Monday, January 12, 2015

DIY: Forget-Her-Love-Of-Horses Pepperoni Rolls

When I was a girl I was into horses, like every other American girl.  I talked about horses, read books about horses, watched movies about horses, asked to look at horses, pet horses, ride horses, keep horses, and so on and so forth.  We lived in the country and knew people who owned horses.  I couldn’t figure out why our family didn’t have at least one measly horse to keep around.  My own dad had a pony growing up.  Why can’t I?

I don't have a picture of my dad as a kid with his pony.
I do, however, have a picture of our family with a small white cow.

I was into horses so much that my parents sent me away to horse camp for a whole summer1, at which I was assigned a horse to take care of the entire time.

It turned out to be a genius move, because after that much time2 taking care of a horse, I no longer wanted anything to do with horses and stopped talking about them.

Did you know that taking care of a horse is like a million times more work than taking care of a dog?  And nothing like taking care of stuffed animals, or say, keeping your room clean, or unloading the dishwasher or folding a load of towels, or even making your bed every day?

Did you also know that if a horse steps on the toe of your boot, you cannot pull your boot out from under the horse’s foot?  You most likely will stand there in paralyzed fear until the horse moves its foot.

Fun fact #1: Horses don’t typically move their feet when they stop to pee.

Fun fact #2: The phrase “I peed like a race horse” that people use after a vigorous bladder-emptying session is a very accurate description.

Fun fact #3:  When a horse pees, it’s very splashy.

Like I said, no more horse talk from me.

To drive home the horror truth about keeping horses as pets, several months later my dad took a friend and me to a local horse arena to watch horses oh, I don’t know, run around?  Look.  I was a small child.  Okay, I was about 10 or 11.  I don’t know what we were there to see.  Anyway, my friend and I watched the horses run around the arena and It. Was. So. Boring.  And it was cold and smelled like – you got it.  Horses.

But my friend brought a treat for us.  It was pepperoni bread that someone in her family had made: a loaf of bread swirled with pepperoni and cheese and deliciousness and love.  After one bite I found that I loved pepperoni bread almost as much as I thought I loved horses.  More, even.

Thus began my personal quest to eat dough and pepperoni as frequently as possible for the rest of my life.  I’ve been a #1 fan of pepperoni pizza forever, but at that tender age I realized that sometimes I just want my pepperoni and dough in a swirl.

I’m thrilled to share my recipe for Pepperoni Rolls that our family eats pretty often.  Got a tween who whines about horses?  Serve this up and skip the expensive camp experience.  My parents were always over-achievers anyway.

Forget-Her-Love-Of-Horses Pepperoni Rolls


1 tube of pizza dough.  I KNOW.  Many of my recipes contain this ingredient.  It’s because a) it’s inexpensive, b) it’s delicious, c) it stores easily, d) it’s easy to have on hand, and e) IT’S DOUGH.

Olive oil.  Not the cartoon character, silly.  Don’t have olive oil?  You won’t really miss it.  Shhhh.  Don’t tell Popeye.

Green sprinkles.  You know, oregano, parsley, basil, or the mysterious Italian seasoning.  Just a little, now.  You’re not really Italian.

Shredded mozzarella cheese.  In the bag.  Don’t you even think of using the fancy kind.  That kind is best saved for slow afternoons when you’re watching Orange is the New Black on a tear and you need something to munch on and you grab the container of mozz balls instead of the chip dip.  Mozz balls in the container have saved me from a lifetime of eating too much chip dip more times than I can count.

Parmesan cheese.  Shake cheese is where it’s at.

Sliced pepperoni.  You know, in the zip-top bag?  When I was a kid I loved when my mom would buy sliced pepperoni in the yellow shrink-wrapped package.  It was perfectly lined up in little rows just waiting to be peeled off and slid down your gullet.  My brothers and I would mow down a package of those as soon as my mom came home from the store.

Warmed marinara sauce (optional).  To dip.  Use only if you have it – don’t make a special trip!  That’s what “optional” means.  Like wearing a dress to church, or pants on the weekend.

Only some of the ingredients you'll need.  Also note that I used fancy parm.
Fancy parm is sometimes okay.  But don't go thinking that it's the norm, Betty.  Know your place.

That’s it!  SO EASY.  You prob have all those ingredients already.  Especially the pizza dough.  Because DOUGH.

So here’s whatcha do:


A. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Whoa, that’s hot.  Just like Grandma.

1. POP!  the dough out of its cardboard prison.  Cover your eyes so you don’t lose one – everybody knows that they put fireworks in those tubes to make them pop like that.  Cut the Box-Tops off of the packaging to give to your kids’ school.  Unless you use the store brand, which doesn’t offer them.  What, are you against education or something?

