Archive for the ‘Main Dish’ Category

Calzones!   2 comments

I would love to have pictures to go with this recipes, but the flash died on our camera recently, and I just don’t have enough natural light in my kitchen to get good food pictures. Maybe someday, I’ll add pictures in, but for now, we’ll go basic. Ready?

I love this Persian Bread recipe for pizza and calzone dough, so that’s where I started. If you have a favorite pizza dough, feel free to use that instead, of course.

For filling for one recipe of dough, mix together the following:
2 cups mozzarella
2 cups cottage cheese or ricotta
1 t basil
1 t oregano
1 egg
1/2 – 1 c parmesan

I added one pound of browned and cooled sausage to the above and mixed it all together. You could also add meat separately as desired, if you want a variety of calzone flavors. Or, if you’re not into meat, just throw in some more cheese until the consistency seems right. With the pound of sausage, this made about 5 cups.

Tonight, I actually made two recipes of dough and doubled the filling/meat. That feeds our family with a bit leftover, but I realize our family isn’t “average” size, so I’m giving the single batch recipe. Anyway, I played with the assembling of the calzones a bit, and you can go one of two ways with it.

Preheat oven to 450′

For personal calzones, divide one recipe of dough into 10-12 balls of dough. Roll out each ball into a circle about the spread of your hand across (this is 8″ for me, but it’s easier to use my hand than a ruler, and if your hand is a bit bigger or smaller, I’m sure it’ll work just fine).

Place an appropriate amount of filling on each calzone. I wound up with five cups of filling for 11 balls (one batch of dough with a single recipe of filling), so I used a bit under half a cup for each calzone. Spread the filling on one half, leaving empty space around the edge for sealing.

Use your finger to put some water on the edge of the half of the circle that you’re going to fold over the topping. Fold over, making a half-circle, and seal the edges by pinching them together.

Bake personal calzones for ~10 minutes at 450′. The crust should be golden brown.

For larger calzones that you will cut into serving size, divide the dough into four larger balls, split the filling four ways, and seal as described above.

Bake larger calzones for 12-14 minutes at 450′.

Marinara sauce on the side is a nice, but not essential, option.

Enjoy! I’d love to hear what you think if you try it.


Posted March 28, 2010 by smithlaurel in Main Dish

Cheesy Chicken Crescent Bake   1 comment

Today I’m going to share with you one of our family’s favorites – Cheesy Chicken Crescent Bake. The name and the basic idea came to us in all its deliciousness during the first year of our marriage from our lovely friend Tonya.

The original recipe called for taking canned crescent roll dough, separating the triangles, placing some chicken and some cheese on each one, rolling them up individually, and using cream of chicken soup on the bottom and top of them in pan, with more cheese on top. Yum!

However, as our family grew, I made this scrumptiousness less and less often, because filling and rolling all those individual crescents took way too much time. Laziness is the mother of invention, they say. So I turned it into a layered dish. Then, when Dad and Mom Smith moved in with us, I learned to make the sauce from scratch (MSG allergy = no “cream of” soups). And one day I got adventurous and made the crescent roll dough myself! So the whole thing has changed quite a bit, but it remains a family favorite (and, if I may be so bold, I think it’s better loved from scratch than in any of its other forms).

Enough of the talk! Let’s cook!

The Necessities:
Approx. 3# chicken (it can be a whole chicken, a few pounds of boneless skinless breasts, or anything in between)
1 stick butter
2/3 c flour
1t salt
1t pepper
1 onion, chopped
several cloves garlic, minced
5 cups both/milk combination (the broth will come from cooking the chicken breasts)
At least 1 pound of cheddar cheese (preferably sharp)
Either a couple cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough or a batch of this fabulous crescent roll dough (I suggest the latter, unless you’re very short on time. Because of what we’re doing with the dough, it’s quite forgiving if you don’t get it “just right.”

To begin, boil the chicken in just enough water to cover it.

If you’re making crescent roll dough, start that now. If not, go read your favorite blogs. Or, if you must, do something responsible!

Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool enough so that you can handle it, then de-bone (if needed) and chop or tear it up.

Drain the broth into a measuring cup (or a half gallon jar with measurements marked on the side) and add milk to make 5 cups. If you already have 5 or more cups of broth, set some aside for another time and make room for some milk!

Now begin making the sauce (we’ll use an adapted version of my Good Gravy! recipe. If you’re not familiar with Good Gravy! you can find more detailed directions there.

Melt a stick of butter in a good sized pan, then saute the chopped onion (and, once the onion’s gotten started, the garlic) until translucent. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and cook to make roux.

Slowly add your 5 cups of liquid, stirring constantly, and continue to stir constantly until it has boiled for a minute or so. This will take ages, so you might want to employ one of your favorite kitchen assistants to stir for you. (If you take a picture of said assistant, be sure you crop out any dirty ears before you post the picture online. There’s keepin’ it real, and then there’s yucky. You’ve got to know where to draw the line.)

Once the sauce is ready, it’s time for assembly!

First in the pan is a layer of sauce (about a third)

Then half of the dough, rolled out to fit the pan. Or, if you’re using canned, spread out one can of crescent rolls to make a layer of dough. It’s fine if the area is not completely covered.

Next comes the second third of sauce, topped by a layer of cheese

And the chicken!

A layer of cheese

The other half of the dough

A last layer of sauce, covered by a last layer of cheese.

