Welcome to HowDoYouCook.com

By learning about basic ingredients and how to use them, you can create simple, quick and delicious meals your family will love!!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pizza Night

Have you ever made a homemade pizza?  A seriously delicious pizza with all of your favorite toppings in just the right proportions?  Well, it's less work than you think and you might just create the best pizza you've ever eaten!

Pizzas have come a long way in recent years, especially when it comes to the homemade version.  You no longer have to rely on the Chef-Boy-in-a-box crust mix (thank goodness!) because making your own crust is as simple as throwing a handful of ingredients into a bread machine, and your pizza dough is ready in about 90 minutes.  You can find our recipe for Pizza Crust here.  If you don't have a bread machine, many grocery stores also have prepared crust dough in their bakery section.  Our local store offers several different flavors of crust including multi-grain and Parmesan.  Once you decide on the crust you can move on to the toppings.

Pizza toppings are endless.  Start with choosing a protein such as diced cooked chicken, cooked shrimp or crab, lean ham, cooked Italian or regular sausage, or just some pepperoni.  Next add a few selections of vegetables such as thinly sliced peppers or onions, sliced fresh tomatoes or mushrooms, or green or black olives.  Or you can get a little more adventurous and try asparagus, artichokes, sliced pepperoncini peppers, sun dried tomatoes or even eggplant.

Then there is cheese.  You can't have a pizza without cheese and this is a great way to personalize your pizza, just the way you like it.  Beyond mozzarella and cheddar, try crumbled feta or blue cheese (both of which are yummy with diced chicken), or try adding a thin layer of creamy ricotta cheese.

The final step is choosing a sauce for your pizza.  There are many varieties of flavored tomato sauce available that already have garlic, oregano or basil included, but you could also choose pesto sauce, Alfredo or barbeque sauce or just a simple marinara.

For our pizza tonight, we chose a homemade roasted red pepper sauce. For this sauce I like to buy the red peppers that are packing in olive oil with whole garlic cloves.  Use a small blender to puree 1 whole pepper, plus one of the garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons of cream cheese and you have an instant sauce. 

Next, we started with sliced chorizo, and added several of our favorite toppings, black olives, thinly sliced artichoke hearts, shaved Serrano ham and a light topping of smoked provolone cheese.  The pizza was so full of flavor and it was something you could never find on any take-out menu. 

Another great combination that we enjoy is a Shrimp, Spinach and Red Onion Pizza with an Alfredo-type sauce.  For this pizza we actually used the same sauce as we used in the  Chi-Chi's Seafood Enchiladas, but you could also use a store bought sauce for convenience.
My favorite homemade pizza would have to be Shrimp, Crab and Asparagus Pizza with a cream cheese sauce.  This recipe has actually been a long kept secret and we've made it many times.  This is an ideal way to use up any leftover shrimp and/or crab from a Low Country Boil, because the seafood is perfectly cooked and seasoned and can be added to the pizza with very little prep.
For the Crab Pizza
1 Pre-Baked Pizza Crust (as above we used the bread machine dough)
1 can  Asparagus Cuts
1/3 cup  Minced Red Onion
Cooked Shrimp and/or Crab, remove any shells and chop the seafood into small bite-sized pieces
4 oz  Grated Italian 6-Cheese Blend
2 oz  Grated Cheddar
Pizza Sauce
3 oz  Cream Cheese, softened
2 to 3  TB  Sour Cream
1-1/2 tsp  Real Horseradish (not the creamy kind)
1/2 tsp  Lemon Pepper
Combine the ingredients in a small glass bowl and blend with a fork until creamy.  If the mixture is too thick to spread, add additional sour cream, one teaspoon at a time, until the mixture is spreadable.
Spread the mixture onto the pre-baked crust, add a layer of the cooked shrimp and crab, then a layer of asparagus, followed by the onion and then the cheeses.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Roquefort Red Potatoes

These yummy potatoes are made with one of my husband's favorite cheeses.  Roquefort cheese is a slightly salty type of blue cheese made from sheep's milk, and the flavor combines well with many dishes.  A few appetizers like Roquefort Deviled Eggs or Stuffed Olives really highlight the tanginess of the cheese, and it would also works nicely in a ham, mushroom and onion quiche.

Roquefort also goes well with beef, in the form of Roquefort Burgers, or for tonight with a simple grilled steak.  Using red potatoes and adding a drizzle of creamy buttermilk and some crumbled Roquefort cheese on top, these potatoes are super easy to prepare and actually look quite elegant when served with a beautiful New York Strip steak.  Enjoy!!

8  Medium Red Potatoes, scrubbed and sliced in half
1/3 cup  Lowfat Buttermilk
2 oz  Roquefort Cheese, crumbled  (or substitute Blue cheese)
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

In a large pot, add 3 quarts of water, 1 tablespoon salt and the red potatoes.  Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to a baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then drizzle the buttermilk over the potatoes.  Add the crumbled Roquefort cheese evenly over the potatoes then bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are slightly browned on the edges.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Salmon on Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

When my husband told me our local market had salmon on sale this week, I wanted to come up with something new and yummy to take advantage of the rare sale price.  The only problem was, this idea came to me in the middle of the night!  (It's really sad when you start dreaming of tomorrow night's dinner!...lol)

So I ended up dreaming about this classic 1970's-style spinach salad that was served at a little Irish Pub we used to frequent.  It was topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms, and a warm bacon dressing, and it was absolutely amazing.  I'm not even sure if the Pub is still open, but that salad was definitely memorable.

Then I started thinking about the Salmon BLT we made recently.  Salmon wrapped in bacon, served on sourdough bread..yum!  Salmon and bacon is my new favorite combo in any way, shape or form!

