Monday, May 17, 2010

Homemade Soft Pretzels

I am a salty food person. When I am craving a snack, I usually end up wanting something salty like: beef jerky, nuts, pretzels, Tostitos Hint of Lime . . . you get the picture. Yesterday, I was in the mood for some soft pretzels so I decided to make some but I thought it might be fun to make the dough with beer instead of water and to add some honey for a hint of sweetness. They came out really good. I was impressed. However, I think next time I will cut the yeast by half because the beer made the dough rise much more than it would have with water. They rose so much that all the holes closed up so that they look like knotted rolls instead of pretzels. They were still delicious. Take a look. The recipe follows the picture.

1 cup room temperature beer
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp kosher salt
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp instant yeast

Mix all the ingredients together in the either the bowl of a stand mixer or in the pan of the bread machine. If you use the stand mixer, knead for about 10 minutes. If you use the bread machine, like I did, set it on the dough setting and walk away. When the bread machine beeps, your dough has already risen. If you use the mixer, cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface and divide into 16 equal pieces. Grease 2 baking sheets or baking stones and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll the pieces into 12 inch long ropes and shape into pretzels. Beat 1 egg and brush on the pretzels and sprinkle with kosher or pretzel salt. Bake 8 pretzels per sheet for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with cheese sauce. YUM!

SO there you have it! Soft Pretzels!

Today after church, we went out with friends for lunch and I had 1 one of these for dessert. So good!

I have made cannoli cream before many times but, I do not have a frying tube so I cannot make the shells myself. If I ever get one, I will have to have a wider door installed on my house because I will make them ALL THE TIME!!! Probably a good thing that I don't have one.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Strawberry Picking 2010 and a Delicious Meal

Yesterday, we went strawberry picking with a group of our homeschool friends. It was a gorgeous, breezy day and the berries were sweet and perfect.

I just love the little white blossoms on the strawberry plant.

This is a 1 gallon bucket full of lovely ripe strawberries. We took home 4 of these buckets filled to overflowing.

Judah stayed home from Pre-K so he could join us. He did pretty well. I didn't find any under ripened or rotten strawberries in his bucket.

Later that evening, we went out for BBQ for dinner. Judah wanted to ride this ride before dinner and was told that he could ride it after dinner if he behaved and ate all his dinner. He didn't like that answer . . . so he pouted. Isn't he cute? Don't you want to have 12 just like him someday?

The boy knows how to hold a grudge, ladies and gentleman. I apologize for my husband . . . I am still trying to figure out what happened to him.

Judah did get to ride the ride after dinner and then we went home. When we got home, I made Freezer Jam using about 2 gallons of strawberries. We have 8 large jars in the freezer, 1 in the refrigerator and I have given 2 away. I just used the recipe on the back of the packet of Ball Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin (found in the spice/baking isle). It is so delicious!

Tonight, for dinner, I made these yummy buttery dinner rolls and some homemade cinnamon honey butter. The rolls came out so good and were the perfect vehicle for the jam and/or honey butter.

Here is the recipe for the rolls. I made mine using the bread machine but you could certainly mix and knead by hand.

1 cup warm milk (no hotter than 110 degrees F.)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast

Place all the ingredients into the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. I listed the ingredients in the order that I loaded them into the machine. Most bread machines have a dough only cycle that does all the the mixing, kneading and rising for you. Set the machine on the dough cycle and walk away. Mine takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. When the cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide the dough into 24 equal portions. Shape the dough into balls and arrange in a greased 13 inch by 9 inch baking pan. I used two 8 inch cake pans. Cover the pans with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled. I set mine on top of the stove while the oven was on and they doubled in 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Mmmmm! So good with the honey butter. You can find the recipe in this post.

Although it was tempting to just have rolls, butter and jam for dinner, I did make this lovely roasted chicken and a baby spinach and carrot salad to round out the meal. Sorry, I didn't take a picture of the salad.

It was all very delicious! The entire chicken breast as well as part of a thigh were leftover. I shredded them meat and out it in the fridge for use later in the week. The bones and some veggies and seasonings are simmering in the crockpot for some homemade chicken stock. We still have a gallon of strawberries to finish off so maybe, we'll have smoothies for breakfast.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A New Treasure

Today, after I dropped the boys off at the Boys and Girls Club for Homeschool field day, my good friend Amy and I went to a new antique and designer mall here in our town. All I can say is WOW!!!
Please forgive my crappy photos . . . I took them with my phone.

This used to be an old textile mill and it is being coverted into this awesome treasure warehouse of all things pretty. I was on a mission to find tea cups for a Mother's Day tea that I am attending on Saturday so I didn't have the time to truly shop but, I will be going back.

This sweet table was one thing that caught my eye. Of course, in my house, those balls would be getting chucked all over the place. I love the blues and browns and that chunky candle holder.

Here is a close up of another sweet planter pot. I know of at least one sweet friend who would love this place. *SIGH!!!* I must go back and really search. They had everything from fabric to furniture and everything in between. Who wants to go with me?