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Debra Caffrey is the Education E-newsletter Editor for FredParent. She also writes, blogs, and assists with events. She is the proud mom of 8-year-old Aidan. She is passionate about cooking, meal planning, and smart grocery shopping, and is excited to share her ‘Practical Pantry’ with you.

 



Practical Pantry

    Hi! My name is Debra and though I have been working part time with FredParent for awhile, my first and true love is being a mom to my 8-year-old son Aidan and being the proud homemaker and CEO of our household. I am passionate (perhaps a little obsessed) about both home cooking and living frugally, and how these two things are so connected in creating an economically sustainable lifestyle, whether surviving on one salary, two, or anywhere in between! Utilization of what is bought at the grocery store and preventing food waste is so important to me, and over my years of homemaking, I’ve cultivated a style of meal planning and grocery shopping around both this philosophy and the idea that getting meals on the table is not as overwhelming as it may seem at first!

Meal planning and cooking have become second nature to me, but I do observe a lot of other households wishing they didn’t have to do these things, or dishing out a lot of money for convenience food all too often. In my new blog, I hope to share with you my tips and tricks for meal planning, using ingredients efficiently and frugally, grocery shopping smartly, and organizing your kitchen for optimal success. I also hope to inspire with some of my favorite go-to recipes and the stories behind why they have become family favorites in my home. Each post will be a little different! One thing I’ve learned over time is that, like anything, there is no one, easy answer to being successful with cooking and/or feeding your family frugally. Rather, it is a bunch of smaller skill sets strung together, based on very simple, minor tweaks that add up over time. I look forward to sharing some of these with you!

    Before I say good-bye for now, I’d love to share one of my favorite “go-to” weekday recipes. My definition of a go-to meal is something easy enough to accomplish on a busy day, isn’t super intimidating in both ingredient list and preparation, is satisfyingly frugal, and has a certain amount of versatility that you can play around with to your liking. Every time I discover another successful “go-to” recipe, it becomes a resource in my repertoire that I can always rely on in the future. That’s the thing about home cooking – it has to be comforting and reliable in order to be sustainable in the long run. Below, I’ve shared my basic recipe for Easy Cheesy Veggie Pockets, which are not only easy, but can be changed up so many ways. Most importantly, they can be made ahead of time, as well as frozen, and seem to get even better as leftovers! These types of pockets or calzones are so versatile and are a great vehicle for getting in a well-rounded meal. If your kids are anything like my son, they may hate broccoli as much as getting a shot at the doctor (in fact, I think Aidan would actually chose a shot over a bowl of broccoli), but the veggie becomes hard to resist surrounded by melted cheese, flavorful garlic, warm pizza dough, and dipping sauce. We can’t force our children to like veggies, but we can present them in appealing ways and hope for the best. The beauty of these calzone pockets is that you can change them up however you’d like!

Easy Cheesy Veggie Pockets

Ingredients:

  • one tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • one head of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • one red bell pepper, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package fresh or frozen pizza dough, brought to room temperature
  • marinara or your favorite tomato sauce, for dipping

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Press garlic, sauté for just a minute to release flavor without burning. Add red pepper and broccoli florets and continue to sauté until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. 

     
  3. Once cooled, add cheeses, salt and pepper, and mix well. You can do this right in the skillet, or in a mixing bowl – your choice. The cheeses will begin to melt, that is OK.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 6-8 mini pieces and roll out each piece to form an oval (you can make your calzones as big or as small as you’d like).

     
  5. Spoon an equal amount of your broccoli mixture in the center of each oval of dough, leaving a bit more space at the top to fold over.

     
  6. Fold the dough over the filling to form a half-moon shaped calzone. Press the edges down with the back of a fork to seal closed, and prick a few holes on the top to release steam while cooking.
  7. Place pockets onto a pizza stone or prepared baking sheets. Bake about 25 minutes, or until golden (let your senses guide you!).
  8. Let cool slightly, cut in half to cool further, and serve with warmed dipping sauce.

 

Variations to Try:

(follow the basic recipe, swapping out the fillings for whatever you’d like)

Sausage and Pepper Pockets (sliced or crumbled cooked sweet Italian sausage, sliced peppers, provolone cheese)

Cheeseburger Pockets (browned ground beef, American cheese, diced onions)

“Garden” Pockets (artichoke hearts, mushrooms, fontina cheese)

What other variations can you think of? The possibilities are endless!

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Pouches' Community Corner

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