Archived entries for pizza

Chicken Calzones with Sun Dried Tomatoes

I’ve been on a “sun dried” tomato kick, as I spoke about in my last post; by which I mean drying them in the oven instead of the days long process of leaving them out in the sun. By only slow roasting them for an hour or two, you can intensify the flavors but still keep the tomatoes juicy. They can create a great instant sauce by mixing with pesto and putting them on top of pasta, pizza or in calzones. I was having a friend come over for a nice lunch, so I decided to make a quick and delicious calzone with some baked chicken breast, pesto and tomatoes. Here’s my process:

Chicken Calzones with Sun Dried Tomatoes
makes 3-4 calzones; prep time: 60-90 min; bake time: 20 min


  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c. luke warm water
  • 1 tsp live active yeast (1/2 package)
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbs Olive oil


  • 3-4 large plum tomatoes
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • Italian seasoning (or dried basil, rosemary, thyme)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. pesto of your choice
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese

Prep dough: Mix flour and salt.  Make a well in dry ingredients and pour water.  Place yeast in water and let sit for 5-10 minutes until yeast is disolved and looks puffy.  Add oil and honey.  Either by hand or using a dough hook on a mixer, gently begin to kneed the dough together.  Once dough is smooth, cover with a towel and place near or on top of your stove.  Let sit for an hour to rise.

Prep Tomatoes to slow roast:  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Cut tomatoes in half or quarters.  In a bowl, coat with olive oil, sprinkle generously with dried Italian herbs, salt and pepper.  Lay out on a baking tray and roast for about an hour.

Prep breaded chicken breast: Cut chicken in half through the width of the breast, like you would fillet a fish.  Cut slices in half, to make four pieces.   Mix dried bread crumbs with Italian seasonings, salt and pepper in one bowl.  In another bowl, place egg and lightly beat with a fork.  When tomatoes are done in oven, turn broiler on.  Take each chicken breast and coat in egg and dip in bread crumbs.  Place breaded breasts on a baking sheet and place under broiler for about 8-10 minutes for each side until breading is golden and chicken is cooked.  Keep an eye on them, so the bread crumbs don’t burn.

Assemble Calzones:  Preheat oven to 400.  Take your dough and separate into 3 or 4 balls.  Roll dough out into circles.  Dice your garlic cloves and place in a small dish.  Lightly cover with olive oil.  Brush garlic oil over middle of dough circles.  When chicken is done in broiler, remove and cut into thick slices.  Lay slices of chicken over garlic oil.  Brush 1-2 Tbs of pesto over chicken.  Lay oven dried tomatoes over chicken.  Cover well with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Using left over egg from Chicken breading process, brush egg yolk around edges of Calzone.  Fold close and pinch edges.  Brush tops of calzone with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and your choice of seasoning.

Bake Calzones: Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Eat up.  Yum!

Left Over Remix: BBQ Pizza with Chicken and Jalapenos

Its a creative challenge sometimes to look at a bunch of left over ingredients and think how I can make them over into something new and exciting. Looking in the refrigerator, I had a bunch of bags of left over garnish materials from Chili night; there was chopped jalapeno slices, half a red onion, a bag of shredded cheese and chopped cilantro.

While I was thinking of what I could use them for, my eyes glanced on a bottle of BBQ sauce I’ve been trying to get rid of. With the little scrap of chicken breast I knew was lurking in my freezer, one of Ira’s favorite pizza’s came into my mind. Using my pizza dough short cut, I had a left over dinner on the table about an hour later.

BBQ Pizza with Chicken and Jalapeno

  • Jalapeno slices
  • red onion sliced
  • cooked chicken breast
  • cilantro, chopped
  • BBQ Sauce
  • shredded cheese

I quickly prepared my pizza dough and got it in the oven to rise.

Meanwhile, I gave the Jalapenos a quick saute in olive oil with some cumin seed to add a bit of flavor and cut down on the spicy heat of the peppers. If you like spicy food, you can skip this step, but I have to admit, I am a bit of a wiener when it comes to spicy peppers. What can I say, I am a gringo.

I also gave the chicken a quick saute to cook through, about 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Before putting into the pan, I quickly cut up about a 1/4 of a chicken breast I had defrosted and mixed with the juice of 1 lime and 1 tsp of cumin.

Once the dough was ready, I spread out the BBQ sauce on the dough. BBQ sauce is easy to make if you don’t have any ready made in the fridge.

This is a quick mid week dinner not a BBQ competition in Kentucky, so Sweet Baby Rays or a BBQ sauce made with ketchup works just fine.

Layering the rest of the ingredients on the pizza, it was ready for the oven. 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Eat up and enjoy not letting ingredients rot in your refrigerator. Barack Obama is proud of you.

Quick Dinners: Same Thing Different Every Night

The marinara I roasted in my previous post yielded about 1 1/2 quarts of sauce.  I work 10 hour days, so when I get home, I am usually too pooped to pop. I like to have items prepped which can easily be assembled for a quick dinner.

Everybody loves pizza, and since I had the marinara, I decided to to go for it.  I know making pizza from scratch with a yeast dough DOES NOT sound quick, but here’s a quick shortcut which will get you from scratch to pizza-in-mouth in only 90 minutes which only 30 minutes of actual work.

I was able to quickly whip together some pizza dough.

  • A Quick TIMESAVER: Preheat your oven 200 degrees while you are mixing together your dough. When you dough is done, turn the oven off and place your kneaded dough resting inside an oiled bowl into the warm oven. This will expedite the rising of your dough. Check dough in 30 minutes, and it should be good to go.

I rubbed the rolled out dough with olive oil and chopped garlic and covered with my marinara. I layered some sliced kielbasa we had in the fridge, sprinkled it with some pickled capers, and covered the pizzas generously with pre-shredded mozzarella cheese. The pizzas went into the preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Bam, dinner was done! Delicious!!

Grill & Chill: Pizza On The BBQ

Part 1: Pizza on the Grill

Ira and I, along with Eric (who we talked into driving us) rode into Michigan for the weekend, so my family could meet our new dog, Gertie! She quickly charmed all my family members as quickly she sucked us in. Needless to say she was a great success!

In the summer, my Dad loves to “Grill and Chill”. Saturday night my sister and I were put in charge of dinner, so we decided to BBQ personal pizzas and lounge by the pool, with beer of course! While we were busy partying, the double batch of pizza dough I made wanted to come out with us a do a bit of sun bathing itself!

When the dough and toppings were all ready and prepped, everyone attempted the old dough tossing maneuvers to flatten the dough out to the size they wanted.

From left, Andy, my sister Emily and her husband Jason ham it up.

When all the pizza crusts were ready, we took them out the grill for a quick pre-bake to ensure the dough would be nice and crispy!

Next, we loaded on the toppings!

We had a selection of fresh mozzarella. mushrooms, peppers, caramelized onions, kalamata olives, sauteed spinach, fresh basil, ham, homemade sausage among other things.

Everyone had their own techniques of applying the toppings, but for most it was the more the merrier!

Parmesan? High Life?

Before Grill

After topping the pizzas, they went back onto the grill to heat the toppings, melt the cheese and brown the curst a little more.

After Grill

…And then, ready to eat!

My brother Alger is going to have a cheesy beard.

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