Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cheeseburger Calzones

I whipped this up one day when I some ground beef and was tired of the same old recipes.  My husband claims it tastes like a McDonald's Quarter Pounder (only without all the ick!) and the kids devoured it.  I'd say that's a success.

First you want to make some pizza dough.  This is my favorite recipe, courtesy of Ree (The Pioneer Woman).

1 tsp dry yeast
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin works great, but regular is okay)

First I set my oven to "keep warm" which is 170F.  Sprinkle the yeast of 1.5 cups of very warm water and let it sit.  Combine the flour and salt.  With your mixer on low, drizzle in the olive oil, then the water and yeast mixture.  You might need to adjust the flour/water/oil amount as it kneads to get a smooth ball.  Roll in a little oil to keep it from sticking to the mixing bowl, cover, and set it in the oven.  Then turn off the heat and let it rise for an hour.  This makes 2 pizza crusts.

After the dough has risen, heat the oven to 400F.

Next I fry up a pound of hamburger with some salt and pepper, a diced tomato, and a diced onion.  Then add in some ketchup and mustard to taste.  I'd guess about 1/2 a cup of ketchup and a few tablespoons of mustard, but do it how you like.  Mix in a cup of cheddar cheese (more if you like) until it's melted.  Then add in some chopped up pickles.  Yes, pickles.  Don't leave them out.  I think I used around 4 baby dills.  Turn off the heat and get out the pizza dough.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.  Roll one portion out until it's fairly thin.  Add a couple of spoonfuls of the meat mixture.  Exactly how much is up to you, but don't get eager and overfill or the calzones will explode.  Or something.

Fold the calzone in half and roll the edges up, like this.

If you'd like, you can brush on some egg wash, but it's not necessary.  Bake for around 20 minutes and then dig in.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chicken Stew with Dumplings

Simple, filling, cheap...what's not to love about chicken stew? If you're my kids, the best part is the dumplings, but myself, I can't get enough of the broth! Which you're going to be making yourself, because store bought broth is boring.

Start with a whole chicken.  Rinse it and salt inside and out.  Put it in a large stock pot and add some carrots, celery, onion, and a bay leaf or two.  I came across a great idea in another blog to save the ends of carrots, celery, and onion in a bag in the freezer to use for stocks, why did I never think of that?  Great way to cut down on waste.  Add some more salt and pepper.  Toss in some fresh rosemary and thyme if you have it. Bring it to a boil, skim the top, cover, and simmer for several hours.
Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it and sit it in a colander in the sink to cool.  Fish out all the veggie ends and the bay leaf.  Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and start pulling all the meat from the bones.  If you let it simmer long enough, it should fall off the bone easily.

Now to the yummy, nutritious simmering broth you want to add some veggies.  Here I've done diced potatoes, carrots, celery, and peas.  Zucchini and green beans are also great.  While the veggies get tender, start on the dumplings. 

Now I know these don't look like the dumplings I've posted in the past.  That's because they're not.  These are the fluffy little cloud type.  I like these for stews and the flat dumplings for plain old broth and chicken.

1.5 cups flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp salt
.5 tsp sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 tbsp fat

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  For your fat, you could use vegetable oil, but yuck.  Don't.  Melt 2tbps butter or lard and beat with the egg and milk.  Pour into the flour mixture and mix until just combined (you don't want to over mix).  Once the veggies are tender, add the shredded chicken back in (you can use all the meat from the chicken or just half, saving the rest for another meal).  Bring the stew back up to a simmer.  Once you have a nice simmer going, start dropping the dumplings in by the spoonful.  Cover the pot, keep the heat on low, and walk away for 20 minutes.  Do not peek.  Just don't.  You'll ruin your dumplings.  After 20 minutes, the dumplings should be fluffy and wonderful.

Mmmm, dumplings.  And broth, beautiful golden broth.  Doesn't get much better than this!  This is a pretty low calorie dish as well, provided you don't gorge on dumplings.  Which, let's be honest, is hard not to do.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Good news!

Yay!  I found my camera!  Hopefully I will start posting again, now.  Later today I'll have a post for chicken stew with dumplings. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Crockpot Beef and Noodles

If you search for beef and noodle recipes, a lot of really disappointing "cream of" recipes come up.  Personally, I think the "cream of" stuff usually drags a recipe down, and sometimes simpler is better.  My recipe is way tastier and only needs a few ingredients.

