Ricotta Cheese Pound Cake

I had a ton of ricotta cheese left over from making tortellini the other weekend. I am not one to waste food so I figured I would incorporate it into a baked good. And it ‘TWAS a good decision. Oh and the homemade tortellini? That’s a post for the future.

It seems like 50% of the time, people I know HATE ricotta cheese. I absolutely love it. Its texture and smoothness makes pastas and baked goods super awesome. Now, for the skeptics: you would never know it was in this loaf of pound cake. I’m serious. The cheese blends perfectly into the batter and after the loaf is done baking, you have an extremely light and soft pound cake, not a dense and sugary one.

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Oh, by the way, it is HOT here already. Well, I think it’s hot, it’s been above 70 degrees here. Most people probably think I’m crazy but I thrive in cold weather. Give me hot weather? I become an angry grinch.

If you’ve got some ricotta cheese left over or want to try out a new pound cake recipe, try this sucker out!

Time: 1 hour
Makes 1 5×10″ loaf

Ingredients:
2 sticks softened butter
1.5 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1.25 cups sugar
1.5 cups flour, sifted
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1. In a large bowl, sift your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder). Set aside.
2. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, start mixing your butter, cheese, and sugar until it is light and fluffy.
3. Add your eggs one at a time.
4. Add the vanilla and lemon zest.
5. On low speed, add your dry ingredients in 4 parts.
6. Once incorporated, pour your batter into a buttered loaf pan.
7. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour or until it is golden brown and passes the poke test.
Enjoy with some whipped cream and berries!

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Dulce de Leche Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Well…that was a long title.

It’s about time I make this bread. I’ve seen it endlessly on recipe websites and today just felt like the day to make it. Quite frankly, I’m actually making this because I can’t stop using my bread maker. Don’t have one? Get one. Seriously. It’s the best thing to wake up to homemade bread that cost less than a couple dollars to make.

This particular bread maker (Breville, to be exact) is a bit more fancy than the one back in New Jersey. In addition to making jut regular bread, the machine will knead your dough and keep it warm while it rises. It also has an insane amount of settings for all different types of dough. Oh, and did I mention it makes JAM? Well…not very exciting. Honestly, I thought this was a strange function within a bread maker. But nonetheless, it’s still awesome.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean literally you have to go out and buy a $300 bread maker. I’m just saying it’s pretty amazing…

So, this recipe (which I am sure you have seen everywhere as well) is awesome. Especially if you have a bread maker to do the annoying work of kneading for you. Ok, I’ll stop talking about the bread maker. However, the ingredients are super simple and the best part is, it doesn’t have to be perfect. This was the greatest part for a person who could really care less about making things look pretty.

In most of the recipes I’ve seen, the bread is usually topped off with a powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla mixture. I also think a cream cheese drizzle could work but today, I chose dulce de leche. Did I make the dulce de leche? No. God, no. I’ve seen how people make it by placing a can of condensed milk, unopened, in the oven to turn into a caramel substance. I, for one, find this terrifying. The thought of an unopened can in a hot oven is like a bomb waiting to go off (well in my mind). Considering I’m still scared to open a Pillsbury crescent roll package, I don’t think I can take on this challenge. ANYWAY, I bought some dulce de leche at Trader Joe’s and have been trying to find a way to use. So I did!

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 Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 packet active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon honey
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey. Mix and set aside.
2. In your bread maker, start mixing the flour, salt, sugar, eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla.
3. Add your yeast mixture (once foamy) and knead for 10 minutes.
4. If you don’t have a bread maker, either do steps 2 and 3 with a stand mixer and dough hook

OR:

By hand:

1. In a large bowl, place your flour, salt, and sugar and mix.
2. Add your eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla. Mix to combine.
3. Add your yeast mixer and mix thoroughly.
4. Turn out your mixture onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. If it gets too sticky, add bits of flour. Continue below…:

