OK, so I know I’ve been posting a lot of decadent stuff lately… what can I say? It’s just that time of year. Sorry I’m not sorry?
This recipe is no exception. Buffalo chicken is one of my most favorite flavors EVER, and I’m always trying to come up with ways to incorporate it into new dishes. These calzones were inspired by a stromboli that Dan and I recently discovered.
We have been on a major stromboli kick lately. I don’t know how it started, because we almost always order pizza at least once a week (usually on Sundays for football). I guess we were growing tired of pizza? No, that can’t be right. That’s impossible. I think we just wanted to switch it up.
We started off ordering an AH-MAZING stromboli from a local pizza place. It was loaded to the brim with pepperoni, ham, and loads of mozzarella cheese. Classic. Delicious.
THEN, we noticed that there was a buffalo chicken stromboli on the menu. I insisted, complete with excited arm flailing, that it happen. SO, we ordered it, and I was completely blown away. It was one of the most delicious, addicting things I had ever stuffed into my face. The bleu cheese dressing used for dipping took it over the top!
I decided to try it out at home. Except in calzone form…just because they are a little bit smaller and thus easier to assemble than stromboli.
These are incredible. Gooey, doughy, and oozing with yumminess. The buffalo sauce gives them that familiar kick of tangy spice that I love, and the cheese and dressing just make them oh-so-indulgent. The dough puffs up around the filling, staying crispy on the outside and light and doughy on the inside. Perfection.
Now, a lot of times, I love the flavors of RANCH dressing with anything buffalo, but in this case, I stick with the bleu stuff. If you’re not a bleu fan, you can definitely swap in Ranch dressing instead. You’ll still get a nice creamy tang.
So even though you might be mad at me for overloading you with “treat” dishes lately, once you make these, you’ll love me again. I hope. If not, take comfort in the fact that I will be sharing a fairly healthy soup recipe with you soon. Stay tuned!
Buffalo Chicken Calzones (makes 6 medium calzones)
One batch of pizza dough (see this post for my go-to recipe)
3 medium chicken breasts, diced
½ cup buffalo sauce
½ cup bleu cheese dressing
1½ cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Extra buffalo sauce and bleu cheese, for dipping
1. In a large resealable plastic bag, place the chicken and the buffalo sauce. Toss to coat and then allow to marinate for at least 6 hours in the fridge (I often do this before I leave for work in the mornings – then it’s ready for me when I get home).
2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add the chicken and any residual sauce into the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until all the chicken is cooked through. Allow to cool in the pan. If the chicken looks dry, stir in another tablespoon of buffalo sauce. You want the chicken well coated.
3. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 475°F. Sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel. Alternatively, lightly oil a large baking sheet.
4. Divide the dough into six balls. Roll each dough ball out to ¼-inch thickness. Working with one at a time, spread about 2 tablespoons of the dressing on one half of the dough round. Sprinkle ¼ cup of cheddar cheese on top of the dressing, then some of the chicken, and finally ¼ cup of the mozzarella cheese. Brush the edges of the dough with egg wash, and then carefully fold the dough over the filling. Press the edges to seal and trim off excess dough.
5. Carefully transfer the calzone to the prepared pizza peel (or baking sheet) and then cut a slit in the top to allow air to escape. Brush the top with more egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. If using a pizza peel, work with the calzones in batches of 2-3. If using a baking sheet, you can probably fit all of the calzones on the sheet at one time (depending on the size).
6. Place the calzones in the oven and bake for 11-13 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing in half and serving. Dip as desired!
Let’s talk about lamb today. Are you a fan? I know some people aren’t into the full-bodied, “gamey” flavor of it…but I ADORE it. I love its bold flavor – it can really hold its own in a dish packed with intensity.
This dish is one of those.
Not only are the meatballs themselves full of spice and richness, but the sauce is intensely rich and fabulously decadent. The peas and parsley do their part, too, by adding some freshness and balance. Everything is topped off with a fresh grating of Manchego cheese, one of my personal (yet underused) favs!
There is a lot going on here, and somehow, it all works. Cozy and bold. Seems like an odd pairing of characteristics…but this dish covers them both.
Now, if you AREN’T a fan of lamb, feel free to swap it for chicken or beef. The flavors should still shine through!
We received a BUNCH of snow yesterday (did anyone see that Eagles-Lions game? Ridiculously fun). This dish was absolutely perfect for curling up with in front of the fire as we admired our freshly decorated, ridiculously large Christmas tree (courtesy of my husband – he picked out the 12-footer all by himself. Hah. Lucky for him, it’s beautiful and squirrel-free). This dish was the perfect accompaniment!
Mmm, just looking at these pictures is making me want another bowl RIGHT NOW. Drool.
Fettuccine with Truffled Lamb Meatballs & Sherried Cream Sauce (makes 6 servings)
For the Meatballs:
1 large onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
½ cup Manchego cheese, grated
1 cup of fresh bread crumbs
½ cup milk
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 lb ground lamb
Salt and pepper
For the Pasta:
1 lb fettuccine pasta
½ cup dry sherry (or vermouth)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons caramelized onions (reserved from the meatballs)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup frozen peas
Drizzle of white truffle oil (or to taste)
½ cup Manchego cheese, grated
Fresh parsley, chopped
1. For the Meatballs: heat a large skillet over medium heat and add one tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and cook for 20 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until lightly brown and caramelized. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the fresh breadcrumbs and milk and allow to sit for a few minutes or until the milk is mostly absorbed. Mix in the caramelized onions (reserve about 2 tablespoons of the onions for the sauce), garlic, ketchup, parsley, smoked paprika, white truffle oil, Manchego cheese, eggs, and finally the Panko breadcrumbs. Mix well and then gently fold in the lamb meat, mixing to combine but not overworking the mixture.
