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67 Days of Gourmet: Day 58

I’m really embarrassed to admit that tonight was the first time I’ve cooked with quinoa. Bad foodie, especially given my love for all things healthy, whole grain and nutrient packed. :( And I’ve had it from the hot bar at Whole Foods and Earth Fare, just haven’t cooked with it yet.

I’ve been meaning to make this recipe for the last couple months. Every time I made homemade Mexican this was on the menu but I kept bailing on it. Every time I went to Harris Teeter I was annoyed that they were charging $5 for a small bag of quinoa. I was picking up a few things at Earth Fare this weekend and was so excited to find awesome bulk prices on all kinds of grains. I stocked up on quinoa and rolled oats.

I can’t believe I waited so long to make this. Whether you’re a quinoa lover or someone who has never tried it, this is a must try recipe. The flavors are so well balanced with the quinoa, black beans, fresh corn, bell pepper and jalapenos and the lime/oil based dressing is the perfect finish. I’m so looking forward to enjoying the leftovers for lunch this week topped with diced avocado and an extra squeeze of lime and know I’ll be making this many more times in the future.

BIG NEWS #1
YOU HAVE SUCCESSFULLY REGISTERED FOR THE 35th MARINE CORPS MARATHON! I did it! I registered! I’m beyond excited. And even better news, my friend Meghan registered to run it too! This will be her first marathon. I can’t even put into words how happy I am that I won’t be running this race alone!

BIG NEWS #2
I’m launching a Healthy Living blog!!! Don’t worry, Bakin’ and Eggs isn’t going anywhere but I’ve really been conflicted over whether to continue discussing fitness/my life on this blog or whether I should start a new blog. In the end, I decided that the healthy living blog was the best way to go. The name has been selected, the domain has been registered and I’m in the process of getting it all set up. I promise that I’ll let you all know the second it goes live!

Please try this quinoa recipe and then let me know what you think!

One Year Ago: Fresh Strawberry Scones

Black Bean and Quinoa Salad
(Recipe source Gourmet, July 1994)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed if canned
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups cooked corn (cut from about 2 large ears)
3/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 pickled jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander (I subbed a bit of ground coriander because the store did not have fresh)

FOR THE DRESSING
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:

In a bowl wash quinoa in at least 5 changes cold water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off most of water, until water runs clear and drain in a large fine sieve. (I attempted this step but my quinoa went right through my sieve so I skipped this step and just cooked it as is. Turned out totally fine.)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook quinoa 10 minutes. Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse with cold water. Set sieve over a saucepan of boiling water (quinoa should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes (check water level in pot occasionally, adding water if necessary).

While quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Add bell pepper, jalapenos, corn and coriander.

Let quinoa cool a bit then add to bean mixture and toss well.

FOR THE DRESSING
In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt and cumin. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 4 to 6 as an entrée or 8 as a side dish

Note: I cut this recipe in half and it made plenty for 2 with lots of leftovers!

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 57

Yes, that is meatloaf in the picture above. Random, I know, but would you believe that Gourmet has a plethora of meatloaf  recipes? Shocking. So I bought ground beef at the store this week with intentions of making burgers topped with pimento cheese but we ended up going over to my in law’s on Monday to watch the NCAA Basketball Championship and had burgers there. That left me in a scramble to come up with a dinner using ground beef and the ingredients in my pantry.

Enter meatloaf. My epicurious.com search of Gourmet’s ground beef recipes yielded a lot of meatball and meatloaf recipes. Since I’d already conquered meatballs for 68 Days of Gourmet, all signs pointed to meatloaf. Most meatloafs use a mixture of beef/pork/veal but I was able to find this recipe using only ground beef. And while this meatloaf wasn’t really a stand out dinner it was extremely easy and economical and the bacon slices on the top definitely jazzed it up a bit.

No more meatloaf talk. Yesterday I ran 3.5 miles with Sullie. Beautiful weather, miserable conditions. The pollen in Charlotte right now is out of control. I’m not exaggerating. Apparently it’s the worst pollen Charlotte has had since they started tracking it in the 90s. Everything is yellow. While I was running I could feel myself breathing in pollen. Not good. Of course I woke up coughing and sneezing this morning. No fun. But in other running news, I did register for the Marine Corps Marathon!