The results of all of this was simple.  Combine the spinach salad, with a seared salmon fillet and you have one delicious dinner.  And so it was.  We added the cute little sliced eggs, which my daughters loved, and the tangy, slightly sweet, slightly acidic dressing brought all of the flavors together.  This is truly a classic salad brought up to a new level, and made into a complete meal.

If your children are a little leery of eating spinach, this is a great way to get them involved in making dinner.  Show them how to take the stems off of the spinach, then let them make the egg slices and get the plates ready.  If your kids get to help prepare the basics of the meal, they might just learn to like spinach!  Enjoy!!

1/2 lb  Bacon
1 cup  Thinly Sliced Red Onion
8 - 10  Button Mushrooms
1 tsp  Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 lbs  Salmon Fillets, about 1-inch thick, cut into 4 potions, skin removed
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper
4 TB  Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp  Sugar
1 tsp  Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 bag  Baby Spinach, rinsed, dried and stems removed
3 Hard-Boil Eggs

In a large skillet, fry the bacon until slightly crisp, then remove the bacon from the skillet and drain on a paper towel.  Reserve skillet.

Remove 3 tablespoons of bacon grease from the large skillet to a small saucepan and set aside.

Remove 4 tablespoons bacon grease from the large skillet and place in a small skillet.  Add the onions, mushrooms, and Worcestershire sauce to the small skillet and saute vegetables over medium heat until caramelized.  Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

While the onion and mushrooms and cooking, increase the heat for the large skillet to medium-high.  Season the salmon fillets with salt and a generous coating of pepper, then add fillets to the large skillet.  Cook the salmon for about 4 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown, then turn fillets over and cook for 4 - 5 minutes longer, or until lightly browned on both sides.  Now turn the burner off while you prepare the dressing.

Back to the saucepan, add vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard, and salt to the bacon grease and heat over medium-low heat.  Whisk to combine and keep warm while you assemble the plates.

Place a handful of baby spinach on each plate, then top with a spoonful of sauteed onions and mushrooms, then a salmon fillet.  To complete the salad add a sprinkle of chopped bacon, a few slices of hard-boiled eggs and a generous drizzle of warm dressing.    Serves 4.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Skillet Meatloaves

Well, it looks like another chilly week here in Florida and tonight we needed some warm comfort food.  Since we've been trying to eat a bit lighter the past few weeks, it was time for something a little more hearty. So when I found this old recipe tucked away in my files, it sounded like the perfect solution.

According to my scribble of notes, the last time I made this was somewhere around 2002, and even though my husband and I remember it was quite yummy, the kids didn't remember it at all.  So it was time to revisit the mini meatloaf.  Instead of making a large meatloaf and baking it in the oven, the mixture is divided into smaller mini meatloaves and cooked in a skillet.  The portions cook quickly and a smooth onion gravy is made in the same skillet. Super easy!

1 3/4 lbs  Extra Lean Ground Beef
1 slice  Wheat or White Bread, cubed
1/8 cup  Milk
1  Egg
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Allspice
3 TB  Tomato Paste
1/4 cup  Finely Chopped Onion

3 TB  Butter
1/4 cup  Chopped Onion
3 TB  Flour
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 1/4 cups  Beef Broth
1 1/2 TB  Ketchup
2 tsp  Spicy Brown Mustard
2 TB  Steak Sauce

Place meat in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center of the meat.  Add the bread to the center, then pour the milk over the bread to moisten.  Add the egg, salt, pepper, allspice, tomato paste and the onion to the bread and combine all of the ingredient, mixing by hand.

Form the mixture into 8 oval patties, about 3/4-inch thick, then place the patties in a large skillet and brown over medium-high heat for 6 - 7 minutes on each side.  While the patties are cooking, cover the pan with foil and leave the foil vented slightly to allow steam to escape. 

Remove the browned patties to a platter and return the skillet to the heat.  Reduce heat to medium and add butter and onion to the skillet, stirring to combine any browned bits.  Cook onion for 2 minutes or until softened, then sprinkle the flour and pepper over the onion.  Cook mixture for 1 minute, then whisk in the beef broth, stirring until smooth.  Bring sauce to a simmer, then add the ketchup, mustard and steak sauce, stirring to combine and adding additional broth if the mixture is too thick.

Pour gravy over the meatloaf patties and serve with garlic mashed potatoes and a steamed veggie.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chicken Piccata

Years ago, I used to make Chicken Piccata at least once a week for dinner.  It was my absolute favorite dish, partly because it was a super easy and fast meal to put together when I was short on time, and also because I just loved the flavor.  The lemon and white wine sauce combined with sauteed onions and garlic is a match made in culinary heaven.  The finishing touch was a spoonful of baby peas sprinkled around the edge of the dish.

The reason I say years ago is that this was the first meal I cooked for my then-future husband. But as it turned out, he didn't like it!  Crushed and offended, I wondered if I would be able to transform his beer and Molinari's-pizza-and-wings taste buds and bring him into the world of grown up foods.  Fortunately, for him and for me, he did like the next meal I prepared, and the ones after that were well received, too, so I decided to keep him anyway.  Even though he didn't like my Chicken Piccata...sigh.

So here we are, 17 years later and I finally decided it was time for Chicken Piccata to again make an appearance on the menu.  Not only did my husband approve, but the meal received a thumbs up from the kids, too.  It was well worth the wait!

2  Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts, butterflied into 4 thin fillets
3/4 cup  Flour
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
4 TB  Butter
2 TB  Olive Oil
1 TB  Minced Fresh Garlic
1 medium Onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup  Lemon Juice
1/2 cup  Chicken Stock
2 TB  Capers
Cooked Pasta

For this dish you will need thin slices of chicken breast.  To do this lie the chicken flat on a cutting board and use a very sharp knife to carefully slice horizontally through the middle of the chicken, so you have 4 thin fillets.

