Thursday, March 14, 2019

Homemade Calzones: Give Your Kids Whatever They Want

My family has a wonderful tradition. Every Friday night is family movie night, and for family movie night we eat one of two things: nachos or pizza. For those that either know me or have been following Renaissance Dad for any amount of time, you can safely assume that we have turned these two family movie night staples, which are typically considered junk food, into semi-healthy meals. We make our own nacho cheese, and our pizza has a made-from-scratch crust.

Long ago we gave up trying to come to a consensus as to what toppings we put on the pizza, since everybody has their own variation of what the perfect pizza is. So we generally have one cheese or pepperoni pizza, and one with a mild assortment of vegetables that at least one kid will eat.

But this past week I had an epiphany. Lightning struck my brain (Movie quote? Anybody?). What if I give in and give every kid exactly what they want? And what if I make them put their own pizza together?

Enter the calzone. It's a pizza rolled up into a pocket. It's easy to make, everybody gets only the toppings they want, and the kids are forced to work (you could also sneak some good-for-you veggies in when they're not looking).

So here is the recipe (note: the dough can be used for regular pizza as well)

Prep time - 20 minutes (plus one hour to proof)
Bake time - 13 minutes

Pizza crust:

1 package yeast
1 t. sugar
1 c. warm water (110°F)
2.5 c. flour
2 T. olive oil
1 t. salt

Pizza toppings:

- Sauce (we love Trader Joe's pizza sauce)

- Cheese (any kind works - typically mozzarella, but this last week we ran out and used cheddar)

- Veggies (whatever you want - be creative. Mushrooms, onions, and peppers are good, but have you tried pepperoncini, cilantro, or spinach? All delicious)

- Meat (again, be creative. Pepperoni is great, but leftover taco meat makes a great calzone as well)


1. Put yeast, sugar, and warm water in a bowl, mix, and leave for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in olive oil and salt, and then mix in flour, a little at a time, until dough ball forms. Knead and leave to proof for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Remove dough and divide into four pieces (approximately 150 grams). Ball up and roll out each piece, placing it on a plate when finished. 150 grams of dough should make about a 12-inch crust.

4. Put sauce on 1/2 of the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch space to the edge. You will need this space to seal the calzone.

5. Load on the toppings. Remember that this needs to be sealed up, so try not to overfill, which I do every time.

6. Don't forget the cheese! My kids were so excited that they almost forgot to put the cheese in.

7. Using a little water, wet the space that you left around the edge. Fold the dough over, and seal it. Roll it, crimp it, pinch it, or shout at it to get the entire seam sealed.

7.1. Please note: if you've never made a calzone before, it will probably be a very messy seal the first time. That's okay and totally normal. You will get better. I promise.

8. Bake on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper at 450°F for 13-15 minutes. Or, if you're brave, place on a grill set on low heat (I've struggled with this in the past and don't want to talk about it. But some day I may be more successful. Some day...).

Calzones should be golden brown when finished and should sound hollow when you knock on them. Cut in half, serve with some extra sauce to dip in, and enjoy!!!

One final note. We did the calzones so each kid could put in the toppings that they wanted. This would totally backfire if the calzones got mixed up. So you can either have each kid seal it in a unique way, or you can just write their name on the parchment paper by their calzone.

I can't wait for the next family movie night. Because, while this isn't Burger King, we all certainly can have it our way!

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