How to Use this Blog

This blog is designed to be used like a cookbook. I've put tags on each recipe so you can go to the section on that topic just by clicking on the word in the cloud or the list. Some recipes are under more than one category to help you find what you're looking for.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Pretzels

One of the best traditions Beaven and I ever started was Grand Camp which is basically whenever we get our granddaughters here to stay more than a weekend--usually at Spring Break.  We're facing the end of Grand Camps with Sarah in her last year of college now.  Fortunately, she will be teaching school so will continue to get to celebrate Spring Breaks indefinitely, in theory.

And one of our great traditions of Grand Camp is cooking.  We started with cherry pie and continued through dutch oven biscuits and roasts and pizzas.  Eventually, she started bringing me recipes.  This year it is pretzels.

Sarah made these exactly as the recipe said.  Probably the butter was salted butter but I've never known that to make much difference.  Maybe we will end up in the bad corner of Chef Heaven.  Also, we didn't have parchment paper and used aluminum foil and the pretzels stuck to that. So, for the second batch (because they were THAT good) we went to the store and bought parchment paper. 


Pretzels

  • 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast 1 standard packet
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter melted
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + up to ¾ cup more if needed

2 cups water

  • 4 tbs baking soda
  • 1 tbs coarse salt for sprinkling on top

6 tbs salted butter, melted

INSTRUCTIONS

 1.           Preheat oven to 475 degrees and line a large baking sheet or two baking sheets with parchment paper.......my oven runs a little hot and she ended taking them out early when they started looking like they would burn.

2.           Combine yeast with warm water and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with hook attachment. Once mixture becomes "frothy" your yeast is ready. Stir in salt and 1 tbs of melted butter. Add flour 1 cup at a time until a dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need more or less depending on temperature differences. If you press your finger into the dough and it bounces back, it's ready to knead. Knead dough for 5 more minutes until smooth and pliable.

3.           Form dough into a ball by hand. Lightly grease the bowl used previously and place the dough back in to rest for 15 minutes. Cover with a damp towel.

4.           In a medium sized pot, boil 2 cups of water with 4 tbs of baking soda. Once the baking soda is mostly dissolved, take mixture off heat and allow it to come down to a lukewarm temperature. Pour into a 9×9 baking dish once cooled down.

5.           After 15 minutes, take dough out of the bowl and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Cut dough into 8 sections (like a pizza). Roll each triangle into a long rope, about 19-20 inches long. Shape dough into pretzel shape and place in baking soda bath for 2 minutes. If the whole pretzel isn't covered by the water, spoon it on top of the areas is doesn't reach. Once the 2 minutes is up, carefully pick pretzel up either by your hand or with the help of a fork or spatula and place on prepared baking sheet. You may have to re-shape slightly.

6.           Sprinkle the pretzels with coarse salt while still wet. Repeat these steps until all 8 pretzels are prepared and on the baking sheets.

7.           Bake pretzels for 8-9 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately from the oven, brush (heavily) with 6 tbs of melted butter.

8.           These homemade soft pretzels are best served hot and fresh out of the oven but will keep for about 2 days stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Pop them in the microwave and they’re good as new!

NOTES

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Prepared dough can be made one day in advance. Shape the pretzels and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before popping them into the oven. Prepared dough can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Freezing Instructions: Freeze baked and cooled pretzels for up to 3 months. To reheat, bake (frozen) at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until center is warmed through. You can also microwave for a few minutes until heated through.
  3. Pretzel Bites: When rolling dough into a long rope in step 4, instead of shaping pieces into a large pretzel, cut the dough into 1-2 inch pieces. Follow the rest of the recipe instructions.


I have some photos and videos I can post later.  We've made these twice now and the second time they weren't quite as crunchy as the first--the difference being that the first time we didn't have parchment paper so substituted aluminum foil for the first time then we bought some to use for the second batch.  Sarah thinks aluminum foil gets hotter and makes the difference.  She likes them either way.  I like the crunch.   Also, I spread way too much salt on them.  watch the salt.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

It’s time.  For the next month or so you will be cooking your fool head off.  You will cook things you only cook on holidays and eat more than you eat any other time of the year.  

This is your magic weekend.  The calm before the storm, so to speak.  It would be a good time to clean out the fridge.  You could make a game out of it.  Wager someone how old the oldest expiration date will be.  You should also check your spices.  

You will need to buy new sage and/or poultry seasoning.  Definitely get a new box of baking powder. And yeast. These things all have expiration dates and if you only bake at the holidays your current supply is out of date.  Do this now before the store runs out of sage. I have seen it happen. There is nothing more pathetic than trying to find sage at the Seven Eleven the night before Thanksgiving. (clue: They don’t sell sage there. However, they probably DO sell beer and you’re gonna need a lot of it if you try to put dressing without sage on your table.)

