30 minute soft pretzels

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I first saw this recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction and was immediately enthralled by the idea of having soft pretzels in 30 minutes.  You see, I already have my favorite soft pretzel recipe down to a T, but I don’t make them very often just due to the amount of time and work involved.  It’s not that they are difficult to make, it’s just that they take time.  Time to make the dough, time to less the dough rise, time to roll and shape and boil the dough… all of this time adds up quickly, you see.

30 minutes, on the other hand.  30 minutes I could handle.

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I was very skeptical when I read the recipe and it called for active dry yeast.  It seemed so… wrong.  My first thought was to replace the standard active dry yeast with the RapidRise variety, but I didn’t.  I decided to try the recipeas written (more or less), adding a few of the things that I think make my favorite recipe taste so great.

The result was respectable.  The pretzel, while tasty, didn’t have the traditional pretzel mouth-feel and texture (I suspect from the lack of boiling) but It was still a totally respectable snack, especially considering the time saved.  Also, since boiling was removed from the equation, it makes these pretzels the perfect recipe for baking alongside your little ones, they could even make fun pretzel shapes!

30 minute soft pretzels

Yield: Makes 16 Soft Pretzels

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups warm water (warm, NOT HOT, if you can't keep your finger in the water for a few seconds it's too hot)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 – 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
  • coarse salt for sprinkling (a cinnamon-sugar sprinkle also works well for a sweet version)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat (DO NOT USE FOIL OR YOUR PRETZELS WILL STICK). Set aside.
  2. Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and melted butter in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit until mixture is nice and foamy (appx 5 minutes).
  3. Mix 1 cup of flour with salt and stir into yeast mixture. Slowly add remaining 3 cups of flour 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough is thick*. Continue to add more flour until dough is no longer sticky. It is ready to knead when it's springy and bounces back after poking with your finger.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic,about 5 minutes, and shape into 2 balls. With a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut each ball of dough into 8 triangle sections. (I weighed this for you, but then promptly forgot to write it down so I have no idea what the actual “measurement” is. I’m so sorry.)
  5. Once cut into triangles, roll each triangle into a ball and shape into pretzels. Leave the remaining dough covered with a kitchen towel to keep it from drying out while you shape the pretzels.
  6. To shape the pretzels:
  7. Take one small dough ball and roll it into a rope, I recommend 18 to 22 inches long, depending on how big you want your pretzels to be. The process of rolling is hard to explain, so I made you a video to help! That makes up for me forgetting the weights, right?
  8. When Ready to Bake
  9. In a wide, shallow bowl, beat the egg and water together. Dunk both sides of the pretzel into the egg mixture and allow excess to drip off before placing onto your baking sheet. Place on baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt.
  10. Bake the pretzels for 10 minutes at 425F degrees. Turn the oven to broil and bake for 5 more minutes to brown the tops. Watch closely to avoid burning.
  11. I recommend wrapping extra pretzels in foil for storage, make sure they are completely cooled. They will keep for a few days at room temp, but freezing is definitely the way to go. They are best reheated in a 400 degree oven, but can be microwaved for about 30 to 45 seconds as well.

Notes

* If using a stand mixer, mix first cup of flour & salt on low until just incorporated. Add remaining 3 cups of flour and mix on low until incorporated. Increase speed to medium until dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 minutes.

http://wee-eats.com/2013/09/07/30-minute-soft-pretzels/

 

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[ Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction ]

 

bringing the grocery store home – diy clif bars

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Recently, I’ve been accused of being a little snack-heavy, it’s true.   I was actually thinking the same thing myself, I mean, a person can only eat so much whipped cream and sugar, right?  Especially during bikini-season!  While not entirely “healthy” (or un-treat-like), these homemade “Clif” bars are a great snack to sneak a bit of nutrition into your child (or lover, or own)’s lunchbox.  I mean, they’re certainly less bad for you than, say, peanut butter pie.

We all know what “Clif” bars are, right?  Those individually-wrapped bars they sell at the store for us to eat as a healthy snack?  I’d heard that they weren’t hard to make at home, but never really had a reason to make them.  Well, not until I was on this whole “no-bake” kick that I’ve been on.

I made a big batch and then stuck them in the freezer.  I’ve been sneaking a couple into the BF’s bag before he goes to work, then they’re thawed and ready to eat by the time he needs a snack!  (Not to mention taking them to work and storing them in my desk for “’emergencies”)  I mean, this is a totally normal desk drawer, right?

They aren’t exact replicas of the Clif bars you find in stores, they’re a bit crunchier (which I actually liked) but I’m sure you could get the texture a bit closer if you reduce the crisp rice cereal (or increase the dates) a bit.  I also like that I could make these smaller than the bars you find in the store.  I can’t be the only one who thinks that they are a bit big (and calorie-dense) for a snack, but still too small to be a meal-replacement.  You can cut these into any size you like, and I find these bite-size squares to be the perfect size for snacking.