BACK to the amazing bread machine…

5. Let your dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place or until it is doubled in size. Brush a loaf pan with melted butter.
6. Roll out your dough on a clean surface. Try to roughly roll it out into a rectangular shape of about 1/2″ thickness.
7. Brush your dough with the melted butter and spread out your brown sugar mixture.
8. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter (I used my ravioli cutter), cut your dough in half, lengthwise. Do the same to the halved pieces.
9. Carefully place one piece of the dough on top of another so that you are left with two stacks of dough.
10. With your cutter, cut your dough (roughly) into squares.
11. Prop your loaf pan on it’s side and start layering your squares. Be gentle so that the sugar doesn’t all fall off.
12. Set your dough to rise for another hour in a warm place.
13. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
14. Bake your bread for about 45 minutes.
15. Allow to cool and drizzle warmed dulce de leche on top. Enjoy!

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Butternut Squash Bread

HOLY crap. This turned out amazing and this is coming from a person who is NOT a baker. I hate measuring. HATE it.

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I had a butternut squash sitting around for weeks. I personally know that these don’t go bad very quickly. In fact, I’m pretty sure this one could have sat around until the new year and it would have been fine. I was planning on using it for SOMEthing for Thanksgiving but just never got around to it…

A few days ago, my dearest husband insisted it was time to throw out the squash. I refused. Profusely. I told him that I would prove to him that the squash was perfectly fine and that I would create something wonderful out of it.

And wonderful indeed! The sweetness of the roasted squash is perfect for this bread. While researching other recipes for pumpkin breads, etc., I consistently saw the recipes call for 3 cups of sugar. Are. You. Kidding? 3 cups? For one loaf? Nope. Not happening in my kitchen. There is just no way one loaf of bread needs 3 cups of sugar. I’m not a health nut but dear god…just no.

Well, some of you are probably thinking “Well if the recipe calls for it, DO IT.” Have you noticed I’m a stubborn person by this point? The bread turned out perfectly sweet. Any sweeter, the bread would have made my teeth rot instantaneously the second I took a bite.

I topped the loaf off with pumpkin seeds and baked it for an aeon. Or what felt like an aeon. But the moisture from the squash just made the loaf incredibly perfect.

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If you have a butternut squash (or even canned pumpkin) sitting around and a nagging husband (:D), make this loaf of awesomeness!

Time: 2.5 hours (1 hour to roast squash, 1 hour for baking, .5 hour for prep)

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash, washed and halved (comes out to about 2 cups)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Roast your squash at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour. Place them face down (cleaned, halved, and seeds taken out) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You will know when your squash is done roasting when the skin starts to have brown spots and the squash is soft to the touch. Once done, allow the squash to cool.

2. In a bowl, sift your flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, combine your eggs, sugar, honey, and vanilla. Mix with a whisk until combined.

4. Add your flour mixture and mix to combine.

5. Scrape the squash out of the skin and add to the mixture. *You can also blend the squash to make it smoother. I prefer the chunks of squash throughout the loaf.

6. Mix until just combined.

7. Pour into a loaf pan. Mine is nonstick so I just put parchment paper down. Otherwise, I would butter and flour the loaf pan.

8. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

I topped mine with pumpkin seeds, which is totally optional.

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Baklava

I love this dessert. Seriously, we go way back to my childhood. I could eat endless amounts of it. In case you don’t know, it’s a Mediterranean dessert that is just to die for. It’s filled with nuts, honey, and delicate phyllo dough. The recipe calls for a lot of sugar but when you eat this dessert, it’s sweet but not overwhelmingly I-need-to-never-eat-sugar-again-I’m-going-to-die sweet.

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What’s phyllo dough, you ask? I would assume most people know what it is but all I know is this: it’s awesome. It’s the thinnest effing thing you’ll ever bake with. Essentially, the “dough” is ridiculously thin sheets used in a lot of dishes. Most commonly, it’s used for spanakopita, baklava, and a ton of other pastries.

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Yes, phyllo dough terrifies me a bit. I do not have a delicate hand. Rather, I just don’t take the proper measures to handle delicate things properly. So what I’m trying to say is, I’m surprised my baklava actually turned out normal without torn pieces of phyllo dough everywhere.

