Monday, July 2, 2012

Fun and Fresh Summer Food

Last week my sweet sister-in-law was here.  One thing that I love about when she visits is that we can make tasty food that David doesn't necessarily like.  Let's face it, when your husband doesn't like it, you don't cook it very often.  Why?  Because I don't want to eat an entire vat of something all by myself.

First up was a margherita pizza.  I love tomatoes and I love basil...David likes neither.  And we're growing both.  In fact, I'll share a little bit of our backyard and garden.

Here's my little back porch spice pots.  Complete with basil, rosemary and parsley.  I started out with dill as well, but the basil kinda took over and killed it off.  I had aspirations of pickles...guess I'll just have to buy some fresh dill from the farmer's market when that day comes.

Next up, we're growing some peppers!  The only one producing thus far is our red chili plant.  I've already picked about 20 peppers and they're still comin'!

The last foodie item I'll share is our tomato plants...  We have one big boy and one heirloom and they're both super healthy boys, let me tell ya!

In fact, here's what we've got so far.  I've currently only eaten/cooked 2 tomatoes off our plants...

As you can probably tell, the little guys in the top right-hand corner I picked a few days ago.  The grouping on the bottom was yesterday and the greener guys in the top left are what I picked today.  And you can even sneak a peek at the red chili peppers we've harvested on the right.  When I look at this picture I think to myself, "What was I thinking growing two tomato plants when I'm married to someone who hates tomatoes?"  Oh well, they'll be put to good use. In fact, earlier this spring I bought this book:

And I fully intend to utilize some of these recipes.  In fact, as I thumb through the tomato section, I see a delicious oven-dried tomatoes recipe that will probably be experimented with in the coming week.  That is, if these plants keep producing so many 'maters.

But anyway, I want to know what Liz (my SIL) and I made last week, right?  That margherita pizza I referred to earlier?  Well, I didn't take any pics when I made it for the two of us.  But luckily, I made it again last night because it was just so darn good. 

First off, you need to prepare a pizza crust.  My ol' standby recipe is the Pioneer Woman's.  I originally shared that recipe way back when and if you want to give it a go, just click here.* 

*I do prepare the dough a little differently now, since I have a husband who moonlights as a wheat farmer.  If you prepare the dough with half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour, you're making the crust a healthier option.  And honestly, I like the bite of the whole wheat flavor better.

After you've prepared the dough and let it rise for about an hour, it'll look like this. 

Grab you a pizza stone (or whatever sheet pan or regular pan you normally bake pizza on) and spread it out with your fingers.  If it hasn't been refrigerated, it's very pliable and can be spread without using a rolling pin.  I always like it when the dough makes it easy on ya like that.

Once you've done that, slice up a hearty tomato into thin slices and spread it evenly over the dough.  This one was perfect, red all the way though.  Mmmm...  Then, slice up some basil and sprinkle it with some mozzarella on top of the tomatoes.

Next, you want to bake it in a hot oven so the bread cooks quickly, but you don't burn or overcook everything else.  I baked mine in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

It smells uh-mazing at this point.  That basil really gets potent once it's baked.

Can you get any better than picking the tomatoes and basil out of your backyard?  Delicious and you can't get any more local and fresh than that!

Next up is a recipe I want to share before the favorite, hot, summer holiday rolls around: Independence Day AKA 4th of July.  Liz and I prepared the Pioneer Woman's Watermelon Granita last week and it couldn't have been an easier recipe!

Seriously, this recipe has three ingredients.  THREE!  That is seriously it.  It's a bit time-consuming in that you have to scrape the top of the granita every couple hours, but Liz and I took turns.  Time-wise, it probably took an entire afternoon...but, if you count every minute we were actually tending to the granita...maybe an hour?

And after you finish and taste this recipe?  OMG, so refreshing.  This would be the perfect dessert for a BBQ on a hot summer day.  Plus, you don't really need to feel guilty because 99% of the recipe is fresh watermelon! 

So, looking for a delicious, refreshing and low-calorie dessert?  This is a winner!

Here's what ours looks like....and don't think I haven't been snackin' on this thing for the past few days!

And with that, I'll leave you with a few more pics of some of the other plants/flowers on our back porch.

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