In a shallow plate combine the flour, salt and pepper and very lightly dredge the chicken fillets.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and saute for about 3 minutes or until tender.  Remove the onions to a platter and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan.  Once the butter is melted and begins to sizzle, add the chicken fillets to the skillet and cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until lightly browned, then turn over and cook for another 3 - 4 minutes.  Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add the lemon juice, stock and capers to the pan, stirring to loosen any browned bits, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Test the sauce to see if you need a bit more salt.  (Usually I add about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt at this point.)

Return the chicken pieces and onion to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the chicken and onions to a platter and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter is melted and combined, then pour the sauce over the chicken.  Top with a sprinkle of parsley and serve over cooked pasta with a side of baby peas.  Enjoy!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bourbon Chicken

Bourbon Chicken is a common dish served in many Chinese take-out restaurants.  Even though the dish contains no bourbon whatsoever, that's the name they gave it.  And it's always been one of my favorites.

This recipe is very similar to General Tso's Chicken, but it has the healthy advantage of sauteing the chicken instead of frying. 

I was surprised how well the sauce came together using just a few simple ingredients and the flavor was delicious.  The apple juice and brown sugar add just a hint of sweetness, while the cider vinegar adds a little bite.  A perfect combination.

If you're thinking about ordering Chinese take-out tonight, save yourself some money, skip the heavy dose of MSG and cook this for dinner.  It can be ready to serve in about 40 minutes.

2 lbs  Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 TB  Olive Oil
2 tsp  Minced Garlic
1/4 tsp  Ground Ginger
3/4 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/3 cup  Apple Juice
1/3 cup  Light Brown Sugar
2 TB  Ketchup
1 TB  Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup  Water
1/3 cup  Soy Sauce
1-1/2 TB  Cornstarch
Cooked Brown Rice and Steamed Edamame

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.  Set aside.

Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and increase heat to medium-high.  Stir until combined and bring the sauce to a simmer.

Add the chicken pieces back to the skillet and bring mixture to a low boil as it begins to thicken.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve over hot brown rice, with a side dish of steamed edamame.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin in Mustard Sauce

Keeping with our light dinners this week we started with one of my favorite cuts of pork, a boneless pork tenderloin.  This cut of meat can be simply dressed with salt and pepper and roasted to create a delicious meal.  But tonight we decided to get a little fancy.  Using a rustic combination of sauteed fresh spinach, mushrooms and garlic as a filling, and the final touch was a mustard and white wine sauce.

This recipe does call for a little fancy knife work, but don't worry, once you get the hang of it, it's very simple.  For this dish we used a 1-1/2 pound tenderloin, and trimmed off any excess fat, then butterflied the tenderloin by making a horizontal slice lengthwise into the tenderloin, about 1 inch into the meat, but not all of the way through.  Unfold the meat to the right, then cut another lengthwise slice, and unfold again.  Repeat these steps until the tenderloin is opened out like a book and is about a 1/2-inch thick.

After that, all you have to do is apply a few layers of ingredients to create the filling and you're ready to cook. Serve with a small scoop of mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and dinner is complete. Enjoy!!

1-1/2 lb  Pork Tenderloin, butterflied
2 TB  Olive Oil
1 TB  Minced Garlic
6 large  Mushrooms, button or portobello work fine
3 cups  Fresh Spinach
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil
2 - 3 TB  Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 - 3 TB  Italian Style Breadcrumbs
1/4 cup  College Inn White Wine Chicken Broth (or use plain chicken broth)
1 TB  Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
3 TB  White Wine
3 TB  Half and Half
1 tsp  Cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and coat with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  When the olive oil is shimmering, add the garlic and saute 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms to the skillet, stir and saute for 3 minutes until tender, then add the spinach to the skillet.  Saute the spinach until wilted, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of ground black pepper.

Spoon the spinach and mushroom mixture into a bowl to cool and set aside.  Reserve skillet.

Unfold the pork tenderloin on a cutting board and drizzle with olive oil.  Next, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the pork, followed by a layer of breadcrumbs.  Spread the spinach and mushroom mixture over the pork, staying 1-inch away from the edges. (This will keep the filling from leaking out.)

Now it's time to roll the tenderloin back together.  Start with the original interior of the loin, and carefully roll the pork back into a roast shape, pressing slightly to compact the filling.  Once rolled, you can use cooking string to secure the roast or just use a few metal skewers or toothpicks to secure the seam.

Using the same skillet as before, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil shimmers, place the pork in the skillet and sear the meat on all sides, about 8 minutes total, being careful not to loosen the seam.

Place the skillet into the oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until the interior temperature reaches 140 degrees.  Remove the roast from the oven, and cover with foil for 10 minutes to rest.

In a small skillet, combine chicken broth, Dijon mustard, pepper, and white wine and stir until simmering.  In a small cup, combine the half and half and cornstarch, then add the mixture to the mustard sauce, stirring until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Slice the pork into 3/4-inch slices, spoon the sauce over the pork and serve.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Salmon BLT Sandwich

Salmon is one of my favorite varieties of fish.  You can prepare salmon in so many ways and the fish will always taste amazing. And that's just the case with this Salmon BLT Sandwich, a twist on the classic BLT.  This is a delicious way to serve a healthy portion of salmon as a sandwich with the added treat of a little bacon, fresh tomato and spinach.


