It's on Omelet


My mom will willingly admit that she does not enjoy cooking. Never has, probably never will. At a young age I had to learn to fend for myself in the kitchen. There was no youtube to find instructional videos. We did not have cable, so no constant stream of cooking shows.

Most of my early food creations were trial and error.

While I mastered a great many things, by the time I went off to college I had become a very adventurous person in the kitchen. It was mainly for survival purposes. Unfortunately a rigorous class and work schedule put my experimentation on the back burner, and relegated me to the campus mess hall. It also relegated me to the almost obligatory freshman fifteen.

It was not until I started living off campus again that I reconnected with my love of cooking, and my quest for the one thing I had never quite perfected: the perfect omelet.

Too runny, too flat, too wrong. I would repeat the mantra to myself, "What would Julia Child do?"

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook."

Nope not that one. Oh, yes!

“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”

Dang straight they should. Sing it Julia. A blowtorch and a glass of wine, now that is what every woman should have.

So one evening I pulled out my wine glass and filled it was some New Glarus Raspberry Tart, put on a Snow Patrol CD and started experimenting. I am not ashamed to say I tried flipping them in the pan, a few ending up on the floor. Some just looked like a soggy mess. Trial and error.

Lots of errors.

But them, low and behold, one held. The outside was golden brown, but the inside was still light and fluffy. Egg beaters became my secret, easy to pour into the buttered pan. Slowly drawing in the sides for a half minute and then just waiting for it to rise so subtly. My own personal piece of omelet perfection.

Lowering the heat I put in the cheese, some cut tomato and cut turkey. Then flipped over half to make my crescent.

My moral to this abbreviated tale--if ever there was one--is that the experimentation is the excitement. I started with literally no guidance in the kitchen, and have found it to be one of my relaxing and creative outlets. The challenge is part of the process, and every time I conquer a technique or recipe that once eluded me, I am only more excited to try something more difficult.

Next up is finding a recipe that requires a blowtorch.


All Knowing Burrito


Not every day in my life can be dedicated to getting out and moving to the grove in my running shoes. I deem these days as Mondays.

It is not an arbitrary choice. On the contrary, it is a very logical day to rest. It is the day I hang out with the gals.

They love to talk about guys, and fashion, not to mention what was going on last weeks episode of Glee. There is about a hundred of them, all with more energy then the Energizer, and they are love getting your attention.

Most sixth graders do.

For the last several years I spend one night a week hanging out with these rockstar preteens, who actually inspired me to start running again. The youth group that I mentor focuses a lot around leading a well balanced life; physically, mentally, socially, and religiously.

And three years ago I was sitting in one of our group discussions talking about how important each of those aspects are when I realized that I was a major hypocrite. How could I talk about being a balanced individual, if I was sorely lacking in one of those areas?

And that sparked my journey to start running again and being a healthy individual. But that is a story for another time. Today it is all about the annual Halloween Carnival.

The Carnival

A few years ago I was asked if I would mind being a psychic for the festivities. It was all in fun, because I am far from being all knowing. I dressed up with crazy hair and makeup, brought in some candles, and mentally prepared to channel my inner aura.

The kiddos would come in groups of three or four and I would begin off with something like, "I feel like one of you has a crush" and inevitably three of the girls would turn to their friend and start pointing fingers while giggling. Bingo. I was in and the stage was set.

I was asked questions about where they were going to go to college, what they were going to be, and when they would get married. My answers were more of life suggestions, such as, "You won't get married until after college," and, "I think you will gain some valuable experiences studying abroad."

Interestingly enough, I would get a lot of things right on the head and their eyes would get big.

"You are going to try out for the soccer team in high school," I said to one girl.

"How did you know that?" the girl looked at me in shock.

Giving a sideways glance at soccer uniform she was using as her Halloween costume, "You have a strong energy."

The fun would go on, and had a lot of kiddos convinced I was really psychic. So much so that the next day one mom called into the youth group coordinator and asked if she could have my number so she could hire me for her daughter's birthday party.

