Calzones

We have a local grocery store that will occasionally have a sale on their homemade pizza dough. I know, why don’t I just make my own, right? Well, I don’t enjoy baking as much as I enjoy cooking. So this is my way of cheating.

Anyway, so I always take advantage of this sale and instead of making pizza, I make calzones. I am not really going to even call this a recipe, because honestly you could stuff them with just about anything.

On this particular night, it was just veggies and cheese. I cut up some onions, mushrooms, spinach and sauteed them until soft. I also added black olives at the end, and let all this cool while I rolled out the dough.

I rolled out the dough to about the size of a personal pizza, and added some pizza sauce. Topped it with my cooked veggies.

IMG_3387

And finally, I added some mozzarella cheese. Keep in mind, I did not measure any of the toppings because it really depends on how big you roll out your dough. You want a good amount of space between the topping and the edge of your dough as in the picture.

Next, you want to run your finger under water and outline the entire edge of the dough. (This will be like your glue to hold it together.) Then fold over the top part of the dough and align it as close to possible with the side holding your toppings. Roll over the edge and press firmly with a fork to seal the edges all together.

IMG_3388

Lastly,  brush the entire calzone with a little beaten egg white. (This will make your calzone brown nicely) Cover your pan with parchment paper, for easy removable and just in case your sealed edge leaks a little melted cheese.

Bake at 400 for about 20 -30 minutes. Watch carefully, because again it will depend how big or small you made each calzone.

IMG_3390

Let them cool 5-10 minutes before serving, they will be very hot inside.

Another favorite filling of ours is alfredo sauce, cooked chicken, mushrooms, onions, garlic, cooked spinach and cheese.

Give this a try and be creative.

ENJOY!

Celabrating Two Decades Together

This past week we officially celebrated our 20th Anniversary together. Even though our real gift to each other was our trip to Zion National Park, we still went out for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and I was surprised by two dozen roses from my husband.

IMG_3385

We decided on a nice quiet place called 1951 West in Green Bay,WI.

IMG_3372

They have some of the best meals we have ever tasted in the Green Bay area. They are featured yearly at the Feast with the Beast event and also have the best brunch in town, in our opinion.

We arrived and decided to splurge and have an appetizer first. We love mushrooms and decided to be different and give the wild mushroom flatbread a try. I was a little scared when I saw bacon jam as one of the ingredients listed on the menu, but sometimes you just have to be brave, right?

IMG_3378

It was served on a cedar plank, and was drizzled with balsamic glaze that can make any dish wonderful. It was very tasty and the goat cheese really made the dish quite the culinary experience. I told my husband that I really want to buy some and experiment with some recipes of my own. We normally don’t eat goat cheese at our home. I do think we would order this again. Although, if I ever made it at home I would just use a few bacon pieces and not the jam, it was a little strong tasting.

Next, came the crock of french onion soup for us both. One of our family favorites. We even serve this to my entire family on Christmas at our home. So yummy:)

IMG_3380

Then the star of the show…..my grilled portabella sandwich. This is my favorite menu item here. I order it every time we come.

IMG_3381

It has a huge grilled mushroom, artichokes, pesto, cheese, pine nuts, roasted pepper, grilled onions all served on a wonderful roll. It’s like a party in your mouth.

Our night ended with a nice walk together, after a great meal. It’s odd to think 20 years ago I married my best friend. It seems so long to say 20 years… yet I remember that day like it was just yesterday.

Many would say communication is the key to a successful marriage, which I agree helps make it more enjoyable. My secret to a successful marriage would be HONESTY. Without honesty, you really have nothing!

*What would be your secret to your successful marriage?

Easy Breakfast Idea

I came across these tortilla boats recently while grocery shopping and just had to buy them. They have been sitting in the pantry staring at me but tacos just have not been on the menu lately. Then I had this idea. Why not fill them with eggs and breakfast sausage? So that’s exactly what I did, and it was so easy and fast.

Now, I wouldn’t exactly call this a recipe because I just sort of threw things in there that I would normally eat with eggs. So feel free to mix it up to your liking. You could add onion, sweet or hot peppers, salsa, or avocado.

