Monday, July 28, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Chicken and Broccoli Calzones

Are you drooling just a little yet?? This July edition of the Secret Recipe Club is courtesy of the fantastic blog, Flying on Jess Fuel. I had such a great time browsing through the extensive recipe collection available on Jess' blog. SO many fantastic options. My husband was helping me pick out what to make, and we selected THREE before we even got three pages through the chicken group! The baked chicken salsa and Crock Pot Roasted Whole Chicken are both coming up soon... mmm... I could easily find something my family would enjoy every night of the week on this blog. Check out Jess' "About Me" page to learn more about her and her husband, Nick, who is a Navy pilot (if for no other reason, go visit the about me page to see the super cute picture of the two of them). Jess says when she first met her future husband she impressed him with her jalapeno eating skills!! Ok, this spice wimp right here is going to go eat bread, drink milk, and be happy for Jess that she has such tough taste buds. :)

So, back to the food, the delicious, versatile, man-pleasing food. These calzones totally hit the spot, and were whipped together in no time flat. I used one of my pizza dough recipes which doesn't require a rise which sped up the process. I also added a couple different sauces to the calzones to see how they would come out - and just because it's what we do, we added BACON to ours! This recipe makes four very good sized calzones - I ate about 2/3 of one and my husband and son each ate a full one plus 1/3 of another.

You can change the filling ingredients up however you want - we also distributed a can of mushrooms amongst three of the calzones which was a good addition. On two of our calzones I used about 3 TBS of Sweet Baby Ray's original BBQ sauce, for one of them I used Ranch dressing, and for the other one I used a tangy yellow Carolina style BBQ sauce. All three were really good! My husband and son were surprised that they liked the Ranch one - they didn't think they would, but it worked well with the chicken and broccoli. Serve more sauce on the side to dip in if desired.

Chicken Broccoli Calzones adapted from Flying on Jess Fuel
makes 4 large calzones

1 batch homemade pizza dough (see recipe below)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced into bite sized pieces
4 large slices of thick cut bacon, cooked to desired crispiness, drained and rough chopped
6 - 8-oz frozen broccoli, steamed and rough chopped
1 - 2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 - 2 cups cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 - 3 TBS of BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, or marinara per calzone, more for dipping if desired

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roll each of the 4 pieces of dough out into a large oval shape. Place 1/4 of the ingredients (sauce, chicken, bacon, broccoli and desired amount of cheese) on half of each pieces of dough.
  3. Fold the top half of the dough over the filled half and gently press / roll the edges together to seal.
  4. Place calzones on baking sheets or a pizza stone (I put two calzones on 1 rectangular baking sheet, and put both baking sheets in the oven at the same time).
  5. Using a pastry brush, brush tops of calzones with the beaten egg. Add a couple slits to the tops of each calzone for venting.
  6. Optional: Sprinkle top of calzones with some garlic powder and / or Italian seasoning if desired
  7. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until dough is golden and cooked through.

Homemade Pizza Dough

1 pkg dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water; add sugar, salt, and oil. 
  2. Add 1/2 of the flour and beat until there are no lumps, gradually add remaining flour (add more if needed to reach desired consistency). 
  3. Knead dough for 5 minutes. 
  4. Divide into 4 pieces and follow instructions above. 
Our sweet Lindsey Rose is 10 months old!! That first birthday is just around the corner...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

R.I.P. Our Sweet Sadie Mae

Sadie joined our family in 2008, and the 6 years we had with her were absolutely too short... I still can't believe we have already had to say goodbye to our sweet girl...

Such a wonderful companion and friend - laid back, sweet, and she just loved her people.

Sadie LOVED having her ears rubbed - she would lean to that side and start scratching with her foot.

I always loved Sadie's big soulful eyes - she always showed her feelings through her eyes.

Sadie was the BEST momma dog you could ask for - with all of the foster puppies we had over the years, she always took great care of them, played with them, let them chew and climb on her and was a wonderful "teacher" for the puppies.

Max absolutely LOVED Sadie - he was always licking her and sticking close to her side.

When Lindsey Rose came along I wondered how Sadie would do with her - she was perfect. She let Lindsey smack her, pull on her ears, chew on her feet, put her hands in her mouth. She was always gentle and patient.

Sadie has had health issues for the past year plus - she was having pain in her hips and we started her on occasional pain medications, then injections, then pain meds, injections, and steroids. Then more steroids and more pain pills... Then the morning Kent, Lindsey, and I were set to fly to Washington to visit my family I noticed one of Sadie's front legs was swollen twice the size of her other leg and she had an open and oozing infection at the elbow joint on that leg. She could barely stand. We carried her to the car and Kent and I took her to the vet. She had lost 15 lbs in about 2 months and the vet was almost certain there was definitely something underlying going on - very likely cancer. We could have put her through more testing, bloodwork, medications, etc. but there was very little likelihood of her not being in pain throughout all of that, and no guarantees of course. We knew she'd been getting worse recently, and quickly too - her activity and appetite had both decreased, despite us increasing her pain medications and she just looked sad and tired much of the time... it was breaking my heart to see our big strong girl suffering. The infection was the last straw and I didn't want her to hurt anymore... I laid on the floor and held her in my arms and cried as we said goodbye. It was like she knew what was happening. She was so quiet, so dignified, and she gave Kent a little kiss on his hand and then she was gone.

