Cheese, Garlic and Herb Swirl Bread

I’ve been eating a lot of sandwiches lately. I mix up the toppings to try to keep it interesting: Turkey or ham, tomatoes or onions… But I almost always use a little wedge of spreadable cheese. First, because I love cheese and I think a sandwich just isn’t the same without it. And second, because this little cheese wedge is only 35 calories and also lets me skip the butter/mayo I would want to spread on my bread.

I got to thinking, since I like this spread cheese so much on my sandwiches, what about baking it into my bread…? I didn’t think the flavor would come through well if I just mixed it into the dough, so I decided to make a simple dough and make a swirl bread instead.

So I found a recipe on Taste of Home and decided to adapt the fillings to see if it would work. The bread is moist with a crisp crust, and the filling remained pretty well intact. The flavor of the cheese is noticeable, but not as much as when you spread it on a slice of bread. A slice does come apart a bit when I cut it, so I think this would be a little difficult to make a sandwich with. It would go great with some soup or pasta to dip it in!

Here’s what I used:

3 pkg (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast

2-1/2 cups warm water (110° to 115°), divided

1 tsp sugar

3-1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbsp salt

2-3/4 to 3-1/2 cups bread flour

1 6.5 oz tub garlic and herb spreadable cheese (I used Alouette light garlic and herbs)

1 egg, beaten

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 3/4 cup warm water. Add sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the whole wheat flour, salt and remaining water; beat until smooth. Stir in enough bread flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray; turn once to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and turn onto a floured surface; divide in half. Roll each piece into a 14-in. x 9-in. rectangle. Brush with some of the egg; refrigerate rest of egg. Spread half of the cheese over each dough to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side; pinch seams to seal and tuck ends under. Place seam side down in two 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Cover; let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Brush with reserved egg. Bake at 375° for 40-50 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire racks. Makes 2 loaves (12 slices each).

My loaves both turned out pretty well, just a little split in the top of each one where the dough was rolled a little too thin. I will make this one again for a side dish, but am still looking for different recipes to play with for sandwiches. Do you have a favorite sandwich bread?

– Jodi

Pressure Cooker Risotto

Pressure Cooker Risotto… Or as it’s come to be known in my house, Exploding Risotto.
I can now personally vouch for the safety features on my pressure cooker. It was making so much noise and I was trying to carry on a conversation. Silly me, I thought – There’s only 30 seconds left on the timer, I’ll just hold down this little dial thingy here with the steam leaking out so I can be heard. Well, if I thought that made a lot of noise – it was nothing in comparison to the loud bang that came next. The little rubber safety cap had exploded out of the lid due to the pressure going too high. I knew that was a safety feature as I had read the manual before using it. I jumped, but Scott had no idea what had happened. After explaining everything was ok and promising never to do that again, We found the cap and sat down to eat.

This risotto was very creamy and not difficult to make (but please don’t do what I did!). I served it with chicken breasts flattened and rolled up with mushrooms and spreadable cheese.

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
4-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Combine 1 Tbsp butter and olive oil in the pressure cooker and heat, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes, but do not brown the onion. Stir in the rice to coat the grains with the onion mixture, and cook about 1 minute longer.

Add the wine and cook, stirring, until it is mostly absorbed by the rice. Add 4 cups of the broth. Cover the pressure cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, increase the heat to high, bring the pressure up to high, and cook for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and release pressure quickly. Remove the lid.Add the remaining 1/2 cup broth, 1 Tbsp butter, and the cheese and stir well to combine with the rice. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

In the future I will hold my conversations while eating this risotto instead of while pressure cooking it! 🙂
– Jodi

Au Gratin Potatoes

I’ve had a ham in the freezer for a while now, and finally this week decided I’d cook it up.  Scott doesn’t really like ham all that much, so I thought I’d make a nice side dish I knew he’d like so the meal wasn’t a total loss for him. I enjoy ham by itself, but really want the bone and the leftovers for some soup! Anyway, I decided on au gratin potatoes because I happened to have everything on hand and they sounded like a good pairing. I used this recipe from They were very easy to make, cutting up the potatoes took me the longest. They turned out creamy and cheesy, and were great with the ham!

