Bread has a bad reputation of being too difficult to make at home. There are some pretty nasty and vicious rumors going around that it takes way too long and requires a lot of effort (and lots of elbow grease) to make homemade bread. I’ve had just about enough of it. Those are all dirty lies. Don’t believe a word of it. It only takes a minimal amount of elbow grease. What’s more, if you have one of those fancy stand mixers or bread machines then you’re solid. You’re good to go. You’re all set. You don’t even have to break a sweat. No need to get dirty. The odds are in your favor, you should be making bread more often, what’s wrong with you?! Do you have any idea how delicious homemade bread is? Do you know what you’re missing out on? You haven’t been living if you haven’t tried warm bread fresh out of the oven, at least once in your life. But don’t worry about it. That’s all about to change. You’re about to become addicted, and I’m happy to help.
I try to make my own bread, whether it be rolls, loaves or buns, as much as I possibly can. Whenever I have the chance. Now I’m no magician, I’ll be honest with you, most often I don’t have the time to make my own bread. What with all the rising and the resting and the baking and the cooling times, I don’t think it’s always possible. I’m realistic, but when I do have the time, I make sure to bake my own bread. It’s unbelievably delicious. I can’t even begin to describe the experience to you. It’s like an out of body phenomenon. You literally get out of your own body. Okay, I might be exaggerating. Just a little bit. Don’t take my word for it though. You need to try it out for yourself, if you haven’t already. And if you have, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Most homemade bread is actually really easy to make. Sure the kneading can be a bit tedious but it’s nothing you can’t handle, and again, these machines all the crazy kids are using these days can do all the work for you. This recipe here that we’re about to dive into is super easy. So much so that I wanted to prove it to you by making it by hand. I know I know, I’ve lost my mind. No machines allowed. Adios amigos. I’m up for the challenge.
Everything bagels are my favorite bagels. They’re the only bagels that matter, if you ask me. Of course, aside from cinnamon raisin bagels on a cold and gloomy day. Or a warm asiago cheese bagel on those days when you simply want cheese and bread and more cheese for breakfast. Okay so come to think of it, I love all bagels, but why am I harping on and on about bagels? This isn’t a bagel post (but this is). No, this is just your everyday, run of the mill, homemade burger/slider buns post. It’s not just any ol’ buns post either. This is an out of this world, blow your mind, I can’t believe Jonathan just did this, kind of post. Nothing makes sense right now, but somehow everything makes sense. Everything Slider Buns that is.
I used to hate salmon. Not like “I sort of disliked it, didn’t really care for it,” kind of hate. No, it was definitely more like “I loathed it with a passion greater than life itself,” kind of hate. It was one of my biggest fears, if not the biggest. My worst nightmare come true. Whenever I’d see salmon I’d go into a fit of rage. Uncontrollable anger would swell up deep inside of me, in the pit of my stomach, that of which you cannot even begin to fathom. It truly would be a scary sight to see. I’d sooner eat liver and onions than eat salmon, and that’s saying something because have you tried beef liver before? It’s not the tastiest thing on earth, to put it nicely. I’d throw tantrums, push people out of the way and flip a table over (Real Housewives style) because I did not want to eat salmon. And that was just last week. Now, seven days later, and about twenty salmon cakes in, I am a believer. Salmon is my new obsession. Hey Salmon, hey! Where have you been my entire life? Let’s be best friends for life. Call me every five minutes.
Maybe it’s all the delicious flavor in these salmon cakes? Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m eating savory cakes (yeah, that’s cool) that appeals to me? I’m not sure but whatever it is, I wasn’t living before now. My eyes were closed and these cakes have opened them. I only wish I had discovered salmon cakes a long time ago. Think of all the tables that could have been saved in the process, but most importantly, think of all the salmon I could have been eating. All that salmon I missed out on. Is it weird that the best part of this recipe wasn’t the salmon itself, but the creamy dill sauce instead? I mean, talk about something you can get addicted to. Be weary my friends. I think you might need a support group on hand, after you try it for yourself.
