Yum Pockets: Pizza Pockets/Ham&Cheese Buns

"Hot pocket" seemed forever association with comedian Jim Gaffigan's joke-it embodies everything junkie and unhealthy life style. But, it doesn't have to be that way. You can make them at home and fill them with whatever fillings you like, from ham-n-cheese pockets to pizza pockets to chicken cordon blue pockets. And the best of all, they are very inexpensive to make. They can be individually wrapped and frozen. It will make a quick meal anytime.

    1. Making the Dough:
  • 3/4 C. lukewarm water;
  • 2 C. all purpose flour;
  • 1 t. sugar;
  • 1/2 t. salt;
  • 1 T. dry yeast powder;
  • 2 T. olive oil;
  • In a large bowl, mix together yeast, water and sugar. Allow the yeast to bubble (5-10 minutes). Add the rest ingredients, knead to make a smooth ball. Cover and let stand in a warm place for approximately 40 minutes.
    2. Making the Fillings: Use whatever you have available on hand. The following combinations work well together:
    (1) Ham + cheese + mustard: Cut ham in thin strips, shred the cheddar cheese, add mustard
    (2) Pizza filling: Anything that can go on a pizza: pepperoni, sausage, cooked onions, cooked green pepper etc. etc.. Add tomato sauce to bind all ingredients together and mozzarella cheese. This is the classical calzone.
    (3) Chicken + Swiss Cheese + Ranch Dressing: This is a great combination. Add cooked onions, green peppers if you like.
    3. Wrapping and Baking:
    (1) Divide dough into 2" size dough balls, roll the dough balls out, fill with selected fillings and pinch the edges together. Arrange the pockets on a cookie sheet;
    (2) Brush the top with some oil, then sprinkle salt, pepper and cheese on top if you like;
    (3) Bake in a pre-heated 375 F oven for 20 minutes until the tops are lightly brown.
ham and cheese hot pocket calzone

(L) Ham and Cheese Pockets; (R) Calzones (Pizza Pockets)

Equipment Corner: A heavy cast iron pan is ideal for pancake making. It distributes heat evenly and allows the pancakes to be cooked uniformly. I like La Creuset cookwares. Coated with a chip- and crack-resistant enamel inside and out, it offers the even heat and gentle cooking of cast-iron without reaction to foods or the usual high maintenance. It is truly an heirloom piece.

Caution: Not all cast iron enamel cookwares are created equal. The cheaper knockouts usually do not have the enamel bonding that is required in such a high heat cooking application, so they frequrently crack and leave unsightly stains on the cookware. A good piece may cost more at the beginning, but it will pay for itself in the long run.