Taught BodyPump this morning and went to a hot vinyasa yoga class this evening at Y2 Yoga. The lovely Sarah Keach was teaching (check out her super fun blog!). I usually can’t attend her class because I teach BodyPump Thursday nights but I switched for Tuesday evening this week and subbed for someone this morning so my evening was free! It was a great class with extremely challenging abdominal work and long holds in standing split. Like Sarah kept telling us, it was only one hour and we could rest when it was over! :)

So happy that tomorrow is Friday! Hope you’ve all had a great week!

One Year Ago: Bacon Wrapped Filet (funny coincidence)

Traditional Meatloaf Topped with Bacon
(Recipe source Gourmet, April 1993)

Ingredients:

1 large egg
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
3 tablespoons ketchup, divided
5 saltine crackers, crushed fine
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground chuck
2 slices of bacon, halved crosswise

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl whisk together the egg, onion, bell pepper, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, saltine crackers, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Add the chuck and blend the mixture with your hands until it is just combined (do not overmix). Form the mixture into an 8- by 4-inch loaf in a shallow baking pan, spread the remaining tablespoon (or a little more) ketchup over it, and drape the bacon pieces across the loaf. Bake the meat loaf in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees (mine took about 40 minutes).

Yield: 4 servings (Gourmet says 2 but this definitely could have served 4 for us. More power to you if you can eat 1/2 pound of beef!)

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 56

A dinner salad was a must on this week’s menu. The temperatures have been in the 80s and the days are getting longer and longer. A perfect reason to enjoy a cool, flavorful salad with grilled chicken. I browsed through the grilled chicken salad recipes from Gourmet on Epicurious and this salad was the standout.

It was super easy to prepare – the chicken only has to marinate for 15 minutes and while it’s grilling you can prepare the tomato mixture and plate the salad. This salad is a great healthy and quick option for a weeknight dinner.

Our Easter weekend was awesome! We celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday (say happy birthday to Mema – she reads the blog!!!) and cooked up a storm. I baked my favorite Lady Strawberry Cake and the crowd pleasing Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. I can’t resist sharing this picture of Mema with her TWO birthday cakes!

I’m teaching FOUR BodyPump classes this week. I predict that I will be sore by the time Sunday rolls around. We’re teaching the new release and it’s really tough – the squats and lunges make me want to cry! And I have some news for you guys…I am going to register for the Marine Corps Marathon tomorrow. I’m so nervous to commit to a race that is 6  months out but it’s a big goal of mine to run a big city marathon and I’ve heard great things about this race. I’ll start slowly building my base in the coming months and really ramp up my training in July. Ahh! I can’t believe I’m 100% committing to another marathon.

And now salad!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart (YUM!)

Grilled Chicken Salad
(Recipe source Gourmet, August 2005)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon mild honey
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup olive oil
6 chicken breast halves with skin and bones (3 pounds total) – I used 2 boneless skinless breasts and halved the lime vinaigrette
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
2 medium shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (1/2 cup)
8 ounces mesclun, thinly sliced (6 cups) – I used baby greens
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced – omitted because the store was out of basil – so disappointing :(
Sliced avocado (if desired – I added this)

Directions:

PREPARE THE CHICKEN AND SALAD
Whisk together lime juice, honey, red pepper flakes and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking.

Transfer chicken to a 1-gallon sealable plastic bag and add 1/3 cup lime vinaigrette, then seal bag. Marinate chicken at room temperature 15 minutes.

Transfer another 1/3 cup lime vinaigrette to a bowl, stir in tomatoes and shallots, and marinate until chicken is finished cooking. Transfer another 1/3 cup lime vinaigrette to a large bowl and set aside for cooked chicken.

Remove chicken from bag, discarding marinade, and sprinkle all over with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

TO COOK CHICKEN ON A CHARCOAL GRILL
Open vents on bottom of grill and on lid. Light a large chimney starter of charcoal briquettes (80 to 100) and pour them evenly over 1 side of bottom rack (you will have a double or triple layer of briquettes).

