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Old 08-07-2016, 12:29 PM   #1
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Efficient and healthy food in a busy life

Hello

My name is Filip and I am looking for some cooking advice.

I hava a routine where I two times a month make typically 10 calzones, which I fill with different stuff. I freeze them and take out one at the time the night before.

I would like tips for both recipes dough and ways to fold the dough. And also, if anyone have similar routines for efficient and healthy food in a busy life, I would love to hear.

Best regards
Filip

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Old 08-07-2016, 03:54 PM   #2
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Hey Filip, I use kind of a bready style dough for my pizza and calzones, which may or may not work for you, depending if you like your dough more bread like or not. Some find it too thick.

Here is the recipe I use

1/2 cup light red or white wine or 1/2 cup milk (depends on which way you want to go taste-wise, I go either way depending on what toppings I am gonna use)
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 oz fresh yeast, or one pkg dry yeast
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp + 1 tbsp of olive oil
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (14.875 oz)

Add the maple syrup and yeast to the warm water. Let sit 5-8 minutes until nice and frothy.

add rest of dry ingredients and sift together. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil

add yeast/syrup water mixture, and wine or milk.

Mix into a dough, until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Let sit for 5 minutes covered to relax.

Knead for 6-8 minutes, stretching periodically. Make dough into a ball and coat with second tbsp of olive oil

Let rise 45 minutes, covered it should about double in size. After this, punch it down, knead a bit gently, and re-form into ball, let stand for 10-15 minutes.

Roll out dough on floured surface, and use for pizza or calzone.

I have made calzones with this from time to time, but I mainly make pizza. I have frozen pizzas before using and seems to work fine. As far as toppings, one of our favorites recently has been topping it with spinach, ricotta cheese, a can or Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and peppers, and a little bit of sprinkled Parmesan.

As far as ways to cook efficiently I am a big convert to the pressure cooker. We got one for Xmas, and it speeds up cooking marvelously. My Beloved Wife and I have very different schedules, so we often eat late, and the pressure cooker lets us make up a cassarole, or even a whole chicken, in a half hour.

We also make up large stews, chllis, and cassaroles on sunday, and portion them out for the week, usually there are a couple options of things that can be grabbed from the freezer and nuked.

I like to buy peppers and onions bulk at the farmer's market, dice and mix them, and put them in a big gallon ziplock in the freezer. For any recipe that calls for onions and peppers, or for morning omlettes, to mix in with ground beef for burgers, etc.. we can just grab handfulls out of the bag. Saves prep time. A quick dinner is to grab some chicken breasts, cut into strips, and throw in a wok with some spices, a couple handfuls of pepper/onion from the freezer, and a can of diced tomatoes. Same can be done with sausage.

Now that I have the pressure cooker, I've been experimenting with canning stew, chilli, and casserole starters. We have a CSA, and get a ton of veges (more than we can eat) every two weeks over the summer. So I've been trying to make up large cans with everything for a stew, chilli, or casserole except the starch and meat. That way I can pop open a can (in theory), add pasta/rice/barley and a meat, throw it in the oven, and poof! Dinner. Still experimenting with this, let you know how it works out.

Another trick from camping, if I get something like a london broil, or rump roast cheap, I slice it thin, marinate it over night, and wrap it with vegetables and a bit of marinate in heavy aluminum foil into one meal sized packets. These can be placed in ziplocks and frozen. You can pre-heat the oven to say 375 or so, and throw one or two of these in for 45 minutes, serve over a rice or pasta for a quick meal. If you are camping you can just throw these into the fire!

Hope this gives you some ideas.

TBS
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Old 08-07-2016, 04:39 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for the thoughtful answer. I'll be sure to try both your dough and meat / vegetable packages in the near future. I should maybe also purchase, or at least look into a pressure cooker, as I often am in a time squeeze.

My classic stew is to first roust onions, karbonade minced, bacon and champinjong, with salt and pepper in a big iron pot. Then I add chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, with basil seasoning and cayenne pepper so it becomes a tomato saus. When the saus is done; large white beans, kinsley beans, chickpeas, chilli, carrot and broccoli are added. I let this mix boil on low temprature for a while, so the saus gets thick. Right before serving/freezing I add chopped nuts.

Edit: Also, I would love to hear more about the stew, etc in cans.
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Old 08-07-2016, 05:09 PM   #4
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That sounds great Filip! I'm writing that down and giving it a try. I've been cooking a lot with chick-peas recently, I like the protein they add, and good flavor.

