In the zone, the CALzone: Turkey Meatball & Spinach

I loooove to make calzones. I think the ratio of crispy crust to inner fillings or would-be pizza toppings is the best. It is also a great use for leftovers or the occasional less-than-perfect ingredient.

This calzone was turkey meatball, fresh spinach, and cheese. Dough definitely plays a big role in the calzone but dough varies in ease and quality. I went with refrigerated dough and pre-made turkey meatballs.

The trick is to fill the calzone much more than it looks like it can hold. Calzones fall into those “contents may settle while in motion.” I bought a ton of spinach and thought I could use it here.

Ingredients

1 ball of refrigerated pizza dough
4 turkey meatballs
2 cups shredded mozzerella
3 cups spinach, chopped
1 egg, whipped

Directions:

1) Stretch pizza dough out using your hands and spread out on lightly greased pan.
2) Top half of dough with sliced meatballs, spinach, and cheese alternating layers.

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The trick is to fill the calzone much more than it looks like it can hold. Calzones fall into those “contents may settle while in motion.” I bought a ton of spinach and thought I could use it here.
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3) Fold over and secure all the way around. Make a few slits to let steam out before brushing with eggwash.
4) Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-minutes until golden brown.
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Some of my other favorite calzones include: green apple, brie, and prosciutto; chicken parmesan; and ham and cheese. Literally anything could fill them up but I draw the line at going too far out of the box with Chinese or Mexican. That’s just crazy.
Calzones are great appetizers or as a meal. I might bring some to Christmas with the future in-laws!

Mess Soup

I wasn’t feeling under the weather. I wasn’t feeling down. I just like soup…all the time. Sometimes it’s just time for soup, and that time usually lasts about six servings. My “recipe” is more of a method than than a recipe per se.I learned from my mum that every leftover there is can be transformed. Mum always makes soup that can’t be replicated…because the ingredients differ each time and she deserves all the credit of my soup.

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We freeze leftovers, all together. Everything is cooked first, spices for the soup comes from the spices when I cooked it the first time. My freezer container starts to have this cool layering affect from the many ingredients. I call it Mess Soup because that’s what it is.

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This batch included corn and white rice with cilantro from a Mexican meal. There were some caramelized red onions, lots of swiss chard, cous cous, and a surprisingly minimal quantity of chicken.I add a package of soup starter to pull it together. It cooks for about an hour and it’s great. Mess soup has great combinations and makes me feel warm and reminds me of the many meals that this came from.

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I like how thick it gets and much it needs to be stirred…I come from a long line of avid stirrers.

Pasta with Home Baked Goodness

Miss L had me over for a delicious dinner. She made Baked Pasta as a deviation of Martha’s recipe. Ours didn’t include chicken sausage but Miss L has made it with it, or with chicken instead. The possibilities here are endless.

This was so good because of the strength of flavors but none were overpowering. Baked pasta warms the heart, especially in pink sauce with fontina. Yum!

Miss L was the perfect host by laying a premade dip (thanks to Trader Joe’s) and pita chips while dinner spent the last few minutes baking. Miss H poured the wine and the night began!

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Ingredients

Serves 8
-Coarse salt and ground pepper
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 medium red onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 cup vodka (optional)
-1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 pound rigatoni
-10 ounces baby spinach
-12 ounces smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
-6 ounces fontina cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat; add vodka, if desired. Return to heat; cook until almost evaporated, 1 minute.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and oregano; cook until tomatoes are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Add spinach, and cook just until wilted. Drain, and return contents to pot.
  4. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed fontina to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly between two shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dishes.
  5. Top with grated fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

This dish reminded me I don’t eat enough rigatoni or enough pink sauce. Martha kindly reminds her readers this makes enough for two smaller pans (to freeze one). The noodles were cooked perfectly and they absorbed the right amount of sauce to keep the flavor throughout.

I really liked this dish and thought it would be a great one to share with friends because this dish actually enables the host to enjoy the guests while it does it’s thang. There’s nothing worse than missing your company because you’re stuck in the kitchen.

Apple Sausage Pizza with Beer Sauce

I love pizza in all forms. You’d think my family had pizza night growing up. Since we didn’t, I seem to make it a lot or at least make calzones a lot. This pizza was a great fall flavor and was adapted to use ingredients on hand. Mr. J doesn’t eat mushrooms so I out they went and we had some red onion so in that went!

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I’ve tried dough of all sorts. I still claim that fresh-refrigerated dough is best. The refrigerated dough in a can comes in third. Today, I gave Jiffy Mix a try which was a surprising 2nd choice. The dough instructed me to mix with water and then keep it at 85-degrees. I put it on the back burner where the oven vents. I found it extremely sticky and feared too much flour would make it wicked hard. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick spray to keep it where it belongs.

Ingredients

– pizza dough
– wheat germ for the bottom of the pizza so it doesn’t stick
– 2 links of sweet Italian sausage
– 1/2 red onion
– 1 small granny smith apple, sliced thin
– 1 cup of cheese (I used a mix of mozzarella and cheddar)
– 1 cup of beer (I used Blue Moon)
– About two tablespoons of coarse grain mustard
– About 1 tbs sour cream

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Directions:
Remove the casings on the sausage and brown it in a skillet. Add onion half way through  Remove the sausage and onion and add the beer.  Let it reduce by half and then add the mustard and black pepper.  Let the sauce cool a bit and add the sour cream.  Meanwhile by rolling out the pizza dough into some flour until it’s evenly thin.  Sprinkle wheat germ onto the pan before spreading dough out. Top it with some sauce before topping with sausage, onion, apple and cheese.  Drizzle with the beer/mustard sauce. Bake for about 15 minutes.