I used cashews and almonds for today’s version. Honestly, it’s because I really didn’t feel like shelling out $10 for a little bag of pistachios. In my opinion, any type of nut you like to eat can be used for this dessert.

Is it a difficult recipe? No. Is it tedious? A little bit. Only because you’ll have to brush tons of butter for every 2 microscopically thin sheets of phyllo dough. The stack of the sheets seemed like it would never go away but after about 10 minutes, I was ready to bake. But you need patience. Every time you brush the butter onto the dough, the sheets start moving. I got pretty annoyed but then again, I have no patience.

Phyllo dough is usually found in the frozen section with pie shells. Just let it thaw properly and you’ll have a great dessert in no time! Other than that, you just need some basic ingredients. Bake away!

Time: 45 minutes

Makes 1 pan of baklava (I used a 9″x 13″ glass pan)

Ingredients:
1 roll of phyllo dough (usually comes in a box with two packages; I cut my phyllo sheets in half since I used a smaller pan but if you are using a larger pan, you must use the two rolls in the package)
1 cup of nuts (of your choice. I used almonds and cashews)
1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
1.5 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
2 lemon peels
2 tablespoons honey

1. In a pot, combine water, sugar, lemon peels, and honey. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Allow to cool once sugar is dissolved.

2. When ready (with dough thawed and butter melted and cooled), coarsely process the nuts. You want the nuts to a coarse meal.

3. In your pan, brush the bottom with butter. Layer your first 2 layers of phyllo dough.

4. Repeat the process of brushing butter on the dough and adding 2 layers until you are about 1/3 through the stack of dough.

5. Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the nuts over the layered dough. Continue layering until you have about 1/3 left of phyllo dough.

6. Add your remaining nuts and continue layering with dough and butter.

7. After your final layer of phyllo dough, brush the top with butter and with a sharp knife, create a diamond shaped pattern, cutting all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Or, cut into a rectangular pattern.

8. Stick in the oven (preheated to 350 degrees F) and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and pour the sugar syrup all over the pan. It will seem like a lot but it NEEDS it!

10. Allow to sit for about 2 hours before eating. Enjoy!

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I hate baking. But I still like to eat baked goods so there are occasional moments where I will actually bake. But do I follow recipes like I should? God no. I do try to measure properly but I don’t have time for it. Rather, I just don’t care. Measuring vanilla extract? Doesn’t exist in my book. It’s called the “That Looks Like Enough” method.

I suggest using a stand mixer for this but hand mixer will work. I’m waiting to bring my Kitchen Aid stand mixer down from New Jersey but for now, I use a hand mixer that has only 1 speed: really goddamn fast.

By the way, why do recipes call for almost 2 cups of sugar for a loaf of pound cake? Just why? I have little to no idea why a recipe that calls for less than 2 cups of flour needs almost an equivalent amount of sugar in it. Why don’t you just shove a stick of butter down my throat and inject me with sugar water? Good lord.

Anyway, end of rant. I love making this coffee cake because (1) It tastes good (2) I rarely mess it up and (3) It’s easy to make. The sour cream is key. Without it, the cake becomes dense and dry. With it, you end up with a perfectly textured piece of cake that will be devoured instantaneously. Thanksgiving is coming up and I will be feeding several hungry beings. This coffee cake is a great deterrent to keep the dudes out of the kitchen.

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Not that this is a twist, but my “twist” on this is the brown sugar, walnut, and cinnamon mixture that is layered into the cake. Most recipes I’ve seen just ask for white sugar mixed with cinnamon but I always prefer to use brown sugar when I can. It just tastes…better.

Time: 1.5 hours

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
some vanilla extract (If you need an actual measurement, I believe it was 1/4 teaspoon)
dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. (Preheat your oven to 325)
2. Combine cinnamon, walnuts, and brown sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Line your loaf pan with parchment paper. Or butter it and dust it with flour. That was just asking too much of me on a Sunday so I resorted to paper.
4. Mix the butter and white sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
5. Add eggs 1 at a time. Don’t overmix.
6. Add vanilla.
7. Alternate mixing in the flour mixture and sour cream to the egg and butter mixture.
8. Mix until just combined while scraping the sides down with a spatula.
9. Pour about 1/2 mixture into the loaf pan. Spread out carefully as flat and smooth as possible.
10. Take half of your brown sugar, walnut, and cinnamon mixture and sprinkle over the batter.
11. Pour the remaining batter on top and carefully flatten out again.
12. Sprinkle on the remaining brown sugar mixture and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
13. Enjoy!

