To Bake or to Garden (Calzones)

I was torned last night between wanting to get out in the garden and weed (now that we finally had rain) or make something wonderful for supper. Inspiration came when I realized I that I had the perfect trifecta of meats in the refrigerator for a tasty calzone — pepperoni, salami and ham. Maybe I could do both. I could work in the garden while my trusty bread machine worked on the dough! I started to look online for a good dough recipe. (Which is fine, but a person can get stuck reading recipe after recipe.)  Finally, throwing caution to the wind,  I put some classic ingredients in my bread machine and out the door I went.

I had just a bit of weeding left in my daylily garden when I came in to check on the bread machine’s progress.  11 minutes left. Back outside to finish up. It was so nice to see my daylilies, all in bud, with no weeds at their feet. Now to give my hands a good scrub and see how my dough came out.

I turned the dough out onto a lightly floured board and punched it down. Then I divided it in to 8 pieces and shaped into balls. I covered them with a towel, so they wouldn’t dry out. Now to make the filling. Ham cubes, chopped up salami and pepperoni went into a bowl along with tomato sauce and pizza seasoning. I gave it a quick stir and went back to form the dough.

The dough was easy to work with. Soft, but resilient. Each dough ball was rolled out into a circle to approximately  seven inches in diameter. A quarter cup of meat filling plus a small handful of mozzarella cheese went in the middle. I folded the dough over around the filling, and pinched the edges tight to make a good seal. It took two cookie sheets to hold all eight calzones.  I placed them into a 400° F oven to bake, it took about 25 minutes to reach a nice golden brown.P1180143

They turned out beautiful. The bread inside was not soggy and it had a great taste and texture. Not only did I have my “wonderful supper” but leftovers for lunch and a few to freeze for later. Plus, I had a new dough recipe of my own!

The best part about calzones is that there is no limit to the type of filling you can put inside your bread pocket. I will leave that to your imagination. You will need two cups of filling to make eight calzones.

Calzone Dough (using bread machine to process dough)

Makes eight calzones

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/4 cups semolina flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons quick acting yeast

Pour the water, olive oil and honey into the bread machine pan. In a separate bowl, add each of the flours and salt. stir with a whisk to give them a quick blend and then add to the wet ingredients. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Set the bread machine to the dough cycle and start. Check to make sure all ingredients have incorporated nicely and that dough is not too dry or sticky.

When dough cycle is finished, turn dough out onto lightly floured board. Punch dough down to remove air. Divide dough into eight even pieces and shape into balls. Roll each dough ball into a 7-8 inch circle. Place 1/4 cup of preferred filling into the center, keeping filling away from the edges. Fold dough over and pinch edges together to seal tightly. Place on cookie sheet, at least one inch apart to allow for dough rise when baking.

Bake at 400° F for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with favorite dipping sauce that corresponds to filling.




Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix (low sodium)

I like tacos but most seasoning mixes sold in stores are high in sodium and I never cared for the way the thickeners made it taste. I found several sites online for ideas on how to make your own taco seasoning. This is the version I came up with, minus some of the salt!

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2  teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Measure the above ingredients into a small canning jar or similar glass container. Shake the jar to mix the spices together.
Taco Meat:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 2/3 cups water

In large skillet, fry ground beef on medium high heat until browned. Using spatula or wooden spoon, break meat into small pieces while cooking. Remove from heat. Drain off any excess fat.

Sprinkle taco seasoning over the meat. Add water and stir into the meat and seasoning until well mixed. Simmer on low, until most of the water has evaporated off, but meat is still moist.

Tulip Time

I work every third weekend. The last weekend I worked, we were in the middle of a big April snowstorm; receiving a foot of new snow! Three weeks later, such a different sight. May is here and the tulips and daffodils are in full bloom.

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Zesty Tomato Bread

Last summer we grew two very large cherry tomato plants. And those two plants produced an abundance of tomatoes. So, I went searching. Could you make bread with cherry tomatoes? The answer was yes! I combined and tweaked a few recipes to make what I thought would be a good loaf. It exceeded my expectations. There was this wonderful fragrance in the house during the whole baking process. And the bread was amazing. It had this warm, light orange/red color and taste was absolutely delicious. I juiced up and froze enough tomatoes to make several more loaves through the winter months. I even made a loaf to give as a gift.

This recipe was too big for my bread maker to knead. Instead, I relied on my Kitchen Aid mixer to do the job.

Zesty Tomato Bread 

Makes 2 loaves

  • 6 – 6 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons quick rising yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Italian or pizza seasoning
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine 3 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, salt and seasonings. In a saucepan, warm tomato juice and olive. Not to boiling, just warm. Add to dry ingredients and beat until smooth with paddle attachment on mixer. Exchange paddle for dough hook. Stir in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough is formed. Divide the dough in two and knead each section for 4-6 minutes (I found this is easier on my mixer). Place each piece of dough in its own greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Let rise until doubled, about an hour. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Punch down and shape into a loaf. Repeat for second loaf.  Place each loaf into a greased 8 1/2″ x4 1/2″ bread pan. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake at 350° F for 35-40 minutes. Remove from bread pan and cool completely before cutting.

Now, get ready to enjoy the best tasting grilled cheese sandwich made with your Zesty Tomato bread. Yum!




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