August 1, 2012

Crying about books, and Calzones

So, I woke up yesterday with a random, out-of-the-blue, overnight allergy EXPLOSION! The first half of the day was okay, but by the time I finally finished that post last night, I was a miserable, sniffling little puddle. But it got posted! *half-hearted fistpump* Thank heaven for a few backup recipes, cuz I need one today. No cooking for me. Just reading, blog-surfing, music-listening, and lots and lots of Kleenex. I did pull myself together just enough (brightest pj pants and a shirt that matched!) to take the boys to the library. When your 6-year-old keeps asking for more chapter books, well, you must provide!
Wow. I tell you what. We are entering a new world of motherhood, one that I am not quite sure I will be able to handle dry-eyed. When I found Paddington, my heart literally leaped, and tears came to my eyes. The best part?? Stephen was SO excited about it!! And the Borrowers, and of course he is a HUGE Roald Dahl fan. What normal little boy wouldn't be??
I don't think words can adequately express my love for Paddington. I love Winnie the Pooh, and will always be ecstatic that it is the first chapter book my son ever read, but Paddington... He comes from darkest Peru. Not just plain-old-Peru, darkest Peru. He loves marmalade and wears galoshes. He wiggles around in bed to find the cool spots for his toes. He has adventures. If I was a bear, instead of me, I would be Paddington, hoping someone would notice my label and take me home. This isn't really doing it justice, suffice it to say the tears are starting again and my chest is fluttery, just trying to describe. Humor me, it might just be the allergies.

We have a great list of books lined up, including Stuart Little, Mary Poppins, Faraway Tree, Pippi Longstocking, and Dr. Doolittle. Hey, ever noticed how many of the greatest children's books ever written are British? Yup, there's a reason it was part of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. You may think you love books, and reading, but just like so many other things in life, sharing it with your children will take it to a brand new level. Reading to them when they are little is great fun, but it was always a little bit hard for me. I read so fast that reading out loud is a bit tricky for me, my eyes get ahead of my mouth and I stumble a lot. I still loved it. Watching my son take books so very, very dear to my heart and discover them all on his own... It has joined "Mommy, I love you" and Joe always bringing me dandelions in my top three favorite things about being a mom.
He also loves comic books. I have reserved all superhero comics for when he is just a little bit older, so his favorites are Muppet comics. Did you know those existed?? I didn't! They're wonderful! This one is the Muppet's Peter Pan, complete with Piggytink, "piggy dust", and Gonzo as Captain Hook. I approve.

On to food!! So, have you ever seen or heard about something in popular culture that everyone is completely into, and steered clear of it for that very reason?? Examples: Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight, two-toned hair, Justin Beiber, Facebook... Anyone?? Or is that just me? I fought Facebook and Twilight soooo hard, but my sister-in-law finally put the book in my hand, and my favorite YW leader ever was the reason I finally gave in to Facebook. (Love you Sister Hinkson!!) Well, I remember shortly after I got married, I kept hearing mentions of this person/phenomenon known as "The Pioneer Woman." I heard it enough that I swore I would stay far, far away. This could only be a velveeta-drenched, casserole-and-jello-salad-toting bunch of nonsense. No thank you!! Well, don't I feel silly. The woman has a TV show and multiple cookbooks now, and I have finally discovered why. Sigh. Me and my individuality, gets me in trouble sometimes. Last week at the cabin I went through about 60% of her recipes, and found quite a few gems! Including this one, which is totally worth sharing, trying, and repeating. Calzones! Now, what is usually wrong with homemade calzones? Too watery, too doughy, not cooked all the way through... I've never had a good one. Till now! These are dead easy and super yummy. We made them at the cabin and will make them again. I halved the recipe, 8 small calzones was perfect for us for one meal.

Calzones (adapted from The Pioneer Woman) makes 8 calzones 
Printable Recipe

8 frozen, unrisen dinner rolls (Rhodes work great!)
1 lb Italian sausage
1/4 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1 egg
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg, beaten
marinara/pizza sauce for dipping (we got jarred pizza sauce, it was great!)

Place frozen rolls on a baking sheet to thaw. Cover with a tea towel and let thaw and rise for 2 to 3 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Brown sausage in skillet. While browning, add Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Drain and set aside to cool a bit.
In a separate bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, egg, salt, and pepper. (We changed the cheese ratio. Ree has about equal amounts ricotta and mozzarella, we thought there should be more stringy pizza-y cheese, so decrease the ricotta and increased the mozzarella. You can tweak it however you like!)
When rolls are thawed and risen, roll them out on a lightly floured surface until paper thin. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of cheese filling onto half of the dough circle. 
Top with sausage and pepperoni. Fold half of the dough over itself, then seal edges with a fork. 

Brush surface of calzone with beaten egg, then bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with warm marinara or pizza sauce.
Mmmm!! Don't they look yummy?? These are the most perfect calzones I have ever had! See, I always thought the sauce had to be inside, but it doesn't! When it isn't, they aren't soggy!! Dipping is yummy.
Ree suggests using bread loaves if you want big ones, but we love the little ones, even my stomach-bigger-than-he-looks husband!
Oops, escaped pepperoni. We actually liked the sausage best, and will probably skip the pepperoni next time. But you can put whatever you want in yours! We just happened to have really yummy italian sausage :)
Crispy fluffy bread outside, cheesy juicy pizza-y inside...
Good to the last little sauce-covered bite!
Convinced yet?? For all the Moms out there, maybe these last two will do it for you...

Can you say dinner + family activity = awesome?

Hopefully this Zyrtec will work and I will bake tomorrow. I'm sure you are all waiting with bated breath :)


  1. April, I remember reading some of those very same books to my children! I loved those days with all the characters of their favorite books! Your boys are darling! Thanks for the great Calzone recipes! I never thought of using roll dough. YUMMY! Please come by for ON THE MENU MONDAY, my weekly foodie linkie party! Lin goes live Sunday evening at 8:00.

    1. Thanks for visiting! I can't take credit for the roll idea, but it works SO well. I was actually hoping to join On the Menu Monday!! See you Sunday, if not sooner!

  2. Oh my goodness! Those calzones are making my mouth water and I can smell them from here. Yum! I remember so many summer days that were spent at the library when my boys were young. The books were always returned before the three weeks were up and we'd return home with another couple of stacks:-)

  3. Paddington is loved by three gtenerations. Womeday you must go to the Paddington Tube stop in London. I also loved his adventures. Thanks for the good recipes. Everyday I determine I'm going to make one of your recipes then I don't have the right ingredients. You must go to the grocery every day! I think I'll get the ingredients for Calzone----unless I change my mind and see what you post today!!!! Love the Blog.


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