Tag Archives: spicy

Smokin’ Hot Buffalo Chicken Calzones

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If you like Frank’s buffalo chicken dip, then you’re going to love this recipe. It’s basically Frank’s buffalo chicken a la calzone…or as I call it: smokin’ hot buffalo chicken calzones.

The soft, pillowy dough works wonders to tame the spicy, cheesy chicken mixture. We use our versatile pizza dough recipe for calzones. One batch of dough is enough for two calzones.

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For the boys: pepperoni pizza calzones. For the adults: buffalo chicken calzones. Both varieties were a hit.


Smokin’ Hot Buffalo Chicken Calzones
¼ cup Frank’s hot sauce
1/8 cup ranch dressing
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups cooked, chopped boneless chicken
4 oz. cubed cream cheese
½ recipe of pizza dough

Pizza Dough
3 cups flour
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil

Prepare pizza dough a few hours in advance to allow it to rise. Use half for this recipe and save the other half for another calzone or pizza crust.

To prepare dough, stir yeast into the warm water. Add flour and salt to a food processor with a dough blade in place. Turn on the dough setting on the food processor and stream the yeast water into through the feeder tube into the food processor. Then, stream in the olive oil. Turn off as soon as the dough ball forms. Remove, dough ball and place in a large bowl coated in olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for at least a few hours.

To prepare calzone, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the chicken, cheeses, hot sauce, and ranch. Divide the pizza dough in half, and set the other half aside for another use. Toss a spoonful of cornmeal or flour on a sheet of parchment paper, and then use a rolling pin with a bit of olive oil on it to roll out the dough into a rectangular shape. Top the dough with the mix to form a line of mix down the middle. Cut slits in the dough on either side of the mix, and criss-cross the dough slices over the mix. If you’re really feeling crazy, slather a bit of melted butter over the top of the dough. Oh yes we did!

Bake for 30 minutes or until dough is browned and cheese begins to ooze out of the slits. Leftovers reheat great for lunch the next day…that is if there’s anything left over. Not in our house.

Spicy Italian Sausage and Mozz Calzone

Calzones are so versatile, because there’s no “right” way to fill them. I typically use whatever cheese and meat we have on hand. What a great way to clean out the fridge, while still crafting something hearty and pretty darn impressive looking.
The latest version we’ve been enjoying recently involves a little spice and a little ooey-gooey mozzarella…
Here’s a trick for the Italian sausage. I buy the Jennie-O Lean Hot Italian Turkey Sausages. They come in a package of 5 sausages. When I’m making a recipe that calls for 1/2 pound of Italian sausage, I’ll use 2 1/2 of the sausages (just slice them open, remove from casing, and break up with a fork in a hot pan to brown). Then, I’ll freeze the rest of the sausages for another recipe later. You could do the same with a one pound package of ground Italian sausage, but I prefer the sausage in casing…makes it super simple to measure out just the right amount.
If you have time to make the dough in advance and let it rise for a few hours, that works best. In a rush, I’ve made it just before baking, and it’s turned out just fine as well.
The Dough:Mark Bittman’s Basic Pizza Dough Recipe

The Directions: Prepare one batch of dough (you’ll use the entire recipe of dough). Preheat oven to 375. Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with a tablespoon of cornmeal. Continue rolling dough to form a thin, rectangle. Add 2-3 tablespoons of pizza or spaghetti sauce down the middle of the dough length-wise. Next, brown up about 1/2 pound of mild or hot Italian sausage and place on dough on top of sauce. Then, add a dash of Italian seasoning. Finally, add some shredded cheese. I use about 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella. Using a sharp knife, make slits down both sides of the dough length-wise, about an inch apart. Starting at one end, criss-cross the strips from either side over the dough and over eachother. When you get to the end, tuck the last to strips under to secure. Transfer calzone on the parchment paper to a baking sheet or pizza stone and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until dough is brown and toppings begin to bubble through the slits.

Spicy Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

Last night was one of those nights where you wish you could rewind the clock to have just a few more minutes to get dinner on the table. Even an extra 5 minutes to get the table set would have been a blessing! We got home later than normal, everyone was hungry, patience was waning, and there was absolutely no time for a fussy, time-consuming meal. Since the dinnertime meal fairy had not paid us a visit in our absence….wouldn’t that be nice???…I knew I had to come up with something fast.

Fortunately, I had planned ahead, if you can call it that, by taking an extra 30 seconds in the morning to grab a baggie with some frozen Italian sausage out of the freezer and had tossed it in the fridge to thaw during the day. I like to use Italian sausage to spice up drab pasta sauce. When there’s just no time for homemade tomato sauce (as is usually the case), I make my own semi-homemade version by using a jar of sauce and some clever add-ins.

You don’t need to thaw a whole pound of burger to make a tasty, jazzed up pasta sauce. A more economical solution that’s just as hearty is to use 1/4 or 1/2 pound of ground beef, ground turkey, or Italian sausage along with 1/4 to 1/2 pound of veggies. When I use ground beef or turkey, I typically brown a full pound, and then I’ll save half to freeze for later. Then, the next time I make pasta sauce, I simple defrost and dump it in…no precooking necessary. For Italian sausage, it’s even easier. I buy the Jennie-O sausages when they are on sale for buy-one-get-one-free, and then I freeze them in baggies with two sausages per baggie. Two sausages are all you need to add some spice and extra protein without much expense.

For the veggies, I use whatever I have on hand. Mushrooms are my favorite. The Hubs is not a fan of mushrooms in most dishes, but in this one, they are so cloaked in a veil of sauce and their flavor is so overpowered by the spicy sausage, that Hubs doesn’t even mind them. Broccoli works great as well if you chop it small enough to cook through so that it incorporates into the sauce without being too firm. Diced pepper is another nice option.

Pick your favorite noodles to complement the sauce. I prefer bowties, as they work well with the thick sauce. Don’t forget to top with some fresh parmesan cheese!

Spicy Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

2 Italian sausages
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 package mushrooms, sliced (about 4 ounces)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium high heat. Cut slit in sausage casing lengthwise and squeeze sausage out of casing and into the saucepan. Discard casing. Use a fork to break up sausage while cooking. When sausage is almost cooked through, add onions and mushrooms. Then, add garlic cloves with a garlic press. Cook for a few minutes until mushrooms and onions are tender, and then add spaghetti sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a few more minutes. Serve over hot noodles.