Tax Day & Calzones with Marinara Sauce

taxes_01“…If you previously made or are making the simplified limitation election, skip Part I and enter on the AMT Form 1116, line 17, the same amount you entered on that line for the regular tax. If you did not complete Form 1116 for the regular tax and you previously made or are making the simplified limitation election, complete Part I and lines 15 through 17 of the AMT Form 1116 using regular tax amounts. …” (Instructions from IRS Form 6251

Is there anything worse than income tax day? Well, maybe a root canal without anesthesia or rain on the 4th of July. That said, with good dental hygiene you have a pretty good chance of avoiding major dental work. And if it rains on Independence Day, well, with a bit of luck you will be surprised with a great fireworks display sometime later in the summer.

Benjamin Franklin warned us, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” As wise as he was, Ben missed a few sure things. For instance, there is little if any doubt that the black flies will be back soon. It’s also a sure bet that given even the remotest chance of getting lost on the way to anywhere, I will. Plus, I don’t know about you but an endless string of bad hair days is a definite sure thing for me from late June until Labor Day. However, a few mishaps, unpleasantries and curls-gone-wild are minor hiccups when compared with the grief brought and wrought by Tax Day.

It may be tempting, but don’t even think of skipping the misery of doing your taxes. The IRS is relentless and tough as nails. Look at Al Capone. The FBI, led by that terribly handsome Kevin Costner and handsomer Sean Connery, chased him all over Chicago and half the country but couldn’t pin him to any crime. Instead, a humble accountant nailed him for tax evasion and off he went to Alcatraz.

You can’t even escape the IRS by leaving the country. I lived in Switzerland for almost two decades and I still had to file my taxes every year. Living overseas only adds to the complexity with exchange rates, a few extra forms and the special treat of the dreaded alternative minimum tax. Wading through the instructions for the AMT was almost comical until I had to write a check to my Uncle Sam.

Putting on my optimist hat, I can make happy talk and insist that I don’t mind paying taxes. After all, it means I have an income to tax. Even if my glass is half-full, there is still that worrisome empty part. No matter how optimistic I pretend to be or how happy I talk, there is still a mountain of forms to navigate.

The government must have scoured the country, looking high and low, to find people to design and write these forms. They must be terribly heartless men and women. It seems like their one and only mission is to make our lives absolutely miserable by twisting and turning the English language into an incomprehensible jumble.

I wish you good luck as you struggle through your calculations. Once you finish, take some time to enjoy life. You deserve it. If you get one, celebrate your refund. If not, navigating all those forms with your sanity still intact is reason enough to celebrate. Grab a few beers, some good food and good friends, let out a big sigh of relief and relax, it’s over.

… at least for this year. Bon appétit!

Al Capone Calzone with Marinara Sauce
Al Capone avoided the police and feds for years … only to be nabbed by the taxman. If this year’s filing has left you feeling spent (literally and figuratively), invite a few friends over to commiserate with beer and calzones. Enjoy!
Serves 8

About 12 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
Olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon or to taste red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 cup ricotta
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
6 ounces Fontina cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Your favorite homemade or store bought pizza dough – enough for 2 large pizzas
Flour
Marinara Sauce (recipe follows)

If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Squeeze any excess liquid from the spinach and place it in a bowl.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet, over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper flakes and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add the onion to the spinach, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Put a little more oil in the skillet, add the mushrooms and sauté until golden. Add the mushrooms to the spinach and onions and cool to room temperature.

Add the cheeses and egg to the vegetables and toss again until well combined.

Divide the pizza dough into 8 pieces. Dust a clean work surface with flour. Flatten and roll the dough until each piece is about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick and oval shaped.

Place a large dollop of spinach filling on each piece of dough, fold to form half-moons and seal the edges. Cut a few vents in the top of each calzone. Place the calzones on the hot baking stone or on a baking sheet and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Serve with Marinara Sauce.

Marinara Sauce
Olive Oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1/4 teaspoon or to taste red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (optional)

Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, season with the herbs, pepper flakes, salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes and wine and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and, stirring often, simmer for 30 minutes. Add the fresh basil and serve.

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One Year Ago – Chocolate-Espresso Cheesecake
Two Years Ago – Runners’ Chicken with Pasta
Three Years Ago – Steamed Artichokes with Bagna Cauda or Warm Lemon-Garlic Sauce
Four Years Ago – Death by Chocolate Cake
Five Years Ago – Filet de Perche Meunière
Six Years Ago – Chicken Provençal
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

I’m happy to report I finished my taxes over the weekend. What about you?

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

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