I love Fridays. TGIF! Since the rest of the week is completely nuts, we do our best to kick back and take it easy on Friday afternoons. On this particular day, I had the brilliant idea to get dinner made ahead of time so I, too, could enter the chill zone when the kids got home. With pizza dough ready to go in the fridge, I just needed a good idea. Anything but pizza. As much as we love it, we are all getting tired of it. Yes, even *I* am tired of my pizza. Knowing they would have some great ideas, I headed to the website of the Meal Makeover Moms.
Ever hear of them? They are rock stars in the nutrition world — two dietitians with serious street cred when it comes to healthy and family friendly recipes. They have cookbooks, blogs, podcasts, and oodles of kick-butt recipes great for kids and their grown-ups. And they are totally the inspiration for today’s recipe: chicken empanadas. They took on Paula Deen’s recipe and made it lighter and healthier, with more veggies, less fat, and even whole grains.
As luck would have it, I did not have any kind of peppers on hand, but was able to pilfer a red pepper from my mom to provide some color. Being a flour-and-roll-it-out kind of gal when it comes to handling dough, I was skeptical at simply using the little bit of oil to help stretch the dough into the required shape. It worked very well, though, and gave the crust nice color and texture.
So, if you’re looking for something just a wee bit different that won’t scare off your kids, give this a try. Call it a calzone if that makes it seem more kid-friendly. You won’t be wrong. It’s just the South American version. You can modify the filling ingredients to accommodate tastes — there are just so many things you could add! Onions, broccoli, spinach, sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, green pepper, Gorgonzola, pesto, bacon, scallions, roasted red peppers…
Recipe courtesy of Meal Makeover Moms, adapted here based on available ingredients
2 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken (8 to 10 ounces cooked)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup canned corn kernels, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (half a bell pepper)
3 ounces light cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil
One 16-ounce pizza dough
2. Place the chicken, Cheddar cheese, corn kernels, bell pepper, cream cheese, cumin, and pepper in a large bowl and stir until well combined.
3. Place the oil in the center of the baking sheet. Roll the dough in the oil until it’s completely coated. Use your fingers to gently stretch the dough until it covers the entire baking sheet. Your pizza dough should resemble a large rectangle at this point. Use your fingers to pinch together any tears in the dough.
4. Spread the chicken mixture evenly over the wider bottom half of the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Carefully fold the top part of the dough over the filling. Use a fork (tines facing towards you and away from the pizza) to press the edges together. Make three 1-inch cuts across the top to allow steam to escape.
5. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Slice into 6 stuffed pizza pocket pieces and serve.