Last night, at my youngest daughter’s request, I searched around for an easy pretzel recipe. I wanted one that would remind me of Mellow Mushroom’s amazing pretzels. These babies are made with their pizza dough, so they are golden crunch-chewy-crusty the outside and pillowy-soft on the inside.They serve them crazy-hot with a side of yellow mustard and, man, these are good. We found ourselves there for lunch today, so we ordered the Butter and Kosher salt pretzels, mustard on the side. This should have satisfied the craving, only it didn’t. It might have made it worse. After a light dinner of veggies and hummus, I decided to tackle the craving with this recipe. http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/12/25/30-minute-whole-wheat-pretzels/
Frankly, I’ve been intimidated to make soft pretzels, but this recipe said it was easy. Sallysbackingaddiction was telling the truth. Thanks, Sally!
There are very few ingredients: fewer than it takes to make cookies. No, you don’t need to let the dough rise. You don’t need a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. You don’t even need a mixer. You can make it with whole wheat flour. Or not. It’s fast and easy. My dear husband wandered over and helped out with a minute or two of kneading, which prompted a few more kiddo helpers to step in and assist. Everyone had fun rolling out the dough and shaping it into pretzels. He dipped the pretzels in the boiling baking soda, which you don’t even have to do. Easy! We used parchment paper-lined baking sheets and kept a watch on the broiling and pulled them out just as they were browning. And, cleaned up. Hot, crusty, chewy, salty, soft pretzel-y deliciousness. Needless to say, the first sheet of pretzels, the salted ones, were gone before we remembered the mustard. The cinnamon-sugar with butter were ridiculously heavenly. There are just a few left. I’m already looking forward to having one with my morning coffee. Smiles!
Many thanks to Sallysbakingaddiction.com for simplifying my evening with this yummy pretzel recipe. Check out her site, it’s very inspiring.
My thought for the day: Sometimes, the simplest pleasures are the greatest.
A conversation that just happened after today’s breakfast. “There are new toy dolls, Mommy! They are so cute!” Child at computer ready to show me examples of the dolls.
“Mm-mm.” Me at my laptop contemplating baked donuts. How do you make donuts without a donut baking pan or a frying pan full of hot oil? I love donuts. Especially sour cream donuts. We all love donuts. We are out of donuts. Hmmm. I can think of nothing but donuts.
“We have nothing to do at inside recess, and could I play with these and then put them back in my backpack when I’m done.”
“What’s that.” Maybe sour cream donuts are too ambitious. Maybe sour cream coffee cake would be easier.
“Here they are.” Turns computer to me.
“Those are troll dolls.” There are a dozen crazy-haired, crazy-eyed tiny toys creatures staring from the screen.
“They are so cute. I have money to spend and I can pay for them myself.” Big brown eyes hold mine.
“You must still save some your money.” My muscles loosen to this idea, my brain warms to this small request.
“Even if I buy them, I’ll still have money saved. A lot of money. Could you get this for me today? Please?” Cue the cute puppy eyes and face.
“Perhaps. Now let’s study for your science test. And brush and braid your hair.”
And so we do.
Despite a two-hour school delay and record-breaking temperatures in Ohio, it is sunny skies, light winds. Roads and parking lots are clear. A small request. Perhaps, my girl, I’ll find a troll doll for you.
In the meantime, time for a sweet experiment. I hope it turns out okay….
Dessert Hack: Baked Donuts
No donut pan? Don’t want to mess with hot oil? No worries: Use a muffin tin. In the center of each muffin stand a tiny tube of aluminum foil. Spoon small amount of batter around the tube. Bake as directed and cool for a few minutes before removing the foil. Let cool.
Thought for the day: Be ready to improvise! Try something different, even if it’s a small something, and see what happens.
Today was a snow day, meaning a house full of girls home from school. Plus, the carpet in the living room and a bedroom was replaced this morning, which meant lots of moving furniture all around the house.
After throwing together the world’s easiest and tastiest slow cooker meal–Italian sausage and a jar of chunky marinara–I got out a loaf of Italian bread. It was stale and about one hour away from growing new life forms. Fortunately, I had a bowl of whipped cream (leftover from strawberries and cream from the night before. The strawberries went first!). Plus, there was half of a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and enough sugar and eggs to bake something yummy.
I decided it was time for an experiment. Warm bread pudding seemed like the perfect dessert, especially after a day of cleaning and rearranging furniture on a cold and snowy day.
Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
1/2 loaf Italian bread, chopped
3 T butter
1/3 cup milk
1 cup prepared whipped cream (I made 16 oz. heavy whipping cream with 1 T sugar)
1 T vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, spread out the chopped bits of bread. Bake 5-10 minutes, until golden and toasted. In an 8″ x 8″ glass baking pan, melt 3 T butter. Swirl it around to coat the pan. Put in the toasted bread and drizzle the milk on top to help the bread absorb liquid. In a medium bowl, whisk prepared whipped cream, vanilla, eggs, and sugar. Pour over the bread, pressing down with the back of a spoon to help absorb liquid. I scattered chocolate chips and brown sugar on top. Bake for 1 hour or until it is puffed and set in the center. Serve warm with ice cream or more whipped cream.
Thought for the day: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. We can make the best of any situation by staying flexible and open to new possibilities.
I love Jalapeno Popper Dip.
Love Onion Dip.
Love, love, love Buffalo Chicken Dip.
So, this past weekend, while it was cold and snowy and Valentine’s-y, I wanted to try a new spicy hot dip. I combed the internet and came up with … nothing. It was time to experiment. I combined the tastes and flavors of all three well-loved dips into one. Feeling like I was onto something new and yummy, I took this to dinner with friends. The bowl was practically licked clean. I have to say, it was hard to stop eating this one. Everyone loved it!
Chicken Jalapeno Dip
1 chopped onion
3 seeded and diced jalapeno peppers
1 1/2 cup shredded chicken
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
4 oz. softened cream cheese
Optional: 1 tsp Tastefully Simple All Natural Fiesta Party Dip Mix. Not sure if it added much to the flavors, so I will make this recipe again without this option. I have a feeling this dip can stand on its own without this addition.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a baking dish, mix all the ingredients well. Bake 35-40 minutes until bubbly. Serve hot along with your favorite chip, cracker, and veggie. Makes enough for eight.
A random thought for the day: This is a process, not an event. Try something new and see what happens!
Happy National Cheesecake Day!
I am so happy there’s a day of the year devoted just to cheesecake. It’s one of my family’s all-time favorite homemade desserts. Since this is the summer that barely was–sunny and a high of 80?–I turned the A/C off, turned the oven on, checked my kitchen and found I had all the makings of a yummy cheesecake with a s
our cream Greek yogurt topping. Yes, Greek yogurt! So good and so good for you. We think it makes it extra creamy and rich. Mm-mmm. As my oldest daughter says, “This is just like heaven, and if the greatest song ever was a food, your cheesecake is what it would taste like.”
Cheesecake with Greek Yogurt Topping
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (this is pretty much one sleeve from a box of graham crackers and I prefer the cinnamon sugar graham crackers)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tbsp sugar
Mix these together in a bowl and press with back of a spoon into 9″ springform pan.
Cream Cheese Filling
3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened to room temp (I often use a mix of regular, reduced-fat, fat-free or Greek yogurt. It’s all divine.)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Make sure cream cheese is soft. In large bowl, beat for 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in sugar for one minute. Add one egg at a time, barely beating after each one. With last egg, add vanilla. Pour into crust. Wrap pan bottom and sides in foil and place on baking sheet.
Preheat oven and bake at 300 degrees. Check at 55 minutes and remove when the center is nearly set. It may crack as it puffs up during baking. This is an excellent reason to hide imperfections with…Greek yogurt topping.
Greek Yogurt Topping
3/4 cup 2% Greek yogurt
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix in small bowl. Gently spoon over the cheesecake, starting at the edges before spreading toward the center. Bake at 300 degrees for 11 minutes.
Cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
Out of this world! Will post pictures soon……..
I love my new oven. Maybe one day I’ll write a love note to it. A sonnet maybe. But, in our short time together, we’ve had our share of ups and downs. Firstly, I am very old school in many ways, so I’m years, possibly decades, behind the introduction to convection cooking. The new oven, while basic and old-school, has convection cooking. The key to this type of cooking, which circulates air for even cooking, baking and browning is to lower the temperature by about 50 degrees. Secondly, I make my fair share of mistakes. Thirdly, did I mention I am new to convection? Yes, well, I am still new to this. Oh, forgive me, Jewish Apple Cake! I flipped the convection switch, but forgot to lower the heat. Consequently, I baked my apple cake to within an inch of its life. Oh, it looked deceivingly lovely and golden brown. However, as it cooled, it revealed its ruination–underneath its golden crisp crust was more crust, covering a dried, dusty cake.
