Chicken Parmesan Pizza

chicken parmesan pizza | sunsets on the side

chicken parmesan pizza | sunsets on the side

In general, I really don’t insist on many things.

I’m not the person who insists on a certain paint color for a room…or on, say, a restaurant choice for dinner.  The restaurant thing is mostly because I’m not a picky eater and can find something I’d love to eat on almost any menu.  But, it’s also because I like it when other people are happy.  I’m a conflict avoider.

Truth.

chicken parmesan pizza dough | sunsets on the side

However.

This one time, I’m going to have to insist that you guys make this pizza.  It doesn’t have to be right now….or tomorrow…or even next week.  It requires a little bit of a time investment.  You’re making dough, you’re dredging, you’re browning, you’re grating, you’re chopping.

chicken parmesan pizza dough before | sunsets on the side

But, before this winter is over, I’m insisting you have this pizza.  It’s like a giant hug that somehow made it into your oven and then onto your plate.  It’s the best of chicken parmesan in hand-held, dough-encased form.  It’s your dinner.

chicken parmesan pizza | sunsets on the side

See, you’re not mad I insisted, right?

Chicken Parmesan Pizza
 
Author:
Makes: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • ~~~Pizza dough~~~
  • 1 (1/4 oz.) envelope rapid rise dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup warm water, divided
  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ~~~Pizza topping~~~
  • ¾ lb. boneless skinless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ cup seasoned panko crumbs
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 cup pasta sauce (I used Classico)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ⅓ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • 6 oz. fontina, grated
Instructions
  1. Mix the yeast, sugar, and ¼ cup of the warm water together, and let it sit for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the flour, olive oil, salt and remaining ¾ cup warm water together in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture to flour mixture. Stir well and then turn out onto a floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed, for about 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Drizzle some olive oil in a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it over so it is all coated in the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let the dough rise until double in size (about 1 hour).
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper, dredge the pieces in flour, dip them in egg, and then coat them in panko crumbs.
  5. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, brown the chicken pieces, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove chicken to a plate, add an additional 1T. oil, if needed, and brown the second batch of chicken.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  7. When the dough has risen, shape it onto a baking pan (16” round or 12x18” cookie sheet both work). Leaving a 1” border, poke the middle of the crust multiple times with a fork so it doesn’t rise too much in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove crust from the oven, top it with pasta sauce (again leaving a 1” border around the outside for the crust). Top the sauce with chopped basil, chicken, parmesan, mozzarella cheese, and fontina. Bake for an additional 12-15 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

Chicken & Caramelized Onion Calzones

chicken & caramelized onion calzones | sunsets on the side

chicken & caramelized onion calzones | sunsets on the side

So, I bought a pair of skinny jeans the other day…

I truly believed this would be a trend I never caved on, but much like my declaration that I’d “never” wear capris or 3/4-length sleeves, my stand against skinny jeans ended abruptly, courtesy of an after-Christmas clearance sale.

2014 is the year of trying new things, apparently.

I’m choosing to celebrate with cheese-stuffed bread.  That’s probably not rational, but I can justify it three ways: (1) it’s winter, (2) it’s playoff season, and (3) the baggy shirts you can wear with skinny jeans cry out for eating more comfort food, right?  Regardless, I’ll place a calzone above a pair of skinny jeans any day of the week.

Priorities.

chicken and caramelized onion calzones | sunsets on the side

If you’re intimidated by making calzones, don’t be.  These bad boys are so easy to put together.

You can make your own pizza dough (that, too, is simpler than you think) or, just buy some.  There’s no shame in that.  There are really good frozen pizza doughs, and my grocery store even has a little refrigerator beside the bread display in the bakery that has little bags of pizza dough that are ready for you to take home.  Go either way with this.

If you’re buying your dough, just make sure to read the package for thawing / rising directions.  You can also go the long or short route with the dipping sauce.  I just used a good jarred sauce for dipping, but go ahead and make your own if you prefer.

New jeans and new calzone recipes.  I really like the way this year is starting off.

Chicken & Caramelized Onion Calzones
 
Author:
Makes: 2 large calzones, 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. pizza dough
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • Up to ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk ricotta
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 oz. fontina cheese, grated
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Prepare pizza dough (if making) and let rise (if making or buying).
  2. In a large, non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add sliced onions, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat with butter. Cook onions over medium heat for about five minutes then turn heat down to low. Cook slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are deeply golden brown, about 50-60 minutes. (If onions begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, pour a little bit of wine into the pan, as needed, to deglaze). Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, parmesan, fontina, chicken, thyme, salt, and pepper. Give the mixture a quick taste to check for seasoning, as cheeses can vary in saltiness. Add more salt if needed.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Divide the pizza dough in half. On a floured surface, roll one half of the dough out into a rectangular shape, approximately 12” x 14”. Brush around the outside border with the egg wash.
  6. Spread half of the cheese mixture down the center of the long side of the rectangle. Top the filling with half of the caramelized onions. Fold the sides of the dough up over the filling, and pinch the top and sides of the dough together to seal. Brush the calzone with egg wash, and place it on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the top lightly with salt and pepper.
  7. Repeat with the other half of the dough, cheese mixture, and onions.
  8. Bake calzones for 16-18 minutes until golden brown. Serve with tomato sauce on the side.

 

Lemon Basil Chicken Soup

lemon-basil-chicken-soup

lemon-basil-chicken-soup

Sometimes chicken soup just needs some speed and some *pow,* am I right?  Chicken soup is a classic, and I respect everything about making the whole thing from scratch…creating a homemade stock and incorporating the very chicken used to make it.  And, I do that from time to time.

But, sometimes I just want it to be…faster.  And, brighter.  This recipe is the perfect thing for those times.  Using cooked or rotisserie chicken and store-bought chicken stock (or broth, whichever you prefer) speeds the process along.  Plus, the lemon and the basil in this will help you cling onto summer while also enjoying the comfort food-ness (sorry, have you ever seen “You, Me and Dupree?”) of the beginning of fall.

One of the things I like most about cooking soup is that it’s almost always a one-pot meal.  This one will require two (sorry again) but for the best possible reason: so you’ll have really terrific leftovers the next day!  By cooking the orzo separately, instead of throwing it into the soup for its last few minutes of cooking time, the pasta will remain firm, and it won’t swell up and absorb all of your delicious soup broth.  Cook it separately and store it separately: that’s the advice of the day.  Enjoy!

Lemon Basil Chicken Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp. olive oil, separated
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled & diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken stock/broth
  • ⅓ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 rotisserie chicken breasts, diced
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 3 T. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup orzo
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tsp. of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onions, carrots, and celery to the oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
  3. Add the chicken stock/broth, lemon juice, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to the package directions. Drain, drizzle remaining teaspoon of olive oil over pasta, and stir so it doesn’t clump.
  5. Add the cooked chicken to the soup pot and cook 5 minutes longer to heat it through. Off the heat, add the parmesan cheese and basil.
  6. Spoon some of the orzo into a large bowl, and ladle the soup on top. Serve with more parmesan cheese, if desired.

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.