Kitchen Remodel with A Couple Cooks: Part 3

Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas Recipe

Phase 3: The Reveal

After weeks of planning, westling over details, and fighting those unexpected fires that only remodeling a historic home uncovers, we were ready: to see the final “reveal” of our kitchen remodel. We’d planned the design (Post 1), selected the finishes, and endured the construction process (Post 2), but we still had no idea quite what to expect. Since the majority of our decisions were based off of pictures and tiny material samples, we knew the “real life” version of our creation would be a whole different matter.

Did it live up to our dreams? Was all that pain worth it?

Lucky for us, it was love at first sight. We couldn’t be more pleased with the final product, which was a pleasant surprise for us being novices at the kitchen design enterprise!

Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas Recipe

Highlights

Here are a few of our impressions after having lived in our new kitchen for a few weeks:

His (Alex)

Favorite Aspect: I’m absolutely loving having the row of stools in the kitchen. The first time we had family over and we could prepare a meal while our family sat and chatted with us, I realized how perfect the stools are. I’m not sure I would’ve said that in-kitchen seating was a must before the reno, but I’d never go without it again!

Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas Recipe

Best Splurge: The big deep sink in the island is absolutely great. I love the fact that we can bury dishes in it and they remain out of sight. In fact, I believe the breakfast dishes were hiding in the sink while we took the photos you see here! We never had any experience with granite sinks before, but we love ours so far.

Best Bargain: Sealing off the third door to the kitchen. See those open shelves behind the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer? There used to be a doorway there. The low cost of slapping some drywall over the opening added about 30 square feet of usable space to our kitchen that we didn’t have use for a walking path!

Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas Recipe

Lessons Learned: None of the dozens of decisions you will make are likely life-or-death. A renovation is the whole of the design, not a focus on a single item. As long as you find finishes that fit the overall theme, go with your heart and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Favorite Appliance: So far, I just love the range. The double oven has been surprisingly handy already, the cooktop heats fast and is easy to clean, and the overall look fits perfectly into our vibe.

Hers (Sonja)

Favorite Aspect: The island. I honestly didn’t realize how great it would be to be able to prepare food while chatting with friends and family as they lounge on stools. Compared to our old galley kitchen, it’s amazing to be able to cook without running over everyone; I feel much more relaxed and at ease in the kitchen. I also really love the symmetry of the design; I feel like it’s very calming.

Best Splurge: The quartz countertop is a dream; I’ve never had such a large, durable surface to work on. And for a couple who cooks together, having two separate sinks is a dream.

Best Bargain: Butcher block countertops. I wasn’t sure I’d like them, but I love the earthy, soft feel.

Lessons Learned: My biggest lesson was the effort involved – I really had no idea my life would become so consumed with so many decisions. In the end, there’s not too much I would have done differently – perhaps inch the island just a few inches in one direction for a tiny bit more space, but that’s about it.

Favorite Appliance: The double oven range. I love being able to have two oven temperatures at once, and didn’t realize how much we’d use that. It’s a tie with that and our wine refrigerator!

Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas Recipe

Making it Personal

The last step in your kitchen reno process is adding those finishing touches to give it a personal flair. For our kitchen, we knew we wanted to highlight ordinary, functional objects as art, so we used dishes, bowls, canisters, pans, our stand mixer, and even our toaster deliberately as “decorative” items on our open shelves and counters. We picked up a few copper pans and bowls at an antique store to give a contrasting color and texture to our mainly glass and stainless items.

Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas Recipe

One of our favorite touches was the blue canning jars we bought in place of drinking glasses. We love their durability and vintage look, and displaying them on our open shelving, they’re part of a “revolving” art project that changes every time a new glass is taken off the shelf.

Parting Thoughts

Whoever you are, designing a kitchen is a huge undertaking, but one that can be incredibly rewarding. For us, we were able to find a modestly-sized kitchen in a historic home and turn it into the modern kitchen of our dreams – though not without a significant amount of work, budget-crunching, and bargain searching. In the end, we’re so glad we stuck it through, and can’t wait to make memories in this space for years to come.

Below is a recipe we’ve been working for years to perfect – pizza! The toppings are a new combination that we’ve tested out in our new oven, and the dough recipe uses a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer.

Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas Recipe

Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas Recipe

Start out by watching our Easy Homemade Pizza Dough Video

Pizza Dough–Stand Mixer Method

Makes 2 medium pizzas

INGREDIENTS

450 grams (3 cups) flour
2 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon (1 glug) olive oil
1/4 teaspoon (2 pinches) kosher salt
1 1/3 cups warm water
Cornmeal

DIRECTIONS

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all of your ingredients. Leave out just a little bit of the water.

Using the dough hook from your mixer, stir until a loose dough forms. If a dough doesn’t form, add the rest of the water. If the dough is extremely wet and sticky, and a pinch of flour.

Attach the dough hook to your mixer and start on a low speed. Gradually increase the speed to medium until a ball forms. This should take about 30 seconds. If the dough does not release from the sides of the bowl, add a pinch of flour. If the dough is very dry and flour-y, add a small amount of water.

Once the dough forms into a ball, allow the mixer to knead for 8 minutes at medium-high.

After the kneading is finished, divide the dough in half. Using floured hands, gently shape each dough into a boule. Set on a floured surface and dab with a little bit of olive oil to keep them moist. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

To stretch the dough, pick up the risen dough and gently shape into a circle. Do not over-work or fold the dough. Drape the dough over both of your knuckles and rotate it around, allowing gravity to stretch it into a circle. If the dough starts to resist stretching, put it down and allow it to rest for a few minutes, at which point it will stretch more easily.

Sprinkle a little bit of cornmeal onto a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet. Place the stretched dough onto the peel and quickly add toppings.

Cook at 500° for 5-7 minutes until browned. Enjoy!

Notes

Start this recipe about an hour before you want to make your pizza. Start pre-heating your oven 15 minutes into the rise time.

Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas Recipe

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Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas

Makes 6 personal pizzas

INGREDIENTS

1 pizza dough

16 ounces ricotta cheese

½ cup walnuts

A few sprigs fresh oregano

20 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)

7 ounces Italian blend cheese (or mozzarella), shredded

Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the dough using the stand mixer methods (you also can knead by hand; follow the video instructions for more). Follow the preparation instructions in the dough recipe if you’ve made it in advance. Place your pizza stone (or two stones) in the oven and preheat to 500°F.

Prepare the toppings: Mix the 16-ounces ricotta cheese with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds of fresh ground pepper. Crush the walnuts. Remove the oregano leaves from the stem, and roughly chop them. Remove 20 sun-dried tomatoes from the jar (without the oil) and thinly slice them.

When the oven is ready, divide the dough into 6 pieces, and stretch the dough into a circle (see this video for instructions). Place it on a floured pizza peel or pull the pizza stone out of the oven and carefully place the dough on it.

Quickly assemble the pizza: Thinly spread the ricotta over the dough with a spatula, then sprinkle on as much shredded cheese as you like. Top with sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, and oregano. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt.

Bake the pizza: Transfer the pizzas to the oven (working in batches as necessary), and bake until the cheese and crust are nicely browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomato Personal Pizzas Recipe

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FEATURED PRODUCTS

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KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer
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KitchenAid® Professional 600 Series 6 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer

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  • Inspiralized

    This is beautiful and breathtaking. This seems like ANYONE’s dream kitchen! I love it.

  • Jess

    I LOVE A Couple Cooks. They definitely deserve an awesome kitchen to cook in. I just hope their KitchenAid appliances hold up better than mine. The thing I realized about KitchenAid is that their appliances seem to be more for show than anything else. Everyone wants the best and the brightest new thing to display in their kitchen. When the appliances actually get used, they definitely don’t live up to my expectations!

    • Hi Jess,

      We are very sorry to hear of your experience with your KitchenAid appliances as well as your disappointment. If we can be of any assistance, please email us directly at KitchenAid.Digital@KitchenAid.com with your name, address, phone number as well as the complete model and serial numbers of the appliances with the concerns. Also, if you could please give a brief description of the concerns you are experiencing. We will follow up with you once this information is received. Thank you.