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Olive Bread

It’s Sunday. Meaning it’s time to be extremely lazy. Meaning it was time to make another loaf of no knead bread.

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But this time, with OLIVES.

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I love olives. All kinds. But of course, the best combination with olives is eating it with bread. For this bread, I knew I needed olives with very low liquid content, aka oil cured olives. Ugh god…so good. The saltiness but olive-flavor packed olives (is that redundant?) was perfect for this bread. And of course, you have to eat it dipped in extra virgin olive oil. I mean, how else would you eat it? With butter? Ew, no thank you.

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I won’t lie. The end result will look like a pretty loaf of bread studded with black objects that look like cockroaches crawled into the dough before baking. But with the sticky-ness and chewiness, on top of the crustiness of the bread after baking in the dutch oven, you can eat this entire loaf in one sitting. We’ve eaten at least half already and I baked it a couple hours ago…

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Time: 12-15 hours (sitting time); 30 minutes baking time; 5 minutes prep time

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour
1.5 cups water
1/4 tablespoon active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil cured olives, pitted and chopped (add more if you’d like, there’s no limit. If I could, I would put a whole cup…)
Extra bench flour

1. Combine all ingredients except the olives in a large bowl. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined into a shaggy dough.
2. If your mixture seems a little too dry, add some more water to get the last part of dry ingredients combined.
3. Add the olives and mix just to combine.
4. Cover and let sit overnight at least 12 hours.
5. On a floured surface, dump out the dough and form into a nice, round ball. (**DO NOT knead it! It will get rid of the lovely bubbles that make this bread amazing, just shape it gently) Place onto a sheet of parchment paper. (Not too large of a piece, you want it to mostly fit into your dutch oven)
6. Cover with a clean towel and let sit for 15 minutes.
7. After 15 minutes, uncover and cut an X into the dough. Turn on your oven with the dutch oven inside at 450 degrees F.
8. Once the oven is preheated, transfer the dough carefully with the parchment paper and cover.
9. Bake for 25 minutes.
10. Uncover and bake until golden brown.
11. Enjoy with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar!

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No Knead Bread

I don’t get it. I don’t get how I had never tried making this bread before. I’ve labored countless hours trying to make the perfect loaf of bread but most of the time, there was something off. It’s also probably because I don’t like to measure exactly but you know, that’s besides the fact.

Many times the crust wasn’t crusty enough, the center was too dense, it was too crumbly, etc. I won’t lie, I’ve made great loaves of bread before but this time, by far, turned out to be better than the usual.

I’ve seen “No Knead Bread” recipes countless times. I just thought, “How does it have a nice texture without any kneading?” Little did I know…

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God, isn’t it beautiful?

Literally, all you do is put your ingredients in a bowl the day before, mix it until the dough is shaggy, cover it, and watch it become bubbly. That’s it. Well except for the part that you have to shape it into a ball and bake it. I’ve never felt so lazy making bread. You measure, mix, cover, and 12 hours later you go “Ooh” at the sight of bubbly dough. It won’t look right when you mix it first. I thought it looked too dry but left it anyway. I EVEN got out of bed at night to make sure it was doing what it was supposed to do.

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And the results are surprisingly good. The crust is crunchy, the inside of the loaf is super bubbly, and the bread itself is super chewy and sticky…in a good way.

But I will say one thing: you must have a dutch oven. I recently received a Lodge dutch oven as a wedding gift and knew the first thing I had to try making was bread. Speaking as a completely un-scientist non-chemist third party, I believe the dutch oven really makes the bread retain it’s moisture inside and create a super crusty outer layer. I’ve just had many loaves where the crust was just dried out but not crunchy, as well as the inside of the bread being really dry as well. Not sure if this was all a result of crappy bread-ery but it worked this time around.

