Thursday, July 12, 2007

Movin' on up

I am busy wrapping things up at work, and then we must begin the ardous tasks involved in preparing to move to another state. We move in two-and-a-half weeks, and the stress has already begun.

If I have the time and resources, I will try to post, but it may be a little sparse until August. Be gentle! Come back and check soon!

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I had a freezer bag full of chipotle chiles in adobo leftover from another recipe; I had two cans of chickpeas and a languishing lime. From these meager beginnings, I made perhaps one of the most addictive snacks ever to find its way out of my Cuisinart. This isn't really a hummous, more of a chickpea spread that doubles easily as a dip.

I have a sick love for both chickpeas and spice, which could be easily construed as an addiction, and this stuff really feeds my need.

Of late, I've been struggling with a herniated disc in my lower back, and have recently made a decision to try cutting sugar from my diet, which is an inflammatory and may be making my pain worse. As much as I am not a sweet-craver (I prefer salty on about a four-to-one ratio), having yummy snacks like this around make it a little easier to pass on a bit of frozen yogurt or honey-drizzled banana. I don't know how this whole no-sugar thing will work out, but if I keep getting to eat this stuff, I think I'll be able to cope.

Chipotle-Chickpea Spread
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2-4 canned chipotle peppers (depending on your preferred level of spice)
1 T. adobo sauce
Juice from 1/2 lime
3 T. olive oil
Low-fat yogurt, as needed

Combine chickpeas, chipotle, adobo, lime juice, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until pureed. Season with salt to taste, add yogurt or olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency. Allow flavors to meld in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, July 02, 2007

In the 'Zone

Our Hero loves pizza. Deeply. So deeply I often wonder if I should be jealous. No matter how recently he's ordered a slice or three for a meal, he's ready for more. A friend of his with whom he traveled talks of great detours in walking trips in order to procure a droopy wedge of the stuff.

Our Hero's favorite pizzas are pretty standard stuff, generally from the pizzaria around the corner (any corner): floppy crust, the barest schmear of marinara, greasy cheese, sausage and/or pepperoni. That's it. Oh, and the bigger, the better.

And here's where we part ways . . . Though I can enjoy a neighborhood slice, my favorite pizzas are usually homemade and healthier: white with lots of veggies and a bit of flavorful cheese.

(Note that one of my past recipes is called "Our Hero's Favorite Pizza" - let me qualify that as Our Hero's Favorite Homemade Pizza.)

. . . so it was with love in my heart that I decided to make "supreme" calzone for dinner. I had a couple of fresh italian chicken sausages, 1/2 a red bell pepper, and mushrooms in my fridge - all pleading to be used - calzone was calling. This was my first official try at a calzone (though there was one "rustic Greek calzone" accidental pizza fold-over my brother may remember), and it was as easy as I expected. I have been toying with a new pizza dough recipe, adapted from Mark Bittman's version. I have also (gasp) been taking to making it in the Cuisinart. I refuse to apologize. It's so fast!

Calzone Supreme

1 pkg. rapid-rise yeast
2 t. salt
3 cups white whole-wheat flour
2 T. olive oil
1-1 1/4 cup water

In a food processor: Combine yeast, salt, and flour in the bowl of the processor. Turn the machine on. Slowly pour in the oil and 1 cup of the water. Allow to mix a bit, adding additional water little by little if needed until the dough forms a ball. Process for 30 more seconds. Remove from machine and shape into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in bulk.

By hand: Combine yeast, salt, and flour in a bowl. Stir in oil and enough water for dough to form a ball. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in bulk.

1 cup thick marinara or pizza sauce
2 links fresh italian hot chicken sausage, removed from casing
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
10 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup part-skim mozzerella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a skillet over medium-high. Add sausage, breaking up into small pieces until fully cooked. Place in a bowl and set aside. Add mushrooms to any accumulated fat from the sausage (it should be a modest amount), stir, cover, and cook 2-3 minutes, until juices begin to release. Add peppers, remove cover and cook until all juices have evaporated, 5 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper. It's important to cook away the moisture so that the calzone do not get soggy. When veggies have cooked, remove to a plate.

Divide the risen dough into four equal pieces. Flatten and stretch each piece into a circle 7-8 inches in diameter. You may need to let the dough rest a bit between stretches.

Spread 2-3 T. marinara on 1/2 of each dough circle, leaving 3/4-inch border. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the sausage and a good 1/4-cup of the veggies. Sprinkle with 2-3 T. of cheese You want the calzone full, but still able to close. Wet the edge with a bit of water and fold the dough over the filling. Pinch the two sides together with your fingers, and crimp the edges with a fork. Cut three steam vents in the top of the turnover.

Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake 20-30 minutes, until golden. Let cool a bit before serving.