Friday, April 29, 2016

Rainy Day Vegetable Soup - #TheBookClubCookbookCC

Spring may bring the flowers, colors and flavors that will develop into summer, but those rainy spring days can make me want to curl up with a good book, fresh baked bread and a hot bowl of soup.

This month for The Book Club CookBook Cooking Crew, Sarah from Things I Make (For Dinner) selected Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier for us to read. The accompanying recipe was for a lovely vegetable soup. I was both excited to start reading, as well as get all my groceries for a yummy pot of soup.

I was very optimistic when I went shopping...

...the reality was I couldn't find some of the vegetables described in the beginning of the book. When we first meet Griet, she is preparing a soup for her family. After her father's accident, they had fallen on hard times. The soup contained only vegetables...cabbages, turnips, leeks... Griet had laid out all the vegetables, not in the order they would go into the pot, but as wedges of a pie - divided by their colors.

My soup did not end up containing the turnips, we changed it up a bit to fit our tastes. Small red potatoes are always a hit in our soups! 

You can see Sarah's invitation for the month, and even read along with us when you have the time. Be sure to jump in this next month (where did April go?) for another fabulous book and more mouth-watering recipes from the group.

Here are all the other fabulous bloggers cooking with us this year:

Cheese Curd In Paradise               
Life on Food       

The Pajama Chef              
The Spiffy Cookie             
Things I Make (for Dinner)           
Tortillas and Honey         

And the book? I didn't have a chance to read it when it came out, I did watch the movie with Scarlett Johanson. The description in the book is so good, it really is worth reading. It would make a great read for our next wet and gloomy spring weekend. Perfectly paired with a bowl of our vegetable soup!

I did try to lay out my vegetables by color, but gave up because it had so much green in it! Oh, well. I would have loved to see Griet's presentation as she created her soup.

Rainy Day Vegetable Soup

You Will Need:

  • 1Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 ribs of celery, sliced
  • 1/2 savoy cabbage head, sliced
  • 2 c. baby red potatoes, halved
  • 8 c. chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Slice and put leeks in a medium bowl full of water. Set aside.

In a large pan, saute the onion, carrots, and celery in oil. Strain out the leeks and add them to the pot. Saute till all are tender. Add the remaining ingredients and bring up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

This month Sarah at Thing I Make (for Dinner), this month's host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!

One of our lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from April 1st till April 30th at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

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*Disclosure: Sarah received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp as an opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Boston Cream Bundt #BundtBakers

Ready to dive into a retro dessert? This month I really wanted to show some admiration for the oddly named, Boston Cream Pie.

Okay, we all know it is a cake... rich butter cake, with a layer of pastry cream and topped with a chocolate glaze. Mmm.... Something about layers just seems more decadent, doesn't it? Luckily this "pie" is easy to make from scratch.

This month's bundt inspiration comes from our April host, Felice from All That’s Left Are The Crumbs. She threw down the challenge to bring a retro dessert of our choice into bundt form.

And if you have been following my little egg recipe saga, it is another fabulous way to use up all those extra spring eggs. From the cake to the pastry cream, it is an egg-rich treat.

This time of year I enjoy have a little treat to enjoy in the evening. Spring brings longer hours on the farm and my husband gets really hungry. He does a great job polishing off dinner, but it is nice to enjoy a little something special before bed.

I am a big fan of letting bundt cakes rest overnight, so I will often bake one day and serve my bundt cake the next evening. Wrap it in saran wrap and it will be ready to slice and serve the following day.

My toddler though is not a fan of waiting. Once he smells a cake baking, he is ready to devour it. He is glad to help me polish off the slices I use for photos. I guess that is his reward for waiting patiently.

This 'pie' begins with a simple almond butter cake...

I went with a simple bundt pan so slicing and drizzling would be easy. The top will be covered with chocolate ganache anyway.

The next thing to make before assembly is the pastry cream. I used a standard recipe for pastry cream with vanilla bean to be extra special.

The cake is sliced in half and the custard is spread as thick as you dare. Then I drizzled a basic chocolate ganache over the top. I love how shiny and yummy it looks.

Ready to get baking? I hope you enjoy this fun bundt cake as much as we did.

Boston Cream Bundt

You Will Need:


  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. milk

Pastry Cream

  • 3 c. whole milk
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split, and seeds scraped
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Chocolate Glaze

  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 3/4 c. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Grease and flour your bundt pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together the sugar, butter, salt, and extract. Then mix in the oil, and add one egg at a time, incorporating and scraping down the bowl before each new addition.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients. Add this to the butter and egg mixture, alternating with the milk. Make sure it is all well incorporated.

Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting. Cool completely before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and letting the cake sit overnight.

The following day before serving, make the pastry cream and chocolate glaze.

For the pastry cream, stir together 2 1/2 cups of the milk, sugar, salt and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture up to a boil over medium heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, flour, egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup milk. Temper the egg mixture with a few ladle-fulls of hot milk, whisking continuously to prevent the egg from scrambling. Then pour the egg mixture into the pan and while still whisking, bring it up to a simmer to cook for about 30 seconds. It will thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the cubed butter. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the custard. This will prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

Before spreading on your cake, whip the cream into whipped cream and fold into the chilled pastry cream.

For the chocolate glaze, bring the cream and corn syrup up to a bowl. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate till melted and smooth. Stir in the salt and vanilla, then set aside to assemble the cake.

Cut the cake in half horizontally. Remove the top half and spread a thick layer of pastry cream over the cake. Replace the top and drizzle with glaze. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Greek Baked Eggs

Spring has sprung here in the valley.

Oddly enough, it brought with it 80-degree weather, an itch to start this year's garden and has turned my little backyard brood into egg-making machines!

If you don't raise your own chickens you might not realize that winter brings an egg-lull. I try my best not to buy eggs each winter, but usually I need a carton or two to get by. It is always a low point. I supplement my hens, keep them warm and look forward to when the eggs are plentiful again. Mmm... custards, rich egg breads, omeletts, etc.

But the warmer weather and longer days have my hens busy! When not picking off bugs in the yard, they can usually be found guarding their nest boxes. My two young hens below really want to hatch some chicks. The older girls above are just happy to lay and run.

Of course, the downside to high production is that I am always in search of a great new egg recipe! I promise, there are only so many eggs you can give away.

Which brings me to Amanda from Dancing Veggies. This month she unknowingly came to my aid with her delicious Greek Baked Eggs recipe. It was the perfect choice for April's Secret Recipe Club creation and to help me use some of the fresh eggs I am amassing.

Amanda is an ovo-lacto-vegetarian, so she utilizes a wide variety of veggies and grains, as well as the occasional egg and some dairy products. Her blog is full of delicious recipes! Some other recipes of hers that I would love to make for my family include her Sweet Potato Latkes - my kids are on such a sweet potato kick right now,  and her Ricotta Kugel because it just sounds amazing! 

But ultimately her Greek Baked Eggs spoke to me this month.

She mentioned being inspired by a new set of oven-to-table dishes when trying this recipe. I have my own fondness for my mixed ramekins and cocottes in white, dark blue and Carribean Blue. I own a set of each, but prefer to mix them up. They are as varied as the eggs my hens lay.

This recipe was the perfect choice for lazy Sunday. Paired with toasted bread for dipping, it was amazing.

The only changes I made to Amanda's recipe was omitting the mushrooms and adding kalamata olives and a bit of roughly chopped kale. Overall I tried to stay with her original intent and only omitted the mushrooms because I didn't happen to have any more on hand.  Another current favorite of my kids!

When I think Greek food, I always yearn for a salty kalamata olive to cut through the other flavors and kale happens to be my garnish of choice at the moment. I have been using it in everything that calls for Italian parsley.

But the eggs remain delicious, full of flavor (yay! for Feta cheese!) and simple for either a breakfast, brunch or easy supper.

Ready to get cooking?

Greek Baked Eggs
recipe adapted from Amanda at Dancing Veggies

You Will Need:

  • 2 tsp. butter + more for greasing the dishes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1 c. bell peppers
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/4 c. feta cheese
  • 6 Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 - 2 kale leaves, roughly chopped
  • Greek seasoning blend *optional
  • salt & pepper to taste

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 4 ramekins, cocottes or oven safe dishes. Set aside.

    Start by heating the 2 teaspoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and begin to sweat them down. Once they start to soften, add the garlic and bell peppers. Continue till they are all softened and fragrant. Remove from the heat.

    Divide the onion mixture between the 4 dishes. Top with a little feta cheese, kale and kalamata olives, reserving half of each to garnish the top. Sprinkle with a little Greek seasoning, if desired. Then add one egg to each dish, season with salt and pepper and top with reserve ingredients. *At this point you could leave the yolks intact, or scramble them, as desired. 

    Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the egg is cooked to your preferred doneness. I like to have a slightly runny yolk for dipping my bread in, but that is just me.

