Homemade Pita Bread

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One of the great parts of living near a metropolitan city is the lots of different types of cuisine. Over Labor Day weekend, I went to a Greek festival and chowed down on a lot of good Greek food. The most important component of Greek food for me is the pita. Great pita bread can make a gyro, and bad pita bread will ruin one.

I wanted to be able to recreate good Greek food in my own home, and since I already had the gyro meat and tzatziki ready, I just needed the pita bread. Now I have had a lot of trouble (and some success) with making homemade bread, so I wanted to find a recipe from someone who I trusted would not lead me astray in a yeast-mess.

And here we go! I have made this pita bread several times, and it works. So go forth and have DIY Greek food in your own home!

PITA BREAD

INGREDIENTS

1 cup water
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
One pinch granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Olive oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS

Heat water to 110 degrees in a large bowl and stir in yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy and dissolved. Stir in flour, salt, and olive oil. Knead dough on a well floured surface for 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Coat a bowl with oil and place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place. Let rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and keep covered with towel when not working with them. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Coat pan with olive oil. Roll out dough to an 8 inch circle. Place in hot pan and cook for approximately 30 seconds to one minute per side until it begins to bible and brown. Keep wrapped in towel to keep warm while making the remaining pita bread.

Serve immediately.

Barely Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Meringue Filled Yeasted Coffee Cake: Secret Recipe Club

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I have gone into dessert baking withdrawal.

In December, I had desserts coming out the wazoo (a rather mysterious place), and I always had another dessert in mind to make next.  I was a desert making machine back then, AKA the good old days when I had extremely low amounts of required work.  Well, being busy and back to making meals for one has put my dessert making a little bit on pause.  But here I am ready to get back into the kitchen, and I am ready for a challenge.

So when I got Taryn’s blog Sweetly Serendipity for this month’s Secret Recipe Club and saw that she has lots of dessert recipes to choose from, I was absolutely thrilled.  Taryn has a lot of types of desserts to choose from: from easy sweet tooth fixes, lots of chocolate, and lots of homemade bread.  I went searching for a recipe to challenge myself, and I came across this meringue filled yeasted coffee cake.

You had me at meringue (how my romantic comedy would be scripted).

The recipe name is a mouthful, but I had never heard of stuffing a coffee cake with meringue.  I was intrigued automatically.  I set out to make the coffee cake the first day I had free.  First, I loved that the ingredients are listed by weight- weighing ingredients is so much easier than measuring them for the sole reason that there are less dishes to wash after.  Second, it sounded decadent and perfect for a kitchen challenge.

I got straight to work, and thing were going great.  But, my friends, this was a challenge.  Rolling a pasty around meringue makes for messy work, and if you compare mine to Taryn’s, I could not manage creating a circular pastry.  It was a little messy, but I say let’s call that rustic charm because it is delicious enough that no one will mind.  Just follow instructions and take it slow.  Makes for one decadent breakfast or brunch.

MERINGUE FILLED YEASTED COFFEE CAKE
Barely Adapted from Sweetly Serendipity

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough:
2 cups all purpose flour (200 g), divided
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (27 g)
1/2 teaspoon salt (4 g)
1/2 package of yeast (4 g)
1/4 cup & 2 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
1 egg

For the Meringue:
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar (55 g)

For the Filling:
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts

DIRECTIONS

For the Dough:

In a large bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups of flour (115 g), sugar, salt, and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine milk, butter, and water over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is just melted.

With an electric mixer or hand mixer, slowly add the liquid ingreidents to the dry ingredients until blended. Increase speed and beat for 2 minutes. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour (75 g). Beat for 2 more minutes. If needed, stir in any remaining flour to have the mixture come together as a dough. Knead dough for 6-10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding extra flour as needed.

Place dough in a grease bowl and put in a warm place. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

For the Meringue:

After the dough has risen, prepare the meringue. Place egg whites and salt in a large bowl. Beat until foamy and opaque. Add vanilla extract. Slowly add sugar while beating until very stiff and glossy peaks form.

To Assemble to Coffee Cake:

Punch down risen down. Roll dough out into a 20 by 10 inch rectangle. Spread meringue filling on dough, leaving a 3/4 inch border on all sides. Sprinkle toppings on top of meringue. Carefully roll the dough into a long log. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet and form a ring.