And so the tradition has continued for the last four years. Over that time I have a ranking of the most frequently asked questions a sixth grade girl would like to know about her future.

7. Will I have a nice house?

6. Will I be rich?

5. Will my husband have a six-pack? (No joke, you have no idea how frequently this was asked)

4. Where am I going to go to college?

3. What am I going to be when I grow up?

2. When will I have kids? (Followed up by) How many/what gender will I have?

1. When will I get married?

Interesting how sixth grade girls have a lot of the same questions I do.


The All Knowing Burrito

The all-knowing Clarkie knows she has to fuel properly for this night. Approximately two hours of seeing into the future is exhausting. For this particular occasion I went with the ground turkey burrito. Warmed the wheat tortilla in the toaster oven, spread some green leaf lettuce across the spine. Grated good ol' Wisconsin cheddar cheese, spread the turkey, and topped with Annie's Cowgirl Ranch dressing.


How did it get its name and how this relates to the Halloween Carnival. The answer is actually quite simple. Just like I am all knowing, the burrito is "all knowing" because I know I am going to eat all of it.

I may have also snatched some tootsie rolls from the candy basket at my table. But I may have already known that was going to happen. That's what happens when you are all knowing like myself.


French Toast and 5K's


The morning was brisk, but warming slowly. The fall air had a perfect crispness and I wanted to celebrate it with one of my favorite breakfast meals: French Toast. But I'll come back to that.

I also wanted to be well fed before my 5K that started in an hour. Especially since my body had been dragging during my training runs earlier in the week.


It was the 17th annual St. Joes Food Pantry 5K. This is a fun easy run for a few reasons.

  • First, it is an awesome cause. There is a minimal entry fee, but you are encouraged to bring can goods to the race and help stock St. Joe's shelves. Win-win for everyone.
  • The Beautiful course is a major bonus. Half of the race is run over the Trestle Trail, which used to be an old railroad line across Lake Butte Des Morts.
  • The rockin' door prizes. They have a ton from local sponsors. And although the odds are in my favor that I should win one, I never do. Nonetheless there are loads of goodies to be won, and I did get a stick of Noodles and Co. chap stick "Asian Mediterranean American". I'll take the small victories.
  • It's a Portsmouth Start, so anyone can be the winner.

Despite all the awesomeness of this 5K, I was battling my own demons. Every run over the last week I have been feeling sluggish. My pace times have been fairly close to what I am used too, but for some reason I just don't feel fast. I do not know if there is a runners term for this sluggish feeling other then, uhggg.


But I finished the race strong, unfortunately I did not know my official time until a few days after the race. Part of that was my problem because I forgot to set my watch. The second being that although there was a clock at the end of the race, it did not necessarily mean that it was anywhere close to my time since it was a Portsmouth start.

For those who might be curious to exactly what that entails, runners start in waves based on age. Runners on the more mature end of the scale get a bit of a head start, as well as those on the very youthful side (i.e. 12 and under). As the ages move toward the late twenties early thirties, the waves start closer and closer together. My wave was #34, so I started roughly six minutes after the first runner.

When all was said and done, I finished in 26:55 after adjusting for my Portsmouth start, which put me in 154th place. If you took out the Portsmouth start and just ran it like a "traditional" race, I jump to 132nd. Not a big deal to me, feeling as sluggish as I did I was just happy to cross the finish line.

The best part was there was a young pre-teen who finished just ahead of me who turned around in the chute with a huge grin and put his hand out to me for a high five, "Awesome race!"

"Right back at ya!" I 'heart' runners of all ages. We are pretty cool people.


The awesome thing about this start, the winner of this race finished with a time 34:54 min. Because of her adjusted start time, she beat out the second place finisher who had a time of 17:19 min. And both of them beat out third place finisher with the fastest time over all: 16:45 min.

The best part, the winner was a women 84 years young. Dang girl, if I can finish a 5K in under 35 minutes when I am in my 80's, it will be a miracle. For obvious reasons, she received a very healthy round of applause and cheers when she accepted her 1st Place metal.