You know, the more I think about it, the more I know it was definitely the creamy dill sauce that has made salmon not so scary for me. The fear and anger is gone, replaced now with a yearning for salmon this and salmon that. I owe dill sauce my entire life, so much so that I’ll have to name my first child Dill Sauce. Don’t laugh, it’s happening. In the meantime, let’s just be content with eating nothing but salmon cakes, drenched in creamy dill sauce for the remainder of my life. Or until I find a new obsession, whichever comes first. If you need me, I’ll definitely NOT be in the kitchen, head in the fridge eating cold salmon cakes with dill sauce all over my face. That’s totally not me, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
For me, growing up, Valentine’s Day was something special. Not because of all the valentines I would receive from my many admirers—that goes without saying. I was pret-ty popular as a kid. I’m totally kidding. You caught me. I didn’t have any admirers, and what’s more, I’d get just the same amount of cards as any other boring Joe at school. The bare minimum. It was sad and depressing. I don’t want to talk about it. No, it was a special day because of the crafts we’d do at home. The coloring of cards and cutting of construction paper and gluing of pipe cleaners. My hearts were always cut lopsided, unlike my sisters’, but that’s okay. I think we all know which were better (mine). The youngest child can practically make a pile of crap and it would still be considered cute. The best part of the day, however, was when we’d get to decorate cookies, and then eat them, of course. Mamma would make a batch of heart-shaped sugar cookies for us. Then we’d proceed to dump globs of pink, red and white colored icing on them, and make it rain nothing but sprinkles. I’d make it rain sprinkles—in my mouth. It was awesome! Sure there would be a gigantic mess at the end of it all, not even worth the cookies that came out of it, but the memories were totally worth it. Now don’t get me wrong. Mamma, bless her soul, isn’t a baker at all. She didn’t spend hours in the kitchen making said Valentine’s Day cookies. Nope. Instead, she would take a few minutes to open up a package of store-bought dough and plop them on a baking sheet and call it a day. We never complained. I mean after all, a cookie is a cookie.
There are only a few things in life, when it comes to food, that I really enjoy. Okay, who am I kidding? I don’t even believe that myself. There are a lot of food things in life I can’t get enough of, like Valentine’s Day cookies for instance. Also, doughnuts are definitely on the top of that can’t-get-enough list. Come to think of it, I don’t think there is a list out there where doughnuts don’t make an appearance. Freshly popped popcorn doused in a generous amount of questionable white cheddar cheese powder, add that to my “food I really enjoy” list also. Powdered popcorn cheese? Yes, please! 100% yes. I don’t even give it a second thought, yes. Of course there are more reasonable foods I absolutely go nuts for like, french fries, tater tots, hash browns (I promise you it’s not all potatoes, but really it is), potato tacos, and garlic mashed potatoes. I was a potato in my past life, remember? Dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets—you’ll forever have my heart. Croutons on an iceberg salad. Hard boiled eggs in the evening. Whipped ricotta on crusty bread with a drizzle of good olive oil. Pistachios in pretty much ANYTHING (especially ice cream). Yeah, I could go on and on but you catch my drift, I love food. Especially themed food.
I think the best part of any holiday is the themed food, snacks and desserts you can make and eat. What makes Valentine’s Day so special? Is it all the love that is going around? Sure that’s nice, but no that’s not it. Is it the fact that you can spend the day with your loved ones? Uh I don’t think so. That can happen any day of the week, if you think about it. Perhaps it’s all the heart shaped chocolate, brownies, cookies, love-inspired desserts and meals out there? Yeah that’s definitely it. Think about it, what other day of the year is it perfectly acceptable to dive, mouth first, into a heart-shaped box of chocolate and not even feel guilty about it? What other day can you pretend to make something decadent like pistachio eclairs for your “significant other,” when in reality, we all know it’s really just for you? There is no other day. This is the only chance we get. So let’s stop fighting it and do nothing but eat chocolate and candy and pistachio eclairs on this day of love. That’s what February 14th is all about, right? Well that, and chubby naked babies flying around, flinging arrows at people.