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Time: 12-15 hours (45 minutes baking time, 5 minutes prep time)

Ingredients:

3 cups flour (I used all-purpose)
1.5 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 tablespoon active yeast

1. Combine all ingredients in a big bowl. Mix until combined.
2. The dough will be sticky and shaggy. Cover tightly.
3. After at least 12 hours, place your dutch oven in the oven at 450 F.
4. Take your dough and turn out onto a floured surface.
5. Gently form it into a ball. DO NOT knead.
6. Place the dough on a big sheet of parchment and make an X with a sharp knife.
7. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
8. Place the dough and paper into your dutch oven and cover. Bake for 30 minutes.
9. Remove the lid and bake until golden brown.

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Garlic Bread

No, not THAT kind of garlic bread. This bread just literally has cloves of garlic…in it.

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It’s Saturday and guess what? It’s still so hot outside, we stay indoors all day long. So I tend to get stir crazy once in a while. Today’s stir crazy led me to make some bread.

When I just need a quick and easy to make loaf of bread, I just use my pizza dough recipe. It’s simple and not time consuming.

Oh, and p.s. I just got hired as an 8th grade math support teacher! I thought my days in Pensacola would be filled with boredom and restlessness but nope! I’ll be teaching math instead…not going to lie, I squealed with excitement knowing that my days will only be focused on math. Nerd alert.

Anyway, I decided to stuff some garlic cloves into the dough before I let it rise. And boy, it was a great decision! The garlic is super soft and not crazy “garlic-y” so it’s totally easy to eat and not scary. I kind of used it as garlic-mash butter before dipping it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And surprisingly enough, I DON’T have garlic breath at the moment.

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This is great bread to eat with some pasta. Enjoy!

 

Time: 1.5 hours

Makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients: see pizza dough recipe

1. Once you have kneaded the dough thoroughly, add roughly 8-10 cloves of fresh garlic.
2. Shape the dough into a large log and place on top of parchment paper on top of a cutting board. This makes it easy to transport to the oven later.
3. To speed up rising time, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees F and shut it off right before putting my dough in to rise.

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4. Cover your dough with a clean towel and place in the warm oven.
5. Once the dough has nearly doubled in size, remove it from the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees F with the cast iron pan.
6. Make 4 slits in the dough. It helps to wet your knife with water!
7. Transfer your dough and parchment paper to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes.
8. Once the bread has browned, reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F.
9. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Make sure to watch during this time.
10. Remove from oven and enjoy!

By the way, sorry for the terrible pictures of the soup last post. SOMEone (coughfiancécough) decided to eat the remaining soup that I had ready to take photos of so I had to resort to the nighttime photos from the previous night.

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Cheese & Tomato Tart

It’s hurricane season! No seriously, it is. We’ve been told numerous times that we are due for a hurricane this fall…fun times in the South!

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So today, we headed to our local produce market. It’s one of the few things we are grateful for here in Pensacola. They have a crazy abundance of produce, ranging from Korean sweet potatoes to heirloom tomatoes to yucca to … well anything else you’d need. We walked out of there with 4 bags of produce for $17. Isn’t that crazy? The best part about this place is that everything is locally grown, not GMO vegetables and fruits. Not that I’m some crazy health nut but honestly, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to realize that what we eat and do to our bodies is entirely our responsibility. And it’s a responsibility that I need to take a hold of. I mean, you have to admit, those large, perfectly round peaches at your big supermarket are just a little too perfect. Nature doesn’t create such perfect fruit all the time.

The fruit at this produce market may not be perfect or as large as a baby’s head, but boy are they super fresh. As I meandered the store, I stumbled upon amazingly red and ripe tomatoes. They had a specific name but dear god, I can’t remember what it was. So with these tomatoes, I figured I’d make a lovely tart with some basil from my garden.

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By the way, look at these bell peppers below. Aren’t they the strangest thing? I had never seen such colors for bell peppers until I got to Pensacola. I haven’t tasted them yet so who knows, maybe they taste magical or something.

