Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Homemade 'Hot Pockets'

My mom is coming to town tonight! She may be accompanied by my siblings; my brother, Sam (16) and my sister Lola (14). They'll get to play with my baby girl!

And here's a pic of my hubby and our little girl. Aren't they just adorable?

About a week ago, I decided that I needed something quick and easy for my husband to take to lunch. Something remotely healthy, definitely appealing, easy to reheat, and homemade. "Hot Pockets!" I exclaimed. Well, not quite, but I did get pretty excited about them.

I searched online and found absolutely NO hits for homemade 'hot pockets,' but I did find this fabulous recipe for stuffed bread that I adapted into 'hot pockets' from whatwereeating.com.

I'm not going to post the actual recipe until Amanda (the recipe's creator) approves.

Basically, I made the recipe verbatim except for the division of bread. Where her recipe says, "separate the dough into two pieces," I separated it into eight pieces and then continued to follow the original recipe.

I made two different types of 'hot pockets-' one with leftover taco stuffing and one with leftover spaghetti sauce. It's a great use of leftovers and can be made around your schedule. I can give you my stuffing recipes immediately.

Taco Stuffing
All measurements are approximate. Hm.
Prepared the day before for tacos:
  • Approximately 1 lb of ground beef
  • Chili powder to taste 
  • Cumin to taste
  • Cayenne to taste
Store in the fridge overnight.

For the mixed beans I used a melange of white beans, black beans, pinto beans, and a  smattering of lentils.
  • 8 oz. dry beans
  • Approximately 6 C. of water 
Rinse the dry beans. Put beans in a large pot with water, bring it to a boil. Boil for one minute. Shut beans off and set aside for 1-4 hours. Drain the water and add another six cups of water to the pot. Bring it to a boil, reduce the beans to a simmer, and cook them on a simmer for approximately 2 hours, or until tender.

The day of:
For vegan 'hot pockets-'
  • Beans
  • Asparagus, cut into approx. 1/3 inch pieces
  • Zucchini, chopped quite small
  • Onions, chopped quite small
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Canned corn
  • Salsa to a slightly moist consistency
 And trade the honey in the bread portion of the recipe for brown sugar. 

For non-vegan 'hot pockets,' just add cheese and leftover taco meat. I chose to use a mix of pepper jack and medium cheddar.

 Italian Stuffing
Prepared the day before for spaghetti sauce:
You can make your spaghetti sauce with whatever you want, but make sure that the end result is rather thick and very chunky for the best stuffing.

  • Olive oil
  • Sliced mushrooms to taste
  • Chopped onions to taste
  • Italian seasoning
  • Spaghetti sauce from a jar
  • Black olives, coarsely chopped
Slice the mushrooms and onions. Heat a large frying pan to medium. Add the olive oil and saute the mushrooms and onions until onions are al dente (does that term apply to onions, too?). Season the mushrooms and onions with the Italian seasoning to taste. Add the jar of spaghetti sauce and black olives. Turn the sauce down to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is thick and chunky. Cool for stuffing.

For the meat eaters:
  • Spicy Italian sausage, not links
  • Sliced mushrooms to taste
  • Chopped onions to taste
  • Italian seasoning
  • Spaghetti sauce from a jar- my husband's favorite sauce is vodka sauce.
  • Black olives, coarsely chopped
Heat a large frying pan to medium. Brown the sausage, adding Italian seasoning, mushrooms and onions after sausage has just browned. Saute the contents of the pan until mushrooms and onions are tender. Add the spaghetti sauce from a jar and the olives. Turn the sauce down to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has evaporated. Cool for stuffing.

Now that you've got the stuffing, you're ready to stuff the bread dough that you've prepared, right? Let's assume that you are.

Your dough has risen once, and your stuffing is ready to be put in. Separate the dough into 8 pieces, first splitting it in half, and then splitting both of those two pieces in half, and then split each of those pieces in half until you have a total of 8 pieces. It's more simple than it sounds, I swear.

