Saturday, March 31, 2012

Calzones and a Few Spring Blooms

Tonight I had a request to make Calzones. I wasn't surprised because I had tried them a while back and they were so good I figured they would become part of the dinner repertoire around here. When I made them the first time I was a bit intimidated looking for dough recipes because there are so many out there. When that happens I find the best thing to do is to refer to a trusted cookbook for a recipe and then tweak from there.

My sister Cindy gave me the Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book when I got my first apartment in college and I turn to it in cases like this. Their dough recipe is pretty straightforward and I'd recommend it for anyone wanting to try their hand at pizza or something like calzones. It seems pretty forgiving. It might not be quite as chewy as delivery pizza, but still really good. The filling for these can really be whatever you have on hand. Even leftovers stuffed in dough would be great.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

Filling Ingredients:

Pepperoni (about half of one of those pillow packs), chopped into small pieces
Salami (I used about 4 ounces of a pre-sliced, but hard salami would be great too), chopped into small pieces
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion chopped
Spaghetti Sauce (use your favorite jarred or homemade) about a cup
Mozzarella Cheese - about 1 1/2 cups
Parmesan Cheese for sprinkling

Combine meats, onions & bell peppers and saute for a few minutes until onions begin to soften. Add Sauce and cook for a couple of minutes more to warm but no need to get super hot. Remove from heat.

Dough Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1 packet yeast
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425°. In a large mixer bowl combine 1 1/4 cup flower, yeast and salt. Stir in warm water and oil. Beat at low speed with a mixer for a 1/2 minute, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high speed then stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can mix in with a spoon. Either knead with a dough hook if your mixer has it or turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes). Cover dough and let rest for at least 10 minutes (I let mine go about 30 mins) Punch down lightly, let sit for a minute then divide into 6 equal pieces.

Working with one piece of dough at a time roll out to about 6 inches, put 1/6 of meat mixture on one side of dough about 1/4 cup of mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan. Wet the edges of the dough slightly, fold over one side and crimp edges to seal. Place on a greased or lined pan or a baking stone. Repeat with the remainder of the dough & filling. Let Calzones rest for about 10 minutes, brush tops and edges with beaten egg. Put three small slashes in each to allow steam to escape. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Serve with a nice salad and you have a meal.

Spring is slow to arrive here although I know much of the rest of the country has almost skipped to summer! There are a few things happening though. Here's an early spring mini tour, starting with my first daffodil to open.

The primroses never fail to open! Love their bright cheery faces.

The hellebores or Lenten Roses are pretty right now too.

These little anemones come up from little tubers every year.

This is a tiny little spring bloomer called Hepatica

More primroses!

And a darker Hellebore

We've been awfully rainy, but I walked around today and saw even more things on the verge of bloom. Looks like its going to be a good lilac and clematis year!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Meal and A Garden Show tour

Happy St. Patrick's Day! We are having a pretty quiet night at home, but I have had the crock pot going all day so we have a good traditional Irish American dinner even if we don't have green beer! The corned beef is so good - I used a recipe from a blogging friend, Cathy over at Wives with Knives. I really don't think there is any need to ever look for another recipe for corned beef again. It's that good! The glaze at the end is what makes it so yummy.

This is Cathy's Method and I followed it pretty much expect no parsley and I added potatoes to the crock pot:

"I put lots of peeled carrots, 2 chopped onions and a handful of parsley sprigs on the bottom of the pot, laid the corned beef on top, sprinkled on the spice packet and added enough water to cover. I set the temperature on high for two hours, then turned it to low for an additional 7 hours. The crock pot works so well because the water never boils, it just gently simmers.

When the meat is ready to serve I trim the fat off the top and spread it with a mixture of 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, a dash of cloves and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar. Place under the broiler until the sugar is melted and crusty. You will be amazed at how much flavor this adds to the corned beef. This was my mother’s trick and I couldn’t imagine serving corned beef any other way."

The broiling part it key so don't skip it! I had made some Irish Soda bread on Friday for the girls at work so I added that to the table too. I used the King Arthur's Flour recipe. Very good!

Irish Soda Bread - They give a great tutorial.


