Bread · Pie · Recipes · Savory Dishes

Sourdough Pizza Crust + GF Pizza Crust

Sourdough is really having a moment. A sweet friend gave me some of her sourdough starter. I made bread and it was delicious. I made rosemary crackers and I keep making them because they’re so scrumptious! It was just a matter of time until I tried my hand at sourdough pizza crust.

We’ve been making pizzas on a regular basis during quarantine. It’s fun and everyone gets to let their creativity flow into their pies. By the time we’re finished, flour is everywhere and toppings are scattered from one end of our kitchen to the other! We’ve made them on a pizza stone in the oven and on our Big Green Egg (for some reason, they always burn). I’ve checked out some of my fellow bakers’ Instagram accounts and admired their homemade pizzas made in wood-fired ovens or special pizza ovens. We’ve tried several dough recipes and techniques and last night we found our favorite so far!

The sourdough craze is making me crazy (among other things). It’s truly a love/hate relationship I have with my starter. I don’t want to love it but I do. Every single time I do the whole feeding process, I swear it’s my last. Then, I fall in love with it and I feed it and nurture it the way any good starter mama would. I came across a recipe for sourdough pizza crust on this cute site: Little Spoon Farm. I was intrigued because they use a cast iron skillet. I have nothing but love for my iron skillets so I knew I had to try it!

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IT IS SO GOOD AND REALLY EASY TO MAKE! You get all the char and the dough has that slightly sour flavor while being light and airy with a crispy crust. We made a smaller, starter pizza to share and it cooked up really well too! You just can’t go wrong with pizza.

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Carrie has been trying to eat less gluten so I made her a gluten free crust. I didn’t get a picture but it was also really delicious! Here are links to both recipes:

Cast Iron Pizza Crust and Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Homemade pizza is worth the mess and I know exactly what’s going into our pizzas. We also get to use a lot of local ingredients, so it’s just a win all the way around! These recipes are both fantastic! I hope you try them and feel free to let me know how you make pizza and your preferred toppings!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Quaran-TEEN creative dinners

I’ve been quite impressed with Carrie’s attitude and creativity during our stay at home time; she’s actually thriving. She’s in online classes most of the day. During her lunch hour, we’re doing home workouts. She set goals and is sticking with her plans to achieve them. I’m watching her get stronger both physically and emotionally. She’s trying and learning new things. At a time when she could be complaining of boredom and isolating herself in her room, she’s enjoying life! She’s making the most of our time together and taking pride in the fact that she’s doing her part to help save lives by staying home.

She came up with a creative way to bring  more fun to dinner time by planning themed dinners. Love it! We put our heads together and figured out meals based on things we had in stock and off she went.

Here’s the thing, I HAD THE BEST TIME! Somehow, Carrie’s ideas transported us to a  new restaurant every night! She made cute invitations (until our printer ran out of ink) and gave us details for each evening. We prepared the meals together and Carrie was our server but she also dined with us!

Sleeper Sunday: Eat breakfast food for dinner, wear pjs and dine on the couch.
Menu: Eggs, Rosie’s Rivets with dipping sauces and apple butter and oranges.

I don’t have any pics of us in our PJs but we wore them and ate while sitting on the couch, which we never do. Can I just tell you how much apple butter (homemade by my daughter, Hannah) elevates Rosie’s Rivets?! Game changer!

Meditation Monday: Channel our inner zen and have a calming, nutritious meal.
Menu: Buddha-ish bowls full of greens, cucumber, nuts and falafel

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This was very tasty and I felt good getting lots of veggies and healthy foods in! The weather was decent so we took it outside and soaked up the peaceful sounds of spring peepers. Namaste!

Talian Tuesday: Not much explanation needed!
Menu: Homemade naan bread pizzas and bread to dip in olive oil. CARBS galore!

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We lucked out with another pleasant evening, so we made our pizzas and dined outside. The meal was delicious and I could’ve eaten another pizza and loaf of bread! We love to make pizzas, so this was a meal we were all looking forward to! I’m still full! Mangia!

Waikiki Wednesday: This was scheduled to be Tropical Thursday but the weather was amazing so Carrie switched the days and we really embraced the tropical theme outside!
Menu: Bowls filled with rice, grilled veggies, roasted sweet potatoes, beans and grilled pineapple and fresh fruit salad with shredded coconut.  Grown ups had Masthead Brewing Company beer and Carrie had sparkling water.

ALOHA! My favorite night! We dressed in tropical clothes, brought Fifi the flamingo to the deck and plugged in the string lights. Carrie created a tropical music playlist and really set the mood. Everything combined, made me feel like I was in paradise! Look at that sunset. We laughed, danced, ate and had a blast! I can’t wait to do a dinner like this again!