    I suggest serving this up with some nice, crusty bread and coffee. That pretty much made my morning complete.

    For more great recipes, check out Amanda's full recipe list at Dancing Veggies.

    Ready for some more delicious meal ideas? Check out The Secret Recipe Club recipe linky below:

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    Sunday, March 20, 2016

    Katsudon (Fried Pork cutlet, egg, rice bowl) #SundaySupper

    I think people often get nervous when I start talking about Japanese recipes. They imagine raw fish (sashimi) or exotic ingredients. Okay, sushi is always a hit when dining out, but in truth, some of my favorite Japanese dishes are the more humble, comfort food staples that you don't often eat at a fancy restaurant.

    One dish I fell in love with during my time in Japan was the humble donburi. These rice bowls were lunch staples, but also were a perfect meal for an expat living alone. One donburi that I really enjoyed was the Katsudon. It was a fried pork cutlet, tonkatsu, cooked with eggs, simmered onions and set on top of a warm bed of rice. The sauce is both sweet and savory and the whole dish is warm and filling.

    It had been a while since my husband or I had enjoyed a Katsudon, but once we dug in, my husband admitted this dish is his favorite.

    I like to enjoy mine with a simple bowl of miso soup, but it is also great as a stand alone dish.

    This dish begins with the fried pork cutlet. I use the very thin cut, boneless pork chops so they cook quickly. They are breaded in a typical dredge of flour, egg and bread crumbs. To get the signature crunch, Japanese panko is suggested. Luckily they are readily available in most grocery stores or on amazon.

    Then I softened half a yellow onion with just a little oil.

    Low and slow helps to really bring out the sugars in a yellow onion.

    While the onions are sauteeing, stir up the sauce... a mixture of soy sauce, mirin and dashi. This is really what adds all the flavor to the dish.

    Once the sauce is added to the onions, make a little room and put the pork cutlets back into the skillet. Flip the cutlet slices so both sides can soak up some of the sauce. Then Pour the egg around the sides and top with green onions.

    Cook the egg till set. I like to cover with a lid to help steam the egg. Remove from the heat a little underdone and place over a steaming bowl of rice. The eggs will continue to cook and set up from the steam of the rice.

    Then enjoy!


    You Will Need:

    • 2 thin cut pork cutlets
    • 1 egg scrambled
    • 1/4 c. flour
    • 1/2 c. panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
    • oil for frying (enough to cover the pork cutlets)
    • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
    • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
    • 1 Tbsp. mirin
    • 2/3 c. dashi
    • 3 egg, partially scrambled
    • 2 green onions, sliced
    • 2 bowls of Japanese rice (short grain), prepared

    Heat up your oil and pan for frying.

    While the oil is heating up, bread the pork cutlets. Set up a dredging station with flour, egg wash and panko in 3 seperate containers. Dredge both pork cutlets and fry till golden brown as soon as the oil has reached temperature.

    Set the cooked pork cutlets aside on a paper town to drain.

    Put a teaspoon of oil back into the skillet and add the sliced onion. Cook over medium low till softened and translucent.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, mirin and dashi. Set aside.

    Whisk together the 3 eggs gently, leaving some of the whites and yolks still separated.

    Cut the pork cutlets into slices and make a place for each cutlet in the onions. Pour the sauce around over the onions and let cook for about 1 minute. Flip the pork cutlets and pour the egg over the onions and cutlet, sprinkle with green onions. Cover with a lid. Cook until set to desired consistency.

    I leave my eggs a little soft as they will continue cooking when placed over the steaming rice.

    Divide the cutlet, eggs, onions and sauce between two bowls of rice. Enjoy!

    Appetizers & Sides
    Main Dishes (Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Brinner and Dinner!)
    Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday!

    We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

    Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.
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    Thursday, March 17, 2016

    Pineapple Upside Down Coconut Cake #BundtBakers

    One of my fondest culinary memories was pre-children. My husband and I spent many a night working through a new and exciting recipe. One weekend we set out to perfect homemade pasta and another night we worked on recreating a favorite restaurant dish.

    One night I decided to try out a pineapple upside down cake in our new, beloved cast iron skillet.

    Luckily, with no children around, we never quite made it past the cake. We dug right into the warm cake and ate our fill. We still talk about that cake.

    Oddly enough, it has been years since I decided to make another one. Maybe in the back of my mind I have been worried that we won't want to eat a "real" dinner. What kind of an example would that set for our three kids?

