Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quick Calzones - Recipe of a Busy Housewife

So "this is how we do" when I find out last minute that the family won't be going out for dinner  tonight...

First my mind started spinning - what ingredients do I have around?  What will the kids and husband like? What will I like? What's fast and easy?  What can I take pictures of for the blog with the new camera?  Even though I've never made them before?  Or even ordered one at a restaurant?  Seriously.

Voila.  Of course.  Calzones.  That's what you would have thought of right?!?!

Here we go.  Remember, only an hour until dinner time...

Make some pizza dough using the family standby recipe (click here for that easy recipe).  Understanding that it will only be able to rise for maybe like 15 minutes today.

Done.  Pop it in the oven using the ever so useful - but not necessary - "Bread Proof" function on my oven (I adore that little feature).

Grab some frozen pepperoni and Canadian bacon out of the freezer and set it on the counter to thaw.

Fold laundry.  Or rather a shirt before realizing that the mozzarella is frozen too! Return to the freezer and get out some grated mozzarella.  Set it on the counter near the pepperoni and CB.

Finish folding laundry.

Divide barely risen dough into 7 equal(ish) portions.

Roll out the dough balls one at a time into a circle(ish).

Put some pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and oh - look what I found in the fridge - crumbled bacon bits on half of the dough "circle."  Top with still partially frozen mozzarella.

Fold the dough over and try to seal it.  Realize that the dough is not sticking to itself. Have a flashback to a random Food Network episode where they made empanadas and recall that they wet the edges of the dough with water to make it stick (I really had that random helpful thought).  Wet the edge of the dough with water.  Refold.  Press to seal - hey it worked!

Crimp the edges to make it look fancy for photos.

Hmmm...well that didn't work out so well.

Try again.

Getting better.

Repeat with all of the dough and meat.

Sometime up above I started preheating my oven and pizza stone to convection bake (or you could just regular bake) at 400. Who KNOWS when I did that - just glad I did ;)

Pop those babies in the oven.  Peek after 10 minutes and realize they look kind of dry.  Brush with some olive oil and bake 5 more minutes. 

Remove from oven, slice in half and serve with a jar of Market Pantry pasta sauce for dipping.

I also made a salad.

Dinner took an hour and 15 minutes to make.  The natives were hungry and enjoyed their meal even more because it was 15 minutes late (and smelled delicious cooking).

Bonus:  laundry folded

Double bonus:  Eating out tomorrow night instead - crossing fingers :)

The kids and husband LOVED them.  I really liked them, but wished I had sprinkled a dash of italian seasoning or something inside before I sealed them up.
I know there is NO WAY you can follow that recipe. So in case you ended up here really wanting to make calzones click here for a REAL calzone recipe.

Phew.  I'm tired.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Mexican Pork Chile Verde

This recipe is one that my sister gave to me.  It is warm, hearty, filling and delicious!  My kids love it - even when I end up using hotter than usual green chiles and our tongues feel the burn ;)  We had it tonight for dinner, and ironically my sister called to visit right as I sat down to type this post (I am hearing the "Do do do do - do do do do" Twilight theme song in my head right now).  My sis lives in New Mexico and has much better access to fresh frozen green chiles than I do.  I have to use the ones from a can. If you ever spend any time in New Mexico when they are harvesting the Hatch chiles, you are treated to the experience of seeing them roast the chiles in giant roasters.  Cool to watch and it smells great too!

Green Chiles Roasting

New Mexican Pork Chile Verde
Click here for a printable version

Best made in a large Crock Pot

16 oz carnitas/pre-cooked, thawed, seasoned pork (see *NOTE below)
1  can chicken broth
1 pint mild chopped green chile (thawed) (or 1 can fire roasted green chiles)
4 oz hot chopped green chile (thawed) (or 1 can fire roasted green chiles)
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ inch-or-less cubes (about 5 medium russett potatoes)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp red chile powder
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder

1. Put all stew ingredients in Crock Pot. Stir. Turn on High.  After stew has been actively simmering for an hour or so, pull the pork pieces into shreds using 2 forks.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and shredding pork pieces until potatoes are tender.  Total cooking time is usually 4 ½ - 6 hours.

2. Serve with warm flour tortillas and fresh chopped cilantro.

*NOTE - The stores I normally shop at don't usually carry pre-cooked carnitas.  When I don't have the precooked, I will make my own:

Slow Cooker Carnitas

1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crumbled dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 (4 pound) boneless pork shoulder roast
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth

1. Mix together salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon in a bowl. Coat pork with the spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the pork on top. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture.

2. Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours. Turn the meat after it has cooked for 5 hours. When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sweet Southern Cornbread

I have never been overly fond of cornbread. I think it's a texture thing. It always seems dry and gritty to me, and the flavor is a bit boring. So I started fiddling around with the ingredients until I came up with this recipe. This makes the most wonderful, moist, sweet cornbread ever.
Now I'm a fan!

Sweet Southern Cornbread

1 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk or buttermilk (buttermilk is better!)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
3 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup creamed corn

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease an 8 inch square pan.

First off, if you're not sure what coconut oil is, it looks like this:

I found mine with the other oils in my grocery store.  At room temperature it is a solid, so I melt it in the microwave to use in this recipe.  It adds a little something yummy to the flavor of the cornbread, so in my opinion it's better than using canola or vegetable oil. But I digress. . .

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

OK, for the record, I too am wondering why on earth I decided to mix yellow ingredients in a yellow bowl - not great for pictures!  Live and learn.

In a separate bowl combine the milk, eggs, oil, melted butter and vanilla and mix well.

Add the wet ingredients and the creamed corn to the flour mixture and stir just until blended.

Again, what's with the yellow bowl - sheesh!

Pour into your greased pan and bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until light golden brown on top. A toothpick poked into the center should come out clean.

Wait! That's a 9x13" pan and my directions said to grease an 8" square pan - what the heck!

My bad.  Clarification - my family of six loves this cornbread, so I always double my recipe and bake it in a 9x13" pan for 50 - 55 minutes.  That way we have some leftovers to enjoy for breakfast or lunch the next day. Soooooo:

Single recipe as listed above = 8" square pan baked 45-50 minutes
Double recipe = 9x13" pan baked 50-55 minutes

Are you confused yet?  Hope not.

When it's done, let it cool for 15 minutes then slice and serve.

We love it with butter and honey.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bee Treats

Recently our church youth group had an activity that had a Beehive/Bee theme.  I was asked to bring refreshments and was finding it hard to come up with any good/easy ideas. As I was pondering I got a bee in my bonnet and thought, "Hmmm, what could I make with Honeycomb cereal."  Of course whenever I think of cereal and treats, I think of rice crispy treats.  So I modified that recipe to use Honeycomb and decorated the tops of the treats with these cute little (and easy to do) m&m bees.  It was one of those things that turned out WAAAAY BETTER than I ever imagined.

Bee Treats

1/4 cup butter
1 bag miniature marshmallows
6 cups Honeycomb cereal
1 cup frozen m&m's
Few drops yellow food coloring (optional)

Before you start, open the bag of m&m's and pick out all of the brown and yellow ones - you'll need these to make your bees!!  Put the rest in the freezer to stir into your Honeycomb treats later.

In a large saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat (if you decide to make some of your treats yellow - now is the time to stir in that yellow food coloring).

Pour over the Honeycomb cereal in a very large bowl. Stir until well coated.

Quickly, before the goo starts to set, stir in your frozen m&m's. Notice there are no yellow or brown m&m's left!

Using a buttered spatula or wax paper evenly and firmly press the mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool.

At this point I also made a batch of yellow colored treats (with no m&m's mixed in and not to be decorated with bees) just to make sure I had plenty of treats for the occassion.

Here is the yellow goo (with food coloring added).

Being poured over the Honeycomb.

Pressed into the pan.

Here are the pans of unadorned treats.  I made two batches of the m&m kind, beecause I knew there would be about 22 girls at the activity.

After they have cooled cut them into squares.  I got 12 squares per pan.

All right, it's time to make some bees!! I found this picture and instructions to help me out.


Lots of yellow and brown m&m's
1 bag sliced almonds
Small candy sprinkles (for the eye pupils)
Frosting (either a white canned frosting, or you can whip up a quick batch by creaming 1/4 cup shortening and 2 cups confectioners sugar until smooth, then mixing in 2 1/2 T. milk and 1/2 t. vanilla until smooth and stiff - about 5 minutes)  I made my own frosting because I like the texture and super white color.

First make the eyes (as you can imagine this was the most tedious part of the whole process) by using a toothpick to dab 2 small dots of frosting on a brown m&m.  Use tweezers to set 1 candy sprinkle on top of the frosting and press in place.  Repeat until you have enough cute little bee faces for your treats.

Phew, the tedious part is done! Now it's time to assemble the bees. First, using a star tip, pipe a mound of frosting on top of the Honeycomb square.

Next start building your bee.  Start with a yellow m&m at the bottom, next a brown, then another yellow. . .

Carefully put a little brown face at the top.

Give him 2 little almond slices for wings - bzzzzzzzzzz.

Here are a side and back view.

Repeat until all of your treats look un-bee-lievable!

Then take them to your activity. . .you'll be all the buzz ;)

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