Grandma’s Famous Calzones

Growing up, anytime our family got together for a holiday or celebration my grandmother would make these calzones as an appetizer. They were everyone’s favorite, and if you didn’t take 2 pieces when they first came around, there wouldn’t be any left for you if you wanted second helpings. They were always a treat when she made these, but sometimes she couldn’t get the correct dough, or didn’t have enough time to let the dough rise. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I found a way to get the same great taste of her calzones, but cheat with the dough. By using Pillsbury pizza dough, I’m able to make these calzones within 30 minutes, and don’t have to worry about planning hours ahead to make this simple appetizer. Serve these at your next event as an appetizer or even cut into large pieces and take into work with you as a sandwich!

These calzones are so tasty, but really don’t require too many ingredients. Pillsbury pizza dough, parsley, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, and sesame seeds are all you really need.

calzone

Arrange the dough to cover a baking sheet completely (I use a sheet that is 10x15inches – I wouldn’t go much bigger than that). Top the dough with a single layer of pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, parsley, and garlic powder.

Calzone

Roll the dough (on the long side) as if you were rolling a jelly roll. Tuck the dough on each side of the roll, to ensure that nothing falls out when baking. Brush egg wash over the entire roll, liberally top with sesame seeds, and cut slivers into the top (every couple of inches).

calzone

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until dough is golden brown). Let cool and slice into 1 inch pieces.

calzone

Grandma’s Famous Calzones

Ingredients

  • 1 Pillsbury Pizza Dough
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Approx. 50 small slices of pepperoni
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Arrange the dough to cover a baking sheet completely (I use a sheet that is 10x15inches – I wouldn’t go much bigger than that). Top the dough with a single layer of the pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, parsley, and garlic powder.
  3. Roll the dough (on the long side) as if you were rolling a jelly roll. Tuck the dough on each side of the roll, to ensure that nothing falls out when baking. Brush egg wash over the entire roll, liberally top with sesame seeds, and cut slivers into the top (every couple of inches).
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until dough is golden brown). Let cool and slice into 1 inch pieces.

calzone

White Bean Dip with Pita Chips

I love appetizers dips. Salsa, crab dip, spinach & artichoke, hummus, you name it. That’s why I was extremely excited when I came across this recipe for a white bean dip (& homemade pita chips). Not only is it extremely easy to make, but it’s the type of appetizer you won’t feel too full off of if you indulge. I’ve always been a fan of Stacy’s Pita Chips, but I have to say, after making my own homemade chips, I probably won’t be buying the store brand as much anymore. Hope you enjoy this easy (and yummy!) white bean dip.

White bean dip

Ingredients

  • One (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Lemon juice (from half a lemon)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 TBSP
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 6 pitas
  • Oregano
  • Salt& Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice,  and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Slowly add in the 1/3 cup olive oil while the processor is on low. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.
  3. Cut each pita in half and then into 8 wedges. Arrange the pita wedges on a large baking sheet. Pour the remaining oil over the pitas. Toss and spread out the wedges evenly. Sprinkle with the oregano, salt, and pepper. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color.
  4. Serve the pita toasts warm or at room temperature alongside the bean puree.

white bean dip

Callie’s Buttermilk Biscuits

I was at Crate & Barrel this weekend and randomly spotted this cookbook:

callies-cookbook

It caught my attention because my brother-in-law works (and makes biscuits) at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits in Charleston, SC – so I figured this had to be the same Callie. Without even flipping through it, I bought the book, and boy am I glad I did. This book has some incredible Southern recipes. Carrie (the author) became famous off of her mother’s (Callie) homemade biscuits, but there is so much more in this cookbook than that. I’m excited to experiment with some recipes in this book that I’ve never tried (or even heard of!). But before getting ahead of myself, I figured I should master the basics: Callie’s Buttermilk Biscuits.

Carrie explains in her book that anyone can make biscuits from scratch. Having never done it before, I was a little skeptical, but after trying them one time I’d say I feel confident enough to make these again and again. This recipe is taken directly from the book because, let’s face it, she can do a much better job of explaining the biscuit making process than I can. I hope you give it a try – you’re going to love how they come out!

Callie's Buttermilk Biscuits

Callie’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients

Makes about 10 (2-inch) biscuits

  • 2 cups self-rising flour (White Lily preferred), plus more for dusting
  • 5 tablespoons butter: 4 tablespoons cut in small cubes, at room temperature, and 1 tablespoon melted
  • ¼ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup whole buttermilk (may substitute low-fat buttermilk)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Make sure the oven rack is in the middle position.
2. Measure the flour into a large bowl. Incorporate the cubed butter, then the cream cheese into the flour, using your fingers to “cut in” the butter and cheese until the mixture resembles cottage cheese. It will be chunky with some loose flour.
3. Make a well in the center. Pour in the buttermilk and, using your hands or a small rubber spatula, mix the flour into the buttermilk. The dough will be wet and messy.
4. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough. Run a rubber spatula around the inside of the bowl, creating a separation between the dough and the bowl. Sprinkle a bit more flour in this crease.
5. Flour a work surface or flexible baking mat very well. With force, dump the dough from the bowl onto the surface. Flour the top of the dough and the rolling pin. Roll out the dough to ½-inch thickness into an oval shape. (No kneading is necessary—the less you mess with the dough, the better.)
6. Flour a 2-inch round metal biscuit cutter or biscuit glass. Start from the edge of the rolled-out dough and cut straight through the dough with the cutter, trying to maximize the number of biscuits cut from this first roll out. Roll out the excess dough after the biscuits are cut and cut more biscuits. As long as the dough stays wet inside, you can use as much flour on the outside as you need to handle the dough. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet with sides lined with parchment paper, or in a cast-iron skillet, or a baking pan with the biscuit sides touching. (It does not matter what size pan or skillet you use as long as the pan has a lip or sides and the biscuits are touching. If you are using a cast iron skillet, no parchment paper is necessary.) Brush the tops with the melted butter.
7. Place the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 450°F. Bake 16 to18 minutes, until light brown on top (or as dark as you prefer), rotating the pan once while baking.

Note: You can freeze any leftover biscuits. To reheat, do not defrost. Wrap the biscuits in foil. Bake in a 400°F oven 25 to 30 minutes. Open the top of the foil for the last 3 to 5 minutes to brown a little on top.

Callie's Buttermilk Biscuits

Spaghetti with Littlenecks

One of my favorite seafood dishes is spaghetti with littlenecks. It’s a simple “sauce” but packed with flavor. Although we don’t have many seafood markets here is Northern Virginia, we are lucky enough to have 4 Asian grocery stores within a 2 mile radius of our house. These grocery stores have an incredible selection of ethnic foods and have amazing seafood departments.

I was lucky enough to find littlenecks at the La Lotte Market near our house. Littlenecks are the smallest type of clam (typically 2″ in diameter) and you can normally get about 7-10 per pound. These are my favorite kind because the small size makes them easy to work with – especially in a pasta dish.

Spaghetti with littlenecks

Spaghetti with Littlenecks

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  •  1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 5  garlic cloves,  finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 pounds littlenecks (about 25-30)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add pasta, stirring constantly in the beginning to prevent it from sticking together. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the littlenecks, parsley, wine and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until most littlenecks have opened (discard any littlenecks that did not open). Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.
  3. Drain the pasta and place into the littlenecks pan and mix thoroughly. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. Pour pasta into large serving bowl. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese* and serve immediately.

*I have to note that most Italians are probably cringing at the fact that I put cheese on my seafood pasta – even though it’s not “traditional” to do so, I still love the way it tastes!