Cheeseburger Calzone

Let’s start the week off right. Let’s talk burgers…no calzones. Seriously, this is just pure goodness whichever way you look at it..

This was delicious, and fresh, and comforting all at the same time. I was thinking back to when I messed around with a biscuit crust for a burger pizza (it was a no-go, seen here).  ‎It was pizza topped with salad. It was a good idea, but needed a re-do. I made a big mac pizza here, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted.
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Ingredients:

3/4 pound ground chicken
1 ball pizza dough
12 oz shredded cheddar melting blend
1 large tomato, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
3 tbs ketchup
1 tbs mayo
1 tbs relish
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp sesame seeds

Directions:

Preheat oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400 degrees.
In a skillet, over medium heat, brown ground chicken until cooked through.
Mix in 1/4 cup of cheese. Stir.
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Whisk together ketchup, mayo, relish, and garlic salt, or shake in a glass jar.
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Spread pizza dough out into a large circle. Lay it onto the pan/stone off center (off center so it is loaded up and not moved, only closed)
Layer cheese, ground chicken, spinach, tomatoes. Dab with special ketchup sauce.
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Repeat for 2 layers (or until layer ingredients run out).
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Stretch pizza dough “overhang” across to meet the other side and close up.
Pinch edges together.
Slice a few vent slits into the top of the calzone.
Bake 10 minutes.
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Remove, brush with olive oil and shake sesame seeds onto the top.
Return to the oven, baking for another 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

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The dough provides the perfect crispy pseudo-burger bun. The meat mix with cheese in it was great. I think it would have been too dried out without the cheese. I like the spinach in there or arugula would be good. These two greens are so good cooked that I can’t quite picture other greens, but some lightly dressed on the side could be fresh and bright.

Calzones have some great pre-prep opportunities. The whole thing could be made and baked for only 10 minutes to firm up. Then heated for 15 minutes before serving. The meat/cheese mix and special sauce could be prepped the night before too, to speed up dinner prep. At this time of year, I like all the help I can get for dinner ;)

Restaurant Recreation: Chicken Cordon Bleu Calzone

In my world, there’s nothing better than take-out and DVR Friday nights. I’m old at heart and this is my ideal way to end the week. It feels so right to be lazy and loungy and doesn’t make me feel guilty at all. Saturday & Sunday mornings are a different story. I feel the need to get stuff done…immediately. Plus, in this heat do you really want to be crazy like me and crank your oven?

I don’t usually plan dinners for Friday night and Mr. J gives me a sly grin saying “how ‘bout we order something?”. I am the cheap one so often I’m the one who would eat something weird that I can come up with from the depths of the freezer or pantry rather than going out. Since we moved to the burbs our take-out delivery is slightly more limited. We tend to go with pizza or Chinese.

I got a chicken cordon bleu calzone from a local pizza joint and was stoked. Enough for lunch leftovers over the weekend! Woohoo! It was amazing and I wanted to recreate it.
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I made regular chicken cordon bleu and loved it but this calzone was definitely the easy way out.
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Ingredients:

4 breaded chicken tenders
8 oz shredded Swiss cheese
4 slices deli ham
Pizza dough
2 cups arugula
1 egg + 1 tbs water = eggwash

Directions:

Cook chicken according to directions (or bread and bake your own!)
Spread pizza dough onto a baking sheet.
Chop chicken, ham, and arugula.
Layer the chicken, cheese, ham, and arugula over the pizza dough.
Remember to include fillings almost to the edge and keep layering eventhough it will look like too much filling.
Close pizza dough over to seal shut.
Cut a few slits into the top and brush with eggwash (optional)
Bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
Let sit 5 minutes before slicing (or you’ll have an oozer)

Since I can’t pretend I made this idea up, I’m not tooting my own horn saying this was soooo good. I loved the swiss in there. That’s different than most of my calzones. I threw the arugula in since I had it and figured a little green never hurt anyone!
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The pre-made chicken tenders made it super simple. Those suckers are dirt cheap. Maybe that’s why there are so many kids who don’t know chicken in another form. Whatever. I’m not an 8-year-old but having these in the freezer reduced this recipe to purely an assembly project.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The calzone will look like it’s wayyy over stuffed but not enough filling is definitely a rookie mistake.

