Italian Sausage with Caprese Relish

College football season is here.  Time for wings, nachos, hot dogs, and men sitting on the couch for hours. I get cheering for your alma mater, but why are men so passionate about games featuring teams with which they have no connection? I am currently watching Arizona vs. Oregon. Brent and I don’t have any friends or family who have attended either school, but we’ve got to watch the game. Football Saturday’s are perfect for playing in the kitchen. This recipe is a fresh and creative take on hot dogs, and a great idea for a football viewing party. Bobby Flay caught my attention with his genius idea of putting caprese salad on a sausage. Italian Sausage with Caprese Relish is spicy, yet refreshing. Although this meal is a little hard to eat, it is worth the mess.

6 Hot Italian Sausages
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint yellow and red cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 pound fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for the bread
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
6 large hot dog rolls
2 cloves garlic, halved

Heat the grill for high direct grilling. Grill the sausages until golden brown and slightly charred on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the sausages to a platter and let rest 5 minutes before removing to a plate.

Toss the tomatoes with the cheese, basil, parsley, capers, onions, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Slice the bread open and put on the grill, cut-side down, and grill until lightly golden brown. Remove and rub the surface with the garlic cloves, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Put a whole sausage on each roll and top with the caprese relish.

Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Pretzel Cookies

It’s time for a cookie recipe! Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Pretzel Cookies have great texture and a nice balance of sweet & salty. They are best right out of the oven, with gooey chocolate and peanut butter chunks and the crunch of broken up pretzels. I made them for a friend’s labor day barbecue, and sadly there were none left over 😦 I guess I’ll have to make more soon. I’m thinking of mixing a batch, roll the dough into tablespoon balls and freezing them. Homemade cookies in less than 15 minutes anytime I want, with no extra dishes to clean, and no need to bake the entire batch. Yum!

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of baking soda
1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
1/2 cup of tightly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 egg (beaten)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup broken up pretzels

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). On low speed, slowly add the vanilla extract and egg. Beat to combine.
Add the flour mixture and beat just until there are no more streaks of flour. Carefully stir in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and broken up pretzels. Cover and refrigerate for an hour, or freeze for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out well rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough. Leave about 2 inches between each scoop. Bake for 10 minutes (11-12 if you like crispier cookies.) Cool cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes before enjoying.

Makes 24 cookies.