Are you guys ready for a pocket full of sunshine!…….wait, wait wait……….I mean a pocket full of creamy goodness!!!!
Before I get into that, a quick sidenote. I know I’ve yelled at myself many times in the past for being so boring as to talk about the weather, but I’m making an exception to my rule for a second because we’ve been having some really bizaaro weather recently. I’d almost forgotten how bi-polar nature seems to get during the change from Winter into Springtime where I live. For example, within one day we’ll go from a few minutes of warm and sunny, to flash-flood-type pouring rain, to marble-sized hail, and then back again before you can catch up. I’ve also never lived where you see so many rainbows on a regular basis. This time of year, we pretty much have a double rainbow at least once a week.
What is unusual though, are thunder storms and tornados, which we’ve had both of in the past week! Okay, so we didn’t actually have tornadoes in our immediate area, but considering how rare they are at all in Chile, I think one nearby is worth noting. We did have some incredible lighting and some thunder that was enough to shake the house though. I’m weird enough to be really excited about this. Have I told you guys how much I love thunderstorms and miss living in an area with severe ones? Hey, don’t write me off as some twisted lunatic or sadist. I don’t like when there’s destruction or injuries, but natural disasters are something that I’ve always loved. The thrill of a good tornado watch was just part of growing up for me when I lived in southern USA, but I could probably count on one hand the storms we’ve had since moving to the Southern Hem.
Okay, but the point I’m getting to here is that all of this dreary/stormy weather is making it hard to forget that it’s still Winter here and I’ve been seriously in the mood to make comfort food because of it. These chicken bakes fall right into that category because they’ve got it all. They’ve got a filling of a creamy spinach and artichoke sauce that’s stuffed with chunks of tender chicken. Then it’s all wrapped up in a big, soft pizza dough crust pocket and covered in plenty of shredded cheese that gets browned while they bake! Can you spell Y.U.M!!!
So I mentioned making these to my mom and she offered to get me some of the fresh artichokes that she’d seen at the market a few days before. All right, I’ve been known to deal with some pretty annoying ingredients in order to make everything completely from scratch (because that’s another one of my weirdnesses, don’t judge). I’m pretty open to most anything straight from the garden, however when it comes to artichokes I have a confession to make, I’d really rather not. Out of all the different things I’m willing to mess with, artichokes just don’t make the cut. In fact, I’m sort of planning to never use fresh ones ever again unless absolutely necessary. I think I decided that a long time ago when I discovered first-hand why they are so named and spent the rest of that day with a sore throat. Does this ruin my credibility as a food blogger?
I do love artichoke hearts though, so I was so happy a few weeks ago when Mom found the jarred variety and saved me the headache of fighting the chokes. Of course, something that everyone knows goes so well with artichoke hearts is spinach (Oh, and don’t forget garlic!). This is such a classic combo that it’s almost cliché, but in my comfort food mood I didn’t see any reason to avoid it this once.
These are really simple to make and everyone loved them. I included a recipe for a single pizza crust dough but if you’d like to keep things even easier feel free to use your favorite store-bought pizza dough instead. K, and I think that’s all you need to know so I’m gonna let you get to making them while I hopefully wait for more thunderstormslike the weirdo I am. Enjoy guys!
BTW, have you guys heard of Yummly.com? It’s a recipe site that allows you to save and categorize recipes from all over the internet in a really easy format. Check it out and start saving your favorite recipes.
- 1 unbaked pizza crust (or recipe follows)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 cup artichoke hearts
- 8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese
- 3/4 cups Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
- eggwash: 1 egg white + 2 tablespoons water, whisked together for brushing
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- Combine yeast, sugar, and water in a medium mixing bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes until bubbly. Add other ingredients and mix until it starts to form a dough.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes. It should be smooth and resilient.Grease a medium bowl and place dough inside. Flip in bowl to cover all sides with oil and cover with towel or plastic wrap.Put in warm place to rise until doubled in size.
- Saute garlic with oil in a skillet over medium heat until browned, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 2 - 3 minutes more until wilted. Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes.
- Add spinach mixture to a food processor or blender along with the artichoke hearts, cream cheese, yogurt, paprika, pepper, salt, and parmesan; pulse until well mixed and nearly smooth.
- Scrape out the mixture into a medium mixing bowl and stir in the chicken to combine.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the risen dough into a rectangle-ish shape that's about 1/4 inch thick and cut into 6 even smaller rectangle pieces. Divide the filling among all 6, spooning it into the centers. Now fold in the shorter sides of each piece onto the filling, followed by one of the longer sides. Brush the folded parts with eggwash and overlap the last side and press down to seal each chicken bake like a yummy little package.
- Place the chicken bakes at least 2 inches apart on prepared pan with the creased side underneath. Brush the tops with eggwash and sprinkle on mozzarella cheese. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes until golden brown on top. Remove and cool for at least 5 minutes before serving hot.