I finally produced crunchy, flavorful crackers that got gobbled up by the tasting crew.
I tried making them yeast-based (bleh), I layered the dough with butter (like croissant dough), I baked them hot and fast, and low and slow. I tried chilling the dough for days.
In the end, it was just a matter of getting the proportions right and finding a way to make sure the crackers were crunchy all the way through. These aren’t flaky (like Ritz), but are delightfully light and crunchy, yet still sturdy enough for dipping. And did I mention they taste great?
Crushed bacon adds flavor and texture. Make sure you cook the bacon until it’s extra-crispy. I pan fry mine, then wrap it in paper towels and microwave for a minute or two and shake the bacon out onto another piece of paper towel to cool. Crush with a rolling pin or use a sharp blade – either a knife or an ulu – to make small crumbs.
½ cup finely crushed bacon - about 10 strips (reserve the grease)
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ cup oil (I use peanut oil)
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup water
Heat oven to 425 F.
Grease two baking sheets with bacon grease (or you may use shortening if you prefer)
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, garlic salt, onion powder, pepper, brown sugar, and crushed bacon.
Stir in the liquid smoke, oil, buttermilk, and water. Mix until well combined. This will be a soft dough, but shouldn't be sticky.
Working with half of the dough at a time, either roll between two pieces of parchment (flour dough lightly if necessary) or roll directly onto the baking sheet, dusting the top with flour as needed.. Try to roll the dough out as thinly as possible...less than ⅛-inch. You may cut round shapes out, re-rolling the extra dough, or simply cut into squares or diamonds, using a pizza cutter.
Place pans in preheated oven for 4 minutes. Remove both pans. Brush the tops of the crackers with bacon grease (or butter, if you prefer) and lightly salt. Using a spatula, flip the crackers over.
TURN OFF THE OVEN. Open the door for 20 seconds. Place pans back in the oven, close the door, and leave the crackers to cook slowly for 1 hour, as the oven cools down. Check one to make sure it snaps crisply when broken. If not, leave them in the oven for another 30 minutes.
Brush with bacon grease, sprinkle with salt, flip over, and return to oven.
Do you have any idea how good these would be with my Succulent Salmon Dip? I’d leave the bacon out of the dip (unless you’re a really hardcore bacon fan) and offer a knife to spread the dip on each cracker. Ham spread would be yummy too.
Okay – this was my obligatory savory recipe before I go into full-blown Easter mode. I’ve stocked up on powdered sugar, chocolate, and sprinkles…and will be putting it all to good use soon!
Last week I told you my next post would be Valentine’s Day related, but that was before the Seattle Seahawks won the game that will send them to the Super Bowl. Again.
Valentine’s Day will just have to wait. I have footballs to make!
Beer is a must for the big game of course, and beer and pretzels just go together. Since filling these little football-shaped pretzels with cheese sounded good, I decided that filling them with ham and cheese sounded even better.The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s so flexible. Add hot sauce or onions, skip the ham, try different types of cheese. Make the filling your own!
Of course, the bombs can be made in nice little round shapes – but for the big game I wanted footballs. In my first batch there were about half that would be easily recognized as footballs, and half that were…well…deflated. (Dare I say that? Sorry, Patriots fans! The deflated ball jokes have been flying all week.) Cheese will ooze, and personally I love the crispy bits of baked cheese that stick to the bottom of the footballs. For the sake of appearance, however, I experimented. A lot.
I thought that maybe a longer boil would toughen the outside, keeping the cheese in as they baked. I seemed to have at least as many blow-outs, so my assumption was flawed. Because there was no “give” as the footballs baked, the cheese simply found a weak spot and broke through.
I tried a very short boil, with the theory that the footballs would remain more flexible, and give when pressured by the cheese. The cheese still blew out. Stiffer dough, softer dough, hotter bake temperature, lower bake temperature. Vent holes. I found that mozzarella is a little more explosive than cheddar, and using half of each helped a bit. I think I tried it all – at least everything I could think of.
