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Pita Paradise

In my quest for making things home made, I came across Emeril’s recipe for home made pita bread and I got really excited about it…and really intimidated at the same time. Pita’s seem like quite a challenge…how do you make the pockets? How do you keep them from being dry and tasting like cardboard (like many store bought versions)? I decided the best way to conquer my fears was to suck it up and make them…and I am SO glad that I did! They were incredibly easy to make, and incredibly tasty. They were moist and perfectly pocketed! Here is the recipe…and pictures of my first attempt. I honestly don’t think I will ever buy a pita again…this recipe is a gem!

Emeril’s Whole Wheat Pita Recipe:

1 ½ cups warm water

1 package active dry yeast

1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon

½ teaspoon honey

3 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons salt

All purpose flour for dusting

Pour water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer with dough hook attached. Add yeast, olive oil and honey. Allow yeast to bloom until it begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Add flour, then salt. Mix on medium speed for one minute.

Turn the mixer down to low and mix for 2 minutes longer. Increase speed to medium and continue to mix 2 minutes longer. If at any point the dough wraps completely around the hook and is no longer kneading, turn off the machine, scrape the dough off the hook back into the bowl and return to mixing.

Transfer dough to a clean work surface and knead by hand for one minute longer or until you have a round, smooth, elastic dough. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a medium sized bowl.

Place dough into bowl and coat with the oil by turning over. Cover with a clean damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a moderately warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, usually about 2 hours.

Position an up-side down 18 x 13 aluminum sheet pan or a baking stone on the middle rack in the oven.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Transfer the proofed dough to a clean work surface and knead it by hand until it is round, smooth and elastic, about one minute.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces, (2 ounces each) and shape into balls. Cover with a clean towel and allow to proof until expanded slightly in size, about 20 minutes.

Dust a clean work surface with all-purpose flour. Roll dough into 6-inch circles. You may stack them between parchment paper or clean towels.

Carefully and quickly place them in the oven directly on the baking sheet or stone. You may bake 2 or 3 at a time. Cook pitas for 2 minutes or until puffed. Remove with a metal spatula. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Once cooled, pitas may be stored in a re-sealable plastic storage bag for up to 2 days.

Alternatively, the dough may me made a day ahead. After the dough has been kneaded and put into the bowl with the olive oil, place it into the refrigerator to proof overnight. The next day, pull dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at least 2 hours before proceeding with the recipe.

Yield: 16 pitas

Posted on March 27, 2011 by LindsayTarquinio · 0 comments Read More

Hola, Senor!

South Africa has really great food. If you are looking for (what I consider) some of the best baked goods in the world, you will find them here. Breads, ranging from banana, to ouma, to seed. Puffy golden meat pies, beautiful cakes, amazing bisctotti-like creations called Rusks….south Africans really know how to make magic in the oven. This country offers amazing curries and a wide and colorful selection of fresh off the farm fruits and veggies…but one thing this country lacks, is Mexican food…of any kind! South Africa is know for us creamy, beautiful avocados and perfectly plump tomatoes…they are known to throw cilantro in just about anything…but they have never experienced the magic that happens when these three powers combine to make guacamole! So, whenever we are here, I inevitably begin to crave my favorite type of food- Mexican!

Since I can’t go down the street and order a big pile of chips and salsa to satisfy my desire…I figure I might as well post some pictures of a really amazing dining experience I had with Gavin and my dad the day before we left. I have been hearing great things about a little taco place on Buford Highway, very creatively called, El Senor Taco. My dad and I have always liked trying new foods…so we have some what of a “new restaurants only” tradition for our lunch dates…and we were not disappointed.

Our meal started with a GIANT basket of home made, fresh out of the fryer, tortilla chips and a selection of lovely salsas and marinated veggies from the salsa bar. (If you know me, you know that salsa and condiments in general make me really happy- so I was very impressed with this selection!)