    I was very excited to see that March's Bundt Baker's theme was "Tropical Vacation". Hosted by Christiane, The Mom Chef: Taking on Magazines, with a nod to all those amazing flavors that take us away to warmer climates and tiny umbrellas.

    I knew right away what I wanted to make. It just had to be a Pineapple Upside Down Cake! But, why go for the obvious right? I have developed a little obsession with creamy moist coconut cakes, and I thought the coconut and pineapple flavors are surely my favorite tropical treats. So I combined them this month for Pineapple Upside Down Coconut Cake.

    Ready to dig right in? If you make this and then decide to skip dinner... I promise not to tell.

    Pineapple Upside Down Coconut Cake

    You Will Need:
    • 6 pineapple rings
    • 6+ maraschino cherries
    • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
    •  1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
    • 3 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 1/2 c. sugar
    • 2 eggs + 2 yolks
    • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 Tbsp. coconut extract
    • 1 1/3 c. unsweetened coconut milk

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sugar till dissolved. Set aside.

    Generously grease a classic bundt pan. place the pineapple rings in the bottom, with a cherry in the middle of each ring. Add a few more cherries, if you like. Pour the brown sugar mixture over the top and set aside.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

    In a stand mixer, cream the butter and 2 1/2 cups sugar together for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides and then add the eggs, one at a time, till well mixed. Then mix in the coconut and vanilla extracts.

    Add the flour mixture and coconut milk to the bowl, alternating between the two, ending with the flour. Do not overmix, mix just until combined.

    Pour the batter into the bundt pan and smooth down the top.

    Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then invert onto a cake plate. Be sure to drizzle any remaining caramel back onto the cake top!

    Enjoy warm or cool.

    Now don't forget to check out all the other amazing Tropical Vacation inspired bundt recipes below:

    #BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving Bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all of our lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest Board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient.

    Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers can be found on our homepage.

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    Monday, March 14, 2016

    DIY Easter Egg Shirt - Silhouette Heat Transfer & Rhinestones

    With Easter coming up early this year, I wanted to make my daughter a special holiday shirt that could be finished in an afternoon. Of course, I also wanted to try something new. Can you believe that I still haven't tried embellishing with rhinestones yet?

    This year I am back participating in the Silhouette Challenges, but this year there will only be 4 group posting dates. Okay, I am a little bummed, but I am excited to play around more on my own time and hope to post those projects as well. This month's challenge just happened to be with fabric. 

    Oh, be sure to stick around for the whole post, there is an amazing giveaway near the end... plus more great inspiration from my fellow Silhouette Challenge members. :)

    Okay, back to the shirt.

    As much as I love my daughter in Easter dresses, she is more of a rough and tumble girl. She would much rather have fun and play hard in a holiday shirt. I wanted to add a little sparkle to her shirt with both glitter heat transfer material and a few well placed rhinestones.

    For this project you will need:
    • Heat Transfer Material (I chose white with glitter)
    • Rhinestones (I used pink, blue, yellow, green, black and clear)
    • Iron
    • thin towel or pillowcase to place over design during ironing
    • Easter Egg Cut Files - from the Silhouette design store
    • Pick-Me-Up Tool *optional, but very handy!

    I don't have a cut file to share with you for this project. I found 2 different designs that I loved in the Silhouette Design Store. They were each $0.99. I used this set of 3 Easter Eggs, as well as this Easter Egg Card design.

    So I downloaded the designs, brought them into the software and then deleted the layers or items I didn't need. I didn't want to do a lot of extra weeding or aligning, so I wanted to weld the 3 egg shapes together.

    To weld, so the objects will be cut out as 1 image, overlap the designs, then select all three eggs. The menu at the top right is where you will find the modify menu. This drop-down menu has the weld function.

    Once all the images are connected, cut out the heat transfer material as usual. I always make sure to double check my cut setting and blade depth to prevent headaches later.
    Applying the heat transfer material is super easy, especially when it is only one solid piece. Once ironed on, it was time to embellish my Easter Eggs with a little color. Tulip has a great variety pack of heat-set rhinestones if you don't have a stash already.

    Also, this was my first time trying out the Pick-Me-Up tool. It was awesome! One end is sticky... just tacky enough to grab and hold those rhinestones, but not too sticky so it wouldn't let go. The other end has a wedge that was perfect for turning over flipped rhinestones.

    Please note, I chose not to create a rhinestone template on the Silhouette because this project didn't use many rhinestones and their setting didn't have to be exact. That is next on my project wish-list. :)

    To set the rhinestones, I placed a pillowcase over the design and gently pressed straight down with my iron. Then I turned the shirt inside out and ironed it again from the other side.