So back to the French Toast. I am fairly certain the only reason I was able to drag my lazy behind across the finish line was thanks to this little yummy friend. So not to leave ya hangin', here is how I make my favorite breakfast food:

The Cast:
  • 1/4 cup wheat flour
  • 1 cup Almond Milk, Vanilla flavored
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup egg beaters
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 slices of wheat bread
The Method:

Add the wheat flour to a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the almond milk. Stir in the egg beaters, cinnamon, vanilla extract and nutmeg until smooth.

Get out the good ol' frying pan and turn up to medium heat. Soak bread slice in the mixture, and flip to make sure it is thoroughly saturated with the yummy batter. Pull out of mixture and gently hit it on the side of the bowls to get out the excess batter.

Cook on frying pan until the side begins to golden. Toast may raise in the pan slightly due to the flour mixture. Top with berries and a a few tablespoons of Maple syrup.

Then go run a 5K. --Wait, how did that get into my recipe accordion?


Pumpkin Creme Pies & A Run


I loved Oatmeal Creme Pies growing up. Like to the point, where if my mom splurged on a box, between the two of us we inhaled them within a couple days. Probably not the best idea in the world, but I can hardly blame Little Debbie for making such delectable treats.

A few days ago I was perusing through websites and stumbled upon Pumpkin Creme Pies. I was intrigued. Could they hold up to the awesomeness of my childhood favorites?

There was only one to find out.

I went to the store to pick up a few of the ingredients I did not have; pumpkin, nutmeg and cloves. Then I came home and realized I did in fact, have full jars of nutmeg and cloves...oops. Guess that meant if the recipe went well, I would be making more.

Followed the recipe pretty much to a "T", but made a few substitutions. Lets face it, with as much sugar going into this thing as there is, it is not going to be the most healthy creation, but I could help it out a touch. Highlighted substitutes in bold.


The Cast:

For the Cookie:
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 can Pumpkin (15 Oz.)
  • 1/2 cup Egg Beaters
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 cups Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoons Ground Cloves
For the Frosting:
  • 1 package Cream Cheese Softened (8 Oz.)
  • 1 cup Cocoa Butter, Room Temperature
  • 1 package Powdered Sugar (16 Oz.)
  • 3 drops Vanilla Extract
  • 2 dashes Cinnamon
The Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pumpkin Creme Pies:

Mix the brown sugar, sugar, oil and pumpkin. Add the egg beaters slowly, and continue mixing. Add in the vanilla -- I am still spoiled with the stuff I brought back from the Dominican Republic. I honestly can taste the difference.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient bowl slowly.

Cut 3 inch squares of parchment paper, the original recipe calls for 24, but because I cut the pastry bag tip a little smaller, I ended up with 30. Using a pastry bag plastic baggie since I don’t have any pastry bags around, cut a hole in the tip, start making a swirl pattern on the pieces of wax paper. Mine were also a little larger then the original recipe, about 3 inches wide.

Put the piped batter circles onto the sheets, and allow them to bake for 12 minutes, you want them firm enough, but overall pretty soft. Pull them off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack or a towel to settle.

Cream Cheese Filling:

Mix together cream cheese and butter. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.

Once the pies are cooled (if they are too warm the frosting will melt off and drip down the sides more than necessary), frost a flat side of one pie, and add another on top to sandwich it off.

I ate a freshly warm Pumpkin Crème Pie and one that had sat in the refrigerator overnight, you know – for testing purposes. Preferred the cooler version, and the pie portion stayed nice and soft.

The Run:

I went out for a nice and easy four mile run before I baked the yummy-to-my-tummy Pumpkin Crème Pies. For some reason during most of the run my body felt out of sorts. I at my usual pre run snack, and had a good breakfast and lunch earlier in the day. I had hypothesis that I wasn’t hydrated enough, or if it might be the lack of sleep the last few days. But I would make the case that it was the Pumpkin Crème Pies fault. The mere thought of them is quite distracting.

