whole wheat pita bread

This is my kind of sandwich bread.

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Perfectly thin, crisp yet boasting a soft interior. Pita bread is the ideal sandwich vehicle, because let’s be real – you can stuff it with everything that you love, no mess or drips to worry about!

One of my girlfriends makes some of the best homemade pita that I’ve yet to experience, and after having them at one of our many get-togethers, I was finally inspired to try my own version at home. The process was made super simple because of my handy bread machine {y’all know how much I love this piece of kitchen equipment!}. Just a few quick ingredients, basic ones, actually, are added into the well and left to let the machine work its kneading and rising magic. The real beauty is what happens AFTER the machine has worked on it; a quick bit of handwork, rolling it out, followed by a quick secondary rise to ensure maximum puffiness while baking. The end result?…

Hands down the most gorgeous, fluffy pita I’ve ever seen! The hubs could not get over how much they ballooned while baking. I was pleasantly surprised myself : ) we’ve used this for everything – sandwiches, pita pizza, chips…the variety of uses is endless – and love them so much that they have become a freezer staple for quick meals!

I’m thinking that some dressed up variations {think: herbed pita, cheese infused, etc.} will be making an appearance sooner rather than later…I mean, how could that be a bad thing?!

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Whole Wheat Pita Bread {adapted, minimally, from The Bread Machine Cookbook}

Makes 10 pita 

Ingredients:

1-1/3 cups water

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. honey

2 cups bread flour

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. salt

1 heaping Tbsp. vital wheat gluten {optional, but encouraged}

2 tsp. yeast

To Prepare:

In the order mentioned above, add all ingredients into the well of your bread machine. For the yeast, I make a small hole in the center of the flour and add it in last, covering it slightly with flour once put in. Set the program to ‘dough cycle’ and let the machine work as programmed.

Once the dough has completed the cycle, divide the dough into 10 pieces and roll into balls.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly dust two large baking sheets with cornmeal. Set aside.

Flatten each ball into a disk, and roll into a circle of about 6″. Place onto the prepared baking sheets, and let rise for about 20 minutes, covered loosely with a kitchen towel in a warm place.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the pita have puffed and the bottoms are golden brown.

Pita will keep at room temperature, tightly sealed, for 2-3 days. After that, place in the freezer and let thaw before using.

strawberry-lime jam

Don’t let the feature image fool you…these sweet strawberries and fresh lime and going to converge together in what might just be my new favorite spread.

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We’re taking {yet another} trip down the road that leads to my bread machine today, y’all. Except today’s recipe is one that has a sweet twist! Spreadable and delectable, and with uses beyond imagine…it’s jam day.

If you would have asked me a few years back, I never would have known how multifaceted a bread machine really is. I know, I know – I probably say this all the time, but it is so true. The uses outweigh the cost more than I thought possible. Hands down, it’s been one of the best investments I’ve made for my kitchen repertoire.

…but I digress. Let’s return to focus, yes? JAM. Wonderful, luscious, colorful and bright; the combination of strawberry and lime might sound more fitting for a cocktail or frozen drink that a spread, but let me tell you. It will change the way you approach breakfast. In the morning, my taste buds crave a punch, something that will knock my socks off and kickstart my day. And the best way to do this, I’ve found, is with flavorful foods! It may sound silly, but I truly believe that bold flavors first thing in the morning really awakens me, both mentally and physically. By creating the perfect balance between the sweet berries and the oh-so-tart-but-oh-so-wonderful lime, it’s a match made in heaven. We grate in some of the lime zest, as well – hello essential oils!

Perfectly suited for smearing on toast/waffles/muffins, this jam can also be transformed with a bit of warming up into an amazing syrup for pancakes. And don’t be shy, get creative! – I have plans for a sweet and savory breakfast sandwich, bursting with tangy goat cheese, a piece of proscuitto, and yes, this jam. Mind blown.

