Roasted Beets and Carrots

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This week has been difficult.  I always wonder if I should continue this culinary journey. As of now both the catering scene and chef instruction are ultra slow.  But, it is time to get out of this funk.  I must cook and carry on! So that’s exactly what I did.

Yesterday was Easter, and guess who was the chef this year, you guessed correctly, it was yours truly.  This year I wanted to lighten up dinner, but still have bold flavors and loads of color. Since I’ve found some gorgeous organic produce, I figured hey this will be perfect.  This dish has beautiful golden beets, vibrant carrots, and is topped with caraway seeds.

Let’s get into this recipe.

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Look at those golden beets and carrots, we have our olive oil, and caraway seeds.

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Chopped and ready to roast.

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Looking delicious!

Roasted Beets and Carrots

Ingredients 

  • 1.5 lbs of golden beets,  trimmed, peeled,  and diced into 1 inch wedges
  • l lb. carrots, scrubbed, and cut diagonally into 3/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 tablespoon of caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, garnish
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta goat cheese, garnish

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the beets, carrots, and garlic cloves with the caraway seeds, olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Place tossed vegetables onto a large rimmed baking sheet, making sure that all of the vegetables are evenly distributed into a single layer.
  4. Roast the vegetables for about 20 to 25 minutes, making sure to toss them halfway in the cooking process.
  5. Once your beets and carrots are tender to the fork, garnish with parsley and cheese.
  6. Eat and enjoy warmed for your next meal!

As always, let me know in the comments if you tried this quick and easy recipe!

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.

Ricotta Garlic and Oregano Knots

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So I am coming at you all with a two for one special today! I had to make up to my followers this little mini hiatus, but fear not, here comes another Shy Girl recipe that will make your stomachs’ pleased.

I have come to this conclusion that there is a little hidden baker inside me.  I have never thought of myself as such, I mean I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, but I never saw myself as one to bake.  Baking is truly a science, but that’s what makes it fun and to be honest, super rewarding when it turns out right.  So as I have been in this realm of bread baking for the last few months, I even joined a bread baking group on Facebook (no judgement, yes I am that girl who joined your secret bread group). In the group, these folks have some serious skill making that bread (in my best Stevie J impression).  Any-who, many of the people in the group work as artisan bakers and know what’s up in the pastry department. Needless to say, they’ve inspired me!  I have been tinkering around figuring out the realm of savory breads, and this one was definitely a hit.

Here they come, wait for it, ricotta garlic knots.  These morsels have cheese, garlic, butter, and oregano.  I don’t know if you all are ready for what this bread brings, especially for a mega carb lover like myself.  Now that I have gone a bit overboard on how delicious these knots are, let’s get into this recipe.

 

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I mean who doesn’t like cheese, butter, and garlic together.

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Just out of the oven and ready to eat!

Ricotta Garlic and Oregano Knots 

(Yields 12 knots)

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1.5 cups warm whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 4 cups unbleached white bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons mined garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teasoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • freshly cracked black pepper

 

Method

  1. In a small bowl, mix togther the yeast and milk and set aside to let yeast activate for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Once yeast is activated, in a stand mixer with a dough hook, place the flour, ricotta, garlic, oregano, salt, sugar, and butter into the bowl. Turn on a low speed to mix ingredients.
  3. While the mixer is on medium-low speed, slowly add in the milk yeast mixture.
  4. Work/knead until the dough is smooth, but slightly sticky, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. In a greased bowl, place the dough inside, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, place in a draft place to proof for about an 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Lightly oil two baking sheets
  7. Once dough has doubled in volume, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. gently punch down the dough, and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.  Cover the pieces with lightly oiled plastic wrap as you work on making the knots.
  8. Take a piece of dough, and roll it on the floured surface into a rope (about 9 inches long). Then lift one end of the dough over the other to make a loop.  Push the end through the hole of the loop to make a neat knot.
  9. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place the knots on the prepared baking sheets. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees Farenheit while knots are rising.
  11. For egg wash: mix together the egg,  cream, water, and pepper. Brush the knots with the egg wash
  12. Bake the knots for 15 minutes, or until the rolls are a beautiful golden brown.
  13. Let knots cool slightly on a wire rack.
  14. Eat and enjoy with olive oil or garlic butter!

And as always, let me know if you all tried this recipe.

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.

Chocolate Babka

 

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As of late, I have been on a pastry kick something serious.  There is something about working on the dough and kneading it that gives me this feeling like I just spent the day at a theraputic spa.  A bit much, but baking pastry, as finicky as it can be, is SUPER relaxing.  Plus, I love how pretty pastries look straight out of the oven.

This weekend has been a whirlwind, from working, to kickball practice, to a gala.  Needless to say, I wanted to create something that I never made before but also had a bit of inactive time–because no one has time to be working on dough constantly all day.  Low and behold, coming in from stage right, babka!  I’ve noticed this Jewish brioche making quite an appearance everywhere.  It has been around for ages, but as of late, and through the mighty power of  social media, everyone and their mama has been creating this delicious pastry.  I would not consider myself as any particular expert on this bread, but after trying a slice at General Muir Bakery, here in Atlanta, I had a challenge presented to me, and I gladly accepted. So in the words of this millennium’s favorite Snapchatter and motivational speaker, DJ Khaled, “let’s see this major key.” Well, let’s see the major key to successful babka.

 

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Looks like a lot of goodness! You have milk, flour, sugar, yeast, chocolate, cocoa, butter, and more.

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Dough and my chocolate paste ready to roll.

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Rolled out and filled!