Bake at 350′ for 30-45 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.


Posted January 21, 2009 by smithlaurel in Main Dish

Easy Enchiladas   Leave a comment

I learned how to make enchiladas from Mrs. T., mother of one of my dearest school friends. Her enchiladas are amazing. I don’t make them very often because they are pretty time and work intensive. But I had never eaten enchiladas that were as yummy, so I figured it was worth the work when I could manage it.

And then, a couple weeks ago, I had a breakthrough. Let me tell you…
We got home from some appointments and it was already close to suppertime, so I needed something quick. I had a couple pounds of ground beef that I had cooked with some chopped onion the day before. I had a large can of refried beans, and some leftover black beans. I had grated cheese, tortillas, and sour cream. So I figured we’d have burritos, which we usually put together at the table. Then I thought that it might be easier if I put them together first and maybe warmed them up in the oven (so they wouldn’t fall apart).
One thing led to another, and soon I was pouring some canned enchilada sauce in the bottom of a pan to keep it from sticking. I wound up pouring some more sauce over the top, and adding a layer of cheese.
Lo and behold, what emerged from the oven 20-30 minutes later were enchiladas! And while I would never think of saying that my easy enchiladas are as good as Mrs. T’s, my husband is not so timid, and he gave them his full stamp of approval.
So here is my new Easy Enchilada recipe! This is for 20 enchiladas. If that’s way too much for your gang, freeze the extras. Or you could easily cut the recipe in half.
A couple pounds of ground beef
One chopped onion (pick the size based on how much onion flavor your family like)
*Brown together over medium-high heat, drain grease
*Add and heat thoroughly:
1 large can refried beans (the moisture from the refried beans, whether homemade or canned, helps make up for the fact that you’re not dunking each tortilla in enchilada sauce.
1 can black beans
1 packet Taco Seasoning mix (or the equivalent of your own mix of spices – I’ll admit, I cheated this time and used the mix)
*Slosh a layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a couple of pans. (Since I originally wrote this post, I’ve taken to using half enchilada sauce and half tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes.)
*Take 20 8″ tortillas, fill them each with:
Your best guess at 1/20th of the meat and bean filling
A generous sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese
(Those of you who like exact measurements are hating this!)

*Roll up the filled tortillas as you go and place them in the sauce-sloshed pans. They serve better if you place the edge side down.
*Slosh some more enchilada sauce over the top, then add a layer of cheese. The following picture is of a double recipe (40 enchiladas):

Bake at 350′ for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese and sauce are bubbly and the whole thing is starting to brown a bit. When I eventually took pictures of some of the enchilada-making process, I neglected to get a shot of the finished product. But, rest assured, folks like them well enough that they don’t even know you’re taking pictures of them eating!

Top with sour cream, serve with salad and applesauce (or whatever paints your wagon).
Updated with pictures on Jan 15, 2009

Posted October 13, 2008 by smithlaurel in Main Dish

Chicken Pot Pie   Leave a comment

Sorry about not having any pictures in this post. See above for the finished product.

This is probably one of my yummiest concoctions. It’s the result of years of playing with various recipes (one of my favorite pastimes) until I’ve actually settled into a recipe that can actually be passed to others.

Laurel’s Chicken Pot Pie – makes two pies, or one large pan, as in the picture above.

Pot Pie Filling
4-6 split chicken breasts, depending on your taste/budget
1/2 c butter
Medium Onion
Milk (optional)
2/3 c flour
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1-2 pounds frozen vegetables (I usually use corn and peas or mixed veggies)

Start by boiling the split chicken breasts in enough water to just cover them. Once they’re cooked and have cooled enough to bone, clean those bones and cut or pull the meat into bite-sized pieces. Set aside the chicken meat.

If you want to use some milk in your pot pie (and I strongly suggest you do, unless you have allergies!) take 3 cups or so of broth from boiling the chicken. Add however much milk you need to make 5 cups. The proportions here are very fluid… use all broth if you want, add water if you want, or do it my way. Just be sure you have 5 cups of wet stuff ready to go.

Get a small bowl and measure 2/3 c of flour into it. Add 1 t salt and 1 t pepper. Set aside.
Chop the onion into a small dice. You guessed it! Set it aside also.

Now melt the 1/2 c butter in a medium stock pot. Add the onion and saute until slightly translucent.
Add the flour mixture and stir while cooking for one minute.
Slowly add in the 5 cups of liquid, whisking if needed. Then cook, stirring constantly, until the gravy starts to boil and thicken. Boil for about a minute, still stirring.

Turn off the heat and stir in your vegetables.
Then cover the filling, preheat the oven to 350′ and prepare your pastry.

Double Pie Crust – make twice
Mix together:
2 2/3 c All-purpose flour
1 t salt
Cut in with pastry cutter:
1 c butter
Sprinkle in 7-8 T cold water (1T at a time) while fluffing with fork.
(You’re looking for the pastry to start clearing the sides of the bowl)
Divide into two balls. Roll out one ball for bottom crust, fill pie, then roll out the other ball of dough for the top.

Finish edges and slit crust as you wish.

Place pies on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, until crust is golden. For a “crust guard,” I cut a nice big piece of tin foil, cover the pie, and cut out the middle. I take off the guard when I think there’s about 15 minutes of bake time remaining.

Posted August 27, 2008 by smithlaurel in Main Dish