Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Cooking is Fun...And Easy! Spinach, Mushroom, and Sausage Calzones


We made homemade pizza dough for this, but you can make it super-easy by picking up pre-made pizza dough.  We've found it at Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes.  I've included the pizza dough recipe at the end if you don't have access to any of those.  It's very easy!  And I totally forgot to take a picture.


2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
6 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
3 ounces cooked italian sausage, crumbled (we had this from another meal)
3 ounces baby spinach, rough chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 oz ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Heat the oil over medium high heat until oil is shimmering.  Add mushrooms and onions, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning and saute until softened.  Add garlic and crushed red pepper, saute until fragrant, then add spinach and sausage and saute until sausage is warm and spinach is wilted.  Turn off heat, and stir the ricotta in, and set aside.

On a floured surface, cut 8 oz pizza dough into 2 equal parts.  Using a rolling pin or the heels of your floured hands, form into circles.  You want the dough to be about 1/8 thick.  Place half the filling on one side of each of your calzones and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.    Fold over, and roll and pinch together.  Paint the tops of the calzone with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with a bit of Italian seasoning, and cut a couple of one inch slits in the top with a sharp knife.

Place on a sheet pan covered with a piece of parchment paper.  Bake at 450 degrees until golden and crisp, about 25 minutes.

Serve with marinara for dipping.

Basic Pizza Dough (Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen's book "The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook"):

1 cup or 5.5 ounces bread flour, plus extra for surface/hands/etc.
3/4 teaspoon INSTANT or RAPID-RISE yeast (not Active Dry)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
7 tablespoons warm water (110 degrees)

In a stand mixer or food processor, process flour, yeast, and salt until well combined, about 2 seconds.  With mixer/processor running at low speed, slow add oil, then water, and process until dough forms a sticky ball that clears sides of bowl, about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.  (If, after one minute, dough is sticky and clings to blade or dough hood, add extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it clears the side of the bowl.  

Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and shape into a tight ball with floured hands, then place into a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with greased plastic wrap (so the wrap won't stick to the dough when it rises).  Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  

Buen Provecho!!


Tuesday, June 14, 2022



I am….

Reading:  All the Seas of the World by Guy Gavriel Kay and Imperial Earth, a favorite re-read of mine by Arthur C. Clarke.  I have a first edition, published in 1976.

Listening to:  My mouse jiggler doing it's thing while I type this, since I've finished all my work for today, but still need to be available.

Loving:  The final season of Kim's Convenience on Netflix.  I love this show--one of the truly great comedies out there, about regular people.  There are 6 seasons--I highly recommend it.  I'm heartbroken they decided not to continue.

Thinking:  about our upcoming trip to Ruidoso.  This will be our second 4th of July there, and I can't wait.  The AirBNB cabin (really a house) we rented this year is all on one level, which will make it easier for Mom.  Stay tuned for a fun recap after the 4th! 

Feeling:  so grateful that I'm back in my old job.  Well, new sort of old job.  I'm no longer reviewing adults in the hospital, but have branched out to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Mother/Baby.  It's fascinating, and I'm learning a lot!

Celebrating:  pennies from heaven.  It was nice to get a tax rebate from the state due to the high gas prices.  It paid for our portion of the cabin rental.

Grateful for:  pretty much every thing, all the time.  Gratitude, I've found, equals joy for me.

Weather:  is still not treating my poor state well.  We've had terrible fires, it's in the triple digits.  I'm grateful that it's going to be in the low 80s this weekend.  We need a break.  I'm praying we have a good monsoon season this year, and am looking forward to any amount of moisture that comes our way.

Enjoying:  tasty scratch lunches from my kitchen.  Monday we had egg salad, and yesterday, I made a big bowl of chicken salad from a chicken we had cooked on Saturday.  I love getting 3 meals out of a three pound chicken--it makes me feel very frugal.

 A quote I want to share: posted by my friend, Kwizgiver, from Tiny Buddha:

"I think one of my favorite feelings is laughing with someone and realizing halfway through how much you enjoy them and their existence."

I experienced this last week when I reconnected with a dear friend after 2 years of not seeing each other.  We had a great time and this quote fits perfectly.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Cooking is Fun... And Easy! Raid the Fridge Bibimbap


Hubs and I really enjoy cooking, but there’s only two of us, and it’s hard to make soups and stews and the like in small servings.  Luckily, we have a vacuum sealer and a freezer, so we can save leftovers easily.  

Recently, we committed to not doing any more big cooking or buying until we eat our freezer down closer to empty.  I had a craving for something fresh, though, and decided to raid my fridge to make a Korean dish called Bibimbap.  Basically, it’s a rice bowl with whatever veggies you have on hand, and is usually made with a thinly sliced steak called Bulgogi.  We had a bag of home-made Chinese Char-Siu (roast pork) that hubs made in the freezer.  I keep all these veggies around for salads, so it was a nice way to use them before they go over.  I’m giving you the basics, but you can tart this dish up with whatever veggies or meat float your boat.  I’ve starred the things that make a bibimbap what it is, so those shouldn't be substituted.  Traditionally, this uses bean sprouts, but I didn't have any in the fridge, so I've left them off.   I prepped everything earlier in the day, which took me about 1/2 hour.  The rice cooker takes an hour.  Actually cooking the dish was about 15 minutes.   

