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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Holy yum!
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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: 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.

 http://www.thethriftyhome.com

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.

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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.

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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: Now Bake This

link up week

Happy Monday ya’ll and welcome to Day 2 of link UP week! Hopefully you caught a glimpse of yesterday’s link ups {Sunday Social and Raising Imperfection} but be sure you check them out if you didn’t! Did anyone participate? Let me know!

To kick the week off right I thought I’d join Heart on Homestead and Peachy Plum for a little baking fun in their lovely {semi-new} link up aptly titled Now Bake This.

Now, since the hubs and I have been consciously trying to eat healthier, and considering Lent started last week, I haven’t been doing a whole lot of baking these days. Lucky for you and the sake of this link up, Keelin is NOT counting calories and I’ve been looking forward to sharing this amazing recipe for the perfect toddler snack. I originally found the recipe on Pinterest {duh… follow me yo!} and thought, why not finally make something I’ve pinned?!? And so I did. Allow me to introduce the brilliant, simple, and delicious mini banana pancake muffins, compliments of Once A Month Mom.  Holy yum, these things are the best. I’ve given you the link to her original recipe, but because I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to what my kid puts in her belly, I did a little tweaking. Not to be confused with twerking. Please do not twerk while you bake… things get messy enough as it is.

Moving on…

The first time I gave this recipe a try, I made a few adjustments just to cut back on the sugar. {i.e. I halved the amount of syrup it called for and replaced it with more water} They turned out great, were slightly less sweet, and Keelin loved them. Win.

The second time I tried a few too many adjustments and while they were still good, and Keelin didn’t complain, they were a little mushy for my taste. Kids are messy enough without having to scrape gooey pancake batter out from between their fingers. Lesson learned: while trying to add natural sweetness by using sugar-free applesauce, make sure you compensate with dry ingredients or it’s mush city for your mini muffins. Mostly win.

This third time I totally {not totally} changed things up and just rolled with the punches. It’s the same basic recipe, with a Sara spin. I decided to document my journey to share with you today. BIG win. Enjoy.

*Disclaimer – while I’ve provided measurements, a big part of the final result was just eyeing things and making sure my mix wasn’t too soggy.

Step 1: ingredients

1 to 1-1/2 cup  “just add water” pancake mix.
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup no sugar added applesauce
a dash of cinnamon {totally optional – unless you live in my house in which case the answer is, ALWAYS add cinnamon}
fruit of choice

GASP – yes, I cut out the syrup all together. This was partially an intentional choice because I wanted the fruit and applesauce to be the source of the sweetness. And it was partially happenstance because I was out of syrup and did not feel like going out in 30 degree weather to get more. In the end, it was a great choice.

Step 2: mix it up
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Combine pancake mix, water, applesauce, and cinnamon. Feel free to add more pancake mix {I did} if it looks too watery. The applesauce is deceptive in it’s ability to really juicy things up. Then add the fruit. I used blueberries and peaches in this batch but used variations of banana, strawberry, raspberry, mango, and pineapple in the past. Whatever floats your fruity boat.

Step 3: pour it out
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Pour into greased mini cupcake pan {Or if you are feeling frisky, you can use mini cupcake liners}. Be sure to wipe off the heinous drip marks if you plan on taking pictures for blogging purposes. {guilty}

Step 4: bake it good {preferably while listening to “WHIP it good…}
Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown. I also recommend using the toothpick test to make sure the center is nice and cooked.

Step 5: bask in the glory of your baking excellence
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Totally legitimate step.

Step 6: cool and cooler
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Let cool before removing from muffins and freeze.

Step 7: rock it
Pop out a few mini muffins as a part of breakfast or as a light snack and let your kids’ love for you grow every time. GOSH, what an awesome mom you are.

Let it be known that I realize these things are easy and delicious enough that you can make them for yourself, but since mine are mostly for my little one I’m focusing on the parental perks of the recipe! Have you tried these before or do you have another simple toddler snack recipe worth sharing? Please do. And if it involves baking make sure you link up with Jessica and Maria for Now Bake This, every Monday!

Until next time… 

Think I forgot about a really great link up? Let me know what party I should join in the comments!

17 Day Diet: POWER COOKIES!

I’ve never been a fan of diets, mostly because of the lack of sugary sweets. If you ask me, dessert isn’t a special addition to a meal, it’s a part of the meal. Z shares my love of sweets, so it’s been tough for him to say BYE BYE BYE to that last part of our meal. Especially when he has to sit next to me while I eat straight from my pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I’m so mean.

BUT, he didn’t give up and went on a search of a diet friendly dessert. Enter Dr. Mike’s POWER cookie! They aren’t the average cookie but they are quite tasty and friendly to your waste line.

Its a lengthy and unique list of ingredients… on the pricier side but you only use small amounts of each so it will last you for a long while!

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons almond paste
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
10 packets of Truvia
¼ cup agave nectar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup vanilla whey powder
2 cups oats
1 cup dried cherries
½ cup sliced almonds

yum!

Mix applesauce, almond paste, flaxseed oil, Truvia and agave nectar.

Add egg and vanilla.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and whey powder and slowly incorporate into egg mixture.

Stir in oats, almonds and cherries.

Spoon out evenly on non stick pan. its a sticky batter so don’t expect them to flatten to a ‘normal’ cookie shape.

Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.

ENJOY!!! These are actually the right amount of sweet to finish off a meal and are even great as a breakfast treat. Me and my sweet tooth approve.

Any ‘healthy’ desserts you feel good about ending your meal with?

Join the Round UP