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Lobster Tacos with Chipotle Lime Sauce

Indian Summer has arrived!  I was going to hold out until October, but the smell of coffee and warm spices lured me in, and I’ve already enjoyed my first Pumpkin Spice Latte.  The mums are beautiful and the bee’s, well they’re everywhere.  The weather is amazing, cooler mornings and sunny afternoons with temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s.  I’m savoring all the goodness of this beautiful time of year allowing Mother Nature to nudge me along….slowly, letting go of beach days and embracing fully the beauty of a new season!

Butterfly garden at sunset (taken Monday night)!

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On a short trip to Milwaukee last month, Mick and I enjoyed a couple of amazing lobster taco’s and I promised him I’d try to replicate the recipe at home before Summer came to an end.  With a farm fresh cabbage in the refrigerator and homegrown tomatoes on my counter I figured I better get on that!  The Chipotle Sauce is always the make-or-breaker for me when it comes to seafood taco’s (of any kind) and also the pico!  So I set about finding a recipe and came upon this one from Allrecipes.com.

The tacos were so good we decided to use the leftover Chipotle sauce over shrimp tacos the very next day!  I would imagine it would also be good drizzled over seasonal roasted vegetables and rolled into a warm tortilla!

I hope you too, have found your rhythm and are enjoying the joy’s of Indian Summer!  It’s breathtakingly beautiful here in the Midwest!   XO

img_0373Lobster Taco’s with Chipotle Lime Sauce
8 oz lobster meat (approx. 2 small tails), cut into small 1/2 inch pieces
2 teaspoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Butter
4 Tortillas
1 (8oz) container Light Sour Cream
1/2 cup Adobo Sauce from chipotle peppers (canned)
2 Tablespoons fresh Lime Juice
2 teaspoons Lime Zest
1/4 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/4 teaspoon Cumin
salt & pepper to taste
Cabbage for topping
Diced Tomatoes or Pico de Gallo for topping
Fresh Cilantro for topping

  1. Combine the sour cream, adobo sauce, lime juice and zest, chili powder and cumin in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes allowing flavors to blend.
  2. Next, clean and prepare your lobster and over medium heat, gently saute the lobster chunks in olive oil and butter until they turn pink and opaque.  Approximately 3-4 minutes.
  3. Fill tortillas with lobster, top with cabbage, cilantro and fresh diced tomatoes and/or pico-de-gallo  of choice.  Drizzle with Chipotle Sauce.

Serves 2 (four tacos)

Recipe Gently Adapted From:
Allrecipes.com, Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Dressing
Mary Dohrmann

Prep Notes:
The original Chipotle Sauce recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning.  I left this out as I didn’t have any on hand.  If you prefer a little spunk, add a few of the adobo peppers finely chopped to the recipe.  I did and YIKES…. so good!

 

Summer Chickpea Salad

I noticed the morning air was cooler today, as I took Koda for his morning walk.  It’s a refreshing relief from the stifling humidity.  It always starts like this.  A cool morning breeze, and a couple of bright red leaves, one on the sidewalk, a few on my favorite bush.  I know these days well, they carry the very first signs of a new season and I want to both embrace them and push them away all at the same time.

I’m a warm weather girl….always have been.  Give me warm sunshine on my skin and less fleece, please.  Actually, it’s not the fleece I mind so much as the winter down, and down always follows fleece.  I don’t like to be cold, though there are things I love about December.  A few things.  Red cardinals in snowy evergreen trees for instance.  But I’m way off track now.  I get like this when it’s time to transition, and if you follow along you know I’m trying very hard to recognize and embrace change.

One of the things I LOVE about this time of year is the wonderful way summer and fall vegetables meet up.  Tomatoes and sweet corn AND acorn squash and beets.  For a couple of weeks there are so so many choices!  It makes me crazy.  I’m tossing summer salads AND savoring bowls of warm ratatouille.  Even my raspberries are producing yet another round of amazing berries, as if to say, “until next year….don’t forget!”  I always want one more beach day, one more summer sunset, one more awesome homegrown tomato BLT.