  • 3 cups Perfect Pastry Blend OR King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • heaping 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup currants or raisins
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, optional (I omitted)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk*
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • *No buttermilk in the house? Substitute 1 cup milk + 3/4 cup (one 6-ounce container) plain or vanilla yogurt - (I ended up using sour cream and that worked great too.)


Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a loaf pan. Mix first six ingredients plus seeds if you are using. In a separate bowl mix together the egg and buttermilk. Whisk the liquid into the dry ingredients. Ad 4 tablespoons of melted better mixing just until combined. The batter will be thick - spoon it into prepared loaf pan. Drizzle with the tablespoon of milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake bread for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. If you have a temperature probe King Arthur says it should be between 200 & 210. Remove the bread from the oven, and loosen its sides with a heatproof spatula or table knife. After 5 minutes, turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Eat alone, with butter or maybe some marmalade.

Doesn't St. Patrick's Day just make you think spring is just around the corner. For some of you it has already arrived. We on the other hand had snow AGAIN this morning :-) It was gone by noon but still... I went to the Northwest Garden Show earlier this year and haven't shared the pics. This is probably a great time to do that now that I am really itching for spring to show up!

The theme this year was A Floral Symphony with all of the exhibits having some musical tie in. It was interesting to see what everyone came up with. I'm afraid I've forgotten some of the exhibit names, but I'll give you the gist :-) There is always a bright spring display in the lobby before you enter so not sure if it actually had a name but I loved this vertical display. There were musical instruments placed here and there. So maybe it was just meant to embody the main theme.

I loved the path on this display...I think it was a "heavy metal" rock and roll kind of them. You will have to excuse the lighting in these photos. They dim the lights and it almost feels like twilight it's so dark.

This was one of my favorite displays mostly because of this beautiful light strung gazebo

My absolute favorite was the April in Paris display. Pictures do not do justice to how cute it was.

Here's another angle

The theme of this display was Birdsong...loved this gate

And this pretty mosaic

There was a lot to take in and admire about this display

I liked the play on the verses like the use of black mondo grass in the blackbird vignette.

I love how many of the displays keep with the "woodsy" natural feel of the Pacific Northwest like this fanciful pond scene

This arbor caught my eye

And so did this flowering quince. I'd love to have one of these.

The colors in this display made my little vintage loving heart go pitter patter

There were some really nice outdoor seating areas

This was a great display "Redefining Adante"..notice the grand piano which at times had live music being played.

The pond had real koi too...such pretty colors. I've never seen the yellow kind before.

There was actually all kinds of live music being played throughout the exhibits. I caught these banjoers in action

And their resting instruments later in the day

The Persian garden drawing from Scheherazade had beautiful colors like this turquoise pool.

And a raised sleeping platform

With casual dining

There was a Symphony Orchidstra display!

Another nice outdoor living area

I believe these panels were in the same them

The garden show is always good for showing ways to recycle things. Can you guess what this is meant to be?

Lets hope not the Roach Motel! :-)

I think this one might have been A Concert in the Park and at the moment I passed through there was a Johnny Depp look alike playing soulfully on the accordion.

That big pot you see in the background is made of plastic...not sure how they were illuminated. Here are a trio of them

Being a Johnny Depp fan...I had to snap another sneaky shot of him

I thought this was one of the more clever plays on a song title...Twisting the Night Away featuring these beautifully contorted trees.

In the same display was this pretty foot bridge and some red camellias which were a popular shrub at the show

The people's choice award went to this amazing display that had rigged things up so that water dripped down on these "drums". The sound it made was amazing...very deep and resonating.

After the displays I headed to the vendors ...just window shopping mostly. But they have such cute things that I reallly Like this giant rooster...

She's pretty cute too

Or I could always use another sun

Or maybe this one

Doesn't every one need a frog hammock chair?

Or some glass bamboo or cactus?

But this is on top of my wish list...I really really need this little pair

There is another little area that has container displays that I look forward to each year

Love this one with all of the terrariums

I really want to recreate this

This cute little vignette made me smile. Notice the tiered tray planted with succulents. Very Kitchen Bouquetish!

Loved this fencing that surrounded it

I saw more than one of the neat pallet gardens at the show

Found a cute little Fairy Garden

Amazing impact in small space

This sign pretty much sums up my feelings about gardening...hope you enjoyed the garden show tour.
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