To illustrate my point:

The whole time I was out on my run I knew in the back of my mind that the ingredients to this delectable treat were sitting on the counter awaiting my return. My focus was definitely on reviewing the recipe in my head.

A little over the halfway point I started to visualize the completed project. The fall favors of soothing pumpkin and spicy nutmeg. Drool escaped the corner of my mouth. And the frosting, heaven almighty, the frosting! The distraction was overwhelming, as evidence by my running graph.


So, in conclusion, it was definately the pies fault I was sluggish. There really is no other explanation.


10.10.10 10K starting at 10:10am


At the very last minute I signed up for a 10K to celebrate the magical date of 10.10.10. It was not a race so much as an excuse for a bunch of runners to get together and terrorize the road.

The plan was brilliant.


The 10 mile folks already started 10 minutes before us -- see a pattern emerging? It was the best start ever. It was not a race, so we were not technically being timed, but they did have some clocks up along side the road so we could compare ourselves as we came in.

We all hung out until one guy yelled out at 10:10am, "Okay, go!"

The crowd collectively chuckled. How much more informal can you get?

Also brilliant.


It started out nice and easy. Although I was feeling a bit sluggish, I was surprised to see my pace hanging between 8:50 and 9:10/mi. Honestly, I felt like I was going much slower.

Around mile 2 we were out on a trail that was covered with lovely, colorful fall leaves. Unfortunately, those gorgeous leaves, also covered up a pothole that almost made me roll my ankle. I would like to thank all those strength training workouts for keeping my balance and just shaking it off. No harm done.

My pace stayed constant throughout, and we turned around and the halfway mark and followed the trail back.

I started to fall so easily into my pace that I started to have a highway hypnosis, a running hypnosis if you will. So I just followed the shirts ahead of me and started to let my mind just wander a bit.

All of a sudden I heard someone yelling behind me, "Come back!" and hand gestures pointing in a different direction. It appears the folks I was following were going in the wrong direction and I became their little lemming. The shirts ahead of me did not hear the ladies yelling, but the certainly got my attention. I sprinted back to the trail and reminded myself to pay more attention and stay on the right path.

About 100m later I stumbled on the same part of the trail I did on the way out. I guess it takes me a bit to learn from my own lessons.

Just as I was about to make the last turn to the finish line, a car pulled into the street. Me and two other runners pulled over to wait for him to pass when he waved us across. Just as we started to cross he started going forward again.

Umm ... okay? The wave is universal signal that you are giving away your right-of-way to the pedestrian. Generally that means that you do not lure them into the road and then charge.


So I gave my mom the camera, and I think she fell in love with it. When I came home, I dumped about thirty photos onto my hard drive, noting she only saw me for a total of two minutes during the race. My favorite is the "aerodynamic ponytail". Look at the flow of that thing!

It's my secret to speediness.


El fin. Finished the 10k in 56:08, but had to add a little extra on since of my slight detour, my total run was 6.37 miles with a time of 57:41. Not too shabby.



To celebrate 10.10.10 10K starting at 10:10am, my favorite smoothie of all time: Tropical Blast!

In a blender or smoothie maker, mix:

  • 1/2 can of mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen mango slices
  • 1 cup mixed frozen fruit (banana, strawberry, peaches)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla whey protein
So in review; I almost rolled my ankle twice, acted like a lemming and went the wrong direction, and almost got hit by a car. But I did digest a yummy-delicious smoothie. I call the day a success.


That time I was on a treadmill


When I go to the gym, it is not uncommon for me to hit the treadmill for a little while beforehand and warm up before starting on my strength training circuit. I say that as if I have this stringent training plan, which I don't, but I do have a nicely compartmentalized regimen that makes me feel slightly more productive with my workouts.

On such a day, I pick out a treadmill, noting the variance of spaces between individuals and machines. Heaven forbid I pick one right next to another person, even though there is one open next to it. You only pick a machine directly next to another person if a) There are no other options, or b) The guy on that machine is so hot you have to be closer in order to ogle him properly. The non-existent, yet very existent rules of the gym are prevalent.

