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Entries in bread (6)


Apple Pie and Jalapeno Cheese Soft Pretzels…

Jalapeno Cheddar Soft Pretzels

…only--not together! Did you all know that April is soft pretzel month? Yeah, it is! I love a warm, soft pretzel. They’re salty, a touch sweet--and if you have something to dip them in, it’s even better! This week, I decided to try making some again. Apple Pie Pretzels are slightly sweet, with nice bits of dried apple and apple pie spice-so very nice. Jalapeno and cheese is kind of self explanatory. The finely diced jalapeno, we found, makes a perfect addition to a soft pretzel! Shredded cheese over the top (and right in the dough, too!) makes a nice addition.

Apple Pie Soft Pretzels

Notice how I said “making some again” up there? Even though they’re incredibly simple to make, I’ve only ever made them once before. I was about 17 the first time I tried making these. Back then, it was a huge deal for me to make a yeast dough! I worked so hard to get them all looking good. They were delicious, and I was so damn proud. I let them cool, then stored them in a couple of big Ziploc bags. One of my cats at the time loved baked goods. I mean really loved them. We had to watch him all the time, the little bugger. There was no cookie, cake or pie that was safe in his vicinity. I came home from school and found that he’d bitten through both bags, and taken a bite of EACH pretzel! Not just one--no, that wasn’t satisfying enough. Each and every one. After trying two or three, was he expecting the next one to taste like tuna or salmon? “Hmmm, pretzel flavor again. Damn! Maybe this one? No. How about that one? Huh. This one? That one? No, no, and no.” Every single one. I was so ticked off! I only had one the day before! I was in no mood to make more, I can tell you that. Freaking cat. I miss that little shit.

Keep in mind, if you want to make both flavors, you’ll need to do them separately because the add-ins go in before kneading--so plan on having double the ingredients on hand.

Jalapeno Cheddar Soft Pretzel with Salsa con Queso

Apple Pie and/or Jalapeno Cheese Soft Pretzels

adapted slightly from Aunt Annie's recipe
makes about 9 large pretzels--I made one batch for each flavor

1 1/2 cup warm water
1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups warm water (Don't add this to the dough! Read recipe through first.)
2 tablespoons baking soda (Don't add this to the dough, either! Read recipe through first.)
1 egg, beaten

For Apple Pie Pretzels:
1 cup dried apple pieces (I had dried slices that I simply cut up with kitchen shears-chop them finely, as they plump up as the dough rises)
1 1/2 tsp apple pie spice
turbinado sugar for sprinkling over tops before baking (optional)

For Jalapeno Cheese Pretzels:
1 medium jalapeno, finely diced (if you want them spicier, leave some seeds and ribs in the pepper)
1 cup grated cheese (I used a mix of Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso, and Asadero)
a bit more cheese for sprinkling over the tops during baking, about 1/2 cup or so
3/4-1 tsp Adobo Seasoning

Pour the 1 1/2 cups of water in your mixing bowl. Add the yeast, sugar and salt, and stir to dissolve them. Let this sit for about 5 minutes.
Add the flour, and your choice of add-ins. In my Kitchen Aid mixer, I mixed on low, then let the dough knead with the dough hook for just a couple of minutes. It comes together very quickly.

Set the dough aside to rise, covered with plastic wrap, for about an hour. (This is about how long I was gone running errands.)

While your dough is doing it's thing, mix the baking soda and the 2 cups of warm water in a bowl that you can dip the pretzels in before baking. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 450. When you're ready to roll the pretzels, take a portion off the dough, and roll it into a long rope. My apple pieces weren't cut small enough and they were all plumpy, so I got lumpy pretzels. Still delicious! Shape into a pretzel shape. Here's a great diagram!  Set each pretzel aside on a parchment lined baking sheet. When you've rolled all of them, dip each pretzel in the baking soda/water mixture and set back on the sheet.

Brush each pretzel with the egg wash.

For the Jalapeno Cheese pretzels, bake them for 8 minutes. Take them out, sprinkle the cheese over, and then return to the oven for 2-3 more minutes. Remove from oven and place the pretzels on a cooling rack.

For the Apple Pie Pretzels, do the egg wash, then if you're using the turbinado sugar over, do it now. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack.

  • My pretzels baked up as fatty little boombalatties, sort of like rolls. SO--not only are they super satisfying pretzels, but they make awesome sandwich rolls! Hell yeah, they do.
  • Try a bacon (or ham), egg and cheeser on the apple ones and you’ll be in pretzel breakfast sandwich heaven. Trust me. You’re welcome.
  • What’s a soft pretzel without something to dip it in? I chose a Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce for the Apple Pie Pretzels, and a Salsa con Queso for the Jalapeno Cheese Pretzels.
  • Serve alongside some soup instead of roll for a hearty meal!