1.5-2lbs of beef stew meat
2 cups of beef broth and 2 cups of water (or, 4 cups of water and 4 beef bouillon cubes)
1tsp garlic powder
1 bay leaf
some salt and pepper
a few handfuls of eggs noodles
some fresh mushrooms

Sorry for the inaccurate measurements, but that's just the way I roll.

In the morning, put your beef stew meat in the crock pot.  Cover with the liquid, add the bay leaf and seasonings, and bouillon cubes if you're using them.  The total recipe time is either 8 hours on low, or 4 hours on high.  Or you can do 2 hours on high and 4 on low like I did.  Whatever works.  However you do it, at the start of the last hour, slice up some fresh mushrooms and throw them in.  After 15 or 20 minutes, add in the egg noodles, and then cook until the noodles are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid.

If you want it to be a stroganoff, just add in some sour cream before you serve it.  Super simple!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Didn't I just start a new blog?  Oh.  Well, I suppose I forgot about it a bit, eh?  See, this is why I'll never be a professional blogger.  I'm a total blog flake.  But never fear!  Tonight or tomorrow I'll have a post for beef and noodles, crockpot style. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Best Banana Bread

Banana bread is one of those foods that most people have a recipe for, yet every one is different (sometimes, significantly so!)  This is my favorite, pulled together from several different recipes.  There are a couple things that I've found seem to make a big difference.  One is using a mixture of half brown sugar and half white sugar.  The other is using buttermilk.  I've never had a banana bread missing one or both of these that I liked.  Also, I like to freeze my over ripe bananas and then thaw them to use for banana bread.  They look weird and slimy after they've been frozen, but it seems to concentrate the banana flavor, and they make excellent banana bread!

2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup melted butter
3 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Optional- 1/2 cup chopped nuts; I love nuts in banana bread, but my kids hate it, so I normally leave them out.

Preheat the oven to 325F.  If you aren't using a DeMarle loaf pan (a product I HIGHLY recommend), grease your loaf pan. 

Mix together the melted butter, sugars, eggs, buttermilk, and mashed bananas.  If you want, you can sift the remaining ingredients together and then add them, but I usually just mix the salt and baking soda in first, then add the flour.  The batter will be nice and thick.  Pour into your loaf pan and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Done when the center comes out clean.  Banana bread is always better the next day, but we usually can't keep ourselves from digging in!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sausage and Potato Hash

I call this a hash, though strictly speaking, it's not.  But it's easier to say than "fried potatoes, veggies, and sausage."  So simple it's almost silly to write it out like a recipe, but I've found that what seems simple and obvious to one person might not be so to another.  This is also a one skillet meal, which I love to do.  They're easy to increase and size and simple to throw together.  I normally use Italian sausage for this, but our fridge died last week and I had bratwurst that needed cooked, so I used that, instead.

First, cook the bratwurst.  I like the casing to have a pop to it, so this is how I prepare mine.  Heat a tbsp or so of oil over medium heat.  Add the sausage and turn every couple of minutes, until they're brown on all sides.  Next, add some water, about half a cup.  Cover the pan and turn the heat down to low.  Let them simmer for 20-25 minutes (you might want to cut one open to make sure they're no longer pink!)  So now that your sausages are cooked, let them cool down and then slice them up.

Next, start frying your potatoes.  3 or 4 medium potatoes should be good.  Peel and slice relatively thin so that they cook through.  Nothing is worse than biting into a half-cooked potato, yuck!  I like to fry mine in duck fat, when I have it.  If you've never had potatoes with duck fat, you are missing out.  Rectify this as soon as possible.  95% of the reason I make duck regularly is too keep my duck fat supply up, for no other reason than I want to fry my potatoes in it.  I add a little salt and pepper now, mostly because I'll be sneaking potatoes out as they cook, but don't add too much salt- your sausage will be salty, don't forget.

See how silky and unctuous the duck fat looks?  Mmmm.

While those are frying, slice your onion and green pepper.  How much depends on you and the size of them.  My children aren't fans of either, so I just did half an onion and half a green pepper.

I like my peppers and onions to be a bit crisp, so I add them in when the potatoes are nearly done and just give them a quick saute.  But if you like them soft, add them in earlier.  Go ahead and add in the cooked, sliced bratwurst.

So easy to throw together, hearty and filling!