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.

 

Christmas Crostini

christmas crostini | sunsets on the side

christmas crostini | sunsets on the side

Boy, we’re sure getting down to the wire here.  Christmas is just five days away.  How did that happen?

I need to get myself packed and ready for temperatures about, you know, 50 degrees colder than I’m used to.  Oh, and I have yet to wrap a single gift.  So, there’s that.

No time to waste!  Who needs an easy appetizer idea?

sun dried tomato and caper crostini | sunsets on the side

These crostini are so simple and delicious.  You could be eating them inside of 15 minutes.  Plus, I made them Christmas-colored for you!  Go make them for your friends.  Or, better yet, go make them, pour yourself a glass of wine, put your feet up, forget about your to-do list, and enjoy your beautiful holiday decorations.

You’ll be happy you did.

Christmas Crostini
 
Author:
Makes: 16-18 pieces
Ingredients
  • Baguette, sliced ½” thick
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
  • 1 T. sun-dried tomato oil
  • 2 T. chopped capers
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 T. chopped fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush the tops evenly with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 5-6 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the goat cheese and ricotta with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, 1 T. of the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes, capers, salt, pepper, and chopped basil.
  4. Spread toasted baguette slices with the cheese mixture, and garnish with additional basil, if desired.

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.

Roasted Nectarine & Ricotta Crostini

roasted-nectarine-ricotta-crostini

roasted-nectarine-ricotta-crostini

A favorite summer fruit is a funny thing.  How do you pick just one?  Mine usually morphs from one to another, all summer long, depending on what’s currently at its peak or what’s on special when I’m produce shopping.  Strawberries are my favorite!  Or, no, it’s watermelon!  Wait, now I think it definitely might be fresh cherries…  Come on, they’re all winners.

Nectarines are right up there at the top for me, though.  I’ve loved them since I was a kid.  And, this time of year, you can’t walk by a display of fresh nectarines without being stopped dead in your tracks by the incredible smell.  The running-down-your-arm juiciness of a ripe, fresh nectarine just can’t be beaten.

The only thing that could possibly top it is…yeah, roasting said nectarine and giving it an appetizer makeover, pairing it with some ricotta cheese and crispy prosciutto!

roasted-nectarine-ricotta-bruschetta

Roasted Nectarine & Ricotta Crostini
 
Author:
Makes: 12-14 crostini
Ingredients
  • 2 large nectarines, roughly chopped
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. honey
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • Baguette, sliced ½” thick
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 3 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup ricotta, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. finely chopped basil, plus more for garnish
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Spray one baking sheet and one 8” x 8” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place prosciutto slices onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until crispy. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
  3. Place baguette slices onto a separate baking sheet. Brush the slices with 2 T. olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 6 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
  4. Place chopped nectarines into the prepared baking dish. Combine butter and honey in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 10-20 seconds, until the butter is completely melted. Pour butter and honey mixture over the nectarines and stir to coat the fruit pieces. Roast for 12-15 minutes, until nectarines are very soft. Let cool slightly.
  5. While nectarines are roasting, in a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese, ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, the remaining 1 T. olive oil, and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Spread toasted baguette slices with the ricotta mixture. Spoon roasted nectarines on top of the ricotta, and crumble crisped prosciutto over the top. Place on a platter and garnish with additional basil, if desired.

Adapted from Claire Robinson and Giada De Laurentiis.