Homemade Soft Pretzels

Hey there!

You guys, I have a problem. Last week my Dad called me and said we needed to have a serious talk. I was like, “woah, what’s up Dad?” He told me he had to talk to me about something that he’d been thinking about for a long time, and he couldn’t keep quiet any longer. After he read this post from last week, he just knew he had to act. That’s when I realized…I was having a quinoantervention. That’s right, my dad told me there was only so much quinoa he could take. How can one live on quinoa alone?! If anyone could test that theory, it’d be me. So, here goes…I’m addicted to quinoa. There. I said it. Admitting it is the first step, right? So, in honor of my dear ol’ Dad, you’ll not find a speck of quinoa on the blog this week. Well, unless you have leftovers from making this…or this….or these... Ok,
Ok, I’ll stop.
Full disclosure Dad, the quinoa ban only lasts till all my Super Bowl leftovers are gone…enjoy it while you can. :)
So, as we continue our week to some of the best Super Bowl snacks in the world, I give you homemade soft baked pretzels.
I made these last year for Super Bowl and they were such a hit that I’ve made them for pretty much every large gathering since and they are always everyone’s favorites. If you search the internet, you can find lots of recipes for “quick” or “easy” soft baked pretzels and if that’s what you want, fine, but they won’t be anywhere close to as delicious as these are. It’s not even that these are difficult to make, it’s just that they take time. You use yeast, and when you use yeast you have to let it rise. You also boil the pretzels before baking them, which may sound unnecessary, you may even be tempted to try one of the recipes out there that only requires baking. But if you want that true soft pretzel soft on the inside crisp on the outside texture this is the only way to go.
Plus, the whole process is kinda fun :) Folding the pretzels was a little tough (for me!) at first, but I got the hang of it. Michael kept trying to get be to “swing and twist” them like the pretzel makers at the mall do. Let’s just say I ruined quite a few pretzels that way!
I highly suggest a side of nacho cheese to go along with these, as well as some good mustard. I also suggest making about twice as many as you think you need, and swiping some to save in the kitchen before putting them out for the wolves. I’m not greedy, I swear! It’s necessary.
Enjoy!

Recipe: Homemade Soft Pretzels

Ingredients

  • 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 or Sea salt

Instructions

  1. 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 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.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
  3. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
  4. 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. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
  5. 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.

Grilled Nectarine Salad with Arugula and Goat Cheese

Hey!

You know you’ve found something great when you’re still thinking about a meal you had several days later. That is what this salad’s been doing to me for the past few days! I am going to just have to make it again so I stop dreaming about it!

One of my favorite things about my weekly trip to the farmer’s market is that you get to see the seasons change through food. Living in California, I am pretty lucky that I get really great variety all year long, but even here, the winds of change are bringing fall around and everything that comes with is! This week was the first week we had apples at the farmer’s market! Since I am from Washington-apple loving is in my blood. I bought a couple ponds of honey crisp apples and ate one as I was walking around the market. It was so crisp, sweet, and tart and I went back to the stand and bought a few more pounds. I just knew the amount I first bought wouldn’t last me through the week!

But enough about apples. Let’s talk nectarines.

My favorite stone fruit stand had several signs up this week letting us all know that the days for peaches, nectarines, pluots, and all the other goodies are numbered. So, I am taking full advantage while I still can. Seriously, I could pretty much start my own farm stand with all the fruit currently on my kitchen counter!

I’ve wanted to create this salad ever since I had grilled nectarines with goat cheese at my friend Elise’s house a few weeks ago. She simply grilled the nectarine halves and then slathered them with goat cheese. It was one of the best appetizers I’ve ever had! And so simple! The grilling brings so much flavor out of the nectarines, it’s like you’ve roasted them for an hour in the oven.

Then, add in the creamy goat cheese and get ready for your mind to be blown. Usually, I like textural differences as much as the next gal, but there is something about the warm, gooey nectarine flesh paired with the super creamy goat cheese. They melt together to form this rich, decadent, sweet, tangy, bite of perfection. throw in some arugula for spice and lemon juice for tartness and tang and you’ve got a salad you’ll be dreaming about too.

Enjoy!

4.0 from 1 reviews

Grilled Nectarine Salad with Arugula and Goat Cheese
Author: 
 
Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 7oz bag of arugula
  • 4 nectarines (preferably a tad bit underripe to stand up to grilling)
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more for coating nectarines
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Slice nectarines in about 1″ wide slices. Place slices in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat.
  2. Grill nectarines over medium high heat about 3-4 minutes per side, until grill marks appear. Grill on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  3. Toss arugula with 2 tablespoons evoo and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Divide between plates. Top with goat cheese. Arrange still-warm grilled nectarine slices on top.
  4. Enjoy!

