September 6, 2009

Time Saver Recipe #2: Broccoli-Cheese Calzones

Thought for the day:
"Then all around, from far away across the world, he smelled good things to eat, so he gave up being king of where the wild things are..." - Maurice Sendak
Just about everyone knows that reading with your child strengthens fluency, enhances vocabulary, and builds comprehension needed for future achievement. But most important, reading together provides a unique bonding time. It's a way to create positive memories for your kids, making them feel loved, motivated and confident. Unfortunately, many families are finding it hard to set aside quiet, uninterrupted time for reading. If you're feeling constantly pressed for time, why not read at dinner?

Children like to feel they have a connection to a character or event in a story. This week, serve a delicious, homemade meal, and read a story aloud at the dinner table. If you don't have children at home, borrow a few, or find creative ways to make dinner time special for you and other grown-ups, (without the tv!) With the next few blog posts based on "time saving", I hope to make your dinnertime fun, delicious and full of reading time. By developing simple meals relating to themes of chosen stories, I know that your child will not only want to try healthy foods, but will love having time to listen, share and giggle through your quality time together.

These calzones, also called turnovers, can be pre-assembled and frozen. There's no defrosting time either. You take what you need right out of the freezer, place them on a cookie sheet and bake. In about 30 minutes, you'll have a hot and tasty meal. Add small ramekins filled with homemade tomato sauce for dipping, and dinner is on the table.

A fun story to read with this meal is Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. The color and texture of the broccoli and cheese remind me of something monsters might eat, similar to the comical ones in the story. This calzone recipe is based on one I've made from Everyday Food, with additional recipes you can link to via Martha Stewart Living. You can make your own pizza dough and use fresh broccoli if you'd like, but since this is considered a "time saver," pick up what you can premade. This way, you can get to the dinner table, and enjoy this story with your family..."And now," cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start!

Broccoli-Cheese Calzones
(makes 8)

2 pounds (rounds or packages) of fresh pizza dough
flour for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen chopped broccoli
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 small onion, chopped
optional: 1 large Italian sausage link (preferably sweet)
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 and 1/2 cups shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese

Remove the casing from the sausage link, and crumble sausage onto a plate.
In a large nonstick pan, heat the oil; then add the onion, pepper flakes, garlic and Italian sausage.

Chop the sausage with a spoon to break into small pieces. Continue cooking until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Drain grease and return sausage/onion mixture to the pan. Remove the broccoli from the packages, and place into the pan. Keep stirring, chopping and moving the broccoli around until it has defrosted.

Simmer until all liquid evaporates, and mixture is dry. Remove from heat and set aside.

When cooled, add cheeses, and salt/pepper to taste.
Now form the calzones. Lightly flour your work surface, and evenly cut pizza dough into eight sections.Stretch out each piece of dough by placing your hand underneath, working in a circular motion.

Try to work each dough piece into 6 inch rounds.

If the dough is too elastic to handle, let it rest for a bit, then work it again.

Spoon a generous 1/2 cup of broccoli mixture onto one half of each pizza round, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Fold dough over to form a half moon shape. Seal edges using a fork, and cut two small slices in the top for steam to escape.

At this point, it does look like a little monster...
Freezing: *You can now place each calzone into a quart sized, ziploc freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. Freezing them individually will allow you to bake how many you may need for a future hectic night. (Sometimes, I would just bake one for Mr. Grumps if he was working late. He's a lucky guy.) After they are all in the quart sized bags, freeze till solid. Then you can put all of these small bags into larger, gallon sized bags to save room in your freezer, and provide added protection from freezer burn.

Baking: **If you don't want to go the freezer route and would prefer to just bake them, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray with Pam. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake until golden in color, about 20-25 minutes.
To bake frozen, remove from freezer bags, place on a lightly greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet, and bake at 400 degrees without thawing until golden, about 35-40 minutes.

Let's summarize it up: In a nonstick pan, cook up onions, seasonings and crumbled Italian sausage. Add the frozen broccoli and continue stirring till hot and defrosted, making sure mixture is nice and dry. Add cheeses, mix well. Cut pizza dough into 8 sections; stretch into circles, spoon on filling, fold over and seal. Package up and throw in the freezer for a later date. Much better than pizza delivery service!

1 comment:

angelia McGowan said...

Looks very delicious, I love veggie calzones!