Form a piece of dough into a rectangle using your hands. Create a long line of stuffing in the center of the dough, stopping about 1/2 inch short of the edges on both sides. Fold the dough up over the stuffing on both sides and pinch it together. Fold both short sides up and pinch them together so that the dough completely encloses the stuffing. Place the finished pocket, seam down, onto an oiled cookie sheet or floured wooden cutting board. Repeat until all of your dough is filled and let the filled dough rise for another 45 minutes.

After the 45 minutes additional rise time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and bake your product for 25-35 minutes. They should look brown and crusty when you take them out of the oven.

Let them cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. I wrapped them in tinfoil and put two of each in the fridge. The rest, I put into the freezer and we reheated them in the oven. At 400 degrees, it took 20 minutes to reheat the ones that I stuck in the fridge and it took 30 minutes to reheat the frozen ones.

I'll definitely make them again soon and this time I'll take pictures of each step to post. If I've been at all unclear, just let me know and I'll try to clarify things.

Have fun, and happy cooking!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Inception (easy nachos)

My 11-week-old daughter is asleep on the couch, chai tea is cooling on the stove, and thank you/birth announcement/Merry Christmas/Happy New Year cards are on the way to me. I'm stuck being mostly vegan until I'm finished breastfeeding and I'm thinking about adding coffee grounds to my houseplants in an effort to get them back to their pre-pregnancy health.

I'm finding out how busy being a new mom is and how much I need an outlet for my creative energies. I've determined that THIS will be my outlet. I'll journal my crafts, recipes, thoughts, family projects, possible play ideas, etc.

OK, now I'm typing one-handed because my little girl woke up. Ariadne (air-ee-AD-nee) Evangeline- a darling little girl whose first giggle happened last weekend. She has a wonderful smile and she flashes it often- but I can't ever catch it with my camera!

Tonight we're going to have half-vegan nachos. My husband is a meat-eater and I'm meat- and dairy-less because of my daughter's digestive tract.

OK, I have to start with the homemade Sort-Of Hummus:
I cooked up some garbanzo beans a couple of days ago and just haven't gotten around to making hummus. For some reason, I think that hummus would be a great replacement for sour cream. I'm calling this 'Sort-Of Hummus' because I'm just making it with what I have in stock, which doesn't include yogurt or tahini.

I'm going to use Ariadne's bouncy seat to get a hands-free hummus-making experience.

First we combine:
4 C. chickpeas/garbanzo beans
6 T. lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced/crushed/whatev
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. cumin
1 T. water

I put them all in a bowl, applied my new favorite appliance- the Cuisinart smart stick- and blended the whole shebang into a nice, creamy consistency. Here is where the tahini would be most useful.

I did a finger taste-test and found it a little dry and not seasoned well enough. If I had my d'ruthers, I'd put both tahini and cilantro in, but I just had to season to taste this time. So I added:
2 more T. oil
4 more cloves garlic
1 more generous T. cumin
and 1/4 t. crushed sea salt

Then I mixed it all together with a spatula (which is a pretty funny word) and put it in a jar in the fridge for later.
What would happen if I added a little bit of peanut butter...? I'll let you know if I do.

So, now it's time to make the nachos. I have tortilla chips, homegrown (not my home) beef, cheddar cheese, salsa, one avocado, some lettuce, doctored refried beans, olives, onions, green onions and corn. I browned the beef, added chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and garlic to taste. Then, I covered a baking sheet with tinfoil and scattered on the sheet in layers the tortilla chips, refried beans, beef, olives, corn, onions, green onions, and cheese with the beef and cheese on one half. A no-brainer.

Then I baked it at 350* until the cheese melted, about 8 minutes. I just sliced the avocado up and put it, the hummus, and the lettuce on top of the nachos. Then we dug in! Nummy...

Next time I'll try the hummus with some peanut butter. *wink*