Today, is freshman orientation……Mick is in high school!  The start of the school year always radically changes up our routine.  Working nights, it’s harder to greet the early morning school alarm.  I know this is true for so many.  But what I can’t figure out is how we moved from Montessori preschool to high school so quickly…..And I know this is also true for so many.  We document the years with back-to-school pictures and Christmas card photos.  We can see physically, our kids are growing, but when it comes to letting go and allowing them to move into new spaces and experience next steps on their journeys this is where the inside work begins.  What is it about that oh-my-gosh-I just-want-him-to-be-happy-and adjust-and-be-safe thing that ushers in a heaviness in my heart!?  I want to hold on, sorta.

But I’m learning something.  When I dig my heels in and hold on, I’m not holding Mick back, he’s transitioning just fine.  This child is SO ready for high school and new adventures like football games, drivers ed and homecoming.  I’m holding myself back.  I used to think, “If I could just keep him little.”  But how little, 5 or 6 or 10?  Truth is, I don’t want to keep him little…..too many wonderful things have transpired between Montessori school and high school….learning to ride a bike, violin recitals, Easter egg hunts, tree climbing, planting cucumbers, volleyball games, butterflies & bugs, chocolate chip cookie afternoons, serve trips, berry picking and jam making, late night conversations, pumpkin carving, Christmas trees, Lake Michigan adventures, Confirmation, the Rocky Mountains……

No….it’s much better to cherish every sacred moment, and like the delicious and beautiful colliding of seasons, enjoy a little of both, while slowly, one fades and another grows more brilliant.  Tomorrow, when I drop Mick off for his very first day of high school, I’m not going to dig my heels in and be sad.  Instead, I’m going to remind myself not to forget….there are SO MANY amazing blessings and cherished moments ahead for Mick this year, and in the high school years to come.  There will be joy, and new friends, and sometimes all will flow easily and sometimes it will be hard, but all of them are his to experience.  As Mick’s high school journey begins, I couldn’t be filled with more anticipation and joy for my beautiful kid….and when I’m done dropping him off, I’m going to come home and pick raspberries!

Yesterday, we had some beach time with very special friends.  It’s become an annual event that we celebrate together, all the goodness of summer with swimming, sunshine and garden fresh food.  We talk about the upcoming school year and our hopes and dreams.  When I came across Megan Gordon’s Perfect Protein Chickpea Salad, I knew what I’d be bringing!
Megan’s blog, A Sweet Spoonful is exactly that…..sweet in every way!  She’s masterful with whole grains and I LOVE following her adventures.  You’ll find Megan and her original recipe here, http://asweetspoonful.com/2016/08/perfect-protein-chickpea-salad.html, along with lot’s of fabulous recipes and her book, Whole-Grain Mornings!

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3 cups water
1 cup (180g) spelt or wheat berries
2 (14-ounce) cans garbanzo beans
1 English cucumber – peeled, seeded and diced (about 1 1/2 cups/120g)
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed and diced (about 1 cup /130g)
3 ribs celery, diced (1 cup/120g)
1 carrot, peeled and diced (1/2 cup/65g)
1/4 red onion, finely diced (1/2 cup/60g)
1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup/40g)
1/3 bunch parsley, chopped (1 1/2 cups/45g)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to season
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Add 3 cups of water to a medium pot and add the spelt (or wheat) berries. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover, cooking until tender but still chewy, about 45 minutes. Drain and cool.

In a salad bowl mix together cooked spelt berries, garbanzo beans, diced cucumbers, green pepper, celery, carrots, red onions, green onions and chopped parsley.

Mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, salt, basil and garlic; pour over salad and mix well. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Salad will stay fresh for up to 4 days, covered, in the refrigerator.

