“Since hunger is the most primitive and permanent of human wants, men always want to eat, but since their wish not to be a mere animal is also profound, they have always attended with special care to the manners which conceal the fact that at the table we are animals feeding.” - John Erskine

03 October 2011

pizza rolls, ten-year-old Penne with Bolognese sauce, and the colors of fall

 We have the privilege of living at the foot of some of the most beautiful mountains there are.  Having grown up here and having missed them when I lived elsewhere, I may be a bit biased when it comes to the mountains of home, but you have to admit they are truly spectacular in the fall.  They may be even more beautiful in the early fall when the leaves are just beginning to change.

I am also the lucky wife of a man obsessed with his Jeep.  Take one Jeep, one glorious warm autumn day, one eager family and what do you get?  A picnic at a beaver pond, a filthy Jeep, happy boys and some great photo ops.
Our picnic spot.
 I didn’t really know I was going to be picnicking with my family when I got up, so I wasn’t really prepared.  I had been planning on making bread, but hadnt yet, so there was only one piece left to make sandwiches with.  That just wasn’t going to work for five people.  But I did have two cans of my husband’s favorite pizza dough in the fridge.  (I’m really going to have to learn to make something that compares to this.  Either that or buy stock in Pillsbury...)  So I pulled out this recipe I found on the-girl-who-ate-everything and got to work.

Pizza Rolls
pizza dough
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons basil
1 cup sliced pepperoni, chopped
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or pepperjack)
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425°.  Divide pizza dough in half.  Roll each half into a rectangle, about ¼ inch thick and 12 inches long.  Just think about the size of a piece of paper.  Sprinkle each half with equal amounts of garlic salt, basil, cheeses and pepperoni.  Starting at a short end, roll dough up tightly to form a log.  Slice into 1-inch pieces.  Place rolls on lightly greased baking sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes or until browned on top.  Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping. 

I don’t know if you have ever used Pillsbury’s thin crust pizza dough.  If you have you know that if it gets the least little bit warm it gets very delicate.  That made it a bit of a nightmare to try to cut after rolling.  I finally gave up and just baked it as a roll, thinking that it would be much easier to cut afterward.  I even rolled it the longway so that there wouldn’t be so many layers of dough in the middle to get cooked through.  Didn’t work ~ it was still doughy in the middle.  (It couldn’t have been because I put sauce on it before I baked it.  What can I say, my husband is a saucy kind of guy.  Guess he’ll have to make due with dipping next time.)  If I had had more time I may have put it back in the oven after cutting, but I didn’t so we ended up with doughy pizza pocket rolls.  No one complained.  No one ever complains when it comes to pizza ~ they’re male.  But for next time...

My doughy mess.  The "rolls" look a little like pizza rosettes...
The gooey finished product.  At least they tasted good.
 Of course, after our glorious day enjoying nature everyone was dusty and tired, and the last thing I wanted to do was cook again.  Usborne and Oldest to the rescue!  I didn’t even have to ask.  He pulled out his library book and went to work.  And, of course, I ended up in the kitchen about the time he discovered that carrots weren’t part of our current crisper science project and that it was more difficult to chop bacon and celery finely than he thought it would be.  So I got to have more fun cooking with my ten-year-old, and dinner was a big hit.

Penne with Bolognese sauce
serves 4
1 pound penne
For the sauce: 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pieces Canadian bacon
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1 clove of garlic
8 ounces lean hamburger
14½ ounce can of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 beef or vegetable bouillon cube
1 teaspoon of dried basil
freshly ground pepper
To serve: grated parmesan cheese

Peel or scrape the carrot then grate it.  Crush the garlic and chop the bacon, onion and celery finely.  Heat the oil is a saucepan over a medium heat.

Add the bacon to the pan and cook for three or four minutes.  Stir it occasionally.  Add all the vegetables and cook them until they are soft.

Add the minced beef or lamb (that’s what the recipe says, minced beef or lamb although we assumed they meant the hamburger???) to the pan.  Break up the meat with a spoon and cook it for six to eight minutes, or until the meat is brown all over.

Boil some water.  Crumble the bouillon cube into a measuring jug and pour in ½ cup of water.  Stir it well then add it to the meat.

Pour in the tomatoes.  Stir in the purée, basil, salt (this was not mentioned in the ingredients list in the book, so just add to taste) and pepper.  Put a lid on.  Let the sauce simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Remove the lid halfway through.

As the sauce is cooking, stir it occasionally to stop it from sticking.  It will become thicker and the amount of liquid will reduce.

About 15 minutes before the sauce is ready, boil a pan of water.  Add the pasta and cook for the time it says on its package.  Drain it and serve immediately.

I almost picked up some penne during my last trip to the grocery store, but since I didn’t we used rotini instead.  We also used tomato paste, since I had no idea what tomato purée was until I looked it up on the internet.  (I’m still not sure what tomato purée is...)  We also made due with regular bacon, so we skipped the olive oil (I had him cook the bacon and then crumble it rather than try to finely chop raw bacon, which in my opinion is a bit of a gooey nightmare), and of course used onion powder.  Since the recipe wasn’t specific about whether to add the sauce on top (which I guess the picture implies) we just dumped it in the saucepan with the noodles and stirred.  Another mild sauce, which I suppose makes sense, since this is a children’s cook book.  Then again, maybe it was the lack of tomato purée...

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