Apple Pie Soft Pretzel with Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce


VYY Project-Week one: Pan Seared Tomato and Rosemary Artichoke Sandwich


Some of you may remember that I’ve decided to work my way through Vegan Yum Yum, by Lauren Ulm.  It’s a gorgeous book, and so far--the recipes don’t disappoint.  It’s loaded with recipes, and I  figured that to get through all of them, I should commit to doing at least one a week.  So a small group was formed, and it’s official.  One recipe a week from the book.  The first week is members choice, because I know that some of my friends already had their eye on a couple of the recipes.  After this week, we’ll do one recipe from each consecutive chapter until we’ve made it through the book.  If you’d care to join, you’re more than welcome!  Just let me know in a comment, or email me using the Contact Me link at the top of the page.  Vegan Yum Yum is available on Amazon at a very reasonable price, too.

Here is our official badge, graciously made for us by Heather at He Cooks…She Cooks…  Obviously, Heather’s the “She” in the title.  Her and Jeff make some freaking amazing food, so please go check it out!  And a huge thank you to Heather!

It’s a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, and also--to cut out some of the meat.  Meatless Monday is a worldwide movement!  Going meat-free once a week is good for you.

My choice for this first week is the Pan Seared Tomato and Rosemary Artichoke Sandwich.   This one is so flavorful, that you don’t have time to miss any meat.  I’ll warn you--it’s messy--at least a “two napkin” sandwich.  But it’s that “Oh my god, is this GOOD” messy that you can’t stop eating.  Trust me. 


The recipe is for 1 serving, so keep that in mind and multiply if you’re serving more people.  I just went ahead and sautéed the whole can of artichoke hearts, and 2 large tomatoes.  About the tomatoes?  Obviously, I don’t have access to fresh tomatoes because it’s 29 degrees outside.  I used the pretty vine-ripened ones you can find in all the stores.  Lauren also suggests that you can add fresh spinach or basil leaves to the sandwich.  The basil isn’t looking that great lately--it’s that winter thing!  So we added some pesto to one side of the rolls.  Technically, that’s not vegan because it has cheese in it.  It was a perfect addition, though, so I’ll leave that up to you to decide. 

Speaking of the recipe!  Since we’re going through the entire book, we won’t be posting the recipes on our blogs.  That would be sneaky, and not cool with the author!  If you really want the recipe, you’ll have to take the (inexpensive) plunge and buy the book.

I used the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day Master Recipe for the rolls.  Very simple and so tasty, and who doesn’t love fresh, still warm bread for dinner?


Will we make this again?

  • YES!  It’s quick, easy, and delectable. 
  • My husband practically inhaled his, and wanted to go back for a second! 
  • Great for those busy nights when you don’t have a lot of time.  Keep the artichoke hearts on hand, and make a quick stop for some tomatoes, and fresh rolls, too--that is, if you don’t have ABin5 dough in your fridge.    Either way, you’ll be having a great dinner in no time at all.


***Check out what Shelby at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch made!  She even got Grumpy to eat tofu!  Looks great, Shelby, thank you!

And here is Renee's entry over at Flamingo Musings.  Not her favorite so far, as she's tried several others from the book that she loved, but I'm sure it can easily be changed up.  Looks good, anyway!






Sautéed Beet Greens with White Bean Mash on Toasted Baguette Slices




A couple of weeks ago, we were at the (indoor) farmer’s market, and looking at all of the gorgeous fruits and vegetables. I guess when it’s 35 degrees and freezing outside, everything that is fresh looks gorgeous, right? But really, this place has the best stuff. Anyway, I picked out some beets to oven roast, and the beet greens were just beautiful! Usually, the ones I see at the grocery store are gross. Not pretty at all, and full of dirt. Seriously, you wouldn’t even want to imagine putting them anywhere near your mouth. Ick.

But the ones a the farmers market? They were so pretty and green and vibrant, and I knew we could do something with them. Wasn’t sure what at the time, but I couldn’t pass them up.


A couple of days before, I’d been reading blogs and came across Pithy and Cleaver. Great blog! They had me at Garlicky White Beans. Because, yum! I had already picked up the beans for that to have on a baguette, so the beet greens just worked their way into my plans. One whole grain baguette before leaving the market and we were all set.