    The finished Easter shirt is the perfect balance of fun and sparkle! Very fitting for my daughter. Do you have someone in your life who would enjoy a sparkly Easter Egg Shirt?

    Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my project. Be sure to check out all 22 project ideas below. Also be sure to enter the great giveaway at the end of the post. 

    Want to Check Out More Silhouette Projects?

    My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I are all sharing projects on our blogs today, so peruse the projects below for a wealth of Silhouette inspiration!

    Art Party SmocksCustom Daredevil Shirt ~ Silhouette Blog HopDIY Lightning Bug Wall Art with LightsDIY Chevron Mickey Mouse Shirt with Glitter HTVDIY Nautical Pillow Cover + A GIVEAWAY!Recycling Tee Shirts - St. Patty's Day Style! Appliqued Initial Heart PillowWrap-Around Shark ShirtSew A Shopping Tote Into A Zipper Pouch3 Creative Onesies for Baby Girl & Free Cut FilesPom Pom Tail Bunny OnesieFreezer Paper Stenciled Cushion with a Giveaway!Rawr! Dinosaur Birthday Shirtcustomize your Picnic BlanketIt is Well With My Soul T-Shirt DesignMonogrammed Envelope Pillows + Giveaway {The Silhouette Challenge}Toddler Trouble Shirt with free cut fileDIY Ombré ToteUpcycled t-shirt cat... Meow!Little Helper Stenciled Kids ApronDIY Easter Egg Shirt - Silhouette Heat Transfer & RhinestonesDIY: Crazy Cat Lady Shirt + Free Cut File
    1. Cutesy Crafts // 2. Mama Sonshine // 3. Morena's Corner // 4. Simply Kelly Designs // 5. Coral + Mint Design Co. // 6. A Time For Seasons // 7. Architecture of a Mom // 8. Where The Smiles Have Been // 9. Haberdashery Fun // 10. The Thinking Closet // 11. The Crafting Nook // 12. Get Silvered // 13. Tori Grant Designs // 14. From Wine to Whine // 15. Create & Babble // 16. Curly Crafty Mom // 17. unOriginal Mom // 18. The Small Stuff Counts // 19. The Experimental Home // 20. Creative Ramblings // 21. Adventures in All Things Food // 22. Minted Strawberry

    Heat Press Giveaway

     And I’ve saved the best for last! Pro World Inc is giving one lucky reader a Heat Press Valued at $300! Pretty sweet, huh? To enter: just complete the entries in the Rafflecopter widget below. You have 26 potential entries, which means a lot of winning power. So, hurry up and enter! {This giveaway runs from today through Monday, March 21st at 11:59p eastern and is open to anyone 18 years of age or older with a lower 48 U.S. mailing address. You can read the rest of the terms and conditions in the widget below.} a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    Sunday, March 6, 2016

    Middle Eastern Breakfast: Pita, Fool and Labneh

    Sometimes as the end of the day approaches, I need a family meal everyone will enjoy and will make enough for my hungry crew. Getting everyone around the table at the same time, from the pickiest eaters, to the hungriest among us, is also a challenge. For all these reasons, I am a huge fan of breakfast for dinner.

    Of course, breakfast for dinner doesn't just mean pancakes, waffles or frittata. This past month I was thrilled to have had a glimpse at a few items often found on a Middle Eastern breakfast table. We tried pita bread, fool and labneh.

    For my March Secret Recipe Club reveal, I was matched up with Sawsan from Chef in Disquise. Looking through her blog recipes I flipped at all the amazing recipes I haven't tried or even heard of before. Her Egyptian Layered Pastry (Feteer meshaltet) sounds amazing, as do her Macarons with Biscoff filling. But it was breakfast that really caught my eye. She had a gorgeous 3 part breakfast series with an amazing spread of items typical for a weekend breakfast.

    It was like taking a culinary trip around the world, minus the jet lag!

    Now, Sawsan mentions that the staples of hummus, fool and falafel are often available for purchase at a local restaurant, bright and early, for weekend meals. Since I don't have access to my own favorite neighborhood restaurant, I had the opportunity to make them for myself. Most of the work was passive time, rising and simmering away. As we got closer to dinner time, everything came together pretty quickly.