When charcoal turns grayish white (after 15 to 20 minutes) and you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds, sear chicken breasts, starting with skin sides down, on a lightly oiled rack over coals, uncovered, turning once, until well browned, 5 to 6 minutes total.

Move browned chicken breasts to side of grill with no coals and cook, covered with lid, turning over occasionally, until just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes more.

TO COOK CHICKEN USING A GAS GRLL
Preheat all burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then adjust heat to medium high heat.

Sear chicken on lightly oiled grill rack, lid down, until well browned, about 3 minutes per side.

Turn off 1 burner (middle burner if there are 3) and arrange all seared chicken on rack above shut-off burner. Cook seared chicken, covered with lid, turning over once, until just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Internal temperature should be 160 degrees.

TOSS GRILLED CHICKEN IN VINAIGRETTE
Transfer hot grilled chicken to large bowl with lime vinaigrette and turn to coat. Leave in bowl 5 minutes, then transfer to a platter and loosely cover with foil.

ASSEMBLE SALAD
Toss together mesclun, basil, tomato mixture and salt to taste. Slice chicken and arrange over salad. Drizzle with some lime vinaigrette and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

*Note: I used 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and cut the lime vinaigrette in half.

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 55

An awesome grilled pork tenderloin to celebrate the first 80+ degree day of the year! It’s been such a cold winter and our recent bout of Spring weather is energizing and refreshing. Brandon, Sullie and I went for a run after work today and then came home and got to work on this delicious dinner!

I will only buy pork tenderloin when it is on sale and lucky for us it was on special this week. I remembered seeing this recipe and thought it would be a great for Spring grilling. This pork would have been great grilled with the marinade alone but the addition of the jalapeno onion marmalade really took it over the top. It was so easy to have Brandon outside grilling the pork tenderloin and our favorite grilled sweet potatoes while I worked on the marmalade and green beans. Teamwork!

Quick update on the fitness front. First, workouts have been solid this week. I’ve taught BodyPump 3 out of the last 4 days (teaching the new release – BodyPump 73!) and also squeezed in yoga and some runs. Feeling strong but getting a little tired towards the end of the week. Legs are pretty dead and my back is really sore. Still hoping to fit in one more yoga practice tomorrow morning before hitting the road this weekend. We’re going to visit my grandmother to celebrate her birthday and Easter!

Hope to have some updates for you over the weekend. My dad and I will be in the kitchen together so you know that means some good things are coming!  Also, I’ll be baking this beautiful Lady Strawberry Cake for Mema’s birthday dinner! Yum!!! :grin:

One Year Ago: Crescent Breakfast Casserole (one of the most popular recipes on my blog!)

Grilled Garlic Lime Pork Tenderloin with Jalapeno Onion marmalade
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, September 1995)

Ingredients:

FOR THE MARINADE
3 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Cayenne to taste
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), trimmed

FOR THE MARMALADE
1 large onion, cut into thin slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 fresh jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup water

FOR THE MARINADE
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine pork and marinade in a large resealable plastic bag. Squeeze out excess air and marinate 12-48 hours.
FOR THE PORK
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Remove pork from marinade and let excess drip off. Cook about 4 minutes per side (4 sides) until internal temperature reaches 145-150 degrees. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes (resist the urge to cut in – let the temperature continue to rise and the juices redistribute).
FOR THE MARMALADE
While the pork is grilling, cook onions over medium heat in a large heavy skillet until softened, about 5 minutes. (I used cast iron – always do to caramelize onions!) Season with salt and pepper. Add jalapenos and cook for 1 minute. Add honey and cook another minute, stirring frequently. Add vinegar and simmer, stirring until almost all liquid is evaporated. Add water and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened and onions are very tender, about 10 minutes. Season marmalade with salt and pepper.
Cut pork into slices and serve with marmalade.
Yield: 2-3 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 54

This chicken dish is easy and so full of flavor. It was on my original list of recipes to make for 68 Days of Gourmet because it received great reviews and was originally published in 1974 (I’m trying to make something from every decade). I almost didn’t make it because I feel like I’ve done too many chicken dishes but I’m so glad that I did. We will most definitely be having this again. What is it about a delicious sauce that can really take a simple piece of sauteed chicken to a totally different level? I spooned this sauce all over my chicken and rice!

