Soft Pretzels

Well, fall is coming. I always feel the need to start baking when the weather gets cool. This morning I tried my hand at soft pretzels. I thought I would share my recipe. They turned out really good.

1 1/2 cups warm water – don’t use the microwave to heat the water because it gets too hot
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour – all purpose
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2 tablespoons melted butter
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit for about 5 minutes until it starts to foam. Add the butter and flour mix until combined. I use the hook attachment on low speed and then switch to medium speed. Continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This takes a few minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Place in a warm place for an hour. It should double in size.

Grease two baking sheets and set aside. Preheat the oven to 425.

Bring baking soda and 10 cups of water to a bowl in a large dutch oven.

Place the dough onto an oiled surface slightly flatten with your hand and cut in to 9 pieces.
Roll each piece in to a long rope 18 – 24 inches. Fold in to a pretzel shape and set aside. Place the pretzels one by one in to the boiling water. This is foam. Remove from the water after 20 seconds and place on the baking sheet. Brush the pretzel with beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until brown in color. Baking should take approximately 12 – 15 minutes.

Enjoy!
pretzels

Let’s Get Shucking

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The corn crop in Indiana has been really nice this year. It’s an awesome sight to drive down the country roads lined with corn on both sides. Although Indiana is known for many crops, corn is the main one.

I know I posted how I prepare corn for the freezer last year, but thought I would post it again because of the questions I’ve received recently.

FREEZING CORN

Freezing corn is a pretty simple process.

Shuck all the corn making sure to remove as much silk as possible
Place corn in boiling water for 3-5 minutes
Remove the corn carefully and place in a cold water pan for approximately 10 minutes
Remove from the cold water pan and place the corn on a towel to dry for a few minutes
Place the corn ears in to a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible
Or, if you wish cut the corn carefully from the cob and place in freezer bags.
Corn will keep in the freezer for around one year

Cheese Stick Witches Broom Party Snack

cheesebrooms

These are sooo cute and easy to do. Great for an adult or child’s Halloween Party.

String Cheese – as many packages as you need – each stick will make two brooms
Pretzel Sticks
Chives or Dill – must be fresh

Cut the cheese sticks in half. Now carefully cut one end of the cheese in half leaving the top half of the stick uncut. Continue cutting strips leaving the top half uncut until it resembles a broom end. Wrap a piece of dill or chives around the cheese just above the cuts and place a pretzel in the top uncut half.

Pasta with Sweet Potatoes

ImageIt’s fall.  I love sweet potatoes and they are such a healthy alternative.  Combined with kale or spinach sweet potatoes create a magical meal. 

 

  • One large sweet potato cooked to done but not mushy – Either microwaved or baked
  • Three tablespoons olive oil
  • One cup of fresh kale or spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • One half cup feta cheese
  • Pasta – use whole grain linguine, spaghetti even fettuccine
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano  grated 
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prep all the veggies and set aside.  Heat the water to boiling and drop in the pasta.  Heat olive oil in the skillet while the water is heating and put the kale in the skillet.  If you are using spinach it will go in later but if you are using kale do this first because kale takes longer to cook.  Add the garlic, onion and cook until the onion is opaque.  Add the sweet potatoes.  Cook for a few minutes until the sweet potatoes are getting a little brown.  The pasta should be done by now so go ahead and drain the pasta and place it in the skillet.  Stir, add the feta and stir again.  Cook over low heat for a few minutes allowing the feta to melt and combine with the kale and pasta.  Top with the parm cheese and serve warm. 

Zucchini Bites

These little bites are incredible. I used onions but you could substitute grated carrots if you don’t care for onions. Easy and quick. These would be great for football gatherings too.

1 large zucchini grated
1 large egg
1/3 cup diced onion – this is where you could substitute the carrot
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
dash of salt
pepper to taste
red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne pepper
cooking spray – I used olive oil

Heat the oven to 400. Spray mini muffin tin with the olive oil spray.

Finely grate the zucchini and drain. I placed the zucchini between paper towels and squeezed until the most of the liquid was out. Add all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. You can add any other spices you would like. Chives and carrots have been a tasty alternative i’ve tried. Spoon in to the sprayed muffin tin and bake for about fifteen minutes or until done. They should be browned on top and mildly firm. If they aren’t cooked enough they will stick to the muffin pan. That’s it. Now don’t eat them all on the way to the table.

