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.

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.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

This summer I set quite the goal for myself and I’ve followed through on pretty much everything I wanted to try and some stuff I didn’t know I wanted to try!  I do think I’m done canning and freezing stuff for this winter tho, mostly because I’m getting swamped with school work and trying to make sure I have “me” time.  I’ve got a lot of food put away and I honestly doubt I’ll eat it all before next summer, although I hope I get close so I can make some room for next years canning because otherwise I need to move to have more cupboard space.

The key to making good pumpkin puree is to buy Sugar or Pie Pumpkins.  They’re quite a bit smaller then jack-o-lantern pumpkins, usually about 3-5 lbs is a good size.  You want them this size for a few reasons, the first one is that fitting a 20-30lb pumpkin in your oven is going to be a challenge, and we don’t want a challenge.  Another important reason is because the bigger the pumpkin, the more stringy and tough the pumpkin flesh. 

I’ve realized while writing this, that this isn’t so much of a recipe as it is a process but I’m ok with that, it really is easy.  Preheat your oven to 350 C.  The most difficult part is the first bit.  You need to cut your pumpkin into halves or quarters and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.  You can save the seeds for roasting, but I got frustrated with trying to separate them from the stringy stuff and gave up after about 20 minutes.  Patience I do not have. 

Once you have some nice cleaned pumpkin halves or quarters, place them cut side down in a roasting dish or 9×13″ pan and put about 1″ of water in the bottom.  Roast in the oven until the pumpkin is discoloured and you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork.  Let pumpkin cool till you can handle it, then scoop the pumpkin meat into a bowl.

Once you have all your pumpkin meat in a bowl, process it in your food processor (or high powered blender…or regular blender in very small batches) till smooth.  The smoother the better, it will end up looking a lot more like bought canned pumpkin if it’s smooth.  Your pumpkin will be a lot more yellow-orange then canned pumpkin, so don’t think it’s wrong if it looks different!  Once all your pumpkin is nice and smooth, you want to line a collander with cheesecloth and put all your puree in there.  Place the collander in a larger bown to catch the liquid and let it sit, in the fridge, for at least 24 hours. 

Keeping it in the fridge is VERY IMPORTANT so nasty bacterias don’t grow on your pumpkin!  Letting it sit is also rather important, especially if you want your pumpkin to act like canned pumpkin from the store later on.  Normally the pumpkin you buy in cans is “solid pack” pumpkin.  A lot of the moisture has been removed from it, making it more solid.  You’ll probably get quite a bit of pumpkin juice out of your pumpkin, but the overall volume doesn’t decrease that much. 

Once your pumpkin has drained, portion it into ziploc freezer bags, about 2 cups per bag is good and store in the freezer.  Letting them freeze flat works best for easy storage.  Pumpkin will keep about 6-8 months in the freezer, maybe up to a year.  I had 6 Pie pumpkins that I purchased from a local farmer.  I paid about $18 for them and got approximately 20 cups of pumpkin puree from them.  It’s much, much cheaper and most of the prep is waiting! 

I ❤ pumpkin.

Seven Grain Bread

About a year ago my mom gave me her old black and decker bread machine when I expressed interest in buying one.  I used it till the motor died this summer, making about 1 loaf a week plus pizza dough and sometimes bun dough.  With the bread machine came the original users manual/recipe book, which has a lot more recipes then the manual that came with my new bread machine does.  One of the recipes in there has become my staple sandwich bread and I still make about 1 2lb loaf a week.  I do adjust the recipe a bit, because I never buy powdered milk as the original recipe calls for and just use soymilk in place of the water.  I have also made it with 100% whole wheat, but it’s a much denser loaf and doesn’t rise as much. 

Seven Grain Bread

1 2/3 cup soymilk (heated for about 45 seconds till room temp)

2 tbsp shortening (I’ve tried both oil or margarine, both work fine)

2 tbsp honey

2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

3/4 cup seven grain cereal (I use 8 or 12 grain from bulk barn)

1 1/4 tsp bread machine yeast

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1. Warm the soymilk in the microwave till room temperature.  Measure ingredients in the order listed, except the pumpkin and sesame seeds, into the baking pan of your bread machine. 

2. Insert baking pan into your bread machine, select whole wheat cycle and adjust your crust settings as per your preference.  Press start.  When the add ingredients signal beeps, add the pumpkin and sesame seeds.  Take out of the bread machine when completion beeps sound.  Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

I slice the bread and lay the slices on a sheet pan, saran wrap in between the layers, allowing them to freeze individually before putting into a bag.  Makes it easier to take individual slices out later for sandwiches or toast!

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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.