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Calzones
Aug 12th, 2004

I ususally only have one day a week when I can make a recipe that will take longer than 45 minutes to prepare. So this Sunday I knocked off two dishes that kept me in the kitchen for a bit. One was a Chile Verde dish with pork that required long simmering. It was unmemorable and I won't bother making it again. But the other was a vegetarian calzone recipe from one of Jaime Oliver's cookbooks, and it was kind of a long process, but they turned out really yummy. And who can object to having 8 large calzones to put in the freezer for weekday dinners?

I don't know if I'll bother documenting the whole recipe here, but basically you take a white bread/pizza dough recipe, let it rise until doubled, then divide the dough into 8 balls which are then rolled into 1/4 inch thick frisbee shapes. The filling was basically a ratatouille (eggplant, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes sauteed and then simmered for an hour and a half) with fresh basil and a ball of fresh mozzarella divided into 8 pieces. You put a scoop of filling in the middle and then fold the dough over, using a bit of water to help seal the edges, and then roll the edges up a bit to make a thick rolled edge. The recipe has you make 3 slashes in the top of each calzone to let the filling bubble out a bit, and then bake for 20 minutes or so in 350F degree oven.

They're very impressive looking, and you could use this same basic recipe with many different kinds of fillings. The biggest problem I had was that the filling was a bit watery, so if I put in too much the calzone leaked and didn't seal, but if I used just enough so the calzone was easy to seal and looked great, there wasn't quite enough filling to my taste when it came time to eat. I might experiment with another type of filling, maybe a smear of tomato paste instead of cooked tomatoes, cheese, herbs, and some kind of cooked veggie or meat.

If anyone wants the whole recipe, let me know.


Comments

Kymm, what do you, and the other cooks out there, cook when you have no time and no energy for thinking originally? With two little ones and me back at work, I'm sort of at a loss about how to go about getting us fed. I come home from work by 6:30, starving for kid time, and starving for food. Our standby meals are usually mac and cheese, burritos, or pasta. Blah!
What I need is ideas of other, really quick, low-prep dinners, and ideas for what to keep in the pantry, so that when we haven't made it to the store for 10 days, there's still be something there.

-posted by Hetal on Mar 13th, 2006
speling... oops

-posted by Hetal on Mar 13th, 2006
I don't have hungry small ones, but by the time I get home from school, I am usually hungry and tired. I am a big fan of the crockpot. It works well for chicken, beef, and turkey. I make large batches of food and then portion it out into meals that I freeze in ziplocks. I usually bag several smaller ziplocks into larger ones to prevent freezer burn. I also do this with stews and soups. For veggies soups, I freeze the base and add the veggies during the reheat. I like to make gravy when I bake turkey so that I can easily make hot turkey sandwiches. In the am, I take dinner out of the freezer and let it start to thaw in the fridge. Usually it isn't completely thawed and I endup finishing the process by setting the partially frozen bag in a pan of cool water.

I have become a big fan of the prepackaged mixed greens. I buy the kind that are prewahed so making a salad is really quick and easy. I keep nuts, dried friut, and cheese around to put on the salad. I know the prepackaged bags are more expensive, but the greens stay for much longer than the traditional method.

I find pancakes and eggs or french toast make a yummy and fairly quick dinner in the winter.

I also bake a ham and freeze it in portions. I like grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. I like plain buttered noodles with warmed ham and green peas (frozen of course).

Pasta carbonara is pretty quick and easy to make. Again I keep the brests frozen and thaw them in cool water. If I am in a hurry, I will let them sit under running cold water.

In the summer, I buy most my friuts and veggies on the weekend. I clean and cut them and store them in tupperware for easy munching. Some nights we eat a cantelope while I cook a smaller dinner.

Something I haven't done in a while is to stuff the large pasta shells with cottage cheese, and egg, and spices and feeze it in cake pans with a red sauce over the food. This bakes in about 20 minutes. I have toyed with creating a tofu stuffing.

-posted by Stephie on Mar 13th, 2006
Fast dinners:

1. Frozen shrimp: Run water over to defrost, saute with garlic and oil. Then serve with corn tortillas (also from the freezer), black beans, cabbage, and avocado/guacamole/salsa/cilantro/whatever for quick shrimp tacos. Or toss with pasta, more garlic, and chili flakes - drop some broccoli into boiling water and add to the pasta. Or put on top of a salad with a creamy dressing and some feta cheese.

