Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Easy Calzones




In college there was a burrito spot that advertised "Burritos as big as your head."   
My experience with calzones has been about the same.   
If I order a calzone at a restaurant it's the size of a frisbee - and much too heavy to fly.   

Want control over the size of your calzone?    Make your own.   It's easy.  It's delicious.  
It will always have your favorite fillings and will be right-sized for you.   

What You Need

1 pound (16 oz) ready to bake pizza crust, I love the Safeway brand that they sell in the deli, quarter it to make four individual calzones

Other calzone meat or vegetable fillings of your choice (pepperoni, sausage, spinach, etc)
Pasta sauce or pesto for your calzone topping
1 egg beaten for an egg wash

Calzone cheese filling

15 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
other seasonings to taste - I'm a fan of Penzys Mural of Spices or Pasta Sprinkle

What You Do

Determine what additional fillings or toppings you'd like for your calzone.    It can be your favorite.

Cut the one pound ball of pizza dough into four equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a round.   Preheat the oven to 350 (or what your particular dough requires).

Prepare the cheese filling by combining the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper and spices in a medium bowl until combined.  

To construct your calzone, put 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the cheese filling on the top third of the dough.   Top the cheese with your fillings of choice.    Fold the bottom over the top to form a half moon.   Use a fork to seal the edges and then brush the top with beaten egg.   



Bake for 12-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.   Serve with the sauce of your choice.

What's your favorite calzone filling?



Cheese filling recipe adapted from:  Pioneer Woman

Monday, July 21, 2014

Three Ingredient Sausage Rolls


Is it just me, or do you dread that moment when you're opening a can of crescent rolls and you are waiting for it to pop?    You know it's going to happen, just not when and it ALWAYS catches me off guard.  

It reminds me of elementary school and dreading the fire drill.   I knew that it would happen (fire safety week, I'm talking to you), but I didn't know when.   And the dread kept me from paying attention.   I'd rather just know that the fire drill was happening at 2:00 pm on Tuesday.   That way I could just dread it from 1:50 until 2:01.

These sausage rolls are really easy - a great addition to a sweet breakfast, like baked french toast or bananas foster pancakes.    If you have leftovers, put them in the fridge and then eat them for lunch.   I took a few when I went hiking upcountry.

Hello Upcountry
Did you know that parts of Maui look like this?

What You Need

8 oz of cream cheese, I used reduced fat
16 oz of bulk breakfast sausage,  Jennie-o hot turkey sausage was awesome
2 tubes of crescent rolls

What You Do

Cook the breakfast sausage, drain the fat and cool.     Mix the sausage with the cream cheese.

Prepare yourself for opening the tube of crescent rolls by pre-heating  the oven per the package instructions.     I always use a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.

Unroll the crescent triangles.   At the base (the fat part) of the triangle, put two spoonfuls of the cream cheese and sausage mixture.   Then roll them up, fat part to skinny part.    

Line up the first 8 rolls on your baking sheet.   Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.   Eat them warm or cold.  Either way?  Yum.   If you have any leftover cream cheese and sausage filling after making your rolls, it is great in omelets or even on a burger.  

Do you have a favorite three ingredient recipe?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chocolate Chunk Coconut Oatmeal Cookies


 

Can I tell you that I love these tropical dishes?    They were a housewarming gift when I first moved to Maui from a shop called Sand People.   

So today the weather in Maui is terribly confused.  It poured rain all night.   Then the sun came out and we had blue skies.     Then it rained again.   Then the sun shined.   It's been going on like that all day.    At this very moment (3:02 pm)?   Rain.     I'm glad that yesterday was my beach day!

What do you like to do on a rainy day off?   Today I've opted for reading and cooking.  Sometimes I even read while lying on my yoga mat so that I feel like I'm stretching at the same time (...not exactly fitness, ahem).

How a good beach day should end
This is outside of the gym at work...because I need
more fitness and fewer cookies
These cookies are chewy and full of dark chocolate.  So ono!   

What You Need

1 1/4 cup quick oats
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon  salt
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut
1 large bar of Hershey's special dark (4.25 oz), coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons milk (I used skim)

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.    Line the baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl beat together the coconut oil and brown sugar until smooth.   Add in the egg, milk and vanilla.    Beat for 2 minutes or until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients into the oil/sugar mixture and stir until combined.   Slowly add in the coconut and chocolate chunks.   

