Quick and Easy Flatbread!

With all the craziness at the grocery stores lately, bread can be a tough item to sometimes find. So, today I’m sharing a quick and easy recipe for homemade flatbread! This recipe is also a fantastic way to introduce kids to simple, tasty, basic cooking techniques!

This bread is super versatile, use it to wrap up your favorite sandwhich meats and cheeses, use it to dip in hummus, or greek yogurt dip, fill it with taco or fajita fillings, make mini pizzas, or add sweetened cream cheese and fresh fruit for a healthy delicious dessert! It really doesn’t get any better than this!

Another big plus for this recipe it uses very few, simple, everyday ingredients! You probably have everything you need to make this right now!!

Here’s what you need!

2c. All purpose flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1tsp sea salt

1Tbsp oil, butter, or shortening

11/3c. Luke warm water

Optional: seasoning mix like southwest seasoning, garlic herb seasoning etc… Add to your own tastes

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until well blended. Add 1c. of water and oil and stir to bring ingredients together, add additional water as needed until dough is the consistency of sticky pizza dough. Knead for another minute or two until all the extra bits are gathered up out of the bowl by the dough. When you have the dough together remove from bowl, grease bowl with a little oil and replace dough turning over once to coat with the oil. When you touch your dough it will depress without bouncing back. This is perfect!

Allow dough to rest cover with a damp towel for about 15-20 minutes. This will allow the gluten to rest and make the dough easier to roll out.

Once rested cut into 6 pieces and roll into thin (tortilla thickness) irregular rounds they do not need to be perfect!

Preheat a non-stick pan or lightly greased pan on the stovetop to medium heat. Add flatbreads one at a time allow to brown slightly and turn over, remove from heat and serve warm, or allow to cool and freeze for later use!

Simple. Delicious. Versatile. Perfect! Enjoy!

A twist in baking

Reposted from March 21, 2012

​It’s been a slow baking month for me, I am still working on a few things here and there, but lent has slowed me down some.  I didn’t give up sweets, don’t get me wrong, but I am taking everything in greater moderation, and with the weather warming up I find myself thinking about my garden more than my kitchen…(insert daydream here)…

The Lenten season brings with it many baking traditions, the trick is to bake without the use of lard, and dairy. Very tricky, indeed.

One of the most popular Lenten treats, that stay within the rules are pretzels, and I don’t mean a bag of crispy bar pretzels, I’m talking about a lovely soft baked pretzel covered in coarse salt, and dipped in honey mustard. Yum!

Pretzels began as a popular treat inSouthern Germany, and surrounding areas, as well as in the U.S.  In Germany they are known as Laugenbrezel (lye pretzel) because of the method used in baking these twisted lovelies. Lye pretzels are the theme for several German festivals including “Brezelfest” hosted in the city of Speyer, located in the upper Rhine region.  This festival brings with it more than 300,000 visitors, and includes a parade in which more than 20,000 pretzels are thrown out to the crowds.  Speyer’s market square even includes a statue of a boy selling pretzels.

Market Square in Speyer Germany

The catholic church regards pretzels as having religious significance both in shape and in the ingredients.  As I mentioned before most simple pretzel recipes exclude dairy, eggs, and lard which christian traditions forbid during the Lenten season, and as time has passed pretzel have become more closely associated with lent and easter.  Many easter celebrations used to include the hiding of pretzels in the same way that easter eggs are hidden.

German and Swiss German immigrants introduced pretzels in the U.S.  These immigrants became known as thePennsylvania Dutch, and over time the pretzel bakeries gained popularity and could be found all over central portions of Pennsylvania.  Today the average Philadelphian consumes about 12x the national average in pretzels per year.  Pennsylvania produces 80% of the nations pretzels.  Pretzels have become popularly known in Chicago, and New York as well.

So, by now you can probably guess where I’m going with this post.  Here is my recipe for a soft bread pretzel. Enjoy!

Soft Pretzel

1, .25oz pkg of dry active yeast

2 Tbsp brown Sugar

1 1/8 tsp salt

1 1/2 c. warm water

3 c. all purpose flour

1 c. bread flour

2 cup warm water

1 Tbsp baking soda (dissolved in 6 qt of boiling water)

2 Tsp coarse salt

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast, brown sugar, and salt in 1 1/2 c. warm water.  Stir in flour and knead dough on a flour surface until smooth and elastic. (This should take 5-8 minutes) Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat surface cover and let rise for 1 hour.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  After dough has risen, cut into 12 pieces and shape each piece as desired.  Place on a baking sheet and allow to rise uncovered for 15-20 minutes.  While you’re waiting bring baking soda and water to a boil, and preheat you oven to 450 degrees.  When pretzels have risen, boil for approximately  3 minutes in your “lye solution” turning once until puffed, place on baking sheets and top with coarse salt.  Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, cool on a wire rack, and serve!

Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday! 

Reposted from Feb 22,2012

The English translation of Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, but it sounds so much better when you say Mardi Gras.

