Day 347–Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza

Winter squash is one of those fall vegetables that can make the transition from sweet to savory very easily. Butternut squash is one of my favorites because it has a great flavor, but it’s not overpowering, making it a nice partner with all sorts of other foods. We had stuffed squash earlier this week and it was hearty and very delicious. Since I still have one squash left from our last Produce Box delivery, I was hoping to find a good way to use it up along with some lovely fresh kale we bought at the farmer’s market.

Ta-da!! Heather at Sugar Dish Me came through again. I love her blog–it’s funny, insightful and chock full of great recipes. Which is good because this is my Christmas crunch week with something scheduled every night except Friday night and while I want to cook, I’m in need of some inspiration. I’m going to make this pizza with our homemade whole wheat pizza dough. The combination of bacon, caramelized onions, and cheese is enough to make me go for it. But it also has butternut squash and kale, two amazingly healthy foods that are in plentiful supply at our local markets!

Get the recipe HERE!

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Day 22–Starting Week 4–Budget and Menu

Well, Week 3, despite my less than stellar shopping experience, ended up a great success. Pizza challenge night and “breakfast for dinner” with our farm fresh eggs were both popular events that we’ll repeat! We even made our 75% challenge! The shopping experience went much more smoothly this week, although we have a TON of greens. We will definitely be getting our fresh greens in! We also picked up our first meat box from Farmhand Foods. The box included a braising cut (2 beef shanks), a grilling cut (hangar steak) and a roasting cut (mini boneless ham) all from local farmers. Since that’s a lot to eat in one week, we’ve frozen the steak and ham and are having the shanks this week. To make budgeting easier, I cut the cost of the box ($45) into thirds and will add each third into my budget as we use the meat. So how did we do budget-wise? Here is the breakdown:

  • Farmhand Food (beef shanks from meat box): $15.00
  • Mae Farm (Italian sausage, eggs): $12.00
  • Farmer’s Market-various vendors (onions, carrots, locally ground grits): $6.00
  • Farmer’s Market-Heaven on Earth Organics (collard greens, kale, salad mix, pea shoots, broccoli, sweet pepper): $23.00
  • Trader Joe’s (organic canned tomatoes, organic garlic, organic apples, soy milk, frozen fruit, wild caught salmon, yogurt, wine): $45.13

Total this week: $101.13 (YAY!!!!)

What good eats are we having this week? Here is what’s on tap at our house:

Sunday–Braised beef and sausage ragu over creamy grits, sautéed collard greens (Recipe will be posted this week)

Monday–Broccoli quiche and salad greens with pea shoots

Tuesday–Poached, wild caught salmon with sautéed greens and red quinoa

Wednesday–Leftover quiche or sandwiches (scout night–everyone fends for themselves)

Thursday–Leftover ragu over whole wheat pasta

Friday–out (date night!)

Saturday–Pizza challenge using leftover vegetables and cheese carryover from last week

As usual, breakfasts are toast, bagels, oatmeal and lunches are sandwiches or leftovers. I see more kale chips in our immediate future!

Have a happy and fulfilling week!

Day 17–Family Pizza Challenge

The Green Machine before cheese

What to do with some delish, but somewhat random ingredients from the farmers market? I posed the question to my 11-year-old and got “pizza challenge!!” A great idea! We made our own whole wheat pizza dough, divided it into thirds and retreated to separate parts of the kitchen to prepare our secret masterpieces!

Here were our family challenge rules (yes, we needed rules!):

  1. Each person had to try each pizza (you don’t have to like it, you just have to try it).
  2. No putting inedible or otherwise objectionable ingredients in your pizza (yes, we needed this, too)
  3. Use what we have in the fridge or pantry; minimal outside additions allowed.

We all did well adhering to the rules and all our pizzas were completely different. There was a surprising amount of secrecy and competitiveness and a LOT of pizza smack talk, which was hilarious. Our pre-teen got into the reality TV side of it, creating video interviews with each contestant about their pizza and the other competitors. Next time, she would like a videographer and independent judges.

How were the pizzas? They were all really good! The whole wheat crust (recipe below) was not tough or dry–it was really good and very filling (we have lots of leftover pizza for lunch this week). Here is what we ended up with:

T's Pizza Bolognese (on a heart-shaped crust!)

T’s Pizza Bolognese (tomato sauce, ground beef, organic mushrooms, Italian cheese mix, organic Italian seasoning)

E’s Meat Lover’s Extreme (olive oil, country ham, artisan pepperoni, local red bell pepper, mozzarella cheese)

D’s Green Machine (olive oil, leftover roasted chicken, roasted local broccoli, organic local dino kale, local onion, sea salt, swiss and Gruyère cheese mix)

These were not all healthy pizzas, but all agreed that kale and broccoli on a pizza is actually good! So on our next try, we’ll have less meat and more vegetables. This will be really fun when we get our weekly Produce Box and have something specific to rally around!

