Finally Time For a Home Cooked Meal

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Life has been absolutely crazy around here. Tony is traveling and changing time zones twice a week, and the house viewing traffic is picking up dramatically. That last part is a good thing, but it puts us in the position of having to be able to leave our house quickly. That makes it very hard to cook a real meal.

This is a very unhappy Chloe, stuck in a crate at my mom’s house while we wait for people to finish a walk through at our house. She’s not quite as happy as Romeo and Abigail to be at Grandma’s house.

I’ve been trying to make this dish since Thursday and finally on Sunday night, even though we were completely exhausted after having five viewings of our house over the past three days, I forced myself to make a decent dinner. Please forgive the pictures…I wasn’t going to even blog about it but Tony asked if I was taking pictures and was sweet enough to run upstairs and get my camera. The recipe will also be one of those “about this much” recipes, unfortunately. I didn’t write anything down, but you all are so smart and amazing in the kitchen, I know you won’t have any trouble making your own version.

Waiting at Grandma’s house for “kitty, kitty” the new kitten to come out and play with her. Penelope, my mother’s other cat is just around the corner growling and hissing at Chloe in the crate.

Lately we’ve been living on Jimmy John’s un-which sandwiches, black bean salad, gluten-free organic hot dogs and chili, cereal more cereal, peanut butter toast, and Red Robin’s California chicken sandwiches. Did you know they now carry gluten-free buns and will make your fries in a separate fryer from gluten items? We are addicted. Next time I eat one I’ll take a picture for you. And the tartar sauce (which is gluten-free & dairy free)…so delicious and addictive I should probably just be slathering it on my thighs because I’m sure that’s right where it goes after it leaves my mouth.

Tony stayed home an extra day today to take advantage of a motorcycle track day. The kind of track day that makes me cringe and I have to remind him that I really don’t want to know how fast he went and how many people had to be hauled off in an ambulance. He left early this morning, so this is what a lazy Sunday looks like for some of us…not me of course, I have a whole list of things to do!

Yes, we allow them to lounge on the furniture…

I’m used to cooking whole meals at least four days a week and baking something delicious at least twice a week. But lately, our new way of  living on “whatever is easy and doesn’t make the house smell weird” is getting to me. It’s leaving me feeling unsatisfied and rather unhealthy.

So last Wednesday while I was lying in bed wide awake at 2:30 in the morning because we’ve had a weird rash of car break-ins in our neighborhood, the recipe for Italian Sausage & Pesto Roll Ups was born. Maybe a little bit of fear does help with creativity? Or maybe it was the fact that I was sleeping with my gun and that enabled me to calm my mind enough to think about food. Either way, I also had to figure out when exactly I could find the time to actually make the recipe that was making my stomach growl and getting me excited for real food.

I tried Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to make this meal and it seemed like the dinner God’s were against me. And even though we had two more showings on Saturday, I managed to squeeze in a small nap and muster the energy to cook a nice meal on Saturday night, throwing caution to the wind and not caring if our house smelled like garlic and pesto on Sunday morning. I even managed to make an easy Kalamata olive & garlic loaf.

Italian Sausage & Pesto Roll-Ups

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees

About a pound of gluten-free, dairy-free Italian Sausage

Hot Pepper Flakes, I like my sausage spicy

Homemade Vegan Pesto

1 Large Block of Sheep’s Milk Cheese, I buy mine in the white and blue container at Trader Joe’s

About 2 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano

About 2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil

Freshly Ground Pepper

About 1/2 Cup Diaya Mozzarella Style Shreds

About 2 Tablespoons Dairy Free Parmesan Style Cheese

1 Jar Ready-Made Pasta Sauce, I used Newman’s Marinara, or homemade of course

1 Package Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles, cooked aldente (follow pkg instructions), rinsed, and separated immediately

Cook pasta, rinse, separate, and set aside. Fry the Italian sausage and pepper flakes (to your taste) until done, drain fat, set aside.

Drain the sheep’s cheese and place the entire block in a mixer. Add the fresh herbs, other two cheeses, and the fresh herbs. Mix on medium until it comes together and begins to look somewhat sticky. I was also going to add 1/2 cup chopped spinach to this mixture but forgot!

Oil a 9×9 inch square baking dish with olive oil. Spoon a small amount of sauce over the bottom of the dish. Set aside.

Lay out a lasagna noodle on your work surface. Spread either with a knife or the back of a spoon about 1 to 1/2 Tablespoons of the pesto along the entire noodle. Add about 2 Tablespoons (or so) of the cheese mixture to the end of the noodle nearest you, add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the sausage, and roll up, tucking in any filling that falls out of the sides as you go. Place the roll upright in the prepared pan. Continue until you have used all of your fillings.

Once the pan is full, pour the remaining sauce over the top, spreading with a spoon. Sprinkle with a little more of the mozzarella style cheese and the parmesan style cheese. Oil a piece of aluminum foil and cover.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes covered, remove foil, and bake for 10 more minutes.

Kalamata Olive & Garlic Loaf

With this recipe, I made two small plain loaves and 1 medium olive and garlic loaf. I simply separated the dough and took out the plain loaves first, then added the ingredients for the olive and garlic loaf.

1 Box Gluten Free Pantry French Bread Mix (make using directions on back of box)

Kalamata Olives, about 15 sliced in half lengthwise

Garlic Cloves, about 8 sliced in half lengthwise

About 1 1/2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano

1 Egg for Brushing

I wasn’t in the mood to run to the basement to fetch my french bread pan, so I simply lined a baking sheet with parchment paper. It works just fine, but the loaves spread out a bit.

Depending on how you want to separate the dough, do that part first, leaving the amount of dough that you want to use for the olive and garlic loaf in the mixer. Then, add the olives, garlic, and oregano and mix until combined.

Dollop and spread it on the baking sheet or in the french bread pan, brush with whisked egg, and cover with oiled plastic. Allow to rise for about 40 minutes in a warm place

Bake for about 30 minutes (I use convection). You may need to cover lightly with foil if it begins to brown too quickly.

4 thoughts on “Finally Time For a Home Cooked Meal

  1. This is such a tasty looking dinner, April. Great idea using pesto as one of the ingredients to stuff the roll-ups. And I bet that olive bread was incredible, too. Your poor pupsters look all tuckered out. It’s good, though, to read that you’re getting more traffic through your home. It really is only a matter of time, now. Fingers crossed.

  2. I love the photo of your dog on the couch looking at the camera. What a classic. And no, your cat does not look happy. We allow our dogs up on the furniture too – they’re family! What a delicious looking meal. I love the photo of them standing all rolled up. What a great idea xx

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