Food Kryptonite: Pretzels

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Do you have a food that you love? I mean, absolutely, without a doubt, that you’d eat ANYTIME?

Every since I had my first bite in college, I have fallen head over heels for soft pretzels. They’re soft, warm, salty and go with just about anything.

bar-pretzels

Especially beer. Soft pretzels are a must as a side at any micro-brewery.

Not only are they great to eat, they are easy to make and therefore the perfect party dish. Buy a side of mustard or cheese sauce and you’re good to go.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, approximately
Olive oil, for bowl
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel or Kosher salt

    • Combine the water, sugar and kosher 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 olive 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 or silicone mat. Set aside.
    • Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan.
    • 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 or simply cut into 1″ pieces for pretzel bites. Place onto the parchment/silicone mat-lined half sheet pan.
    • Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Pretzel Bites

They made it about an hour at the party.

 

Red, White & Blue Blondies

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Red, White & Blue Blondies
Fourth of July can mean a lot of this to different people. Some love to veg for the day, others like to go on vacation. Fourth of July this year for me was to race.

Crossing the 4 Mile Finish Line

Growing up I didn’t always love running. In fact, I loathed the one mile run in P.E. It wasn’t until I started running in college to keep in shape that I started to enjoy it. After a few years of running I decided to run a marathon. Once I completed it, I was asked how I was going to celebrate.

With my favorite video game character, of course.

Sonic the Hedgehog tattoo

I loved playing Sonic the Hedgehog from the SEGA Genesis to the Nintendo GameCube growing up (Sonic Adventure 2 being my favorite of all time.) It’s safe to say the blue hedgehog and his friends kept close throughout my life and I know will continue to; hence the tattoo on my ankle.

He is also my motivator to not only run, but to run fast. It may take more effort, but do the results pay off.

Not only did I race, I won my age group as well as the previous age group. By a whole minute.

Race Medal

After the award ceremony, the boy and I cleaned up and went off to a Fourth of July BBQ. Feeling the need to bring something, I made my Red, White and Blue Blondies. They were a hit.

Yum - Red White & Blue Blondie
Yum.

You can obviously make these any time of the year with any M&M color choice you want. Orange and brown for Halloween, blue for Hannakah, red and green for Christmas… To keep things patriotic, red and blue were my colors of choice.

Red, White & Blue M&Ms and White Chocolate
Good, better, best.

Red, White and Blue Blondies
1/2 cup butter, melted
1-1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup M & M’s, red and blue
1 cup white chocolate chips

Optional:
3/4 extra cup white chocolate chips

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare a 13×9” pan by covering it in aluminum foil and then spraying both the bottoms and the edges inside the pan.
  • In a large bowl, combine your butter and sugars together until fluffy. If you have one, I recommend an electric mixer or a Kitchen Aid.
  • Add in one egg at a time with vanilla and mix until it appears all incorporated.
  • Pour and mix in flour and salt into your batter in three about-equal batches. This way it is easier to make sure everything is well blended. Who wants tons of flour in one bite? Not me.
  • Scrape off your electric mixer. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to add in your M&Ms and white chocolate chips. Mix until well combined.
  • Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top appears lightly golden brown and a tooth pick comes out clean. Your blondies should be soft, don’t keep them in the oven for too long.
  • Allow to cool before serving. And of course, enjoy.

Optional:

  • Allow to cool before melting about 3/4 cup of white chocolate chips. If you’re using a microwave, I recommend putting it in for 30 seconds, mixing, and melting again for 30 seconds. Continue this process until it’s well melted (if you try to do this without mixing in between, your white chocolate can burn easily.)
  • Cut a sandwich sized plastic bag’s side tip off (the smaller, the better.) Once your white chocolate has melted, pour into the plastic bag and drizzle over the top of your blondies.
  • Once again, allow to cool before serving.

White Striped Blondies