3. Heat the same pan used for the onions over medium heat and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Preheat the oven to 400°F and put a large pot of water on for the pasta.
4. Form the meat mixture into meatballs (I used a medium cookie scoop to help me get an even size) and pan sear, in batches, until golden brown on all sides. Move browned meatballs to a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Once all the meatballs are brown, place them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.
5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until el dente. Drain off the oil used to sear the meatballs and then deglaze the pan with the dry sherry over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes, caramelized onions, and heavy cream and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently.
6. Add in the truffle oil and peas during the last few minutes of cooking. Toss the sauce with the pasta, top with the meatballs, and then garnish with fresh parsley and the grated cheese. Serve immediately.
Whew. That’s a mouthful. A DELICIOUS mouthful.
OK, confession time…
Number one. This is the first cheesecake I’ve ever made.
Number two. I’m not a huge fan of plain cheesecake. One or two bites and I’m good. It’s generally too rich for me. I do, however, love flavored cheesecakes! The addition of other flavors, whether it be fruit, chocolate, or whatever, always seems to cut down on the richness.
This cheesecake idea had been brewing in my head for months and months. I wanted to try my hand at homemade cheesecake, and I wanted to make it one that I would actually enjoy (read: flavor infused). Go figure. I knew that the classic combination of orange and chocolate was a safe bet…but I didn’t want to do just a regular ol’ orange cheesecake. It’s been done!
Enter the clementine. One of my most favorite things about this time of year: it’s clementine season. I LOVE these little citrus gems! They are sweet and tender and absolutely crazy delicious. I buy them by the crate weekly.
So, I decided that making a CLEMENTINE cheesecake was the answer. Add in a chocolate cookie crust and we’ve got that combo covered. Golden. However, I was still trying to figure out what else I could do to take it over the top. After all, this was my very first cheesecake. Then it hit me: CANDIED CLEMENTINE TOPPING! So I did just that. The whole process was a lot easier than I thought, just time consuming. Cheesecake is one of those desserts you sort of have to plan in advance. It takes a long time to bake and a long time to chill and set. In fact, cheesecake is BEST served after it’s been chilling for a day or two.
I was so pleased with the way this came out. I mean, not only did it look beautiful, but it tasted even better! The only person in my life who would probably NOT like this is my youngest sister. She has a strong aversion to clementines… and the scent of citrus in general. It’s so bad that she has to have OTHER people peel her oranges for her. She can’t handle the lingering scent on her hands…but she then EATS the orange with no problem! Weird, right? For whatever reason, clementines have not earned her stamp of approval. So, in this case, it’s her loss. (Love you, Boo!)
This is a very impressive dessert, in my humble opinion. I mean, I would be so excited to have something like this served to me! It’s perfect for this holiday season – not only is it fancy-schmancy, but it’s seasonally appropriate with all the citrus goin’ on!
If I can do it, you can do it. Just etch out enough time for yourself to make, bake, and chill this baby and you’ll be the talk of the town.
It’s amazeballs. Trust me.
Clementine-Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Cooke Crust & Candied Clementines
(makes 10-12 servings)
4 whole clementines
1 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of water
3 tablespoons fresh clementine juice
For the Cheesecake:
1¼ cups finely crushed chocolate wafers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup sour cream
Zest of 4 clementines
Juice of 1 clementine
1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or the caviar of 1 vanilla bean)
1. For the Topping: With a sharp knife, slice the clementines into thin rounds, discarding ends and seeds. In a large skillet, heat the sugar, water, and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Add the slices of clementine and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, until they’re slightly candied and translucent and liquid has the consistency of a thin syrup, about 20 minutes. You should have about a half cup of liquid in the pan at this point. Allow to cool in the pan and then cover and chill for at least 15 minutes (this can be done a couple days ahead).
2. For the Cheesecake: Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine the chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl and then press the mixture evenly over bottom of a spring-form pan. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove from oven to cool slightly while you make the filling.
3. In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy and smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in flour, sour cream, clementine zest and juice, liqueur, and vanilla bean paste until well incorporated. Pour into crust-lined pan. Place the pan in a large roasting dish and pour hot water into the roasting dish until it is half-way up the sides of the spring-form pan (I also wrap my spring-form pan in a few layers of tin foil to prevent water from seeping in). Baking the cheesecake in a water bath helps prevent it from cracking and keeps it moist.
4. Bake until the center barely jiggles when cake is gently shaken, about 60 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife between the cake and pan rim. Cool completely to room temperature, then cover and chill until cold, at least 3 hours (or for a couple days).
5. Remove pan rim. Gently lift candied clementine slices from syrup, reserving syrup, and blot dry with a paper towel. Arrange slices, slightly overlapping, on top of cheesecake.
6. Bring reserved syrup to a boil over high heat. Stir occasionally until syrup is thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in fresh clementine juice (mixture will bubble up). Let cool to room temperature and generously brush over orange slices (you may have extra syrup). Slice the cheesecake and serve!