Drop dough with cookie scoop (or spoons) onto the ungreased baking mat.   Bake 9-11 minutes until the edges begin to turn brown.   These are chewy cookies, so you don't want to overbake them.   Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack.   
Depending on the size of your scoop/spoons, this recipe makes between 24-30 cookies.   I ended up with 30 - more for my co-workers and I to enjoy.   


Recipe Source:  Ambitious Kitchen 




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baked French Toast


It's so convenient when 4th of July falls on a Friday - Monday.   No matter how it plays out, if you are in a position where you get the holiday off, you luck out with a 3 day weekend.    Woe is us on the years where the 4th falls on a Wednesday.   It's great to have a day off midweek, but you have show a little restraint in your celebrations if you have to function at work the next morning.    

I work in the service industry, so the majority of my colleagues are not guaranteed the holiday off...there were many years when I celebrated Thanksgiving with a Monday off work knowing that I would be running full speed serving guests on the holiday.  

But this year?  It was time for me to host an Independence Brunch.     

I Celebrated my independence from worrying about recipes with 8 eggs and a pint of half and half.     
I didn't think twice.  
In fact, I poured pure Wisconsin maple syrup on top!


Tropical independence brunch = yay!

What You Need

For the toast:

8 eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk (I used skim....is that kind of like ordering a diet soda with french fries?)
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (16 oz) loaf of french bread - day old bread is perfect for baked french toast

For the topping:

4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons cold butter

What You Do

*This recipe is ideal for prepping the night before, leaving in the fridge, and popping it in the oven the next morning.   That's how you celebrate your independence.  

Grease a 9x13 pan - with butter (of course).   

Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk.   Add the half and half and whisk some more.  Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.   Whisk a little more and set aside.

Cut the loaf of french bread into 1 inch cubes.   I sliced the loaf in half the long way and then went from there.    Put the cubed bread into a large bowl.   Whisk the egg mixture one more time and pour over the bread.   You want to toss the bread (gently, gently) to make sure all pieces are coated.

Prepare the topping by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl.   Crumble with a fork, knife or your hands.    Put it in the refrigerator, covered, and walk away.   

Pour the soaked bread mixture into the 9x13 pan.    Put it in the refrigerator, covered and walk away. 

Enjoy the rest of your evening.   

Is it time to eat yet?   Yes?

Preheat the oven to 350.    Uncover your casserole dish and sprinkle the sugar topping over your french toast.    Bake 40-50 minutes until the top is golden brown.   Allow to cool (5 minutes or as long as your patience allows), slice and serve.   

Serve with syrup, fruit, or your favorite toast topping, you independent person, you.

If you want to see what else we did on the Fourth of July, pop on over to Traveler for Good.    Just know that it involved Elvis and Presidential Hula Dolls.   

Recipe Source:  Our Best Bites



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Corn {is a good idea}

What started it all...

Summer is an interesting concept in Hawaii.  At least for me, a recent transplant from the four seasons of weather in Colorado.    Maui is consistently summer-like all year round. I'm not in school, so I don't recognize summer break.  In fact, I'm jealous of those who do. 

But it is in fact, the season of summer, so I feel like I must grill.

First, I needed a grill.

And what idea, specifically, got me to go grill shopping?    A picture of bacon wrapped corn, that's what!    Now, with my grill, I can also grill chicken.   Pizza.  Banana Boats.   Burgers.   The list goes on and on.

I hit up Home Depot and got myself a small, table-top Brinkmann gas grill.  After some minor assembly with a screwdriver (which is a good thing, since my tool collection doesn't go much further), I was in business.

With bacon  corn, go with your instincts.    Take a piece of bacon.   Wrap it around an ear of corn.   Sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice...I used smoked paprika.    Wrap the ear in foil and put it on the grill.  20-25 minutes turning it over once.  

That's it.   You're done.

After doing this, I'm convinced that for my next ear of corn, I'll need two pieces of bacon.   Because bacon shrinks as it cooks.  You want all of your corn to have that "bacon hugged" feeling.   No sad ears of corn that only feel half-dressed in bacon.  

Maui in Summer
The sun sets later...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies


I'm not sure if I've ever had a Texas sheet cake.   

