Now Bake This: Totally Twisted Homemade Pretzels

Happy Monday Everyone!

I am so happy to announce that I am no longer a single parent! The hubs got back from his Revolution shoot on Thursday and it’s been so nice having him home. Unfortunately it seems as though my “food poisoning” {aka stomach flu} decided to stick around and prey on another victim so please send your well wishes his way. And send even MORE well wishes to Keelin so that it skips her all together. Not sure how I’ll handle it if it gets to her too. *praying praying praying*

In other news, I thought I would kick off the week right by linking up! I had such a great time with this link up during my link UP week, and seeing as how I did a little baking while the hubs was away, I thought I’d join in again with Now Bake This!

I’d been meaning to make these bad boys for months… no, years. Ever since our friend Ike whipped up a batch a few New Year’s Eves ago. They were so delicious and I knew I had to make them. The only problem back then was that I didn’t have a stand mixer and was lacking in the skills {lazy} to try it without. But once I got my beloved stand mixer, his name is Linus, I knew I had to give them a try. Don’t ask why it still took me like 2 years to finally make them.

Feast your eyes {and hopefully soon your taste buds} on these delicious treats.

soft pretzelsYUM!
These are my incredibly successful attempt at Alton Brown’s Soft Pretzels. Holy crap are they scrumptious.
The recipe is somewhat involved but pretty straight forward. Keeping with my normal recipe-sharing-habit, I’ll give you the low down of how it went down in my kitchen.

What you need:
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

What to do: (directions from Food Newtork)
Combine water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.
Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.


Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.


If you’re in the mood for something more snack-sized, cut the pieces into tiny bites.


Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1 for twisted – a few at a time for bites, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Warning.. I’m a big fan of cleaning drips and spills while I go, but when it comes to the baking soda bath… there is no point. Your stove will be covered in little white splotches {see bottom corner of photo} so just wait until you are done with the water bath before cleaning up. Avoid the frustration.


Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with beaten egg yolk/water mixture and sprinkle with pretzel salt. {I just used kosher salt, which worked great for me because sometimes soft pretzels are a little TOO salty}
Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


Holy yum!

I basically ate the whole tray in one night {while taking a bubble bath} but did pop a few in the freezer to enjoy later on.
Try these out yourself and let me know how they go!

Join the link up with your own baking success!


Link UP Week: Delightfully Inspiring Thursday

link up week

The 2nd of today’s link up comes from a blog that I recently {and happily} stumbled upon called Delightful Order.

It’s a pretty basic link up, with tons of ‘delightfully inspiring’ shared projects. The host, DaNita focuses on four key lifestyle tips: Simplify, Create, Organize, Decorate. Sounds great to me! Be sure you pay her a visit and join in the link party by sharing anything related to decorating, crafting, party planning, gift ideas, organizing, or recipes!

This is a quick little project I did a while back when we moved our office out of our bedroom and into the corner of our living room. I have very little space for all of my craft and Etsy materials so I needed to improvise and create storage where there wasn’t any. I had just purchased a number of spools of ribbon and wanted an easy way to access them that wouldn’t leave me with a big box of tangled tentacles. I decided to make a hanging ‘spool spinner’ on the inside of my cabinet door.

What you’ll need:

  • ribbon {duh}
  • small dowel rods {or something sturdy that will fit through the center hole of your spool}
  • twine or rope {ribbon will also work but I didn’t want to have a ribbon overload}
  • craft glue
  • adhesive-backed hooks

What I did:

I first decided how low I wanted the ribbon to hang by measuring out my twine – which will be the main support for the spinner. I then doubled it over and made a loop knot so that I could secure it onto the end of the dowel rod. Then tightened and secured with craft glue.


Once the glue dried I slid the ribbon onto the dowel, allowing the twine knot to act as a stopper. * I found it easier to make sure the ribbon is all facing the same direction, and hanging down from the front of the spool so it’s easy to pull down and measure out.

I did end up having to shorten the dowel which was pretty easy. Just be sure {if you need to do the same} you sand off the ends so it’s smooth.
With the free end of the twine I made a simple bow on the opposite end of the dowel, closing in the ribbon. Be sure it’s tight but don’t secure this side with glue so it can be removed to change out ribbon in the future.


Your twine should make a triangle above the ribbon, from which you can easily hang wherever you need. I used adhesive-backed hooks on the interior of my cabinet doors.

Hang and you’re done!


TA-DA. Simple and sweet. Just the way I like it!

Join the Delightfully Inspiring Thursday link up and be sure to hop around the other party participants to see some great new blogs and projects!

Until next time…

Link UP Week: Penny Pinching Party

link up week

Last link up of the day everyone, this one is about saving a little cash and it comes to you from The Thrifty Home. She has so many great ideas {as do her fellow party attendees} on great ways to save cash without limiting yourself. Do yourself a favor and check out her blog if you haven’t already. More specifically, check out the links that have been shared in her weekly Penny Pinching Party.

You may not know that I am currently reading the fantastic and terribly intimidating book, America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right On The Monday. Basically this rock star family of 7 has found a way to live off of $350/month in groceries. Yes, I’m flabbergasted. And nowhere near their success I might add. BUT, the few chapters I have read have definitely sparked the desire to find ways to be thrifty, one of which I’m super excited about and thought was worth sharing.

