Mamma Mia!

Bean is a Super Mario Brothers fanatic. He plays the Mario games.  He plays with Mario toys. He walks like Mario. He runs like Mario. He talks like Mario. He will tell anyone who will listen about the evils of the Koopa Troopa and the beauty of Princess Peach. In a word….obsessed! Mario holds quite a bit of leverage in our household. If Bean misbehaves Mario is withheld. If he does something above and beyond the call of duty he is rewarded by extra Mario time. It’s just how we rule the roost and it works (for now). 

I consider myself a pretty smart Mama. At the very least, I consider myself smarter than the average four-year old so I will use his love of Mario to my advantage whenever I can.  That being said, tonight we are having calzones for dinner. In our house, calzones are referred to as ‘inside-out pizza’. Why? Because MARIO LOVES PIZZA!

Ok, I realize that I’m probably creating a peer-pressure issue here and this may come back to bite me in the tush down the road but, as Scarlett O’Hara once said “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”.  Hey, if Bean can pretend to be Mario, I can pretend to be Scarlett, right?

Ok, here’s the recipe for “Inside-out pizza” (adapted from the Feb 2008 issue of Cuisine at Home)

For the dough:

1 cup warm water (105-115)

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 t. sugar

2 T. olive oil

3 cups bread flour

1 T. sugar

2 t. table salt

Coat a large bowl and a small baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Proof water, yeast and 1/4 t. sugar in a small bowl. Let is stand for 15 minutes, then stir in oil. Yeast is a living organism. Proofing is making sure the yeast is still alive. If the water mixture foams up after 15 minutes, you have active yeast. If there are no bubbles you need to get new yeast.

Blend flour, 1T. sugar and salt in a food processor. With the machine running, slowly add yeast mixture and process until a ball forms (about 30 seconds). If you are using a standing mixer, use the dough hook and blend for 20 minutes.  Gently knead on a well-floured surface until smooth, then form into a ball. Place dough in prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise one hour.

Note:If you’re looking for a way to pass the time while waiting for the dough to rise you can give yourself a nifty hand treatment like I did. Put a spoon full of sugar in your palm, pour olive oil in the center & massage your hands together. Rinse and pat dry. You just exfoliated and moisturized at the same time all while you are making dinner for the hungry masses. You are incredible! Pat yourself on the back with your lovely, smooth hands. 

 After the hour is up, punch the dough down, divide and shape into four balls. Place on a prepared baking sheet, cover and let rise 30-40 minutes before rolling.

 For the filling:

1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage

1.5 cups mozzarella cheese

1.5 cups whole milk ricotta

2/3 cup parmesan, shredded

2/3 cup pepperoni slices

Salt to taste

Garnish with olive oil and parmesan

Saute sausage over medium-high heat until cooked through (8-10 minutes) Drain on a paper-towel lined plate then combine with cheeses, pepperoni and salt.

Here’s a tip: looking for a way to get rid of grease without dumping it down your drain and clogging your sink (yep, speaking from experience here)? Line a coffee mug with foil and pour the drippings in. Stick the cup in the fridge until the grease sets then throw out the foil. No muss, no fuss! Wow…you are a cooking machine! Pat yourself on the back again.

To assemble, roll a ball of dough into a 10″ circle and top with one cup of the filling. Rub edge with water, fold dough over filling so edges meet, and seal with a fork. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet repeat with the remaining dough and filling, then bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Let rest 3 minutes, brush with olive oil and garnish with parmesan cheese. Serve with a side of marinara sauce.

 The possibilities for fillings are endless. Personally, if it were just me eating, I’d make an eggplant calzone with fontina cheese. But, I kept it simple tonight. 

Ok…the result? Bean and Hubby really liked the inside-out pizza and we had enough leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

This begs the question…Does Mario like broccoli?

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