There are less than two weeks until Christmas, and I'm done. Exhausted. Beat. I've baked cookies, bought and wrapped and shipped presents, made travel arrangements, made dog-boarding arrangements, and gone shopping and wrapping and shipping again. I've gone over the edge, and I don't mean Lady Gaga's Edge of Glory. It's the Edge of Time Management, the Edge of Sanity, the Edge of Holiday Enjoyment ... and I've descended into madness.
Cooking is one chore that has fallen by the wayside. I usually only cook once or twice a week, but even my husband has been too exhausted to whip up a meal, so we have been relying on some old, easy favorites and a few new tricks to get us through this last stretch until our Christmas vacation. One welcome addition to our routine is the use of frozen pizza dough -- like the ones I found, and loved, at Trader Joe's -- to shortcut our way through many a dinner.
After the first few pies we got pretty pizza'd out, but being the carb-lovers we are, we knew there were more uses for this freezer-friendly favorite. Here are a few ways frozen pizza dough has saved us lately.
One might argue that if you are sick of pizza, you are sick of calzone. NOT SO I SAY. A calzone just feels more filling and more cozy -- perfect for the weather lately. We split the dough four ways to make four small calzone, but two giant ones would work just as well. There was this grand idea of eating one apiece and then saving the second one for lunch, but just each ate the second one for dessert.
You can either roll out the dough with a rolling pin, or if you have the deft touch of a former pizza-maker, toss them out manually. Stuff 'em full of cheese and meat (or whatever you love), fold, score the top so steam can be released during cooking, and pop into a 450° F oven. We used a baking stone, but a baking sheet will do just fine.
Baking bread is actually something I really enjoy. My mom and I used to bake a lot when I was a kid, and when I learned to cook (at an embarrassingly old age) I started by brushing up on my baking skills. Normally bread is something I love to make during the day while I work, but lately even waiting for dough to rise has become a chore, so pizza dough has been a life-saver. With the blissful temperature drop, we have been utilizing the crock pot (and by "we" I mean "Josh") for low-maintenance meals; my contribution is pizza-dough breadsticks. We've been dragging these breadsticks through bowls of soup for a couple of weeks, and we love them.
Just rip off clumps of dough, stretch-and-roll into sticks, and bake at 450 °F. We season ours by softening some garlic in butter and oil on the stove, pouring that over the sticks, and then sprinkling with salt and various spices. You can easily turn these into garlic knots by, you know, knotting the dough.
I shamelessly stole this idea from commenter "Dundle" on my previous piece about TJ's pizza dough. A quick Google showed several recipes, but I went with result number one from the Cube Marketplace. When Dundle wrote "monkey bread," my pulse quickened -- what a brilliant idea! It's one of my husband's favorites, and made for a nice weekend treat with coffee and some fruit for breakfast. Sorry I didn't get photos of this one, but I promise it looked just like the one on the blog I linked -- swearsies.