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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Home Made Soft Pretzels and Cinnamon Pretzel Bites

Holy Cow! I have been craving soft pretzels so bad lately that I just decided to make them myself. I'm so glad I did. TOTALLY satisfied my craving. And not as difficult as I expected them to be. I made a batch of large salted soft pretzels and then a small batch of cinnamon pretzel bites with a cream cheese sauce drizzled on top. Met my standards AND the kids'. Any day that I can make something I like that the kids will eat too is a good day. Today was fantastic!





Ingredients:

2 packs of 1.4 0z rapid active yeast
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 cups warm water
4 1/2 cups of bread flour
2 cups of all purpose flour (I ran out of bread flour so you can just use 6 1/2 of that if you want)
1 tablespoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup baking soda
1/2 cup of beer
8 cups of water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
sea salt to taste


 Instructions:

1) Combine yeast, warm water and brown sugar in a bowl. Mix together and let sit until mixture becomes foam like. Should take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.

2) In a bowl that you will use for a mixer that has a dough hook, mix together the flour and salt. Then add the butter in chunks and mix with your hands. Mix until it is grainy.

3) Add the yeast mixture to the flour and mix with your hands until all the liquid is absorbed.

4) With a dough hook attachment on your mixer, mix the dough until it is smooth and whole.













5) Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.

6) After the two hours is up, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

7) In a large pot. combine 8 cups of water, beer, sugar and baking soda. Bring to a boil.

8) Taking the dough that's been chilling, roll it out and cut into strips about a foot long. Take those strips and continue to roll them out until they're about 16 inches long.

9) With the dough strip, shape them in a U, wrap the ends together and then pull them down into the U to make the pretzel shape. Place the pretzel onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

10) Take each individual pretzel and place it one at a time into the boiling pot. Pull it out once it starts to float. This should take about 20 to 30 seconds depending on the size of your pretzel.

11) Brush the pretzels with the beaten egg and then salt.

12) Bake your pretzels. Make sure not to have the rack too high as they will burn really quickly. They should bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.








For the Pretzel Bites, just take one of those 16 inch strips and cut it into 1 1/2 inch chunks. Go through the same "boiling" process and egg wash process. Instead of salting, I made a mix of cinnamon and sugar (1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tbs granulated sugar). Bake at the same temperature. These took much less time but I didn't pay attention to that part. Sorry. Just make sure that they don't over cook.

For the Cream Cheese Sauce for the Bites, I took 3 tablespoons of regular cream cheese, added 2 tablespoons of confectioner sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk and heated until the mixture was smooth and thin. I then put the sauce into a plastic sandwich bag, cut off the tip and drizzled on top of the Pretzel Bites. Simple as that.




I served the pretzels with a nacho cheese sauce and a spicy brown mustard. I preferred the mustard while the kids enjoyed the cheese sauce. The pretzels tasted just like the kind you can get at the mall or fair. They completely satisfied my jonesing. SO yummy and not hard at all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Eggplant Pasta

I don't have the slightest idea what to call this dish so I dubbed it "eggplant pasta".

My neighbor gave me a bag of some really beautiful veggies and in it were some cherry tomatoes and eggplant. I have never had eggplant before so I was a bit nervous about using it to cook with. I've heard of eggplant parm and eggplant lasagna but I didn't have all the ingredients for those dishes and really didn't feel like going out and buying it. So I concocted my own dish.

I melted about 3 tablespoons of butter in a pan.

While the butter was melting, I cut up two smaller eggplants, about a handful of tomatoes, 2 large cloves of garlic and two slices of sun dried tomatoes. I threw all of this into the pan and sauteed it.

While sauteing, I boiled water and cooked noodles.

Toward the end of the sauteing, I threw in about 10 leaves of basil that I tore apart by hand. I know I've said it before but I LOVE the smell of basil. I can't get enough of it. Oh, and the way it made my hands smell afterwards! SO good!