What we learned:

  • Pizza dough is very easy to make and very forgiving to work with, even for non-cooks.
  • Dark green vegetables like greens and broccoli look great and taste great on a pizza.
  • We need to allow more time for cooking. Cooking all 3 pizzas, even though they were small, took more time than we thought (about 45 minutes). We will start earlier next time.
  • If you are competing, expect some smack talk (especially with kids who watch chef shows) and have a judging form to structure your family comments to reflect appearance, aroma, texture, taste and overall pizza success. We didn’t do this, but we agreed that we couldn’t decide on one winner–they really were all good.

I can see this quickly becoming a tradition in our house! If you want to try it, too, here is our pizza dough recipe:

  • 1 pckg. yeast
  • 1 3/4 c. warm water
  • 4 c. whole wheat all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit for 5 minutes until completely dissolved and a bit foamy.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (w/dough hook attached), combine flour, salt and olive oil.

While mixer is running on low/med low, add yeast water to the flour in a stream.

Allow mixer to knead dough for about 4 min.

Cover bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 1.5 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down dough and divide into two pieces (we divided it into 3). Each ball will make a pizza. You can freeze half for another time or let each dough ball stand covered for 20 minutes.

Shape and make your pizzas!

We cooked our pizzas at 500 degrees for about 12-15 minutes each, depending on the thickness of the dough.

What are some healthy topping combinations you have found?

Day 15–Starting Week 3–Budget and Menu

Pizza with corn and za'atar at Pizza B'Riboa i...

As we end week 2 of our family challenge, I think we did really well. We met our 75% locally produced/sustainable meal challenge! Some things worked better than others. We made good use of the food we had purchased and had much less food waste than usual. The bison chili with lentils and pumpkin was great to us adults (really more like a stew than a chili), but a flop for our pre-teen, who likes mom’s regular chili. The recipe made a HUGE batch, so we had lots of bison chili lunches to pack last week. We are anxiously awaiting the reopening of Earp’s Seafood Market in downtown Raleigh so we can get some locally caught seafood (Earps was destroyed in the tornado last April). That is one part of our diet we are missing, but hope to get it back in swing in the next couple of weeks.

My recent lack of success with using a pre-established grocery list at the farmer’s market prompted some interesting suggestions on how to use the ingredients I brought home. One, from our pre-teen, is a pizza Iron Chef competition for our family using ingredients from the farmer’s market (well, mostly). We will make our own pizza dough and that should be fun, interesting, and maybe hilarious. Family members are already working on their ideas! Another idea was having breakfast for dinner. We recently won some TN country ham at a family Christmas party, so we will share some and eat some for dinner/breakfast.

So, how did we do on this week’s budget? Here is a breakdown:

  • Lowe’s Food (yeast, a pizza’s worth of artisan pepperoni): $1.83
  • Farmer’s Market (bok choi, greenhouse strawberries, kale, local apples, onions, carrots): $20.00
  • Mae Farm Meats (pork chops, ground pork, Maple View Farm milk, farm eggs): $39.95
  • Trader Joes (frozen organic fruit, peppers, rice, cheese, organic chicken, organic butter): $51.96

Our total this week is: $113.74 Over a bit, but we should have some carryover into next week (esp. pizza cheese!). I splurged on a couple of impulse items (like greenhouse strawberries and bell peppers) and we replaced grocery store milk with milk produced in Chapel Hill by Maple View Farms, but we will use them all in the mix.

What is the menu this week? Here it goes:

  • Sunday–organic chicken, bok choi and pepper stir fry w/organic brown rice
  • Monday–pizza Iron Chef competition w/homemade pizza dough and local veggies
  • Tuesday–Tortiere (French Canadian meat pie w/Mae Farm pork), sautéed greens and sweet potatoes
  • Wednesday–leftovers
  • Thursday–Breakfast for dinner (farm eggs, country ham we won at family Christmas party, homemade biscuits)
  • Friday–date night 🙂
  • Saturday–Mae Farm pork chops, sautéed apples, sweet potatoes, greens

We’re heavy on the pork this week (see my post about grocery shopping with a specific list from Friday), so that isn’t good, although no one in my house is complaining. Will definitely need to do better next week and have more meatless or chicken options. And a better shopping strategy 🙂

So, here we go with week 3!