Cost:

4 breaded chicken tenders $1.14
8 oz shredded Swiss: $2.75
4 slices of ham: $0.75
Refrigerated pizza dough: $1.99
2 cups Arugula: $1.33
Total: $7.96 serves 4 for $1.99 per person
Total at my local pizza joint: small for $9.69 serves 2 for $4.84 per person

It is kind of crazy that I know I can make it for $1.99 per person and as frugal as I am I’ll still pay $4.84 per person for somebody to make it and bring it to me.  Whatever, don’t judge ;)

Spinach and Artichoke Calzone

I’ll put almost anything in a calzone. I like to do a few meatless meals sprinkled throughout the regular scheduled items. It is such a cost saving and it is never a bad thing to add more veggies into our lives. This wasn’t my greatest calzone. I think I didn’t like that there wasn’t enough texture for my taste. The inside was flavorful but cheese + spinach + artichoke + more cheese, made for a gooey center.

Ingredients:

1 pizza dough ball
12 oz shredded mozzarella
8 oz ricotta
2 cups baby spinach
8 oz artichoke hearts
1 tbs garlic, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Mix ricotta, spinach, artichokes, and garlic together.
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Gently stretch dough into a big circle and lay it onto a baking sheet with one half centered aka, the bottom of the calzone (with the other hanging off, aka the top).
Layer some of the filling spreading it out, almost to the edge.
Top it with mozzarella, layer on more filling, then more mozzarella until both cheese and filling runs out.
Carefully fold the top over to meet the other edge. Gently press the edges to seal.
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Brush with eggwash, if desired.
Cut about 4 slits on the top to let steam out.
Bake 30-40 minutes and let stand at least 5 minutes before cutting.
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This is an oozer! I waited and cut but it still oozed a bit. I mean, the inside is very malleable so it started escaping a bit. I can’t even imagine if I cut it immediately! Be sure to fill, fill, and fill the calzone some more. The worst homemade calzones are super doughy without much in the middle. Get that filling all the way to the edges too. The eggwash is optional. It’ll make the top shiny and restaurant-quality looking. I also never recommend trying to transport the uncooked calzone. Load it up right on the pan you’re cooking it on. You’ll hate your life trying to move it since you won’t have enough hands/spatulas/coordination to move it from your counter to the pan gracefully.

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The flavors were good, and the crust was the crunch needed but I thought the inside was too much of the same texture. I think because I had a texture issue with this, I’d stick to spinach and artichoke as dip or maybe I’d do it as pizza. Check out my other calzones I’d recommend in a heartbeat.

Even More Calzones

I hosted bookclub for some super fun ladies and I was racking my brain about what to make. Mr. J and I were on the verge of officially owning the house and I wanted to host despite the boxes all over and Christmas gift wrapping station. There’s a core group each time we get together and a few others come and go so I was looking for a crowd pleaser that would be easy for me to enjoy the crowd while dinner was almost ready. I went to my trusty signature calzones.

I knew I could make these and cook them 75% the night before, which would allow me to visit with them. It also meant most of my cleanup was already done!

I made a broccoli and cheddar one in wheat dough and prosciutto, apple, and brie. I started with carrots and hummus since all other apps were seeming to compete with the calzones and I served some salad and we finished with s’mores bars.
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Ingredients

1 ball of pizza dough
6 slices of prosciutto
1 granny smith apple
6 oz brie

Directions

Spread room temperature dough out.
Core and chop apple into thin slices.
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Roll prosciutto into logs and chop chiffonade.
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Slice brie.
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Layer brie, apple, and proscuitto. Layer and layer until you think there’s too much and keep going.
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Close the dough around the filling and make a few slices across the top.
Brush with egg wash for a shiny outside.
Bake 375 degrees for 40 minutes on a pizza stone or lined baking sheet.
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I freeze the brie to make it easier to slice. 15-25 minutes should be enough to cut through. I chiffonade the prosciutto because it can be tough to bite through when the pieces are too big. Let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing so the filling doesn’t ooze out.

Check out just how crazy the filling looked and then when baked it looks like the right amount. That is my prime suggestion for calzones.
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I usually put sage in, but I forgot it when grocery shopping. I wasn’t sure if it would be everyone’s taste so I thought the broccoli one would be well liked too. Now, How many pennies?

Here’s the costs for the Proscuitto Brie and Apple Calzone:

Pizza dough: $1.50
1 Granny Smith apple: $0.79
1/4 pound Prosciutto: $1.68
6 oz brie: $4.99
total: $8.96 or $2.24 per person for 4 servings

Calzone Queen

I was racking my brain for what to make for my Boston visitors. There were 6 of us and I wanted something everyone would like and that wouldn’t be too tricky to pull off while still getting to see everyone. I decided on calzones and now, it’s official: they are my signature dish.

I figured for 6 people I could made them ahead of time and warm when folks arrived. It turned out I was too distracted by wedding invitation stuffing to make everything in advance, but I busted out a few  tasty new ones alongside a previous favorite.