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If you’re looking for an easy-to-make appetizer, try this recipe out! It’s super rich and full of flavors. Don’t get me wrong, this tart isn’t the lightest dish considering it has tons of cheese. But holy hell, did this turn out good. If you love cheese like I do, you won’t regret making this.

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Time: 1.5 hours
Serves 5-6 people

Ingredients:
1 large ripe tomato, sliced thin
large bunch of basil leaves, julienned
1/3 cup diced onions, caramelized
2 eggs
4 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
ground pepper
1 homemade pie crust (see: https://kimchiandkogi.com/2014/07/13/georgia-peach-pie/)

1. Place all your cheeses and sour cream in a large bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds to soften. (And preheat your oven to 330 degrees F!)
2. Add eggs and mix thoroughly
3. Add basil, ground pepper, and onions. Mix.
4. Pour your mixture into your pie dish. (I blind baked my crust for 5 minutes beforehand).
5. Carefully place your sliced tomatoes to cover the top of the pie.
6. Place in your oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until your tomatoes have cooked through and your crust is golden brown.
7. Serve with balsamic reduction and enjoy!

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Homemade Ciabatta

Oh boy, things have finally settled around here in Pensacola. We made a long awaited trip to Atlanta to visit my friends from New Jersey. By long awaited, I mean over 1 year of failing to go. Life of the military, I suppose.

If you haven’t been to that city, GO. There’s just so much to do. Tons of bars, restaurants, and Waffle Houses. Which, by the way, I tried for the first time and well…it wasn’t all that great. Anyway, Atlanta is filled with amazing food. We went to Fox Bros. BBQ the first day and dear god, was it good. Perfectly smoked brisket and the most amazing mac n cheese. And an abundance of sweet tea.

I also learned to play bocce ball. I was horrible at it. Not surprising. Oh! And I tried Frito Pie for the first time. It was suspiciously amazing. If you don’t know what it is, it’s basically a bag of Fritos with chili, lettuce, and cheese (I think?) and the combination is amazing. And I can’t stand Fritos, by the way.

But now, we’re finally back in Pensacola back to our old routine. The weather has finally cooled down, which means it’s about 92 degrees plus humidity everyday. Trust me, it’s better than what it was a few days ago.

So back to food. With the wedding coming up, I have not followed my plan to eat less bread. At all. In any sense. Just nope. I’d rather not.

Bread making used to scare me. I’m still not a pro at it, but being able to make edible bread makes me happy. It just gets better with practice. A lot of it. Bread is just as temperamental as a teenage girl; you just never know what you’re going to have to deal with and what will happen at the end.
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I have to say, having the right yeast is everything. I’m literally having my dad ship me yeast from New Jersey because I’ve run out already. The Fleischmann’s yeast found in all groceries just doesn’t do it for me. That notoriously yellow and red package scares me. Maybe it’s just a mental thing, but I find that my bread turns out so much softer and chewy with Dr. Oetker’s yeast.

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Anyway, this bread was made with the same ingredients and method as my focaccia bread. So if you’ve got the basic ingredients, bake away!

Ingredients:

1 cup hot water
1 package instant yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons salt
3-4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine water, yeast, salt, honey, and olive oil in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
2. Gradually add your flour, while mixing with a spatula. Add until mixture is a shaggy ball of dough and no longer sticking to the bowl.
3. Turn onto a clean counter with extra flour and start kneading. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Place your dough into an oiled bowl (I use the same bowl as before). Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
5. Once risen, turn the dough out onto a floured sheet of parchment paper. Shape it into a large rectangle (about 1″ thick) and cover. Let rise again for another hour.
6. Preheat your oven and cast iron pan to 500 degrees F.
7. With a pastry cutter, cut your dough into squares, about 6″x6″. Or you can leave the dough whole.
8. Transfer the parchment and dough onto your heated pan. (It helps to have it already on a large cutting board or pizza peel so it’s easy to slide off without ruining the dough.)
9. Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.
10. Enjoy with pasta or make sandwiches!

I won’t lie, these didn’t turn out as poofy as I wanted them. Just make sure not to shape the dough too flat!

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