Recipe Used With Permission By:  A Sweet Spoonful, Megan Gordon
Please see above for link to Megan’s Website
Thank You Megan!  XO

Prep Notes:
I made a few adjustments simply because of what I had on hand.  I did not use a whole grain this time around though I added extra chickpeas and I used a red pepper (not green).   Also, I omitted the green onions and used all red, and I used fresh dill from my neighbors garden!!

 

 

Garlic Shrimp

So, I’m participating in the 21 Day Meditation Series offered by Deepak Chopra, Oprah and chopracentermeditation.com.   The series is called, Getting Unstuck: Creating A Limitless Life.  Anyone else ever feel stuck!?  I can’t say enough wonderful things about the experience…..the opportunity arrived at the perfect time and I am so so grateful I signed up!  I’m learning (and re-learning) much about gently moving myself forward, and change.  I thought I might share a bit of this and that, a few seeds that have been planted for me, and my greatest take-away so far.  So here it is:

  • When I intentionally begin my day in silence, a period of time to Be Still And Know….Psalm 46:10, or in meditation, my day seems to flow much more effortlessly.  When I do get frazzled or hurried, I seem to return to a centered place more quickly.
  • I can not change what I am not aware of.
  • Meditating raises my awareness.
  • Meditating is hard.  It’s difficult to quiet my thoughts…..but those few absolute quiet and still moments I’m able to capture while meditating, are making a HUGE difference in my rhythm, peace and creativity!
  • When I am aware, I am more responsive and less reactive and I make healthier choices…..for myself and my family.  This might include anything from thinking before I speak, cleaning up the piles of laundry on the basement floor so we can all maneuver more easily, taking time to really listen to someone or trying a new healthy recipe for supper.
  • I’m a better version of myself when I meditate.  I’ve experienced this same thing when I’m practicing yoga. 
  • Sometimes you gotta change your script if you want to get unstuck.  Those “go-to” lines I kept telling myself that weren’t working, needed some tweaking!  And as I changed them …..movement happened….and things started to get done.  It’s a work in progress.
  • Meditation seems to soften things, like conversations and my listening, and even my ability to hold both heartache and joy in the same day.  It works with simpler things too like it helped me realize that one load of laundry at a time, the basement floor that I mentioned above, would get cleaned up and it didn’t have to happen all at once.  I let the job become a “monster” and I got overwhelmed (think Christmas and Easter linens in piles on the floor).  Meditation softened that.
  • Meditation, like so many wonderful tools, is a practice.  There are days I can barely quiet my mind, and others where the silence is much easier.  The more I’m at it, the more I’m learning and I experience the benefit of truly living in the present moment…..One mediation at a time.

And my greatest take-away so far: 

  • Like a tug-of-war competition, every time I get stuck in life it’s because I dig my heels in and resist change. I’m tired of stuck. Change is good!  Life. Is. Change.

I’m so grateful for the gift of this free meditation experience! 

You can find the 21 Day Meditation Series at, chopracentermeditation.com.    Do you meditate?  If so, I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts!

Here’s an awesome shrimp and vegetable dish we’ve been enjoying this Summer.  It’s super easy to assemble, which has been great for the Midwest heat wave we’ve been having!   Namaste….

imageGarlic Shrimp
14-16 medium size shrimp, peeled, cleaned and deveined, tails removed
1/2 yellow squash, cut julienne style
1/2 zucchini, cut julienne style
1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely minced
1/4 tsp dry oregano
1/4 tsp dry basil
1 cup cooked pasta (spaghetti style – whole wheat per preference)
olive oil
Fresh basil leaves
Pinch kosher salt
Fresh lemon juice, optional