I couldn’t serve this to my family — I wouldn’t even eat it. I was ready to toss this hideous pan of deception. But tossing out food goes against my old-school nature. And one of my favorite sayings is Sometimes You Have to Make Lemonade Out of Lemons. There had to be something I could do to remedy this mistake. Maybe frosting or icing. Or, a glaze!
Then I remembered my post about fluffy pancakes using buttermilk. Remember?
[Buttermilk: 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in 1 cup measuring cup + filled rest of way with milk + wait 5 minutes = buttermilk]
True to my old-school modern-day SAHM self, I quickly Googled buttermilk glaze and found an easy recipe, which I adapted for my cake. I saved the day (and the cake was deeeee-lish)! Here are my recipes for Jewish Apple Cake and the Buttermilk Sauce:
Jewish Apple Cake
5 apples (I used Fiji or Gala)
2 T cinnamon
1/8 C sugar
3 C flour
1/2 t salt
2 1/4 C sugar
1 T baking powder
1 C oil
2 t vanilla
7 T orange juice or pineapple juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bundt cake pan. Peel, core and slice apples into 1/8″ wedges. In medium-sized bowl, toss with first 2 ingredients and set aside. In large bowl, mix remaining ingredients together just till combined. Do not overmix. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Drop in 3/4 of the apple mix. Pour in rest of batter. Place remaining apples and liquid around the top. Bake 1 hour. Test by inserting a cake tester or thin in the deepest part of the cake. Cake is baked when there aren’t any crumbs on the tester.
Do not overbake. But, if you do, top with this buttermilk sauce.
Buttermilk Glaze – drizzle over whole cake or each individual slice
2/3 C buttermilk, prepared as directed
1/2 C sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t baking soda
3 T cornstarch
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine buttermilk and remaining ingredients. While stirring continuously, bring to a boil. Boil one minute, then remove from heat. Serve drizzled over cake or individual slices.
More about Jewish Apple Cake To be kosher, and this is totally from my memory and not based on religious research in any way, you do not mix certain ingredients. That’s why Jewish Apple Cake includes oil and juice, not butter or milk. I include the buttermilk sauce in this posting to save my family from choking on dried crumbs…take it or leave it, but if you are Jewish, disregard buttermilk sauce if needed and simply don’t overbake.
This recipe for Jewish Apple Cake was always made by my mother when I was a child. I’m pretty sure I asked for this cake for my birthday, which is in August. It is That. Wonderful. Thanks, Mom, for spending hours sweltering in the summer heat to create this cake. And, you never overbaked. But if you had, maybe we could have topped it with a buttermilk glaze.
For Thanksgiving dinner, we chose to have a ham instead of turkey. Judging from the long line at the local honey-baked ham store, I know I’m not the only family who likes both ham and turkey! That ham store is amazing and crowded with other ham lovers over the holidays. I think we Oreganos might prefer ham, so we got a big mama. After a few days though, we still had leftover ham and mashed potatoes, so I decided to make a soup. There were a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes along with a few potatoes, plus those magic veggies that turn every soup into Food Love…amen to the onion, the celery and the carrots. You all are beautiful in the pot. You make the house smell fab and our bellies feel warm. Yummm.
Back to dinner prep. I have never made a ham soup, so I did what every modern-day SAHM does (right?) and Googled ham soup. I was thinking ham and bean soup, but then I stumbled onto a recipe for a yummy combo of ham, potato and cheddar soup. Even better. Even faster, since I have all those ingredients on hand. I added and subtracted a few things to make it my own. My DH declared it the best soup he has ever had. Give it a try with your ham leftovers. My recipe is below. Bon Appetit!
Creamy Potato and Ham Soup – serves 4
1 – 2 T oil
1 C celery, chopped
1 C onion, chopped
3/4 carrots, chopped
1/2 t thyme
1 t parsley
1/2 t sage
3 T mashed potatoes from your leftovers
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 C milk
1 potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
In large saucepan, heat on medium oil, celery, onion, carrots, thyme, parsley, sage. Saute on medium for 5 minutes.
Stir in mashed potatoes leftovers and cook for 2 more minutes.
Whisk in chicken broth and milk, stirring constantly to bring to a gentle boil.
Reduce heat. Add potatoes to pot and simmer 20 minutes.
Just before serving, add 1/2 C ham and serve hot.
Optional: Add 1/2 C cheddar cheese, 1 t fresh chives.