Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Tale of Three Pizzas

Ranch Chicken & Bacon with Smoked Gouda
Heirloom Tomato with Pesto
Zucchini & Leek with Herbed Goat Cheese 

I love pizza. I mean REALLY love it. A little too much.

Since I hate eating the same thing all the time, I make it a point to add variety to our home-cooked meals....but lately, I've been making pizza about once a week. The good part is, you can top pizza with just about anything. I make enough dough for 3 pizzas every time, so I can experiment with new toppings (hooray, experimenting!). I don't think any sighs or rolling of eyes when I mention what's for dinner will ever crush my pizza infatuation. But I digress..

For the Dough: (this is my go-to thin crust, adapted from Tyler's wonderful dough recipe)


- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 2 tsp pure honey
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 cups bread flour
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
- extra virgin olive oil


In a large bowl, combine the yeast, honey, and warm water. Let stand until the yeast becomes foamy, about 5 minutes. Add in the salt and 2 Tbsp olive oil. 

In a small bowl, combine the whole wheat and bread flours. Add the flour mixture to the large bowl, a bit at a time, working it in with your hands (your could use a stand mixer for this). If the dough seems dry, add more water (only 1 Tbsp at a time); if it seems too sticky, add more flour (only 1 Tbsp at a time). You want your dough to be smooth and elastic. 

Once the dough comes together, knead it on a floured surface for a minute, then form it into a ball. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic for 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit! 

The dough will have doubled in size; punch it down and turn it out onto a floured surface. Stretch the dough out into a long cylinder and cut it into 3 equal pieces. Cover and let rest for another 10 minutes (it will be easier to work with). 

Roll one piece of dough out on a floured surface into a circle; the thinner you roll it out, the crispier the pizza crust will be (about 1/8 thick is good).

Add on your toppings and bake on a pizza stone or baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, or until edges of crust are golden.

Ranch Chicken & Bacon with Smoked Gouda

A manly pizza, for my hubs.


- 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 6 slices turkey bacon, sliced into 1" strips
- 1 small (or 1/2 large) red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup sliced green onion
- white wine vinegar
- ranch dressing
- 1 cup freshly shredded smoked gouda
- 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano
- olive oil
- sea salt & ground black pepper


In a large skillet, add a tablespoon of water & add in bacon. Cook until just crisp and remove to a plate. Add a splash of white wine vinegar once removed, and scrape the brown bits with a wooden spoon.

Cover the bottom of the skillet with olive oil; heat on medium high. Brown chicken well on both sides, sprinkling with s&p. Add in the onion & bell pepper. Turn to medium and cover until chicken is just cooked (deglaze with w.w.vinegar when necessary). Remove onion & bell pepper when colorful & soft. Once chicken is no longer pink in the middle, remove to a plate & let sit at least 10 minutes, then shred with your hands.

Combine the chicken, turkey bacon, onion, & bell pepper in a bowl. Mix in just enough ranch dressing to coat everything; about 3 Tbsp.

Lightly brush the entire rolled-out dough with olive oil. Spread a thin layer of ranch dressing over the dough. Pile on the chicken mixture evenly, then sprinkle the shredded gouda & parmigiano reggiano over the entire top. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese & crust edges are golden.

Heirloom Tomato with Pesto


- 1-2 heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
- olive oil
for the pesto:
  - 1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  - a handful fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  - 3/4 cup parmigiano reggiano
  - 1/2 cup pine nuts
  - 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  - 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Pulse the first 5 pesto ingredients in a food processor until well combined. Slowly add in the olive oil, one Tbsp at a time, blending until you have a smooth, thick paste. 

Lightly brush a rolled-out piece of dough with olive oil, then spread the pesto over the surface. Top with the tomato slices, and sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crust is golden.

Zucchini & Leek with Herbed Goat Cheese 


- 1 large zucchini
- 1 medium leek
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup herb goat cheese
- parmigiano reggiano
- olive oil
- sea salt & ground black pepper


Slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch rounds, discarding the stem. 
Slice the base of the leek into 1/4 inch rounds, discarding roots; wash carefully so that the rounds don't separate.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and goat cheese.

Lightly brush a rolled-out piece of dough with olive oil. Spread the goat cheese mixture evenly over the surface. Layer the zucchini and leeks in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle veggies with the salt, pepper, and parm.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until crust is golden.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Simple Chicken Tacos

So those pancakes did end up waiting until morning. 

