Greek Pizza with a Cornmeal Crust

Greg got me a pizza stone for Christmas one year. Before receiving the pizza stone, I always wondered why my pizza crusts would NEVER work out to my liking. Well, the answer is that I had never hadused a pizza stone. What a difference it makes! It helps to cook the pizza evenly, and it helps to extract moisture (from cheese, toppings, etc.) When I had used a baking sheet to cook pizzas, the moisture from cheese would seep into the crust and it would become a soggy mess.

The very first (and second) pizza I made with the stone was a Greek pizza. The pizza starts with a cornmeal crust, then it is spread with an olive oil & roasted garlic sauce, and it is topped with feta cheese, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, arugula, and spices. It is absolutely amazing!

Recipe for Greek Pizza with a Cornmeal Crust

INGREDIENTS

For the crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
2/3 cup of warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Put the warm water in a liquid measuring cup. Add yeast and sugar and let sit for ten minutes until a bit bubbly. Put flour, cornmeal, and kosher salt into a food processor and pulse together. Slowly add in the olive oil. With the food processor running, slowly add in the water/yeast mixture through the feed tube. When it forms into a ball, stop and divide the dough into two even pieces. Wrap one piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for another use. Place the other piece of dough in a bowl coated with olive oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a  warm moist towel. Put somewhere warm  (like on top of the warm oven while the garlic is roasting). Let the dough rise for about an hour.

For the roasted garlic & olive oil sauce
2 large heads of garlic, with much of the skin peeled off
5 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
a pinch of lemon zest (optional)
1/8 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper
a pinch of red pepper flakes
6 sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped small

Line a baking sheet with foil. Pour a couple tablespoons of the olive oil on the foil. Place garlic on top of foil. Place in an oven heated to 375 degrees and cook for 45 minutes. Let the garlic cool slightly, then use your hands to squeeze the garlic out into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, forming a bit of a paste while doing so. Set aside.

For topping & assembling
3 – 4 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese
5 ounces of crumbled feta cheese
10 – 12 kalamata olives, sliced thin
3 – 4 sun dried tomatoes in oil, sliced small
A handful or two of arugula leaves
A drizzle of olive oil
Dried Oregano
Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper flakes

Preheat pizza stone according to manufacturer’s directions (most stones need to be at 500 for thirty minutes).

After the dough has risen, place it on an inverted baking sheet dusted generously with cornmeal. Spread out the dough to make a thinnish crust. Drizzle the dough with the roasted garlic & olive oil sauce, spreading evenly. Then top with most of the mozzarella cheese, add the feta cheese, add the olives and sun dried tomato, add a little more mozzarella, then add the arugula. Drizzle the arugula with a little olive oil and then top the pizza with a sprinkle of dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper.

Once pizza stone is ready, carefully slide the pizza onto the stone (leave stone in oven). Cook for about 6 – 7 minutes, or until crust is done and cheese is melted. Remove the pizza from the oven, let cool for a minute, slice and serve.
Greg & I enjoy our pizza with a small arugula salad topped with olives, feta, olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, and a touch of balsamic vinegar.

Cornmeal crust recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

Curried Pumpkin Mushroom Soup

Here is a delicious pumpkin soup recipe. An old coworker of mine had sent me the recipe for this soup. I remember questioning how it would taste when she told me it was a recipe for pumpkin soup with mushrooms. She told me that a nice restaurant in Delaware is famous for the recipe, so that persuaded me to want to try it out. The soup did not disappoint. It’s creamy, hearty, a tad spicy, and soulful. It’s also fairly healthy, since pumpkin is packed full of Vitamin A and mushrooms are high in riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. Greg and I love this soup, and I hope that you love it too! Enjoy.

Recipe for Curried Pumpkin Mushroom Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 TBSP Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms (baby bella or cremini)
  • 2 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. of curry powder
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 16-ounce can of pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp. of honey
  • 1 Tbsp. of dark brown sugar
  • A dash or two of nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup of heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add in the onions and mushrooms and saute over medium heat until softened, about 4 – 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and curry powder. Stir constantly for about 45 seconds and make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so the flour doesn’t stick to it. Slowly mix in the chicken broth. Add in the pumpkin, honey, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir together and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, then adjust the heat to medium-low. Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix in the heavy cream and cook soup for one more minute. Serve immediately – makes 6 – 8 servings.

Recipe Adapted from: Delaware Online

Sweet Potato Tacos

I love all kinds of tacos! My sister and brother-in-law are both vegetarian, so these sweet potato tacos are a great meal for when they come to visit.