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I really wish that I had mini chocolate chips on hand, but I had apparently ran out, so i had to use regular size instead.  They’re definitely not as pretty.  Plus, with mini chips, the chocolate would be able to distribute more evenly throughout the bars.  I guess I could have whirled the mixture a bit more in the food processor to chop them  up a bit…

Another great thing about these bars is that they are infinitely adaptable, you could make combos like dark-chocolate-almond, peanut-butter-“jelly” (by adding other types of dried fruit), cashew-cherry, or even a berries-and-cream version with dried fruit and yogurt or white chocolate chips!  Of course, I’m sure that you will all be shocked to learn that I went with peanut butter & chocolate for my first batch.  What can I say, I’m addicted predictable.

A warning though… when I tried to switch back to the regular store-bought Clif bars, I got a text asking where the homemade ones were, and why didn’t I put those in the bag, was I hoarding them for myself?  So… yeah, if you are going to start making these, be ready to keep making them, because the regular ones just won’t do.

Of course, the reason these are here, you don’t even have to turn on the oven!

DIY Clif Bars

Makes 16 to 25 bars, or as many as you slice 😉

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1¼ cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used cashews)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips; plus an extra tablespoon or two, separated

1. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with saran wrap and set aside.

2. Combine peanut butter and brown rice syrup in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 50% power for one minute and stir until combined.  If you need to microwave longer, microwave in 30 second intervals until the peanut butter is melted.

3. Process pitted dates in a food process until pureed.  Add oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla and continue to puree.  Once uniform in texture, add rice cereal and process until combined.  Add peanut butter mixture and continue processing until incorporated, you will probably have to scrape down the sides.  Note: It will be very sticky.

4. Finally, add the nuts and process again until they are chopped to the desired size, then add chocolate chips and pulse just a few times to distribute them through the “dough”.  Once processed, scrape into 8-inch pan and press firmly to mold to the shape of the pan.  If desired, sprinkle the extra tablespoon or two on top and gently press into the date mixture.

5.  Chill bars in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until firm. Cut into bars, then wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze up to a couple months. (I keep mine frozen and pop one or two into my bag before I head to work, by the time I need a snack they’re thawed and ready to eat!)

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[ Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker ]

 

strawberry bruschetta

Sick of strawberries yet?

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No?  Good.  Neither am I.

Continuing on with my strawberry obsession, I finally had to cave and give strawberry bruschetta a try.  The mix of sweet strawberries and fresh basil make this a sweet-savory snack that is hard to resist.  I added a drizzle of balsamic glaze to bump up the sweetness a bit, and even a smear of mascarpone which really made it about as close to perfect as it could get.  I mean, we already know that strawberries and mascarpone make a good team.

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I’ve also seen recipes that call for a smear of goat cheese, which would give it a nice tang to contrast the sweet strawberries, but that’s not really what I was looking for (goat cheese is not my favorite cheese).  If you’re really into goat cheese, go ahead and give it a shot, but I personally love the flavor of this with creamy mascarpone.

Strawberry Bruschetta

Printable Recipe

  • 1 baguette
  • 1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled, and diced
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 2 – 4 ounces mascarpone or goat cheese (optional)
  • Balsamic glaze, for drizzling

1.  Mix strawberries, 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, and basil in a medium bowl.  Toss to combine and set aside.

2.  Slice baguette into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Toast under the broiler until lightly golden on each side.

3.  Spread desired amount of cheese onto each slice of toasted baguette, and top with strawberry mixture.  Drizzle each slice with balsamic glaze.  Eat and enjoy.

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s’more popcorn

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Summer has arrived in Arizona, with our highs consistently in the upper 90s and 100s I know that no-burn days a right around the corner.  No burn days are these horrible things that were invented to prevent humans  from enjoying delicious s’mores.  They SAY it’s for air quality, but I’m pretty sure they just hate happiness.

And s’mores.

So every summer these terrible days stand between me and a delicious s’more… and trust me, you DO NOT want to be between me and my dessert.  That is not a safe place for anyone to be.

So what can I do?  Plan ahead.

A good contingency plan can be the difference between life and death, people.  LIFE AND DEATH.

So how will I feed my s’more addiction when I can’t roast marshmallows?  HOW!?

BF came to the rescue on this one, when he sent me this post from Buzzfeed.  I was not surprised to see that I had all of the necessary ingredients on hand.

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Thus I discovered what is one of the easiest and most delicious snacks of all time.  The only thing that would have made it better is if I had Golden Grahams in the pantry.  I think they would’ve actually worked better than just the crushed graham crackers, but then maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to make this again.

I used  this “simply salted” popcorn which has just a hint of salt, leaving it like a blank canvas on which to paint my flavor brush.  Sure popping popcorn isn’t rocket science, but when it means one less pan to clean, how can I resist?

I can’t.