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last few days. I’ve had the best intentions to update but have been so busy. We are under contract on a house that we love and can’t wait to move into. We had been looking since November and getting really frustrated with the process and were so excited when this house popped up. We instantly fell in love. Please keep your fingers crossed that our closing goes smoothly!

And we’ve been celebrating birthdays and visiting with our ridiculously cute nieces. I have a sinful Reese’s Cake to share with you all after 68 Days of Gourmet wraps up!

Lots of exciting things going on! Will keep you guys updated :)

One Year Ago: Grilled Shrimp

Chicken with Red Wine and Vinegar
(Recipe source Gourmet, originally published in 1974)

Ingredients:

1 (3 1/2- to 4 pound) chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup shallots (about 2 medium), minced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

FOR THE CHICKEN
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse and pat chicken dry. Season with with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat. Brown chicken in 2 batches, turning once, about 8 to 10 minutes per batch.

Transfer chicken to a small (13- by 9-inch) oven-safe roasting pan, arranging it in 1 layer. Once all chicken is browned, roast, uncovered, in oven 15 minutes.

FOR THE SAUCE
While the chicken is roasting, discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet. Add garlic, shallots, carrot, thyme sprigs and bay leaves.  Cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until vegetables are browned, 3 to 6 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine, vinegar, sugar and remaining teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 5 to 10 minutes.

TO FINISH SAUCE AND CHICKEN
Add chicken broth to sauce along with any juices from roasting pan and bring to a boil. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve onto chicken in roasting pan, pressing on and then discarding solids. Continue to roast chicken, uncovered, until just cooked through, about 15 minutes more.

Transfer chicken with tongs to an oven-proof serving dish and keep warm, uncovered, in turned-off oven.

Meanwhile, boil sauce in roasting pan over high heat (I transferred it back into the original saute pan), stirring occasionally, until reduced to a scant cup. Remove sauce from heat and swirl in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper and pour sauce over chicken.

Yield: 4 servings

*Note, I easily halved this and just used two leg/thighs and only did one batch of browning.

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 53

I didn’t get a great photo of this salad…it was late and dark and we were hungry…but it’s really delicious. I don’t think a salad can get any better than warm melty goat cheese atop a bed of baby greens with a simple vinaigrette. The warm goat cheese rounds are so easy to make and definitely worth the extra effort. This salad is an easy way to kick up a date night or company dinner another notch!

After our late night Sunday (we didn’t get home until 3:45 a.m.!), it’s taken a while to get caught up this week. I decided to take Monday as a rest day in an effort not to push my tired body too hard. I ran a quick 1.5 mile sprint on the treadmill and taught BodyPump on Tuesday. I went suuuppperrr heavy on my weights and as a result my lower body is really sore! Sometimes it just feels good to push it! This morning I went to a hot vinyasa yoga class before work and took Sullie for a 3 mile jog after work. The weather was beautiful. I think it was 75 degrees today. I can’t wait until this weather is here to stay. I am so much more motivated to run when the days are longer and the weather is nice.

Let’s talk quickly about early morning yoga classes. When I first started practicing, morning classes were a huge struggle. My balance was off and my focus just wasn’t there. Over time, I have become more accustomed to practicing in the morning and I can’t believe the difference in my energy level when I get a good class in before work. I don’t know if it’s the backbends or what but I feel so great and energetic for the rest of the day. And I can compare this to the mornings I teach BodyPump – completely different energy levels. So that’s my interesting tidbit for the day!

Also, just wanted to throw out to you guys that I am ALWAYS open to feedback and suggestions. Please let me know how you’re feeling about the new fitness spin in the posts. I’m still figuring out how I really want to blog about fitness and nutrition – I don’t know if it will be an evolution of this blog or a new blog? Let me know your thoughts!

