Turn to turnovers for easy meals and school lunches

click to enlarge Elizabeth Meyer helps her big sister, Maddie, make savory sweet corn and ham turnovers. - PHOTO BY ASHLEY MEYER
PHOTO BY ASHLEY MEYER
Elizabeth Meyer helps her big sister, Maddie, make savory sweet corn and ham turnovers.

Delicious, savory, hand-held pies are found in cuisines all around the globe. Whether they're Cornish pasties or empanadas or just old-fashioned, Midwestern turnovers, these portable pies are a tasty way to transform whatever ingredients are on hand into portable, make-ahead meals that are fun to prepare with kids. Littles will enjoy mixing filling ingredients, helping to measure flour and crimping the finished pies while older kids can get to work grating cheese, chopping veggies and rolling out dough.

Made with homemade pie crust or store-bought, the prepared pies can be frozen flat, then transferred to a zip-top bag and stored in the freezer for up to two months. They can be baked as needed and are tasty even when served at room temperature, making them a perfect choice for lunchboxes or a meal on the run.

No matter what type of filling you use, be sure not to overstuff your pies, as this can cause them to leak when baking. One double-crust batch of pie dough will accommodate approximately 2-3 cups of filling and yield eight pies. Filling ingredients such as ham, chicken, broccoli or peppers should be precooked and cooled. Frozen veggies like spinach that contain a lot of water should be thawed and squeezed dry to remove excess moisture.

Once the dough circles have been rolled, brush beaten egg along the edges of half of the pastry before placing a mound of filling in the center. Fold the dough over the filling, then press the edges together to seal. For a pretty presentation, brush the remaining egg mixture lightly over the top of each turnover.

At this point, the turnovers can be baked in a preheated 425-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Alternatively, arrange on a wax paper-lined tray and transfer to the freezer. Frozen pastries should be baked at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.

Savory whole wheat turnovers

Dough
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup cold water

Filling
1 cup grated cheese
½ cup finely diced cooked ham, chicken or black beans
½ cup sweet corn, either frozen or cut off of a cooked cob
½ cup lightly cooked diced bell pepper
¼ cup minced green onions

Prepare the dough. Combine the flours and seasoning in a mixing bowl or food processor. If making the dough by hand, add the butter to the flour and use a fork or your fingers to work the butter into the flour. Toss the mixture lightly with a fork and drizzle in the water, stopping when the dough starts to come together. Gather it up with your hands, if it holds together, it's ready; if it looks dry or crumbles, then add water little by little until it's cohesive. Alternatively, if using a food processor, add the butter to the flour in the bowl. Turn on the machine and immediately add the water. Process for approximately 30 seconds, until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. When ready to make the turnovers, remove the dough from the fridge and divide it into eight equal pieces. Cover the dough pieces with a towel to keep them from drying out while you work.

Combine all the filling ingredients and have them ready. Roll out a dough ball onto a floured surface into a six-inch circle. Brush the edges of half the circle with beaten egg, then place a heaping 1/4 cup of filling into the middle of the circle. Fold the dough over the filling and crimp closed. Cut a small slit into to the top of each turnover with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Brush with egg and bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Ashley Meyer is a chef and Springfield mother of two who appreciates easy weeknight meals and school lunches.

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