It’s football season and my beloved Texans are “taking ass and kicking names” (–Mantis, Infinity War). My favorite time of year. Also dangerous when trying to limit the intake of the calorie bombs inherent in standard greasy football munchie fare. Since I typically have a friend or two over to watch the games with me and my rule is There Are No Calories When Enjoying Time With Friends, I try to at least make the calories consumed healthy ones. Or mostly. Okay, some. There is no compromising on special and delicious! Or wine.
This plate for last Sunday’s game came out so pretty I was prompted to take a picture and share it here. This would also be a beautiful appetizer plate for a dinner party. Offerings include:
- Homemade Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
- Juicy sweet red grapes
- Smoked Gouda cheese
- Kalamata olives
- Marinated mushrooms (purchased)
- Homemade crunchy pickled green beans with jalapenos (recipe to come soon!)
- Warm fresh-from-the-oven bread mini-loaves (EASY, see below)
- Herb dipping oil (recipe below)
- Whole grain pita chips (not shown)
Very quick and easy to put together with a lovely variety of complimentary flavors and textures for happy nibbling. It all goes deliciously with wine too. Did I mention wine?
As pretty as the plate is, what most impressed my guests was the fresh baked bread and dipping oil. Heck, that impressed them from the moment they walked in the door to smell the inimitable, memory-laden fragrance of bread baking. Everything is wonderful after that. (Marketing 101: Perceptions) What surprised them was that I don’t bake. Like ever. There’s a reason for that. Flour and I do not get along beyond scooping out a half cup for bechamel or the like. Sifting flour is flat out of the question. It goes everywhere and I glue the whole damn kitchen. And me. And the cats and dog. Just, no.
Frozen white bread dough. Five one-pound loaves for about $5. Keep them in the freezer and pull one out whenever you want to bake fresh bread, bread sticks, pizza crust, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls or anything else that calls for yeast dough. No mess. Joy.
Fresh Baked Mini Loaves
- 1 – 1 pound loaf frozen dough
- 3 mini-loaf baking pans (I use the disposable aluminum ones)
- melted butter*
- Thaw dough and allow to rise.
- Split dough into thirds placing one third into each of the 3 baking pans.
- Allow to rise until it’s about 1/2 inch above the tops of the pans.
- Brush melted butter over the tops.*
- Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes until tops are golden brown.
- Remove from pans and allow to cool on a rack.
- Serve warm. Or not.
*You can omit the butter if you want a crisper, harder crust.
Bread Dipping Oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Italian seasoning* (I like McCormick “Perfect Pinch”)
- garlic powder
Place a teaspoon or two of Italian herbs on a small dish or plate with a lip that will contain a shallow layer of oil. Sprinkle a teeny pinch of garlic powder and salt over the herbs. Cover with a couple of tablespoons or so (depending on the size of the serving dish) of olive oil.
*You can make your own herb mix with any combination of dried basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, and sage.
**Variation: use dried basil, sun-dried tomatoes that are finely chopped (or whirred in a mini food processor), and salt. Yum.