Seems like a good day for pizza, right? When isn’t a good time for an easy-peasy-pizza?! I whipped up a super simple one I wanted to share despite how little cooking I actually did. Seems appropriate for a Monday. This will not overload your brain.
I was shooting for a super easy chicken Parmesan calzone but my dough was being difficult. I mean holes, bubbles, sticky, and crazy elastic-y even after getting to room temp. I’ve never had such a hard time. I remembered seeing a pizza joint on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives that puts cornmeal into the dough. I wasn’t sure it went, but I jumped on it.
Success! It was nutty and crispy. I usually use Portland Pie Company’s dough and I’m obsessed. I was improvising after grabbing some at a different grocery store. Yikes. It was touch & go for a few minutes there.
4 chicken fingers, cooked & chopped (frozen or bread your own)
1 ball pizza dough
1 cup tomato sauce
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
3 tbs Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic, chopped
Spread pizza dough out and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
When dough is starting to crisp and cook through, take it out and top with sauce, spices, and garlic.
Spread shredded mozzarella all over then top with chicken.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until cheese is melted and crust is crisp.
Remove from the oven and spread mozzarella slices over the top. Return it to the oven and allow the cheese to melt with the oven off.
Manicotti is totally not seasonally appropriate but I don’t care. I love pasta in all forms and figured I’d try out manicotti one night when it wasn’t too hot to have the oven on. I can’t say this is my favorite. I really love lasagna and stuffed shells come in a close second, but my manicotti was good. They’re just tougher to assemble than stuffed shells. It was a labor of patience.
I should give Amy’s manicotti a try she learned to make it with Monterey jack slices instead of ricotta from her mom. That sounds easier and maybe cheesier!
Look who photo bombed my picture! Windsor is often underfoot in the kitchen so I figured I wouldn’t crop him out of this one. It’s a tough one to capture since he’s black against cherry cabinets so nevermind how over exposed it is, just look for the red collar!
1 box Manicotti shells
2 cups tomato sauce
32 oz. ricotta
1 cup baby spinach (optional)
1 tbs chopped garlic
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Boil manicotti until about 50% cooked, be sure not to overcook them then drain
Mix ricotta, egg, chopped spinach, garlic, Italian seasoning, and ¾ cup mozzarella until combined.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prep a baking dish with nonstick spray and ½ cup tomato sauce
Carefully spoon ricotta mixture into the manicotti shells. (I used a teaspoon and filled using both ends (and gravity).
Spread sauce over the top, cover with foil, and bake for 35 minutes.
Remove the cover, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and bake for another 5 minutes until golden and melty.
I added the spinach because I often have some leftover and it is an easy/healthy way to sneak a veggie into this. When I have leftovers I toss it into a plastic container in the freezer if I can’t use it right away. The ability to cook it or eat spinach raw makes it my favorite green.
This is a good one to make & freeze if you aren’t into eating it meal after meal! It would be a good one to give my cousins-in-law who are now new parents (if they weren’t 2,000+ miles away)!
If I just scared you off….
Check out my baked ziti for easier assembly
or check out Martha’s Butternut Squash Lasagna I made and fell in love with if you are wishing fall upon us
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.
1 pizza dough ball
12 oz shredded mozzarella
8 oz ricotta
2 cups baby spinach
8 oz artichoke hearts
1 tbs garlic, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Mix ricotta, spinach, artichokes, and garlic together.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I love leftovers. I love transforming one thing into something totally different annnnnd I love not spending any money to do it. These were a prime example of all these things. I had leftover risotto from the other day. I made more than usual but even with Mr. J and I eating it with dinner one night and leftovers for lunch the next day, there was still a good amount. I decided to make aranchini!
Aranchini are historically Sicilian but as you can imagine other regions of Italy have similar ones that they’ll tell you are not aranchini. I learned this while dining with the mob. Mine are not authentic since I didn’t have any mozzarella for the middle.
Even without this seemingly key ingredient, these were simply delicious. Maybe because I fried them. I never fry anything so it makes me appreciate it even more. Frying makes me anxious and it’s such a mess.
1 ½ cups prepared and chilled risotto
2 eggs, whisked with 1 tbs water
1 cup panko
2 tbs grated Parmesan
Preheat oil ½ deep in a pan on medium
Scoop refrigerated risotto into 1” balls
Dip each into eggwash then roll in panko until completely covered
Fry in batches turning until golden brown.
Remove and let rest on paper towel.
These were so surprisingly good! I let them get pretty fried before turning them the first time. I think that really helped them stay together since they had a solid fried base on the bottom when I scooped with a slotted spoon.