And one more note…I have 12 recipes left to make for 68 Days of Gourmet and I’m looking for inspiration! Leave a comment or send me an email at bakinandeggs (at) gmail (dot) com if you have suggestions or something you’d like to see. It would be most appreciated :)

One Year Ago: Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers (still one of our favorites – we love this dinner!)

Baby Greens with Warm Goat Cheese
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook, published in Gourmet January 2002)

Ingredients:

1 large egg white
2 teaspoon water
4-6 (1/3-inch-thick) rounds soft mild goat cheese, cut from a cold log (use dental floss for easy cutting)
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs (preferably Japanese panko)
2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of sugar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cups mesclun (mixed baby salad greens – about 2 ounces)

Directions:

Whisk together egg white and water. Dip cheese rounds in egg, letting excess drip off, then dredge in bread crumbs, pressing lightly to adhere. Chill 15 minutes.

Whisk together vinegar, salt, mustard, sugar and a pinch of pepper in a small salad bowl. Add 2 tablespoon oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté cheese until golden, about 30 seconds per side. Remove cheese rounds from pan.

Add greens to dressing and toss gently to coat. Top with warm goat cheese rounds.

Yield: 2 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 52

I have yet to find the perfect pizza dough recipe so it was definitely something I wanted to try during 68 Days of Gourmet. And unfortunately, I will be continuing the search for the perfect pizza dough because this was not it. This dough wasn’t bad just average. It was pretty difficult to work with – sticky and tore easily. There was pretty much no way I was going to get it into a circle when I was shaping the dough so we ended up with very strangely shaped pizza. Luckily, things looked up once I topped it with all the fixings for barbecue chicken pizza and baked it on a hot baking stone. The dough was crispy and chewy (good for thinner-crust pizzas) and the flavor was nice. Barbecue chicken pizza is a great flavor variation from your typical pizza. If you’ve never tried it you must!

I’m blogging from Atlanta. I’ve spent the weekend here visiting my parents while Brandon has been in New Orleans for a bachelor party. He’s flying back to Atlanta tonight and then we’re making a late night drive to Charlotte. His flight has been delayed and he’s not getting in until 11 so we won’t get back to Charlotte until 3 a.m. at the earliest. Tomorrow is going to be a long day at work!

It’s been a nice and relaxing weekend hanging out in Atlanta with my parents. When I arrived late Friday a yummy pizza from Grant Central Pizza in East Atlanta Village was awaiting…along with some strawberry shortcake (one of my favorite desserts!). Saturday morning I visited a yoga class at Yoga Samadhi in Inman Park. Since the weather was so beautiful, there ended up only being one other guy in the class. It was pretty nice having a semi-private lesson and the instructor, Stephanie, was great! Saturday night we had reservations at Nino’s. It’s a family owned Italian place that’s been open since 1968. It was old-school Italian and really delicious. I believe that there is infinite value in keeping things simple and traditional.

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!

One Year Ago: Banana Nutella Muffins

Pizza Dough
(Recipe source Gourmet, June 2003)

Ingredients:

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 3/4 to 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading, divided
3/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees), divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour and 1/4 cup warm water in a measuring cup and let stand until mixture appears creamy on surface, about 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Stir together 1 1/4 cups flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture, oil and remaining 1/2 cup warm water and stir until smooth. Stir in enough of remaining flour (1/4 to 1/2 cup) for dough to come away from side of bowl. (It is normal for this dough to be stickier than other doughs you have made.)

Working with floured hands, knead dough on a work surface until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Relflour hands and work surface when necessary. Alternatively, use a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook and knead on low speed for 8 minutes.

Divide dough in half and form into 2 balls. Generously dust balls all over with flour and put each in a medium bowl. Cover bowls with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/4 hours.

To bake, preheat pizza stone in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes. Add whatever toppings you would like and use a pizza peel or well floured baking sheet to slide pizza onto baking stone. Bake for 18-20 minutes, start checking pizza for doneness after about 15 minutes.

Or try our favorite Barbecue Chicken Pizza!