Fat Tuesday is the last hurrah before beginning the christian season of lent onAsh Wednesday.  It is a late winter celebration that some believe is the welcoming celebration of the spring season.  The traditions of Mardi Gras coincide with the European traditions ofCarnival, meaning “farewell to the flesh”.  The fat Tuesday name comes from the tradition of eating a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival.  Because lent begins on Ash Wednesday, these celebrations end rather abruptly at midnight at which time party goers are almost literally swept out of French Quarter in New Orleans to make way for the lenten tradition of fasting.

There are many pastry treat traditions that come with the celebration of Fat Tuesday. Including the polish delicacy of paczki’s, and King’s cake. Paczkis are a rich donut pastry, on a supersized scale, that contains a custard or fruit filling, and is coated in confectioners sugar, or a glaze.  They are very high in calories, and the batters used contain large amount of egg, and butter.  The average paczki recipe contains 350-400 calories per donut, and boast a whopping 15-24 grams of fat! But they’re soooo good!!

King’s cake another very popular Mardi Gras tradition is a circular shaped cake, that contains a small charm usually in the shape of a baby (representative of the baby Jesus).  The person that finds the baby in the cake has special priviledges and obligations, as they are deemed the King for a Day! The cake itself has a bready texture, and is usually frosted with a thick colored glaze.  There are “portable” version (donuts) served during street fair celebrations.  Many bakeries now seperate the charm from the cake to avoid choking hazards.

King’s Cake

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup butter, melted
5 egg yolks
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon multicolored candy sprinkles

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and white sugar in luke warm milk. If the milk is too warm you will kill your yeast so be careful not to overheat! Set aside to allow yeast to proof
Stir the egg yolks and melted butter into the milk mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, nutmeg and lemon zest. Beat the flour mixture into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth , about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Mix well. In another small bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons milk. Mix well and set aside.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 6×30 inch rectangle. Spread the cream cheese filling across the center of the dough. Bring the two long edges together and seal completely. Using your hands shape the dough into a long cylinder and place on a greased baking sheet, seam-side down. Shape the dough into a ring press the baby into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.  Cover the ring with a towel and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Drizzle cooled cake with lemon/sugar glaze and decorate with candy sprinkles.

I hope this years Carnival finds you well, and here is to a happy, healthy, lenten season.  Enjoy!

Football Fare

Reposted from February 4th, 2012
​Super Bowl weekend is upon us, and who needs a better excuse to get in the kitchen and do some culinary damage.

The first Super Bowl, or Super Bowl I, took place in 1966,  and this years Super Bowl XLVI will take place on Sunday February 5th, 2012.  The New England Patriots will battle against the New York Giants for the championship of theNational Football League.  Super Bowl Sunday has become a great American tradition, founded on pride for the national game, and has become the second largest food consumption day in the U.S. second only to Thanksgiving.  The Super Bowl television broadcast is also known for being the most watched television program of the year, bringing in large sums for advertisement, and entertainment.

My family is no exception to the pseudo-holiday that is the Super Bowl,  we love it!  It’s so exciting to watch all the pregame gear up, and

get the professional opinions on the game and players.  I don’t have a personal favorite this year but I may be routing for the New York Giants, and Eli Manning for the simple fact that this will solidify Eli’s place as an amazing quarterback with talent that was far underestimated in his early season’s when compared to big brother Peyton.  O.k. I know that sounds like I have a favorite but truth is I will be far to busy in the kitchen to really route for either team.

My kitchen will be alive on Super Bowl Sunday! Our menu will consist of Bacon- Ranch Blooming Bread, Taco salad bar, seasoned wings, and for the adults the Touchdown Tea (a.k.a. Long Island Iced Tea).  And of course no party would be complete without dessert!  So, I’m preparing chocolate covered strawberries with a football twist, and cupcakes for the kids! I’m not going to share all of these recipes but the fun ones I just have too!! I can’t help myself.

Bacon- Ranch Blooming Bread

1 unsliced round loaf of sour dough bread

1 12 oz. block of cheddar cheese sliced

1 pound of thick sliced bacon cooked crispy and chopped

1/2 c. butter

1 1/2 Tbsp. Powdered Ranch Dressing Mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a serrated bread knife cut the bread in both directions with out cutting through the bottom crust.  Open up the sections of bread and stuff with sliced cheese and chopped bacon, don’t be afraid to stuff it completely full.  Melt butter and mix in the ranch dressing seasoning. Pour butter mixture evenly over the bread and wrap completely in Aluminum foil.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven.  Unwrap and bake and additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bread begins to toast lightly.  Serve warm, the bread will pull away from the uncut base like a “blooming onion”. Enjoy!

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

1 pound small- medium sized strawberries

1 container Dolce Chocolate

1 container Dolce White Chocolate

Clean and dry strawberries and set aside, heat the chocolate until smooth and dip strawberries covering nearly the entire strawberry. In another bowl heat the white chocolate and pipe onto the cooled strawberries in the shape of football laces.  The kids will love this chocolate treat!