Backstory: when Z first went on the 17-day diet I started looking for new ways to get creative in the kitchen without breaking his dietary restrictions. One of our fall-back dinner choices was turkey patties but I didn’t want them to be the same boring patty each time so I started experimenting with ingredients. Adding this, substituting that, you know the drill. It was then that I fell in love with sun-dried tomatoes. I put these little bites of heaven on EVERYTHING now! Homemade pizza, in meatloaf, in my spaghetti sauce, you name it. The funny thing is, I’ve never really been a tomato fan but these are like culinary crack! They are delish and I would eat them with every meal if I could. I would also be eating out of our car because I would have spent all our life’s savings on buying the darn things! Holy mother are they pricey. The good kind at least. So I decided I had to find a way to keep my tastebuds happy without going over the grocery budget. ENTER PINTEREST AND YOUR GLORIOUS GLORY!

I stumbled upon a pin from Better Hens and Gardens for HOMEMADE sun-dried {oven-dried} tomatoes. Hallelujah.

Just grab some cherry tomatoes – cheap-o at any grocery store. Slice them in half and lay them face up on a baking sheet.


Put them in a 200 degree oven for 6-12 hours. YES, 6-12 hours.
This is how easy this all is… slice em’ and forget em’. The time it takes will depend on how large your tomatoes are. Mine were on the small side so it only took them around 6-7 hours. Leave them alone as long as you can and check on them at around 6 hours to see how they are doing.

Once they are done you can easily pop them in a zip lock back and straight into the freezer… Me on the other hand, I wanted to add some extra good ju ju so I separated the tomatoes into smaller freezer cups. {I used to use these for Keelin’s homemade baby food, great buys at the dollar store}

Then I added a mixture of olive oil and my favorite spices – garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano. THEN I popped them in the freezer.


You can do these in big batches and store them away in individual portions to use whenever you need them. For most recipes you don’t even need to defrost them, just toss dump them into the saute’ pan with the rest of the veggies and prepare for a party on your tastebuds. Plus, it’s far cheaper than spending $4.00 on a single jar of the good stuff at the grocery store!

Join Jen and share your own Penny Pinching tips!

Until next time…

Link UP Week: Wow Me Wednesday

link up weekAnother Wednesday link up!
Am I going overboard? Do I care? NO… I’m having too much fun!

This next link up is called Wow Me Wednesday and is coming to you from Ginger Snap Crafts. Here are the rules:

The “rules” are simple.
Please consider sharing this party on facebook, twitter, google+ or pinterest.
Link up to your post, not your main blog.
Must be something made by YOU!
Visit other links, make new friends & most of all have fun!
Check back every Thursday for features from the previous week’s party.
I shared a sneak peek of this project on instagram a while ago and am excited to share it with you now! I’d been wanting to make Keelin a set of alphabet magnets to play with on the frig while I’m cooking. With the help of my weekly JoAnn fabric coupons, I snagged a bag of wooden letters for super cheap! At first I considered painting them but then thought about her habits at this age {i.e. putting everything in her mouth} and decided I wanted to add color while still being safe IN CASE one of the letters happened to find itself between toddler teeth. My answer… food coloring!
After searching high and low for a reasonably priced set of primary colored food coloring {Seriously what’s with all the pastels and neons. What happened to plain old red, yellow, and blue?} I finally grabbed a jumbo pack of Wilton gel colors and got down to business.
Here’s what you’ll need:
  • wooden alphabet letters {or shapes, whatever you are dying}
  • food coloring {I used gel but from what I’ve researched liquid should yield the same results}
  • white wine vinegar
  • boiling water
  • dying bowls/cups {I used solo cups so I wouldn’t risk dying my dishes}
  • disposable gloves {your hands WILL turn all sorts of fun colors if you don’t}
  • toothpick/fork/wooden skewer for mixing
  • adhesive magnets
  • paper towels
  • wax paper/parchment paper
Here’s what to do:

I kept it simple with a repeating rainbow pattern by laying out the alphabet in front of their designated color like so:
To prep the wood you’ll want to sand all sides – this will allow the color to adhere better.
As far as mixing the color, I disolved the gel color in boiling water and about a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar – which also helps the color bond to the wood.
*Note – be sure you test each color and whether or not the vinegar has an effect on it BEFORE you drop your letters. I learned that the vinegar turned my red a little too orange and my purple a little too blue. If you notice this happen, simply drop your sanded letters into a water/vinegar bath for a few seconds before dropping in the color. If you want to avoid the possibility of altering your colors all together you can keep the vinegar mix separate for all of your letters. Up to you!
Once your water is the desired color {I also recommend testing some small pieces of wood in each color to see if it’s the shade you want. My pack of letters had a few extras of the vowels so I broke them up and tested them all before dropping the whole letter.} drop your letter and use a fork, skewer, toothpick, etc. to make sure it’s fully coated. Don’t let the letter sit for too long or it may get waterlogged. About 30 seconds for each should be fine.
Remove the letter and place on a paper towel, on top of wax paper {to keep the color from bleeding onto your table or countertop}
Do this with all of your letters and let dry.
If you find that some of the color isn’t as bold as you’d like it, drop the letters again until you get the color you want!
I probably could have dropped some of them a few more times but I like the way they all turned out.
Once the letters are completely dry, attach adhesive magnets to the backs of each. I’d try one magnet toward the center of the letter, test it out on the frig to see where it could use more support and add as needed.
Please ignore my orange fingernail in the photo above. Proof that some kind of hand protection is wise.
Last but not least, tack them on the frig and watch your toddler swat them immediately on the floor. Hard work pays off, eh?
Don’t mind my filthy, dented frig.
SO, there you have it. A fun, inexpensive, and easy way to make toddler-safe alphabet magnets. {Obviously don’t let your kid play with them unsupervised because they are still made of wood and magnets which don’t BELONG in slobbery soggy mouths. Just know that if you happen to catch a quick chomp, you don’t need to worry about the hazards of ingesting paint.
Thanks to Ginger for hosting such a fun link up. Please join the party by adding one of your recent projects to the list!
Until next time…