2. Stretch out the dough to make a perfect rectangle, about 20 inches long and 8 inches wide.  These measures are approximate.  I’m just giving you an idea so you do it right, instead of wrong, like everything else you do.  Push together the holes you made when you ripped the dough out of its packaging.  You’re so careless!

3. Spread a little bit of olive oil over the surface of the dough.  I said you wouldn’t miss it if you don’t have olive oil, and you might not, but it really does give it a good flavor.  Reminder:  you are using tube dough.  You can use all the flavor you can get here.

4. Sprinkle the dough with seasonings.  Just a little, though.  You want to let the flavor of the smoked and heavily processed meat shine through on this dish.

5. Sprinkle the dough with shredded cheese.  You don’t want to be too heavy handed with the cheese here.  You want some cheese, not all cheese.  Have you ever had pizza that was too cheesy?  I know, it sounds impossible.  But it's no good, and it can and will happen if you don’t tone it down a bit.  I’d say a good rule of thumb is to use maybe a cup or a cup and a half.  You want to see through the cheese to the dough here.  You just want to see it.  Don’t be a fool.

6. Place the pepperoni slices evenly on the cheese.  Not shoulder to shoulder; give them space to breathe a little.  It’s not a pepperoni rave; think of it as a classy pepperoni cocktail party.

Don't forget to test your ingredients for poison.

7. Sprinkle with parmesan.  Just a little!  Jeez, Martha.  Ease up already.

8. Roll the dough into a log shape, starting with one of the long edges.  Be careful.  It’s not as easy as it seems.  The pepperoni will slide around and you will reconsider your life on this planet.  Stay with it.  You are almost there.

9. Slice the dough log into sixteen equal parts, each about an inch wide.  I just slice each section in half until I can’t slice no mo’.  I also like to say Log.

Look how pretty.

10. Place the slices cut side up on your favorite baking surface, either a greased cookie sheet or ungreased stoneware.  Make sure you leave an inch or two between the rolls so they have room to mingle.  Remember: cocktail party.  And for the love of Mike, use a baking surface with sides, unless you like grease to drip all over your oven and smoke you out of your own house.  Look.  You are cooking pepperoni, the greasiest food since lard.  Mike will thank you later.

Almost a rave.  Do as I say, not as I do.

11. Bake in the oven for twenty minutes.  Check them towards the end, because no one likes a burnt bottom.

12. Remove from the pan with a spatula and place on a plate lined with paper towels to keep up the façade that you insist on serving healthful meals to your family.  

Serve the pepperoni rolls to your hog family who will eat them all in five minutes flat.  Remember the bowl of marinara for dipping – you left it in the micro, and they will complain about what a horrible person you are if you forget.  Trust.  Something fun I like to do with my family is insist that they each eat a large portion of salad before they touch the pepperoni rolls.  Or make them pay for their meals like you’re at a restaurant.  It’s a good way to make a little extra cash, really.

Cash that you definitely WON’T be saving to buy a horse.  Those things are highly overrated.  If you find yourself nostalgic for horses again, just watch The Black Stallion or something.

1It was three days.  Not even full days, either.  More like one full day and two half days.

2Three days, people.  THREE.



  1. You need to write A COOKBOOK!!

    1. You're sweet. It would contain ten recipes and be a thousand pages long. All illustrated with grainy phone pictures.

  2. I may give you a run for the role of Number One pepperoni pizza fan.
    And look, you even put salad on the plate! Looks delicious. I'd take it over splashy horse pee any day.

  3. If this post were a cooking show, I'd completely enjoy it. These look pretty cool - I guarantee Kidzilla would enjoy helping with assembly.
    At the moment, Kidzilla is in that horse obsession stage. I'm kinda hoping it passes. Although we do have a cousin who loved them so much she took riding lessons and entered competitions and worked in a barn. Yikes.

    1. Thanks Lisa! My parents really encouraged my fickleness. This is a great dish that the kids can help with. My daughter hangs around when I'm making this to much on cheese and stray pepperonis.

  4. OMG I love these things WHY DO WE SHARE THE SAME BRAIN.
    My mom had a horse when she was growing up.
    Because she lived on a farm.
    I am jealous of that horse owning, farm living life.
    Lets move to the country, buy a horse and make pepperoni rolls!!!!

    1. It's a deal! YOU take care of the horse and I'll take care of the pep rolls. Horses are pretty, but they're a real pain in the ass. Incidentally, this is exactly how my husband introduces me to his work colleagues.

  5. Oh my god. I love you and I am so making these this week. I'm hosting a birthday dinner for my mom on Friday and we're having GF pasta and while I can't get tubes of GF dough, I do make it all the time and think this would be perfect for this. garlic bread for us to go with the pasta. PERFECT.

    1. You can use any pizza dough for this - and they will be even more delicious with homemade! I never thought about using these as bread to go with pasta! You've really opened my world up here.