Of course the treadmill that is an acceptable distance from the next gym member, also does not have its television working. In theory, this is probably for the best. Sometimes a reminder to unplug and go al natural is beneficial for this desk bound employee.

I do take the liberty of pulling out the "Whole Living" magazine to peruse through. Inside I stumble upon an article talking about mantras. It lists the usual benefits and reasons behind using a mantra, most of this is self-explanatory. They do quote Kara Goucher and her race mantra:
"I always have a power word that brings me back to my center and focus. For the marathon it is courage. To be courageous to hang in for the long haul, to be courageous to run my own race, to be courageous to believe in myself."
I like this. If I was not so squeamish about tattoos, I would even go so far as have "be courageous" branded onto my arm.

In middle school I had my own mantra when I ran particularly hard (for a 12 year old) workouts:
"If it were easy, everyone would do it."
I would chant this in my head as the coach yelled on to continue with 200m and 400m sprints. It sounds slightly elitist, like "I am so much better than you because you could never complete this workout." When in reality it was my young mind reminding me that I signed up for this gig, and I have to see it through to the end.

But there is no end. I am running on a treadmill more then a decade later still trying to find the right words to give my inner voice. My own mantra.

So while I will not be adding any tattoos to my body any time soon, I think I can borrow Kara's saying, "Be Courageous".

I say all this now, because I am contemplating signing up for my first ever full marathon. I know I can bring myself to take the journey mentally, but I want to believe I can get there physically as well. If I push that submit button, I have a feeling I will be relying upon a lot of internal mantras over the next six months.


Margherita Pizza


I have not brought a store purchased or delivery pizza in several months. They are so easy, just grab one at the store and when I come home, throw it into my oven. Taa-Daa -- instant dinner!

Lately I have made a conscious decision to enjoy the whole process involving my food, including the actual part where I cook. And to be honest, everything tastes a little bit better with that special ingredient, love.

Queue cheesie groans.

I am suck a dork.

But a happy dork that was craving pizza. Instead of logging in and placing my order at Pizzahut (I may or may not have an express checkout code), I decided to make my own, and work off a favorite recipe, Margherita Pizza.

Not only does it taste fresh, but it is colorful. Makes sense because it is supose to be reminiscent of the Italian flag with vibrant red (tomato), white (cheese), and greens (herbs) and named after Margherita of Savoy.

You better believe I googled that little tid bit.


The Cast:

The crust
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 oz packet active dry yeast
  • 3 cups whole-bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
The Toppings
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup oregano, unstemmed
  • 1/4 cup parsley, unstemmed
  • 1/4 cup basil, unstemmed
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese to taste
The Method:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees (do this while making the crust in order to have it properly heated). Put the pan or baking stone that the pizza will be put together on in ahead of time.

Mix yeast and sugar in a container. Add lukewarm water and stir thoroughly. Allow yeast at least 10-15 minutes in order to start getting its groove on. When it starts to bubble on top, this is generally a good indicator it is ready.


Put together dry ingredients for crust in a separate mixing bowl.


Slowly add the yeast mixture using a wooden spoon to stir and continue kneading with your hands.


Add additional flour to the counter or a wood cutting board and knead until all the flour has been taken in by the dough. Roll dough onto parchment paper, about 1/4 inch thick, creating a small rise at the edges.


Now start cutting up the tomatoes and artichoke heart.



Use a brush to cover dough with olive oil and begin by layering the tomatoes and herbs. It smells so lovely. Bake for approximately 8 minutes.


Add the Ricotta and Mozzarella cheese and put back into the oven for another 3-4 minutes, or until the edges start to look golden.


So easy, and so good. Pull out, let it cool and then enjoy!



Built like a Mule or a Clydesdale


Power meal before my run last night. Yummy pesto goodness. Cooked some noodles, pulled out a couple of frozen pestos pieces from its respective ice cube tray in my freezer, and topped off with some mozzarella cheese. Dear me, the drool is escaping down my chin.

