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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Calzone Bites

After several days of sick kids (and parents), I'm finally getting back to adding some new appetizers for the  upcoming holidays.  Today we get into the holiday spirit with a cheesy Italian hors d'oeuvre.  A Calzone is traditionally a stuffed pizza that looks like a turnover, so we created a bite-sized turnover.

These mini Calzone Bites are a great party appetizer to serve when you want to offer something a little more substantial than veggies with dip.  The spinach, sausage and pepperoni filling gets its creaminess from a combination of three cheeses, ricotta, cheddar and mozzarella.  With these little bites, you get all the goodness of a calzone in an appetizer-sized bite.

Although this recipe utilizes a bread machine to make the dough, you could also use store bought pizza dough.  The Publix stores in our area make a tasty pizza dough that would work just fine, just be sure to buy the dough early in the day since it is usually kept frozen until needed.

This recipe makes about 24 Calzone Bites using 2 large muffin tins, and the finished calzones are about 3 inches across.  Just the right "finger-food" size for your guests.  As a dipping sauce you can use your favorite marinara sauce or buy a good quality, already seasoned tomato sauce. The sauce can be heated in a small saucepan just before serving and, instead of pouring the sauce directly on the plate, I loved serving the marinara in these vintage shot glasses that belonged to my grandmother.  I think they were the perfect little vessel for sauce and they were just the right size.  Enjoy!!

Calzone Dough in the Bread Machine
1 cup + 2 1/2 TB  Water
2 1/2 TB  Olive Oil
3 cups  Bread Machine Flour
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Sugar
2 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 1/2 tsp  Bread Machine Yeast

Combine all ingredients in the bread machine pan and set the machine to the Dough Setting.  At the end of the first kneading cycle, press the stop/clear button and let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until almost double in size.

Punch the dough down and remove the dough from the bread machine pan to a lightly floured cutting board.  Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.  While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.

Calzone Filling
15 oz  Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
1 cup  Grated Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup  Grated Mozzarella Cheese
2 oz  Diced Pepperoni
10 oz  Frozen Spinach, defrosted, cooled and well drained
1/2 lb  Fresh Sausage, cooked and drained
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Seasoned Olive Oil
1/4 cup  Olive Oil
2 tsp  Minced Fresh Garlic
1/2 tsp  Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp  Salt
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

Mix the olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a small glass bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Spray 2 large muffin tins with olive oil spray and set aside.

Using a pastry cutter, or a very sharp knife, cut the dough into 24 equal portions.  Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll each piece of dough into a large thin circle, about 5 inches across.  Place a generous tablespoon of filling into the center of each circle, then fold the edges over and pinch the edges so the filling will not leak out.

Place each bundle into the muffin tin with the seam side down and brush the tops of each calzone with seasoned olive oil. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Serve with a shot glass of your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.

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