I first had sweet potato tacos at Paladar Restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland. They were so good that I asked for the recipe from Paladar, and the executive chef sent me a version of the recipe. I have made them several times and they never disappoint. Enjoy!

Recipe for Sweet Potato Tacos

INGREDIENTS

  • For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and then diced in 1/4-inch cubes
  • 4  hearts of palm stalks from a can, cut lengthwise and then sliced in to desired size 
  • 1 can of pinto beans or great white northern beans, drained well
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • For the tomatillo salsa:
  • 6 fresh tomatillos, husked
  • 1/4 of one bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 red onion OR 1 – 2 thin slices of a jalapeno pepper
    1 lime, juiced
  • For the toppings:
  • Red cabbage
  • Chopped Chives
    8 – 10 soft tortillas (6-inch/taco size)

DIRECTIONS

Make tomatillo salsa first. Place tomatillos, cilantro, and onion in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until it is to salsa consistency. Pour in to a bowl, squeeze in the lime juice, cover and put in fridge for an hour. In a bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, hearts of palm, 2 1/2 tsp. olive oil, and salt and pepper. Place the potato mixture on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes (until potatoes are done). Put the rest of the olive oil in to a large skillet. Heat oil, then add potato mixture and pinto beans to the skillet. Add in some salt, pepper, and the 2 tsp. of cinnamon. Saute until the beans and potatoes are warmed through, then remove pan from heat. Heat tortillas in a microwave for 20 – 25 seconds. Build your own tacos. Put sweet potato mixture down the middle of the tortilla, then top with cabbage, chives, and tomatillo salsa. Serve with mango and avocado salad (recipe to be posted soon). Enjoy!

Maryland Lump Crab Cakes

Once upon a time, I used to be a part of sailboat racing with my husband, Greg. As I had never sailed until I met him back in 2006 and never quite got the itch, often times I would make snacks and treats for the crew on the team. One weekend, we hopped aboard a friend’s sailboat and raced to Oxford, Maryland. The race was quite wild, and I was hoping that the start would be the most exciting part of the day, but the entire race was a crazy ride. We had endured winds of up to 42 mph, and it was kind of (really) scary. Later that night we dined at the Robert Morris Inn, in the Tred Avon dining room. It was a lovely meal with very fun people. We ate delicious food including Maryland crab cakes. I decided when I got home from the race to recreate crab cakes at home.

Making crab cakes is actually pretty easy. There is not much prep time and they cook in under 30 minutes. I recommend buying pre-picked crab meat that is ready to eat – this will make the process much easier! Also, make sure to buy pretty high quality crab meat for your crab cakes. The price might make you cringe, but it is worth it. Plus, making crab cakes at home is always much cheaper than ordering them at a restaurant. If you want to pay the extra money, go ahead and buy the jumbo lump crab meat in place of the lump crab meat. The butter sauce on these crab cakes is also a really nice touch. I drizzled a little on top of each crab cake and then squeezed on some extra lemon juice. So yummy!

Recipe for Maryland Lump Crab Cakes

INGREDIENTS

1 medium egg
1 tsp. of fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp. of dried parsley leaves
1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. of Old Bay Seasoning
3/4 tsp. of Grey Poupon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. of mayonnaise
8 ounce container of ready to eat lump crab meat, drained of juices
6 – 8 saltine crackers, crushed
a small pat of butter for each crab cake

DIRECTIONS

Adjust your oven so that a rack is on the top, closest to the heat source. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Crack the egg into a large bowl and then use a fork to beat the egg well. Add in the fresh parsley, dried parsley, salt, ground pepper, Old Bay seasoning, Grey Poupon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Mix the ingredients together. Fold in the crab meat and mayonnaise and mix. Add in 6 of the crushed saltine crackers and mix well. If the mixture does not appear to stick together well enough for forming into patties, mix in the other 2 crushed Saltine crackers (more if needed).

Use a large spoon to scoop out desired amount of the crab mixture and then form with your hands to make a patty/cake. Place the crab cake onto a baking sheet. Repeat until you have used all of the crab mixture (I made 4 regular-sized crab cakes with the mixture). Place a very small pat of butter on top of each crab cake and then sprinkle each one with a dash of black pepper. Place the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes. Then, using a spatula, very carefully loosen the bottom of each crab cake from the pan but do not flip. Rotate the pan and cook for another 10 – 12 minutes, or until the cakes are golden brown.

Serve with lemon-parsley butter sauce (recipe below) and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Eat with your favorite sides (we had oven-baked potato fries and a spinach salad). Enjoy!