Another surprise to this sandwich is the simple caper and dill dressing.  If you aren't familiar with capers, or have never cooked with them, they are a great item to keep on hand.  You only need a single teaspoon for this recipe and they add a bright zing of flavor to the dressing.  I'm sure we will be using this same dressing with many others dishes in the future.  Enjoy!!

1/2 tsp  Dried Dill
1 tsp  Capers, very finely chopped
1/4 cup  Light Mayonnaise
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

1 lb  Salmon Fillets, skinless, cut into 4 portions
Salt and Pepper
8  slices  Bacon
1  large  Tomato, sliced
1 cup  Fresh Spinach, washed and patted dry
Sliced Sourdough Bread, toasted

In a small bowl combine the dill, capers, mayo and pepper.  Stir to combine and chill until ready to serve.

Place the salmon on a serving platter and lightly season both sides with salt and ground black pepper.  Wrap each salmon fillet with 2 slices of bacon, wrapping the bacon around, then overlap with the second slice, until the salmon is wrapped snug with the bacon.  Repeat with the remaining pieces of salmon.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat until hot.  Place the salmon in the pan and cook for about 4 - 5 minutes until the bacon is browned, then turn the salmon over and cook 4 minutes longer.

Serve the cooked salmon on toasted sourdough bread, with sliced tomatoes, fresh spinach and a dollop of the caper and dill dressing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pretzel Crusted Chicken

The holidays are such a wonderful time of year.  Lots of great meals to share with friends and family, yummy Christmas cookies everywhere, not to mention parties with a generous spread of brie cheeses, chocolate truffles and more than our share of wine. It's no surprise that most of us are left with a bit of a snug waistline come January 1st.

So now that the holidays are behind us, we've been enjoying a few weeks of light, simple dinners and tonight was a tasty example.  Cooking dinner at home is a great way to cut back on calories because you can control all of the ingredients.  For this recipe, we used lean deli ham and a good grainy mustard and stuffed the ham inside of the chicken breasts, kind of Cordon Bleu-style.  In place of a rich sauce, we coated the outside of the chicken with crushed pretzels which added a touch of salt and a great crunch.  Lots of flavor, lots of crunch, easy on the calories.

This is a super easy dinner to prepare and can be ready in about an hour and can be prepared with ingredients that most people will have on hand.  It's also a favorite with kids.  Serve with a steamed vegetable or a simple salad and dinner is ready. Enjoy!!

4  Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts, about 2 lbs
8  Thin Slices of Deli Ham, (smoked ham works great)
1 1/2 TB  Your Choice of Course Grain Mustard  or  Dijon Mustard  or  Honey Mustard
1 cup  Crushed Pretzel Crumbs
1 TB  Melted Butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Slice the chicken breasts horizontally, cutting about 3/4 through the chicken, to create a pocket.  Spread a generous coating of mustard on the inside of each chicken breast, then roll 2 slices of ham and stuff into the chicken.  Press down slightly to level the chicken.

Brush the top of the chicken with melted butter, then press the pretzel crumbs firmly onto the chicken.  Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top and the chicken juices run clear.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Quick Chicken Chili with Black Beans

They say necessity if the mother of invention, and today that was very true.  We woke to a very cold morning and it seemed like it would never warm up.  (I know the Northern states are dealing with snow and freezing temperatures, but 32 degrees in Florida is just cold!)

With Christmas decorations to put away and a few hours of work to do in the morning, the last thing I wanted to do was go grocery shopping.  So, as I looked through the refrigerator and pantry I collected a few things to throw together that would be come a soup, or a chili, or maybe a stew.  All I knew was it needed to be spicy and warm!

So with some leftover roasted chicken, some black beans and this yummy Hot Pace Salsa, dinner evolved into a very quick and easy, Chicken Chili with Black Beans.   And was it ever good!  The final touch was a spoonful of roasted and toasted sweet corn on top of the chili.  Enjoy!!

1 medium  Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 small  Red Pepper, chopped
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 4 oz can  Diced Green Chilies
3 cups  Cooked Chicken, diced
1/2 cup  Pace Hot Chunky Salsa
1/2 cup  Water
1  15 oz can  Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 TB  Cumin
1 TB  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
3 cups  Chicken Broth
2 cups  Dry Ditalini Pasta
1 cup  Half and Half
1 1/2 cup  Frozen Corn Kernels
1 TB  Water
1 TB  Butter

In a large soup pot, saute the onion, garlic and red pepper in the olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the green chilies, cooked chicken, salsa, water and black beans and stir.  Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add the cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chicken broth and pasta to the pot and stir.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes or until the pasta is tender.  Add the half and half to the chili, stir and heat 5 minutes longer.

In a small skillet combine the corn, water and butter and cook over medium-high heat.  Saute the corn until the water has evaporated and the corn begins to browns slightly. 

Ladle the chili into bowls and top with a scoop of the roasted corn kernels.

Pumpkin Butter Smoothie

This yummy Pumpkin Butter Smoothie is a delicious way to start your day and, with only 3 or 4 ingredients, it only takes a few minutes to prepare.  As our first creation using Pumpkin Butter, it was a great success and will be perfect for our busy weekday mornings that start much earlier than I wish they did!

Coming in at about 215 calories and 20 grams of protein, this smoothie is full of yummy pumpkin flavor.  For an added boost of potassium, add half of a banana to your smoothie and you're still under 300 calories.

1/4 cup  Pumpkin Butter
1 cup  1% Milk
1/2 scoop  Optimum Nutrition Vanilla Ice Cream Protein Powder
1/2  Medium Banana, optional

Combine all ingredients in a small blender for 30 seconds and serve.

Pumpkin Butter

A few weeks ago, my family and I stopped by a local farmer's market where we discovered Amish Pumpkin Butter.  We had all tried apple butter before but pumpkin butter is a different thing all together, with a flavor similar to pumpkin pie, with lots of cinnamon and cloves.

