Valentine’s Day Greek Date-Night

We came up with a themed date night for our Valentine’s Day by a sort of happy accident. We started off by saying how much we wanted to make this or that. Then we realized that all those things went together in a way.
All of the photos belong to the original bloggers. Please click the hyper-linked text to find their amazing recipes they shared with the world.

The important stuff—What are we eating!?

We have had gyros before and my Sister in Law (SiL) swears that if I can make naan then I can make my own pita bread. I’m not going to use the more traditional lamb because of the cost. Instead we are going to use some beef steaks I found on sale.

Our appetizer will be relatively simple. I’m planning on doing hummus and sweet bell peppers for dipping. Maybe some carrots if we have them on hand too, but I don’t want to overeat before we get to the main event. There will be plenty of food. If you’ve never made hummus before then don’t worry. It is much like guacamole. There are some essentials and after you get them dumped in the bowl you fix it to your taste. A can of chick peas, lemon juice, salt, garlic and pepper. You’re pretty much in business if you have those things.

To alleviate crunch time stress I am going to make the pita bread the pita day before. Allow them to cool, cut them into halves to create the pockets and put them in zipper bags until our supper the next night.
Here is the recipe for pita bread that I will be following. Looks simple, right?

I will also likely make the tzatziki sauce the day before. As with most

tzatziki infographic

sauces, I feel like it will be more tasty after sitting over night anyway. Tzatziki sauce is basically cucumbers pureed, yogurt and some herbs/spices. It is awesome! Of course if you hate yogurt and cucumber then stay away. Here is the recipe I will be following for Tzatziki sauce. I will however point out that I will not be allowing the yogurt to drain for 2 hours. 30 minutes will suffice.  Check out this cute little infographic on how-to make tzatziki or click the link above for word directions.

gyro

The gyro recipe will more or less follow the one found on Tide and Thyme (again). I figure as long as I add some lemon and thyme and other Greek-ish spices that the meat will be just fine. For veggie stuffing in my gyros I am planning: Olives, spinach, tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Sidedishes: The sides will be relatively simple since they are not the main and delectable main stage player that the gyros will be. We are going to make up a box of Suddenly Salad. Yeah, I realize that is silly with all the homemade things surrounding it, but I really enjoy those pasta salads and the lack of work they entail. The second side dish is going to be homemade sweet potato fries. I haven’t completely nailed down a favorite recipe but I’ve been scrounging on Pinterest for one that speaks to me. I kinda want to do an olive oil, salt and rosemary topping for them and I definitely want to cut this fairly thin so I get a good crispy fry. Oh, I should clarify that by “fries” I mean that I bake them on a cookie sheet.

The final thing on our menu for the evening is less Greek, but much more realistic and easy. I decided the most important thing was the gyros

lemon brownies

and I don’t want to spend hours slaving over the dessert too. I have been wanting to make these Lemon Brownies for ages! I love lemon desserts, chocolate desserts or chocolate and fruit desserts. Yeah…I kinda have a sweet tooth. This recipe is of the mix and dump persuasion so I think it will fit our evening the best.

My mom suggested this last part and I figured, why not dive in?!
Mom owns a copy of My Big Fat Greek Wedding  so we’re going to greekweddingwatch that as we eat our gyros, salad and fries. I hope that we’ll be full as ticks by the end of the evening. Seeing as the hubbster doesn’t drink wine or champagne I’m not sure what specialty drinks we might have. He will probably stick with his sweet tea or diet coke. I might get a small bottle of something special just for me. And you know that once you remove the cork is spoils if you don’t finish it in one night. 

Questions for my Readers:

Is a themed Valentine’s date too cheesy for you?
I’ve got a lot riding on if all these recipes turn out right. Would you try a new recipe on a special night?
Are you
, like us, trying to avoid going out on the 14th at all costs? I gave up trying to battle the crowds years ago. Staying in are where it is at!