Raid the Fridge Bibimbap with Egg


*1/2 cup shredded carrot (I buy it pre-shredded), quick pickled (see below)
*1/2 English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced thinly lengthwise
1/2 sweet onion (Vidalia, Maui, or Walla-Walla).  Cut both ends off, slice in half horizontally, and then halve again, vertically, then thinly slice THAT half into slivers vertically
*1 cup thinly sliced meat of choice
*1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms (dried shiitakes are a great option, because they keep in the pantry, rehydrate in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes)
*1 cup baby spinach
*2 cups small-grain rice (sushi rice) or whatever floats your boat (we keep this in our pantry), cooked
Optional:  1 egg per diner 

How to quick pickle:

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Sambal Oelek (chili paste) or crushed red peppers if you like some spice

Mix the above together.  Put carrots in a glass bowl or mason jar, and pour liquid over them. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Ta-da!  This is a great way to punch up ANY vegetable.  My mom loves red onions this way.

For the sauce:

*1/4  cup Gochuchang (Korean Fermented Chili Paste) can be found at many major grocery stores these days, also available on Amazon.  We buy the mild, which has a nice warmth, but not spicy. 
*2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
*2 tablespoons honey
*2 tablespoons warm water
*2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
*2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
*2 teaspoons minced garlic


Step 1.  Quick pickle carrots.

Step 2.  Cook rice.  When finished fluff with a fork and let sit while you cook everything else.

Step 3.  Make the sauce by whisking all the sauce ingredients together in bowl, cover, let sit on counter until time for dinner.

Step 4.  Put cucumber in a bowl, salt with about a teaspoon of salt, and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Squeeze dry with your hands, set aside on a platter.  Blanch the spinach in a small pot of boiling water, and shock in ice bath, then squeeze water out with your hands.  Set aside. 

Step 3.  Individually saute onions, zucchini, and mushrooms for about 2 minutes each, salt lightly.  Set aside on platter (I used paper plates so I didn't have to wash yet another dish).


Step 4.  My meat was pre-cooked, so I just warmed it and set aside on the platter.  This is a great dish to use leftover rotisserie chicken too.

Step 5.  Fry an egg sunnyside up.  I love a runny yolk, it makes this dish even tastier.  Hubs calls them "raw eggs" and refuses to eat them.  You do you.

Step 6.  Build your Bibimbap.  In two large bowls place 1 cup rice each.  Going around the bowl, place the veggies, keeping them separate and distinct.  Pile the meat in the middle.  Drizzle with gochuchang sauce.  Put your egg on top.   The diner then mixes the whole bowl up so you get a bite of everything with each spoonful.  


Raid the Fridge Bibimbap

 Buen Provecho!!

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Saturday 9--America the Beautiful

Join us here.

Saturday 9: America, the Beautiful (1987)

Unfamiliar with Barbra Streisand's recording of this tune? Hear it here.

Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle.

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1) Memorial Day was introduced after the Civil War. War memorials, as well as graves of veterans, are to be decorated with flags and flowers this weekend in a show appreciation. Is there a war memorial in your neighborhood?

Not in my neighborhood, but there is a very nice Memorial in my town.  We often take Maddie there for picnics—there’s a lovely lawn in the very back of the garden with big shade trees and a fountain.  It’s a very peaceful place.

2) Here at Saturday 9, we regard everyone who served -- veterans and active military -- as heroes. Have you, or has anyone in your family, worn the uniform of our armed forces? We want to hear about them.

My father was a veteran of the US Navy Submarine Service, and actually served on the first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus.  My brother is a veteran of the US Navy as well.  My father-in-law was in the US Army and served in Vietnam.  He received 2 Purple Hearts during his service.  My husband is a former US Marine, serving as an artillery surveyor.  Both my daughter and her husband served as special police in the US Air Force.

3) Memorial Day is the traditional kick off of the summer season. Have you packed away your winter clothes yet?

Nope, never do.  The closet is big enough for all my clothes.

4) What's your favorite picnic food?

Takeout!  I’m not much for picnics, but the pandemic changed that.  We went all over town discovering new parks and trying takeout from new restaurants.  If we’re talking traditional picnic food, I love my mom’s potato salad—potatoes, egg salad, mayo, diced red onion and a bit of dill pickle.  The secret is the anchovy paste—adds a little umami that makes the whole thing a knockout!

5) As you answer these questions, is there a fan or an air conditioner cooling your room?

We have what New Mexicans lovingly call “refrigerated air” (air conditioning).  Although, because I’m typing this in the early AM, it’s not running.  Here in the high desert, our high and low temps can vary by as much as 50 degrees.  For example, it’s supposed to be 90 today, and the low last night was 46.  It’s 55 right now.  The AC won’t start running until about 10am, when the temperature hits 71.

6) Lyricist Katharine L. Bates said she was inspired to write "America, the Beautiful" after a trip to Pike's Peak. What's the most beautiful spot in America that you have ever visited?

Delicate Arch, in Arches National Park, Utah.  Jaw-droppingly beautiful.  There’s something about the whole Canyonlands region that just speaks to me.


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7) Though we're talking summer this morning, Santa is going to get a shoutout. Before "America, the Beautiful" was published, Katharine L. Bates wrote a poem called, "Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh" which is remembered for introducing Santa's wife, Mrs. Claus. Share a fond memory of the 2021 holiday season.

We love having lots and lots of boxes surrounding the tree, so we make a special effort to put anything and everything in some kind of box.  For example, I put a pair of earrings for my mom in an extra amazon box that would normally hold something very large.  That sort of thing.  We were recycling boxes into February, because we kept running out of room in the recycle bins, lol.

8) This week's featured artist, Barbra Streisand, sang "America, the Beautiful" during a benefit concert. She admitted to James Corden that she suffers from stage fright and before she performs, she prays, "Let go, let God." What's something that scares you, but that you do anyway?

Going into restaurants.  We are still masking (and will continue to do so) for stores and the like, but restaurants … no.  And we like to eat out too much to stop.  So, I’ve had ALL the shots, and pray that COVID stays away from me.

9) Question for a weekend when many of us will sleep in: Are you a morning person?

Definitely, I get my best work done in the morning.