Homemade Pizza With Sausage Spinach & Ricotta

PIZZZAAA! My favorite go-to meal to make at home in a pinch, and definitely one of my favorite foods to eat in general. I like to make a large batch of pizza dough then separate into a couple of balls to have in freezer. That way I have homemade dough on demand. Alternatively, most local pizza shops will sell you a ball of dough for a couple bucks if you don’t have time to make your own, but want the fresh stuff! This pizza I made with some common items I always have in my fridge – fresh spinach, sausages, and ricotta. I like to make the crust really thin so that the toppings can do their thang and shine…

1 ball pizza dough (recipe here)
2 cups tomato sauce
Good pinch of red pepper flakes
Good pinch of dried basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 green onion, chopped
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
All-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. That might sound higher than the usual 350 you cook things at, but you want the oven to be HOT when cooking a pizza so the magic can happen. If you’re using a pizza stone, place it in the oven now while it heats. If you’re not using a pizza stone, then line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, basil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a small pan, break up the sausage into smaller chunks with a wooden spoon, and cook thoroughly. Add the garlic and cook until softened. Set aside. In the same pan, sauté the spinach until wilted.

Flour a clean flat surface, and roll out the dough. I have trouble transferring the dough to the pizza stone once I add all the toppings, so I cheat a little and add the dough to my pizza stone first then quickly add the toppings following that. When you remove the pizza stone from the oven it’ll be VERY hot, so be careful, and don’t put it on any surfaces that will be affected by the high heat. I usually place mine on top of my gas stove or on a trivet. If you are not using a pizza stone, then place your rolled out dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and add the toppings from there. Start with spreading the tomato sauce, leaving a 1 inch boarder around the edges. Add the crumbled sausage, spinach, green onion, and dollops of ricotta cheese. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the toppings are bubbling. Let cool a few minutes before digging in! I love to top my pizza with Mike’s Hot Honey… it’s amazing and I recommend it on everything!!

Eggplant Rollatini With Kale

Roasted eggplant filled with cheese… what else do you even need in life! This recipe is so easy to make and absolutely delicious. It was the first time I made it and I will definitely be making it again! Totally worth turning my oven on in the hot weather yesterday…

1 eggplant, cut into ¼ inch slices (the long way)
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups chopped kale
½ cup chopped yellow onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
Good pinch red pepper flakes
2 cups tomato sauce (I used tomato basil)
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the sliced eggplant on a baking sheet (you may need two) and brush both sides with olive oil. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and let cool.

While the eggplant is roasting/cooling make the filling. Saute the garlic, onion, kale, and red pepper flakes in some olive oil for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Add the kale mixture and stir together.

When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, add a good dollop of the ricotta mixture to one end, and gently roll up each eggplant piece. Pour enough tomato sauce onto the bottom of a baking dish to cover it, then add the rolled eggplants, fitting them closely together. Top with more tomato sauce and additional mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Try to not let the foil touch the cheese though otherwise when you remove the foil, it’ll take the cheese with it (as I unfortunately learned.) Remove foil and let bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is slightly golden.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy with maybe a side salad and/or crunchy bread!

Leek & Roasted Garlic Galette With Sweet Potato

You can never go wrong with a galette- they’re so easy to make and the filling options are endless! I like to make them for dessert sometimes, using ingredients like Nutella and fresh berries. This one was for dinner with friends, we had it with a simple salad and a big bottle of wine!

Tart Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water (plus more as needed)

1 cup leeks, light parts only, sliced thin
1/2 cup chopped Swiss red chard
5 large garlic cloves, roasted
1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup feta cheese
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Start by making the crust. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or use your hands. If using your hands, you simply want to roll the butter chunks between your fingers with the flour until it resembles the texture of small peas. Next, stir in the egg/water mixture and mix with a fork until dough forms. If the dough is too dry and not forming easily, add tiny bits of cold water until the texture is able to stick together and hold when pinched. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

For the filling, start by preheating the oven to 375 and roast the garlic cloves for about 15-20 minutes, or until soft. In a large skillet, cook the leeks in some olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the Swiss chard, cooking another 3 minutes or so. Next, mash the roasted garlic into the ricotta cheese, then add the leek/chard mixture.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about the size of a medium pizza. Spread the ricotta mixture in the center, leaving a 2 inch boarder around the edges. Top with the sliced sweet potato and feta cheese. Cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the potatoes can easily be pierced by a knife. Top with some fresh cracked black pepper!




Kale & Butternut Squash Pizza With Ricotta

Pizza is one of my favorite things to make- the toppings are endless! And there’s something special about pulling a homemade pizza out of the oven. For me, it’s important to get the crust nice and thin, otherwise you feel like you’re eating a loaf of bread with stuff on top of it. Sometimes when I am feeling ambitious I will make my own pizza dough, but on a weeknight after work I tend to just grab a ball of dough from the grocery store, or better yet, I buy some at my local pizza place for a few bucks. Once you make your own pizza you’ll never go back to the boring stuff!

1 small bunch kale, roughly chopped
1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed small
1/2 small red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloved, minced
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (plus more for topping)
Parmesan cheese, for topping
4-5 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pizza dough, enough for (1) pizza
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash on a baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Next, add some olive oil to a pan and saute the garlic and onions until translucent. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll out the pizza dough. Place on a floured baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Spread the ricotta cheese all over the pizza, then add the kale mixture and the butternut squash. Top with some more ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Cook for 25 minutes or until crust is golden. In the meantime mix together the honey and paprika. Let cool for a few minutes then drizzle the spiced honey over the top of the pizza. Alternatively, you can leave on the honey on table for guests to drizzle themselves!