This creamy spread is so delicious, we kept thinking of more and more ways to use it.  And as expected, the jar was empty within a few days.  So my mission was clear, I needed to make our own.

So far we have used this butter on pancakes and English muffins, and it also makes a great Pumpkin Butter Smoothie for a quick breakfast.  In addition to tasting yummy, it's also good for you! Just 1/4 cup of Pumpkin Butter comes in at about 55 calories and provides 150% of your Vitamin A requirements for the day.

2 15-oz cans  Libby's Pure Pumpkin
1 cup  Apple Juice
1/2 tsp  Allspice
1/4 tsp  Cloves
1 cup  Brown Sugar, packed
1 TB  Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp  Nutmeg
2 tsp  Apple Cider Vinegar

Combine all ingredients, except vinegar, in a large saucepan.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring several times.

Remove from heat and stir in the cider vinegar.  Cool to room temperature then transfer to a glass container and store in refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Roquefort Burgers

Ahh.. the creamy yumminess of blue cheese tucked inside of a juicy burger.  And this is no ordinary blue cheese, but Roquefort Cheese.  As we approach the end of this holiday season, sometimes a simple burger is just what we need for a weeknight dinner.  But we decided to give these burgers a little something extra.

Roquefort cheese has a unique flavor which pairs well with beef. We included the crumbled cheese inside the burger, then added about a tablespoon of cheese to the top of each burger and let it slowly melt. 

This is such a super easy burger, but the flavor is amazing.  If you are a blue cheese fan, but have never tried Roquefort cheese, this is going to be a real treat.

1 lb  Extra Lean Ground Beef
2 - 3 oz  Roquefort Cheese, crumbled
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste

In a medium bowl combine the beef, cheese and salt and pepper, mixing by hand to form 4 patties.  For the best flavor, try to center a few larger pieces of Roquefort into the middle of each burger.

Grill the burgers over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, turn burgers over and cook 3 minutes.  Add a tablespoonful of cheese to the top of each burger and cook 3 - 4 minutes longer.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nutella Cupcakes

If you are looking for a delicious treat to bring to a holiday get together, this is a great alternative to cookies.  And it contains one of our favorite ingredients, Nutella Spread.

Nutella is a hazelnut and chocolate spread that has acquired a huge (and growing) league of fans.  My kids love this stuff!  So today we decided instead of cookies, we would try making a Nutella cupcake, and this recipe turned out great.  The cupcakes are moist and chocolatey, with the familiar hint of Nutella to accompany the chocolate.  The final touch was a drizzle glaze of melted dark chocolate that we made using Hershey's Dark Chocolate Morsels. These cupcakes are so good, but I must warn you, they are a bit addictive!  Enjoy!!

2 cups  Flour
2 1/2 tsp  Baking Powder
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/3 cup  Butter, softened
1 1/2 cups  Brown Sugar
1 tsp  Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup  Nutella Spread
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup  Milk
1/4 cup  Hershey's Dark Chocolate Morsels
1/4 tsp  Shortening (not butter or margarine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cupcake pans with 21 liners and set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Cream butter with 1 cup of brown sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add Nutella and mix thoroughly.

Add the eggs and mix until combined, then add the remaining brown sugar and blend well. 

Add the flour mixture and milk, alternating in small amounts, beating well after each addition.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each cupcake liner.  Bake cupcakes 25 - 30 minutes or until set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

To prepare the drizzle - In a microwave safe cup combine the dark chocolate pieces and the shortening and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and microwave for 10 seconds longer, if needed.  When the chocolate is smooth, drizzle over the cupcakes.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Homemade Irish Cream

As Christmas draws closer it's time for a little holiday cheer.  Definitely my favorite cocktail for the holidays, this recipe for Homemade Irish Cream is so simple to make and costs significantly less than the name brand Irish Cream. 

Any brand of bourbon can be used, even the cheaper selections of bourbon will work nicely.  My personal favorites would have to be Irish Mist or Canadian Mist.  Both are amazingly smooth and silky.  The best thing about this recipe is that it tastes even better than the brand name Irish Cream.  Enjoy on the rocks or add a little to your coffee.

 1 tsp Instant Coffee (try flavored coffees such as vanilla)
1 1/4 cup  Milk
1 TB Vanilla
1 TB + 1 tsp Chocolate Syrup
1 1/4 cup Bourbon Whiskey (Windsor, CC, Irish Mist)
1 - 14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Combine all ingredients in blender and serve on the rocks or stir into coffee.  Refrigerate and use within about 1 week.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Snowflake Dusted Brownie Cookies {#BloggersforSandyHook}

Today's post is a tribute to the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary.  At a time when we all wish we could do something, anything, to bring peace to the people of Newtown, CT, we are at a loss.  How do we offer comfort and condolences to total strangers when our hearts ache for them?

Well, when I came across this post, Bloggers Unite for Cookies & Crafts for Sandy Hook, at Crazy for Crust, I knew I wanted to participate.  Food bloggers are a great bunch of people and this is a wonderful way to show our united support to the community of Newtown.  On Friday, December 21st, we are showing our support by posting a cookie recipe or craft project as a Tribute to Sandy Hook. (You can also follow through #BloggersforSandyHook.)  Donations for the Newtown Youth and Family Services Organization can be made HERE.

You can share in this project, too.  Grab your kids and spend an afternoon making cookies, doing some fun crafts, even cutting out snowflakes.  Have fun, hug them a little closer and be thankful that they are safe.

I've been on a chocolate cookie binge this season and this is another recipe to add to the files.  Tasting just like a brownie in a cookie-style package, this is a great cookie to leave for Santa.