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Spiced Pear Bread {Recipe Revealed!!}

pearcakefullA humungous THANKS to Scottyboy & KatyGirl for asking Kaylee from Life Chasers to share her Nutmeg Spiced Pear Cake recipe. This blog was a couple of years old but it was exactly what I needed!!
Recently, I did some reorganization in my cabinets. I pulled all the oldest canned goods out to our wire shelving and put the newer items in the cabinets below. When I pulled out all the older cans I noticed I had six cans of sliced pears in juice. Uh, why? Why did I buy six cans? I like pears, but why do I have quite so many? I refuse to throw out good food and I knew I wanted to make them into a dessert, specifically a sweet bread for Kit and me.
After many, many Google, Pinterest and AllRecipes searches I stumbled on the above linked recipe and added my own tweaks. Below is my version of the recipe and I will make comments below the recipe why I chose to make those changes.
Spiced Pear Bread
Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon  baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup pear juice reserved from drained cans
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cans (30 ounces) pear halves, reserve juice for  and mashed
1 cup chopped almonds
Directions
In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
In another bowl, whisk the sugar, oil, eggs, cider, and vanilla.
Add to the dry ingredients and stir well.
Stir in pears and pecans.
Pour into a greased and floured 10-in fluted bunt pan.
Bake at 350F for 65-70 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool before removing from pan to a wire rack.20131013_125742My changes from the original linked recipe:
  • Doubled the amount of nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Reduced the amount of salt
  • Used juice from canned pears instead of apple cider
  • Still had some juice wasted–perhaps make the sauce linked in the recipe with the pear juice
  • Increased amount of pears to 30 oz from 29 oz. Simply because I have 15 oz cans instead of the family size cans.
  • I topped my pear bread with nuts instead of mixing them in, but I like the idea of nuts throughout the bread
  • I got to use my new silicone bunt pan…so strange, but it worked!
  • I had a small bunt pan, so I actually made a bunt and a small loaf

This was an awesome recipe
and you can bet your bunts I will be making it again!

~Kat~

Pumpkin Bread

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The final moist and delicious product!
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The other day I got really upset about something that went down and instead of moping and crying I used the negative energy (anger) to create good things.
I fixed my hair, put on makeup, washed up some dishes and made pumpkin bread. Instead of having sore fists or tear streaked cheeks I had an amazing smelling house and pumpkin bread to share with Kit and friends.
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Here is the recipe I found in a book-this is weird for me. Most recipes I find online nowadays. What isn’t weird is how I always tweak a recipe. Below are my adjustments.

I added 2 cups of pumpkin (3/4 cups baked cushaw from farm and 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin).

I also only added 1/2 cup water instead of a full cup because it wasn’t a very thick batter already.

I baked it for about 1 hour.
On the top I added almond bits and chocolate chips.

Next time I make this recipe, I will substitute 1 cup applesauce instead of oil or at least a half and half substitution. I have done it before with banana bread and I really like it.

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This VIP Cookbook was written in 1979 with the intent that proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society and their research.

I picked this up at a library book sale for less than $2 so don’t think I was being noble. There are some things in there that may be out of date but I figure a good recipe is almost always a good recipe.
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One loaf got devoured by my husband and me. The other loaf I took to a wedding shower and gave to the bride to be, who just happened to love anything pumpkin. Score!

My mouth us watering just looking at the pictures again. Kit found three more huge chushaw from our volunteer plant in the compost pile and I have tons of canned pumpkin too. I know what I’m doing come Monday!

Spain Series: Bread, Coffee, and Wine

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If anything can be the staple of a country it must be the bread in Spain. Followed closely by the local wine and coffee.
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This was a snack or light breakfast that I discovered by way of the lovely Chinese woman I met on trail. Yan has lived in Spain for several years. During her time there she learned language, worked and found all the awesome foods.