  1.  In a bowl combine, cleaned raw shrimp, oregano, dried basil, garlic and pinch kosher salt.  Drizzle gently with olive oil (approximately 1 1/2 Tbsp) and toss until all shrimp are well coated with herbs and olive oil.  Place in refrigerator to “marinate” for 15-20 minutes.
  2. In a non-stick pan, using 1 tsp olive oil, saute the yellow squash and zucchini until crisp tender (approximately 1 minute).  Next, add the tomatoes and continue to saute for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the shrimp and toss together with the vegetables until shrimp turn pink and are fully cooked (approximately 3-4 minutes though time varies).
  4. Finally, add the cooked pasta and gently toss until pasta is also heated.  Top with fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon juice as per preference.
    Serves 2

Recipe Inspired By:
My Friend Mike (a fellow fresh food lover)

Black Bean Brownies

Last weekend we celebrated our 24th Mother Daughter Weekend in South Haven, MI!  It’s incredible to me that I’m approaching the age my mom was when we began our annual retreats.  Things have changed over the years.  We now spend a lot less time shopping and attending performances.  We sit more.  In gardens, coffee houses, restaurants and around tables filled with delicious nibbles and wine…..and conversation.  This is sacred time.

Lately, we seem to be migrating to whatever local Farmer’s Market is close by, and South Haven seemed to have a little something for everyone!  So I found myself spending time at the Shady Side Farm farm stand talking about beans –  and I walked away with a bag of Black Turtle Beans and this great Black Bean Brownie Recipe!

Mick was super excited to try them as he, using his 14 yr old persuasive powers, was trying to convince me they’re probably a great source of protein “with all those beans”!  Those of you who follow along know he’s a pescatatian (someone who eats a plant based diet inclusive of seafood).  Well, the brownies are delightful (and yes, a bit healthier with beans instead of white flour) but I’m not certain they qualify as a legit source of protein!!

We closed our day Saturday with a trip to the beach for a South Haven sunset.  We’ve taken in a few sunsets over the years, Door County and Elkhart Lake, were stunning.  As we sat, toes in sand and side by side and soaked in the golden glow of the sunset, my heart was filled all the way UP with gratitude…..for the joy and laughter, seagulls, beach grasses, and slowly setting sun, but mostly for the blessing of 24 amazing and very treasured weekends together!

An added benefit for some – the brownies are gluten free!  Enjoy!!

IMG_8307IMG_0070IMG_4510Black Bean Brownies
1 3/4 cup black beans (cooked and drained or canned)
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor or blender.  Process until well-mixed.  Pour thick batter into greased 8×8 in pan (I used non-stick spray).  Sprinkle top with chocolate chips and use a knife to gently stir a few chips into the batter.  Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes.  Watch carefully so as not to over or under bake.  Brownies spring back a bit when gently testing to see if they’re done.  Cool before cutting.

Recipe Inspired By:
Shady Side Farm, Gluten-free Black Bean Brownies

 

 

Massaged Kale Salad

OK, so you overindulged a bit over the holiday weekend.  That’s called life!  If you didn’t enjoy that cherry rhubarb pie you’d probably still be thinking about it today!  And then, feeling deprived, you may make choices you might otherwise not want to make.

It sounds counter intuitive, but allowing for a small indulgence or a little wandering, sometimes, is exactly what we need to keep us in balance.  The clients I’ve worked with who are successful at maintaining a healthy rhythm with their wellness routines understand this.  They wander back.  They’ve learned there is no “blowing it”.  How can there be?  Life is learning, growing, tweaking and finding what works for us.  It’s all about the wandering!!

If we never wander or step out of bounds every now and then, we never grow wings (and we miss out on things like birthday cake and blueberry crumble).  Wandering makes us stronger and helps us learn what we’re really capable of, it helps us develop new tools (for healthy eating and living well) and confidence in our resiliency.

Instead of thinking about the pie you didn’t have and wished you did or about the bratwurst you did have and wished you didn’t, focus today instead on one healthy choice.  You know this.  You’ve done this….it’s part of your rhythm.  Try this massaged kale salad.  That’s where I’m starting today (works for me every time)!