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Strawberry-Lime Jam

Frozen fruit, at the peak of ripeness, is transformed into a tasty spread perfect for any time of the year! Bright strawberries and crisp citrus come together, creating the perfect flavor marriage sure to please any palette {or piece of toast!}.

Ingredients:

1 lb. frozen strawberries, thawed to room temperature and mashed slightly

juice of one lime, freshly squeezed

1 box {about 2 ounces} of fruit pectin

1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

To Prepare:

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific cycle and preferred method of loading the ingredients into the well of the bread machine {the ‘JAM’ cycle on my model lasts about 1 hour and 20 minutes}.

Once the cycle has completed, allow the jam to cool slightly before handling – it will be very hot!

Spoon into one large, or several smaller sized, Mason jars.

Store in the refrigerator; jam will keep for 3 to 4 weeks.

Enjoy!

fresh italian loaves

Homemade bread absolutely delights me. There’s something so special about the act of rolling out dough, letting it rise, and watching it bake and become beautiful in your oven. The aroma isn’t so bad, either.

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Perhaps it also means so much to me because growing up, my mom was constantly making homemade bread. As I’ve mentioned before, we grew up with a bread maker in our kitchen, one that saw so much action, I think that we went through two or three {at least} before I up and went to college.

It was one of my first “big” purchases as an adult, for my very own kitchen. I wanted to carry on that tradition that my mom started – homemade doughs and rolls, fresh loaves so tall you have to slightly tear off the top from the machine. It definitely holds a special place in my heart, and one I can’t wait to share with my children someday. For now, the hubs and I delight in constant bread rotation.

The recipe today is one that is practically a staple in our kitchen; if there’s not one in the bread box, there’s a loaf in the freezer, yearning to be thawed and toasted for the next meal. These Italian loaves are so, so simple; a few simple ingredients come together to form a bread that is so light and airy on the inside, but perfectly golden and crisp on the outside, it’s impossible to resist…especially out of the oven. We especially love it served warm, with some herbed olive oil on the side for dipping. It makes wonderful sandwiches; can be transformed into croutons for breakfast casseroles and bread puddings or, if you’re like us…you dig right in when it’s hot out of the oven.

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Fresh Italian Loaves {yields two large loaves}

Perfectly simple to prepare; all ingredients process together in the bread machine. A simple roll and rise is all it takes for fresh bread to be produced from your oven in no time! I’ll note here that you can also find great success using half whole wheat flour; the results will be nuttier and a bit heartier, perfect for pairing with rich soups and stews.

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups water

1 tsp. honey

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

3-1/2 cups bread flour

2-1/2 tsp. yeast

1 heaping tbsp. vital wheat gluten, optional

To Prepare:

Add the ingredients into your bread machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The dough cycle on mine lasts about an hour and fifty minutes, with the option to add additional time if I’m going to be running in and out of the house, doing errands, etc. Don’t feel the need to check on the dough as it processes! – the heat will be lost and you run the chance of compromising the integrity of the dough.

As the cycle comes to a close, prepare your baking sheet by sprinkling it with cornmeal. This results in a crisp bottom; feel free to use as much {or as little} as you’d like.

Once the dough is ready, turn out onto a floured rolling surface. Divide into two discs; place on aside. Begin with the first disc by rolling out into a rectangle, roughly 12″-14″ wide x 8″-10″deep. Starting at the long edge closest to you, “jelly roll” the rectangle; that is, roll it on top of itself {it will be like making a cinnamon roll}. Seal the edges and seam by pinching tightly with your fingers. Place directly onto the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with the other disc.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise 50 minutes in a warm location.

About 20 minutes before the rising stage is complete, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once the rising stage is complete, slash the top of each loaf 5 or 6 times with a sharp knife, and brush lightly with cold water. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, keeping a close watch. The bread should should hollow when tapped, and be a beautiful golden brown.

Serve with any of your favorite spreads – I love using my compound butter!

bread will keep fresh on the counter, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days. Freeze any remaining by wrapping in foil.