We’re heading into football season, so it’s time to start thinking about Manly Munchies. But come to think of it, a lot of the recipes I’m going to be posting are good for lots of other times, too. For instance, this one would be great for Movie Night with your sweetheart. Especially if it’s a Rom-Com set in Italy. One of those silly movies you know she likes and you tolerate – just like she tolerates your shoot-em-ups. So you both climb onto the couch, call for a pizza, settle into a quiet night.
This is a great Movie Night recipe for several reasons. It doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of ingredients. It takes less time than it would for the pizza to show up, and it will cost you less. It’s more filling than popcorn but not as filling as a full meal. And again, it doesn’t take nearly as much time. Fewer dishes to clean, less distraction from the most important part of the evening. (Her! She’s the most important part of the evening. Pay attention!) And it’s fun because it’s gooey! And just like pizza, you can have any toppings… er, fillings, as you want.
So whether it’s for Game Day or Movie Night, let’s go have some fun!
2 cans tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
Corn meal (for dusting – optional)
1 can of biscuits
1-2 cups cheese
Toppings of choice
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°.
Pour tomato sauce into medium pot. I suggest two 15 oz. cans to start. You may find you need less for your taste, but start with two.
Add spices and bring to simmer over medium heat. As soon as you see bubbles, turn off the heat and let everything sit and get happy while you continue to work.
Grease a baking dish or other receptacle for gooey bread. (See below.)
If desired, dust greased pan with corn meal. (Old school pizza places put a little corn meal on the bottom of the crust.)
Cut biscuits into 4 pieces and put them in a very large bowl… probably the biggest one you have.
Pour half the tomato sauce over the biscuit pieces. Toss to coat.
Add 1/2 to 1 cup of cheese. I use either the shredded Italian blend or shredded 1 cup Mozzarella, 1/2 cup Provolone and 1/2 cup cheddar. Anyway cheese goes in next, along with any toppings you’re going to add. Fold it all in well.
Plop everything into your baking dish. Pour some of the remaining tomato sauce over the top. How much will depend on your own taste, but I normally use about half of what’s left.
Top with more cheese and maybe a few reserved toppings.
Bake for 12 minutes, then sprinkle Parmesan and/or red pepper flakes. Bake for another 4 minutes or until nicely browned on top.
Let stand for at least 5 minutes before bringing the whole thing out to the couch. Serve with remaining sauce and more Parmesan and/or red pepper flakes.
This recipe is just crying out to be personalized. It’s not just the toppings, it’s also the cheeses, the seasonings… pretty much everything. Look at it this way: you get to make it just the way you like it best. Or the way she likes best, if you’re smart. For that reason, I suggest that you start with a little tomato sauce, then add more if you want to. Same with the cheese.
The seasonings above are the way I do it most of the time. But there are times when I’ll omit the dried basil and add just a ton of chopped fresh basil leaves. Other times, I’ll add extra garlic and red pepper flakes. If she likes it this way, marry her fast! So don’t be afraid to experiment.
Now let’s talk about the baking dish, which is the most basic way to bake this thing. But you could also use a Bundt pan, then turn the bread out onto a plate. Another cool thing I’ve seen is to use an iron skillet. About 12 inches ought to do it, but no smaller, unless it’s got really tall sides. Of course, a dutch oven would be good, too. You could also do smaller portions by using a muffin pan, either regular size or jumbo. Individual ramekins work well, but use the 8 oz. size.
I usually don’t serve with a side, but if I do, it will probably be tomatoes and cucumbers in a light drizzle of Italian dressing or tomatoes and basil, again in a light dressing.
Monkey Bread of any sort – also called pull-apart bread, by the way – is going to be gooey and sticky. That’s the law, but it’s also part of the fun. Just make sure your sweetie is in the mood for finger-licking food and have lots of napkins on hand. And make sure she’s the first one to dab some tomato sauce on your nose. See, that way when you do it, she’ll laugh instead of smacking you and ruining the mood. And make sure you gently wipe away the unintended little drops of sauce on her cheek with a smile.
This is one time I have to really stress that, as you make it, and as you eat it, definitely…
Play with your food!
Did you like this recipe? What recipes would you like to learn? Leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts! (And don’t forget to LIKE this post!) Share it using the tiles below.