But when I saw these, I knew I was on board with the poured chocolate icing.   In fact I was just looking for a vehicle to get the icing into my mouth (other than a spatula).  When I was done making cookies, I didn't let any of the "drippage" (that icing that slides off the cookie and onto the cutting board underneath) go to waste.   I ate about a half pound of strawberries by dipping it in chocolate.   

What a great way to incorporate fruit into your diet!


See?  Drippage

What You Need

For the cookies:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup flour
12 cup chocolate chips, melted

For the icing:  
(seriously, so good....and it makes more than you need for the cookies, so you can indulge without feeling like the cookies will be naked...they won't be)

1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk (I used skim)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

What You Do

Preheat the oven to 350.   
Cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl using a hand mixer.  Add the egg and vanilla and continue mixing.   Then add the baking powder and salt.

Slowly add the flour.  It will make your dough thick.   
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in a small bowl.   Melt 30 seconds at a time and stir after each 30 seconds.    If you over cook the chocolate, you can't go back.   So much easier to melt a little at a time and let the last few chips melt while stirring.    Add the chocolate to the cookie dough and stir until mixed.

Drop by tablespoon onto a cookie sheet covered by a silicone mat.    I put 9 cookies on a sheet.   Bake 7 minutes, then remove from the oven, cool for a minute on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack (cooling rack is also great when it's time to ice these).    

Because I live in a tropical climate, I put the dough in the fridge between baking so that it didn't get too soft.   This can also help cookies, in general, keep their shape when baking.    

When the cookies are all on the cooling rack, it's time to make the icing.

In a small/medium sauce pan, melt the butter with the cocoa and milk.    When it's all melted, stir with a whisk.    Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar.   Whisk with enthusiasm until the icing is glossy and lump free.      

I used a tablespoon measuring spoon to ice the cookies.   That will cover most of the cookie and then you'll need to add a little extra to hit all the edges (nothing sadder than cookie that isn't completely iced).     Put a silicone mat, wax paper or a cutting board underneath the cooling rack to contain the chocolate and keep it (a little) cleaner.    You can clean up that chocolate with your hands, a spatula, fruit, or pretzels.     If you have any extra, it would make a tasty ice cream topping.   

Recipe Source:
I found this recipe over on a blog that I follow on the regular called Cookies and Cups.  You should definitely check it out!

This time from Ireland

Glendalough was a monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century.    This was such a beautiful site to visit and amazing to see buildings that have survived for so long and to learn about this time in Ireland's history.   I would definitely recommend it!

St.  Kevin's Church

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thin Mint Popcorn




I'm going to blame it on the Buzzfeed.   Last week they published a list of "Crazy-Awesome Popcorn".   Knowing how I feel about crazy-awesome food, friends made sure that the article was shared with me...possibly in the hopes that I would make something.    And so I did.    I read the recipe for Thin Mint Popcorn from What Katie's Baking because I thought I had some thin mints in the freezer.   

And so I did.   Just not enough to make the full recipe.   So I made some modifications to use the 10 thin mints I had remaining.   Until next Girl Scout Cookie season.  

What You Need

6 cups of popped popcorn
3 squares of  vanilla almond bark (to be melted)
1/2 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract
10 thin mints, crushed (and by crushed, I mean put into a sandwich bag and broken apart by hand)

What You Do

Pop your popcorn over the stove (or in an air popper - whatever you've got).   Put the popcorn in a large bowl.   In a small microwave safe bowl, put the 3 squares of vanilla bark.   Melt in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time.   If you over cook it, there is no going back, so you're better starting off with small amounts of time and stirring with enthusiasm to get it smooth.    Once the bark  is melted, remove from the microwave and stir in the oil and peppermint extract.    

Drizzle over the popcorn, tossing to make sure all pieces are covered.  Then stir in all the cookie crumbs.   Once everything is combined, turn out onto wax paper - either on the counter or on a cookie sheet, and allow to cool.   Store in an airtight container.    If you live in a warm and humid climate, like I do, you're going to want to store these in the fridge.    

Fun with vacation photos...


I really loved Edinburgh, Scotland, and wished we had another day or two to explore.   Until next time, enjoy this picture of the Abbey ruins at Holyrood Palace.    

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