The bottom line is this: CHEESE OOZE HAPPENS. Embrace it. Leave the crispy bits attached to the bombs…people will still love them.
They ain’t purty, but they taste just fine!
Beer and brown sugar add a little extra flavor to the pretzel dough, and an egg wash adds a pretty sheen. This recipe makes about 64 small bombs. Remember, that’s going to be about 30 attractive footballs. The rest should be immediately eaten for quality control purposes (wink wink). The bombs can be wrapped in foil and popped in the freezer after they’ve baked and cooled; they reheat beautifully. Or make 32 larger two-bite-size bombs.
It would be ideal if you had a helper, because two people would make this process a lot easier. One can be forming footballs while the other is boiling and baking. I did it by myself, so it’s do-able, but if you can bribe or enlist someone, I recommend it!
The dough is so easy to make. It’s a nice, sturdy dough that can be manhandled without causing any problems. Here’s the recipe:
Delicious little pretzel bites filled with ham and cheese. Don't expect them all to be pretty; they will ooze cheese, and some will take on interesting shapes! Embrace the crispy escaped cheese - that's the best part! Makes 60-64.
1 can (12 oz) beer
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 tablespoons softened butter
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups bread flour
6 ounces grated cheddar cheese (about 1½ cups)
6 ounces grated mozzarella cheese (about 1½ cups)
1 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 5-ounce can cooked ham chunks, drained, OR ½ cup (or more to taste) finely chopped cooked ham
½- 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce
8 cups water
½ cup baking soda
1 egg whisked together with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
Pour beer into a small pan and heat until very warm - about 110 degrees.
In a large bowl (a standing mixer with a bread hook is best) combine the warm beer, white sugar, and yeast. Allow the mixture to sit 6-8 minutes, or until bubbly.
Add softened butter, brown sugar, salt, and 3 cups of the bread flour. Mix well.
Slowly add remaining flour, a little at a time, until the dough comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl and is not sticky to the touch. You are looking for a fairly stiff dough, but not dry. Dry dough is very hard to seal when you're making the footballs.
Knead for 6 minutes by machine, or 8 minutes by hand on lightly floured surface.
Shape dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl, turning several times to coat the dough. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled - about 1 hour. WHILE THE DOUGH IS RISING:
Cover two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
Combine the cheese, ham, and hot sauce. Mix together very well. Go ahead and use your hands to knead it into a solid mass. Since your hands are already messy, save time later by rolling 64 balls of cheese mixture, about 1 teaspoon each. You may have a little left over. Save it for topping a casserole or for a grilled cheese sandwich!
When dough has doubled heat oven to 400 F.
Work with half of the dough at a time, leaving the other half covered. Separate dough into ½ ounce pieces (approximately 1 tablespoon). Roll into balls and flatten into rounds with the bottom of a heavy glass or a rolling pin.
Place one cheese ball in the center of each piece of dough and bring the edges up over the cheese. Pinch the dough firmly. Really....pinch the heck out of it! Roll briskly but gently between your hands. If you see a crack, pinch it and roll again. Roll either side of the ball firmly to create pointed ends if you are making football shapes.
Bring water and baking soda to a boil in a large tall saucepan and then lower the heat a little to get a gentle boil
Drop 8-10 footballs into the boiling water at a time. Allow them to boil for 30-40 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon or spider, and place onto prepared cookie sheets.
Using a razor blade (I used an X-Acto knife) or a very sharp paring knife, cut two short parallel lines in the top of each football, with a line in between. (Imagine a capital letter "I", laying on its side.) This will represent the laces. (If you want to get fancy, you can cut little laces too.) Be careful not to cut all the way through the dough or you are certain to have the cheese blow out the top! Note: If you are making round shapes instead of footballs, Cut a shallow "X" in each ball.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.
Bake approximately 10-12 minutes, or until a rich brown.