Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cheese, Spinach, and Artichoke Calzones

This recipe is still a work in progress.  We tried it with some sourdough pizza dough that we had leftover in the fridge from when my husband made pizza last, and the dough was kinda dry... so I learned a few things I am going to implement next time.  I'll share those tidbits of knowledge with you at the end of the recipe.  Overall though, I think it was a success.  I'm going to play with it some more and see if I can't make it better.

Spinach Cheese Artichoke Calzones

1 recipe pizza dough
15 oz ricotta cheese (one small container)
1 c mozzarella cheese
3 eggs
1 10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 can artichoke hearts (the un-marinated kind, just in water), drained and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder, or granulated garlic, or 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
1/4 c pizza sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Divide dough into 12 equal pieces, about the size of a tennis ball.  Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray and stretch dough to a circle about 6" in diameter.   Set aside.  Mix together ricotta, mozzarella, spinach, eggs, artichoke hearts, garlic, pizza sauce, and salt and pepper together until well combined.  Spoon about 2-3 tbsp of the cheese mixture onto half of each round of dough.  Fold over the other half and roll the edges up and pinch them together.  You'll want to roll the bottom edge up over the top one and pinch  to keep everything inside.  Brush the tops of the calzones with some olive oil or melted butter (this is something I am going to try next time--this time they were kinda dry) to keep things soft while it all bakes.  Then top each calzone with some more shredded mozzarella and bake for about 30 minutes.

Serve hot with a salad or whatever you like.  These have veggies and protein in them already so you can also just eat them on their own.  I imagine you could make mini versions of them for appetizers too if you wanted.  Freeze any leftovers on a cookie sheet and they would probably make fantastic homemade "hot pockets" if you will.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Meatloaf is an American family classic and has been for years, but it also seems to be the brunt of so many jokes around the country.  It can be completely delicious or completely the opposite.  I have a few things that are always the same when I make meatloaf and some things that change depending on what I feel like and what I have in the fridge.  As long as you get the basics of meatloaf down, it doesn't really matter what veggies you use. I learned this valuable lesson as a kid from my mother, a fantastic cook.  So here we go, a primer if you will about meatloaf.


1 lb ground beef (defrosted completely if previously frozen)
1 tube lean ground pork sausage (I use the Jimmy Dean lean--it's about 3/4 of a pound per tube)
2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1/2 to 3/4 c breadcrumbs (seasoned or not, doesn't matter)
1-2 eggs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 small onion, or 1/2 medium onion, diced very fine
1/2 c each of mushrooms and bell peppers, sliced and diced fine.
also possible: grated carrot, finely chopped celery
optional: ketchup or bbq sauce (I don't like to use these, but sometimes my mom does for extra moisture and flavor

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine meats, egg, breadcrumbs, worchestershire sauce, and garlic powder and veggies together.   I usually use my hands to do this, it just seems to get the job done better than anything else I've tried.  Be sure to remove any jewelry from your hands and wash them well before and afterward to prevent meat germs from spreading everywhere.

Once everything is well combined and the veggies are all sticking together with the meat, you can do one of two things.  My husband prefers I mold the meat into a loaf shape and bake it on a sheet pan so the grease runs off and doesn't pool on the top of the loaf pan.  But you can always do what most people do, and just dump this mixture into your loaf pan and press it down.  At this point, if you wanted to use the bbq sauce or ketchup you can glaze the top of the meatloaf with said sauce.

Bake this for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Let rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  This helps prevent crumbling when you slice it.

Serve with baked or mashed potatoes and your favorite veggie.  My mom also likes this leftover the next day in a meatloaf sandwich.  Not my personal fave, but a common one.  Enjoy!

** Optional Variation** You can also make this more Italian flavored by using oregano and some tomato paste in it, and then coating with marinara sauce before baking.   I've also had it with a more Asian flare with soy sauce in the meatloaf and scallions instead of regular onions and sesame oil--kind of like wonton soup.  Very versatile.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sourdough Pancakes

Ok this is one I tried in the Fall of 2010 when we lived at my in-laws house because my husband wanted to try making sourdough starter and sourdough bread.  The bread didn't turn out so well but these actually worked out pretty well.  I made them again the other night and the only difference was that we made whole wheat starter instead of plain starter (used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour).  They tasted a bit different this time because of the wheat factor, but I think they still turned out well.  We also enjoyed making sourdough pizza dough and breadsticks this time around.  I'll get those recipes posted soon, they turned out pretty well.  Without further ado, here is the recipe for the pancakes.