 

Summer Squash Enchiladas

Hey!

I’m going zucchini crazy over here! And these ooey gooey summer squash enchiladas are the culprits! This time of year summer squash is everywhere. So stock up. And after your sweet tooth is satisfied with these, make these fantastic enchiladas…and try not to eat the whole pan!

Oh, also…sorry I’ve been MIA this week! Been dealing with some technical difficulties. Is there anything more frustrating?? But I’m back in the game and have been getting lots of great stuff ready for you guys! :)

Last week I was headed out of town for a few days, so I wanted to make something to put in the fridge for Michael to eat while I was gone. I think this is a really nice, thoughtful thing to do, but I wonder he thinks, “Crap! I was planning on eating all the things I really want this week!” Oh well, I’m sticking with sweet and nice. :)

These vegetarian enchiladas would be perfect for a meatless Monday supper, and hearty enough to satisfy even my very-much-a-meat-eater-husband.

The squash gets lots of Mexican flavor from three of my favorite spices.

And lots and LOTS of garlic.

Then it’s sautéed with onion and garlic until it’s tender and ready to roll…literally.


Ohmigosh. I am making enchilada jokes. Somebody help me!

What’s the only thing that could make the sizzled, savory, summer squash better? The fresh spicy tomato cream sauce, of course! And it couldn’t be simpler. Fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, half and half, and red pepper: cooked together, blended down, and simmered until smooth, spicy, and perfect to top these enchiladas.

 

Just be sure to watch your simmering sauce, or you’ll end up like I did.

Whoops!

To assemble, spread a couple scoops of tomato sauce into the bottom of your pan, then layer with rolled enchiladas. Top with the rest of the tomato sauce. Here’s one of my favorite tips: before rolling the corn tortillas, pop them in the microwave for about 20 seconds. They will warm and become pliable and less likely to break so you have perfect, pretty enchiladas. :)

Then, cover with cheese. Don’t be afraid to get crazy here. Everyone loves the melty, slightly charred pieces of cheese you can pull off the top, am I right? Ok fine. More for me!

 

These summer squash enchiladas are great because you can make them a day in advance and they just get better as the flavors marinate. Then, just pop ‘em in the oven, melt some cheese, and you have a delicious, hearty, healthy meal.

Enjoy!

Summer Squash Enchiladas
Author: 
 
Serves 4-6 Can be made one day ahead
Ingredients
  • 5 cups summer squash (such as zucchini, crookneck, or yellow squash), about 2 large squash, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8-12 corn tortillas
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese for topping
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat
  2. Add squash, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons water
  3. Sautee until water is evaporated and squash is tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  5. When squash is tender, remove from heat and set aside
  6. In a 4 qt sauce pan combine canned tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and red pepper flakes
  7. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce to a simmer
  8. Simmer 10-15 minutes, until cherry tomatoes begin to burst
  9. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes
  10. Add half and half (liquid might appear to curdle, that’s ok!)
  11. Using an immersion blender, blend sauce until smooth
  12. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  13. Return to medium heat and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes
  14. To assemble enchiladas:
  15. Spoon about 1 cup tomato sauce in your 7×5 baking pan
  16. Heat tortillas in the microwave for 20 seconds
  17. Spoon squash mixture into tortillas and roll up
  18. Place tightly in your baking dish
  19. Cover with remaining tomato sauce
  20. Cover with cheese
  21. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, turn oven up to broil and broil for 3-5 minutes, until cheese is browned

 

Zucchini, Ricotta, and Caramelized Onion Quiche

Hey!

How’s it going? Hope you are all enjoying your weekend!

Speaking of…you know what one of my favorite things about weekends is? Brunch! I LOVE brunch. I mean, think about it, there are so many great things that go along with brunch: you get to sleep later, you get to have sweet and savory foods (think waffles and smoked salmon bagels), it is usually expected encouraged to eat way more than any human needs at one meal, and last but certainly not least, you get to drink…with breakfast! Brunch is where it is at.

And this zucchini, ricotta, and caramelized onion quiche is a perfect addition to your brunch menu. It is full of summery zucchini flavors, so rich and creamy from the homemade ricotta (you can use store bought, but why?!), and a perfect hint of earthy sweetness from the onions.

