Category Archives: sandwiches

Homemade Pita Bread

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As much as I love baking bread, I admit that I let my bread baking skills slack off majorly the last few years after my kids were born… I guess I felt that I didn’t have the time to bake fresh bread with a newborn… then I found another excuse when the toddler age stuck. But don’t fool yourself like I did. All you really need to make some kind of awesome homemade bread is a few minutes here and there.  The actual hands-on action (especially for loaves) is surprisingly minimal and you will find that fresh bread is worth the extra effort. Also, not only is homemade bread made to order & delicious, I personally feel a sense of real accomplishment serving and eating bread that I baked!  I am hereby swear I am going to bake more bread!!

I have a Kitchen-Aid mixer with a bread hook, which is totally worth investing in. I use mine often, mainly for making bread dough, pizza dough, cake batter and cookies. Mine was a gift from my husband (thank you, Steven!)… And no, I’m not one of those women who get offended getting kitchen items as gifts – in fact, they are among my favorite gifts to receive because I truly love to create things in the kitchen! If you don’t have a bread mixer, you will have to knead the dough by hand… but don’t frown just yet – and I speak from experience – this makes for some killer arm toning!!

Somehow, this was my first time making homemade pita pockets. I was so pleased at how simple and delicious these were! I think now that my family knows I can make these, I’m in real trouble! Next time, I’m definitely going to mix in some whole wheat flour to make them a little less white-bready tasting. We are usually whole wheat/mixed grain people over here… with occasional local sourdough 🙂

I mistakenly poked holes into the pitas with a fork before baking… Oops. I think I was remembering when we made pita-pizzas at a bakery where I used to work, not pita-pockets. My holes caused the dough to not poof out completely, so I ended up having to cut the insides of my pitas apart with a knife (which still worked fine… they all came apart easily). Anyway, you live and you learn, right?! So, unless you are trying to make pita-pizzas, don’t poke the dough with a fork!!

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Oh, and please don’t let the long instructions below deceive you! Sometimes I have a tendency to over-explain things! It’s really quite simple! I should mention that my kids were dying to help roll out the dough into pitas! If you don’t want little hands helping, you better set them up with some playdough and let them make their own “pitas” 😉

HOMEMADE PITA POCKETS

  •  2  1/4 tsp of jarred yeast – I used Fleishmans  (1 envelope of quick rising yeast should be the same amount)
  • 1  1/2 cup very warm water, plus extra for warming the mixing bowl*
  • > 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached bread flour, but next time I will be using whole wheat flour for half of this amount)
  • 1  1/4 tsp salt

* First warm up your bread bowl by letting it sit full of hot water. Now, pour 1 cup of very hot water into a large measuring cup and then add cold water to fill it up to the 1  1/2 cup mark. Sometimes I have to dump some water out to add more hot or cold water until the temperature is “just right”, which to me means you can stick your finger in it, it feels pretty hot, but it’s not going to burn you. If the water is too hot, the yeast will die. If it’s too cold, the yeast wont grow.

1) Dont forget to dump your bowl-warming water before you add your measured water!!  Now, pour in your measured water and sugar.  Stir.  Add yeast. Wait 2-3 minutes. Your yeast should start to look frothy/foamy. That means you did it right!! YAY!  (If nothing happens after several minutes, your water was either too hot or cold or your yeast is dead. Try again!)

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Foamy looking areas means you are good to go!

2) Add about half your flour and add the salt and turn on the mixer. Then gradually add the last half of the flour as it begins to mix. It may look sticky or dry, but just let it mix around a minute to come together. (At first, mine looked sticky but then it came together well and I didn’t have to add any more flour or water.) Let it mix 5- 6 minutes on medium speed. I like to turn up the speed a little faster at the end for about a minute. The dough should be smooth and elasticky… A good dough feels a little sticky but comes out of the bowl pretty cleanly. It shouldnt be acting like gum! It should feel more like soft warm slightly sticky play dough! 🙂

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Here is my finished dough ball. Nice and soft.

3) Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. (I did this right in my mixing bowl, pictured below.) Let rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in size. This took my dough about 45 minutes. The dough is ready when you poke it and the indention remains. If it bounces back out, give it a little more time. It may take an hour or more if your kitchen is cold!

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I picked up my dough, oiled the bowl and then put the dough back in there, covered, to rise.

4) Punch it down and roll it out like a rope so you can cut it into 10-12 pieces. I made 12 but my pitas were pretty small. Form balls with the dough. Sit the balls on a floured surface, cover with towel and let rise another 10 minutes. (Bakers tip: shaping the balls can be very quick if you take a dough ball in your dominant hand and roll it in circles against a wooden cutting board, pulling it tighter with your curved fingers as you go. Once you get good, you will be rolling dough balls in both hands at once!)

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Separating the dough and rolling it into balls…

5) Preheat oven to 500 and place your oven rack on the lowest setting. (It also helps to pre-heat your baking sheet). I hear you can also use a cast-iron skillet for this to add extra iron. I may try that next time.

6) Roll out each dough ball into circles about 5 – 6″ across and 1/4″ thick.

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Rolling the balls out into pitas…

7) Bake 4-5 minutes until they are puffy. Smash down with spatula. Flip and bake them 2 more minutes. Smash again if necessary. Repeat until all are baked.

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Ta-Da! The finished pitas!

Stuff them, use them for dipping… whatever you wish! These should freeze well (in a freezer bag) up to 1 month. They last about 1 week fresh.

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First we served these right from the oven with some baba ganoush and cucumber slices.

NOTE: They are AMAZING if you lightly brown them up on a cast iron skillet in a tiny bit of olive oil… We did that (pictured below) and cut them into triangles for dipping into baba ganoush with some shredded and sliced vegetables. You could also serve these pita triangles with hummus. Mmmm! I never knew pita making was so easy! I will probably be making these for my family several times a month!

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Homemade pitas make for a seriously impressive and scrumptious appetizer… or sandwich!

Vegan Filet O Tofu Fish Sandwiches

So, I haven’t blogged in quite a few days… all of this warm summery weather and unusually high temperatures has been keeping us outside pretty late.  We’ve also been busy working on the yard by doing some light landscaping… planting flowers…  starting our herb garden… trimming our peach trees… weeding the front bed… and of coarse we have also spent lots of time just being together playing outside (mostly swinging).

We’re trying to do our part to stimulate the economy by visiting some of our favorite local restaurants too, which is always fun and usually leaves us with delicious leftovers 🙂 Man, this great weather has really been putting me in the mood for a visit to the ocean… but since a beach vacation isn’t in my near future, I decided to make my own ocean experience with these “fish” patties!

After I whipped up this quick yummy 3-ingredient tartar sauce, I realized just how essential the sauce is – it is the sauce that really makes this fish taste for me… probably because the only fish I ate as a kid that I actually liked were frozen fish sticks with tartar sauce!

These breaded tofu “fish” cakes turned out really great and they can also be made fish stick style, which is how I made them for the kids… My husband and I ate our’s as filet sandwiches on a bun with tartar sauce and a slice of vegan american cheese. My husband has since told me his mouth was salivating in anticipation of his next tofu “fish” sandwich, which makes me really happy  🙂  We may make these again for a Dinner and a Movie night and eat them while we watch Shark Tale, the Little Mermaid or maybe (Not) Finding Nemo!

Tartar Sauce

Mix and chill:

  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (I like Veganaise)
  • 2 heaping Tbsp sweet relish, excess liquid drained off
  • 1/2 tsp mustard (I used Dijon)

Filet-o-Tofu-Fish Sandwiches

First press your block of tofu, then cut it into 4 slices lengthwise and marinate your tofu in a large tupperware or shallow bowl for as long as possible in this mix:

  • 1 cup water & 2 heaping tsp kelp granules or kelp powder (you will need more for coating, see below)

I used this for my patties and it sure gave it a fishy quality!