It might not come as a shock to you that my favorite thing to do as a kid was eat. Oh yeah, big surprise, this food blogger loved to eat when he was a little boy. How original. But it really was my all-time favorite hobby (still is), and I was a pro at it too (still am). If they handed out trophies for eating, my mom would have mine displayed around the mantel for sure. If she had a mantel. I’d have dozens, humble brag. Where was I? Oh yeah, I could eat like no one’s business. As a matter of fact there are a ridiculous number of photos of me just stuffing my face. It’s weird, but not really because that’s pretty much all I did. I’d share some of the pictures with you now, if they weren’t so disastrous to look at. Don’t worry, I won’t subject you guys to such chaos. No one deserves that. Hey, thanks folks for taking pictures of your kids eating with food all over our faces. I’m sure they do that on purpose so they have something to embarrass us with later on in life.
I wasn’t a picky eater at all either. I would never ask, “What is this?” or “Why does it look like that?” To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t even have time to ask because as soon as I sat down at the table, I’d start scarfing it down. Whatever it was. I’d already be requesting seconds before my mom even had a chance to sit down. I exaggerate, but only slightly I assure you. I was strategic about eating as well. Not in the way that you might think. Nothing crazy like none of my food could touch each other or anything like that—that’s a real thing that my sister suffered from and I’d just stare at her, reassured she was an alien with her partitioned plate. Her alien status worked to my advantage though, because boy was she a picky eater. Not so much any more but every so often it will come out and show it’s ugly face. Anyhow so there I was, young me (awesome in my dinosaur shirt that I’d never take off), and there she was my alien sister, slightly older, eating as slowly and as neatly as possible and with a fork no less (what a girl). I’d purposefully sit next to her because I’d know she’d inevitably not like something on her plate and I’d be lucky enough to get it. She’d discreetly toss it onto my plate. I’d play it cool too. “Ahh man, you want me to sit next to Nick? But she has cooties!!” I’d yell out, but secretly I’d be thinking, “Yessss! I get to eat seconds and her food on top of that! Score!”
Although I enjoyed every dinner meal, there were certain days I’d look forward to the most. Like Taco Tuesdays, that often times became Tostada Tuesdays with the occasional Burrito Tuesdays thrown into the mix. That one didn’t have the same ring to it but we loved Burrito Tuesdays all the same. My mom would get creative and switch it up as much as she possibly could. So here I am, older me (still awesome sans dinosaur shirt) with the same penchant for tacos. Still sitting next to my sister (cooties and all) at restaurants or parties, grabbing the foods she doesn’t care for right from her plate. Some things never change, and I’m happy that they don’t. Tacos however, those are always changing and I’m glad that they are. Like these fry bread breakfast tacos for instance, combining three of my favorite things; breakfast, tacos and fried things. How could you possibly go wrong?
I was originally going to act like this recipe and post is no big deal. Yeah, blueberry baked doughnuts. So what? Oh yeah, I totally put a cinnamon crumb topping on them, doesn’t everyone? Scoff scoff. I was going to pretend to not even be excited about them, because that would be much cooler, right? The reality is, I’m not that good of an actor. Also I underestimated my love of doughnuts. I’m not even going to pretend that I don’t like those pillowy delicious treats and that this post isn’t a big deal, because it is in fact a very big deal. Monumental actually. Let’s all take a moment to ponder and comprehend the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in at the moment. The situation being that we’re all going to have to stare at these doughnuts for the next several minutes, and have to deal with the fact that they aren’t right in front of our faces. Why aren’t they right in front of our faces? Why aren’t we devouring them at this very moment? I mean, this is the stuff that dreams are made of. I’m convinced that blueberries and cinnamon are up in heaven, for sure. Just between the two of us though—you and I, don’t tell anyone else—I’m still very surprised that I was able to come up with such a delicious recipe, almost overnight. Sometimes I surprise myself, like whoa.
Right from the beginning, I knew I wanted to make another baked doughnut recipe, like the one before, if you recall (Baked Peanut Butter Chocolate Doughnuts) because that one actually changed my life forever. Maybe even in ways that I could never have dreamt of. So there I was one day last week, scratching my head and pondering as hard as I could, “What should my next post be? What can I make, but really what do I feel like eating?” Then BAM it all sort of made sense to me in an instant. It came to me in a vision-like dream. It hit me hard like a bullet (slight dramatization). I knew I needed to make these doughnuts because in reality my all time favorite doughnut is the cinnamon crumb doughnut. You know the kind? The yeast variety rolled around in a cinnamon crumb topping. It’s the best. I could go for a few dozen right now actually, but that’s a whole other story. They’re delicious and completely addicting. Like wake up in the middle of the night and eat about ten of them without realizing it, addicting. Then wake up in the morning and proceed to have another ten like if your life depended on it and you were about to win a medal for it. That’s the best kind of addiction to have, in my opinion.