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S’more Popcorn

Makes about 10 cups s’more popcorn

Printable Recipe

  • 1 3-oz. bag microwave popcorn, popped (or 10 cups popped popcorn)
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • One 10-oz. bag mini marshmallows, divided
  • 1 sleeve graham crackers (9 crackers) or a generous sprinkling of Golden Grahams cereal
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • Salt to taste

1. Pop popcorn according to package directions – 2 minutes and 25 seconds is the magic time in case you were wondering.  At least for our microwave it seems to be.  You could also pop popcorn on the stovetop if you wanna be all old-fashioned-like.  Spread popcorn on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with crumbled graham crackers.

2. Heat butter, half of the chocolate chips, and half of the marshmallows in the microwave until the butter is melted, stir to combine.

3. Drizzle marshmallow mixture evenly over the popcorn and toss to combine.

4. Once the popcorn is well-coated with the marshmallow mixture, add the unmelted marshmallows and chocolate chips and toss everything together.  Sprinkle with additional salt to taste.

5. Let cool completely then transfer to a paper bag for storage (in the unlikely event that you have any left)

 

[ Adapted from BuzzFeed ]

snack attack – avocado fries + onion rings

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I never fry at home… like, never.

Never ever.

Ever.

Of course, I see all kinds of recipes for fried treats that I would love to make, but I never dare make them. The danger of opening up my home to frying food ts too great. Making a batch of donuts then leads to eating a batch of donuts, then I know nothing will compare to the home made ones and I will have to make more of them, then eat more of them, then….. other things will start being fried. Everything really. Everything will start to be fried.

It’s a slippery slope there, a dangerous one, and I try to stay away from that slope at all costs.

Well, my friends, Pinterest struck again with these gosh darned avocado fries. I was so intrigued by the whole concept…. avocado FRIES??? Overcome by a recent addiction to avocado, I couldn’t resist. The image in my head of biting into a crunchy, salty exterior surrounding a warm, creamy avocado was just too much to bare. They must be mine.

So I broke my cardinal kitchen rule: thou shalt not fry.

And, while I was at it, why not throw some onion rings in there too? I always have about a thousand onions in my fridge. And I had extra buttermilk to use up anyway. I’m already breaking my rule anyway…. See? 5 minutes in and I’m already sliding down that slope… and it all started with an innocent little avocado…

Well, both were delicious. And I felt extra guilty after eating them, even though Boyfriend wandered into the kitchen at some point to help consume them… he had to run to the store in the middle of it and…  I don’t know what happened. I blacked out and they were gone…

Yeah…. too bad I can never make these again. Never ever. Ever. Make these again. But you… You should definitely make them. Even if you never fry, maybe especially if you never fry. They’re dangerously good.

Avocado Fries Recipe Adapted from Sunset Magazine

  •          Canola oil for frying
  •          1/4 cup flour
  •          1 tsp kosher salt (or other seasoning blend of your choice)
  •          2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  •         1 1/4 cups panko
  •         2 firm-ripe medium avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-in. wedges
  •         Grated parmesan (or other seasoning blend) for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 200°. In a large saucepan, heat 1 1/2 in. oil until it registers 375° on a deep-fry thermometer. (I had to switch pans after realizing my original pan was not big enough to use my spider with) Line a baking sheet with foil, if you have a baking rack, place that on top of the baking sheet which will allow the hot air to flow around the rings while they’re in the oven.

2. Meanwhile, mix flour with 1/2 tsp. salt in a shallow plate. Put eggs and panko in separate shallow plates. (I like to use paper plates so I can just throw them away afterwards. Wasteful, I know.)

3. Slice avocado and sprinkle the avocado slices with the remaining ½ tsp salt. (Maybe a little more, be generous with it). Dip each slice in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg, then panko to coat. Set aside while you finish the rest.

3. Fry a quarter of avocado slices at a time until deep golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer slices to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep warm in oven while cooking remaining avocados. Sprinkle with salt and a little grated parmesan (or other seasoning), if desired. I did some with southwestern seasoning and others just plain salt…. Both were delicious.

Panko Onion Rings

  •         1 sweet onion, cut into medium slices, rings separated
  •        1 cup buttermilk
  •         ¼ cup flour
  •         1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  •         2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  •         1 – 1 ½ cups Panko bread crumbs
  •         Canola Oil, for frying
  1. Marinate onion slices in buttermilk 30 minutes to 1 hour. Line a baking sheet with foil, if you have a baking rack, place that on top of the baking sheet which will allow the hot air to flow around the rings while they’re in the oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 200°. In a large saucepan, heat 1 ½ inch of oil to 375° on a deep-fry thermometer.
  3. Coat slices in flour, then egg, then panko. Refill panko as needed. Set aside coated rings while you coat the rest.
  4. When ready, fry onion rings a few slices at a time, making sure to not let the oil temperature drop too low.  Place fried onion rings on the rack and keep warm in the oven.
  5. Sprinkle with final salt (or other seasoning) and serve warm (preferably with some ranch to dip them in)

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