Jalapeño Sausage Wheels

Sausage with a kick. Go team!

Sausage with a kick. Go team!

In the South, it goes without saying that almost all of our traditions revolve around food. Having a baby? Let’s get together, open pink or blue gifts, and try Aunt Pat’s cream cheese ball. Getting married? Let’s have a glass of tea, peruse a spread of engagement presents, and eat pimento cheese (this is also known as a “Sip n’ See”). Your favorite football team having a ball game? Come on over, I’ll tell you about the time I spilled the contents of a salad bar into the cuff of our ’92 national championship coach’s pants leg. And, let’s eat!

As fall is upon us, football has once again become all-consuming. I was born and raised around a team of crimson and white jerseys that symbolized everything great about our state- hard work, commitment, heart, legacy. For me though- besides the game, the roar of the crowd and being in one of my favorite stadiums in the world- the best part of football season is the pre and post-game eating.

This recipe for sausage wheels has been passed down through my family; I remember waking up on Saturday mornings to the smell of them. But let’s be honest- there isn’t much you can to to sausage and pie crust to make it taste better. My version just gives it more of a spicy kick, and ends with a sweet, smoky flavor that is absolutely addictive. Plus, I’m hoping the aforementioned kick can somehow serve as good luck for our special teams this Saturday.

You can serve these hot out of the oven; be warned that the sausage fumes may make your mind cloudy and cause unexplained overconsumption of pastries. Or, let them cool to room temperature and take them to the game (or your sofa). They also make a delicious post-game-night breakfast.

I hope you enjoy a beautiful, winning weekend- and that this recipe is good luck for your own tailgating tradition.

Jalapeño Sausage Wheels

What You Will Need

1 package pre-made pie crust (containing 2 pie crusts)

1 pound ground sausage

2 jalapeños, deseeded and minced (Thanks for the peppers mom!)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Sweet Heat spice

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

What You Will Do

1. Let your pie crusts come to room temperature.

2. In a large bowl, combine the ground sausage, jalepenos, garlic, Sweet Heat, onion powder, and cumin.

3. Lightly flour your countertop or surface of choice (I love my Silpat for this) and gently roll out both pie crusts until they form about a 11 by 11 inch rectangle. No need to measure; I just make sure the dough looks like a large rectangle and is a bit thinner than when I first unrolled the crust.

4.  Divide the sausage mixture in half, and spread it evenly on each pie crust.

5. Here comes the fun part. Starting at the top of your rectangle (the side facing you) gently roll the dough away from you, creating a tight roll. Pull the dough tight as you roll, making sure your sausage mixture stays inside the dough roll. A loose roll will spill it’s contents onto your counter, and why let that tastiness go to waste?

6. Repeat the process for the second pie crust.

7. Once you have your two rolls ready, wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for 45 minutes to an hour to help them firm up.

8. Preheat oven to 450. Go ahead and find your broiler pan and spray it generously with cooking spray; you will need it at the ready.

9. Take your rolls out of the freezer, and slice them into thin wheels (about 1/4 an inch to 1/2 inch). Arrange the sausage pinwheels about a 1/2 inch away from each other on the pan.

10. Bake for 15 minutes, then take your pan out of the oven and flip the wheels over; bake for another 10 minutes. Go team!


Dark Chocolate S’mores with Salted Peanut Butter

Some more s'mores

Some more s’mores

It’s Labor Day weekend, and you know what that means? That’s right- it’s time for s’mores!

For those of you living below the Mason Dixon line, the idea of roasting a marshmallow on a 95-degree afternoon using a open flame is about as appealing standing on the asphalt in your driveway wearing a down vest–and drinking hot chocolate.

Maybe it is the unbearable humidity, or my recent nostalgia for summer camp, or the fact that any excuse to sandwich a toasted marshmallow between chocolate crackers smeared in salty peanut butter is motivation enough, but s’mores are an essentially summer food. Despite the fact that you might have to (currently) sweat when you make them.

That is why this recipe involves marshmallows toasted inside (hallelujah for A/C and a broiler!); homemade peanut butter (whirred together with buttery roasted peanuts and honey); and graham crackers that will make you want to jump outside and start a s’mores caravan. Y’all- these turned out so good. The rich, dense graham cracker with sweet, roasted peanut goodness and melty marshmallow- so worth the sweltering effort.

And besides their taste, one of the best things about s’mores is that they always remind me that fall is on it’s way. Next time I make these I will probably add some chocolate chips to that peanut butter then go online and order a fancy down vest. Fall may be three weeks away. Yes, it’s a sweltering haze of frizzy hair outside. But watch out autumn, here we come- chocolate peanut butter s’mores in tow.

Some assembly required

Some assembly required


Dark Chocolate S’mores with Salted Peanut Butter*

What You Will Need:

For the graham crackers: This recipe was taken from one of my favorites, King Arthur Flour

1/2 cup (2 ounces)  unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) honey
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cold milk

 What You Will Do:

1. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Cut out two sheets of parchment as large as your cookie sheets.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder.

3. With a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour mixture until evenly crumbly.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the honey and milk, stirring until the honey dissolves.

5. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and toss lightly with a fork until the dough comes together. (This took me a while, and for a bit I thought my dough would remain a shaggy mess. But just keep on stirring with a fork and it will come together! ) Add additional milk, if necessary (I thought I would need this at first but it ended up fine; stir for a bit to make sure you need it before you add it).

6. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and fold it over gently 10 to 12 times, until smooth. Divide the dough in half. Work with half the dough at a time.

7. Transfer one piece of dough to a piece of parchment. Roll it into a rectangle a bit larger than 10 x 14 inches; the dough will be about 1/16-inch thick (Ok, my dough looked a bit more like a misshapen heart rectange. That’s fine! Just make sure you roll the dough out pretty thin- thinner than you will think you need. It should feel like if you lift it, it will tear). Trim the edges and prick the dough evenly with a fork. Repeat with the remaining dough and parchment. Place the rolled-out dough pieces, on their parchment, onto baking sheets. (Ok, let’s be honest- parchment paper is frustrating as mess if you don’t cut it perfectly. I cut mine long, put my cocoa container on the edge to weigh it down and rolled it out. This was also frustrating because it didn’t work that great either. So just work through it and I promise it’s worth it.)

8. Bake the crackers for 15 minutes, or until you begin to smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and immediately cut them into rectangles with a pizza wheel or knife. Transfer them to a rack to cool. The longer you let them cool, the crispier they get.

For the peanut butter: The recipe was adapted from the amazing Alton Brown and the Food Network

What You Will Need

2 cups shelled and skinned roasted peanuts (I had an incredible friend who gave me roasted peanuts as a gift that I used here)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons plus 1/2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil

What You Will Do:

1. Place the peanuts, salt, and all of the honey into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

2. Place the lid back on and continue to process while slowly drizzling in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Process it until it smells roasted and when you look into the food processor the edges of the mixture are smooth. You also might have to scrape down the bottom of the bowl again and blend it for a bit longer to make sure it’s smooth.

3. Place the peanut butter in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. I made a sandwich/distributed this/used it on the s’mores in one night. I mourned it’s passing.

For the marshmallows: These were provided by the wonderful people at the Jet-Puffed factory.

*For the final product:  This recipe requires a very simple assembly, but I found it helpful to make the following elements in the following order: 1. Bake graham crackers. 2. Make peanut butter. 3. Set oven to broil. 4. Put marshmallows in oven, and while they are broasting (roasting in the broiler), spread peanut butter on graham crackers. 5. Take hot mallows out of the oven, use a spatula to gently place them on the prepped crackers, then sandwich between two grahams. Let the s’mores party begin!!