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Potluck Pockets with Honey Wheat Pita Bread

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I found this Taste of Home recipe through Real Mom Kitchen, another favorite blog of mine, and have made it several times just in the last month.  It is the kind of unassuming recipe you might pass over for something more exciting, but that would be a mistake.  I find the seasonings & sauces a strange mix and never would have thought to put them together myself but believe me, this makes an incredibly delicious savory filling for pita pockets.  I’m salivating just thinking about the flavor of it combined with the crisp lettuce, juicy tomato and a little salty sauce poured over it all.  Oh, mama.  It is GOOD. 

I decided to make my own pita bread and found it an improvement from the store-bought kind.  I’ve never really enjoyed pita bread before because there was nothing to like about it.  Dry, hard, and slightly acidic, I mainly deigned to purchase it simply because it made a handy place to stuff meats and veggies and lovely things like falafel.  I found that although that slight acidic taste is still present in homemade pita bread, the texture makes up for it–it is soft and lovely and so much more pleasant to bite into and chew.  The wonderful filling of the Potluck Pockets is so flavorful that you can’t really even taste the flavor of the pitas so for a fully enjoyable experience, try making the pitas yourself.  I chose to use a honey wheat recipe, but any would be great here since the main flavor impact comes from the filling and the main benefit from homemade pita, in this case, is the improvement in texture.

Potluck Pockets
Printable Version

1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
8 pita breads, halved (recipe follows)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
3 cups shredded lettuce

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
Dash pepper

In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and green pepper over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, cumin and Italian seasoning; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 5-10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, bring sauce ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 5-10 minutes. Spoon meat mixture into pita halves; top with sauce, tomatoes and lettuce. Yield: 16 servings.

Nutritional Information for the filling alone (per serving): 92 calories; 6 g fat; 80 mg sodium; 4 g carb; .6 g fiber; 5.5 g protein

Recipe source: adapted from Taste of Home

Honey Wheat Pita Bread
Printable Version

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups water, heated to 110 F
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon canola oil

*If you are nervous about making pita bread, I’d recommend checking out the step-by-step photos at Evil Shenanigans, where I found this recipe.  If you do not have a mixer with dough hooks, see my note following the recipe for instructions.

In a large measuring cup combine the water and yeast.  Let stand for ten minutes, until foamy. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the yeast mixture, both flours, salt, honey, and oil. Mix on low speed for three minutes then check to make sure the dough is not too liquid, but it should be sticky to the touch. Mix on medium speed for five minutes. Cover with plastic and let rise until double in bulk, about an hour.

Heat the oven to 475 F with a pizza stone, or 9″ or larger cast iron skillet, for thirty minutes.

Once the dough has risen turn out onto a floured surface and press out the excess gas. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Roll the dough into balls then cover with a towel and allow to rest for twenty minutes.

Once rested roll the dough into a thin circle, about 1/8″ thick. Place the dough on the heated pizza stone and bake for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and puffed. Cover the baked pita with a clean towel and repeat with the remaining dough.

Makes 8 pita.

Veronica’s Notes: I used rapid-acting/instant yeast, so I used my usual method of mixing it with the dry ingredients, then adding the wet (no proofing/activating necessary with instant yeast). I made my dough by hand and had to add about 1/2 cup more all-purpose flour to get it to where I could knead it without it completely adhering to my hands, but made sure to leave it slightly sticky. I kneaded it for about 5 minutes. You can usually skip the first rise with instant yeast, but I went ahead and let it rise and then divided it into balls and let them rise again.  If you want to skip the first rise and go directly to shaping the balls, you’ll have to let them rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

A word of warning! I used a Pampered Chef pizza stone and it exploded halfway through the process of baking the pitas.  I got the stone from a friend who didn’t want it any more and I had no information on how to care for it, etc., so I’m sure I did something fundamentally wrong (like washing it with soap–yes I did) before placing it in the oven and that the process of baking pitas has nothing to do with the explosion.  After all, Evil Shenanigans used a pizza stone with no trouble.  But I just wanted to warn you–a cast iron skillet might be safer here.

Nutritional Information (per 1/2 pita): 94 calories; 1 g fat; 73 mg sodium; 18.5 g carb; 1.4 g fiber; 2.6 g protein

Recipe Source: slightly modified from Evil Shenanigans


Falafel Pita Pockets

It’s been several weeks since we had this meal but I swear, when I close my eyes, I can still smell and taste it.  I love it when I find a vegetarian recipe that doesn’t rely on gobs of cheese to taste wonderful and this one really delivers in the flavor department without being high in fat.  My mouth was watering while the falafel balls baked up and the smell of cumin laced with garlic and onion filled the air.  I could scarcely wait to pop them in the pockets, douse them with the dill dressing and gobble them up.  They are seriously delicious and the recipe is now saved in my permanent “Favorite Recipes” binder.  I only put the recipes I know I’ll use again in it.  Do you have one of those?

Falafel Pita Pockets with Dill-icious Yogurt Dip
recipe from Hungry Girl

For Falafel Pockets
2 1/2 whole-wheat or high-fiber pitas
One 15-oz. can chickpeas, well-drained
1 onion, very finely chopped
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tbsp. chopped garlic
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. paprika, or more to taste
black pepper, to taste
Two 2-second sprays olive oil nonstick spray

For Dip
6 oz. plain fat-free yogurt
1 Persian cucumber, peeled and chopped (or another small cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and chopped)
1 tsp. dried dill
3/4 tsp. crushed garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place all ingredients for falafel (except for the pitas and nonstick spray) in a large bowl, and give them a good stir. Using a potato masher, mash well. Mixture should remain slightly chunky, not smooth.

Spray a baking sheet thoroughly with a 2-second spray of olive oil nonstick spray.

One at a time, take spoonfuls of mixture in your hands and form 15 balls, each about the size of a ping-pong ball, and gently place them on the baking sheet. Spray the top of each ball with olive oil nonstick spray, for a total of about a 2-second spray.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for dip in a blender or food processor, and pulse until just blended. Season to taste with black pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Remove baking sheet from the oven, and carefully turn each ball over, gently reshaping if the bottoms have flattened. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown and slightly crispy. Allow to cool and set for at least 5 minutes.

Cut the whole pitas into halves, toast or warm all pita halves slightly, and then fill each with three falafel balls and 3 tbsp. dip. Enjoy!

PER SERVING (1 pita pocket with 3 falafel balls and 3 tbsp. dip): 198 calories, 2.25g fat, 863mg sodium, 37g carbs, 8.5g fiber, 5g sugars, 10g protein — POINTS® value 3*

HG Alternative! Enjoy your falafel ‘n dip pita-free (wrapped in lettuce, over a salad, or straight from a plate!). A pita-less serving has 139 calories, 2g fat, 718mg sodium, 24g carbs, 6g fiber, 5g sugars, and 7.5g protein (POINTS® value 2*). Woohoo!

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