sun-dried tomato & sausage pizza


Happy 2019! Once again, it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted, but I am going to say that once a year is acceptable (right…?). I really want to try to be more consistent, but no promises… I have been constantly cooking of course, but it’s been hard to find the time to photograph and write. And though, these are admittedly very far from my best photos, this recipe is for sure still worth blogging about. A lazy Sunday at home has allowed me the time to actually write this up!

I know that typically January is when everyone is committing to clean eating, so I apologize in advance for making that commitment a little more difficult. I just find it really hard not to cook some not-so-clean, delicious, carb-and-cheese-based dinners when the weather is cold and icky.

One of myself and Mike’s favorite weekend meals is this cavatelli recipe. This is basically that, but put into pizza form. What dish isn’t just as good or even better when made into a pizza!? My favorite part of this recipe is that baking the sun-dried tomatoes makes them basically melt in your mouth. I also want to note that this would be just as delicious without the sausage if you are looking for a vegetarian take on this!

Sun-dried tomato & sausage pizza

Ingredients

  • 1/2-lb. homemade or store-bought pizza dough (I used store-bought)
  • 1/2-lb. spicy Italian sausage
  • 8 oz. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, julienned (Trader Joe’s are my favorite because they’re already julienned, so no messy, oily slicing!)
  • Quick pizza sauce (or you can opt for jarred, I won’t judge)
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
    • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 Tbsp. red or white wine
    • pinch of sugar
    • 1 tsp. dried basil
    • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 8 oz. burrata cheese (again, Trader Joe’s has delicious and relatively cheap burrata)
  • 1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • crushed red pepper flakes, for topping

Method

Preheat the oven to 450 F and spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Make the quick pizza sauce: Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and stir constantly for ~1-2 minutes until garlic softens, but does not brown. Add the wine and stir constantly for another 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce, sugar, basil, and oregano. Turn heat down to low and simmer while preparing the dough and sausage.

To make the sausage, heat the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove sausage from the casings and break up into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned, ~7-10 minutes.

Next, roll out the dough on a well floured board until it is ~1/2-inch thick. Spread the tomato sauce out on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border for the crust. (You will not need all the tomato sauce — the 15 oz. can is actually enough for two pizzas). Distribute the sausage and sun-dried tomatoes evenly over the sauce. Then break up the ball of burrata with your hands and distribute that as well.

Bake the pizza for 15 minutes. After removing from the oven, top with the Pecorino, basil, and some red pepper flakes if you like more spice.

Enjoy!

Original recipe inspired by cavatelli with spicy sausage & sun-dried tomatoes

How I eat it: Fresh out of the oven with a glass of red wine (& maybe the next day for lunch… with another glass of red wine…)


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whole wheat beer bread

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Okay, so not exactly a “I’m committing to health and fitness” recipe, but hey, this is not a health and fitness blog. It’s a food blog — I’m writing to share the yummiest recipes that I find/create, not the healthiest.

I will say that last week, I stuck to Cookie & Kate’s Blueberry Honey Bran Muffins for breakfast, kale salads with a hard boiled egg, pomegranate seeds, chopped veggies and Trader Joe’s delicious green goddess dressing for lunch, and fish or vegetarian soups for dinner (just so you think I’m not TOTALLY lying about my oh-so-typical new year’s resolution). But weekends are the time to indulge, so I scoured food blogs for something yummy to bake and came across Half Baked Harvest’s 5 Ingredient Beer Bread. I am a bit of a fan girl of both the Half Baked Harvest and Cookie & Kate blogs, which I visit often for food and photo inspiration.

Anyway, I switched up Tieghan’s recipe a bit by using whole wheat flour (a little more nutritious, right?) and it’s not pumpkin beer season anymore, so I used a Yuengling that I had in the fridge. Though, I will definitely have to try this again with pumpkin beer next fall! Since I had time to bake Saturday afternoon, I thought it was also a good opportunity for more practice with my new lighting kit. So here is a yummy and easy homemade bread recipe, courtesy of Half Baked Harvest, and some more of my attempts at new and improved photos. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Beer Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 oz. beer (whatever you have on hand!)

Method

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the beer and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into a loaf pan.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until the top of the bread is lightly browned and the middle is set.

Allow to sit 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe from Half Baked Harvest

How I eat it: buttered, fresh out of the oven!

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beef bourguignon: revamped

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Happy 2018! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Mine was full of family and way, way, way too much delicious food. As a result, I’m doing that typical thing where, now that the holidays are over and a new year has commenced, I want to re-commit to health and fitness. However, I decided that before I really started committing, I needed to make something warm and hearty to start the new year off right — especially in the frigid cold we’re currently experiencing in New York! If you are trying to stick to a new year’s resolution, I’m going to apologize in advance for being a bad influence and encouraging you to indulge in this warm, classic beef stew this weekend.

I’ve actually posted this recipe once before in 2012 and funny enough, I also made it on New Year’s Day! My passion for cooking was still relatively new six years ago and I was nervous to cook this “ambitious” recipe by Julia Child (it really is an all-day event). The reason I decided to post this recipe again is not only to remind you that it is truly delicious, but also to update the pictures.

This year for Christmas, my wonderful husband bought me a Neewer lighting kit so that I can try to improve my photos. I know I haven’t been blogging often, but I have still been attempting to take pictures of my food over the last few months and I always end up complaining to Mike about the terrible light in our apartment. Our kitchen only has one half-window so in order to get natural light I bring the food into our living room or dining room. But, right now the sun sets at 4 PM, so I am basically never cooking in the daylight anyway! This usually results in photos with an ugly yellow-y tinge to them (refer to my last post).