I made turkey meatball, spinach, and mozzarella as I’ve made before. I called it the “North End’er” for my guests visiting Boston.

We also had a sausage, red & yellow pepper calzone called “Fenway Favorite” which was a big hit.
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A new one was broccolini & cheddar I called “Cambridge Common”
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and a BBQ chicken and caramelized onion “Houston Misses You” calzone. Does BBQ chicken relate to any area of Boston? I was stumped on connecting that one.
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BBQ Chicken & Onion Calzone

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
1 cup bbq sauce of your choosing
1 onion
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
1 dough ball

Directions

Marinate the chicken in BBQ sauce before grilling it. I made some BBQ sauce before hand but any kind you like would be fine
Fork apart the grilled chicken and slather with BBQ sauce
Chop the onion and caramelize in a skillet
Sprinkle chicken and sauce, the onions, and cheese onto half of the dough ball
Repeat until it seems like WAY too much (trust me on this)
Close the calzone and make some air slits on the top.
Brush with eggwash and bake at 425 for 20 minutes

I liked it a lot. Probably because I knew I had made the sauce. It was so easy! I also added in a few bottled sauces with too little left to use productively. Liquid Smoke was new to me but adding some in made a nice touch. I wasn’t as meticulous as usual about getting filling all the way to the edges because I was chatting. I’m shocked that I got all 4 into the oven at the same time (2 on one pan)!

Guess what I’ve been eating for lunch this week!

‘Zone or Pie

I grabbed a few ingredients to make pizza but when I got home, I realized it could easily be a rolled out pizza, or a deep dish pizza, or a calzone! Love love love how versatile Italian dishes can be!
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Ingredients

pizza dough
1 head broccoli
2 chicken breasts
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup Parmesan
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup alfredo sauce
2 tbs cornmeal or wheat germ

Directions

Cut chicken breasts into thirds and roll in breadcrumbs and Parmesan before pan frying in olive oil.
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When chicken is cooked, rough chop it into bite size pieces.
Rough chop yellow onion and caramelize onions in the same pan the chicken cooked in.
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Steam broccoli florets.
Spread out dough onto a sheet pan sprayed with non-stick spray and sprinkled with wheatgerm. Leave half of dough hanging off the edge to become the top.
Layer cheese, chicken, broccoli, sauce and repeat. Pile it high!
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Close the calzone by wrapping the hanging edge over the filled half. Press tightly to close.
Make a few air-vent slits across the top and brush with olive oil or egg wash.
Bake 35 minutes at 400.
Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The key to the best calzones is filling with much more filling than seems appropriate. It settles and should be dense.

I liked this combo and thought it would be easy options from the freezer if you have them on hand. Mr. J didn’t think the broccoli was necessary, but it was OK. I always think a veggie and some color are necessary. Leftovers are also one of my favorite aspects to a calzone!

Enjoy cinco de mayo tomorrow! Have a margarita for me! I’ll be working super late but I’ll celebrate my favorite mexican later in May…

In the zone, the CALzone: Turkey Meatball & Spinach

I loooove to make calzones. I think the ratio of crispy crust to inner fillings or would-be pizza toppings is the best. It is also a great use for leftovers or the occasional less-than-perfect ingredient.

This calzone was turkey meatball, fresh spinach, and cheese. Dough definitely plays a big role in the calzone but dough varies in ease and quality. I went with refrigerated dough and pre-made turkey meatballs.

The trick is to fill the calzone much more than it looks like it can hold. Calzones fall into those “contents may settle while in motion.” I bought a ton of spinach and thought I could use it here.

Ingredients

1 ball of refrigerated pizza dough
4 turkey meatballs
2 cups shredded mozzerella
3 cups spinach, chopped
1 egg, whipped

Directions:

1) Stretch pizza dough out using your hands and spread out on lightly greased pan.
2) Top half of dough with sliced meatballs, spinach, and cheese alternating layers.

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The trick is to fill the calzone much more than it looks like it can hold. Calzones fall into those “contents may settle while in motion.” I bought a ton of spinach and thought I could use it here.
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3) Fold over and secure all the way around. Make a few slits to let steam out before brushing with eggwash.
4) Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-minutes until golden brown.
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Some of my other favorite calzones include: green apple, brie, and prosciutto; chicken parmesan; and ham and cheese. Literally anything could fill them up but I draw the line at going too far out of the box with Chinese or Mexican. That’s just crazy.
Calzones are great appetizers or as a meal. I might bring some to Christmas with the future in-laws!