IMG_3181

I browned some turkey breakfast sausage, and scrambled some eggs. I mixed them all together and tossed them into the tortilla boats then sprinkled them with a little cheddar cheese. Topped it with a little Sriracha  hot sauce and ta da we had a quick easy breakfast.

IMG_3183

Served with a side of fresh fruit, and they were a very filling meal. Perfect for those cool mornings when you want something hot for breakfast.

The Arrival of Autumn…

Autumn has officially arrived.

I truly have mixed feelings about this. Some things about Autumn I love and some things I just don’t care for.

I love Autumn because the leaves start to fall which means the kiddos and I can rake piles and jump in them, which is always fun.

We typically are done kayaking for many months to come, which is not so great.

IMG_2753

I will need to put away my patio chairs and bid goodbye to my beloved front porch for the next few months, which is quite depressing for me personally. It’s like my personal place to think.

IMG_1637

I love pumpkin and anything made with pumpkin, which are in abundance at this time of year.

It is the absolute best time to hike in our area, bugs are gone and you don’t overheat and dehydrate like in the middle of August.

IMG_2725

Two major holidays are right around the corner, and I love planning what to prepare for these. Although, on the flip side, holiday shopping starts and I really dislike crowds so this is not always fun. (I always plan to shop during the Packer’s games, stores are pretty empty at this time)

This is the time of year where soups come back into rotation for meal time at our house. Personally, I could live on soup year round, but my husband would starve before he would eat soup when it’s 85 outside.

IMG_2755

I bid farewell to cold lattes and switch back to a nice hot cup of coffee. I have to have something to look forward to to get myself up and going in the morning. Otherwise I may just live in my warm bed for the next 6 months until Spring arrives.

IMG_2756

It will be months till we get fresh veggies again, which is devastating to a sprout cruncher like myself:(

IMG_2187

And the final thing about Autumn I just love is that I have a few more weeks to enjoy the last of the green grass and wild flowers. I dread every year what comes next, those frosty flakes that fall from the sky and accumulate for weeks and cover everything green that I can see.

IMG_2439

What about you? Do you have a favorite season?

Chili John’s Chili (only healthier)

Chili John’s chili is a very well known place in the Green Bay area and also the nearby surrounding communities. It has been around for as long as I can remember.

I recall my mom being so excited when I finally got my driver’s license because then she could send me to Chili John’s and get her chili in the middle of winter.

I used to love this chili, but always found the orange grease floating on top to be not the most appealing thing to consume. I know what your all thinking, “that is what makes Chili John’s chili so good.” Well maybe so, although, I was determined to find a solution and continue to be able to eat this chili without causing my arteries to harden.

My boys have asked for this healthier version every deer hunting season after they spend all day sitting in the woods freezing waiting for that big buck. I have also froze this recipe for a quick meal when life is just to busy.

It is so very easy, and does not call for many ingredients at all. Of course, you could make this with all ground turkey or all ground beef, but I have found it’s best with half of each.

Chili John’s Chili (only healthier)

1 lb. ground beef

1 lb. ground turkey

1 small onion finely diced

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 Tbsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 cups water

1 can of chili beans of your choice (optional)

Brown your ground beef and turkey, then drain any excess fat. Spray your crock pot with non-stick cooking spray and add all the browned meat, beans, onion and all the spices.

IMG_2646

Cook covered on low for 5-6 hours. Serve over spaghetti.

**** I prepare this recipe often and store it in Ziploc Versa Glass dishes and freeze for the perfect grab and go meal when you need something fast.

IMG_2648

IMG_2651

ENJOY!

Glass Food Storage Containers

I finally did it. I have been considering purchasing glass storage containers for some time now but just did not know if I could justify the price. After this summer, I decided they are worth it.

I have been starting to freeze leftovers for quick meals. Something to just pull out and eat when life is just too hectic. Meals like lasagna, soups, chili,  stews etc. Although, my drawer of containers has dwindled down to all bottoms and no covers! The covers always crack when you remove them right from the freezer.