Recipe Adapted from: The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook

Lemon Butter Parsley Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 tsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. of white cooking wine
1/4 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/2 tsp. of Worcestershire sauce
a dash of Sriracha hot sauce

DIRECTIONS

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once butter has melted, add in all of the other ingredients. Simmer together on low heat for about 45 seconds. Drizzle butter sauce on crab cakes or serve on the side for dipping.

Recipe Adapted from: The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook

Eggs Baked in Avocado

Eggs baked in an avocado. Eggs baked in an avocado. Eggs baked in an avocado. Go make it! Cut an avocado in half, take out the pit, squeeze in some lime juice, crack in the eggs, bake, and top! I cannot believe I waited so long to try out this meal. I had told myself over and over again that I was going to try it and glad I finally did. Now eggs baked in an avocado is a go to meal. Eggs and avocado are both considered brain food, and I need all the brain food I can get these days. The first time I tried it out, I liked it, but I wasn’t head over heels in love with it. I think I liked the idea of eating it because it is so healthy, and since it is super healthy, I kept making it for myself. Now I am completely passionate about eggs baked inside of avocados. It is easy to make, low carb, high protein, filled with Omega 3s, gluten-free, well, you get the idea. So stop dragging your feet, and go make yourself some eggs baked in an avocado! You will thank me one day for telling you to try it. Enjoy.

Recipe for Eggs Baked in Avocado

INGREDIENTS

Eggs baked in avocado. Just do it.

1 Hass avocado (any size, I’ve been using smallish ones lately), cut into half lengthwise with pit removed
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 eggs
Extra-virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes, salt & pepper
Sriracha sauce
Fresh Herbs (thyme, dill, parsley, whatever you want)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Scoop out some of the avocado from each half so that there is enough room for the egg in each. Squeeze desired amount of lime juice over each avocado half. Sprinkle each  with salt and pepper. Crack one egg into one half of the avocado. Don’t worry if some of the white runs out, you just want to make sure the yolk is in the avocado. Crack another egg into the other half of the avocado. Place in oven and bake for 12 – 14 minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolks. Make sure the egg whites are set and not runny, though! Remove from oven and drizzle with olive oil and sriracha sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and fresh herbs.
Grab a fork or spoon and dig in (make sure you only eat the fruit of the avocado and the eggs – discard the peel)!

Recipe Adapted from: Serious Eats

The Best Cream of Crab Soup

This soup is possibly the best cream of crab soup I have ever had, and I have had a lot of cream of crab soup in my day, because I live in Maryland! I found the recipe in a cookbook called “The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook,” and it was one of 22 crab soup recipes. I thought the cookbook was the right place to look for my cream of crab soup recipe, especially since I loved a crab cake recipe I had recently used from the book. The soup was easy to make and it tasted amazing. Greg exclaimed how much he liked it, and then after eating it for awhile, he turns to me and says “um, so how unhealthy is this soup, because it seems really rich.” And I was like, “um, well it is CREAM of crab soup, and why do you have to take the fun out of everything?” I then explained to him that although it did have heavy cream, that is was thickened because a flour roux was added to the soup. It is the roux that makes this soup so nice and thick (but of course it’s the cream that makes it so deliciously, um, creamy).  I ended up using crab claw meat for the soup and it worked out well. You can choose to add the sherry, but I don’t think it is necessary. I do recommend sprinkling it with some extra black pepper and Old Bay Seasoning before serving. Oh, and make sure you have some toasty bread or crackers for dipping. Enjoy.

RECIPE FOR THE BEST CREAM OF CRAB SOUP

INGREDIENTS

4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
1 small to medium yellow onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
3 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. of Old Bay Seasoning
1 1/4 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. of ground yellow mustard
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. of salt
16 ounces of heavy cream
16 ounces of half and half
1 pound of crabmeat (I used crab claw meat)
3 Tbsp. of sherry, optional
Parsley leaves for garnish, optional

DIRECTIONS

Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large stockpot. Add in the diced onions and pressed garlic and stir. Stir frequently and cook until the onions come to a light golden color.
While the onions are cooking, put the flour, Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, yellow mustard, cayenne pepper and salt into a smallish bowl and mix.
Once onions are light golden in color, adjust the heat to medium and then make a roux. Add the flour mixture in, and stir continuously to make a blond roux (until the mixture is light golden in color), about 3 – 4 minutes.  After the roux is made, pour in the cream and half and half. Bring it to a boil, and then stir in the crabmeat. Bring the soup back to a boil, and then immediately stir in the sherry, if using.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each with some extra black pepper and Old Bay Seasoning, and garnish with some parsley leaves, if desired.

Recipe makes approximately 6 servings. 

Recipe Adapted from: The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook, by Whitey Schmidt 

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