2/3 cup  Shortening
1 1/2 cups  Packed Brown Sugar
2  Large Eggs
1 TB  Water
3 tsp  Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups  Flour
1/3 cup  Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/4 tsp  Baking Soda
12 oz  Semi-Sweet chocolate chips
Confectioners Sugar for Dusting

In a large bowl, beat the shortening and sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Blend in the eggs, water and vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda;  gradually add to the creamed mixture and beat just until blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Drop by rounded teaspoons, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until slightly puffed and set around the edges.  Do not over bake.  Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets before transferring the wire racks.  Lightly sprinkle the cookies with confectioners sugar while the cookies are still warm.  Allow to cool completely on wire racks.  Makes about 40 cookies.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Roquefort Cheese Appetizers

With its creamy-rich texture and distinct, somewhat salty flavor, Roquefort Cheese is kind of the Cadillac of cheeses.  Roquefort is a type of blue cheese made from sheep's milk and it has a very unique flavor. It's also one of my husband's favorite cheeses.

So, when I came across this cheese at our local market I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make a few appetizers for the upcoming holidays. 

First, we started with olives.  Big queen-sized olives.  These would be the perfect shell for the creamy Roquefort.  The best part is, this isn't really a recipe as much as just an assembly project, and a great project to get your kids involved in. 

To make the olives, remove the pimento from the center of the olive, if necessary, and use a small spoon (a baby spoon works great!) to fill the olive with the cheese.  It takes a bit of patience, but the results are delicious. 

Our second project was deviled eggs.  We started with a small batch of 6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced in half and the centers placed in a medium bowl.  Place the egg whites on a plate and set aside.

Crumble the egg yolks lightly with a fork and add a pinch of salt, (not too much is needed because the cheese is slightly salty), 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon of Roquefort cheese.  Crumble the cheese into the mixture and blend with a fork until the filling is very smooth and creamy.  Use a small spoon, or a piping bag if you want to get fancy, and fill the egg whites with the yolk filling.  Place a small sliver of Roquefort cheese on top of each egg half and serve.

The best thing about appetizers like this is that they can be prepared hours before a party.  Just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ham and Bean Soup

Many people like to serve ham for Christmas dinner and with the great sale prices this week, this is the perfect time to pick up an extra ham for quick and easy weeknight dinners.  I usually try to slice about 1/3 of the ham for sandwiches, then chop/dice the remaining ham and freeze it in individual baggies.  Add the defrosted ham to scrambled eggs, Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya or soups.  Which brings me to this tasty family recipe for Ham and Bean Soup.

This is a great soup to prepare with leftover ham and the soup bone from your holiday ham.  (Don't throw away the soup bone!  There's a lot of flavor in there.)  This soup does take a little extra time to prepare, but the low and slow approach creates a soup that's full of flavor, with just a slight zing from a generous dash of hot sauce.  Enjoy!!

1 lb Dried Great Northern Beans, prepared in advance
2 quarts Water
1 Meaty Ham Bone
2 cups of Diced Ham
1 tsp Salt, or to taste
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Ketchup
1  small  Onion, chopped
1 Carrot, shredded
3 - 4 dashes Tabasco Hot Sauce (optional)

Place the dry beans in a medium soup pot and cover with about 2 inches of water.  Let soak for 6 - 8 hours, or overnight.  Drain the beans, then return to the soup pot.

Combine beans with 2 quarts of water.  Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring the soup to a full boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 2 - 3 hours, stirring occasionally.   Serves about 5 - 6.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My New Favorite Wine - 2009 Noceto Sangiovese

It's always exciting to come across a wine that has all of the flavors you love, and is still affordable.  And that's just the case with the 2009 Noceto Sangiovese, from the Vino Noceto Winery in Plymouth, California.

I always like to mention that I do not have any affiliation with this winery, or any others, but I do like to bring a little extra attention to wineries that offer such amazing products as this Sangiovese.  I especially like to bring attention to smaller wineries, whose wines are some of the best kept secrets in the business.

For our first tasting, we served this Sangiovese with our Shrimp and Blue Cheese Noodles and the wine was a beautiful pairing.  On the second occasion it also tasted great served with a simple grilled New York Strip steak.  The wine has a Chianti-style flavor and would also work beautifully with a Grilled Pork Roast with Cherry-Balsamic Sauce, various Italian dishes or even with a great pizza.

If you are still shopping for Christmas or New Year's Eve wines, or you are just ready to stock up your cellar for the new year, stop by the Noceto web site to see the entire selection of wines they have available, including a 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel, grown on vines dating back to the 1860's. Yum!  Since Old Vine Zinfandel has always been my favorite in the past, and I cannot wait to try this, my husband might be buying me a few bottles Zinfandel for Christmas...he just doesn't know it yet!  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate Andes Creme de Menthe Cookies

These cookies are the second result of my cookie baking binge this week.  While I was successful in finding more of the Nestle Winter Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels to make the Mint Chocolate Delights, I was pleasantly surprised to also find a package of Andes Mints that are now available in tiny crumbles called Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips. These mint pieces have the same peppermint flavor as the traditional mints, just cut into small slivers and chunks. 

I knew just the recipe to try for my first experiment with these chips.  The base of this cookie is the same dough from the Triple Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter.  This recipe combines unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder which creates a very elegant, silky chocolate flavor.  If possible, try to use a Dutch-process cocoa powder for a darker color and more complex flavor, but regular cocoa powder also works well.

For this recipe, I used 6 ounces from the 10 ounce bag of Andres Chips and that amount seemed to add a nice balance of that familiar peppermint flavor to the chocolate.  This cookie has definitely been added to our list of favorite cookies.  Enjoy!!