Sourdough Pancakes


(MUST BE MADE A WEEK IN ADVANCE) This is not an exact science.  It's a 1:1 ratio of water to flour.  You can use AP flour or Whole Wheat, and you just mix them together til you get the consistency of pancake batter. Preferably in a pitcher or large jar with a loose lid.  You need to let it sit on your counter where it can get some air/bacteria in it (that's how it works--bacteria is required to create the yeast which creates the alcohol which creates the sour taste of sourdough.  Don't worry, it's a safe bacteria and the yeast thing is no big deal, it won't make you sick. I've checked, I'm pregnant and I can eat them just fine).  So, you mix the flour and water together til you get the right consistency--I started with 2 cups of each.  Every day for a week, just stir it again and keep an eye on it.  If the top has floating liquid on top, just pour it off (it's alcohol, which is the result of the yeast forming in the mixture.  You can leave it, but it's best to pour it off.). Add more water and the same amount of flour again and just keep stirring and keeping it going.  You can use this starter now to create  all kinds of recipes.  This pancakes recipe is just one possibility.


2 c sourdough starter
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp warm water

Dilute baking soda in water.  Set aside.  Mix together all the other ingredients in a medium bowl.   Heat skillet to medium high, and then spray with cooking spray.  Add water/baking soda mixture to the rest of the batter and whisk gently.  Pour 1/4 c of batter into pan per pancake (you kind of have to do one at a time with this, the batter is pretty runny).  Flip when browned on one side and the bubbles stop forming.  Serve with butter, syrup, or whatever your favorite pancake toppings are.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mashed Potato Pancakes

Have you ever wondered what to do with your favorite leftover mashed potatoes from that fancy roast beef dinner you made last weekend?  I never seem to make just enough for us to eat around here, we always have leftovers.  Usually we eat them with the rest of the leftover meal, but this time the turkey disappeared faster than you could say "Happy New Year!" so I was needing another solution to the leftover potatoes problem.

So this morning, I was wondering what to make for breakfast.  And I thought, "hmm, I wonder if I could figure out a good way to make mashed potato pancakes....?" I have tried these in the past and never managed to do it right without them falling apart all over the place.  BUT, I learned something new today.... a little thing I tried that fixed my problem.  And it is SO simple you'll wonder "OF COURSE!  Why didn't she/I think of that before?!"  So without further ado, a great solution to the "too many potatoes problem" and one that doesn't make a mess either!

Mashed Potato Pancakes

2-3 c leftover mashed potatoes (the least lumpy the better) recipe found here if needed
1/4 c milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp seasoning salt (optional, can substitute regular salt)
pinch of dried dill (optional)
2 tbsp all purpose flour (this is the secret problem solving ingredient. this way you don't break it or make a mess when flipping)
grated cheese for topping (optional serving suggestion)

(you can also leave out the seasoning salt and dill and just use regular salt for a sweet rather than savory flavor, I just like them this way.)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Should come together in about a pancake batter consistency.  Heat skillet to medium high, spray with cooking spray or grease with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Pour batter into skillet and cook just like you would a normal pancake, flipping after the bubbles around the edges  pop and stop forming.  Serve with grated cheese on top or sour cream, whichever you prefer.

Like I said, you can do these with a less savory flavor, by just using regular salt and omitting the dill.  I just like these savory instead of sweet.  If you prefer sweet, just serve with butter and syrup like regular pancakes, or with sour cream and jam.

I am not sure exactly what about the flour makes these work so much better, but I have a hunch it has to do with gluten or something.  They just hold together better and flip more like normal pancakes when you add the flour to the batter.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic and Mushrooms

Better late than never, I know I promised this to you FB fans out there on Saturday, but I was remiss because we were up later than I planned and I never got back to blogging since.  Sorry about that!  Anyway, this is a very tasty side we had with our turkey and mashed potatoes on Saturday for New Years Eve 2011.  It's super simple and very good and I hope you enjoy!

Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic and Mushrooms

1 1/2 lbs of green beans, ends snapped off and larger beans snapped in half
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz sliced button mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced very fine
1/4 c water

Heat skillet to medium heat and add oil to the pan.  Add mushrooms and garlic and cook til mushrooms have shrunk to half volume.  Add green beans and stir to combine, being careful to not let the beans fall over the side.  Toss together til beans, garlic and mushrooms are well combined, and then add water and cover skillet with lid or aluminum foil to steam for about 5 minutes or til the water is fully evaporated and beans are tender.  Serve hot with your favorite chicken or other protein and potatoes or rice.  We made it with roast turkey and mashed potatoes and some of my homemade orange cranberry relish.