Generally, we eat around the dining room table — with place mats, no less! — but sometimes, when I’m feeling wild and crazy and free, we set up the meal at the living room coffee table and sit on the floor. It feels so companionable and different (maybe it’s the absence of the place mats), and adds an extra sense of relaxation to the day.
For such an informal set up, you want an informal meal, like Soft Bread Sticks dipped in Shockingly Simple Spaghetti Sauce, with Easy Chai Tea on the side and a plate of sliced apples. This quick, simple meal is inexpensive and easy, leaving you time and energy to enjoy what matters most: time with your family.
Soft Bread Sticks — Makes 24 bread sticks — you can halve the dough and refrigerate it, covered, for another day. Frequently, I shape the second half into a dozen rolls that I place in a greased, covered pan. Two hours before I want to bake them I take the pan out and let the rolls come back to room temperature; I then bake them, in the uncovered pan, at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until lightly browned on top.
2 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil (you can use melted butter, or another type of oil — whatever you’ve got
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 – 7 cups flour (I used 3 cups whole wheat and 3 cups white all purpose flour)
I used a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer to make this, but you can use a wooden spoon or hand mixer, and knead by hand. The Kitchen Aid — which was Tired of Being Youngest’s early graduation present — has revolutionized my baking life, and adds to the reason why I don’t want Tired of Being Youngest to move out and away!
Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let dissolve, or, if you’re using the Kitchen Aid, mix the yeast and water together on low. Add the oil, sugar, and salt and mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
One cup at a time, add the flour, stirring or mixing until fully incorporated. If you are mixing by hand, you’ll want to dump the dough out for hand kneading once the dough gets sticky and starts to pull away from the bowl — after 5 cups, say. Knead in the last 1/2 cup to 2 cups of flour, a little bit at a time. If you’re using the Kitchen Aid, add the flour one cup at a time until the dough cleans the side of the bowl and adheres to the hook; I used a low medium speed (4 or 5 out of 10), and mixed for 10 minutes or so.
Oil a large bowl and plop the kneaded dough into it. Turn it around to coat with the oil; cover the bowl with a towel or plastic bag, and let rise in a warm place for one hour.
After an hour, punch the dough, turn it over, then pull it out of the bowl and cut it in half. Put one half back in the bowl, and cut the remaining half into 24 pieces. On a flat surface, roll each small piece into a long snake, shaping it with your hands. When you get two snakes, twist them together tightly and place on a greased cookie sheet. The first thing the twists will do is untwist, but they won’t completely come apart.
I fit 6 twists on a cookie sheet, but if you place them closer together, they just wind up touching and kissing one another. Shape 12 twists, then with the remaining half of dough, either shape 12 more twists, set the dough covered in the refrigerator for more breadsticks another day; or shape rolls in the fashion I describe above.
Let the twists rise, loosely covered with a dish towel or sheet of plastic wrap, for 20
Pre-heat the oven to 385 degrees. Once it’s heated, lightly brush the twists with an egg wash of an egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water (you’ll probably have egg mixture left over; I give this to the cats). Sprinkle salt atop the breadsticks.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until lightly browned on both the top and the bottom. Brush the bread sticks with butter while they’re still hot. Or not.
Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I talk about simple Recipes on Tuesdays.
If you read me every week, you know what’s coming next: yes, that’s right — when you learn how to cook for yourself, you save money. And if you’re interested in saving money, my book, Live Happily on Less, is an easy-to-read, easy-to-put-into-practice resource. Paperback and digital at Amazon.com.
Use the money you save to buy something fun and beautiful, like artwork from Steve Henderson Fine Art — originals and licensed open edition prints that make you happy and add color to your life.