Yes!  You actually massage the kale with olive oil!
IMG_6462I’ve used pears and apples in this salad, but wow, this is so so good with fresh sliced plums! IMG_6469

Massaged Kale Salad
4 cups washed and dried kale – torn into smaller pieces
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 Plum, sliced
Sea Salt to taste

  1.   Wash and remove kale from tough center ribs.  Tear into bite size pieces and either spin to dry or rest on paper towels until dry.
  2. Place the kale in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.  Massage the olive oil into the kale leaves taking time to touch all of the greens.
  3. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the kale and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.  Toss together.
  4. Add the feta cheese crumbles, slivered almonds and plum slices and toss all together.  Season with additional lemon juice and/or sea salt as desired.

Serves 2-3 people

Prep Notes:  Sometimes I find I need an extra drizzle of olive oil to hit all the greens, squeeze of lemon juice or sprinkle of sea salt.  This salad holds up well overnight!
Enjoy!  XXO

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Your Heart

Sometimes it’s just best to get back at it, what you love that is.  Having just passed the Summer Solstice, the weather is warm now.  Like me, my cucumber plants are happy, they thrive in all the sunshine!  And I’m soaking up LOT’S of sun these days….all kinds…..Sandbags at my sister’s, Beach Time with beautiful friends, Sunflowers with mom and Sunsets with my oldest besties.  My neighbor walked a homemade fresh spinach pie over recently.   In my book that’s sunshine!  Delicious!

It’s good to be in a new season.  One where my house is open inviting the breeze to flow through and the birds are singing and everything is green and full of life.  The clouds may show up and the rains may fall (and sometimes we wonder when they’ll move on) but these people and their love and presence in my life ARE my sunshine!  These are the people who’ve known me forever (or at least since 5th grade).   They’re the people who know all the nooks and crannies of my life and they inspire me, always, to follow my heart……and I am so so grateful!

Around here…..

These Red Beauties are ripe for the picking (YES, I know…but I couldn’t resist)!

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And something else I couldn’t resist is an idea I’ve been pondering to work brie cheese into something with eggs….and so, last night for supper I made myself a Kale, Golden Beet and Brie Cheese Frittata……sweet, savory, creamy…YUM!

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It’s going to be a busy Fourth of July weekend I’m sure for many of us.  I hope there’s plenty of time for gathering around tables of fresh, oh-so-good food with family and friends!  Thought I’d include links to a few sides & salads from previous posts…..XXO, ENJOY!

https://freshandsimple.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/best-baked-beans/
https://freshandsimple.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/green-bean-tomato-salad/
https://freshandsimple.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/lemon-herbed-white-bean-salad/
https://freshandsimple.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/the-power-of-one/

Kale, Golden Beet and Brie Cheese Frittata
6 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
sweet onion slices, approx. 3 very thin swipes across the onion
2 small- medium golden beets, sliced into small rounds, roasted
1 cup kale, gently torn and densely packed down
5-6 slices brie cheese, rind removed
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Roast Beets – by washing peeling and slicing into thin rounds.  Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and roast in a 400 degree oven for 8 minutes until soft.

1. In a medium bowl beat the eggs, milk, salt and freshly ground pepper (according to taste). Set aside. Turn oven on to broil.
2. In a 10 inch cast iron (or oven-safe) skillet heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and sauté the onions for 1 minute.
3. Add the already roasted beets and continue to sauté for about 1 more minute, until the beets are warm.  Next, add the kale and gently toss with the beets and onions for about 1-2 minutes, until kale softens and becomes wilted.
4. Next, add the beaten egg mixture and gently stir a time or two to combine.  Top with the brie cheese slices and then leave it to allow the eggs to set-up, approximately 3 minutes.
5. Transfer the frittata to the oven and place under the broiler to finish setting, approximately 2-4 minutes. Remove once the eggs have fully set and the frittata turns golden brown.