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Time to twist it out.

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Oh boy, these are going to be pretty!

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Yummy!

 

Chocolate Babka

(yields two 9-inch loaves)

Ingredients

Dough (adapted by Pretty Simple Kitchen)

  • 3.5 cups of all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm (110 degrees) whole milk
  • 2 large eggs , room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of half of a medium orange
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (kosher or sea salt)
  • Canola oil for greasing

Chocolate Filling

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (make sure that your chocolate is not more than 60% cacao)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder or cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, dutch processed
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Syrup

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Method

  1. Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Once dry ingredients are well combined, add the eggs and milk, mixing on a low speed setting, allow the dough to come together (this will take about 3 minutes). With the mixer still on low, add in the salt and the butter, one cube at a time until it is well incorporated into the dough. Once butter is well incorporated, turn mixer to a medium speed and allow the dough to mix for 8-10 minutes.  The finished product should be smooth and elastic.
  2. Take the dough out and place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in your refrigerator for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Make the filling: melt the butter and the chocolate together until smooth.  Stir in the cocoa, powdered sugar, and espresso powder/cinnamon until the mixture is spreadable and the texture is like paste.
  4. Making the egg wash: Beat the egg yolk and cream together, until well incorporated and set aside.
  5. Making the loaves: Line two 9-inch loaf pans with parchment paper (or generously grease with butter). Remove dough from the fridge, and cut in half (leave the other half chilled). Roll out the dough on a clean and well-floured surface. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into an 18- by 10-inch rectangle with the longest side facing you.
  6. Spread half of the chocolate mixture, chocolate chunks, and/or hazelnuts evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch border all around. Brush the border with the egg wash (chill the remaining wash). Starting on the long end furthest from you, roll the dough into a tight log. Gently pinch and seal the end of the log.
  7. Trim about ¾ inch off  of both ends of the log. Using a sharp knife, gently cut the roll in half lengthwise. With the cut sides facing up, lift one side over the next, forming a twist/plait, ensuring that the cut sides are facing up. Gently pinch together the other end. Repeat the entire process with the second loaf
  8. Transfer loaves gently to prepared loaf pans. Cover with a dampened towel to let loaves rise at room temperature for an 1 to 1.5 hours.
  9. While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring that the oven rack is placed in the middle.
  10. Baking loaves: Remove towels, brush the loaves with remaining egg wash, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer or toothpick comes out clean with no resistance.
  11. Making Syrup: While the loaves are baking, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and ensure that the sugar is well dissolved.  Once sugar is dissolved, take off heat and let cool to room temperature.
  12. Take the loaves out of the oven and immediately brush or spoon them with the syrup. Let the babkas completely cool in the pan before taking out or eating.
  13. Eat and enjoy the babka sliced. Babka will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature, but freezes nicely for up to 2 months when wrapped in plastic wrap and foil.

As always, let me know if you liked or tried this recipe.

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.

 

Chicken Pesto Pizza

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So if you know me, you know I am a fiend for pizza.  I mean who doesn’t love a full meal in one sitting.  You have a protein, a carb, a fruit, some veggies, and some added calcium. Pizza can be healthy or it doesn’t have to be–whatever preference.

This week, I have been somewhat busy, my fiancé came into town, and we have been trying to set up for the summer. One of our favorite places, before we moved from DC was Matchbox, and I loved their pesto pizza.  However we are in Atlanta now, and I decided why go out and order food when I can recreate it in my kitchen.

Let’s see what the ingredients are!

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The dough is simple: flour, olive oil, instant yeast, sea salt, a pinch of sugar, and of course water.

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Baby spinach and garlic to accompany my basil pine nut pesto.

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Ooooh look at that dough! I got fancy and added some Italian herbs to it.

Prepping that pizza with some shredded chicken, ricotta cheese, spinach mixture, and topping with my some parmesan reggiano.

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Yes ma’am its time to eat!

Chicken Pesto Pizza

Ingredients

Pizza Dough (adapted by King Arthur Pizza Crust Recipe)

  • 3 cups AP Flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine or instant dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of sugar
  • cornmeal or olive oil for baking sheet

Pesto Topping

  • 3/4 cup Pesto sauce (you can make yours or buy)
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup finely shredded roasted chicken, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus an additional 1/2 tablespoon for brushing crust
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method 

  1. For dough: Combine flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook.  Make sure that the dry ingredients are combined.  When the mixer is running on medium, add the water and the olive oil. Mix until the dough forms into a ball (if your dough is too sticky add a little flour at a time). Take the dough ball out onto a clean floured surface.  Knead the dough until it is a smooth ball, about four minutes.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or towel, and place the dough it in a warm area to let it double in size for an 1 hour.
  3. Take the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead about 1 to 2 more times.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. For pesto topping: While your dough is resting, on medium heat, add olive oil to a medium skillet. Once hot, add spinach, season with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Sauté mixture, ensuring  you move constantly so that the garlic does not burn. Cook for about 4 minutes.  Remove spinach mixture from heat and place to the side.
  6. For pizza: On a either lightly greased baking sheet or cornmeal dusted pizza stone, form crust.
  7. Spread with pesto and spinach mixture.  Top with shredded chicken, dollops of ricotta, parmesan, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
  8. Brush crust with olive oil (I usually add salt and Italian herbs in my olive oil)
  9. Bake pizza in your preheated oven for 12 minutes, until crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
  10. Brush with additional olive oil and slice pizza.
  11. Eat and enjoy!

As always let me know if you tried this recipe or liked it!

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.