happy halloween + links to celebrate

happy halloween from simple pairings!

Happy Halloween, guys! Although you won’t find me camping out at haunted houses to celebrate, I do love Halloween festivities. I have such wonderful memories from all the years that my sister and I carefully planned our costumes and collected buckets of candy. Now it’s time to pay it forward and spread that same excitement to all the little kids running around the neighborhood. You’ll find me snacking on these sour gummies, pretzel M&M’s, and some of my favorite licorice ever between doorbell rings.

To celebrate, a few of my favorite Halloween links -

1. The history of jack-o’-lanterns [marthastewart.com]

2. Halloween candy bar cart styling [theskinnyconfidential.com]

3. How to make your pumpkins last longer! [thekitchn.com]

4. I want these festive cupcakes [realsimple.com]

5. Beautiful, DIY candy [saveur.com]

I’d love to hear, what is your favorite part about Halloween?

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nut and seed bread

nut and seed bread | simple pairings

Let’s talk bread. Wonderfully nutty and seed-studded bread. The type of bread that requires no rising, no sifting, no kneading. Because, fabulous toast is something that deserves more attention. If you take a peek at the ingredient list, you’ll find a long list of super-foods (almonds, chia seeds, flax, and so forth) and they aren’t bogged down by refined flours. If you’ve ever felt like you wanted a healthier base for your morning dose of honey or jam, you’ve totally found it. It produces such hearty, satisfying slices that your morning toast will never be the same.

A special note, this bread is made with psyllium husks as the binding material. Fret not if they aren’t already on your pantry shelf (which, they very well might not be – they certainly weren’t on my shelf either.) Before you shy away from the recipe, though, I highly recommend seeking out psyllium. It’s super cheap, and you can find it at your local health food store [most likely in the bulk section for ultra-cheap] or easily buy it online. Psyllium is critical to the success of this recipe because it will ensure that the bread binds together correctly, and it can’t be substituted. But it’s very much worth it. I like making this recipe the night before, stirring the ingredients together, letting the mixture sit on the counter top overnight, and then baking the following morning. It’s also a great way to use up a few hodgepodge bags of nuts and seeds that you have sitting around. It’s just so positively easy and delicious, you’ll never look back.

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nut and seed bread

Prepare yourselves for a wonderfully hearty bread, packed with protein and fiber. The best part? It’s flour-free. For those with a gluten intolerance or those simply looking to reduce their refined flour intake, this is a remarkable bread recipe that is right up your alley. Just take a look at the ingredient list! Importantly, the psyllium husks are the backbone of the recipe, so although they may not already be in your pantry, I suggest making a trip to your local health food store or buying them online. [Fret not, they are super affordable.]

My favorite way to serve this bread is toast in the mornings, underneath a world of various toppings [avocado, jam, honey, whatever strikes your fancy.]

Makes 1 loaf of bread
Adapted from My New Roots

1 cup / 135g sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or a mixture of both
½ cup / 90g whole flax seeds [if using ground flax, increase the water a bit to compensate]
2 tablespoons chia seeds
½ cup / 65g hazelnuts or almonds
1 ½ cups / 145g rolled oats
4 tablespoons psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder) [important, can not substitute]
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 ½ cups / 350ml water

Line a non-stick loaf pan [or flexible silicon pan] with parchment paper, or mist/grease thoroughly with olive or coconut oil. Add all dry ingredients [all seeds, oats, psyllium, and salt]. In a small glass measuring cup, stir together the melted coconut oil, maple syrup/honey, and water. Pour the liquid ingredients into the mixed dry ingredients, and stir until the ingredients form a very thick, well-mixed, and well-soaked, dough. [Note, if the mixture is too thick to stir at this point, add a tablespoon or two of water until it becomes more manageable.] Smooth the top of the mixture and gently press the edges away from the sides of the pan.

Cover the loaf pan with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest on the counter top for a minimum of two hours, but ideally, overnight. [This will ensure the loaf is properly soaked and your bread won't fall apart.]

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Transfer the pan to the oven onto the middle rack and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the bread from the pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until well browned. You can test its readiness by rapping a finger against it; the loaf should sound hollow once it is completely cooked. Important: let the bread cool completely before slicing. This is critical because the bread may crumble apart if it is sliced before completely cooled.

Toast and serve with your favorite toppings: sliced/mashed avocado and spice, jam, honey… get creative.

Store the bread in a air-tight container for up to five days.

Tip: I slice the entire loaf [after it's completely cooled, of course] and then place it in the freezer. I toast individual slices directly from the freezer, and they turn out beautifully.

© Simple Pairings. All rights reserved.

spanokopita

spanokopita | simple pairings

Fall is a time of balance; when the seasons transition between a blistering heat and an icy freeze. Comfortably cool, I translate that same style into my fall cooking. Here, I balance heavy, rich greens with light, flaky pastry. Spinach and feta wilted together, dotted with green onions and a few dashes of season and spice, make for an incredibly satisfying filling. Dinner party sides, wine night appetizers, elegant game-day snacks – all slam dunks.

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spanokopita

Savory Greek pastries, oh so light and flaky, filled with a rich, spinach and feta-studded filling. Brushed with butter and baked until golden, they make lovely appetizers or elegant sides. If you’re looking for a smaller batch, feel free to halve the recipe and use only a sleeve of phyllo dough, rather than the full box. There is a bit of assembly involved, but it’s a therapeutic process that pairs well with good music and will make for a wonderful afternoon of rewarding cooking.

Makes 16 pastries
Adapted from Ina Garten

2 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 large chopped scallions, both white and green parts
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
7 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg
Dash of ground cayenne pepper
40 sheets (1 box) frozen phyllo dough, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the spinach to a large colander, and using the back of a large spoon, press the water through the spinach to drain. [Alternatively, wrap paper towels around the spinach and wring as much of the water as you can from the greens.] Transfer the spinach to a large bowl, and add the scallions, eggs, feta, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne. Combine until well integrated.

Remove the phyllo dough sheets from their sleeves, and gently unroll the sheets onto a large, clean work surface. Cover the sheets with a lightly dampened kitchen towel. During the assembly process, you’ll want to keep the sheets covered with the towel to prevent them from drying out. Transfer one sheet to a work surface. Brush a thin layer of melted butter along the edges and over the surface of the sheet. Sprinkle with about a tablespoon or so of breadcrumbs. Place another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the sheet you just prepared. Repeat the process of buttering and sprinkling bread crumbs with the second sheet. Repeat until you have a total of 5 prepared sheets of phyllo.

Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter [or a sharp knife], score the dough into very two long rectangles. Spoon 1/4 heaping cup into the bottom corner of each rectangle. Starting with one rectangle, gently fold the bottom corner of the dough diagonally across to the other edge, making a triangle [as you fold a flag.] Gently continue to fold the triangle over and over again, gathering dough as you go, until the entire rectangle dough has been folded and you have a fully sealed triangle-shaped pastry pocket. Repeat for the other rectangle of dough, and continue until all the phyllo and filling has been used. Transfer the triangles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with a bit of melted butter.

Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and golden. Let the spanokopita cool briefly, as they will be very hot once removed from the oven. Serve warm.

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