So a few days later I was getting ready to make a batch of baked cinnamon crumb doughnuts for you guys—but let’s be honest it was really for me—when I realized I had a pint of fresh blueberries in the fridge. The only thing on the top shelf actually, and it was almost as if someone was telling me to make blueberry doughnuts at that very instant. A sign sent from I don’t know where. Probably from me because I’m like seventy percent sure I bought those blueberries in the first place. Several hours later I was devouring the best doughnut I’ve had in a very long time. Turns out blueberries and doughnuts are meant to be together forever, and if you don’t believe me, I guess you’ll just have to find out for yourself. Be sure to let me know the moment you become addicted so that I can rub it in your face and say I told you so. I’m kidding, I wouldn’t really do that….I’d also throw in an “I Told You So” dance because that’s the way to do it.
I have a confession to make. It’s a sad and terrible confession but one that I should get off my chest, right here and now. Why prolong the inevitable? Sure it’s embarrassing, but maybe I’m not the only one out there with the same belief. Or I guess I should say, with the same belief that I used to have. I don’t anymore because now I’ve totally seen the light. I used to think cooking with sausage was a big hassle. It was daunting and scary to me because I felt like I just never knew what to cook with it. I was in a slump, friends. A cooking slump, and those are the worst kinds of slumps to be in. I mean, a guy can only eat so many hot dogs before you begin to get tired of them. So I wouldn’t really make anything else with sausage. I always bypassed it at the grocery store, not wanting to put that pressure on myself. Whenever I’d pass through the sausage aisle, I’d look away. It was too much for me to bear. Of course I would always end up getting chicken because, in my mind, it was the easiest thing to cook with. “Jonathan, just grab a couple of chicken breasts and call it a day,” I would say. Just like that too. I like to talk to myself in first person sometimes. If you recall my Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pie post, my friend Jenny can attest to always having chicken at my house. It was starting to become a problem. So one day I got the courage to start exploring more with smoked sausage. In part because anything smoked is just plain delicious (have you met my friend bacon?) but mostly because sometimes—and by sometimes I mean like all the time—I get lazy in the kitchen and just want something quick and easy to whip up so I can devour it as soon as possible. Can you blame me?
So there I am one day at the grocery store, walking—no, stomping, that sounds a lot better—towards the sausage aisle with determination in my eyes. Really it was a glint in my eyes and a light bulb over my head, because I finally had an idea as to what I can cook with sausage. It wasn’t that hard to come up with, really. I just started thinking of all the delicious things I enjoy eating and then I’d mentally swap out the main ingredient for sausage. I did that until I got the perfect match. You all know my love for doughnuts, however, cake doughnuts with a sausage glaze just didn’t sit well with me. So just like that, sweets were out of the question. Sausage lasagna with a creamy béchamel sauce with seven different cheeses sounded amazing. I was just about to pick up the eighth cheese when I came to my senses. “Jonathan, you don’t have that kind of time on your hands to make a lasagna! You need something quick and easy!” So out the window went that plan. Then all of a sudden someone threw a package of tortillas at my face and BAM just like that, tacos were in my future. Oh and not just any tacos, my friends, but angus beef smoked sausage tacos.
After about fifteen of the most stress-free minutes I’ve ever encountered in the kitchen, I sat down to eat my beef sausage and peppers tacos with all the toppings you could possibly think of. And right there, between my fifth and sixth taco, I realized cooking with sausage isn’t all that difficult at all. In fact, it’s ridiculously easy (and tasty too). So now every time I go to the grocery store, I don’t avoid the sausage aisle. In fact, I go over and wave at it, picking up a few packages of Hillshire Farm along the way. “Hello delicious smoked sausage,” I yell out. Don’t worry, I look around before talking to the sausage to make sure no one is looking at me. I’m not that crazy. Okay maybe a little crazy. Crazy for smoked sausage tacos that is.