We each ate a few as an app with dinner and I froze the rest. I think they’ll defrost pretty easily in the fridge and bake to reheat. They’ll be awesome when this weekend is over and I can celebrate a successful event (knock on wood!). I work all year for this weekend so wish me luck, dry weather, well behaved vendors, and lots of fundraising $$ coming in!
This doesn’t seem like it really warrants a recipe, but this hit the spot and makes all other meatball subs look sad.The key was the garlic bread. It was a pretty good “water-proofer” to keep the roll from getting too soggy too!
2 crusty rolls
4 slices of provolone cheese
2 cups tomato sauce
3 tbs butter
2 tbs garlic, chopped
2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
Prep the rolls as you would garlic bread (I spread the butter on them, then garlic, truffle oil, Parmesan, kosher salt, and garlic powder)
Bake for 5 minutes at 400-degrees.
Cut meatballs into quarter chunks and warm with sauce while bread is toasting.
Remove the rolls and top each one with 1 slice of provolone.
Add sauce, meatball chunks, and more sauce, then top with remaining cheese.
Bake 5 minutes at 400-degrees until melted.
I loved how garlicky it was and the truffle oil was a great addition. I cut the meatballs to make it more manageable but if they were smaller I might not have.
I think the important thing to remember to keep these as a quick kitchen-to-table dinner is that if everything is warm, they don’t need to cook long. The meatballs and sauce were both warm so all that was happening in the oven was the cheese melting.
Happy Leap Year Extra Day! I didn’t know what food was appropriate to celebrate today but I have a fitting one for a wintry day.
Since pasta as our go-to when we don’t feel like really cooking, I rarely make any other pasta dishes. I randomly decided to make stuffed shells and it was such a hit I’ll have to make them again. These aren’t rocket science but they are a great one to double and freeze. Since there’s only 2 of us here, I made one batch and we had it for dinner and then we each took it for lunch for the rest of the week. You could always prep them the night before too.
1 pound jumbo shells
3 cups tomato sauce
16 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbs Italian seasoning
¼ cup prepared alfredo sauce (optional)
3 tbs chopped fresh basil (optional)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Boil shells to al dente (don’t overcook since they’ll cook a bit when baked).
Mix ricotta with Parmesan, egg, Italian seasoning, and alfredo sauce. (I also added fresh basil.)
Spray baking pan with nonstick spray and ladle 1 cup of tomato sauce to the bottom of the dish (I started with alfredo).
Carefully fill each shell with cheese mixture.
Pack shells in tightly next to one another
Top with half the mozzarella and remaining tomato sauce.
Bake covered for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
Add the rest of mozzarella for the last 15 minutes to bake uncovered.
This was really good. I guess I should think of pasta dishes more often for planned meals. It actually made me want other baked pasta dishes.
My Gram W wasn’t known for her cooking, but she made one mean baked ziti. Her only other claims to fame in the kitchen were fudge, chex mix, and pound cake. I got one of her original pound cake recipes at my wedding shower.
Go ahead and make some stuffed shells. They’re a fun recipe to customize with some spinach, sausage, artichokes or whatever you want. I’m not always into really crossing food boundaries. I keep seeing taco stuffed shells with a mexican flair, but I wouldn’t go there.
I also don’t mess around with low fat cheese. It’s not the same and I often would rather not even have it since it doesn’t melt the same, but that’s your call too. So, what do you say about low-fat cheese? Love it? Hate it?
Risotto might be one of my favorite comfort foods. I love how creamy it gets and just how much flavor cooks into it. I have a few more in mind but this is an oldy-but-goody. I think I last made it for a girls night dinner circa 2008. This one is red and would be a fun Valentines Day dinner…if you wanted to be thematic.
Risotto really gets a bad rap for being difficult but I don’t agree at all. This one also packs an extra veggie punch with the tomato juice.
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup water or white wine
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Toast rice in olive oil for 5 minutes until slightly golden.
Chop zucchini into disks then into quarters.
Warm tomato juice and water/wine over low heat.
Add one cup of the hot liquid at a time until absorbed.
When adding the very last of the liquid, add the zucchini to cook for 5 minutes.
Mix in parmesan and serve.
I sprinkled in some rosemary flor de sal I got in Italy and it was a great use for it. I considered it our starch and our veggie. We had some grilled turkey kilbasa with it too for an easy dinner. The leftovers were good too though they’re a bit more sticky.
Low sodium tomato juice would work well too if your blood-pressure isn’t ridiculously low like mine. Maybe next time I’ll use my trusty Kitchen Ready tomatoes/sauce since the tomato chunks might be good in there too.