armadillas


You on the tube

I’m telling you…Pinterest is a dangerous, dangerous thing and I’m glad I lasted as long as I did without it. Man oh man. You know, I thought Facebook took up too much of my time when it first came out. I was wrong. So wrong. I’m not saying that I spend hour after hour browsing through Pinterest, but I definitely have to make a conscious effort to step away. You just get sucked into this endless array of recipes and crafts and wedding ideas and fashion. It’s a little ridiculous.

But I found a lovely recipe for Pizza Spaghetti Bake! Did you ever eat that as a kid? I remember eating lunch at school and every Friday was pizza day. That was the only time I was really interested in buying my lunch. My parents always packed me one. But sometimes there would be a special Friday where they served Pizza Pasta. Everyone LOVED pizza pasta day. Of course, there were those kids who pre-ordered their lunches and got first dibs, but once they were out of the way it was a fight to the death! Lunch would be over by the time you got out of line and at that point you were one lucky kid if you managed to get a tray.

Tough stuff! I’m so glad I can just make my own now. Recipe courtesy Tracey

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz pasta (I used spaghetti)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 6 large slices pepperoni
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown the hamburger meat then drain. Naturally, an alternative could be Italian sausage or even ground turkey if you like the healthy route. I decided a little bit of ground beef wasn’t going to hurt me

 

Boil your pasta! Don’t forget to season the water with a touch of salt. It’s okay if the pasta isn’t cooked completely through. It’s going in the oven anyway. I guess it might be a good idea to go ahead and preheat it, huh? That would be 350 degrees please! Once the pasta is boiled and drain, lay it out in a baking dish sprayed with PAM/cooking spray of your choice

 

Layer the cooked beef over the pasta

 

Top the beef with your pasta sauce

 

Tear up your pepperoni and sprinkle it on top of the sauce. I suppose you could just use regular sized pepperoni, but all I had in my fridge was the sandwich stuff. So yummy! Save a few slices for later

 

Sprinkle the Parmesan and mozzarella over the pepperoni until covered. I’m pretty liberal with my cheese…

 

Finally, cover the cheese with the rest of the pepperoni and bake

 

After 30 minutes, pull your pasta bake out of the oven and be prepared to be taken back to elementary school. I like my cheese extra bubbly so I turned on the broiler for a few minutes

 

Now, was that not one of the easiest meals from childhood to prepare? Now that I’ve remembered the thing existed, it’s going to become a regular on my weeknight menu. So much better than just plain ol’ boring spaghetti

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Suren buried

Catastrophe! My tomato garden has been devastated by a flock of birds. I noticed it about a week ago and decided to put up a net to keep them out. But those little buggers are still getting in! It’s terrible. Practically my whole harvest has been ruined. Hopefully better luck next year. But my peppers sure are popping up. I didn’t think they were going to make it, but so far so good. I like peppers better than tomatoes anyway. Hmph! But this minor tragedy is not going to stop me from making up some calzones!

Mmm. One of my favorite things in the world is a calzone. I have fond memories of eating calzone. Back in high school I was pretty involved in theater (surprising, I know). After every show, we always went to Vincenzo’s for dinner because they were open late unlike all the other small-city restaurants in the area. It also might have had something to do with the fact that they had five dollar calzones. At least, that’s why I went anyway. Plus, my dad knew the owner (do Sicilians stick together, haha?). Oh, and they were big calzones. I mean, where can you find a decent calzone for only 5 bucks nowadays? Please let me know!

I may or may not have borrowed bits of this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. After all, she is sorta my cooking idol at the moment. Usually I prefer pepperoni and ham as a filling, with banana peppers thrown in every once in awhile. But this time I decided to use mild Italian sausage. I’m still partial to pepperoni, but the sausage wasn’t too bad. Use whatever fillings strike your fancy! This could easily be converted into a vegetarian meal. Just load up on the veggies. Mmmmm

I think we all know my feelings about dough. If you want to find a recipe to make yours from scratch, by all means go for it (and don’t forget to share!). But today I’m going to use dough from a box- just add water and let rise! If you like, you can also buy pre-formed dough. Whatever works best for you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbs garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (or a blend of whatever you have on hand)
  • 12 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tbs basil/parsley blend
  • 1 egg
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 recipe/box/store bought pizza dough

Don’t forget an extra egg to make an egg wash. If you’re making your dough from a box like me, follow the instructions. More likely than not, you’ll need to put the dough in an oiled bowl to rise. Be sure to cover!

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add the sausage. Dice an onion and throw that in along with some garlic. Don’t forget the garlic. I’m pretty sure I add garlic to everything. There’s no need for any added oil. The meat has enough fat in it not to burn

Once the meat is all nicely browned up and the onions translucent, add the Italian seasoning and the crushed red pepper flakes

Okay, let’s move on to the ricotta. You can’t have a calzone without ricotta…otherwise it’s a stromboli! In a medium bowl take all your cheeses and mix ’em up. I like the salty bite that Parmesan has, but you can up the mozzarella if you prefer

Now crack in your egg and add the remaining spices. Don’t be afraid to taste it. A little raw egg won’t kill you (hopefully…)

By now, your meat should be done. Drain any excess grease, pat dry with a paper towel, and toss into ricotta mixture

Looks yummy, right?! Actually, it doesn’t look appealing, but it sure does taste good! Time for assembly. Take your risen pizza dough and roll it out as thin as you can. I wanted to make two calzones instead of one big one, so I divided my dough in half

It looks like a heart! That one must be for the lover

Spoon filling onto dough

Fold dough over so that you have little crescent shapes. Trim around the edges and crimp. Or you can use a fork to seal it all together. Then beat and egg and brush it all over your little babies

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes depending

Yummmm

Tijuana