Sometimes the simplest of ingredients make the most delicious meal. 
Shredded chicken, braised and coated in Mexican spices. 
Caramelized onion, bell pepper, tomato. 
Black beans, garlic rice, guacamole, cilantro (i did forget the cilantro, snap).
A few extra squeezes of fresh lime to seal the deal. 

makes about 12 servings; cook time: 45 minutes


- As many small white corn tortillas as you think you can eat
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
       chicken rub
                         - 1 Tbsp: cumin, coriander, paprika
                         - 1/2 Tbsp: dried oregano, ancho chili powder, garlic powder
                         - 1 tsp sea salt
                         - 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 large vidalia onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cans black beans
- 1 cup basmati rice (to 2 cups water)
         rice seasonings: 
                          - 2 large garlic cloves, minced
                          - 1/2 cup roma tomato, diced
                          - dashes of cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt
                          - a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
for the guacamole:
- 5 ripe avocados
- 1/2 cup roma tomato, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced 
- 1 lime, zested & halved
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste


Lightly coat the bottom of a dutch oven with olive oil; heat on medium high.
Dry the chicken with a paper towel, then rub with the seasonings.
Add chicken to the dutch oven, browning well on both sides; cook covered until the juices run clear & surface bounces back when pressed on with a fork. Deglaze with a liberal splash of water, & remove chicken to a plate (let rest at least 10 minutes). Shred the chicken with two forks, then stir back into the onion/bell pepper mixture to soak up all the juices.
Add in the onion & bell peppers. Once the onion has begun to caramelize, add in the garlic & remove from heat; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat rice with a Tbsp of olive oil in a medium pan; season with salt & pepper. When the rice starts to become translucent, stir in the garlic, tomatoes, and cilantro. Once the tomatoes begin to reduce, add in 2 cups of water, turn to low & cover for about 20 minutes.

Also meanwhile, drain (leave a small amount of liquid) & heat the beans on medium in a small pan. If unseasoned, add 1 Tbsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.

For the guac: 
Score the avocados and transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Mash according to preferred chunkiness, then add in the tomatoes, garlic, lime zest, and juice of 1/2 the lime. Season with s&p, adding more lime juice if you are a citrus fanatic like me ;) 

Heat your tortillas by themselves in a small pan on medium high; or, for crispier tortillas, add 1 tsp olive oil. Cook until slightly charred on both sides. Place tortillas on individual plates, and pile on the toppings. I like to do this order, from bottom up: rice, beans, chicken/bell ppr/onion, guac, cilantro. Optional: top chicken with a mild cheese, such as cheddar, monterey jack, or queso fresco.

A Picnic+Play Day AND Banana Apple Pancakes

Today Liam & I ventured out to one of my favorite spots in Augusta: The Savannah River Rapids Pavilion. 

We made a pit stop @ Kroger & grabbed some chicken strips, pasta salad w/veggies & Italian dressing, & a fruit-punch flavored vitamin water (I put some small amount of effort into breakfast this morning, & didn't feel like making lunch...besides, we wanted to try to beat the unfortunate Georgia heat!). 

After chowing down, we strolled around the grassy area near the river and crossed the bridge to where the dam is. Liam revelled at how loud it was...

But he couldn't get the playground off of his mind :)

Previously this morning.... 

Banana Apple Pancakes occurred!

Now these aren't the prettiest pancakes I've ever made, mind you, 
but let me tell you how delicious they tasted!

Maybe it was the crème fraîche, or the REAL maple syrup added to the batter, or the fresh apples cooked in the (real) maple syrup, or the sweet mashed up banana...

I may never know. (I actually had every intention of adding an egg, but completely forgot!) But something worked here...which is very encouraging since these were whipped up without a recipe, nor a care in the world. Sometimes magical things happen when I let loose in the kitchen, adding a bit of this or that; something that needs to be used up, something adventurous, whatever it may be. 

I was going to make chicken tacos for dinner (mm...tacos), but I just don't know if the rest of these fluffy little guys can wait 'til morning.

Banana Apple Pancakes


- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large ripe banana
- 1 large fuji apple
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
- 1/2 cup Simply apple juice
- 4 Tbsp real maple syrup, divided
- 2 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
- canola oil
- a pinch of salt


Thinly coat large pan with canola oil & heat on medium high.

