Leftover Love: Roasted Chicken, Broccoli and Lemon-Thyme Ricotta Calzones

calzones finished2I can see now that “Leftover Love” is a recurring theme, as I’m often inspired by leftovers from one meal—or whatever is left in my pantry—to make something new. Is this true for you as well?

Today’s leftover revamp is a quick and easy way to use up meat and veggies in a fun little package. Yes, it’s the beloved calzone, made even easier by using purchased pizza dough for those extra busy days.

This version is composed of leftover pan-roasted chicken breast and some roasted broccoli crowns from a meal we enjoyed earlier in the week, plus a mixture of lemon, thyme, ricotta and shredded mozzarella. Place the ingredients into your rolled out pizza dough, seal, bake, add some homemade or purchased low-salt marinara sauce as a side and voilà! You’ve got dinner.

Certainly you could use purchased rotisserie chicken if you like, or substitute spinach for broccoli—or use all vegetables for a vegetarian version. In this instance, I was quite pleased with how the lemon, thyme, creamy ricotta and mozzarella mixture gave a wonderful boost of fresh flavor to the simply seasoned chicken (salt, pepper and rosemary) and roasted broccoli. The smell of these baking was tantalizing and they came out of the oven puffed, piping hot and oozing cheesy goodness.

Want to make these into a fun little appetizer? Just divide your dough into 16 -1 oz. portions, dollop a heaping teaspoon of the cheese mixture, one crown of broccoli and a bite of chicken into each rolled out mini calzone circle, seal, bake and use your marinara as a dipping sauce. Delicious, bite-sized party fun!

Got a little more time on your hands for calzone and marinara sauce making? Click on this link to check out my previously posted Kale Calzones with Spicy Homemade Marinara.

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Chicken, Broccoli and Lemon-Thyme Ricotta Calzones
Makes 10 Medium-sized Calzones

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmigiana Reggiano cheese, grated
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper
The meat of one roasted chicken breast, sliced thinly crosswise
2 cups roasted broccoli crowns
1 lb. uncooked pizza dough
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, warmed
olive oil for oiling the pan and brushing the calzones

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with sides in aluminum foil and lightly oil it with olive oil. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmigiana Reggiano, thyme, lemon zest and juice, the mozzarella and the salt and pepper, and mix by hand until well blended and fairly smooth.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and lightly flour your hands and a rolling pin. Divide your pizza dough into 10 equal portions. Roll each piece of dough out to be an approximately 5-6 inch circle. (Do the best you can…pizza dough is stretchy! I usually do these one at a time.) Place 1/10th  (about 2 tablespoons) of the ricotta mixture into one half of the circle. Next, layer 2-3 slices of the chicken breast (1/10th of your total slices) over the ricotta, then top with 3-4 broccoli crowns. Carefully pull one side of the circle of dough over to meet the other side, gently stretching it to cover the filling and pinching the two edges together to form a crescent. Press the seam firmly closed around the outer curved edges. Crimp the edges of the dough to seal it, pushing it back onto itself as you would with piecrust dough. Repeat this procedure with each piece of dough and the fillings until you have 10 calzones, placing each calzone carefully onto the oiled baking sheet as you finish them. Lightly brush the tops of the finished calzones with some olive oil applied to your fingers. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes watching carefully, until the calzones are browned on top and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow them to sit for 3 minutes. Serve with warm marinara sauce.

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Herbed and Veggied Turkey Meatloaf

This meatloaf is anything BUT dry and boring...and so not Meh!

This meatloaf is anything BUT dry and boring…and so not Meh!

Meatloaf = Meh.

I know. As they say in these parts, “them’s fightin’ words!” But for the longest time, meatloaf did equal “meh” to me. A big mass of meat, usually dry and covered with ketchup. Naturally that wasn’t really what was going on with the meatloaf presented to me, but that’s how I felt about it…like I’d really so much rather have a burger!

