January 31, 2012

Pita Bread

Pita bread is something I've always wanted to try. This recipe is easy and straightforward, so I'll be adding this bread item to my repertoire. Some of the pitas I baked had noticeable browning, but these ended up too crunchy. Keep the browning to a minimum (or none at all) for best results.

Pita Bread
adapted from Holly's Helpings

1 cup water, 105-115 degrees
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups all purpose flour, plus some for sprinkling
1-1/2 tsp salt

In a stand mixer, add the water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, flour and salt. With a dough hook, mix the ingredients on low until combined. Allow dough to knead for 10 minutes. Cover and let rest in a warm area for 1 hour.

Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.  For larger pitas, divide the dough into fewer parts.  Shape each part into a ball. Cover the balls with a damp paper towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  If you have a baking stone place it in the oven to preheat as well.  Roll each ball into a circle or an oval about 1/4″ thick (very thin).  Cover again with a damp paper towel and let rest for 15 minutes.

Move the pitas to the stone or place on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes or until they are puffy and very lightly browned.  Transfer the finished pitas to a wire rack to cool.

January 24, 2012

Potato, Sausage, and Spinach Breakfast Casserole

Eggs are a staple in my house. Need a quick, unplanned meal? The answer for me is almost always eggs. Add cheese, sauteed vegetables, salsa, potatoes, or even just pan-fried in some butter with salt and pepper for a quick, healthy dish. However, lately I have become an egg snob. I started buying eggs from the farmer's market a few years ago - fresh, free-range, and much tastier than store bought. During the winter, it's harder for me to get to the farmer's market, so I have to settle for store-bought. I spend the extra bucks to get premium quality because it's worth it.

If you're not a fan of eggs, I challenge you to try better quality and see if that makes a difference. Otherwise, try this casserole. Potatoes, sausage, and Gruyère can't go wrong!

When I made this, I halved the recipe except for the potatoes. Mine turned out flat - maybe 3/4 inch thick, so making the full recipe would yield a thicker, more attractive casserole.

Potato, Sausage, and Spinach Breakfast Casserole
from Bon Appetit

16 large eggs
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
12 ounces fresh breakfast sausage links
2 cups sliced leeks, white and pale-green parts only
2 russet potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), peeled, shredded, lightly squeezed
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups (4 ounces) grated Gruyère
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan

Position a rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Whisk eggs, cream, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl; set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 12" cast-iron or nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and cook, turning often, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add leeks to skillet. Season with salt; cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, spreading out in an even layer. Cook without stirring until bottom and edges are crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Slide potato pancake onto a large plate. Invert onto another large plate. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet. Slide potato pancake into skillet, browned side up; cook until bottom is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Scatter spinach, leeks, and sausages over potato pancake, each in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in egg mixture. Sprinkle both cheeses over.

Bake until casserole is puffed and golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

January 22, 2012

Honey Chipotle Turkey Meatballs

New Year's was quiet for us - an evening spent at home. I couldn't resist making some special food, though. To me, appetizer-type food is New Year's food. I can't remember everything I made, but I made honey chicken wings and these meatballs. I am usually leary of ground turkey recipes, but the flavors in this work quite well.

Honey Chipotle Turkey Meatballs
adapted from Everyday Food

1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
1/2 yellow onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
4 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
4 tsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, mix together ground turkey, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper until combined. Form into 16 meatballs. In a small bowl, stir together honey, chopped chipotle chiles, and cider vinegar.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add meatballs and cook until browned on all sides, 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, pour honey mixture over meatballs, and swirl skillet to coat; bake until liquid is reduced and meatballs are glazed, 10 minutes, swirling halfway through.

January 21, 2012


Posting has not been a priority for me lately. I know I have a few readers who check back faithfully for new posts. Sorry to disappoint.

The truth is cooking has just not been a top priority lately. I've had plenty of other things on my mind, and as a result, my creativity is squelched, plus I ruin more attempts than usual. Two cakes made in the past few weeks: one without baking powder and the other missing flour. Geesh!

Over Christmas, I was able to visit with my family and my husband's family, which was a treat. Mu husband's aunt cleverly asked when I was going to announce my best bun in the oven on this blog. So here we go: I am pregnant!

Of course I am super hungry most of the time, but I don't seem to have the energy or patience (or ability...see cakes above) to make much exciting food. But I promise not to go away completely. After baby girl comes in April, maybe I'll be back to posting more about my food, or maybe not. But you can be assured I will be making food. That will never change.

January 15, 2012

Lemon Bars

I make lemon bars every once in a blue moon. This recipe is a keeper, definitely. I actually made these with Meyer lemons for a slightly less tangy bar, but regular lemons would be fabulous too.

Lemon Bars
adapted from Bon Appetit

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice ( or meyer lemons)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in large bowl. Add butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture into bottom of 9x13x2-inch baking dish. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Maintain oven temperature.

Beat eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon flour and lemon peel in medium bowl to blend. Pour into crust. Bake until mixture is set, about 20 minutes. Cool.

Cut into bars. Sift powdered sugar over top before serving.