Hibachi Thursday: Carrie planned to be our chef and was certain about what she wanted to grill for us. Super happy we switched nights because it was cold and rainy and an indoor Hibachi grill experience was perfect!
Menu: Carrots, onions, peas, eggs, rice and sesame seeds prepared before our eyes!

Carrie made her hat and we stuck the griddle on the table and away she went! How cute is she? She diced and grilled away! She even did a few tricks. We all agreed we want to do this again soon! Best Hibachi experience I’ve ever had!

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Fancy Friday: Get dressed up for a nice dinner!
Menu: Pumpkin Sage Lasagna, homemade spelt bread and a freezer find of pumpkin roll and brownies for dessert. Random, but it was all DELICIOUS! 

I’ve been sporting leggings and sweatshirts for over a month. It felt good to put on a dress and throw on a little lip gloss! We truly worked with what we had on hand for this meal idea. It came together and worked out perfectly (pumpkin-ish theme). Carrie played classical music, we cut flowers from our yard and lit candles. It was very nice and felt like a fine dining experience, right inside our house.

Carrie, you’re the best! Thank you for filling me with tremendous joy and keeping me excited for dinner time! I love you!

If you’re looking for something fun to do, here you go! It doesn’t have to be every night, you could just pick a couple nights. Play music, use what food you have, do some dancing and you’ve got yourself a fun-filled time! Carrie is already thinking about future themes! I can hardly wait!

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From the heart,
Shannon

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Embracing the new

Hello! I hope you’re well! This is day 34 of social distancing for me. My family is healthy and has somewhat acclimated to our current reality.  There’s definitely a lot going on and so much is out of our control.

I’m trying to embrace the new. New routines, recipes, local businesses, ways of connecting with friends and family, workout programs, wines, hairstyles and t-shirt/legging combinations :). Today, I’m sharing a couple of my amazing new finds.

Last week was our first Perfectly Imperfect Produce delivery. I’ve wanted to order for a while and, with COVID-19 stay at home orders in full swing, it seemed like the ideal time to support a local, woman-owned business and keep me out of stores. We ordered the Large Organic size box which was full of fruits and veggies AND it was delivered! We were also able to make a contribution toward additional boxes Perfectly Imperfect Produce is supplying to health care workers. Perfect!

The box included Swiss Chard. I’ve only had Swiss Chard a couple times from Carrie’s school garden and I think I just chopped some up and put it in a salad. I knew I had to use all of the contents in the box! I’m determined to bring every single food item in our kitchen to new life by transforming it into a yummy breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. I went straight to one of my favorite books, The Vegetable Butcher. I highly recommend this book!

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What can I make with Swiss Chard? My answer? Well, Cara Mangini’s answer–Swiss Chard Crostata with Fennel Seed Crust. After a quick scan of necessary ingredients, I was certain I had everything to make it or could easily improvise. I whipped up the dough for the crostata crust the day before Easter and it was easy. The next day I made the filling and baked the whole thing for our Easter meal. I’ve never made a crust without butter! This recipe had me intrigued and I couldn’t wait to get it all together!

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I didn’t get any photos of the preparation process but here’s one of the finished crostata. It’s so pretty! The crust is unique and full of flavor from the olive oil and fennel seeds. The filling is lovely and balanced. We devoured it!

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This recipe is a keeper (I’m linking it to a site that has permission to publish the recipe)! One of the things I’ve enjoyed during quarantine is trying new recipes and experimenting with different ingredients based on what we have on hand. Are you trying new recipes or creating dishes from your pantry and refrigerator finds? I’d love to hear! Stay home and stay well!

From the heart,
Shannon

SWISS CHARD CROSTATA WITH FENNEL SEED CRUST

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Custard, Brûlée and Pudding · Pie · Recipes

Dark Chocolate Pie

I had a great day yesterday! Carrie and I went through old family recipes and decided we’d make my Aunt Norma’s Dark Chocolate Pie. Aunt Norma is married to my Dad’s brother, Dane. She’s a great Southern cook and I always love eating anything she makes! She shared her Dark Chocolate Pie recipe with my mom years ago and we made this many times when I was growing up. Carrie loves chocolate and asked if we could make it. Heck, yeah!

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I had some homemade pie crust in the freezer. I always made this pie with the traditional meringue topping and I’d stick it in the oven to brown a little. I never liked that type of meringue (sorry to all my family members who’ve always topped their cream pies with it). It’s just not my thing. I switched it to a light whipped cream and that’s what I told Carrie we could use since I had whipping cream on hand. She asked if we could make “our meringue”. She was referring to the one I use on her beloved Carrie’s Campfire S’mores Cupcakes. It’s a cooked meringue and tastes like gooey marshmallows. Sounded like a great idea and simple twist on this family classic! I mean, would you just look at those beautiful swirls? Carrie’s so smart!

