Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In the Zone...the Calzone that is!

When I was in college I worked at a lovely little bakery on Saturday mornings. I had the task of making the sweet rolls, cinnamon rolls, muffins, scones, breads, and sometimes soups and sandwiches. One of my favorite food items I made were the calzones. Strangely, I have never made them since working there, so I finally decided to give it a try on my own! Here's how it went:
First I sauteed some diced onion until it began to look transparent, then I threw about 3 minced garlic cloves on top and continued to cook until I smelled the garlic. I added about 2 lbs of ground beef, some garlic salt and black pepper, and cooked it through. After draining the meat, I threw it in the fridge until I could get back to it. I decided I wanted to try two different fillings, a taco filling and an Italian filling.

1 lb ground beef mixture
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 2.2 ounce can sliced olives, drained
1 tbls cumin
1 tsp each of paprika, chile powder, salt, and garlic salt (it was a bit on the salty side, so I would take out the regular salt next time)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream if you have it on hand)
Shredded cheddar cheese

1 lb ground beef mixture
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tbls each dried oregano and basil
1 tsp dried thyme
spaghetti sauce (I used jarred, of course!)
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix all of the ingredients together until well blended. For the Italian, use as much spaghetti sauce as you need to get the consistency you like. I think I used about a cup, plus a bit more.

For the crust of the calzones, I used a basic pizza dough recipe, but you can use anything from refridgerator pizza crust to a boxed mix. It's really whatever works for you. I like making my own!
Calzone Assembly:
My plan was to make 16 MINI calzones, 8 for dinner and 8 for the freezer, so I made a double batch of pizza crust and divided it in half. With the first half I divided it into 8 mostly equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a circle like shape about a quarter inch thick, just as my handy assistant Megan is doing here:

Add about 1/3 cup filling on one side, but leave an edge, then top with cheese.

I found the easiest way to seal the calzone was to leave about a 1/4 lip of the bottom side after folding it over, then fold that lip up and seal the edges. At this point, you can get decorative if you want and use a fork to crimp the edge or something!

Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes. Did I mention I was going for mini calzones? They ended up being a bitter larger than I expected :-)

And Enjoy! (the left is the Italian, the right is the taco)

I always look for some seal of approval...

Need I say more???

The best thing about calzones is that once you have the dough, you can really do anything you want for a filling! Just make sure it has texture, a little moisture, and lots of flavor! One of the popular ones we would make at the bakery was a chicken broccoli calzone!! Yum Yum!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Little Bit O' Love

We had to spread a little love through the house this year for Valentine's Day, so what better way than with heart shaped cookies?? Here are my lovely children hard at work, rolling out sugar cookie dough!
We managed to get a few decent cookies out of the batch...mostly the little ones just enjoyed playing with the dough! So, if you have a toddler who needs entertaining, mix up some pizza dough and put them to work! I promise, it's very entertaining and easy to clean up!
Megan and her friend Caroline decorated the few that lasted long enough. They did a great job!
And for breakfast? Heart-shaped, chocolate chip pancakes! A very lovely treat indeed!
Hope you all had a Valentine's Day filled with love :-)