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Friday, October 17, 2014

Chew on This | Cheesy Bread Sticks

Our fall has been both eventful and quiet. 92% of the eventfulness has been joyfully entertaining. That other 8% - not at all. Though, because of the 8%, we have had days, that would have otherwise been jam packed and busy, turn into easy, quiet, do-whatever-days. I can't tell how lovely this has been. Now, I certainly don't want a redo of the circumstances that led to these now open days - but my family and I are very much taking advantage of this strange and wonderful schedule freedom. 

You see, The Boy's football season was cut short, right before the third game of the season, due to an injury. A looooong month of recovery and he is now good to go (though he is not going back onto the football field this season - maybe not in any near or far future either)! So while he has been recovering, when able, we have had many spontaneous road trips to merry places, near and far. Lazy, lounge-y days with fresh air and outdoor fires. Lovely visits with family. Happy visits with friends. We've had the free time to tidy, clean, and organize those big to-do's on the never ending list (maybe not so much fun for the kids, but essential nevertheless). And so much more. 

It has been strangely refreshing, and pretty amazing how seamlessly we took to our 'new' schedule. We quickly found other glorious experiences to fill our time. Or many times we have chosen to indulge in doing nothing. Had certain events not taken place, we would still be grinding away, happily, at our other schedule. But things did happen and we are here. Ever so grateful.


Here's our recipe:

Cheesy Bread Sticks for the win!! These babies will gain you all kinds of praise and  adulation. I serve them, often, as an after school snack. However, they're great for just about any occasion. Bake many and freeze the extras for those days when cooking and baking seem too impossible to consider. Warm frozen sticks in the microwave or toaster oven for a quick, satisfying treat!

Cheesy Bread Sticks
2 cups luke warm water
1-2 T sugar
1 T active dry yeast
4-5 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1-2 T softened butter
1 T olive oil

16 very cold mozzarella sticks, cut in half to form 32 small cheese sticks**
2 T butter, melted
2 t Kosher salt
marinara or spicy mustard for dipping
In a bowl, combine water, sugar and yeast. Do not mix but let these ingredients sit for 5-10 minutes, allowing yeast to develop (get foamy).
To yeast mixture, add flour, salt and softened butter. Combine until dough forms. Knead dough by hand (turn out onto floured surface). Or knead dough, with dough hook, in a stand mixer. Do either for 10 minutes.
Put dough into a bowl with 1 T olive oil. Swirl dough around in oil until all sides are covered. Cover bowl with a damp towel and let dough rise, doubling in size (about 2 hours).
Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes. Return your dough to the bowl and allow dough to rise again until doubled in size (about 30-45 minutes).  
When dough is ready, preheat your oven to 375℉. Next, portion dough out into 32 round balls. Flatten balls out into disks. Place a small, very cold cheese stick into the middle of each dough disk and wrap dough around the cheese stick. Pinch seams together to seal and place the cheesy bread sticks onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, seam side down. Brush each bread stick with melted butter and sprinkle with salt.

Place bread sticks into your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow sticks to cool slightly before serving with warmed marinara or your favorite dipping sauce.

**I usually end up putting my cheese into the freeze for about 30 minutes prior to rolling up into the dough. Pinch the dough up really well and you shouldn't have much cheese leak out of  your sticks!

*Bulk Baking Alert!! Make a double batch of this recipe and you'll have plenty of leftovers to freeze for another day! Place any leftovers into a freezer bag and freezer for up to 3 months. When you're ready to eat some more, you can microwave the cheesy bread sticks for a quick snack. Or, better yet, preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 325℉ and bake your frozen bread sticks until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

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