Before my run I did a little reading on NY Times, because I like to have something to ponder as I pound away the miles. Sort of like in high school when the English teacher would give a writing prompt in order to force you into creating some literary awesomeness (my teacher's would be so proud of my use of language). I do this for two reasons:
  • Keeps my brain from thinking about running. Kind of like highway hypnosis. Thinking about abstract ideas takes all the mental energy that I would use to think, "Why am I doing this?", "How can I create a shortcut on my route and get home to watch Dancing With the Stars on Time?", or, "Am I crazy?" and puts that energy into more meaningful topics. For example, "How can I reduce my environmental impact?", "What new and healthy recipe can I use to entice my office mates?", or, "Did I TiVo Dancing with the Stars?"
  • Thinking about a prompted topic keeps me from accidentally singing out loud to the tunes on my iPod. That is more for everyone else's sake rather than my own.
The NY Times article that peaked my interest today was on weight classes in road races. Why it interested me was because I would currently fall under the women's weight class for a Clydesdale, if not at least an Athena. But not just that, I would have also fallen under this category when I was much fitter in high school.

Never one to really think dwell on weight so much as feeling healthy and fit, I've also never run a road race with the intention of winning. My goal is generally to stay in my PR range and enjoy the energy and fun of running along side others. And the cool swag, I love me some race t-shirts.

In high school I lovingly referred to myself as the mule. Never a sprinter by any stretch of the imagination, but I could finish any long distance run our coach threw at us. To me, fast was fast, and finishing was finishing. But I never put myself into a weight class.

The concept was not foreign though, even as a teenager I listened as two of my best friends would talk about weighing in for Power Lifting competition. Their sport recognized that there was a difference in performance between size, enough to justify different weight classes. However, I also learned of the pressure they faced before each competition to maintain their current weight, because even gaining a couple pounds. Because if they were pumped up into the next weight class, they would be on the low end and that could throw them off, not only physically but mentally as well.

All this thought provoking internal monologue carried me through mile two of my run. Then Kat DeLuna started belting out "Whine Up" and I started to jam along proving the second bullet point up top to be absolutely accurate. Inner dialog momentarily put on hiatus.

I finished my daily running and ponder time with a wild berry protein smoothie. Then I flipped on "Dancing with the Stars" and settled in for my final thoughts on my mental running prompt.


Which brings me to my parting analysis. Quite honestly, I really do not have a strong position formed on Clydesdale racing. I know there is a distinct advantage to small, lean racers. However, winning is not why I run. Even when I was younger I ran more to beat my own personal best rather then to race the pack. But that does not necessarily mean that is how everyone else sees this. Some folks want fairness, but on the flip side other folks do not want to be classified.

Its the competitive versus those folks just going out to have fun. I fall on the side that just wants to be healthy and enjoy myself. None of the races in my area have really offered this option for racing, but I will be interested to see if in the coming years if it gains popularity, that it pops up at more races.


On a side note, happy "International Walk to School Day!" If I had kiddos, I would definately make them lace up their tennis shoes and trudge it to class.


Pita + Hummus { Part 2 ::: The Hummus }


This is the easy-peasy version of Hummus. I like it no fuss and a bit mild--mind you, not bland but mild. And it has the two thumbs and toe up from all of my office mates, including the hummus connoisseurs as well as those who swore up and down that they did not like hummus.

The Cast:
  • 15.5 oz can chickpeas (garbanzos) - drained but save the juice
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
The Method:

In a food processor add the can of drained chickpeas and aprox. 1/4 cup of the juice from the chickpea can. Cut the lemon and squeeze the juice into the processor. Begin blending.


Add into the mix the 1/4 cup of Tahini, along with the salt. Tahini is a sesame seed oil, and tends to seperate in the jar, so it is a good idea to stir it up well before pouring into the food processor. Blend until smooth. If having a difficult time blending, pour in slowly some more of the juice from the chickpea can.


When the texture looks consistent, take a sample bite and flavor to personal preference adding more lemon juice, salt, or tahini.