I have noticed that cake mixes don’t yield as much cake as a few years ago.  I don’t know when they slipped in this change but I noticed a year ago that a two-layer cake isn’t as tall as it used to be. You could mix up two boxes and bake three layers.  You’ll get a slightly bigger cake than usual but it’s all a matter of whether you want to look limp and feeble or hale and hearty for the holidays.

The alternative is to make it from scratch.  I may try this but it has emerged that our family is a PIE family, not a cake family.  So, I may not even fool with it.

I have most of the classic recipes here on the blog index.  Look for  the "Thanksgiving" label.  When you click on it you will get everything in that category--- from How to Cook a Turkey to a new cranberry relish recipe I love.  It's not in any kind of order so Quiche shows up before Turkey--keep scrolling. Cooking a turkey is one of the oldest recipes so it shows up at the very end.  I put some breakfast choices for those of you who have overnight guests. I’m not sure if I put a sweet potato pie recipe here.  I got into BIG trouble one year trying to foist off Sweet Potato pie as a Pumpkin pie.  I think I permanently lost Elizabeth’s trust over that one. LET ME JUST SAY……..I Don’t think you can tell the difference and you’re not inviting Elizabeth over for dinner, anyway.

Remember my favorite tip:  In cold weather you can use your outside BBQ grill as a second refrigerator.  Just as long as it has a heavy cover, that is--to keep the raccoons out. And watch for the afternoon temperature…it might get warmer than your ice box.

You can tell I’m old because I just used the word “ice box.”

 Have a GREAT Thanksgiving/Hanukah/Christmas!

PS--Hey!  You still have to click on the "Thanksgiving" part down there on the bottom left.  It's the little orange highlighted word.  Otherwise, you are stuck with "Summer Slaw".  This is not automatic.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Summer Slaw

Go figure.  I just made the best slaw I've ever made in my life and it's the dead of winter.  I swear I was ready to put on my swimming suit and look for a party.  It's the ginger that makes it taste like summer.  And, forgive me, I don't have the exact measurements tied down.  I kind of made it as I went along.  I made some - tasted it- loved it and kept going.  Maybe you could do the same thing.

Get a package of ready cut cabbage and carrots.  One package.

Grate just a minuscule amount of ginger on a microplane into a big bowl.  Be careful that you don't use too much or it will overpower the slaw. Then grate a about 1/8 a  peeled apple on the same microplane.  This clears the ginger out of the blades.  Add the juice of 1/4 a lemon.  Add about 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Mix all of this together.  Then add the slaw cabbage and mix well.  Taste.  Then start over with mixing another batch of the ginger, apple, lemon and sugar in a cup and add that to the slaw to taste.  It will probably take it all.

It's the ginger.  I don't know a slaw recipe in the world that has ginger in it.  And I love it.  No mayo.  Very fresh.  Don't hold it over too long.  It should make you feel like you just stepped out of the garden and are ready to go swimming.  Even in winter.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Party Sandwiches

Sometimes people call these little sandwiches sliders but I don't know why.  Maybe they slide down your throat?  Whatever.  I don't go to a lot of parties.  I got the recipe from Laquita at church.  Everything she cooks is good and I steal her recipes all the time.  It's so bad that her recipes are about all I have for church suppers-It's so bad that I have to ask her what she's taking to the monthly church potluck to keep from duplicating one of her dishes.

These are tasty.  They're small and easy to handle.  They're about the equivalent to a half or a quarter of a "real" sandwich.  And they're easy to make ahead of time.

Here's how:

Mix up:

2 sticks butter, melted
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

You can mix this ahead anytime you want and even leave it in the refrigerator to have whenever you want it.

Take a package of rolls-- I use the sweet Hawaiian rolls.  They are baked in such a way that each roll is connected to all the others.  I take a serrated knife and slice horizontally through the whole "loaf" of individual rolls; it makes it easy to spread the butter on the whole thing this way.

spread each roll on the bottom with the butter.  Put ham and swiss cheese or whatever kind of filling you want.  Spread more butter mixture on top.

Heat at 350 degrees until the cheese melts.  Serves either hot or cold.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Quiche

It helps to make it in a really cute pie plate.  I had run out of pie pans by this time.


Quiche is the perfect holiday breakfast and lunch food.  To start with, it works for either meal.  And you can make it ahead.  Then it can sit there in your fridge for days and days patiently waiting for its turn to shine.  You can ignore it until you need something classy and substantial, something healthy and light.  It's protein without being heavy. And you can dish it out one serving at a time if you want; in fact, it's almost better that way--especially if you do it MY way.

.....................

To make your Quiche better than anyone else's, start with a puff pastry dough.  Get it from the freezer case at the store and thaw at home.