Now, I am equipped to try and obtain higher quality images and really tempt you with the recipes I post! I still have a lot to learn about photography in general and the DSLR camera that Mike bought me last year. But with all this awesome equipment, I’m doing more research to try and understand how to capture and edit more true-to-life and stylized photos of the food that I cook!

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Anyway, I wrote way more than I like to so I’ll get down to the recipe:

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients:

  • 1 6-oz. piece chunk bacon*
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 lbs. lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes (I used beef chuck)
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • 18-24 small white onions
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, half a bay leaf, 2 thyme sprigs tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, quartered
*I used regular sliced bacon because that is what I had on hand. I blanched the bacon, but did not have any rind for flavoring.

Method:

Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks about a 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2-inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if damp. Add beef to Dutch oven, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Set aside with the lardons.

In the same fat, brown the sliced carrot and sliced onion. Pour out the excess fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the Dutch oven and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set Dutch oven uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

Remove Dutch oven and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in wine and about 2 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind (if you used the chunk bacon). Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

Cover Dutch oven and set in lower third of oven. Allow liquid to simmer very slowly for 2 1/2-3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms:

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil until bubbling in a skillet.

Add small white onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.

Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they begin to brown lightly, remove from heat.

Back to the Dutch oven:

When the meat is tender, use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef, lardons, carrots and onions to a separate dish. Pour the remaining contents of the Dutch oven into a sieve set over a saucepan.

Wash out the Dutch oven and return the beef, lardons, and vegetables to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.

Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Then pour sauce over meat and vegetables and enjoy!

How I eat it:  This time: over egg noodles; Last time: with a crusty whole wheat bread

Again, I promise you all the work is well worth it 🙂 And according to Mike, the leftovers are even better!

Also, here’s a before and after my recently-learned color correction (and some cropping), using a color card and Photoshop, so you can see how much the kit has helped me so far!

Before:

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After:

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bratwurst with apples & onions: the most october meal ever

fullsizeoutput_93b.jpegLately it seems like everyone is obsessed with fall. October, especially. And guess what… I’m shamelessly obsessed too. Not only do I yearn for the perfect, crisp, sunny day where fall foliage can be seen creeping out from the green leaves, I crave autumn cuisine — soups and stews and basically any sweet or savory dish with apple or pumpkin involved. A serious favorite of mine is the pumpkin cookie recipe I shared a few years ago.

I have been wanting to post this dish for a while because it’s one of my favorite October dinners. It is a warm and hearty meal worthy of that perfect fall day, which yesterday was just about the closest we’ve come so far on Long Island! After a stop in to the lab like a good Ph.D. student, Mike and I picked up a pumpkin and some local apples (and maybe some apple cider donuts too…) to celebrate a beautiful October Sunday.  I then spent the evening preparing this dish, apple crisp, and tonight’s vegetable lentil soup — which I am going to make every effort to post sooner rather than later!

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bratwurst with apples & onions

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. Wondra flour
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cups sauerkraut, rinsed, drained, & squeezed dry
  • 1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 8 whole smoked bratwurst
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp. dry vermouth
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place fennel seeds in a small plastic bag and crush with a mallet. Add the flour and pepper to the bag and shake to combine. Spread the sauerkraut over the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the sauerkraut. Arrange onion slices over and sprinkle with half of remaining flour mixture. Spread half of the apple slices over and then sprinkle with remaining flour mixture.  Place bratwurst on top and then arrange remaining apple slices around bratwurst. Tuck in the bay leaves. Mix the broth, vermouth, and ketchup in a measuring cup. Pour the broth mixture evenly over the dish. Cover tightly with foil.

Roast the bratwurst 40 minutes. Uncover and then roast about 25 minutes longer until sausages and apples begin to brown.

Serve with fresh Pumpernickel bread.

Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit (a super long time ago!)

How I eat it: with a tall glass of apple cider on the side

bowtie pasta with sweet sausage & tomatoes

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This is one of my favorite, simple dinner recipes. It is yummy and hearty enough for a Sunday meal, but also quick and easy enough for a weeknight. Also, leftovers remain amazingly delicious! (Coming from someone who is generally not a huge fan of leftovers, that is high praise.)

This recipe actually originates from my parent’s neighbor’s friend — I know, it’s already passed through quite a few hands! I have not done much to adapt it as it really is pretty perfect as is. So, I give credit to my mom, my neighbors, and their friend for sharing this recipe – and now I will share it with you! Enjoy!

bowtie pasta with sweet sausage & tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or half & half)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • Pecorino romano cheese, grated
  • 1 lb. farfalle pasta

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove casings from sausage and add to skillet along with crushed red pepper. With a wooden spoon, break up sausage into bite-sized pieces. Cook over medium heat until browned. Add onion and garlic, cook 8-10 minutes until tender.

Coarsely chop the canned plum tomatoes and add to the skillet with the juices from the can. Add cream and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened (~5-10 minutes).

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta, al dente. Drain pasta and combine with thickened sauce (I like to transfer the pasta over to the skillet of sauce with a slotted spoon to get some of the starchy water in to thicken the sauce!). Top with chopped basil and pecorino romano to taste.

Recipe adapted from my parent’s neighbor’s friend

How I eat it: with A LOT of grated cheese (see below!)

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