Calzones…aka Pizza Pops

When I was at my parents for Thanksgiving, I had a spur of the moment idea to make Calzones.  They’d be ideal to bring to work and school.  Portable, microwaveable, freezable and much healthier then storebought Pizza Pops, which is what they most closely resemble.  The recipe is supposed to make 10.  The first time we made them, I got 9.   Then my mom made some 2 days later and got 24 (!) out of the recipe.  This weekend I got 14, and that was a good number.  There are an infinite variet of fillings to use, you could go traditional pizza toppings or do broccoli and cheese or bbq chicken or anything you can imagine.  My mom made a beef taco filling, which was pretty tasty too.

Calzones

1 1/2 cups soymilk (or regular milk I guess)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp shortening (vegan margarine or butter works well)
3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp bread machine yeast

1. Measure ingredients into baking pan in the order
recommended by the manufacturer. Insert pan into the
oven chamber. Select Dough Cycle.
2. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and cover with a clean towel, let rest for 10-15 minutes.  Divide dough into 2.5 oz portions (should get 14) and roll into 6″ circles.

3. Prepare your fillings (which I would’ve done while the dough was mixing for 90 minutes) and place on one half of each circle.  Add cheese or sauce and fold in half, sealing the edge with a fork.  Cover and let rise in a warm place till doubled in size.

4. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes or until calzones sound hollow when tapped.  Let cool on a wire rack and freeze.  Reheat in a microwave for about 90 seconds.  Be careful not to overfill them, as cheese and sauce WILL go all over your baking sheet.

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Applesauce

Now I know what you’re all thinking.  Really?  Applesauce?  How boring!  How bland and uninteresting!  We want excitement!  Well…applesauce is about the most exciting thing I’ve done in awhile, besides the pumpkin puree, which I already talked about.  Applesauce can be exciting.  And easy.  Honest!

First, buy apples.  I used Royal Gala and Macintosh for mine, I prefer the batch that is royal gala only.  It’s sweeter.  I also used my slowcooker for this, because I’m lazy.

Applesauce

6lbs apples, cored and quartered (leave the peel on!)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup water

sugar to taste

1. Put cored and quartered apples into the slowcooker (better be a big one!).  Add the water and lemon juice.  Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours.  Once apples are soft and mushy, puree with an immersion blender.  You could use a regular blender or food processor as well if you like, but an immersion blender is more fun.  Add sugar to taste.

I was lazy this year and froze my applesauce instead of canning it.  You could process jars of applesauce in a hot water bath for 15 minutes before storing in a cool, dry place if you really wanted to, but I decided to freeze it in jars instead.  You could also freeze it in ziploc bags if you wanted.  Unsweetened applesauce is great for baking, you can replace up to 1/2 of the oil or margarine called for in a recipe with applesauce.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

I’ve been so busy with school and work I’ve barely been cooking, let alone making anything worth posting about.  The most I’ve done on the weekends is bake bread, make applesauce, apple butter, and pumpkin puree.  I did pickle some hot peppers and have a bunch of little hot pepper plants growing like weeds under my grow light.  My rosemary is finally growing thanks to a friend’s organic fertilizer (thanks Claude!) and both lemon trees are doing well, although one of them is no longer a resident of my apartment.  I am trying to sprout some apple seeds currently and would totally plant a pumpkin seed when I puree the last 3 pumpkins I have if I wasn’t terrified of it taking over my livingroom.

On non-food related news, I have a real livingroom now!  Claude and Dallas were generous and wonderful enough to give me their entertainment unit and were at my place for about 2 hours on Monday evening helping me move everything around.  My computer desk is now in my bedroom and then tv, ps3 and ps2 are all in the livingroom on the entertainment unit.  I can now look for a coffee table and end tables!  So excited! 

