Shredded Zucchini Calzone

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I’m heavily invested in the idea that I will one day hit the sweet spot. I’ll find the middle ground between walking to the grocery store barefoot and rocking stiletto heels. Something in between picking up furniture off the streets and buying a full-price couch. Just the right amount of this and that.

I’m  Goldilocks.

And this heat wave is just too darn hot.

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But with the middle of the summer comes a cornucopia of squash! So much squash!

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Squash that I want to shred and put into a calzone!

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Kale and zucchini are the sweet spot of this calzone.

That and I have a lot of flippin’ kale to deal with, too.

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I don’t think I can go a week without making dough. I go into withdrawals.

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You think it’s a burrito.

But it’s not a burrito.

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It’s a motherfucking calzone.

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Respect.

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In the flesh.

Shredded Zucchini Calzone.

1 medium zucchini, grated (about 2 cups)
3-4 dinosaur kale stalks, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup grated Reggiano cheese
1 large tomato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cornmeal

For the dough, follow my recipe for Honey Whole Wheat. In the middle of rising, cut the dough in half and shape into rounds. Let them rise for another half hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. (I know it’s crazy to think about when it’s so hot out, but it’s worth it. Sort of.)

In a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onions and sautee until translucent. Remove from the pan and set aside on a large plate.  With the remaining oil, sautee the kale, garlic and zucchini. Add to the plate of onions and mix in Reggiano cheese.

Chop the tomato in half and squeeze to release the water and all of the seeds. Chop coarsely. In a medium bowl, season the tomato generously with salt and pepper. Add to the other vegetables.

Using a bread roller, roll out the dough into small circles. Evenly divvy up the vegetables on each round, keeping all of the ingredients in the center.

Wrap in any shape you want. I used a fork to close the seams because I was nervous they would explode and ooze in the oven.

Brush the top with olive oil for a nice crispy crust.

Cover a large pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal to prevent sticking. Place the calzones on the sheet/stone and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the top is nice and golden.

Makes two fat calzones for two hungry gals.

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Morning Juice

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Am I weird for wanting to bro out every so often? Go camping for 4 days without showering, call everyone “dude” and let them call me that right back?

Girls do that, right? Because I definitely do that. Often.

For one thing, I’m a sucker for action movies. Give me a pair of 3D glasses and a fistful of popcorn and I’m all set for the next 2.5 hours. This is the first summer since childhood that I’ve made it a point to watch nearly every blockbuster that comes out.

Except Fast & Furious part 1289494. Why do those exist?

I think bro-ing out is important to keeping a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Sure, there’s running a 5K, practicing yoga, and cutting out processed foods — but sitting down for a few evenings with a cheap can of beer, a blazing fire and conversations amid farts? It reminds me that there’s a chunk of me that doesn’t care about nail polish, brushing my hair, or that parachute pants are back in style (Seriously, when did that happen?).

But don’t worry guys, I’m still here. By Sunday morning, I’m looking up recipes for kale salad and pulverizing vegetables into juice.

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Kale, celery. I’m really sorry for what I’m going to do to you. It’s going to be loud. It’s not going to be pretty. It’s borderline plant murder.

Also, hey, I know not everyone has a juicer. They’re expensive, bulky, and you really have to be willing to deal with a single-purpose contraption, unlike blenders, which make smoothies, margaritas and salsa. But the juicer I just bought was $100 and it’s probably the best thing I’ve bought all year. Actually, here’s a list of my favorite kitchen things.

So nix that end-of-summer clothing shopping spree and invest in something with a little more sustenance.

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I’ve made four different kinds of juices thus far without using a recipe. I’ve yet to make a bad batch because a) vegetables taste delicious and b) it’s all about balancing the greens with the sweets.

For example! If you’re packing in 4 cups of spinach or kale, make sure you complement it with sweet beets and pears. Apples are also spectacular sweeteners and give you an energy boost in the morning similar to coffee.

Oh, and ginger. In everything. Please.

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I should paint my nails in that color.

Morning Juice.

4-5 stalks lacinato kale
1 large pear
2 large carrots
1 chunk ginger, about a 1″ cube
2 small beets
6-7 stalks cucumber
1 large cucumber

Shove the ingredients in the blender in the order listed above. It’s always good to start juicing with leafy greens.

Serve with ice or at room temperature. You can make a large batch at night and drink it in the morning so you don’t wake up your roommates with what sounds like an alien spaceship hovering in the kitchen.

Makes about 20oz of juice.

Spicy Kale Chips

California.  Northern California.  It’s great, did you know that?  There are big trees and elk and the Pacific and temperate sweater weather.  And cousins and brothers and parents and a baby nephew that makes me want to die.

2011 was also pretty great.  I lived in three different places.  Biked 10 miles a day.  Counseled wild teenagers.  Got 11 stitches.

And I’m not one for resolutions, but I have a feeling this year’s going to be full of travels, intrigue, changes, and updates.  I’m staring intently at my “Ideal Life” list with a pen quivering in anticipation to start crossing off some goals.