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 51

Part two of our Greek feast – check out my homemade pita bread here. This dinner has been on the list since I first began researching recipes for 68 Days of Gourmet. I thought Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs with homemade tzatziki sounded great. Unfortunately, the kebab thing was not happening! I tried to putting these meatballs on skewers but immediately knew that there was no way they would stay on the skewer. They were falling off. I made a game time decision to cook them inside in a skillet and all was well and tasty with no grilling disasters!

I think one of the biggest milestones you make as a home cook is the ability to deal with situations in the kitchen that don’t go as planned. I had a lot going on in the kitchen – homemade pita bread, making tzatziki, assembling the meatballs and marinating the zucchini. It would have been easy for me to get frustrated and give up on the dinner but I just decided to make the best of it and cook the meatballs and zucchini on the stove top instead. I made a different kefta recipe last year using this method so I knew it would work out.

I don’t blame the recipe for my meatballs not coming together. I forgot to buy pine nuts for the meatballs and don’t know if they might have been a detrimental part of the binding. Regardless, this turned out to be a great dinner. We stuffed our pitas with the keftas and taziki and ate the zucchini on the side. Brandon enjoyed the leftovers in pita sandwiches for lunch.

Quick update on fitness recently. 10 workouts in the last 8 days – all yoga, running (!!!) and teaching BodyPump. Overall, I’ve been feeling great but kind of hit a wall today. I’m a big fan of the time change – love having daylight when I get home to run and hang out outside – but it was really tough getting up at 5 to teach BodyPump this morning. I felt so out of it and exhausted all day. Decided just to relax on the couch, catch up with the DVR and make homemade pizza this evening after work. Exactly what I needed. Sometimes you just need to listen to your body and rest!

One Year Ago: Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad

Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, January 2006 – originally published in 1980)

Ingredients:

FOR THE TZATZIKI SAUCE
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (I subbed parsley)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

FOR THE ZUCCHINI
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
2 medium zucchini (around 1 pound), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

FOR LAMB MEATBALLS (KEFTA)
2 slices firm white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves (omitted, I just increased the parsley)
1 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped (omitted because I forgot to buy them!)

12 (10-inch) wooden skewers, soaked for 30 minutes

Directions:

FOR THE TZATZIKI SAUCE
Stir together yogurt, mint/parsley, garlic and salt in a small bowl and chill.

FOR THE ZUCCHINI
Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper and oil in a large bowl and stir in zucchini slices. Marinate at room temperature while making meatballs.

FOR THE KEFTA
Cover bread with water in a bowl and soak 10 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of bread to remove as much excess water as possible and transfer to a bowl.

Pulse onion and herbs in a food processor until finely chopped. Add mixture to bread along with lamb, salt, spices and pine nuts. Mix with your hands until well blended. Form lamb mixture into 36 balls (about 1 tablespoon each).

TO ASSEMBLE
Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas). Thread 6 meatballs, 1/4 inch apart onto each of 6 skewers.

Thread zucchini lengthwise onto remaining 6 skewers (5 slices per skewer). Cut sides should be on grill, leaving 1/4 inch between slices. Grill zucchini and lamb on oiled grill rack, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve warm with yogurt sauce.

Alternatively, saute zucchini and meatballs over medium heat on the stove top (in separate skillets) until cooked through, 6-8 minutes.

Yield: 4-6 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 50

This was my first time making pita bread and it was a huge success. I followed the recipe directions exactly and the dough was a breeze to work with. I can’t even explain to you how much better this is than any store bought pita bread. It’s so soft and has that delicious homemade bread flavor.

Brandon asked if it would have a pocket and honestly, I had no clue. But while it was baking it puffed up and we were excited to cut into it and see that the pocket had “magically” appeared. I served this with kefta, homemade taziki and zucchini. I’ll be sharing that recipe tomorrow!

We’ve really enjoyed the leftovers for sandwiches this week and I’m already planning on adding this to the regular rotation. It would be so easy to make a big batch on Sundays and use if for the week. Also, The Gourmet Cookbook says they freeze well.