Quiche is one of my favorite brunch items because it is easy to make and you can feed a crowd without having to stand over a stove the whole time while every one else enjoys all the brunch goodness (i.e. mimosas). Have you ever tried to cook eggs to order for a group of hungry brunch goers?? I’m pretty sure that’s where they got the idea for the hunger games.

Also, who doesn’t love pie crust?! Have you ever been caught digging into a pie dish under the filling just to get pieces of crust? No? Just me? Crap.

Anyway, the crispy, buttery crust is the perfect vehicle for all the summer veggie goodness. You can definitely make your own crust, but I think refrigerated pie crust is fine. Plus, more time for mimosas!

The trick to this quiche is to sauté the zucchini before hand. Yes, it is one extra step but not only does it add more flavor to the zucchini, but the extra cooking causes the zucchini to melt into the eggs and cheese in a deliciously creamy way. Then you layer up your ingredients. Zucchini, cheese, onion, zucchini, cheese, onion zucchini…you get the idea.

When I make quiche I like to leave the veggies I put in in pretty big slices, chunks, etc. So that people can see them when they cut into their slice. Plus, it makes it pretty :)

Try this out for your next brunch – I think you’ll love it as much as I do!

Don’t forget to try making your own ricotta!

Enjoy!

Zucchini, Ricotta, and Caramelized Onion Quiche
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 medium zucchinis, sliced

Fig and Melon Salad

Happy Friday!

I’ve been spending my days soaking up the sun, splashing in the pool, and generally trying not to wear anything but my swimsuit all day – rough life, I know! What do I want after a long day in the sun? A fresh, light, COLD, salad. This one will hit the spot.

My own version of this salad came from a fantastic dinner at The Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco. Michael and I went out for date night and had an amazing dinner. The first thing that caught my eye (besides the rhubarb and whiskey cocktail!) was the Fig and Melon Salad. I don’t know about you, but there are certain things on a menu that ALWAYS peak my interest. As I scan a new menu for the first time I am always looking for some “key words.” You know, those certain foods that make you want to order a dish no matter what else in involved. For me, one of those key words is FIG.

I just love these tiny pouches of heaven. I can eat them by the bushel. Or in a delicious salad…with crisp, fresh, juicy melon.

The original salad at Wayfare Tavern included pork belly croutons. Let me just give you a minute to let that sink in…Pork. Belly. Croutons. They were every bit as good as they sound. But pork belly croutons are really a “going out for a nice dinner once in a while” type thing. So, for my version I added some salty blue cheese and topped it with this honey vinaigrette. It might not be quiiiite as special as crispy chunks of pork, but it is still pretty darn good!

Sweet, juicy figs. Crisp, cool melon. Salty, creamy cheese. Tart honey vinaigrette. Lots of hearty salad greens. To me, that says summer salad symphony. Try it out and I think you’ll agree!

Enjoy!

Fig and Melon Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
 
Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 6-8 cups mixed greens (about 1 bag)
  • 4 figs, quartered
  • 2 cups honeydew melon,peeled and cubed
  • ¼ cup blue cheese
  • Honey Vinaigrette (see link for recipe)
Instructions
  1. Spread greens on a salad plate
  2. Top with quartered figs and cubed melon
  3. Sprinkle with blue cheese
  4. Drizzle with honey vinaigrette

 

 

 

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

You guys. I have been on the edge of my seat waiting to share this recipe with you. I kept meaning to get to it but other things kept getting in the way. But now…it’s time. And let me tell you, it will be worth the wait!

I have been wanting to make cheese ever since I found out how easy it was to make at home. Seriously, all you need is 4 ingredients, cheesecloth, and a strainer!

And let me tell you, after making this ricotta at home I will never buy it again! It is so rich and creamy and has tons more tangy flavor than any store bought ricotta I’ve ever tried. Plus, you can not only control the thickness of the ricotta by the amount of time you leave it in the cheesecloth, but you can also control the calories and fat by your choice of milk. Now, most recipes call for whole milk to which I say, “No Way!” Ok, ok, I will admit that had I made this with whole milk it would have been delicious, but let me just say I made it with 2% and it was UH-maze-ing! I’m trying it with 1% next, just to see. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t work very well with non-fat, but knowing me I’ll probably try it out.

This process is also SO.MUCH.FUN. There is just something about making things by hand that you usually have to buy in the store. I felt so great checking my cheesecloth, simmering my milk, testing my cheese.

And the eating. Oh, the eating.