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Savory Asparagus Pasta

SAVORY ASPARAGAS PASTAImage

1 cup of bow tie pasta

½ chopped onion, yellow or white

1 clove of garlic, chopped finely

1 Tbsp. salt

1 Tbsp. pepper

6 stalks of asparagus tops – use the small ones and just the top half

1/8 cup heavy cream or whole milk

1 Tsp. red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar

1 Vegetarian Italian sausage – you can use brats or Italian sausage

Olive oil

Parmesan Reggiano – grated

Chop the garlic and the onion and set aside.  Cook the pasta to al dente and the asparagus about three minutes.  Rinse the asparagus in cold water and set aside.

In a skillet heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the sausage, red pepper flakes, onions and garlic and cook thoroughly.   Next add the red wine vinegar and the balsamic vinegar.  Continue cooking over medium heat.  Add the heavy cream, salt and pepper.   Stir and reduce the heat to low.  Cook about two or three minutes and then add the asparagus and parsley. 

You can add more sausage or asparagus if you wish to this dish. 

Place in to serving dish and grate Parmesan Reggiano cheese on the top.  Enjoy!

Freezing Carrots

Another post on putting food away for the winter. Why? It’s healthier…when you freeze your own food you decide what is quality and you know how it’s actually been handled.

Today I’m freezing carrots, organic carrots to be exact. These are the regular full size garden carrots not the baby ones. Here is what I have found to be the best method.

Peel the carrots and wash them. Slice the carrots and blanch them in boiling water for two to three minutes. Next, scoop them out and place them in ice water for about five minutes. After that place them in a strainer for a few minutes to drain off as much water as possible. Place them in freezer bags and put in the freezer. They keep pretty well for up to a year.

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

To have to try this.  It’s awesome.

The Cast:

  • 2 medium zucchini, peeled and grated
  • kosher salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb No Salt seasoning

Peel and grate the zucchini and lightly salt.  Remove as much moisture with a towel or paper towel as possible.  Add all the other ingredients except the oil and mix thoroughly.  Heat the oil in a skillet.  Drop the zucchini mixture by large spoonfuls in to the skillet of hot oil.  (Watch yer self here so you don’t get burned.)  Flatten slightly.  Cook slowly about 6 to 8 minutes on each side to a lovely brown.  Turn and repeat cooking on the other side.  Drain on a paper towel.  Eat up!

These are great as a side for fish or chicken or add some cheese on top and use it as a main course.

 

Cucumber Salad

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Always looking for quick yet delicious side dishes.  This is one of my favorites.  It’s great for everyday family dinners for in large batches for cookouts.

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced or diced
  • 1/3 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • A pinch of salt

Prepare veggies, combine the salt, vinegar and sugar.  Heat to just warm to dissolve the sugar.  Place the vinegar in the fridge for a bit to cool.  When cool pour over the veggies and mix.  Place in the fridge for a few hours.  Enjoy!

It’s Corn Time

It’s corn time and the crop this year is really nice. I went to the farm yesterday and, after staring at what seemed at endless fields of corn, I purchased a couple of bushels. Then…..I blanched and processed corn the rest of the day. I gotta say I just love this time of year. Store bought corn just doesn’t compare to the taste of fresh corn that has been frozen at just the perfect ripeness. I thought I’d share my processing method with you for your corn harvest this year.

First I put a big ole pot of water on the stove to boil. And, since watched pots never boil, I got busy shucking the corn while I’m waiting. Try to remove all those silky threads. When the water boils just put several ears of corn in the pot. I boil the ears for three to five minutes and then place them in another pot, take the pot to the sink and fill it with cold water. Let the corn sit in the cold water about ten minutes or until it cools. Remove the corn and place on a towel to dry for a bit. After that it’s up to you. You can cut the corn from the ear (watch yer fingers) and place in bags or just place the whole ears in bags.

When you are ready to eat the corn just plop the cut corn in a pan with a little water, buddda and salt or whatever yer taste buds are tellin’ you to do. If you are cooking the whole corn on the cob get some water boiling, add a teaspoon of sugar and boil until tender. It only takes a few minutes. Yum!