Back to food…I have been searching for months for a salad dressing I love that I can make at home.  I finally found it this weekend.  I made a homemade raspberry vinaigrette for our thanksgiving supper and I adore it.  I’ve never liked storebought raspberry vinaigrettes before so it was surprising.  It’s simple to make and I have all the ingredients at home, amazingly.  It keeps well in the fridge, and just needs a shake or whisk to put it back together for serving. 

Raspberry Vinaigrette

2 tbsp homemade raspberry sauce (basically try to make raspberry jam but don’t add enough sugar or pectin for it to set, lol)

1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

1 tbsp White Vinegar

1/8 cup Olive Oil

1/8 cup Canola Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Wisk the raspberry sauce and vinegars together.  Slowly drizzle in the oils, whisking constantly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stores well in the fridge, just shake or whisk before serving.

Veggie Egg Anytime Wrap

For the last 2 months, this wrap has become a very popular lunch or supper option when I don’t feel like cooking but still want something quick, easy, and healthy.  It’s super tasty, incredibly flexible, and ready in about 5-10 minutes.

Veggie Egg Anytime Wrap

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 zucchini, diced small

1/4 onion, chopped fine

handful of kale, finely sliced

1/4 red pepper, diced small

2-3 eggs, beaten

1 whole wheat tortilla

1-2 tbsp of herb and garlic cream cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat.   Add onions, red peppers, zucchini, and kale.  Season to taste.  Cook till onions are translucent and other veggies are soft.

2. Pour eggs over top, spread out on the bottom of the pan.  Cover and cook on medium until eggs are set, 3-5 minutes.  While the eggs are cooking, spread the cream cheese on the wrap.  Once the eggs are done, place on top of the wrap, fold and serve.

Variations: 

Use different veggies:  Mushrooms, pre-cooked and shredded potato or sweet potato, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, jalapeno, etc

Seasonings:  Dill, rosemary, basil, cyanne pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic

Sauces/spreads (instead of the cream cheese): Salsa, hummus, bbq sauce, ranch dressing.

Other toppings: Cheese (very good with brie melted on top)

Best Relish Ever

This weekend is full of the fall canning I won’t have time for in a few weeks.  It was originally scheduled for September long weekend and wasn’t supposed to be as busy as it’s ended up.  The list for this weekend was supposed to be Spaghetti Sauce (recipe here), Cabbage Borscht (recipe to come), and Dill Pickles (my grandma’s recipe).  The first hurdle we had to jump was that my mom couldn’t FIND my grandma’s pickle recipe.  The second hurdle, which I’m still jumping, is that my mom bought ingredients to also make Salsa and Relish, both of which we made last year and I don’t need any more of.

Now, the thing you must know before I continue is that I don’t like cucumbers.  I don’t like the smell, I don’t like the texture, I don’t really like anything about them.  This dislike extends to pickles and relish.  The only pickles or relish that I eat are my mom’s homemade pickles and relish.  (My mom did a LOT of canning when I was growing up.)  The relish recipe I’m about to share with you is the only relish I enjoy.  We couldn’t find my grandma’s pickle recipe tho, so we found one that my mom thinks was similar and we’ll see how they turn out.

Relish

1 1/2 dozen large cucumbers

4-6 Onions

1 green pepper

2 red peppers

1/2 cup pickling salt

6 cups water

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup flour

1.5 tbsp mustard powder

1 tsp turmeric

2/3 cup pickling vinegar

1. Shred cucumbers, onions, and peppers in a food processor (large shred).  Put in a large bowl and add pickling salt and water.  Let sit for 4 hours.

2. Drain veggies and place in pot.  Add enough pickling vinegar to just cover the veggies.  Add 2 cups of sugar and cook till vegetables are translucent.

3. Make a thin paste of the flour, mustard powder, turmeric and 2/3 cup vinegar.  Add to pot and stir till thickened.

4. Add 3-4 drops of green food colouring (optional, it’s very yellow without it) and put into hot pint jars.  Place new, sterilized seal lid and ring.  It’s safe to let it sit at room temperature unless it doesn’t seal.

Yield – 7-8 pint jars depending on the size of your cucumbers.

