Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pita-Licious! (Homemade Pita Bread)

I always enjoy trying new things, but although my taste buds are often adventurous, I usually stay within certain perimeters in my cooking. I love making Mexican and Italian cuisine and of course am very fond of many dishes of American origin. But this month I decided to branch out just a bit, and added a Spicy Peanut Chicken and Chicken Chow Mein to my list of meals. Both required buying a few ingredients I don't normally stock my cupboard with! The Chow Mein is still on the menu for next week, but last night I tried the Spicy Peanut Chicken, which my cookbook recommended serving over couscous with a side of pita bread.
I had come across the Peanut Chicken recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook in the Slow Cooker section, so while it was adventurous in flavor, it was also safe and easy!
In the morning I lightly browned a few chicken thighs in olive oil while I combined the rest of the ingredients in the slow cooker. The combination of flavors was so foreign! Honey with canned tomatoes and onions? Cumin and cinnamon? And peanut butter to top it off! I tailored the recipe just a bit by substituting one of the cans of "diced tomatoes with green chilies" with a can of regular diced tomatoes, since neither Travis or I are very fond of green chilies. So, it probably didn't turn out as spicy as intended, but that's fine by me. When everything was safely tucked away into the cooker, I went about the rest of my day until late afternoon.
Part of my decision to make my own pita bread was my friend Kate. My best girl friend from Oregon, she came up to visit me last weekend and on our last afternoon together, Travis and I took her to a little sandwich bistro in Spokane. I decided then and there to try gyros for the first time, which, to those of you who haven't tried one yet, it is like a Greek taco on a pita with hummus. I was very pleased! And it got me thinking...I knew that Spicy Peanut Chicken and Couscous were on the menu for the following night...I wondered how difficult it would be to make one's own pita bread. And, since the dinner was of the easy slow cooker variety, and the couscous was the 5 min boxed stuff, I had plenty of time to experiment!
My first step of course, was to go to my cookbooks. Nothing! Recipes including pita bread, yes, but no recipe for pita bread. So, trusty came in handy. After checking out several, I decided to go with the Traditional Pita Bread (which you can find here: It certainly looked easy enough, though slightly labor intensive. The dough was extremely simple, requiring only 4 common ingredients and almost no preparation. However, if your hands and fingers ever "knead" a workout, pita bread is your ticket! The dough is to be kneaded for about 8 minutes, then each individual pita dough ball is kneaded for a separate minute, which gives you a total of about 14 minutes of folding, pushing, and stretching the slightly sticky but elastic dough!
Then you can let the yeast take over, while you rest your weary little fingers. The dough rises for 45 min-1 hr, then into the very hot oven they go! I don't think I have ever baked anything at 500 degrees before, and my oversensitive smoke alarm was not too pleased with this development! I think I've come to the conclusion that it is more of heat sensor than a smoke alarm. Every time that oven door was opened, the cranky thing went off, till I was about to pull my hair out! You see, when my husband is home, he is tall enough I can just summon him to come and hit the "hush" button (which I like to call the "shut up" button). But when he is away, as he was yesterday afternoon, I keep having to drag out my step stool to shut the thing off. Sometimes, when it truly in an evil mood, it goes off by itself, just as I get my stool set up. Or just as my finger reaches for the button. I tell you, this adds a lot of drama to my cooking experience. Still, I always feel guilty for hating the contraption for its oversensitivity. I know if there was ever a real fire, he'd let us know in a jiffy! But it's almost like the little boy who cried "Wolf!"
Anyway, smoke alarm tension aside, the little pitas baked to perfection, puffing up just like they were supposed to.
And all the comments of the people online were right- there's nothing quite like a pita, hot and fresh out of the oven! And they paired perfectly with the chicken and couscous, whose flavors, though definitely new and somewhat foreign, were delicious!!

Who would have though peanut butter and tomatoes paired so well?


  1. That looks really good! I've always wanted to make bread...but the kneading part is the part I dread the most, lol! Peanut Butter and Tomatoes is delicious together though...remember the Peanut Chicken Recipe your mom used to make? Yummy!

  2. That's true! Don't be too scared off by the's not that bad if you have the time. And man, the taste of fresh bread really seems worth it!


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