    My biggest challenge was just hunting down the ingredients I needed. I felt very "small town" America when I tried to hunt down fava beans. Though I have grown my own in the garden, I had a hard time finding them canned or dried in my grocery stores. I was finally able to find some in the city at Whole Foods in the dry bulk section. I also had good luck finding things like zataar on

    By the way, if you have never tried zataar before, pictured below, it is amazing! It is a Middle Eastern spice blend with differing balances of thyme, oregano, marjaram, sesame seeds, etc. It is wonderful with the labneh or mixed with olive oil for dipping bread.

    Labneh is one I had to try, I have often heard of "yogurt cheese" but this was unique. Drained for several hours then hand rolled into balls, it is stored in olive oil. I knew immediately I wanted to try this one with fresh yogurt.

    Labneh Balls
    recipe from Chef in Disguise

    You Will Need:

    • 2 c. plain yogurt or greek yogurt
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • olive oil to cover the balls
    Stir together the salt and yogurt. Drain the yogurt with cheesecloth for 3-5 hours or overnight in the fridge. Put a small amount of olive oil on your fingers and form uniform balls, about a tablespoon in size. I used a small melon baller to achieve consistent sizes. Store in an airtight jar covered with olive oil. Make sure the top of the balls are covered with the oil.

    Then of course I had to make fresh pita to go with the labneh and fool! Pita is very easy to make and I have made it before, but this recipe has an addition of honey and is very easy to follow.

    Pita Bread
    recipe from Chef in Disguise

    You Will Need:

    • 2 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
    • 1/2 c. warm water
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1 Tbsp. honey
    • 4 - 4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 3 Tbsp. powdered milk
    • 1 1/2 c. lukewarm water
    First, proof the yeast by combining the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, sugar and honey in a bowl. If the yeast is active it will bubble up in a few minutes.

    In a large bowl, combine the flour, olive oil, salt and powdered milk. Use your fingers to rub in all the oil till well mixed.

    Then create a well in the middle of the bowl and add the proofed yeast and 1 cup of lukewarm water. Mix to bring the dough together (with a wooden spoon or in a stand mixer).

    Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin to work the dough. Slowly add more water (from the reserved 1/2 cup) as necessary. Knead till a smooth and elastic dough has formed.

    Place the worked dough into a large oil coated bowl. Turn the dough to coat lightly with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise till doubled in size.

    Preheat the oven to 520 degrees and move the rack to the lowest position. Place a baking sheet into the oven during preheating.

    Divide the dough into small portions. Mine were a little larger than a golf  ball. I like smaller pita pockets. Let these rest under a damp towel for about 10 - 15 minutes.

    Once they have rested, roll out to thin circles of dough (3-4 mm). Then cover again with a damp cloth to rest for another 10 minutes.

    Carefully place the dough,  on the baking sheet. Be careful to lay it on the hot baking sheet without folding or crimping. The hot baking sheet and hot oven will create the dough to puff up as steam is trapped inside the dough. Bake for 2 - 5 minutes, then flip and bake for another 1 - 2 minutes.

    Remove from the own and place under a clean dry towel. The bread will stay pliable if kept covered.

    Repeat the steps with the remaining pita dough. Once cooled, place in storage bags and use within 2-5 days.

    Also, if you only want to make a few at a time, pinch off what you need and store the remaining dough in the fridge.

    Fool (or Fool Medames)
    recipe from Chef in Disguise

    Fool is a dip of cooked fava beans and a very filling addition to the breakfast foods. I started my recipe from dried beans because it was all I had access to. Sawsan's recipe begins with a can of already cooked fava beans. If you need to start with dry, too, start with this step:

    Rinse and soak 1 pound fava beans the night before. Cover the beans with warm water and 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar. The next day drain and rinse the beans. Simmer them for 4-6 hours covered, on low till tender.

    Then you can continue with the recipe....

    You Will Need:

    • cooked fava beans
    • 1 clove garlic minced *optional
    • 1 medium tomato, chopped finely
    • 1 lemon juiced 
    • 1 Tbsp. tahini *optional
    • 1/4 c. mint leaves chopped
    Heat the fava beans, cooking liquid (or remaining liquid in the can) and garlic till it comes to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer. Take off the heat and mash the beans coarsely. Stir in the tomatoes, lemon juice, tahini and mint leaves. Drizzle the top with olive oil and garnish with a little more chopped tomato.

    Fool can be used as a spread in the pita with tomato and cucmber slices.

    Now that is my idea of breakfast for dinner! I hope this inspired you to try some of these recipes. This was my first time and it was a lot of fun.

    Be sure to check out the whole blog, Chef in Disguise, for more wonderful recipes and Middle Eastern cuisine as well as beautiful baked goods and other treats.

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