Dice the apple, reserving some slices for garnish (leave the skin on, it's good for you!), and add to the pan. Sprinkle in the cinnamon, nutmeg, & cloves.

Once the diced pieces become soft & slightly translucent, pour in 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup. Cook another minute or so, then transfer apple & any leftover juices into a food processor; pulse until pureed.

Meanwhile, mash the banana in a large bowl. Add in the crème fraîche, almond milk, apple juice, apple puree, and the last 2 Tbsp of maple syrup. Mix well, then add the baking powder, salt, & flours until just mixed.

Heat a non-stick griddle on medium-low. Ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle for each pancake; I like to do 2 at a time. Let the first side cook until the edges start to brown & bubbles form on the top (about 3 minutes). The flip side should only take a minute. Yield: about 12 large pancakes.

Top with excessive amounts of maple syrup and apple slices, banana slices, fresh berries, powdered sugar, etc...enjoy :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nectarine Tartelettes with Vanilla Crème Fraîche Filling

I suppose it's ironic that although my blog is entitled "The Savory Life," my first post is about pretty little dessert items. 

I'm actually not the biggest dessert fan; I'd much rather indulge in a slice of cheesy pizza than a piece of chocolate cake. That being said, I do occasionally remember that my husband has an insatiable sweet tooth, and making him something special helps me feel a lot less guilty than going out and buying him a package of Oreo's (which he wouldn't complain about, but still).

Anyhow, these little tartlelettes are a nice compromise between our taste preferences; although sweet overall, the nectarines pack a nice zing, and the delicate crust encompasses those sweet and tart flavors in buttery savoriness.

*Crust adapted from: Paule Caillat's unique tart dough recipe, via David Lebovitz's blog; filling adapted from: this lovely pastry cream recipe

  • Ingredients:
  • for the crust:

    12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    2 Tbsp canola oil
    6 Tbsp water
    3 Tbsp granulated sugar
    1/4 tsp salt
    2 slightly rounded cups all-purpose flour
  • for the filling: 
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
    1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
    3 large egg yolks 
    1/2 cup granulated sugar 
    2 Tbsp all-purpose flour 
    2 Tbsp cornstarch 
    1/2 Tbsp spice rum or other liqueur (optional)

        • for the toppings:

        • 3 ripe nectarines, pitted & thinly sliced
        • 2 Tbsp apricot preserves
        • 2 Tbsp water
        • cinnamon & powdered sugar, for garnish

        • Method

          • for the crust:

        • Combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, & salt in a medium saucepan, and heat on medium high until bubbling & just starting to brown around the edges (keep a close eye on it, or you'll have caramel!)

          Meanwhile, put the flour in a heat-proof bowl. When the butter mixture is ready, quickly stir it into the flour, until the dough just comes together.

          Once the dough is cool enough to handle, transfer an apricot-sized piece to each of the pans and press into the edges with your fingers (if making two large tarts, simply split the dough in half between them). Reinforce the sides with a fork, and prick the bottom 10 or so times. Reserve a small piece of dough for patching any cracks after baking.

          Set tart pans on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 410 degree oven for 10 minutes; remove and set aside to cool.

          for the filling:

          In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Stir in the flour & cornstarch until smooth.

          Meanwhile, heat the milk & vanilla bean on medium until milk just starts to foam. Remove from heat and take out the vanilla bean; scrape the seeds into the egg mixture. Slowly add milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in the
          crème fraîche until thoroughly combined.
          Pour mixture back into the saucepan and heat until just boiling, whisking constantly, until thick and creamy. If you are using liqueur, whisk that in as well. Pour back into a bowl and cover the surface immediately with plastic; set aside.

          for the toppings: 

          Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

          Cut each nectarine around the seam, then again so it is quartered. Cut each quarter from the pulp and slice the fruit about 1/4 inch thick; set aside.

          Meanwhile, heat the apricot preserves and water in a small saucepan until a smooth glaze forms.
          Fill each tart crust halfway with the filling, then layer the nectarines in an overlapping, decorative pattern. Brush a thin layer of the apricot glaze over the top, then bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are golden and nectarines are fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool. (You could refrigerate them until ready to serve)

          Carefully remove the tarts from their spring-form pans and place onto plates. Sift cinnamon and powdered sugar all over the top and enjoy!