Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Soft Pretzels

Today I went shopping with my daughter and granddaughters.  We had a yummy snack at the pretzel shack in the mall. Their soft pretzel bites and pretzel dogs (mini pigs in a blanket) were soooooo yummy I had to come home and make some!
Here's my yummy soft pretzels! 
Soft Pretzels took some time but were easy to make, and VERY light and soft. 
 I found a recipe from Smitten Kitchen HERE.  She adapted her recipe from Martha Stewart's. Then I looked at 3 more recipes and read comments for about an hour. Then I looked up recipes on the Food Network and All  I chose this recipe because of all the positive comments. It is from the FOOD NETWORK. It is Alton Brown's recipe and there was also a video. The link is HERE.
Then I watched a few you tubes on pretzel making and Martha Stewart had a video too. Those are THE BEST ways to learn how to cook something! You tube videos!! I adapted this one after making it.  My recipe has a little more sugar and less salt. And I did not bake mine as long. I like them lighter and soft, not hard on the outside so I added DOUGH ENHANCER POWDER.
My dough mixed up and ready to cover.....
 Mix the warm water and sugar and then sprinkle on the yeast packet. Let it sit until it is foamy. They call that "proofing" the yeast, it will take 5 minutes. Then add the salt and melted butter and put your dough hook on your mixmaster. Add a cup of flour to start. 
Add the rest of the flour and some dough enhancer.  Knead for a few minutes.  
The Dough Enhancer makes bread softer and doughier. You can get it from Bosch bread making supply store.  They were easy and yummy and kinda fun! 
Soft Pretzels (my recipe adapted from Alton Brown)
1 package instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons melted BUTTER
1 teaspoon dough enhancer (optional for softer pretzels)
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Mix, knead, let rise for an hour, then roll out and make your pretzels. Place on parchment paper on cookie sheets and bake for 6 to 7 minutes at 425 degrees.
Now we are ready to roll the pretzel dough has puffed up quite a bit....
 Always use less flour to start on any bread recipe. Then slowly add in by cupfuls.  This dough was smooth, not really very sticky at all. 

Then place dough ball in an oiled pan and cover for an hour to let it rise. Then I rolled it out on my surface.  Make a big rectangle shape. My dough was about 1/2 inch thick, maybe a little less. 
I rolled pretzel dough  into a rectangle.....
Get your pizza cutter and cut the dough down the middle, then 2 more times to make 4 sections. Then cut each section into 3 or 5 strips, depending upon how large or small you want your pretzels. 
Cut Soft Pretzel Dough into 4 sections with a pizza cutter, and then cut each section into 5  skinny make 20 pretzels.
If it is for a party I recommend the 5 strips. This will give you 20 good, 3 inch bite sized pretzels. If you do the larger (palm sized thick pretzels) 3 strips will make 12 big and soft 5 inch pretzels. 
                            Here were my ingredients....and my cute new RACHEL RAY PAN! It is oval, and orange, with a soft, rubber handle and with a pour spout. SO CUTE right? I love her stuff! I got it on sale at J. C. Pennys! Only $15 bucks and I had a 20% off coupon if I opened a charge (yes I'm a sucker for a coupon!). 

(Mix a bath of 5 cups hot water to 1/3 cup baking soda in a deep fry pan. Set on warm on stove for after pretzels are made and formed.) 
I mixed up the baking soda and water hot bath....left it on low on the stove and then formed my pretzels....
They take less than a minute each in the hot water bath...just like a bagel!
I played with my dough making all kinds of would be so fun for kids to do too! 
Roll it, flip it twice around, then turn each end up and pinch...
To roll them I made a long snake, 12 to 16 inches long, and then make make a loop, then twist it once again and take the tails and flip them up to the round loop and press them down. Then I turned each one over. 
Soft Pretzels.   That's it!  
Then drop them in the baking soda and hot water bath....just for like 45 seconds each...

Pick pretzels up with a slotted spoon and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper on it..
More playing with soft pretzel
Oh boy is this fun! I got about 3 cookie sheets full...About 20 pretzels....

Top each pretzel with a sprinkle of kosher salt before baking. (not much, or too salty!)
Sprinkled on the salt....
Then ready to bake! 
Bake in 425 oven for 5 1/2  to 71/2  minutes. Watch them as each oven is a little different. My top shelf cooked them faster than my bottom shelf too, so I had an extra minute on the lower shelf of pretzels.
Here they are just hot out of the oven....soft and yummy....If you like them hard on the outside just do an egg wash and cook them a bit longer in the oven...they will have a stiffer, smooth and chewy outside.....
Add the melted butter on with a silicone brush....
When they come out of the oven brush them with melted butter and a silicone brush. EAT! They are lightly crisp on the outside and buttery chewy inside. Yummy! The hubs loved them! He loves anything salty. 
Oh yeah....that's what I'm talkin about!  I brought them to my classroom the next day
for our little cast party....we are doing 4 little fairy tale plays....I brought O.J. to go with them...yum! 
Dip them in chili, or light cream cheese, or cinnamon and sugar or just plain. Next time I'll try putting a 1/4 slice of hot dog inside each one and make pretzel dogs! That would go great with mustard. mmmm.........