Then a few years ago I tasted an amazing turkey meatloaf at a local restaurant. It was moist and flavorful, had lots of veggies, oats and sun-dried tomatoes in it, and was served with a mushroom gravy and mashed redskin potatoes. How could you NOT like that? But the main thing was, it turned my head around about the potential of a meatloaf. I decided then and there that I should revisit my thoughts on meatloaf and give it a fair shake. Since then, I’ve had some fabulous sandwiches and plates—and some equally not-so-fabulous ones. I’ve experimented making meatloaf at home, too, such as the beef and pork variety, the all-beef and the all-turkey…with varying degrees of success, like and love. But my most recent fave is this Herbed and Veggied Turkey Meatloaf that I’m very enthusiastic about for a number of reasons.

Look at the steam rising off that puppy!

You can see the steam rising off that puppy.

First and second…this turkey meatloaf tastes great and it’s healthy. While I’m a true fan of making food healthy whenever possible, I’m not interested if it doesn’t taste really good, and therefore I won’t use a non-fat product that was intended to have some fat in it and is consequently sub par in taste and texture. As a result, you’ll find throughout this blog recipes that are a good mix of the healthy, and a healthy dose of the decadent. This turkey meatloaf falls mostly into the former category, but dips just a teensy little bit into the latter one, too, simply from the richness of taste. And here are five more reasons I really love it:

It’s moist and flavorful.
It’s full-bodied and dense.
It’s practically a meal unto itself.
It makes a mean meatloaf sandwich.
It’s actually as delicious cold as it is hot, and it gets two thumbs up from my meatloaf-loving husband! (Okay, that’s six reasons.)

bamspotatoes

BAM’s bashed potatoes!

This recipe was adapted from one I saw in the magazine Southern Living and I just fell in love with it. We enjoyed this with some of BAM’s Kitchen’s bashed potatoes, which are pretty awesome and you need to check those out in her flank steak, spinach and potato post right here. Because I was having a turkey meatloaf, I decided to forego the bacon in BAM’s recipe just this once, and I substituted olive oil with a touch of butter instead, along with more onion and some rosemary for my herbs. All I can say is…these two dishes were made for each other!

So now I’m a bona fide meatloaf convert, and one who is really looking forward to tonight’s meatloaf sandwich! I’ll make mine the traditional way with marinara, mozzarella and good bread, but you can see a delicious-sounding gourmet version for some inspiration at Karen’s Backroad Journal blog right here.

‘Tis the season for meatloaf, and I do hope you’ll give this one a try!

Herbed and Veggied Turkey Meatloaf
(Adapted from Southern Living Magazine)
Serves 8

1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 Tablespoon of olive oil, divided
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 cup of your favorite herbed pasta or marinara sauce, divided (homemade is even better!)
2 lbs. ground turkey breast
12 ounces of fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped
1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 Tablespoon each of fresh parsley, thyme and oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons of Italian pasta seasoning (I use Trader Joe’s)
1 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Optional additional pasta or marinara sauce for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet, then dab a tiny bit of it onto a clean paper towel to grease an 8 x 11 inch casserole dish and set the dish aside. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat and add in the raw spinach. Cook the spinach until it is well wilted and just tender. Drain the spinach in a colander, pressing to release the liquid and set aside. Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in the same skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and the garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the carrots to the mixture and saute an additional 3 or 4 minutes until the onion is tender. Set aside and cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture, the spinach, 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce, the turkey, oats, chopped herbs, Italian pasta seasoning, salt, pepper and egg. Mix well with your hands until all ingredients are incorporated evenly. Shape the mixture into a 5 x 10 inch loaf and place it into the greased casserole dish. Bake the loaf for 45 minutes. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of pasta or marinara sauce over the top of the loaf and bake another 10 minutes. Remove the loaf and cover it loosely with aluminum foil, and let it stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice into 8 portions and serve, passing additional pasta sauce if desired. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for 3 days.

NIght time shots are very cruel, but you can get the idea of what a great plate o' food this is!

NIght time shots are very cruel, but you can get the idea of what a great plate o’ food this is!