Shishito Pepper Crostini With Ricotta & Spiced Honey

I LOVE shishito peppers. They’re so delicious when simply browned in a pan with some sea salt. I wanted to do something a little more special with them though, so this time I made a crostini with some fresh ricotta cheese and spiced honey. I ate so many of them I could hardly eat my main meal afterward!

1 pound shishito peppers
1 baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch thick pieces
Fresh ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons honey
Pinch of cayanne pepper
Pinch of paprika
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle the baguette slices with a little olive oil and cook in oven until slightly toasted.

In the meantime, add the shishito peppers to a pan with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook them for about 7-10 minutes or until they are browned a bit. Next, in a small bowl mix together the honey, cayenne, and paprika.

To assemble, spread a good amount of ricotta cheese onto the bread, top with shishito peppers, and drizzle with the spiced honey!


Artichoke & Spinach Stuffed Shells

Last night was one of those nights when you go through everything you have in the kitchen and try to come up with something creative just so you don’t have to go to the store. I looked around and had an onion, spinach, a can of artichokes, and some leftover pasta shells. Done…stuffed shells it is! This could not have been easier, and it was pretty good for an experimental dinner!

Ingredients: Serves 3
1/2 box jumbo pasta shells
1 cup ricotta cheese
(half) 14oz can whole artichokes, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can tomato sauce (if no herbs, add a big pinch of dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Small handful fresh chopped basil, for serving (optional)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a large pot of salted water boiling and cook the pasta shells as directed. Make sure not to overcook them as they will continue to cook in the oven.

Head some olive in a large pan, add the garlic, onion, and a little salt and pepper. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, then toss in the chopped spinach and artichokes and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Let cool slightly. In a large bowl mix together the ricotta, cooked vegetables, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pour some of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, then fill each pasta shell with some of the filling and place in a single layer. Cover the shells with some more pasta sauce, and top with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 5 minutes. Top with some fresh chopped basil and serve.

Sweet Potato and Kale Stuffed Shells

I really love stuffed shells and usually make them the popular way with ricotta and spinach, but this time I went for a fall version and used sweet potato, ricotta, and kale. They came out great and didn’t take a long time to make, which was a bonus. I was thinking of what type of sauce to use, and decided a simple brown butter would do the trick. The shells are already sweet from the potato, so I didn’t want to overdue it with a heavy or rich sauce. This is an easy comforting fall meal!

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 bunch of kale (about 2-3 cups roughly chopped)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon powdered sage, halved
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 box large pasta shells
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cubed sweet potato on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon dried sage, and salt/pepper. Bake for 30 minutes or until fork tender. When the potatoes are about half way done cooking, get a pot of boiling water going and cook the pasta shells as directed on the box. Next, sauté the garlic for about a minute in some olive oil over medium heat, then add the shallot and cook for another minute or until translucent. Toss in the kale and cook until wilted. Once the sweet potato is cooked, place it in a food processor with the ricotta cheese and pulse until smooth. Next, add the kale mixture and blend until the kale is chopped and incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly oil a baking dish to prevent the pasta from sticking. Fill the shells with the sweet potato mixture and place in a single layer in the baking dish. At this point you could sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top if you’d like (I forgot to buy the cheese so I skipped it) then cover with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes. While the shells are baking, make the brown butter sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat and cook until golden in color with a nutty fragrance, then turn down the heat to low. This only takes a minute or two, so watch the butter to make sure it doesn’t burn! Add the maple syrup, powdered sage, and cinnamon to the butter and cook for a minute then turn off the heat. When the shells have cooked for 15 minutes, remove them from the oven and pour the browned butter over the shells. Place back in the oven (without the foil) for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Top with some extra Parmesan cheese and drizzle some of the butter from the bottom of the baking dish. Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Galette

This was my first attempt at a galette, and it definitely will not be my last! It was a lot easier than anticipated and absolutely delicious. Making your own dough sounds intimidating, but it is a lot easier than you think- give it a try!

Ingredients: (Food52)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons ice water

1 butternut squash, 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
10 garlic cloves, with skin on
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup fontina cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

To make the dough, place the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, and salt into the food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the cold butter (make sure it is cold!) and pulse until the mixture is combined and the texture resembles small peas. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time while pulsing, you will know it is done when it sticks together without crumbling. Beware of over mixing! Place dough on a lightly floured surface and form into a disk shape. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours.)

Preheat oven to 400 degree. Cut the squash in half, then peel, remove any seeds, and cut into 1/4 inch slices and place in a bowl. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and add the whole unpeeled garlic cloves as well. Cook for 25 minutes or until squash is fork tender.

While the squash and garlic cook, flour a surface and roll the dough out into a 12 inch circle. Place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and put back in the fridge until ready to use.

When the garlic has cooled, peel the skin off and smash in a bowl. Add the ricotta cheese and mix well. Spread the ricotta mixture onto the dough, leaving a 1 inch border. Next add the squash followed by the fontina cheese. Sprinkle the Parmesan around the border of the dough and crack some fresh pepper on top. Cook for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before digging in.