19 September 2014

Pizza Calzones (freezer meal)

There are very few meals that I make more than once.  On this blog I can only find a handful - carnitas, for sure, protein bars have become a morning staple, and a variation of poutine nearly every Sunday night.  I've got some jalapeno poppers in the fridge right now, and roast chicken is still a regular visitor to my kitchen.  This recipe has been in my arsenal on and off since sometime in college.  It's a great heat-and-eat meal - like the pizza pockets of yore, except they don't taste like cardboard.  They are my favorite in-need meal (ie instead of bringing casserole - bleh - I'll freeze some of these and bring them to a friend in need so that they can be reheated whenever).
The fact that they're appearing in my kitchen has almost become a sign that something is wrong.  Despite that, they are DELICIOUS and this time, they only mean that I'm about to be very short on time and need a reliable, semi-nutritious meal that I can pull from the freezer when I'm too exhausted to even chop up some veggies for a stir-fry.
I go super basic here.  Mushrooms, peppers, onions, and some red chilis.  Add to that some (turkey) burger and, for a treat, bacon.
This is a time-tested and approved move:  shred and add the cheese.  I go back and forth this move: add sauce to the filling?  Or leave out and serve on the side?
Pick your dough, let it rise.
Dust your work surface with flour, divide the dough.
Flatten and prep for stuffing.
Put a small amount of pizza stuffing in the middle of the dough.
Seal the dough up and place on a greased pan.
Bake until brown and perfect (and spewing filling...I haven't solved this one yet).
But! the important part is how delicious they are.  And the fact that they can be frozen and reheated to make a perfect busy-night meal.

Pizza Calzones
(makes 12 servings, recipe can easily be halved)
  • 1 lb ground burger or turkey, cooked
  • 3 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped (roughly 2 cups)
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Enough dough for two large-ish pizzas (I used 3 of these because they're dirt cheap and my give-a-crap was broken)
1. Grease a cookie sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix together all ingredients except pizza dough - this is the filling.
3. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.  Flour the work surface, then take one portion of dough and flatten it out.
4. Scoop roughly 1/2 to 3/4 c. filling onto the dough.  Seal up the pocket of dough (if it isn't sealing well, use a twisting motion to combine both edges of the dough).  Repeat with remaining dough portions until pan is full - leave a few inches of space between each calzone.
5.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until the dough turns golden brown.  The time will change based on the size of your calzones, so be sure to keep an eye on the first batch.
6. (Optional) Let the calzones cool on a wire rack.  When cool, put in freezer bag and seal.  Throw in the freezer for up to two months. 

*I've made my decision:  the sauce is better on the side.  Plus, who doesn't love dipping their food in delicious red sauce?  Also, feel free to substitute filling ingredients - chicken, cheddar and broccoli sounds good.  Or how about chicken and spinach with a little mozza and asiago?  There's a whole world of fillings to be explored here.
These are so tasty, I should probably make them more often.  These are great for making in big batches - eat some right away, freeze the rest for those nights when you just don't have time to get a big meal on the table.  And I don't think I need to say, but these are definitely kid-friendly.  I've also made them using a gluten-free pizza dough mix and had great results that way too. 

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