|taste better than they look, but they look pretty tasty here|
Day 26 of the 30-day yoga challenge! Days 23 and 24 were pretty iffy with a little stomach bug and the 92 degree heat. Even a little woozy, a little wobbly, I made it through. Not terribly productive at home (I am caught up on the Australian Open and Downton Abbey on Masterpiece), however so I broke out the bread machine and made it up to the family with a favorite dinner of calzones last night. The previous night I gave myself a little break and made a big pot of chicken noodle soup with rotisserie chicken from Costco. I suppose buying the actual chicken soup from the prepared case at Costco would be even easier, but not terribly. Might as well run through the "recipe" for the soup before we tackle the calzones.
Shortcut Chicken Noodle Soup
2 T canola or olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, medium chop
4 cloves garlic, minced (you are trying to feel better after all)
4-6 carrots, diced or sliced
4 big stalks celery, diced
fresh ground pepper
2 boxes (for 6-8 cups) chicken stock or broth
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
8 oz. egg noodles (or whole grain) in whatever size you like in your soup
8 oz. frozen peas
Get out your soup pot. If you still don't have a LeCreuset enameled cast iron soup pot, buy whatever brand you see at Costco or Macy's (the Martha Stewart line is significantly less expensive especially when on sale and with a coupon, never tried one but surely it works the same). Heat the oil and saute the onions, celery and carrots until onions are translucent, maybe 5 minutes. Do not brown, keep the heat low. Add the garlic, salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp of each) and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the broth, starting with 6 cups depending on how thin you like your soup. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a rolling boil and add the noodles. Cook until noodles are soft (follow package instructions) adding more broth if you need it. Add the peas if you like them like my Sara does. Heat through. Discard bay leaf. Taste for salt and pepper. That's it. Serve with halved lemons and squeeze over your bowl of soup if you like that. I love lemon in my chicken noodle soup, but that's a personal preference. My mom always served her soup with endive lettuce and vinegar (?). To each their own.
Back to the calzones. If you read my blog on a regular basis you will know that I may have a different idea of easy than some people because I love to cook and I have the time. I have a Cuisinart convection bread machine from Costco which really makes my life easier. I never actually bake in it, but the dough setting mixes, needs and rises dough for me in one hour and thirty eight minutes. All you really need is to remember to start your bread machine or set it to start with enough time before you want to bake. I also regularly order shipments of baking ingredients from King Arthur Flour. The quality is understood and the variety of ingredients (some you never knew you needed until you read their catalogs, website or baking blog) is the big draw. Shipping pounds of flour and etc. gets pricey so I usually stock up when I get a free shipping e-mail. So for calzones I use my perfect pizza flour, pizza dough flavor, white whole wheat flour (buy that locally) and SAF instant yeast. You, however can buy ready to use or frozen dough at the grocery or Trader Joe's and get dinner in the oven faster and easier. It's a bit of act of treason if I do that. I have a fairly significant investment in ingredients and equipment in my kitchen. I try to be a good steward of it all. Which brings me back to the calzones. I made them a week or so ago and they received rave reviews. Of course I did not take pictures along the way and Sara chastises me about posting without pictures so I did not write them up. I did still have half a container of ricotta cheese about to go to waste and a need to bake so calzones, round two. One last note: one ingredient I really thinks makes the difference in these is the Muir Glen Pizza Sauce from a can. Not treason if I use canned sauce. You know I can and do make sauce, but this is so good it's ridiculous to make it myself. You will lick the spoon.
So, try it. Use whatever you like on a pizza in a calzone. Really it's just a different delivery method for the same flavor experience. Kind of cute. Your family can make their own, just cut their initials in the dough. Fire up your oven and enjoy another wintry weekend.
2 1/4 C Perfect Pizza Flour Blend
1 C white whole wheat flour
1 T Pizza Dough Flavor, oprional
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
1 1/4 C very warm water
2 tsp instant yeast
ricotta cheese (16-ounces)
Muir Glen Pizza Sauce (preferred, but not required of course)
shredded mozzarella cheese
chicken or turkey sweet or hot Italian sausage, browned, crumbled and drained
finely chopped or sliced onion, green peppers, red peppers
mushrooms, sauteed or fresh
red pepper flakes
Add all ingredients for dough to your bread machine pan and use the dough setting on your bread machine to mix, knead and let the dough rise. Check the dough before it finishes mixing and add a little flour or water as needed to make a smooth and only slightly sticky dough.
You can, of course, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them by hand or with a dough hook and your stand mixer. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 5-8 minutes by hand until smooth. Spray the bowl with cooking spray or brush with olive oil and place the kneaded dough back in the bowl to rise for an hour. You can use the dough without letting it rise, but the flavor improves with the rising.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
However you get here, turn your dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide it into 4-6 pieces for nice big calzones. Roll each piece out separately to the desired size. Mine were probably 9-10 inches in diameter. Place rolled pieces on a baking sheet lightly brushed with olive oil (if you spray your cookie sheets time after time, the cooking spray will eventually build up and blacken your sheets, just saying).
Spread about a 1/4 C of ricotta on your round of dough on one side only, leaving at least a 1/2 inch edge around the sides of the dough to crimp later. Add your toppings as you like them. I usually layer on the meat, the veggies, some spinach and then a few tablespoons of sauce and a good sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Gently pull the dough to stretch it a bit to make sure it will get up and over your fillings. Crimp the edges together with your fingers.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
|some filling ingredients|
|dough portioned for four massive calzones|
|Greg's manly version|
|told you they were massive, the edges did stay together btw|
|the beginning stages of Sara's calzone|
|a little heavier on the veggies|
|one extra, always good|
|on the oven (I need to clean my oven, sorry)|
Editor's note: I am half German and half Russian and not at all anything else let alone Italian. This is my home version of Italian cooking not meant to be authentic, just approachable and delicious in it's own way. If you want real, authentic Italian cooking get to know my dear friend Paula's husband, Dan!