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Garlic or Dill Chip Dip

Today in my classroom was Student of the Week.  It is the day to "share" something about yourself.  I have the kids write a giant newspaper article about all their favorite things. Then they have to "teach" the class something.
We have had everything from dry ice bubbles to learning all about a live hen.  One girl taught everybody some gymnastics tricks.


But today we had little Morgan teach us a yummy chip dip called "The Great White Moby Dip".  It was delicious and very easy, only 3 ingredients;

1 container cottage cheese
1 brick of 8 oz. cream cheese
5 to 6 shakes of Garlic Salt (or dill weed for a dilly dip)
Blend together and refrigerate for an hour

RUFFLES® Original Potato Chips

It was enjoyed by all.  Next time I have company over it's gonna be my go to dip. And I bet all of the students had really yummy breath when they went home!  mmmm.....

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Funny Mother's Day Story

 I thought I would share one of my near and dearest stories of being a mom. NOT!  It happened one night when I was President of a church organization called The Stake Primary. It was helping with 7 church organizations for the children 3 to 11.  I was holding a board meeting down the street at a friend's home who was on my board.
Busy church activities sometimes took over my life...sometimes.

I knew I would only be gone a little over an hour and my husband was on his way home from work. I called him and he assured me he would be home by 7:00.  So I left my 11 year old daughter Tiff in charge at about 10 minutes till, but forgot, (excellent mom that I am) to give her the phone number. I just didn't think it would be an issue. I left the kids playing with play dough and with plenty of snacks and took off.
Me on a much better day...
Little did I know how wrong I would be. About an hour later I got a call from a neighbor Terry, down the street. She said the words no mom wants to hear, "Pattie, I don't want to alarm you, but you better get home right this minute!" and she didn't tell me why. I jumped in the car and tore home (about 2 blocks). As I turned my corner my eyes  met with  police cars, lights flashing, paramedics, and the fire department all in my driveway. And no cars of ours there.

And just about every neighbor in my entire neighborhood standing out on their front lawn wondering where in the heck the parents were and what terrible disaster had struck inside the house while those no good parents were gone who knows where!

When I got there I ran inside with my heart in my stomach, praying all was well. I met a fireman that goes to my church and asked him what had happened. It is comical now, but at the time, not so much.  My 4 year old had put some of the playdough in his ear and the kids tried getting it out. When they couldn't they called 911 to ask how to get playdough out of somebody's ears.

Yeah. A real emergency, playdough in the ears. I couldn't even believe it.  I learned later that my 11 year old daughter had told the police, "My mom is at a church meeting." So the officer had taken her in his squad car down to my church and paraded around asking where I was.  Yeah. I know.  Not just my neighborhood was I toast, but now also at church. Complete humiliation!  It was a really bad night for a mom, as you can just imagine.

The funny part comes later when all the hoopla had left my house. I had pulled all the curtains. The kids had gone to bed and I was sitting in the dark crying, my happy go lucky husband shows up. He'd forgotten HE ALSO had a church meeting. He was a high counselor in our church and also had a 7:00 pm meeting he'd forgotten AND neglected to tell me about. So he simply went straight to his meeting leaving me in the dust.
The next day was Halloween. Yeah. I remember trick or treating through my neighborhood THAT year.
At Halloween this year with my 3 granddaughters....MUCH more fun! 

So I guess, time + crisis = humor, as they say. I can laugh about it now, but it was probably my worst experience as a mom. But as all moms know, there are a multitude of stories, almost equally awful, that we could substitute, am I right? I can tell you with complete conviction, looking back, it is ALL WORTH IT.

Cuz look what I got! 

My family is the best, most important thing in my life.  Enjoy them while they are little. It goes so quick. Happy Mother's Day to all who mother, whether it is your own kids or others, we all honor you today. For all the highs and all the lows, for all the laundry, the meals, the parent-teacher conferences, the doctor visits, the Scouts, music lessons, laundry, PTA meetings, sports, taxiing,  homework you helped with and Birthday parties you planned. It's your day to shine!  Happy Mother's Day!

The college grad playdough pusher.....yes I've gotten over took a lot of therapy.......just kidding. Who could afford therapy?....I had good friends. And that's the best a mom can ask for.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chicken Salad Sandwiches with grapes and almonds

Chicken Salad Sandwiches with grapes and almonds
My daughter-in-law, Wendy, asked me to post this recipe that I truly love and everybody else, apparently does too. I got it from a friend, who got it from a caterer, who was serving it at a wedding reception.