Tostada con tomate means toast with tomato. The unlisted ingredients makes it delish too. Diced or mashed up tomatoes mixed with olive oil and spread on toast. Sprinkle with black pepper. Maybe it doesn’t sound too special, but I can promise it is good. I can’t wait for my garden tomatoes to come up so I can make this for my hubbster.
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Red wine (vino tinto) was another common sight in Spain. Every single town had their own brand of wine. I don’t just mean the wealthy towns either. I mean the po-dunk of the bunch with a population of 200 or so. You want to know what comes from the town of 350 where I grew up? Mullets.
The folks in Spain have as many bodegas (wineries) as we have cricks around Kentucky. Crazy frequent.
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Like I said, bread is a staple. We had some sort of bread with every meal. The particular meal (pictured above) is a breakfast made up bread, bread, and bread, with coffee and juice.
Really. There were two sweet breads and a toast for breakfast.
Other meals were usually served with a crusty French bread.
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Some wineries took their business very serious. This huge form of advertisement was along side the Camino and invited a photo.
Link to Irache free winery

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My first night in Madrid I had to try to wine. It surprisingly helped to settle my stomach, if just for a little while from the gawdawful jetlag. I swear the jetlag felt like a hard night of drinking that left one feeling hungover and unable to sleep it off. So I figured, why not have a glass of wine–
I could feel as though I had earned that sickness.
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I’m normally an anytime of day type of coffee drinker, but this espresso I had to be careful with. Typically, I drank the cafe con leche. Not cold milk, this was heated and sometimes frothy.

As you can plainly see, this was a midmorning snack of champions. Chips and coffee. There were some bread crusts and chorizo.

Just remember, if you end up in Spain and it is not during one of the strangely late meal times you can always have bread, coffee or wine.

Day 355: Add-In Muffins

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I have been enjoying having Amish friendship bbread starter in the house. The only downside is that I don’t have enough friends that want to deal with the starter.

The fun part about this basic recipe is that it just tastes like sweet bread until you add more flavors. I admit that I had to look up some ideas as to what I could add and get some sort of idea about quantity. Here is the useful link I found. Thank you, Armchair World for blogging and sharing!

To this batch I added the basics, plus 3 mashed bananas, applesauce instead of oil, and milk chocolate chips. I usually use semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I found the milk chocolate were on sale.

Even though I added sugar to the mix, I don’t add pudding mix (substitute 1 cup flour) so it stayed semi-sweet with bombs of chocolate sugary goodness. Honestly, I think 3/4 cup flour substitute would be a wiser choice. My batter ends up a little thicker than it probably should be.

I grabbed a bunch of hot muffins and gave them to my Spain-girlfriend. She came over and we had a gear spray down for bugs and water proofing. Jess snarffed a muffin before she left. Kit and I aren’t sure if any made it home to share with her folks :-) The best compliment is nothing leftover!

Day 336: Amish Starter

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Got some Amish Friendship Bread starter rolling and made a batch of muffins and an small loaf last night. I was pretty impressed with the flavor but I think I want to add cushaw (I have tons) or some other type of mix-ins.

I love kneading the starter in a bag every day. I think I like that better than actually eating the resulting bread/cakes. The gasses it builds up puffs out the bag each day. One day my bag rolled off the counter!

I understand that sourdough bread is made using basically the same process. I love, love, love sourdough so maybe I need to make a starter. It will definitely be worth the wait.

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Have you ever made friendship sweet bread or sourdough?

Day 171: I <3 French Toast

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Sometimes you just have a craving for food shaped like hearts.

I had some semi-stale bread, eggs, cinnamon, milk and sugar that was just dying to be made into breakfast.

The crusts were too stale so I used my heart cookie cutter and made my hearts.

I lost my little kids’ recipe for French toast so I just winged it. I got lucky because I cook a lot by taste and I didn’t want to eat a fingerfull of egg slime. (Eating cake batter is different and I don’t care what you say!)

I sprinkled just a touch of powdered sugar on top because I didn’t have syrup (argh!)

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Fry my pretties!!!

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Fun and delicious.
I think people forget how ridiculously easy French toast is to make. Mix it, dunk it, fry it, eat it.