Now, I do still use my plastic for storage but no longer in the freezer. I checked out what types of container were on the market and have fallen in love with the Ziploc Versa Glass brand.

IMG_2599

First, they come in quite a few sizes. I like the square 32 oz. size and the tall round 25 oz size. They are perfect for a piece of lasagna, a nice serving of soup, stew or chili. I fill them, let them cool awhile, cover and freeze. When I am ready to heat and eat, the covers come off easily (they are more rubber like than plastic) and you can either microwave them or heat  them in the oven. The glass is tempered making it stronger than just a glass jar and they are oven safe.

I especially love them on nights when my husband and I have plans and dinner is on the fly. I can pull one out in the morning (yes, I do make his lunch every morning!) stick it in his lunch box and by lunch it’s ready to stick in the microwave to heat. (Otherwise, he always takes leftovers form the night before, which means I am obligated to cook every night of the week)

They have made my life so much easier, and they also give me a little freedom from cooking every night. Give them a try and see what you think.

QUESTION: Do you use glass or plastic for food storage?

Our Annual Mother and Son Day

Every summer I take a day off of work to spend with just my son. No one else is invited to join us, it’s just him and I. This summer was just a little extra special because I figured since he was 18 now, he would not want to spend a day with his mom. Then just a few weeks ago he surprised me and said he still wanted to have “our day” so we did just that.

It started out as always, a trip to the dentist bright and early. From there we headed to Door County with the truck loaded with one kayak and the stand up paddle board. Our first stop was Door County Coffee for a treat.

IMG_2529

He ordered the orange creamsicle , and I had an iced latte.

IMG_2530

We arrived in our favorite town, Ephraim, about 9:30am.

IMG_2531

We unloaded and started paddling. It took us about and hour to reach the island we had as our destination.  When we got there we switched and he paddled the board back and I took the kayak. When we returned to the beach we beached the kayak and just had some fun with the board.

After a few hours, it was time for lunch. We loaded up the truck and changed. Then headed to our favorite restaurant. The Chef’s Hat.

IMG_2542

We fell in love with this restaurant a few years ago, and just can’t say enough about the freshness of the ingredients. This is one spectacular place. We both ordered the same sandwich, roast beef gorgonzola melt. This comes on a black bean salsa bread which is so different but adds so much to the sandwich.

IMG_2537

Oh, and we also had to order one of the huge cinnamon rolls they have that we share every year.

IMG_2540

Yes this is terrible for me, and yes I know this. Regardless of what I think, my son says that there is 365 days a year and this is the one day I need to just say “screw it” and eat some fattening, not very good for me, food. I try, really I do, but the guilt drives me crazy. I did eat my half, and then it was time to burn it off.

We headed to Peninsula Park next. They have a tower we like to climb and look out over the water.

IMG_2547

You can see quite a breathtaking view from up here.

IMG_2549

IMG_2550

Next it was time to pick up a few things that I can only get in this area, olive oil, wine, and some blueberry jam.

Of course, now that it is a few hours later, after our terrific lunch, he suggested we go for ice cream. Real ice cream, which I typically don’t eat either!!! I knew I would get the same lecture 365 days a year and……… yeh yeh whatever, let’s just go. So we arrived at Dippy’s Ice Cream Shop.

IMG_2552

Super cute place.

IMG_2553

Oh my,what to have. So many choices. I knew healthy was not an option, so I just did it, said screw it, for my son. I had “cookie dough” and he had “heaps of love” ice cream in a waffle cone.

IMG_2557 At least we walked while we ate so technically we were burning the calories as we were putting them in. (Although we probably should have jogged) We walked all the way to the end of the street to the beach and sat on the stone wall over looking the bay and ate our wonderful cones together.

IMG_2559

That’s when it struck me. I can burn the calories off from today on another day. I may never have this moment again with my son. I just simply enjoyed the moment for what is was.

All in all it was a wonderful day we had together. Hopefully he finds time to be with his mom in the summers to come. Although, if not, I have some great memories of the ones we have had already.