Hey, if you want to poke your head across the border to your neighbor Sweden for ideas, one really convenient food idea I use a lot of is meatballs.

If I find ground beef, or sometimes ground lamb on sale (to be honest, if I find ground lamb on sale mostly it gets eaten up quick, lamb is a treat around here), I like to make up a large batch of meatballs all at once.

I make up the meatballs, and then just briefly brown them in a little bit of oil. I then put them about 20-25 in bags, and put them in the freezer.

This way if Beloved Wife and I are home late, and need a quick meal, all I have to do is whip up a sauce of some sort, and boil some pasta or rice, throw the meatballs in with the sauce and simmer til' cooked, and off we go!

Here is my meatball recipe, though if you don't like it, I imagine you can easily find a Swede to ask!

5 lbs ground beef
1.5 cups bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 large eggs
2 tbsp coarse mustard
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley
spice to taste (I add some hot sauce normally)
oil for frying

combine all ingredients except oil and mix thoroughly, form into balls

put on cookie sheet and set up in freezer 10 minutes to firm meatballs

fry in oil until browned all over

freeze 30-45 minutes on cookie sheet uncovered

bag 20-25 per bag.

I like this thread, as we are all about making cooked from scratch food convenient. My wife and I have really made an effort the past two years or so to really limit take-out and prepared food, and make as much as possible from basic fresh ingredients. That can be really difficult with a busy schedule, not to mention with two people with busy schedules that don't always line up! The benefits in health, quality of life, and our finances have been enormous though. I find with a little bit of extra effort and planning, usually over the weekends, I can make us healthy fresh meals all week at a fraction of the cost of what we were spending on pre-prepared food and take out.

I learned many of my basic cooking skills when I was young as a Boy Scout, mainly adapting my Mom's cook at home recipes for cooking in camp, which advantages preparing basics ahead of time, and freezing or packaging stuff so it is easy to combine and reheat, and I definitely find myself drawing on those experiences more and more when trying to plan our menus!

Best,

TBS
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Old 08-08-2016, 07:34 AM   #5
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Hi and welcome to Discuss Cooking

TBS has given you lots of good ideas. We use many of these strategies, too.
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Old 08-08-2016, 07:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erehweslefox View Post
Now that I have the pressure cooker, I've been experimenting with canning stew, chilli, and casserole starters. We have a CSA, and get a ton of veges (more than we can eat) every two weeks over the summer. So I've been trying to make up large cans with everything for a stew, chilli, or casserole except the starch and meat. That way I can pop open a can (in theory), add pasta/rice/barley and a meat, throw it in the oven, and poof! Dinner. Still experimenting with this, let you know how it works out.
Which pressure cooker do you have? It's my understanding that they have not been tested for safe use in canning,although a couple of brands have claimed that they can be used that way. I have used mine to sterilize the jars, though.
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Old 08-11-2016, 05:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Which pressure cooker do you have? It's my understanding that they have not been tested for safe use in canning,although a couple of brands have claimed that they can be used that way. I have used mine to sterilize the jars, though.
Mine is an AS SEEN ON TV, POWER PRESSURE COOKER XL, and I do think the X is for Xtreme. My aunt bought it for us. That being said, I am using it for canning. I, before I got the pressure cooker, was gonna do some canning with the boiled hot bath model, so feeling safe on this as it does seem to get to a heavy pressure and high temp.

I know I am taking a chance. But my gran did canning with her stock pot, and boiled them, and we are still finding her canned goods, haven't got botulism yet.

While we have fresh food until Fall, I'm gonna put food in jars.

and my aunt bought me a pressure cooker, I love her. It hasn't exploded (yet) so I'm gonna can food with it.

TBS
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:27 PM   #8
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Water bath canning is safe for high-acid foods, like pickles and tomatoes, but not low-acid foods, like most other vegetables and especially foods containing meats. To make low-acid foods safe, the high heat and pressure for a specified time that only a pressure *canner* - not a pressure *cooker* - can provide is necessary.

I realize you probably already know that, and you can take the risk if you want to. I'm posting this because I feel it's important for people who are less experienced cooks, and those who will read this post in the future, to have accurate information.
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Old 08-12-2016, 10:35 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
I'm posting this because I feel it's important for people who are less experienced cooks, and those who will read this post in the future, to have accurate information.
It is good info, and yes, I do tend to stick with high acid foods, even to the point of adding the acid, Cider Vinegar covers all sins. Food safety is no joke. I've been on the bad end before of a failed canning attempt, and trust me, it isn't pretty.
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