Pita-palooza

My family loves bread.
Whether it’s for a sandwich or grabbing a bun out for a quick snack, we go thru a lot. I have always steered away from plain old white bread, buying only whole grain wheat for sandwich bread. This was something that took my husband years to be okay with. He was born and raised on white bread, it was hard to convert him. Not only is wheat/whole grain bread better for you, I think it adds to the flavor of basically anything you put on it.
I do attempt many bread recipes but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a baker, and when you add yeast and kneading into the plan…. well, lets just say I’m usually not going to try it.
I do have a couple yeast recipes that I like to make, soft pretzels especially. When I found a pita recipe a few years ago, I had to try it. I was (and still am) looking for new things to add to the girls lunchboxes and pitas are always a hit. Kids love to make their own food and stuffing meat and cheese into a pita pocket is so much fun!

I was so surprised at how easy and delicious they were. So here goes… I did two variations one baked and one skillet ‘fried’ with a little olive oil. Both are amazing and freeze well. It’s been a monthly routine of making a couple batches to have on hand.
Good luck, trust me if I can do it, anyone can!

 Pita Bread
1 cup hot water (not boiling)
2 tsp honey
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp extra virgin oil

Mix the water, honey and yeast together in a large bowl or a stand mixer and let sit for about five minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Slowly add 2 1/2 cups of the flour (mixing as you add), salt, and olive oil. If using your hands sprinkle a little flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, but use sparingly at this point. It’s better to use too little flour than too much

Clean the bowl and run it with a little olive oil. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it until it’s coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. My girls like to check on it every 10 minutes or so to see how big it’s gotten. This is the one thing I love about baking with yeast. It’s so fun to watch the progress.

After an hour, gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (to get exact sizes, cut in ½ then in ½ again and so on).  Using a floured rolling pin, roll each disc into a circle roughly 8 inches wide. Lift and turn the dough frequently as you roll to make sure the dough isn’t sticking to your counter. Sprinkle with a little extra flour if it starting to stick. If the dough starts to spring back, set it aside to rest for a few minutes, then continue rolling. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.

Skillet Method:
Warm a skillet over medium-high heat (you want a hot pan). Drizzle a little olive oil in the pan. Lay a rolled-out pita on the skillet and bake for 30 seconds, until you see bubbles starting to form. Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside. Flip again and cook another 1-2 minutes to toast the other side. The pita should start to puff up during this time. Watch closely as you don’t want scorched pitas. Remove from skillet and place on a dish towel to cool. I like to sprinkle with a little garlic salt while they are still warm.

Baked Method:
To bake them for perfect pita pockets: preheat oven to 350. Place 4 discs on cookie sheet and bake for roughly 20 minutes. The pitas will rise 2-3” creating a hollow opening that you can fill with anything your heart desires. The girlies like bringing them for school lunch stuffed with spinach, meat and cheese.

 

Pita Pizzas

One thing we love to make for quick weeknight meals are pita pizzas. Being that I keep them in the freezer I can pull them out in the morning and they are ready to go after work. The girls love to create their own masterpieces and I love that they are willing to add just about anything I lay out for them. I do make my own sauce for these as it tastes so much better than store-bought (plus I know what is in it ++++). Pretty self explanatory, so here goes:

Sauce:
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. crushed garlic (or 3 cloves finely chopped)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix. That’s it!

For the pizzas, set things out that may be new to your kids pizza pallet. I’m very lucky that both of my girls love “Junk” (supreme) pizza so this is very easy for us.

Here are the standards that I set out:
- mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced   -  thinly sliced tomatoes
- chopped red & green peppers
- chopped onions  - black olives
- arugula   - spinach   -  kale
-  left over meat  (chicken, steak, anything)  or  pepperoni and canadian bacon

ENJOY!!!!

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