Use a sharp knife to make cuts deep into the ring. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 25-60 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely.

Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

 

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

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So I was healthy for a little bit this new year at least, right?  I am not trying to tempt you all away from any resolutions, but…homemade cinnamon rolls (that taste like Cinnabon) with cream cheese frosting.

Homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. 

I know that January is meant for healthy eating, but we all need a little indulgence sometime.  Just balance some sweets with working out and healthy eating at other meals.  In doing my part working on resolutions, I recently tried a Pure Barre class, and it kicked my ass.  About 33% of the class was spent with me holding on to the bar looking around incredulously as everyone else worked out.  Phew.   A good healthy workout sometimes mandates homemade cinnamon rolls really.

And these cinnamon rolls. Oh my, these were just as good as I dreamed of.  I have wanted to make homemade cinnamon rolls for a long time, and I am so glad I did.  I remember how much of a treat it was when I would come downstairs and smell that mom had made up a batch of cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  That smell always let me know it was going to be a good start to my day.

These take a little bit of a time investment since there is yeast and rising time involved, but you can make the rolls almost completely the night before.  Because while I may like to eat cinnamon rolls early in the morning, I don’t particularly want to have to get up super early to make them.  I served these on Christmas morning, and I am certain that Santa was bitter that all he got the night before was some measly cookies.  If he had stuck around, he could have gorged on these.

HOMEMADE CINNAMON ROLLS
Barely Adapted from Lauren’s Latest

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough:
3/4 cup warm water, 115-110°F
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil
4 1/2 – 5 cups all purpose flour

For the Filling:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the Icing:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

For the Dough:

In a large bowl of stand mixer, combine water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Pour in remaining sugar and salt. Stir on low for 20 seconds.

In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, oil, and egg together. Pour into into yeast mixture. Use your stand mixer to stir together. Pour 2 cups of flour into bowl and mix on low until incorporated. While running the mixer, continue to add flour in 1/4 cup increments until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl (you may not need to use the entire amount of flour). Turn the mixer on high and knead for 5 minutes. Remove dough from bowl. Grease the bowl and place dough back in. Cover with plastic wrap and dish towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size,d about 1 1/2-2 hours.

For the filling:

In a bowl mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Set aside.

Punch down dough after it has risen. Transfer dough to a large cutting board that is dusted with flour. Roll out to a 20 inch by 30 inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter on the dough, leaving a 1 inch border on one of the longer sides.

Sprinkle brown sugar mixture on top of the butter. Lightly press mixture into butter using your hands or a rolling pin.

Roll the dough into a tight log, finishing on the edge with the border, using the plain dough to seal the roll shut. Score the dough every 2 inches and slice into rolls. Place into a parchment lined, greased pan (2 cake pans can work, or a 9×13 and a loaf pan). Cover and let rise in a warm place for another 1-2 hours, until almost doubled in size.

Or, you can cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight. The next morning, take out the rolls and place in a 100°F oven for about 40 minutes to take the chill off and help the rolls start rising. Then let rise in a warm place for approximately 1 hour (This is how I had them rise- you can also just let them sit in a warm place for a little longer, about 3 hours).

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 17 minutes, until the tops begin to turn golden brown.

For the Icing:

In a bowl, whip cream cheese and butter together. Mix in vanilla, corn syrup, and lemon juice. Pour in powdered sugar slowly and mix to incorporate. Mix on high for 5 minutes, until icing turns a light color.

Once rolls have finished baking, spread approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the icing on top. Let them cool for about 10-13 minutes, and frost with remaining icing. Serve warm

Makes about 15 cinnamon rolls.

Turkey Gravy & Mom’s Stuffing

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Yep, here we go again with some more stuffing. And I got one more coming for you before T-Day.  But today you get a bonus with your stuffing: some gravy.

This stuffing is mom’s traditional Thanksgiving stuffing- we have had it every Thanksgiving I can remember.  Mom always makes two versionS: dry stuffing and wet stuffing.  You see, our family is firmly divided between stuffing texture.  We have some who prefer stuffing to be pretty “wet” or “moist” (such appetizing words right there), and we have others who want it dry as the dessert and crunchy.

