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

Turkey Sliders with Mustard Poppy Seed Sauce

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Are you still full?

I hope not because you need to start making room in your stomach for all of those left overs you (hopefully) have.  Having leftovers after Thanksgiving is like having another holiday celebration right after- I love them.

I love the classic turkey sandwich with turkey, maybe a little mayo, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.  I will be definitely having a few of those, but I have so many ideas for leftover recipes that I may need to roast another turkey (just FYI mom).

These turkey sliders are a great way to use up your leftover turkey.  I made these back at my Half Christmas celebration in June- they are also great party food for people.  Take your turkey & gravy, stick it on a slider roll, top with a mustard poppy seed sauce, and bake away.  Delicious.

If in the past few weeks it hasn’t been obvious, I love Thanksgiving.  And Christmas as well, so prepare yourself for the next month.  For anyone who sees me in person, there is a 99% chance I will have some baked good to pass along.

TURKEY SLIDERS WITH MUSTARD POPPY SEED SAUCE
Adapted from Perfecting the Pairing

INGREDIENTS

12 Hawaiian dinner rolls
Shredded turkey
Gravy, optional
Salt and pepper
Provolone cheese, sliced
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Slice rolls in half.  Combine turkey and gravy if desired.  Season with salt and pepper.  Divide turkey filling between bottom buns.  Top with provolone cheese and transfer to rimmed baking pan.  Place top bun on top.

In a small bowl mix together melted butter, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.  Pour and brush sauce on top of rolls.  Sprinkle poppy seeds on top.  Bake until cheese is melted and turkey is warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Makes 12 sliders.

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.

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.

S.O.S

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Who wants some shit for dinner?  Shit on a shingle to be exact.

Please do not click the x on your browser yet.

Not a lot of people will talk about their dinner as shit and then proceed to post it on a food blog.  But today let’s have a little visit to a place in the United States called the northeast.

I just got back from a  vacation with my mom to visit family in Delaware.   Lots of fun, but it was definitely too short and I am definitely not ready to return to reality.  I am now back home and about the start a new, busy semester.  My only way to to console myself is to make myself some northeastern food in my own kitchen (pity party with a RSVP for one). Then eat it while I sadly prep lectures, read articles, and write papers.

The northeast is home to my wonderful family and a wonderful array of foods we don’t eat that much in the south.  Cheesesteaks, subs, scrapple, and SOS to name a few.  I love when my parents introduce me to a childhood dish- I get the best of both of our culinary worlds. North meets south.

My parents culinary home is the land of shit on a shingle and scrapple.  Mmm.

S.O.S is basically a different version of the south’s biscuits and gravy.  Instead, you use chipped beef (or any other dried meat) in the gravy and smear it over toast.  Simple, quick, and easy.

Perhaps the Civil War could have ended sooner if they all shared a plate of S.O.S and biscuits and gravy together?

And yes, you could call this dish by it’s more kid-friendly names like Stew on a Shingle or Same Old Stuff, but where is the fun in that?  Then you can’t say you ate shit for dinner, and that is a huge part of the appeal of this dish for my inner childishness.

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S.O.S: SHIT ON A SHINGLE
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

4-6 ounces chipped beef, rinsed and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toast

DIRECTIONS

Melt butter in a small saucepan (Feel free to add more butter but the recipe will work with this amount) over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and 1/2 cup of milk.  Cook for 1-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Increase heat to medium high and whisk in remaining milk.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in chipped beef and Worcestershire.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until sauce is thickened to your liking.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over toast.

Serves 2-3.

Artisan Boule Bread

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Wait! Don’t click away from this page because you think making homemade bread is too much work, too complicated, or too likely to fail.  I promise I can hook you with two words:

No kneading.

After reading this recipe and seeing that the word “knead” was no where to be seen, I knew I had to make this bread.  I am not a kneader by nature.  I get frustrated with kneading. Flour gets into every single possible kitchen crevice and all over my clothes because for some reason I thought it’d be a good idea to wear my new black shirt to make bread and oh my gahhh has it been 10 minutes yet or is the dough elastic enough I want to stop kneading my arms hurt. Welcome to my head.

There is a tradeoff for the no kneading with time.  The dough needs to sit over night.  So yes, it takes some time but no real work on your part.  All you do is proof some yeast (just add hot water!), pour some flour and salt.  Stir. Cover.  Sit on your counter. Bake. And viola: bread.  

But to sound fancy let us call it artisan boule bread.  Oh la la.

This would be a great bread recipe to make if you have never tried to make homemade bread before.  Or if you need a confidence booster after having several unsuccessful attempts.  I have about a 50/50 success rate with bread in general, but this bread has given me the confidence to try more homemade bread!

And complain more about how much work it is to knead.

ARTISAN BOULE BREAD
From The Comfort of Cooking

INGREDIENTS

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water, 110°F

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl stir together all purpose flour, salt, and yeast.  Stir in water with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a wet dough.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit for 8-24 hours.  The dough will bubble as it sits.

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Place Dutch oven in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Form dough into a ball, adding more flour as needed. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it rest while the Dutch oven heats in the oven. Place dough on a piece of parchment paper.  Transfer dough into the preheated Dutch oven.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove lid and bake for 10-18 minutes uncovered. Let bread cool slightly before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf of bread.