Recipe from my neighbor Maryann's caterer.....
2 1/2 cups cubed, cooked, white chicken breast meat
3/4 cup  slivered almonds
1 cup sliced celery
1 1/4 cups seedless red grapes, sliced in half
3/4 to 1 cup Hellmans or Best Foods mayonnaise (depending upon your preference)
Oneida seasoning salt to taste
A few shakes of Pepper to taste

Chicken salad on a Jimmy John's white roll cut in half....yummy! 
  It is a simple chicken salad recipe.It is a great summer sandwich recipe and it is fresh and low calorie. I've used it at 2 of my kids' wedding receptions. I think I doubled the recipe for about 65 mini sandwiches.  

Here we used Costco White Dinner Rolls (package of 36) cut in half. It was so easy and the chicken salad went a long way.  It is also great on mini croissant rolls. 

I start with white chicken meat and dice it up into chunks.  You can use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store too. Or just white meat breasts boiled or broiled, cooled and chunked.  Add mayo and then add finely chopped celery, red grapes sliced in half and SLICED almonds. (or slivered if you love crunch)
Some people love the crunch of slivered almonds but I like the sliced better and they look pretty in the sandwiches. Add fresh fruit or a fruit smoothie to your  chicken salad sandwich for a yummy, healthy treat! 
I love a good berry smoothie
Now the secret ingredient in these sandwiches is ONERA SEASONING.  It is usually found in the market near the fresh fish or near the butcher area.  It is kind of a seasoning salt.
Onera Seasoning- look for it next to the fresh fish. .I always get the original one but they have 4 or 5 others.  I think
these are Salt Lake City based seasoning products. 
One more thing. Be sure to use fresh and a high quality mayo like Hellman's or Best Foods.  The creamier your mayo the better the sandwiches are.  I've used Costco rolls cut in half (the 36 package) or small croissants for buffets because they will make your salad go a long way.
 Jimmy John's long rolls are delicious breads to serve with this chicken salad also. I buy them for 50 cents day old at the shop, and go home, cut them in half, and put them in freezer bags. They are great to have on hand to use for steak sandwiches or albacore tuna or deli turkey. This is a picture of one long roll cut in half.

 It's a delicious summer sandwich. Add a slice of lemon meringue pie for dessert  and THAT's what I'm talking about!     

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cinco de Mayo Homemade Corn Tortillas and Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I made some homemade corn tortillas and tacos tonight! Ole! Ay ayay!

I remember when I taught school in Long Beach, California and I had kids bussed in from downtown. I had many monolinguals in my class who had come straight from Mexico and didn't speak much English.
These were VERY yummy...because the tortillas are homemade!  
 I remember Maria's mom who offered to come make tortillas for our Cinco de Mayo celebration. She took 2 busses to get to the school. These tortillas were so yummy I went out and bought a tortilla maker that week.

cinco de mayo 18 Cinco de Mayo ideas to get your fiesta on!
Go to the Link HERE for more.
Masa de Harina is what the corn flour is called. It's in the Mexican food section of the grocery store.
Mix as directed on your package. I did a cup of corn flour to a cup of water....and it mixes up kind of like Play Dough consistency. It is not very sticky. It is really a fun, perfect kind of dough to work with. 

I rolled it into about 12 tortilla sized balls, just about a handful like this....

And here's my little metal tortilla maker from a Mexican outdoor market called Olvera Street. I must have bought it  15 years go now. 
This pic is deceiving because I tried this little blob of dough...and it made a mini taco....really cute but not what I was going then I doubled the balls... We like BIG tacos around here....snicker.....

As you can see this is a BIG handful of dough I rolled into a was the perfect size....

There is parchment paper under and over the blob of dough to keep it from sticking to the tortilla maker.

Making tortillas is really fun!  Kids LOVE it!  And it makes a  perfectly round taco when it's homemade!  Ariba!   

Then I put it in a fry pan sprayed with Pam.....about 1 1/2 minutes on each side....just to cook them....
I experimented with some Wesson oil and some lard....of course lard is better if you want that authentic taste of a fried taco shell.

I did some fried in grease and some just cooked on a hot frying pan....Fried are tastier....but both are great. My taco meat is ground beef fried, grease drained, then  mixed with  1/2 bottle of salsa and a taco seasoning packet simmered together. You can also add a tiny can of green chiles if you like.  I sometimes do. 

Then  I added cilantro, tomatoes, cheese and lettuce and maybe a dollup of sour cream on top,
and it was a  Happy Cinco de Mayo celebration!

 And I'm all ready for our Cinco de Mayo Fajita and Taco party too!   OLE!

Now I need to go make a strawberry-lime virgin Margarita to go with our fajitas and tacos! Yum. 
Had to decorate with some sombreros for the Cinco de Mayo party too! 
And made some noisemakers.....we call them homemade marraccas!  Shake Shake!  Kids love these too! We just made them out of empty cans with dry beans and popcorn inside for noisemakers. 
And what party would be complete without the Mexican Hat Dance?   Not mine!  Party on Garth!  OLE!   


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