Sometimes its just the little things...

It is still way too cold out! I can't believe I took this picture only two months ago. Oh, balmy days of November how I miss you. Three more inches of snow today up here in the Adirondack foothills. Fortunately, I am blessed with very a kind neighbor who cleaned all the slush out of the base of my driveway and my sidewalks before I got home from work today.

So... let me tell you what I found when I walked in the house tonight... My perfectly empty sink sprouted dishes during the 12 hours I was gone and no one put them there! It was the most amazing thing ever. If I can ever find the "I Don't Know" or "Not Me" who seem to have taken up residence in my house and get them to clean up their messes, I will be such a happy camper.

I was watching the movie Julie and Julia again the other night (my very sweet girl gave it to me for a Christmas present) and Julie was commenting how Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was written for servant less American housewives -- and Julia comments "that's me". My brain was screaming: "that's me, that's me". I thought how nice it would be to be a "servanted American" for just a day or two (at least until all the molding, floors and windows got a good cleaning!). A day of cleaning services would make an excellent Christmas or Birthday present.

Since adopting Red last Christmas, this servant less girl has found enjoyment in bread making. The taste and smell of a fresh loaf of bread out of the oven has an appeal like no other. The added benefit -- none of those wacky ingredients & I get to sneak "healthy" stuff into things that the girls & I eat. I enjoy the way that a batch of bread can be molded around a lazy weekend day and how making slight tweaks to ratios or ingredients creates radically different results. Bread is great for a dabbler! I don't have to commit to one way of doing thing. There are short recipes and long recipes. There are sweet recipes and savory recipes. There are healthy recipes and recipes for those days when I am feeling a little indulgent! EXCELLENT.

But, let's face it. I am a mother of two teenage girls who works full time. Those long & lazy days don't come as frequently as I would like and sometimes I would just rather spend my day doing something else. HMMM, what's a girl to do. I am happy to say, a solution has been found! Late this fall, I was turned on to Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day (Hertzberg, Francois) and wow, what a neat concept! It is a book of no-knead bread doughs that can be stirred up in one large batch, stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 or 3 weeks and baked off as needed. Right now, I have a batch of Olive Oil Dough going - which has become a weekend favorite in my house (think pizza, calzones, stromboli, foccacia).

One of my favorite eat out meals is usually calzones, but I think that they are often a little pricey if you start adding in any fillings. So... I figured out how to make my own. I wasn't sure how it would work out, but I was pleased with the result.

Recipe for Homemade Calzones

1 to 1.5 pounds of pizza dough brought up to room temperature (I like using the olive oil dough noted above, but the pre-made doughs that you can buy in the store make a nice stand in)
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
Pinch of salt/ black pepper (if desired)
1/4 cup of shredded cheese (can be mozzarella or other mix of cheeses - whatever you like)
1/2 cup of filling of choice moderately chopped (should be prepared, cooked if needed, drained/ dry & bite sized!)
1/2 cup of prepared sauce for dipping
  • Some filling choices could be cubed/ sliced ham, broccoli, spinach, sausage -- the sky is the limit
Pre-heat oven to 450F. If using a baking stone, place it in the oven at this time. Oven should be allowed to preheat for at least 15-20 minutes to ensure an even temperature.

Mix together egg & cheese (and salt & pepper if using) and set aside. Form the dough into a large round ~1/8-1/4" thick on a sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with flour. Place cheese, then topping on one half of the round. Wet the edges of the round and fold the bare segment over and seal edges to form a pocket. Cut a couple of slashes through to the filling on the top.

Slide the calzone - parchment and all onto the hot stone. Bake for ~20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into. Of course, I am a dipper, so this is the part where I get to use the sauce :-)

As Julia would say: "Bon Appetit!"

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