When satisfied, spread over a plate, leaving a well in the middle of the hummus. Finely chop up some fresh parsley and sprinkle over the mixture. May also use other spices, such as paprika to give it a little umph.


Drizzle the olive oil into the well and it is ready to go. Best if slightly chilled. Serve with pita bread, veggies, use as a spread in sandwich--this little bugger is good just about anywhere.


Pita + Hummus { Part 1 ::: The Pita }


I love pita bread because the ingredients are so simple, and the end result is so much better then the ones I find in the store. Sure, I usually burn my knuckles trying to whip the pans out of the oven so quickly, but that can be chalked up to excitement.

The past week as the temps start to cool I have been in more of a cooking mood. Something about fall and the leaves changing colors just makes me want to pull out my apron and channel Julia Child. So, without further ado:

The Cast:

1 tsp sugar
1 packet yeast (aprox 7 grams)
1 cup warm H2O
2 cups wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil

The Method:

In a small container, stir in the sugar and packet of yeast. Add in 1/2 cup of warm water. The sugar will help activate the yeast. Let this little Dexter experiment sit for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, add in the wheat and bread flour. You could just go with all bread flour, but to make it a tad bit more healthy, I went with the wheat option and it turned out brilliantly. Stir in the salt.


In the center of the flour make a little well and add in 1 cup of warm water.


Slowly begin stirring in the flour, working your way to the outside of the bowl. Note of what not to do: all my wooden spoons were in the sink to be washed. Make life easier and use a good ol' fashion wooden spoon during this part of the process, it is less likely to stick to the dough.


The yeast should be about ready and you can tell because it will be a tad bit bubbly on the top.


Now it is time to mix in the yeast/sugar mixture. It is going to be a tad bit lumpy, but no worries, everything will smooth itself out shortly.


In another bowl drizzle in some olive oil. Move it around to cover the bottom and outside edges of the bowl. In the end I probably used about 1/4 cup. Then take the dough and put in the olive oil filled bowl. The oil will help so that the dough does not stick to the sides, but it will also encourage it to rise upwards.


Cover the dough with saran wrap and then add a towel over the top. Store in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour. For me that was over the dishwasher, where I was actually trying to clean things up a bit. Desperate times call for desperate measures when you suddenly run out of forks.


It's at this point when the dough is rising that I will generally make my hummus, but that portion is for another post. So this time around I am going to sit back, prop me feet up and enjoy Dancing with the Stars.


After the dough has had its breathing time, add flour to your surface. I like to use a wood cutting board. Contains the mess, a bit, and sticks a little less.

Unwrap the dough that has been resting (talk about taking it easy before a workout), it should have risen in the bowl, and come cleanly off the edges thanks to the olive oil.


Now it is time for the baking workout. Using the flour on the board, and generously adding some more as it kneads into the dough. The dough is ready when it no longer sticks to your hands or the board. If it is sticky, keep working it in. Took about 15 minutes for me to make this dough submissive to me and my muscular kneading arms. All this will help and make it nice and crusty.


Once the dough is thoroughly kneaded, break it off into small balls, rough the size of your fist. Take them and roll them out with a rolling pin (or wine bottle in my case -- white wines are rather nice for this). They should measure about 5-6 inches in diameter.


Now the part where I usually burn myself on the oven. It should be preheated to a whopping 500 degrees, and you want to make sure that the rack is on the lowest rung. I preheat the pan in the oven, so when it is ready, the bread bakes to moment it hits the metal.

Add the dough to the sheet -- 2 to 3 pieces to the pan. Put in the oven for 4-5 minutes. It will start to balloon up and look like a whoopee cushion. Take them out and flip them, putting them back in for another two minutes. The pitas should be soft, so when the edges start getting a little browned, it it time to take them out.


Place the pitas on a cooling rack. Using a knife, I deflate them a bit.


And when they are done, they are a nice, soft bread, ready for just about anything. In this case it was hummus, but I saved a few extras for the morning and spread them with Nutella and Almond Butter.

Store in a plastic bag letting out the air before closing it up so they stay nice and moist.