After marinating the tofu, dredge the tofu slabs through the mix below thoroughly and pan fry them in a little olive oil. You can also bake these for about 40 minutes at 400 if you prefer, flipping halfway through.

  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp kelp granules or powder
  • 4 hamburger buns, 4 slices vegan cheese

* I recommend sprinkling a little extra kelp over the top of the filets as you pan fry them for the ultimate ocean experience! *

marinating the tofu in kelp-water

coating the "fish sticks" with breading

pan frying in olive oil

A simple and delicious sandwich.

Filet o Tofu Fish served with tartar sauce, red quinoa and green beans

Spaghetti and Vegan Meatballs

Hey everyone! I just posted our very first ‘Dinner and a Movie’ under my new heading titled  “Dinner and a Movie”.  For our first dinner and a movie night, we chose to make Spaghetti and Vegan Meatballs to go along with Disney’s Lady & the Tramp! Click here!!!

Remember to check back under ‘Dinner & a Movie’ occasionally to see if there’s a new post up! I will always be featuring kid-friendly flicks.  I hope you enjoy our new tradition as much as I know we will! 🙂

V’egg Salad

I have been eating this v’egg salad for the past 10 years, ever since I moved to Athens in 2000.  It is originally from the Daily Co-op Deli on Prince Ave.  I have never had a better faux-egg salad!  My kids love this stuff (& its packed with protein)!  It’s easy to prepare and it also can be eaten many ways: My husband’s favorite way to eat it is on crackers with a splash of frank’s hot sauce on each bite! It’s also great in a sandwich or alone. I have eaten this sandwich on many picnics & even while floating down the Broad River a time or two!  Believe me… it never disappoints.

  • 1 block tofu, crumbled (I always use tofu in bulk or the xtra firm water packed kind)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup Vegenaise (vegan mayonnaise)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped finely
  • 1/4 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large pickle, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp dry dill
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients except tofu.  Break up the tofu into crumbles and then mix all together.

~ makes 3 ( 8 oz.) containers

I actually served this v’egg salad at a recent party as “deviled v’eggs” by cutting a block of xtra-firm silken tofu into 8 pieces, and using a melon-baller to scoop out the center of each piece, which I then filled with the v’egg salad & a dash of paprika.  It truly looked and tasted like the real thing!! The silken tofu tastes completely like a hard-boiled egg and with the faux egg center – well – let me just say I had quite a lot of compliments on my h’ordeurve!

my deviled v'egg horderves

Easy Chick-Peazy Hummus

I thought I should start out my first blog recipe with something that I make all the time… hummus.  This recipe is easy & fast.  You can serve it immediately or pop it in the fridge.  It’s great for a party or just for personal snacking! Its gluten-free.  I cannot tell you how many times I have whipped up this hummus in a hurry for a quick nutritious snack! And the best thing is that you probably already have most of the ingredients on hand already! (Sesame tahini is sometimes stocked by the peanut butter in the grocery store.  You’ll want to stir it really good because of the natural separation that may occur. After opening, keep it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.)

My kids will literally eat this with a spoon if I forget to take it out of the serving bowl!  Hummus is a great way to get your kids to eat their vegetables – broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, green or red peppers, what have you! Or throw it between two pieces of bread, add some sprouts, sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, spinach (or lettuce) & it makes one heck of a sandwich! Did I mention that garbanzo beans  (aka chickpeas) are a terrific source of protein AND iron?! (Homemade hummus contains WAY more protein than the store-bought varieties & has no preservatives. This hummus will last a good 4-5 days!)

BASIC HUMMUS

Throw all ingredients together and blend in the food processor, scraping the sides down occasionally until its smooth & creamy.  Add an extra splash of water or olive oil in the end if you prefer to thin it a little!  This hummus will thicken up slightly in the fridge.  For a nice presentation, drizzle with olive oil & add a dash of cayenne!  Makes a bit more than 2 ½ cups.

  • 3 ½ cups (or 2 cans) drained & rinsed garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • < ¼  cup sesame tahini
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • > 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 2-3 Tbsp water