1 cup  Flour
1/2 cup  Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp  Baking Soda
1/4 tsp  Salt
4 oz  Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped
1 stick (4 oz)  Unsalted Butter
1-1/2 cups  Sugar
1 tsp  Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs, beaten
6 oz  Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips

Preheat oven to 325.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the unsweetened chocolate with the butter over low heat, stirring frequently.  Scrape the melted mixture into a medium bowl to cool.

When the chocolate has cooled, add the sugar and vanilla and stir to blend, then add the eggs and stir.  Next add the flour mixture and stir until you have a smooth dough mixture, then stir in the Andres Mint pieces.

Drop rounded teaspoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets and flatten the cookies slightly.  Bake for about 13-14 minutes or until the cookies are slightly firm, but still soft in the center.  Slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto wire racks to cool.

Triple Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling

We have enjoyed these cookies each Christmas for the past dozen years or so and I always look forward to making them.  (Warning: These cookies are highly addictive, which is why I try to only make them during the holidays!)

This dark chocolate sandwich cookie contains three types of chocolate and the filing is a simple natural peanut butter.  When preparing the cookies, try to keep the portion of dough to just about a teaspoon so the cookies are not too large.  Since you will be stacking two of the cookies together, you don't want the cookies to be too overwhelming.  Although in this case that could be a good thing..lol.

These cookies make a wonderful gift for friends and family.  The flavor is so unique and decadent that all of the recipients will be delighted.  Enjoy!!

1 cup  Flour
1/2 cup  Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Dutch-process if available)
1/2 tsp  Baking Soda
1/4 tsp  Salt
4 oz  Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped
1 stick (4 oz) Unsalted Butter
1-1/2 cups  Sugar
1 tsp  Vanilla Extract
2  Large Eggs, beaten
4 oz  Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup  Smart Balance Rich Roast Peanut Butter

Preheat oven to 325.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the unsweetened chocolate and the butter over low heat, stirring frequently.  Scrape the melted chocolate into a bowl to cool.  Stir in the sugar and vanilla and blend.  Stir in the eggs,  followed by the flour mixture and blend until you have a smooth dough, then fold in the milk chocolate chips.

Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons, about 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets.  Flatten the cookies slightly and bake for 13-14 minutes or until he cookies are firm outside but still soft in the center.  Slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto a wire rack to cool.

When the cookies have cooled, spread the flat side of half of the cookies with about 3/4 teaspoon of peanut butter, then top with the remaining cookies

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mint Chocolate Delights

Yum!  When chocolate and mint come together in a cookie, it's a pretty great cookie.  What makes these cookies even better is that they taste exactly like the Thin Mint Cookies you can buy from the Girl Scouts!  You have GOT to try these for yourself!  I used the recipe on the back of the package to see how these little chips would taste and the recipe is remarkably easy and the cookies are well named, Delights.

I found the Nestle Winter Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels at our local Target store and it seems like Target might be one of the few stores that sell the seasonal Nestle products.  I have yet to find these at any other area store, so grab them while you can!

Today turned out to be a 2 for Tuesday Cookie Day, as I was able to finish two batches of cookies in the same day.  Needless to say, the kids were happy to taste test for me.  It seems like once the house is decorated for Christmas the baking mood strikes.  I'll post our second cookie project shortly, but for now, here is a picture of the finished Christmas Tree and the yummy cookies.


2 cups  Flour
2/3 cup  Baking Cocoa
1 tsp  Baking Soda
1/2 tsp  Salt
1 cup  (2 sticks) Butter, softened
2/3 cup  Sugar
2/3 cup  Brown Sugar
1 tsp  Vanilla Extract
2  Eggs
1 - 10 oz pkg  Nestle Toll House Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels

Preheat oven to 325.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy, then blend in the eggs.

Gradually blend in the flour mixture and then stir in the morsels.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet and bake for 11 - 13 minutes until cookies are puffed and centers are set.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Makes about 40 cookies.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Catfish Po'Boy with Creole Slaw

Well, today was my lucky day.  I have been hoping to find catfish on sale and today was the day.  For some reason the price of catfish has skyrocketed over the last few years. The fillets we used to pay $2 per pound for are now almost $10 per pound. For catfish!  Catfish is one of my favorite varieties of fish, but when it costs more than salmon?  Well, salmon will win every time.

Many Po'Boy sandwiches have a mayonnaise-based sauce or dressing, and I was hoping to avoid that on this sandwich.  The catfish needed to be crispy-crunchy without drowning in sauce.  I also wanted to try out a Creole-style slaw to go on top of the fish.  A slaw that would add crunch, but not be drippy with dressing, and this recipe came together perfectly.

For the slaw I started with a bowl of finely shredded cabbage and one shredded carrot.  Then I added a few basic slaw ingredients like mayo, cider vinegar and a bit of sugar.  But I wanted this to have a Cajun flavor, so I needed to spice it up just a bit.  A little Creole mustard and a pinch of paprika were all it needed.  I prepared the slaw about 3 hours before dinner, so it was still nice and crunchy when we assembled the sandwiches, but the cabbage had absorbed the flavors nicely.

We served the catfish on hoagie rolls and added a few slices of these beautiful orange tomatoes we found at the farmers market.  The tomatoes have a slightly citrusy flavor and they combined nicely with the fish and slaw.  A few squeezes of lime juice on top were the only "sauce" this sandwich needed.  Enjoy!!

To Prepare the Slaw
4 cups  Shredded Cabbage
1  Carrot, shredded
1 TB  Sugar
1/2 cup  Hellman's Light Mayonnaise
1/4 cup  Apple Cider Vinegar
2 TB  Creole Mustard
1/4 tsp  Paprika
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Black Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and stir to evenly coat all of the cabbage.  Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours.