4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 onion, sliced into rings
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (I used white cheddar, I’m addicted to it!)

Preheat oven to 400, spray a 1 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with the onion slices, and add the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds. 
Pour cheese over the potatoes, and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake 1 1/2 hours.

– Jodi

Caprese Wraps

I’ve been seeing commercials for this mozzarella cheese that comes in a sheet, and thought that was just waiting for me to get creative. I also have a cherry tomato plant that is going crazy right now, so I wanted to incorporate them as well. These little wraps were fairly easy to make, but my little cheese roll did not unwrap as easily as they show in the commercial!

1 roll mozzarella cheese
about 1/4 cup of olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped or through the press
1 to 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
12 cherry tomatoes, sliced and seeded

Mix the olive oil, basil and garlic in a small bowl. Unroll the mozzarella cheese, spread with oil mixture and top with the sliced tomatoes. Roll the cheese back up, and slice into about 1/2 inch slices.

These didn’t want to stay together on their own accord, so I used toothpicks to hold them together until we were ready to eat. They were good, but I didn’t like the texture of this roll cheese as much as regular fresh mozzarella, it felt a little rubbery to me.

– Jodi

My Favorite Holiday Treats


Besides the recipes Patricia and I made with the kids last night, I have a few more favorite holiday treats I like to make every year. I’ve been making these throughout the past week or so, and thought I’d just post them all at once.  🙂

Cheese Ball
My mom used to make this every year and I always looked forward to it (I still call it “My Mom’s Cheese Ball”). Now I make a double batch every year and share it with her and everyone else. If you put it in smaller containers it freezes well, and just take it out the day before you need it.

2 8 oz pkgs of Cream Cheese
8 oz of shredded cheddar
1 lb velveeta cheese, cut up
1/2 lb butter or margarine
1 tbsp chopped onion or shallot
1 tbsp pimento
2 pkgs dried beef, cut up

Set cheeses and butter in a 3 qt mixing bowl to soften. Then mix well with a beater. I throw the onion, pimento and dried beef into the food processor so I don’t have to chop it all up by hand. Add the chopped onion, pimento and beef to the cheese mixture and Mix well.

White Pretzels
1 pkg white bark
1 bag pretzels

Melt the white bark on the stove (see peppermint bark below). Drop in pretzels, a few at a time. I use a fork to pick them out, let the extra bark can drip off. Place on wax or parchment paper to harden. I place in the fridge for about 20 min to speed it up. 

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
about 48 Hershey Kisses (unwrapped, of course!)

Heat oven to 375. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Add shortening and peanut butter and mix until smooth. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth. Shape dough into balls, and roll in sugar. Bake for 10-12 min. Top each with a Hershey Kiss. The chocolate will get melty, so let these sit and harden before storing.

– Jodi

Salsa Nana

In my opinion, there is nothing better than chips and salsa. I love the taste of certain flavors and have a hard time finding something that I really enjoy. So I started making my own with tomatoes, garlic, onions, fresh lime, cilantro, jalepeno and other ingredients.

The recipe is as follows (and I add as much or as little as I’m in the mood for).

I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes (go figure since I love salsa!!) so I use canned tomatoes.

1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 fresh garlic cloves
half of fresh lime juice
cilantro (to your taste)
1 med onion (I prefer red onion – but use white as well)
1/2 to 1 jalepeno pepper
a few slices of habenero peppers (more if you like it hotter)
dash of salt
Just add the ingredients to a food processor and blend away to your desired consistency. Being that I’m not a fan of tomatoes (I make it hot so I can’t taste them!!), I like my salsa at a thin consistency.

Hope you all enjoy. Maybe we can get Jodi to post her recipe for her home made chips!!