      Sincerely, Jordan

      • Jess

        Jordan, I appreciate your reply. I recently paid $40 to replace the bowl on my KitchenAid food processor. It saddens me that I had to invest another $40 after paying $200 for the food processor. The design means it will inevitably break again, hopefully within the one year warranty period. This time I will call as soon as there’s a slight crack in the plastic instead of waiting until it’s completely broken, the machine is inoperable, and the warranty period has passed. Additionally, the dough hook and flat beater that came with my KitchenAid mixer are losing their coating despite being carefully hand washed. I’m not willing to pay extra for stainless steel versions or purchase new coated pieces that will end up chipping just like the originals. I’m sure my food processor and mixer would still be fine if they weren’t used weekly (I’ve had minimal issues with my blender, but then again it’s only been used 20 times). KitchenAid used to be durable and I always considered it to be a high-end brand based on comments from older relatives. Times have obviously changed. It is well known in my circle of friends that KitchenAid products are designed for people who don’t intend to use them. The three of us who cook and bake have nothing positive to say about our KA purchases. We encourage our friends to register for higher quality brands (which they’re willing to pay for!) when they become engaged and purchase homes. You’re obviously doing a great job with damage control (not allowing my post to become public, and moderating other social media sites), but I think it would be better if you went back to producing quality products.

        I truly hope your company will take my message to heart.

        • Hello Jess,

          Thanks for taking the time to explain your concerns. We hope that if we can be of any assistance to you in the future, you will reach out to us at KitchenAid.Digital@KitchenAid.com with your name, address, phone number as well as the complete model and serial numbers of the appliances with the concerns.

          Have a great day!

  • Bobbi M. Sheridan

    I’M OBSESSED! It’s gorgeous Sonja! Seriously gorgeous!

  • Gorgeous!

  • Michelle Graff Wagner

    Sure looks great, but I doubt the appliances will work well for long! I could not be more disappointed with KitchenAid. Bought a high-end refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave (suckered into the “quality” brand promise). Replaced the water filter in the fridge, and now we can’t get water or ice, and KitchenAid is insisting that we pay for a service call. The dishwasher’s main control panel broke after just one year (part was covered, but we had to pay for the service call). And the microwave screeches as it rotates (we just deal with it) Seems that the company prices stuff high so that there is an assumption of quality. I would sure like KitchenAid to live up to their brand promise. I certainly can’t recommend to anyone except someone who just wants “pretty” over function. Customer Service’s answer is to buy extended warranties (wow, that’s a pledge of confidence!)

    • Hello Michelle,

      Please accept our sincerest apologies in regards to the recent experience you’ve endured with your appliances. You are truly a valued customer and it is certainly not our intent to leave you feeling this way. If you’d like to discuss this concern further, you are more than welcome to email us at KitchenAid.Digital@KitchenAid.com with your name, address, and phone number along with the model and serial numbers of the appliances.

      Best regards, Amber

  • Lindsey

    I really enjoyed following your remodel story from start to finish, especially with the pictures. I did a little research into butcher block counters (having no prior knowledge of them before this post) and wondered if you installed sealed or unsealed counters? I like the idea of being able to cut directly on the counter top as I can easily go through multiple cutting boards in one meal, but I wonder how they would hold up to an avid cook?

    • Hi Lindsey,

      Here is an answer directly from Sonja and Alex themselves:

      “We installed unfinished and unsealed butcher block counters. For the first few weeks, once a week we lightly sanded the counters and applied a butcher block conditioner (oil/wax) on them to provide a natural seal. We now do this maintenance about once a month. They are holding up great, but we are trying to keep them in their best condition, so we do not cut directly on them. Hope that helps!”

  • cindy

    Love it… partly because I just did one almost exactly like it! Adore my quartz countertops – great cooking prep surface. I made rugelach for the holidays with homemade black raspberry jam, NOTHING stains that surface. I do always place a dish towel under any metal pan though – since the installers told me metal could mark the surface. I agree about the island too – wouldn’t be without now – we opted for a movable one with a butcher block top to start with. It’s great. I treat it with mineral oil, wipe it on and let it soak overnight, once a month. I notice no window coverings – I’m in northern Ohio and its just too cold to do without. I bought some heavy cotton fabric with gray, yellow and navy in a bold pattern (my cabinets are gray) and I think it will add a nice pop of color.

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