I served mine up with a fresh loaf of this and a hefty drizzle of this. This ricotta is so fluffy, velvety, and rich I was literally eating it with a spoon. But then I put it on toast. Ut oh. I had guest over when I served this as an appetizer and I was the worst host ever. I set down the tray right in front of myself. I don’t think I said a word for 20 minutes as I stuffed my face full of ricotta slathered toasts. Sorry Auntie and Uncle, the ricotta has priority here. (p.s. that’s why you have family over, they can’t judge you for stuff like that!)

Try this out immediately, it will be a new favorite for sure!

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews

Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Author: 
 
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
Ingredients
  • 4 cups milk (I used 2%, but whole works too)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Cheesecloth
Instructions
  1. Line a colander with 2 layers of dampened cheesecloth
  2. Place milk, cream, and salt in a large pot or dutch oven
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat (make sure to stir a few times)
  4. Add vinegar and let stand about 2 minutes
  5. Strain through cheesecloth and let stand 15-30 minutes (the longer you let it sit, the thicker the cheese will be)
  6. Transfer to an airtight bowl-ricotta will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

 

 

Field Greens Salad with Strawberries and Candied Walnuts

Oh hey there!

Happy Monday!

I seem to be on a bit of a salad kick lately…but it has been so nice out and the produce round this time of year is so fresh, it’s kind of all I’ve been wanting to eat! This salad is bright, light, and flavorful. Perfect for an afternoon lunch in the back yard or as a starter to your next BBQ’d meal.

The addition of homemade candied walnuts is amazing! They add texture, flavor, and just a hint of sweetness that works perfectly with the fresh strawberries and salty cheese. Yum!

Candied nuts are a cinch to make. There are various ways of sugar coating these nutritional powerhouses, but I find that sometimes, the easiest way is the best!

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Leek and Potato Flatbread

Hey!

Did you get your leeks cleaned? I hope so, because now it’s time to use them!

I love flatbread-mostly because it is a fancy name for pizza! But calling it flatbread not only makes it sound a little more “high class,” but also helps me not feel bad about eating an extra slice (or two!) :)

There is a ton of different flavors going on in this flatbread, but the leeks are the star of the show. Their subtle onion flavor and slightly crunchy texture shine in this hearty appetizer. Thinly sliced potatoes  become soft and starchy in the oven, garlic adds a little spice and bite, thyme puts in tons of depth and earthy flavor, and gruyere cheese melts it all into ooey gooey deliciousness.

YUM.

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Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

 

Oh hey there!

I don’t know about you guys, but I am in full on spring mode. I want eat every meal I can outside and fill up with all the delicious, fresh, in season produce that is hitting the market right about now. You too?? Perfect! This salad is for you!

The other day I stopped by a fabulous winery/farmer’s market and picked up these vibrant beets and carrots.

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White Truffle Honey

Happy Monday!

How was everyone’s weekend???!

On this Monday morning, I’d like to take a moment to remind us all that sometimes, it is the simplest things that are the best. Thing don’t have to be complicated to be fantastic. Exhibit A: White Truffle Honey!

I first experienced the amazingness of white truffle honey during a weekend in wine country where it was almost an afterthought on the menu description of a artisan cheese plate at Willie’s Seafood and Raw Bar. After ordering and trying said cheese plate, I would have rewritten the menu to look something like this…

WHITE TRUFFLE HONEY

Served with three delicious cheeses you can drizzle with WHITE TRUFFLE HONEY. Also comes with homemade crackers you can place the cheese on or just dip into the WHITE TRUFFLE HONEY. Pairs well with champagne, Pinot Noir, or more WHITE TRUFFLE HONEY.

Too much?? I didn’t think so. Seriously you guys, this is one of the best things I have had in a while. My husband and I nearly licked clean the way-too-tiny bowl of honey they gave us to pair with our cheese and homemade crackers (which really were delicious by the way). It doesn’t count as licking the bowl if you drag your finger across the bottom and then lick that, right??

As we were eating, I was imagining the amazing recipe for this amazing honey. I was imagining whole truffles soaking in the best honey being constantly stirred with special spoons and stored in handmade barrels at exactly 62 degrees for 17 years. Or something like that.

So you can imagine my surprise when I asked our waitress if she could share the recipe and she told me, “Sure, it is just white truffle oil and honey.” I had a bit of a culinary seizure. You mean there are TWO ingredients? No special honey made by bees in the northernmost region of Argentina? No absurd level of care? No having to special order whole white truffles from the internet? I just need white truffle oil and honey??! I couldn’t believe it!

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