Good bye gentle bear dog. You will forever and ever hold a piece of my heart. I loved you each day you were with us, and will love you each day you are gone.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lindsey Rose is 10 months old!



Lindsey is 10 months old already!! I love her to pieces and have so much fun taking a bazillion pictures of her - she has so much personality and I love capturing all of her crazy faces in photos! She just broke tooth number 6 through a couple days ago, and is working on number 7 already. She can squat and stand back up and cruises around the house from one piece of furniture to the next like a pro. She tries to take steps but can't balance yet - she's working on it though, she'll try and then sit back down - she's getting better and better at standing on her own and holding it before she looses her balance and sits back down.

She loves our puppies and is always crawling to them and babbling at them and whacking / petting them (and she still loves their feet)! She's eating table food and feeding herself at meal time (thank goodness bath time is right after meal time)! She makes me so happy to come home each evening. With everything else going on in my life right now - I am so incredibly grateful for my two kiddos.

Since the last one of these I did was for 8 months - here's some new "bullet points" to compare! :)

  • She crawls super fast everywhere, cruises from one piece of furniture to the next but hasn't taken any real steps yet. She can stand, but looses her balance and sits back down before walking.
  • She loves her walker toy, and can push that around the living room and walk behind it great - she also loves holding onto someone's fingers or hand and using that for balance to go for a walk.
  • We're starting to phase out the purees and move more towards finger foods and her feeding herself at meal / snack time. At home she only eats finger foods, she doesn't really like me feeding her anymore, but she still eats purees at daycare. I think what's in the freezer and cupboard will be the last of it though!
  • I love watching her at meal time, she picks through what's on her tray and you can see her deliberately choosing something that she likes. She almost always picks the protein out and eats that first; she loves little pieces of chicken and turkey burger! She also loves her veggies, she does great with carrots, tomatoes, and avocado.
  • She hasn't had a cold now in awhile (knock on something) and I hope and pray her immune system has caught up to all the various germs floating around at daycare.
  • Tooth number 6 JUST broke through in the last couple days - so now she has 4 on top and 2 on bottom. Her next 2 bottom teeth are starting to push up to where I can see them under the surface, to they're coming soon!
  • We're making progress in the sleep department. Teething generally messes her schedule up for a few days, but she's gotten to where she typically only wakes at night once (usually between 1 - 2 am) for a bottle then back to sleep. She is still swaddled at night too. This month we're going to start working on getting her out of the swaddle, and making the night time bottle water in hopes of weaning her off of that too - but I'm not in a rush, though I miss uninterrupted sleep I cherish those quiet moments in the dark rocking and snuggling with her as she goes back to sleep (usually only takes 10 - 15 minutes for her to finish the bottle and fall back asleep).
  • She's gotten a little more independent about falling asleep too, there have been more and more occasions where she finishes her last bottle of the evening and is still awake, and turns her head into me and quietly drifts off, or I just lay her down with her eyes still fluttering and she quietly falls asleep on her own, or babbles for a few minutes then falls asleep.
  • She's very talkative and says lots of mama, dada, dog (or something VERY close to dog!), and baba.
  • She makes tons of super expressive ADORABLE faces and I love each and every one of them, though her recent "scrunchy nose smiley face" is probably one of my favorites.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

White Fiber Mini Shells with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese


This is another great recipe from the Barilla collection on All Recipes - I really, really liked this one!! I loved the fresh tomatoes and basil with the simple seasoning. I think this one is good warm or cold - I had it warm with dinner, and then cold for lunch the next day. Yumm!! My son wasn't a big fan - I don't think he liked the tomatoes in it and he said it was kind of boring flavor-wise (what does he know anyway!?) :)

You can season this as lightly or generously as you like with the salt and pepper, and add more or less cheese to taste. This works great as a side dish, or as meatless main - or grill up some chicken and serve over the pasta for a complete meal! I think this is absolutely delicious and a very versatile recipe, easy to tweak to your personal tastes.

White Fiber Mini Shells with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese by Barilla

1 (12 ounce) box Barilla White Fiber Mini Shells
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
6 leaves basil, julienned
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. In a large skillet, cook onion in olive oil for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add tomatoes and saute for 3-4 minutes until blistered. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook pasta 1 minute less than required cooking time, drain and toss with sauce and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Remove from heat and add basil and cheese.
  4. Stir to combine and serve.