As we were waiting for our food, we were offered a free plate of beautifully golden, not breaded, just fried chili peppers seasoned with lemon pepper. They were tangy, but not spicy, light and crispy.

When our food arrived, we had high hopes for the meal because the chips and salsa and peppers were so good- and we were not let down. As beautiful, fresh plates of tacos and salads were delivered, our mouths watered. My chicken salad, complete with half of an avocado, and lots of lovely tomatoes was really delicious. The fish tacos were awesome- very fresh. The pulled pork taco was good…but the highlight for all of us was found on my dads (bravely ordered) plate. The cow cheek (think face, not rear end) and cow tongue tacos were pretty unbelievable. The cheek was juicy and perfectly seasoned…the tongue was like the best, most flavorful pot roast I have every had (I would highly recommend it!)

The tacos range from $1.25-$2.50…the salad was about $4.50…and a big bowl of amazing looking seafood soup is about $6.00 (I want to go back just to try it). All in all, this was a great, very affordable, highly recommended dining experience. When we get back from J’Bay, it might just be one of my first stops!

Tongue Taco

Pulled Pork Taco

Chicken Salad

Fish Taco

Posted on March 23, 2011 by LindsayTarquinio · 0 comments Read More
Healthy Made Simple Recipes

Cake Artifacts

I know it is quite presumptuous to assume that a person has the time to go to work, keep the house clean, take care of children, have any sort of social life, keep up some kind of exercise regimen AND make all of their food from scratch. I know it seems daunting and I know that rolling the shopping cart over to the frozen foods isle of the grocery store…or the blue box Mac N’ Cheese section is extremely tempting, but I feel like before those processed and packages decisions are made, it is only fair that one knows the truth about those foods.

So, here goes…my argument for home made…for REAL food than can actually be found in nature…food that has not been pumped full of hormones, pesticides, hydrogenation and genetic modification. I will start my argument with some very compelling and eye opening statistics from a book that I have been reading: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

…[Since 1980] 70 percent of our midwestern agricultural land shifted gradually into single crop corn or soybean farms, each one of them, now on average, the size of Manhattan…US farmers now produce 3,900 calories per US citizen, per day. That is twice what we need, and 700 calories more per day than they grew in 1980. Commodity farmers can only survive by producing their maximum yields, so they do. And here is the shocking plot twist: as the farmers produce those calories, the food industry figured out how to get them into the bodies of people who didn’t really want to eat 700 more calories a day…

…most of these calories enter our mouths in forms hardly recognizable as corn, soy beans, or even vegetable in origin: high fructose corn syrup, lecithin, citric acid, maltodextrin, sorbitol and xanthun gum, for example are all manufactured from corn. So are beef, eggs, and poultry, in a different but no less artificial process. Soybeans also become animal flesh, or else, a category of ingredient known as “added fats.” If every product containing corn and soybeans were removed from the grocery store [isles] it would look more like a hardware store.

[This next section is a little obvious but I thought a good point to reiterate]…plenty of studies show that regularly eating cheaply processed fast foods and snack foods slap on extra pounds that increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular harm, joint problems and many cancers. As a country we are officially over the top: the majority of our food dollars buy those cheap calories, and most of our citizens are medically compromised by weight and inactivity. The incidence of obesity-associated diabetes has more than doubled since 1990, with children the fastest-growing class of victims. One out of every three dollars we spend on health care, by some recent estimates, is paying for the damage of bad eating habits. One out of every seven specifically pays to assuage (but not cure) the multiple heartbreaks of diabetes-kidney failure strokes, blindness, amputated limbs.

I am not trying to play Debbie Downer here, but I think that the argument for home made, pretty much makes itself. No one wants to pump themselves, or their families full of completely fake things that are essentially slowly killing them…so, I think it is important to take a stand…stay out of the freezer section (except for straight up, frozen veggies (cheese sauces not included), avoid the aisles, and stick to the things that God created. Fruits, vegetables, WHOLE grains, rice, oats, beans, GRASS FED meats, honey, milk, (SOME) cheeses (many grocery store varieties are actually known to contain large amounts of saw dust and other products that don’t really draw up lovely images).