2. Canned beans: I always keep cans of black beans, white beans (both small and large), kidney beans, and garbanzos. Black beans are perfect cooked up with a bit of garlic/onion powder, chili seasoning, and a dash of hot sauce as a side dish for chicken breasts, shrimp, pork fajitas, or baked into a casserole with corn tortillas, corn, salsa, cheese, and maybe ground turkey. White beans are excellent tossed with pasta and garlic and cauliflower, or on top of a salad, or just on the side with oil, garlic, and maybe some feta. Chickpeas/garbanzos are good on salads with chopped red onion, ham or salami, red bell pepper, green onion, and cheese (I prefer feta as you may have guessed). They're also good simmered with any kind of Indian curry sauce - the grocery stores around here carry some good jarred masala sauces.

Coconut milk and curry paste: Add a few veggies, tofu, and/or meat and heat up some rice and you've got dinner. I also keep fish sauce and sesame oil on hand for Asian stirfries or dressings/dipping sauces. Olive oil, fish or soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and a few drips of sesame oil is your basic Asian marinade/sauce.

Cilantro/Basil/Italian Parsley: I always keep these on hand, plus mint and rosemary from my backyard. You can pretty much cook anything.

Root vegetables: When it's cooler, slice any combination of carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, turnips, rutabagas into chunks (size depending on cooking time). Toss with olive oil and sea salt and roast in the oven with some cloves of garlic. Serve with pork chops or chicken. Then for the next day put the leftover roast veggies in the blender with the roast garlic, some chicken/veggie broth, and a splash of balsamic vinegar if you have it. Blend until you have a thick roasted vegetable soup - may need to add salt. Serve for dinner the next day with good bread, cheese, and a green salad.

Spice rubs: You can roast chicken, pork, and fish in the oven very quickly at a fairly high heat, low in the oven (or grill outside). Just rub with olive oil and pat on a spice rub. Experiment with different combinations - cumin, oregano, turmeric, and garlic or go with chili powder, cumin, and onion powder. Try garam masala or curry powder. Try cauliflower cooked briefly in boiling water as a side dish, maybe drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Don't forget corn on the cob, blueberries, melons, mangos, good bread with deli meat or cheese, baby spinach leaves in the bag tossed in with everything, parmesan cheese, and eggs - they can be scrambled or omeletted with many of the things I've mentioned (spinach, feta, red bell pepper, deli meat, shrimp, cooked broccoli, etc.).

A good way to build your pantry is to when you try a new recipe buy double the amount of the stuff that keeps, so you'll have it on hand for that recipe the next time or something else. And do make the effort to try a new recipe once every few weeks. Then if it's good, work it into the burrito/mac and cheese/pasta rotation.

-posted by Kymm on Mar 13th, 2006
Great ideas. I'm gonna post these on my fridge, and see if we can stop wandering around in a hungry daze.

-posted by Hetal on Mar 13th, 2006
This week tried some version of Kymm's canned beans suggestion. I mixed canned salmon, a can of black beans, and left over penne together. On its own, it wasn't so good. I added some salad dressing (goddess dressing, makes anything yummy), made it edible, but still not delicious. Needed something to tie it togehter--sour cream maybe?

Priya ate basically the same thing, but she needed each item served separately, first a bowl of salmon, then a bowl of beans, then she consented to pick the penne out of my bowl. All as a "picnic" on her night-night nest (bed). Food rarely happens at the table these days.

-posted by Hetal on Mar 13th, 2006
Nice to see Kymm has stepped back from the edge of oblivion on the food page.

For myself, I'd like to see more recipes that begin with 'Open box of' or 'Set microwave to'. When I see fifteen ingredients I know I'm out. Granted, most of us are more ambitious than I am.

Every recipe here would taste fantastic, I'm sure; however, preceded with the directive 'drink one-half to one full bottle of your favorite sour mash bourbon', they would be truly 'can't miss' That's probably just me (but maybe Adm as well...)

-posted by Scott on Mar 13th, 2006
I'm not sure how I've rescued myself - by not posting much the last few weeks? By posting simple dinner ideas? I'm not sure, but glad to hear I'm doing okay.

Hetal, I think you could go a couple directions with your salmon/beans/pasta dish. You could Italian it up, and then I would recommend replacing the canned black beans with canned small white ones, adding some olive oil, garlic, and some grated parmesan. A minute or two in the microwave helps meld the garlic and oil flavors. Or you could Mexicanize it by about 10 percent by adding some frozen corn, or grated cheddar, a little sour cream, or salsa type thingy. Some chopped green onions would be good too if you had them around. Sounds good!

We're well aware of the food must not touch other food rule at our house. A few items are allowed to mingle - bread and peanut butter, butter and corn, syrup and just about anything, but other than that the rules are strict and the punishment for infractions severe. As in excessive amounts of whining.

-posted by Kymm on Mar 13th, 2006
© 2006, Kimberly Cooperrider | kymmco@excite.com