Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Flatbread Margherita Pizza | Recipe and food photography

flatbread margherita pizza baking
One afternoon this week, I wanted to make a food that was simple and used vegetables from our garden. A week before, I had made matza for the first time and thought it would be great for a thin-crust pizza. Technically, this pizza is very close but not a true margherita pizza, which is usually topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves. I added a few pepperoni slices, diced green pepper, and quartered cherry tomatoes to my version. 

pizza dough on counter with flour and tomatoes
Fresh ingredients make a huge difference. The first time I used good mozzarella and fresh basil was a game-changer. Of course it's hard to get hold of fresh basil in the winter, but anytime you have fresh herbs on hand is the time to use them.

fresh basil leaves
rolled out pizza dough
pizza dough in oven

I love this crust recipe. While my family prefers thick crust, I like the thin crust better, as it's not so much an overload of bread and has a better crust-to-toppings ratio. But that's just me. I used white flour, but you could use wheat if you prefer (you may find you need  to add bit more water when using wheat flour).

Flatbread Margherita Pizzas
Makes 4 personal-sized pizzas

2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup warm water

4 oz tomato sauce (I use roughly half of an 8 oz can between the 4 pizzas)
1/4 lb part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut into slices or strips
fresh basil (approx 6 leaves per pizza, but use more or less if you prefer)
12 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
sliced pepperoni
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper


Preheat the oven to 400* Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, olive oil, and water until a stiff dough forms. If the dough is too dry, add more warm water a tablespoon at a time. The dough should be more on the dry side rather than wet and sticky.

On a floured surface, divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll out each ball of dough as thin as possible yet still thick enough to handle without tearing. Use a fork to prick holes throughout the dough. Place the uncooked crusts on a cookie sheet, 2 to a sheet.

Bake the crusts in the oven for 5 minutes, then remove and place the toppings on the pizzas.
 Spread the tomato sauce thinly and evenly distribute the basil leaves, pepperoni slices, green pepper, tomato quarters, and mozzarella.

Place the pizzas back into the oven and bake until the cheese melts, the basil leaves turn dark, and the crusts are slightly golden brown on the edges (approx 5 more minutes).

Serve immediately.

Monday, July 28, 2014

July Lovely Letters

I don't know about you, but I miss the days of when more people used to send snail mail. Esther of Adventures with Esther and Jacob set up a pen pal program called Lovely Letters, where bloggers get to meet other bloggers. At the start of the month she pairs up bloggers to create a package of little treats and letters. I signed up for the month of July and was paired with Tress of Tress Ritter Photography.

This month's theme was "Ocean Blue", and as you can see from the photo below, I went all out with one of my favorite colors.

What I Sent:
A seashell necklace I made, a set of sticky notes, a letter, a bottle of awesome-smelling shower gel, and a paint chip playlist of some current favorites. If you're curious of my picks, see the photo below. :)

What I Received:
Tress created an awesome package. I love the surprise of having no idea what to expect. She sent me a really really cool letter printed on some parchment-like paper; I felt like I was reading a letter from Downton Abbey or James Bond or something. ;) Along with the letter, she sent a copy of her favorite book, a set of old-fashioned envelopes with really neat stamps, a jar of seasoning (totally can't wait to try it!), and a couple of candies (which I also can't wait to try).

If you want to join in with the Lovely Letters swap, you can sign up here and read all the details.

Lovely Letters Snail Mail Exchange

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July Rambles

Hello peeps!  I didn't plan to disappear for so long. So what's been going on around here you ask? I like lists and none of this really goes together, so let's do this in list form:

1) I took some photos of fireworks and meant to blog them, but I've had a few other sessions that I've been working to finish first.

2) Making a big dent in my 'To Read' list. I'm planning to put together a post of some favorites (and not so favorites) as of late.

3) Food photography! If you know me, you know I like taking pictures of food, and I've been practicing more and working on my styling, finding inspiration from cookbooks and blogs (namely Kristin Teig).

4) Getting back into some sewing + knitting. My list of projects is still a mile long but this dress is up next in a deep red knit.

5) Reminding myself how to use photoshop. Since I got Lightroom 5 for graduation last December, I haven't needed to open the old Elements. But there came a time when I needed to do some head-swapping and I couldn't pull it off in Lightroom (side note- I've been switching heads and blinking eyes since the dark ages of digital photography, with good old windows 98 paint program as my software of choice. How things have changed).

6) Reading by the pool. The weather has been deliciously mild, hovering in the mid 80s without the usual smothering humidity. Love it.

7) Counting down until August 23rd. If you know what I am talking about, you, too, are counting the days (and the shadows).

What's new with you this month?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Baby V and Family | Paducah KY family photographer

What a sweet family to photograph! Despite the heat and horrible humidity, we got some great photos. Little baby V is such a happy baby. He seemed a little unsure of the whole photo shoot thing, but by the end of the session he was a natural model, even with two outfit changes. :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How to Photograph Fireworks | Photography Tips

Independence Day is this Friday! Most of us (if you live in America, that is) will probably watch a firework show, and many of us will photograph, video, instagram, snapchat, tweet, tumble and stumble those photos. So, here are a few tips for getting the firework pictures you want.

1) Use a tripod. Unless you want some crazy-blurry-artsy photos (which sometimes I do on occasion), prop up your camera on a tripod, a box, a rock, or a box of rocks. Really just something to prevent the camera from moving.

2) If you have a DSLR or a camera that allows you to change the settings, I suggest the following:
            -set your camera to manual setting (usually marked as "M").
           -set your shutter to "Bulb", or "B" setting. If your camera does not have a bulb setting, then start with a long shutter speed, such as 20 seconds.
           -place your ISO at a low number like 100.
           -set the aperture to f/5.6.

3) Take some shots and experiment with the settings to create the shot you want. The number of fireworks that go off during your exposure will affect how your photo comes out. If your exposure is too long or there are too many fireworks within the time of your exposure, the shot will be too bright and overexposed. To correct this, you can either shorten your exposure or use a smaller aperture (increasing the f-stop number). If your shot is too dark, do the opposite (lengthen the exposure time or use a larger aperture).

Did any of that make sense? If you have any tips for shooting firework displays please share them in the comments! I'd love to see your shots if you try any of these suggestions.

EMILY MARGARET. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.