Thursday, February 2, 2012

Stromboli and Dating Advice

One of the advantages of being a teacher is birthday lunch day. Once a month, my coworkers and I take turns cooking for each other. I’ve gleaned a lot of great recipes this way, but this is probably my favorite. The original recipe is fairly involved, which, in my household means it will never be made again. Its Tobified version is super easy and a fan favorite. Last night the boys were stuffing their faces with the stuff. Literally. This inspired quite an interesting conversation about how a failure to develop one’s table manners will result in one being dateless in high school and, ultimately, dying alone. It sounds depressing, but it was actually quite hi-larious. Our favorite storyline from the conversation: “What if Max went out on a date with…Cara (the youngest non-related girl we could think of) and they went to the restaurant and he pulled out the highchair for her like a nice boy and they ordered Stromboli and the waiter took a long time to bring it out and so he got up on the table and said, ‘Buh! Buh! Buh!’ Cara would say, ‘Take me home! I want to go out on a date with a different boy!” Laughing the hardest at this scenario? Max. Even though over the course of the discussion we came up with a lot of rude things to do on dates, I’m hoping eventually those behaviors will be less comical – and less frequent. Here’s the incomplete list of what NOT to do on a date:
- Dance on your chair or around the table
- Wipe your face on your shirt
- Get all up in your date’s grill
- Crawl on your high chair tray
- Throw all your utensils on the floor one at a time, while saying “Uh oh”
- Meow at and trip the waiter (our pets aren’t off the hook when it comes to table manners)
- Toot in your date’s face (Nope. That’s a piece of human advice.)

Just so you know, these tips were not hypothetical. They were all inspired by real events. Many of them are regular occurrences. And with that peek into life around my dinner table, I’ll move on to the recipe. Maybe I’ll appear to be a little more Supermom and a little less Harried Zookeeper.

- 1-2 loaves frozen bread dough
- Olive oil (or, if you’re feeling cheap, vegetable oil works too)
- Seasonings (I like oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, and/or sage)
- Meat (I usually use lunch meat and pepperoni, but hamburger, bacon, or shredded chicken or pork would be good, too)
- Cheese (any and all kinds, lots and lots)
- Vegetables (onions are the best, but use your imagination)

1) The morning of, place bread loaves on two greased pans to thaw and rise.
2) When you’re ready to cook, punch down and roll out the dough.
3) Brush dough with mix of oil and seasonings, leaving a half inch around the edges.
4) Load those puppies down with the good stuff, then pull dough around the goodies, and seal the un-oiled parts together.
5) Generously brush the outside of each stuffed loaf with the oil mixture, and place on a greased cookie sheet.
6) If you like burnt cheese, sprinkle a bit on top of the loaf.
7) Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 mn.
8) Serve with pizza or spaghetti sauce to dip in – or throw on the floor.

I’m usually a rigid recipe follower. It drives me nuts when I ask for a recipe and someone says, “You add some Ingredient X with a good amount of Ingredient Y…” Give me some stinkin’ amounts, people! But this recipe is so fool-proof, I don’t worry about it anymore. I dump some oil in a bowl and start sprinkling randomness in. If I have too much, I'll make croutons. But I probably never would have tried this meal at all if the above “recipe” was all I had to start with. So, to that end, I’ll tell you that the original recipe called for:

- 1/3 c. oil, 2 eggs, and 1 ½ t total of seasonings for the basting mix
- 1 lb ground beef and 1 pkg of pepperoni for the meat
- 3 c. total of cheese
- 1 small onion, chopped

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