loaded veggie calzone

veggie calzone (3 of 1)

If I was going to write sarcastic e-cards on Facebook, here are some examples of what they would say:

  • I love when I can see the smile lines on my cheeks even when I am not smiling. Said no one ever.
  • I love when my child has a diaper blow out in the middle of the grocery store and a substantial amount of poop ends up on my sleeve. Said no one ever.
  • I love when I order a veggie calzone from a pizza shop and there are only faint signs of vegetable existence buried in a mound of cheese and dough. Said no one ever.

(Ok, so they need some work. Sarcasm is not my strong suit)

veggie calzone (1 of 1)

I think pizza shops put veggie calzones on the menu, but they don’t ever expect anyone to order it because if you’re ordering from a pizza shop, you are probably not really concerned with your vegetable intake in that particular meal. Or maybe they consider the tomato sauce to be a vegetable?  Either way, I am concerned with my vegetable intake, and I want veggies in my calzone. But I ‘m not gonna make a fuss about it. I’m just going to make my own.

veggie calzone

And here it is… it’s a medley of unpretentious and fragrant vegetables like marinated artichokes, garlicky sautéed spinach and meaty mushrooms. All finished with a generous sprinkle of crushed red pepper and tomato sauce.

Loaded Veggie Calzone

1 pound of fresh pizza dough

Olive oil

1 bag of baby spinach

1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms

1 cup diced peppers

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup chopped marinated artichokes

Tomato sauce for dipping

1 cup shredded mozzarella, Parmesan or provolone

1 egg, beaten

Bring the dough to room temperature and set out on a floured work surface. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll the dough out into a flat disc and place on a greased baking sheet.

Prepare the veggies:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute and add the peppers. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the spinach on top of the veggies and gently wilt.

Fill one side of the calzone dough with the sautéed veggies and fold over. Using a fork, press down on the edges to seal the dough pocket. Poke a few holes in the top to allow steam to escape, and using a pastry brush; brush the top with the egg wash.

You will probably have some extra veggies that didn’t fit into the calzones. But this is good, because you can eat them alongside your calzone. Honestly, why don’t pizza shops do that?

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dandelion salad with shrimp and bacon

dandelion salad with shrimp and bacon

 

Have you tried dandelions yet?

So my sweet aging Italian neighbor talks tirelessly about how she was soooo poor growing up in South Philly that  she and her sister collected dandelion greens from the backyard to be served up for dinner.

In South Philly.

These things were probably peeking out from a slab of concrete, and this resourceful family, among many other families, made the best of what they had and ate them.

Free salad and no toxic weed chemicals on the lawn!! I’m in!

Ok, so full disclosure, I bought these at the market. It’s winter here in the northeast. Not even a dandelion could stand this kind of cold. But if you are an experienced-dandelion picker, I would love to hear your stories.

Dandelion salad with shrimp and bacon

I eat this salad as is, but could also be served over linguine (similar to scampi) for a heartier meal.

When picking dandelions at the store or off the curb; look for small, tender leaves. The bigger they are, the more bitter they will be. If you do wind up with bitter leaves, just blanch them in a pot of boiling water.

Ingredients

4-6 cups of dandelion greens, washed thoroughly

1 pound medium – large shrimp, cooked

4 slices good quality bacon

Directions

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drop the dandelion greens into the pan of bacon drippings and toss gently. Remove from pan and crumble the bacon on the greens and top with shrimp.

For bitter greens: Boil a pot of water. Drop the dandelions into the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove the greens from the water and place directly into the pan of bacon drippings. Follow recipe as above.

 

Boardwalk Fries with Cheesy Spinach Sauce

boardwalk fries with cheese sauce

This is nostalgia served with a swirl of spinach. Boardwalk fries are nothing short of a sharable paper cup of comfort.  Imagine your sand sprinkled toes propped up on a bench, watching all the colorful chaos scurry by as you sit back and savor a salty serving of crispy French fries.

boardwalk fries

I’ll take the beach frizzed hair; crispy sun burned shoulders and splintered toes to be back on the Boardwalk for a night, to feel the goose bump inducing evening ocean breeze and share a bucket of hot fries with good friends.

boardwalk fries with cheese sauce

Only Mother Nature can bring us the ocean breeze, but I bring along a lighter, brighter version of this Boardwalk staple. These fries are not actually fried at all, but they do have a crispy oven baked exterior, and when drizzled with this sharp homemade cheddar cheese sauce and laced with fresh spinach, they are transformed into a wholesome savory snack, vegetarian lunch or versatile dinner side dish.

homemade french fries with homemade cheese sauce

Boardwalk Fries with Homemade Cheese Sauce and Spinach

I can see these being served as a non-traditional appetizer for a cozy casual New Year’s get together.

Makes approximately 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

4 baking potatoes, (skin on) washed and scrubbed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1.5 cups milk

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

1 tsp mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

1.5 – 2 cups loosely packed spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425.

Slice potatoes into long thin strips. Place in a colander and rinse with very cold water. Lay potatoes out onto a towel and pat dry. (*The cold water rinse helps maintain that crispy skin and soft potato center*

Spread the potatoes out onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat all the fries and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.

Warm the milk in the microwave, just to take the chill off. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Whisk the mixture and cook over medium until it turns a medium –dark brown color. Add the warmed milk, a little at a time, and continue whisking until it starts to thicken and look saucy. Whisk in the mustard.

Remove from the heat and add the shredded cheese. The cheese will gradually melt. When cheese in melted, and the potatoes are ready to serve, warm the cheese sauce up slightly and drop in the spinach. Stir gently, until the spinach wilts into the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

Any leftover cheddar sauce can be served over rice, broccoli or other veggies.