Sliced baguette, toasted, a bit of sautéed beet greens, some white bean mash, and it’s heaven in your mouth. Seriously, we couldn’t stop eating this. And have been looking forward to it ever since! We lead such an exciting life, do we not?

There’s garlic in both the greens and the beans, but it mellows out during cooking, so you won’t be keeping any vampires away with this one. And really, if they all look like Edward Cullen, why would you want to? There’s also fresh lemon juice in both. Add some fresh basil to the beans, and you’ve got some wonderful flavors going on.


Sautéed Beet Greens

To print these recipes, click here!

Beet greens from 3-4 large beets, rinsed well and drained, then roughly chopped
2 shallots, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if you prefer)
1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper

Sauté shallots with garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat--don't burn!
Add the beet greens and toss them in the oil mixture, after about a minute, add the broth.
Cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Remove the lid, and squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.



Bean Mash inspired by Pithy and Cleaver

1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 can white beans (don't drain!)
about 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper

In a pan, heat the oil over medium low heat. When it's heated, add the garlic and cook slowly, to infuse the oil with the garlic flavor.
Add the beans and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
Begin to mash them with a fork, or a potato masher--even the back of a spoon.
Add the basil, lemon and salt and pepper to taste.


Serve the greens and the bean mash on toasted whole grain baguette slices.


This is definitely one recipe that we’ll enjoy again and again. it’s so easy to prepare, and it’s not to bad for you, either. Makes a nice appetizer, or a light meal. Unless you eat all of it, like we did, and then it’s not so light. hehehe.




There’s still time to enter my one year blogiversary giveaway! Just leave a comment to be entered to win an iPod Touch.



Frozen herb giveaway & the book that changed everything about bread baking

I have a lot to cover in this post, so please grab a mug or tall glass of something and join me!

First up--the herb giveaway. I was contacted a little while ago by Matt From Daregal Fresh Frozen Herbs. He wanted to know if I'd like to try a sample. Heck, yeah! Trying to find reasonably priced and super-fresh herbs in the cold months isn't always easy. Not to mention that if you only need a little bit, and you have to buy a whole bunch, then you've got to come up with ways to use the rest up before they go bad, which is always sooner than later.

So here comes Daregal, with the perfect solution! Their herbs are 100% natural, salt free, and processed within three hours of being picked. They're not sitting around on store shelves losing flavor and freshness like the ones we've seen up until now. The herbs are washed, chopped (no stems included!) and ready to use in your favorite dishes--no thawing required, not even for salads. And you might think they'd be all stuck together, but the herbs get a very light misting of natural vegetable oils so they flow freely out of the container.



Original Blend: Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme and Onion


We've been testing some of them this weekend and I have to say, I think I'm in love. The basil, right out of the container, tastes like I just picked it from my garden in August. Same goes for the Italian and Original Blends--nothing but delicious herbs in there, tasting as fresh as you'd expect from your own herb garden. And they're already minced for you, so less work. Now, everyone would love to have a year-round herb garden, but for most of us, that's not happening. So these are the next best thing. I've tried the little frozen teaspoon sized cubes of herbs, and while they taste alright, they're not convenient if you're making an uncooked dish. The Daregal Herbs are like sprinkling your own fresh minced herbs into anything you're making. So far we've made Bruschetta with the basil, and a focaccia-loafy-type bread with the Italian Blend. Also, the Grilling Blend sprinkled into some olive oil made a perfect blend to dip our bread in.



Bruschetta, soon to be topped with fresh mozz and popped under the broiler.




See the pretty minced basil?



So Matt and I talked for a little while and came up with a great giveaway! They're going to send out two packages of an assortment of herbs to two random winners. What will you get?


Package #1: One of each--

Original Blend




Package #2: One of each--

Italian Blend




These will be shipped to your door packed in dry ice, and ready to be popped in your freezer to start using right away. And let's not underestimate the fun factor of dry, not that I'd know. Just be careful if you decide to make a cauldron of spooky smoke, and read the precautions first, ok? Ok. So the herb giveaway starts today, and two winners (US only on this one, sorry.) will be chosen on Wednesday, January 14th. In the meantime, check out the Daregal site, and maybe you'll find a store in your area that carries them so you can get a sneak preview. And a huge thanks to Matt and Daregal!

And now, the book that changed everything about bread baking. For me, anyway, and countless others that have bought this book. What book is this? Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking .

My bread baking has gone from "pretty good" to "knock your socks off!" And all with very little effort. Seriously! There's no kneading, only about 5 minutes of mixing time. The dough rests at least 2 hours, then you can use it or pop it in the fridge. Want some bread? (I feel almost silly calling it "bread," when it's more like food of the gods.) Pull out some of the dough, shape it and let it sit for 40 minutes (or 20 if you haven't put it in the fridge yet), then bake it. The high moisture content in the dough is what makes it rise, right in the oven. And then? Prepare to BE AMAZED. Be prepared for your family and friends to start begging you to make more bread. Which you'll be happy to do because of the little bit of effort involved.

We've been experimenting with the book and haven't been disappointed yet--just the opposite, we've been thrilled! For Christmas Day, I made the Vermont Cheddar Bread from the book, but using half the dough, made 12 dinner rolls. They were so damn good, and even the fussy kids loved them. The rest of the dough went back in the fridge overnight and this afternoon, we shaped 2 flat-ish focaccia type breads. We brushed them with a little olive oil and gave them a sprinkle of good sea salt. Then--how easy--we sprinkled some Daregal Italian Blend over the dough, then let them rest for 40 minutes. When it was time for them to bake, we added sliced Campari tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Instant lunch! We got 2 delicious pizza-focaccia-bread type loaves with about 10 minutes total work.

We've also tried the Boule and the Pizza Crust from the book. Both are fantastic! And with bread this easy, there's no more excuse to not have your own fresh baked bread. No more being afraid of yeast. And no more fear of kneading. You CAN do it with this book.

And I'm so thrilled with the book, that I'm giving a copy away to one lucky reader! Same as the herb giveaway, but this one is open to US and international readers. The contest starts today, and on Wednesday, January 14th, I'll choose a winner.

SO! You have a chance to win three prizes--the book, or one of two packages of frozen herbs. (Herbs-US only, book-US and international.)

Just leave a comment here to enter. And if you want a BONUS ENTRY, just Twitter or Facebook with a link to this giveaway, and come back to comment again with your link from that included in your comment. That will give you two chances to win.

Good luck! I hope you all had happy holidays, and here's to a happy and healthy new year!



It's not a P.I.T.A. to make pita bread!

A few weeks ago, Sarah at Homemade asked me if I'd like to start making some recipes together, and we would blog about our experiences. So of course I said yes! Sarah's a sweetheart and It's like baking in your friend's kitchen, except that she's on the west coast, while I'm on east coast. We'll be doing one or two a month, so stay tuned.

The first one we decided to try was pita bread. And what a great recipe! The dough was a dream to work with. I needed to add more flour during kneading because it was quite sticky, but once you get the texture right, it's all good.

The most time consuming part of these is when you set the dough aside to rise. They've got a 90 minute rise, a 20 minute rest, and another 30 minute rest before baking. But they only take 3 minutes to bake, so that makes up for it right? And even better--when you rip one open--because that's a law, isn't it? You are legally required to rip open a piece of bread when it's hot out of the oven, even if it causes acute pain to your digits. So when you rip one open, you get the aroma of yeasty heavenly steamy bread. You don't even need butter to enjoy these, although, I'm pretty sure there's a law somewhere about hot bread and butter going together.

Come to think of it, there should also be a law about not making blog posts at 12:45 am, too. Can I ramble, or what?

The recipe can be found here at Brown Eyed Baker. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer and let that do the kneading. Ten minutes, and the addition of about 3/4-1 cup more flour and the dough was perfect. I doubled the recipe to get 16 pita breads, because we're a family of 6, and every one of my kids had pita bread (and butter) (wait--my two sons didn't have butter on theirs. The little hoodlums--breaking the warm bread/butter law at such an early age...) for dinner. See? Eight wouldn't have been enough. And my husband and I had them for dinner--in a burger recipe which will be an upcoming post. And if any of you try one recipe from this blog, these burgers would be in my top 5 favorites. mmmmm!

SO! I'm coming to the end of my ramblings. These pita breads are easy to make, and would be really fun to do with the kids. And it's kinda fun to watch them puff up in the oven, too.

Right after kneading, and ready to rise for 90 minutes.


After 90 minute rise, we have the dough that almost took over the world. Or at least my stove top.



Required low-angle shot of doughy balls.



"Almost pita breads! We've got to sit for 30 more minutes! And what happened to our balls?"



Puffy pillows of warm, yeasty, bready goodness.


Thanks Sarah--this was a lot of fun! And the whole family enjoyed the bread. Even the picky ones! (Kids, that is. We didn't have picky bread.) (But I'll bet picky bread doesn't like butter, either.)