Ingredients:

  • package of puff pastry (they come with two crusts, use only one of them, and put the other one back in the freezer)
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk or half & half (You could also use whipping cream but it's almost too rich this way)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup grated swiss cheese
You can also add other veggies to it like broccoli or halved grape tomatoes (on top, not inside).  I once added some left-over pico de gallo and it was fantastic. Quiche is very welcoming

  1. Preheat over to 425 degrees
  2. You might have to roll the puff pastry out a bit to get it big enough to make crust big enough for the pie pan.  Once you have it, lay it loosely over the pan.  Don't mash it together like other pie crusts.
  3. Mix the milk and egg well with the spices
  4. Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until crisp.  Add the onion and fry that until soft.  Take off heat, drain and cool.
  5. Mix the cheese, bacon and onion together and fill the pastry.  Pour in the egg mixture carefully.
  6. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes
  7. Reduce oven to 300 degrees and bake for another 35-40 minutes until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
When you are ready to serve the quiche you can serve it hot out of the oven.

Or you can cut one slice and re-heat it on a pre-heated pizza stone in a 350 oven.  (This is best achieved by letting the stone heat at 400 degrees for a long time then reducing the oven just before you put the quiche on the stone).  This will have the effect of crisping the bottom crust while heating and softening the filling.  It's actually better this way.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pancakes

My guest blogger today is Sarah, the pancake queen--here for spring break. She found this recipe on Pintrest.  Go, Sarah-

Yesterday, was National Pancake Day so in honor of it I was put in charge of making pancakes. This is the recipe I found for Vanilla Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes.
 
Vanilla Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes
Serves around four


The ingredients you will need are:

2 cups of flour
3 TBSP of white sugar
1 1/2 TSP of baking soda
1 TSP of baking powder
1/4 TSP of salt
2 cups of buttermilk
1 1/2 TSP of Vanilla Extract
1/2 TSP of Ground Cinnamon
1 egg
1/4 cup of melted butter

You will also need:

Two medium mixing bowls
A whisk
A skillet or griddle
A spatula
Either PAM or butter to coat skillet or griddle


Let's get started!

STEP 1: Melt butter on the stovetop and set aside to cool slightly, but do not allow it to cool too much because it will solidify.

STEP 2: In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Use a whisk to combine.

STEP 3: In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and egg. Whisk to combine. Slowly pour the melted butter into the mixture. NOTE: Make sure your butter has not solidified. If it has, microwave it for a few seconds.

STEP 4: Slowly, pour in one third of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until it is well incorporated. Repeat until you have used all of the wet ingredients. Be careful to not overmix. If you overmix. your pancakes will not be light and fluffy.   

STEP 5:  Set the batter aside and heat up an warm skillet or griddle on medium- high heat. Once heated, coat skillet or griddle with PAM or butter.

STEP 6: Pour 1/4 or 1/3 cup of batter on the skillet or griddle. Pour the batter in a small neat circle.

STEP 7: Let pancake cook for about two minutes on each side. When the outer edges of the pancake turn a golden brown and begin to bubble, it is time to carefully flip.
NOTE: If you are using a griddle with a lid, you can put the lid down and not need to worry about flipping the pancake. Just cook it for two minutes or until it is a soft golden color.

Granny's note here:  my genius granddaughter invented something here:  she didn't have to flip the pancake this way!  it cooked on both sides at the same time.  the top barely touched (if at all) the top of the pancake and only added heat.  But beware of adding too many fat chocolatey add-ons or it could get messy.

STEP 8: Remove pancake from griddle or skillet, and either place pancake in the oven on the lowest setting to keep warm until ready to serve, or eat right way.
 
Enjoy!


(Just for the record: I am a much calmer and patient than my grandma in the kitchen.)


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Stabilized Whipped Cream

Sorry about the drab technical term.  There's no better way to describe it.  This is a recipe for taking whipping cream and give it a little UMPH! to help it last through a long weekend or a hot summer picnic or survive under the weight of a layered triffle.  Basically, it's just regular whipped cream fortified with a little gelatin.  This recipe makes it really stout.  It's the baker's equivalent of three cans of hairspray on your hairdo. It's your secret battle plan.

You can find unflavored gelatin either with the Jello or sometimes with the baking stuff like yeast.


Ingredients:
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1.  Chill the mixing bowl and beaters for at least 15 minutes before using.
2. Place water in small microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the water.  Let the gelatin soften for 5 minutes
3.  Dissolve the gelatin by microwaving for a minute at very low power 30% power.  You may need to hit it again.  The trick is to get the gelatin dissolved but not hot.  Let it stand until it's room temperature but still liquid.
4.  Put the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in the cold bowl and start mixing it until the cream starts to set up and shows marks.
5. Add the gelatin slowly, beating constantly.  Beat until stiff peaks form.
6.  Use immediately.