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When I was a kid, I remember standing at the stove, stirring for what felt like hours to make sure the milk didn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and eagerly wait to see those first boiling bubbles pop through the surface. My arm hurt. My hand cramped up. I whined and complained. I was eager to share that experience with Carrie and teach her how to make the pudding component of the pie! Sounds fun, huh?!

This pie requires a baked pie crust so Carrie rolled it out and blind baked it then let it cool. The pudding filling is sugar, arrowroot (or flour or cornstarch), salt and milk. Cook those over medium low heat FOREVER or until your hand cramps up–Carrie’s words, “My arm is going to fall off! Can I sit down?” 🙂

Once the mixture has thickened, temper egg yolks and add them back to the pan to bring back to a boil for a couple minutes. Then remove from the heat and add nice quality chocolate and vanilla.

Once the chocolate melts, add a little butter to give it that silky finish and cover in plastic wrap (press the wrap directly onto the pudding to prevent it forming a skin). Let cool slightly. Close your eyes and lick the spoon.

Fill the baked crust with the filling and top with the meringue or whipped cream. We added chocolate pieces to the center for fun but you can let your imagination run wild and get creative! I think Carrie’s arm finally felt better! I really love her smile!

What a fun time teaching Carrie an old family recipe and having her put her own spin on it! We ate the pie after dinner and it was so good! Homemade chocolate pudding is delicious! We decided the marshmallow meringue is really yummy on top but we think whipped cream might be our favorite because it’s not quite as sweet. This could work with a graham cracker crust as more of a s’mores pie. We inhaled it and didn’t mind the meringue but I’m definitely in the whipped cream camp!

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Oh, I didn’t get photos of these events, but I broke the edge of our pie dish and Carrie’s first piece of pie slid off her plate right onto the floor. It’s not all swirls of beautiful meringue and rich chocolate decadence all the time in this house!

If you’re like us and staying home, this is definitely a nice, comforting treat to make. You can use store bought crust or graham cracker crust or just make pudding and plop some whipped cream on top. If you’re not a chocolate fan, simply omit the chocolate, add extra vanilla for vanilla pudding and serve it with sliced bananas or any kind of fruit. Stir in some coconut for a little taste of the tropics or add a fresh fruit puree. It’s very versatile! This is one of those family recipes that never goes out of style. It was nice to pass it on to Carrie and enjoy some fond memories of baking with my family when I was a kid. Stay healthy and I hope you’re finding lots to do with loved ones during this crazy time in our lives. I’m treasuring the time as much as I can and doing my best to keep us well!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Dark Chocolate Pie

Pie Crust
Ingredients:
Butter: Diced into 1/2” cubes: 9 TBSP in the fridge; 5 TBSP in the freezer
Pastry Flour: 2 1/4 cups
Kosher Salt: 2 1/4 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 TBSP
Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 TBSP with 1/2 cup cold water

Instructions:
–Place 9 TBSP cold butter and all dry ingredients in food processor and pulse until it resembles the texture of sand.
–Add in the frozen butter cubes and start with 5 TBSP of the apple cider water and pulse until it holds together.
–Dump it out and work the dough on the counter until it holds together and is smooth.
–Divide in half and form into discs and wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate (preferably overnight). You can also freeze at this point.
–Remove dough from fridge to soften a little. Place disc on floured surface and roll out.
–Butter and flour pie pan. Once bottom crust is in prepared pan, place a piece of parchment paper and some pie weights (or dried beans, coins, rice) to blind bake the pie. –Bake for 15 minutes at 400 then remove pie weights and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and let cool.

Chocolate Pudding
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup AP flour (or 1/4 cup corn starch or arrowroot powder)
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 TBSP butter

Instructions:
–In a sauce pan, combine sugar, flour (or corn starch or arrowroot) and salt and gradually stir in the milk.
–Cook and stir until thick and bubbly over medium low heat. Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
–Whisk egg yolks and temper by adding a little of the hot milk mixture then pour it all back into the pan and return to a gentle boil. Cook and stir (just keep stirring!) 2 minutes then remove from heat.
–Add chocolate then vanilla and butter and cover with plastic wrap or wax paper or parchment to let it cool a little.
–Pour filling into baked and cooled crust and top with meringue or fresh whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours then slice and enjoy! Don’t drop your slice on the floor! 🙂

Meringue
6 large egg whites
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whisk egg whites, sugar and salt over simmering water until sugar is dissolved. Mix with a whisk attachment in mixer until fluffy, add vanilla.