I am an intermediary, as I like both types.  So in my role as a diplomat, I always help myself to both kinds.  However, I tend to lean a little more toward the wet side.  <- What a wonderful sentence there.

My new favorite take on Mom’s stuffing is to make my own turkey stock, using Alton Brown’s method.  So, today we are going to talk about getting all up in our turkey bird’s business and use his giblets and other body parts to make us a good turkey stock.

Wetness, giblets, and turkey parts. Yum.  This post if filled with such delicious ways of discussing food.

TURKEY STOCK
Slightly Adapted from Alton Brown

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 turkey neck (and backbone if available)
1 set of giblets
1 red onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, quartered (optional)
2-3 celery stalk tops
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

DIRECTIONS

Heat canola oil in a stockpot over medium heat until shimmering. Add neck (and backbone if available) and sauté 5-6 minutes, until browned. Add giblets, onion, carrot, celery, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 4-5 minutes. Add water, bay leaf, and black peppercorns.

Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover, reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 1-1 ½ hours until stock has reduced.

Strain stock and discard solids. Reserve giblets if desired.

For Stuffing: Use this turkey stock instead of normal chicken stock to make your stuffing.  My mom’s recipe can be found here.  And it is delcious

For Gravy: Use in place of normal stock.  Here is Alton Brown’s recipe.

Apple Stuffing

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Last Thanksgiving, we went a little stuffing crazy. According to official psychologist-in-training expertise.  Which, to me, is a perfectly acceptable form of going crazy along with pie crazy, cheese crazy, Diet Coke crazy, and cranberry crazy.

So last Thanksgiving we had a lot of stuffing: 3 types (And I tried lobbying for a fourth).  First, we had our traditional stuffing both “dry” and “wet” due to differing personal preferences, and we tried out this new apple stuffing. This apple stuffing turned out well: rich tasting due to adding an egg, and the apples added a little bite and sweetness.

This year’s Thanksgiving menu is still in it’s draft phase, and I have had dreams of so many different types of stuffing to try.  Oyster, sausage, fig, pear, sourdough, naan- there are some many possibilities with this bread dish.  I think we definitely need a full week long Thanksgiving celebration with at least one full day dedicated to only eating stuffing.

I highly recommend making lots of stuffing this Thanksgiving- that way you have plenty leftover.  There is nothing better than stuffing on a sandwich.  Bread on bread is always the way to go.

Yeah, if you couldn’t tell, I really love stuffing.

APPLE STUFFING
Slightly Adapted from Martha Stewart

INGREDIENTS

3-4 tablespoon butter
2 leeks, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 apples, chopped (peeled if desired)
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
8 cups bread cubes
1 1/2-2 cups chicken broth
1 egg

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan.

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add leeks and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add apple and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 6-9 minutes. Season with sage and rosemary. In a large bowl, stir bread cubes and apple leek mixture together. Pour in chicken broth until desired stuffing consistency is reached. Stir in egg.

Spread mixture into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Cranberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding

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Why is bread so wonderful?

I was going to start this post with the question “Do you have any leftover bread?”, but if you have leftover bread sitting around, you aren’t doing life right.

Well, let’s not be so harsh.  As a single gal, I do have problems buying and using up an entire loaf of bread myself.  Let’s not lie, there is an easy fix to this problem of just putting all the bread in my mouth, but I have to cling to some of my last dredges of self control in order to save my binges for sugar.  Thus, why I have several dinner rolls stored in my freezer in case of emergency.

So, say we have some bread laying around.  There are lots of options for what we can do with it.  Slather slices with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, fill  with melted cheese, or stuffed with lots of meat.  Today, we are going to focus on pouring some wonderful custard on top of that bread.  Bread pudding.

Before making this, I had actually never had bread pudding before.  (Another dish mom doesn’t like- mushy foods aren’t her thang).  I definitely enjoyed my first exposure- what is not to love when there is white chocolate and cranberries involved?

CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
Adapted from Honey What’s Cooking

INGREDIENTS

1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup craisins
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, divided
1-2 cups cubed bread
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons walnuts

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease 2 ramekins

In a bowl whisk together egg, milk, vanilla bean seeds, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir in craisins, 6 tablespoons white chocolate chips, and bread.  Let sit for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter and light brown sugar.  Mix in walnuts.  Set aside.