Here’s to 2012!

Spicy Kale Chips.

Bunch of kale leaves, stems removed and coarsely ripped (You can use any kind of kale.  I used curly, which makes for lots of crumbs, but most people use lacinato, or “dinosaur” kale.)
pinch of salt and pepper
sprinkle of red chili flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients until all of the kale leaves are coated with oil.  Evenly distribute on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until the leaves are crisp like a chip.

Share with your family of 6+1.

Kale Lentil Pasta

I need to start an herb garden.  Growing things is outrageously easy in Hawaii because a) endless sunshine b) sporadic rain and c) the air permeates happiness.  Plants love happy places.

But Boston? The basil I bought last week is already showing signs of winter manic depression.  What’ll happen with the mint? The cilantro?  The sage?!  I can’t raise them in such a hostile world that won’t accept them for who they are!  Herbs just want to grow!

Wait, what?

Okay, so I know that indoor herb gardens should be in a south or west-facing room.  But my kitchen faces north.  I don’t want to grow my herbs in my bedroom.  Granted, I’ll treat them like little green children, but this is a problem.

In exchange for green thumb advice, I bestow this easy and protein-ee recipe.

Another thing about Boston, and I swear this’ll be my last weather-related complaint, is that the flippin’ sun is starting to go down earlier.  I come home around 5:30pm and have little over an hour to cook so as to utilize the natural light (Natty Light!).

 It’s kind of funny, actually.  I turn all the lights off in the kitchen, even though the sun’s pretty much gone, and bring my cutting board to the window to take a photo.

I have a thing for caramelized onions.  Kind of an obsession.  Kind of a love affair.  I might need therapy.

This is a pretty loose recipe.  Get creative with it!

Kale Lentil Pasta.

1 1/2 cups lentils, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons butter
1 large red onion
5 cloves minced garlic
18oz whole wheat penne pasta
10-15 large kale leaves, chopped
handful of fresh basil, some chopped and some for garnishing
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

To caramelize the onion, slice fine, as shown, and cook for about an hour in olive oil on medium heat.  Make sure you keep a close eye – you don’t want the onions to brown prematurely.  The browning should come from the natural sugars emerging, not the frying pan.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the penne pasta.  Cook until just turning soft, then add the kale to blanch.  Drain and throw the pot back on the stove, adding the butter, garlic, pepper flakes, chopped basil, and lentils.  Briefly fry in the pot, letting the pasta brown slightly (fried pasta, what?!).

Dress with parmesan cheese and a few basil leaves.  Serves about 5 hungry people.

Kale Pesto Pizza with Honey Whole Wheat Dough

Ever go on a mission to, say, the grocery store, and instead of getting beets and onions for a pizza you leave with a pound of kale, a bag of popcorn, a pair of walking shoes, a belt, and a bar of chocolate?

It was one of those days.

But I’ve been meaning to make dinosaur kale pesto, so I wasn’t too far off.

Kale is fantastic, did you know that?  About a year ago I was sort of banned from the stuff because of reasonsIwon’tgetinto, and basically told the rules to suck it.  Kale 4 lyf.

 Them’s baker’s hands.  At CFB they make a honey whole wheat bread that I would often take home in doughy form for pizzas.  Since then, I’ve made my own.

I was supposed to get picture frames, too.  And curtains.  I forgot to get a mirror.

 This apartment is missing Aloha-shirt-shaped oven mitts.

Kale Pesto Pizza with Honey Whole Wheat Dough.

The Pesto.

4 garlic cloves
6 large dinosaur kale leaves, stems removed
1 cup packed fresh basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of salt, to taste

In a food processor, chop garlic until fully minced.  Add kale leaves and chop until smooth.  Add basil, and while the pesto is chopping, add olive oil, lemon, and salt and blend to desired consistency.

Should make just enough for this pizza.

The Dough.

1 cup wrist temperature water
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt

Add honey and water to the yeast in a small bowl, stirring until yeast is fully dissolved.  Leave for a few minutes before adding salt.

On a clean surface, create a well with the flour in order to accommodate about half of the hydrated yeast.  Using a fork, slowly peel away at the inner walls of the flour, mixing thoroughly so as not to create a pahoehoe volcanic eruption.  Add more liquid as you go, mixing until the dough is kneedable by hand.  Fold and press for about ten minutes by hand, or about 5 minutes in a standard mixer.  Dough should be pretty sticky.  It’s better this way.

Place the ball of dough in a large floured bowl and cover with a cheese cloth for about an hour and a half, or until the dough has doubled in size.

When the dough is ready (You’ll know by pressing the surface with your finger.  If the dough bounces back, it isn’t ready.  If the indent lingers, you’re good to go), roll out on a floured surface to desired shape (circle, rectangle, star).

Add pesto and spread around the entire surface.  Add desired ingredients on top of that.

I put chopped spinach, white mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese.

Throw in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes.

Eat with beer.  Outdoors.