Vegetable Lasagna

I had my first vegetarian lasagna ever while working in the kitchen of an assisted living home in Winnipeg.  It was one of the easiest suppers we served and quickly became my favorite meal to make.  We didn’t really follow a recipe and I still don’t follow a recipe for lasagna, something with amazes and confounds my mother.  I’ve become very comfortable cooking things without a recipe, especially easy things like lasagna, chicken parmesan, and stirfry.  Harder recipes are also sometimes made without an actual recipe, but normally tweaking is required like my granola bars.  Baking things, however, always requires a recipe.  Baking is closer to science then everyday cooking and requires much more precise measurements and such. 

Because I often share recipes with my mother, I do need to write things down and estimate measurements for her benefit.  She never, ever cooks without a recipe, so if I want her to try something new, I need to provide her with a recipe.  Having said that, here is my recipe for vegetable lasagna.

Vegetable Lasagna

1 box oven ready lasagna noodles (whole wheat if you can find them!)

1 can salt free tomato sauce

2 tsp italian seasoning

1 tsp sugar

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1tbsp olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic

2 carrots, diced

1 onion, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 red or green pepper, diced

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup frozen sweet corn

Motzarella cheese

Fresh Spinach

1.  Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan or wok.  Add the onions, carrots and celery, sauteeing until soft.  Add the garlic and rest of the veggies (except spinach).  Sautee untill all the veggies are soft and have released their juices.  Drain and set aside. 

2. Mix the tomato sauce with the spices and sugar.  Lightly grease a 9×13″ pan with pam or olive oil.  Put a layer of tomato sauce down, then noodles, veggies, spinach,  tomato sauce, and motzarella (can user ricotta or cottage cheese).  Continue layering untill you reach the top of the pan with a layer of noodles.  Put some tomato sauce on top of the noodles to make sure the cook, top with a thick layer of motzarella cheese.  Bake @350 for about 30-45 minutes or until the noodles are cooked through.

Lasagnas can be covered in tin foil and saran wrap and frozen for up to 6 months.  Let them thaw in the fridge overnight before baking as above.  The veggies are very flexible, I used what I had on hand but you could throw in eggplant, cauliflower, sweet potato, squash, red potatoes sliced thin, asparagus, or use kale instead of spinach.  The possibilities really are endless with lasagna.

Lack of Sleep and Jam

This post is being written in a vague attempt to not fall asleep at my desk this afternoon.  It’s only vague because pretty much everything I’ve done all day has been pretty vague.  Vague is also fun to say.  The more I type it out, the weirder it looks so I should maybe stop now.  I feel like I’m at risk of falling asleep on the phone this afternoon because sleep and I were mortal enemies last night, and due to this discrepency in our schedules, I got very little of it.  I already requested some nap time this afternoon but was promptly denied.  Apparently there is no rest for the wicked.  Or the sleep-deprived. 

This weekend was fairly productive.  Laundry and floors were done on Saturday,  along with Rhubarb Jam and canned Peaches in Syrup with help from my dear Mother.  Groceries were picked up as well.  I also have another ice cream pail and a half of frozen rhubarb.  It’s going to be a rhubarb-y winter.  My freezer is becoming a cornucopia of rhubarb.  Good thing I adore rhubarb! 

Rhubarb Jam

2lbs rhubarb

2 cups sugar

1. Chop rhubarb into 1″ pieces.  Put in a medium size bowl and add sugar.  Mix well and cover with a tea towl.  Let the rhubarb macerate in the sugar overnight. 

2. Pour everything from the bowl into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Let boil vigorously for 5 minutes.  You can let it cook longer if you want the rhubarb really broken down, otherwise don’t let it go over the time.  Ladle jam into hot jam jars, place seal on top and tighten the ring.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Let it sit on the counter for 24 hours.  Check seals and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.

I have a sneaky suspicion that this would be good with cardamom added, but I don’t know why because I’ve never really had a lot of cardamom.