Divide bread mixture between ramkins.  Top with streusel.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool slightly (or completely).  Top with remaining white chocolate chips.

Makes 2 ramekins, serves 2.

Sweet Potato Rolls: Secret Recipe Club

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Bread is a wonderful thing.  Especially when it’s all warm and had a little dab of melted butter on top.

If it were possible, I would like to spend my life curled up inside a warm roll with lots of butter.  That would be my nirvana right there.

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Lisa’s blog The Authentic Suburban Gourmet.  She had so many great recipes to choose from, but I knew I wanted something wonderfully appropriate for the fall season since Texas is finally getting some of the cooler temperatures outside.  When i came across her pumpkin rolls, I was hooked.  Since I am still a pumpkin newbie, I decided to sub in some sweet potatoes.

These rolls were wonderful.  Soft and tender and just a little bit sweet.  Perfect plain, warm, cooled, with butter, with apple butter, or if you’re daring cinnamon sugar & butter (breakfast of champions right there).  They would be perfect for- dare I say it- Thanksgiving!  I have already started menu planning our Thanksgiving meal (only because I enjoy doing so), but if you are a normal human being and focus on one holiday at a time, you can bookmark these babies for next month.

Leftover turkey sandwiches on sweet potato rolls?  I may need to roast a second turkey just to make sure I can get enough leftovers.

SWEET POTATO ROLLS
Slightly Adapted from Authentic Suburban Gourmet

INGREDIENTS

1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup sweet potato puree
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

Combine yeast, water, and a pinch of sugar. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes.

Place milk in saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring constantly, until scalded (little bubbles will begin to form on the side).  Stir in sweet potato puree, sugar, butter, and salt.  Stir until combined.  Remove from heat and stir in yeast mixture.   Add flour and stir together until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic.  Place in oiled bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  Punch down bread and divide dough into 12 – 18 pieces.  Roll into balls.  Place dough in oiled 9×13 pan.  Cover and lit rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Bake rolls for 15-20 minutes.

Makes 12-18 rolls.

Make sure to check out what everyone else made for SRC this month!

Banana Bread

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Given that it’s October and everyone is going pumpkin crazy, it may seem out of place to have this banana bread recipe on the blog.

Well, it’s confession time.  I’ve never really had a pumpkin dessert.

I am not even sure if I would like it.  For the first half of my life, I thought that I did not like pumpkin or sweet potato.  Blame mom for this one (Freud would of course agree on this).  She does not like any of those winter squashes, so for many years, I assumed the same.  How could I think otherwise when she would make her scrunched up nose face at the mere mention of sweet potato?

Well, I have since expanded past mom’s taste preferences and found that I like sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  I have just never gotten around to trying pumpkin yet, and I think my unconscious is still telling me to be wary of pumpkin treats.  Maybe this fall will be the time to break my pumpkin virginity (too weird?)

Putting it’s non-pumpkinness aside, you may have looked at this title and thought “Oh, just another recipe for banana bread”.  No, no.  This is the best banana bread I have eaten.  I also got several comments from people at how they loved this banana bread too, so it’s not just a fluke.  I made it back in August for mom and I to snack on during a plane ride, and we ate half a loaf within a 3 hour flight.  No shame.

This recipe comes from my friend Kelsey (who runs a fashion blog Brilliantly Styled that you should check out!) through her grandmother.  This is it- this is my go-to banana bread recipe.  Put in any add ins your heart desires.  In my batch I added walnuts and white chocolate chips, which was divine. I know you will love this banana bread as much as I did.

I am also open to anyone’s suggestions for my first pumpkin experience.  Any ideas?

BANANA BREAD
Adapted from Kelsey’ Grandmother

INGREDIENTS

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 cups mix-ins (nuts, chocolate chips, etc)
4 eggs, room temperature and slightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and any mix ins you want to add.  Set aside

In a separate bowl, combine vegetable oil and water.  Beat in eggs and bananas.  Add approximately 1/4 cup dry ingredients into the wet.  Mix until just combined.  Repeat with remaining dry ingredients.

Divide in 2 greased loaf pans, or 3 greased smaller loaf pans.  Bake for 55-70 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool completely.