Saturday, February 4, 2012

Almost Game Day- Mini Calzones Will Please the Crowd

24 hours left now... do you know what you're making for the super bowl tomorrow?  You can never go wrong with pizza.  But to really impress your friends and family, why not take it to the next level?  I absolutely LOVE pizza, but I feel even more special when I have my very own individual calzone all for me!  The recipe for these is going to be similar to a homemade pizza, but all folded up in a cute little cheesy, doughy pouch.

And yes, YOU CAN make your own dough from scratch. Do it!  You will love hearing your friends and family oooh and aaah over your amazing calzone making talents.  The dough will need to rise for at least and hour-  you can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate overnight if that makes life easier.  This recipe makes enough dough for 2 pizza crusts (or 12 calzones), so I usually freeze half to use later- just wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze.  Take the frozen dough out the day before you want to use it and let defrost overnight in the refrigerator.  Let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before making your pizza. 

My dough recipe utilizes the added health benefits of whole wheat flour- more fiber and nutrients!!!  I also add dried herbs/spices for a little extra sumthin sumthin- feel free to substitute other herbs spices and find your own flavor!

The Delicious Dough
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (around 110 degrees F)
1 tsp salt
2 Tb olive oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tb dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/5 cups all purpose flour, plus more as needed.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water.  Let sit for 10 minutes- there will be a foam on top as the yeast starts to produce carbon dioxide. 
Stir salt and olive oil into the yeast mixture.  Add 2 cups whole wheat flour, oregano and garlic powder and mix until well combined.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead in additional 1 1/5 cups all purpose flour.  Add more flour as needed, kneading dough until no longer sticky.  (Alternately, if you have a stand mixer, you can add the ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer and use the dough hook to knead the dough). 
Place your dough ball in a large, well-oiled bowl and turn to coat with the oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area for at least an hour to rise.  The dough should double in size.

Punch the dough down- time to unload any aggression!  If pizza is your desire, divide into 2 even and smooth balls.  If calzones are on the menu, divide into 12 even and smooth balls.  Let the balls rest for 10 minutes before forming your delicious product!

The Cheesy Filling
Here's where you can get extra creative.  I am all about you changing any recipe to make it more your own- substitute any of the veggies and meats in my filling and put in whatever you find in your fridge.  Some yummy combos could be- peppers, onions and turkey sausage; pineapple and ham; broccoli and caramelized onions; spinach and artichokes; or any combination of veggies!

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup roughly chopped fresh spinach (you can use frozen and defrosted- just make sure you drain the liquid well).
3/4 cup chopped, sauteed mushrooms
1/2 cup diced, sauteed canadian bacon
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients until well combined.  This filling makes enough for 1/2 the dough recipe (or 6 calzones), so if you are cooking all the dough at once, double the recipe. 

The Crazy-Good Calzones
6 Mini homemade dough balls
The cheesy filling
1 egg
1 Tb water
A little bit more water
Medium grain corn meal

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.  Sprinkle some corn meal on a baking sheet or pizza stone.  Roll out each of your dough balls to about 1/8 inch thick.  Divide filling evenly among the dough.  With the additional water, moisten the edges of the dough.  Fold dough in half over the filling and use a fork to pinch edges together until well sealed.  Repeat with each of the remaining calzones.  
Mix the egg with 1 Tb water.  Using a marinade brush, brush the egg mixture on each of the calzones- these will make them turn nice and golden brown and B-E-A-Utiful in the oven.  Use a knife to cut 3 slits in the top of each calzone.
Bake on your prepared baking sheet or pizza stone for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with some warm marinara sauce and a crisp salad on the side. 

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