One of my favorite types of dinners are those that come together quickly without relying on a lot of prepared and "convenience" items. I never really cared for Hamburger Helper and the like and so thinking up of quick meals can be a challenge. There used to be a store in my hometown that catered to this issue: Super Suppers. Basically a food bar, you prepare a set menu of meals there to take home and freeze. While the concept is intriguing, the cost is more than most can handle and therefor not economical for some. I was privileged enough to attend a private fundraising session a few years ago and though I don't remember much I do remember one item: The Bread Braid
This meal is one of my favorites. It's easy, versatile and best of all it can be prepared quickly, with no fuss, and be on the table in about 45 minutes.
Start with one loafs worth of bread dough (I used homemade part-white part-wheat *recipe below* today, but have also used store bought frozen with excellent results.)
If using homemade bread dough, roll out after the first rise. If using frozen, thaw before using and no need to rise
Put the dough onto a sheet pan and roll out or use your hands to press it into a large rectangle. I roll it the complete length and leave some space width wise. Don't spread the dough too thin, it will rip and the braid will leak. (This was a large recipe of dough so it almost filled the pan and was still fairly thick)
Next, add your fillings down the middle. I used 3/4 of a kielbasa sausage, 1 chopped green pepper, 1/4 of an onion, 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce, and Monterey Jack cheese to cover.
(cheese not pictured)
Once all of your toppings are laid out, snip the edges of the dough into strips on both sides and then criss-cross them to braid
(forgot to take a pic of this step, thank you Google)
Once your dough is braided, let it rise until it gets slightly puffy, maybe 30 minutes or so. Then bake it at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until well browned. Don't worry if it leaks, mine usually do and they turn out fine. Let cool a few minutes before cutting into slices. Serve.
Don't limit yourself to just kielbasa for the filling. Other great variations to try:
Ham and chedder
Chicken and broccoli with alfredo
Chicken with onions and barbeque sauce
Buffalo Chicken with ranch
Cheesesteak with fried onions and provelone
Corned beef with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing.
The possibilities are endless! They freeze great too. Just fill, braid and wrap in plastic wrap. Be sure to let thaw on the sheet pan before baking.
And for reference, here is the bread recipe I used:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups flour (I used 2 1/2 white and 1 wheat)