My passion for home made was just ignited a little further the other night when we had dinner at one of our friend’s homes. We were about to eat when he said, “Do you want to hear something completely disgusting?” Of course, when you hear something like that, your curiosity is piqued and you have to answer, “yes”!

So, he proceeded to tell us about how he lent his house to some friends when he was out of town one weekend. He came home to find a cake in his refrigerator…a decent looking, rectangular chocolate cake, topped with a cherry, from a very well known grocery store bakery. One slice was taken off of the end. Our friend had recently heard a story that one could leave a McDonald’s burger sitting on the counter for an entire month and it would look exactly the same as the day you bought it (and probably be safe enough to eat without getting sick because of all of the preservatives). So, he decided to test this with the cake.

After one month, the cake was unchanged. The CHERRY was unchanged. After month two and three, same thing. We arrived at his home at the end of MONTH SIX. This is what the cake looked like: good enough to eat, right?

BUT, would you WANT to eat this…SIX MONTH OLD cake and cherry?? I didn’t think so! ONE 2 inch slice of this cake has 510 calories and 25 grams of fat. So, in the spirit of offering solutions for problems…here is a wonderful chocolate cake recipe…completely natural…it probably wont last 3 days without starting to wither…but hopefully it tastes so good, it wont last three days either way…and it has about 110 calories and 2 grams of fat per piece (no soy beans or corn added.)

*I will add pictures later, the internet connection in Africa is VERY slow!

Chocolate Cake
2 cups oat flour (or really any other flour you like)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup 0% Greek yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Chocolate sauce

1/2 Cup oat flour
1/4 Cup Cocoa powder
1/4 Cup agave nectar
1/4 t salt
1/4 Cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9 inch baking pan. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and stir well. In a separate bowl.mix together the eggs, yogurt, milk, agave, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until lumpless. Pour and spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, make the sauce (inspired by my love for raw batters!) In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and then drizzle over each individual piece.

Posted on March 21, 2011 by LindsayTarquinio · 0 comments Read More
Healthy Made Simple Recipes

The Dirty Dozen

Eating organic seems to be all the rage these days. Millions of people flock to Whole Foods and Fresh Market to essentially pay double for organic goods. I will be the first to admit that Whole Foods by far provides my favorite grocery shopping (in a store) experience. But, living on a non-profit salary…trying to be a good steward of the money that we do have, and therefore, living on a very tight grocery budget, does not really afford us the Whole Foods luxury.

Eating healthy, and putting good, clean food into our bodies is very important to me…it is something that I would say that I am pretty passionate about, so over the last few years, I have tried to do as much research as a can to figure out the most important foods to buy organic and the ones that are virtually the same whether organic or not.

Last year, I came across an article about “The Dirty Dozen”…the top 12 foods you should buy organic. I also found a lot of information to support the fact that buying organic when it comes to certain things has absolutely no effect on your health. (Eggs are a great example of this).

Side note: I do think that it is important to think about where your food come- the way that your meat and eggs were raised and the local farmers that are trying to make a living (but that is another blog for another day).

So, without further ado, here is a list of the 12 most contaminated foods from

Peaches (which can be purchased organic at Jaemore farms in North Georgia during peach season for less than “regular” peaches from the grocery store!)
Sweet Bell Peppers
Lettuce (Whole Foods has a “low price guarantee” for lettuce…its only $1.99 a bag…WAY less than Kroger!)

A key for purchasing these foods Organic on a budget is purchasing them when they are in season! Local Farmers markets, Whole Foods and Trader Joes all run specials on organic foods during their peek season!

Now, here is a list of the 12 Least Contaminated foods…AKA…foods that you should just buy at the regular grocery store if you are trying to be budget friendly.

Sweet Corn (Frozen)
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
Kiwi Fruit

Posted on March 18, 2011 by LindsayTarquinio · 0 comments Read More
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