After all was said and done, I topped the pasta with the eggplant mix.


 

I thought it was delicious. The kids didn't like the egg plant but they liked the rest of it. I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on theirs but mine was great with out it. I served it with garlic bread. A good filling dinner.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's the simple things: Baked Granola Topping


Everything's more fun in a martini glass!

I've been trying to make healthier snacks for the kids and I so I thought that yogurt and granola would be a good idea.

I am not in any possition to attempt making my own yogurt but I figured I'd be safe with making my own granola topping.

I took 1 1/2 cups instant Quaker Oats rolled oats and mixed it with about 1/2 cup of crumbs from Special K cereal, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and a teaspoon of sunflower seeds.

In an oven that had been preheated to 400 degrees, I baked (toasted was more like it) the mixture for about 2 or 3 minutes. It doesn't need to be in very long since it'll end up burning very quickly. Seriously, keep a close eye on it. You'll be able to tell by the color. After all was said and done, it all measured out to about 2 cups.

And that was it. I sprinkled some on top of our vanilla yogurt and we had a nice little after dinner snack. What we didn't use, I put into a jar to save for later.


Special K Crumbs





Another quick, easy, enjoyable little bite.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Egg Salad

I can always count on my kids eating eggs. I just have to be creative so we aren't eating the same thing all day every day.

For lunch today, I made egg salad sandwiches. There's a ton of ways to make egg salad but the kids and I like how I do it.

I had hard boiled 5 eggs the night before and let them chill over night. This morning, I peeled them and chopped them.

I then chopped up some of the chives from my window garden and threw them in.

I rarely measure anything out when I'm making things like this. I added about two medium sized spoonfuls of mayonnaise, celery salt, paprika, and fresh cracked pepper. Mix it all together and there you go.

I served it on whole wheat bread with a kosher dill pickle and some of my home made cran-chocolate chip cookies. Yum Yum Yum. Lunch was a hit!




Easiest Scrambled Eggs EVER!


I am a stay at home mom of three children under the age of 4. First thing in the morning is probably the most demanding time of my day. I have two kids who need their diapers changed right away. I have sippy cups to fill and distribute ASAP. The baby is usually flipping out right about this time wanting to be fed. I also have three dogs that I need to let out (and monitor) before they have accidents on the floor. This is all before I'm able to even think about coffee yet. I am then trying to get the two older children fed as quickly as possible so that I don't have a riot on my hands. I was recently reading through a magazine and saw a "recipe" for quick scrambled eggs. Seriously, the quickest way to cook eggs I've ever seen.

Take a microwaveable coffee mug.

Break two eggs into them, whisk in 2 tablespoons of milk and add salt and pepper to taste. Add shredded cheese if you want.

Put the mug into the microwave and cook for 45 seconds. Pull the mug out, stir the eggs thoroughly and microwave again for another 35-45 seconds.

Scrambled eggs in a mug.

So easy. So quick. And they don't taste weird. Plus, the kids thought it was fun to eat breakfast out of a cup.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Black Beans and Rice Soft Tacos

I'm in love with these little corn tortillas and will use any excuse to eat them. My husband bought these prepattied burgers and I'm trying to use them up. However, none of us like them in burger form so I figured I'd season them up and chop them up to (re)make "ground beef".



I made these delicious soft tacos by seasoning the meat with chipolte, garlic salt, pepper, paprika and onion powder. I didn't measure any of it, just to taste.

I cooked a can of black beans with chopped cilantro and chives. While all of this was taking place, I steamed some rice.

This was such an incredible quick and delicious meal. The rice took the longest so if you want to make it even quicker, just use minute rice. Putting the cilantro in the beans gave them extra flavor too.

The tacos were so good. The kids loved them too. They like just about any kind of taco though. I'll take it anyhow. Getting them to eat something other than fake processed food is a win!

Super easy, super flavorful. Success.