To Prepare the Fish
3  Large Catfish Fillets (about 1-3/4 lb), cut in half
Canola Oil for Frying
2  Large Eggs
2 TB  Frank's Hot Sauce
2 TB  Heavy Cream  or  Milk
1/2 cup  Cornmeal
1/4 cup  Flour
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
1 tsp  Onion Powder
1/2 tsp  Paprika
1/4 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
Sliced Tomatoes for Garnish

In a medium bowl combine the eggs, hot sauce and cream or milk and stir well.  Set aside.

In a large bowl or dish combine the remaining dry spices and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add a 1/2-inch of canola oil and heat until shimmering.  Dip the fillets one at a time into the egg mixture, then into the cornmeal coating.  Place each piece into the skillet and cook about 5 - 6 minutes, or until browned and crispy.  Turn the fish over and cook for 5 minutes longer.  Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain.

Serve the catfish fillets on hoagie rolls with sliced tomatoes and a spoonful of the Creole slaw on top.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Swai Fillets with Kumquat Butter

Between living in Phoenix and now Florida, we have been most fortunate to be on the receiving end of many baskets of fresh citrus fruits.  Residents of the southern sunbelt always have an overabundance of lemons and limes at home and they are more than happy to share their harvest with their coworkers.

That was the case this week when my sous chef came home from work with something new, a bag of kumquats.  (Kumquats?  What do you do with those?) These cute little fruits look like small oranges, and when I scratched the rind they even smelled like oranges. But how do you peel such a tiny thing?  Well, you learn something new every day!  When my husband asked the same question of his coworker, he was told to eat the entire thing, rind and all, which seemed a bit weird.  So we did what most skeptical parents would do, we let our oldest daughter try one!  Turns out she loved these juicy little fruits and so did we.  The rind was sweet while the center was juicy and tart.  A very interesting flavor that I could not wait to experiment with.

I had been wanting to make a citrus-based Swai dish and this recipe was the perfect solution.  Quickly searing the fish is a great way to highlight the natural flavor of the fish, while combining the bright flavor of the kumquats.  Be sure to serve a few sliced or whole kumquats on the side.  This fish is delicious served with a light rice pilaf and a simple veggie.  Enjoy!!

Kumquat Butter
3 TB  Butter, softened
6  Kumquats with seeds removed
1 tsp  Lemon Zest
1 tsp  Orange Zest
1 tsp  Minced Fresh Ginger
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
Pinch of Black Pepper

After you have removed the seeds from the kumquats, (you can use a small knife to do this), finely mince the kumquats, including the rinds.  Combine the kumquats with the butter, lemon and orange zest, ginger, salt and pepper, and set aside while you prepare the fish.

5  Swai Fillets (about 2 lbs)
2 tsp  Butter
2 tsp  Olive Oil

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Rub the fish fillets generously on both sides with the citrus butter, then place the fish in the hot skillet.  Cook fillets for 4 - 5 minutes then carefully turn the fillets over and cook 4 minutes longer, or until fish is opaque in the center and slightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


This is a yummy alternative to pizza that we used to make when our kids were very young, and they always loved them.  Little did they know, I was just trying to get them to like spinach. (It worked!)

A calzone is a type of rolled, stuffed-in-the-center type of pizza that has many variations.  The dough is traditionally similar to pizza dough, but the filling is where the differences really begin.  Calzones  are often filled with several types of cheese, with ricotta being the base of this creation.  Some restaurants will include meats, olives or sauce inside of the calzone, so the filling combinations are endless, and you can easily create your own favorite filling.  For our calzones, we like to keep the sauce on the outside, but you could also incorporate the sauce into the filling mixture.


We started with an easy bread machine dough that is rolled out into squares.  Each square is lined with a meat, cheese and spinach filling, then rolled over into a rectangle.  The edges are sealed with a fork, then spritzed with a bit of olive oil and baked.  Serve with a spoonful of seasoned tomato sauce on top.  Enjoy!!

Calzone Filling

15 oz  Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
1 cup  Grated Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup  Grated Mozzarella Cheese
3 oz  Diced Pepperoni
10 oz  Frozen Spinach, cooked, cooled and well drained
1/2 lb  Fresh Sausage, cooked and drained
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Calzone Dough in the Bread Machine

1 cup + 2 1/2 TB  Water
2 1/2 TB  Olive Oil
3 cups  Bread Machine Flour
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Sugar
2 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 1/2 tsp  Bread Machine Yeast
Calzone Filling
Flour, if needed
Olive Oil Spray

Combine all ingredients in the bread machine pan and set the machine to the Dough Setting.  At the end of the first kneading cycle, press the stop/clear button and let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until almost double in size.

Punch the dough down and remove from the bread machine pan to a lightly floured cutting board.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  The dough will have a very smooth texture.

Using a dough slicer or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 6 equal portions.  Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a square about 6 or 7 inches across.  (Add a few teaspoons of flour to the cutting board surface if the dough is a bit sticky.)

Place 3 - 4 tablespoons of calzone filling onto the lower half of the dough, then gently roll the dough over and crimp the edges using a fork.  You can also roll these up "burrito-style" by folding in the edges and rolling the dough so none of the filling is visible.  Place the calzones on a baking sheet and continue with the remaining calzones.

Lightly spray the calzones with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden.  Serve with a spoon of seasoned tomato sauce** on top.

**Note:  To make a quick sauce for the calzones, heat an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce in a small saucepan.  Add Italian seasoning, some fresh basil if available, a little garlic powder, salt and pepper and heat until warm.