Recipe Originally Inspired By, Veggie Frittata
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – A Year Of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver

 

Curried Chicken Salad . . . . and Joy!

There’s a robin outside my sunroom window, who for the last two weeks has been trying to build a nest.  In the corner of our vaulted ceiling to the right there’s an overhang that protects the window.  Underneath the overhang is a small ledge that’s 2 inches deep at best.  My feathered friend want’s desperately to place her nest in this corner and she’s persistent.

Every morning I come down the stairs for coffee and find her busy at work.  She gathers brush clippings from the bushes and flies them to the ledge.  She puts them down in just the right spot and walks all over them.  When she leaves to get more clippings they all fall to the ground.  Sometimes she picks the clippings back up and sometimes she gathers new, but the ledge is too small to hold them.  This went on for TWO WEEKS . . . . she just didn’t get it.

Now some of you may think what I’m about to tell you is crazy, but yes, I had PK build a larger ledge for her.  She so needed a break!  By the end of the next day the nest was done.  Completely finished . . . .  her perseverance paid off (sort of)!  I’m looking forward to flying lessons!

Mick had a violin recital Sunday . . . . always a bit of a “jittery” day.  There’s so much excitement to perform the song you’ve worked so hard to learn . . .  and then there’s those nerves that flutter up inside because you want to get it right!

Mick set his sites on Minuet by Boccherini over a year ago.  It’s a joyful piece, and one of his favorite songs.  As we neared the end of Book 2 a few months ago Mick realized he was getting closer to the song he’d been waiting to learn . . . . song # 12 of Book 2.  It lay before him for what seemed like forever as he worked his way through the book.  We listened to the song over and over and over again.

It’s always exciting to start a new piece.  I remember clearly the day he and Miss Karen turned the page to begin.  Mick’s face was glowing, and then Karen showed him the first few stanza’s which Mick tackled with the same fierceness our robin displayed in trying to build her nest!  For the next two months Mick practiced Boccherini, section by section, with repeats, crescendo’s and slurs . . . more practice and more listening.

So Sunday, as he approached the stage I could feel my heart racing, fast, like the derby horses Saturday afternoon.  I could only imagine how Mick was feeling.  He placed his bow on the strings, and began.  A little nervous at first and then, without much hesitation, he stepped into the zone . . . and it was magical, well for mom anyway!  I could see him lean into everything he learned in practice, mostly, trusting that he had practiced.

He finished the last two notes of the song and lifted his bow with a gesture as if to say, Ta Da . . . . and my heart was filled with absolute joy as my smiling 7th grader accomplished his goal.   “I want him to remember this feeling”, I remember thinking.  This feeling of accomplishment!  It’s good to remember . . .

We made this chicken salad in cooking class a few weeks back and everyone loved it.  The curry was calling to me!  We substituted apple for what was originally pear in the recipe though we’re certainly at the very very end of apple season.  I would imagine mango might also add a fresh flavor (without the crunch).  I will definitely be enjoying this salad during the Spring/Summer months!  I show it here stuffed into whole wheat pita’s and next week I’m thinking it will be great over a bowl of fresh spinach greens . . . . from the local Farmer’s Market!  Joy!!  xo

 

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Curried Chicken Salad
1 (5 oz) plain non-fat Greek-style yogurt
1/4 c Olive Oil – based mayonnaise (or low fat)
1 Tbsp curry powder
2 c chicken breast, cooked and cubed
1 apple, diced (we used Fugi)
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/4 c almonds, slivered
whole wheat pita bread for stuffing OR mixed salad greens

1.   Combine yogurt, mayonnaise and curry powder in a bowl.
2.   Add chicken, apple, celery, cranberries and almonds and toss to combine.
3.   Fill pita halves with chicken salad OR top mixed greens with a scoop.

 Recipe Gently Adapted From:   Eatingwell.com, Curried Chicken Pitas