The only complaint I have is that Gourmet calls these whole wheat. But with only 1-cup of whole wheat flour and 2-cups of white flour, I didn’t feel like I could really call it whole wheat. I’m going to experiment next time with increasing the wheat to white ratio.

If you’re a pita lover this is a must try! :)

One year ago: Grilled Chicken Salad

Whole Wheat(ish) Pita Bread
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook, published in Gourmet May 2003)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115 degrees F), divided
2 cups bread flour or high-gluten flour, plus additional for kneading
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets

Directions:

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if using), stir together yeast, honey and 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. If mixture does not foam, start over with new yeast.

While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free/warm place (I like to use my oven – I turn it on for about a minute to get it warm – about 80-82 degrees and then turn it off and place dough in oven) until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms. Either turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, or use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and on low speed to knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.

Form dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free/warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Prepare 2 baking sheets by sprinkling with cornmeal. Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball, flatten the ball and then roll out into a 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer round to prepared baking sheet. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas  with clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to the lower third of oven and remove other racks (I left the other racks). Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack (alternatively, I think you could bake these on a preheated baking stone so they don’t get wire marks from the oven). Bake until puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more.

Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm. Bake remaining 4 pitas in same manner. Serve warm.

Yield: 8 pitas

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 49

And yet another dessert recipe makes its way into 68 Days of Gourmet. I told myself that I wasn’t going to make any more desserts and that I really needed to make appetizers instead but then I found myself with a serious craving for an apple dessert last night.

It was totally worth it. Does it get any better than warm apple pie/cobbler/crisp and vanilla ice cream? So basic but so satisfying. Comfort food dessert.  I love how easy crisps are – no fooling with pastry crust. I think this was ready to go in the oven in less than 20 minutes – including peeling and cutting the apples. There is nothing fancy about this recipe – it’s just basic and delicious.

I must recap my weekend for you. It was definitely jam packed on the fitness front. Friday morning I attended hot vinyasa at Y2. I am convinced that this is the perfect way to start off a Friday and kick off the weekend. I literally pop out of bed when my alarm goes off at 5:45 and I am NOT a morning workout person!

I taught BodyPump Saturday morning. I was still pretty sore from teaching last Thursday (I guess my body was a little weak coming off of the sickness) but there’s nothing like seeing 21 people up bright and early on a Saturday to get you motivated! I’m really loving that I’m starting to recognize faces and get to know some of the regulars in my classes.

Saturday afternoon was all about the yoga. Last week I signed up for a 3-hour yoga boot camp at Y2. It was 2 hours of hot vinyasa and one hour of long slow deep (holding positions for 5+ minutes). Being relatively new to my practice, I was pretty nervous. I am so happy to report that the class was awesome and I not only survived but felt great. I even managed to be one of 3 or 4 people to hold a plank for 5 minutes! I love the feeling I have at the end of a big fitness achievement (finishing a race, surviving yoga boot camp, etc). It’s great to know that you’ve given it everything you have!

So maybe that gives you a little more background on why I was so ready for my apple dessert last night! :wink:

One year ago: Spicy Thai Noodle Bowl with Tofu

Apple Crisp
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

FOR THE TOPPING
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/8 teaspoon cinnamon (1 just kind of eyeballed it – probably more like 1-1 1/2 teaspoons)
3/8 teaspoon salt (again, probably used more like 1 teaspoon)
2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into tablespoons
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped

FOR THE APPLES
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 pounds apples (recommended fuji or jonagold)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 navel orange

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3 1/2 to 4 quart baking dish.

FOR THE TOPPING
Combine flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and blend until well combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms large clumps. Transfer to bowl and mix in pecans with your fingers. Alternatively, whisk together the flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt and work in butter and pecans with your fingers or a pastry blender.

FOR THE FILLING
Whisk together sugar and cinnamon. Peel, quarter and core apples and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Add apples, lemon juice and orange zest to sugar mixture and mix until well combined.

TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE
Spread apples in prepared baking dish. Crumble topping evenly over apples. Bake until topping is golden brown, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool a bit and serve warm.

Yield: 8-10 servings

*Note: I easily cut this recipe in half and used a smaller baking dish.

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