Soft Pretzel Bites

I don’t think anyone will be more excited about this post than my dad. You see, last year, while I was living with my parents waiting to move to California, I made these pretzels to take to a friends house for some serious football watching. My dad had been telling me he wanted to learn how to bake bread and when he saw (and tasted) these he immediately said, “When can you teach me how to make these?!” I think he managed to wait 2 days before demanding to give them a try. Since that day he mentions “making pretzels” anytime we talk about food or cooking (which if you know me, you know happens often). And I know he was jealous when my sister and I told him we made them for Bayday during her visit.

When I taught my dad, I twisted the pretzels into sticks, but for Bayday Emilie and I cut them into bite size pieces that are perfect for snacking. I don’t know if that was a good idea or bad idea. These pretzels are already addicting, but when you can just pop one in your mouth any time you think about/see/smell them, you’re in trouble. They’re just that good. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!! (And as a bonus I’m including my recipe for Super Easy Beer Cheese, a-maz-ing with the preztels)

Soft Pretzel Bites

(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp butter, melted that has been cooled
Kosher salt, for topping
Parchment paper and cooking spray

Directions

In a measuring cup dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Set aside. (Mixture should become foamy, if it doesn’t your yeast may be bad or your water too hot)

In the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugars, and salt on low speed. Turn off the mixer and pour the water/yeast mixture and melted butter into the bowl. Turn the mixer on and knead for 6-8 minutes until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too dry you can add extra water, a tablespoon at a time.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a ball. Place the dough ball in the bowl, cover with a clean towel, and allow to rise for one hour (*or until double in size).

Towards the end of rising, preheat oven to 450 degrees and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper and cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the hot water and baking soda. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites and melted butter.

After the dough has risen, punch down the dough and then knead with hands for one minute. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide dough into 12 even portions. Now you can pick your shape. For pretzel bites roll each portion into a snake then cut the snake into bite size pieces, about 1 1/2 inches in width.

Dip the pieces in the baking soda water and place on the baking sheet (sometimes I dab the pretzels with a paper towel if they seem too wet). Brush each pretzel bite with egg whites/melted butter then sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 7-8 minutes, until browned.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

*I always let my dough rise in the (off) oven with the light on.

Beer Cheese Dip

(Sunny Side Up original)

Ingredients

6 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup good quality beer
1 Tbsp horseradish
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2-3/4 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Directions

Microwave cream cheese for 30-45 seconds until very soft. Stir in the beer, horseradish, and garlic powder. Microwave again for 30-45 seconds. Add the grated cheese and stir until smooth, microwaving again if necessary.

 

Cold Veggie Pizza Appetizer

Saturday, Bayday, Bayday!!

My sister has been visiting for the past week and we’ve been having an absolute blast. One of our jokes is that no one can make us laugh more than ourselves, except maybe each other. Don’t worry, I know you’re probably giving me the side eye right now because reading that doesn’t make much sense. Like most families, and especially sisters, we have a lot of inside jokes and from the outside looking in we are just weirdos. Actually from the inside looking out we’re pretty strange too — but we have FUN which is the most important part.

One of the fun things we did during her visit was have Saturday Bayday Bayday (best said like the motorsports commercials “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday”). Around lunch time we headed out to the bay with a few friends for a day of frisbee, sunbathing, eating, and good fun. Unfortunately we wound up cutting the day a little short when the sun disappeared and the clouds showed up, but the rest of the day was still a blast. And of course there was no shortage of food.

I’ll be sharing a few of those recipes in the next few weeks and I thought I would start with this super easy appetizer. I think this is one of things that everyone has had and everyone has their own way of making. This just happens to be the way I made it. I didn’t use a recipe as I have had it a million times and felt pretty confident about making it without one (but I did take notes so I could share it with you). It must have been a big success because it was a crowd favorite. Good news is it was also easy!

Cold Veggie Pizza Appetizer

(Sunny Side Up recipe)

Ingredients

2 cans of refrigerated croissant dough (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 packet Ranch dressing mix*
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp paprika
2 cups chopped veggies of your choice**

*1/2 packet was plenty for my tastes, but taste the dressing as you’re mixing and add more if needed ** I took the easy way out and bought a mixed bag with broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, and chopped it up. Bell peppers, onions, even cucumber would also be great.

Directions

Unroll the cans of croissant rolls and place on a baking sheet. Press together so it forms one big rectangle without seams. Bake according to package and allow to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, Ranch, and seasonings until smooth.

Spread the dressing over the crust in an even layer. Top with chopped veggies and cut into even squares. Serve cold.

A Taco Stand Favorite

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One of my favorite things about living in San Diego is the availability of really delicious authentic Mexican food. There is a taco stand on almost every street corner, no seriously, not an exaggeration. On any given block there will be an Alberto’s, Roberto’s, Rigaberato’s… The girls (that I nanny for) helped introduce me to my favorite place Taco Surf, or as the girls like to call it, Surf Taco. I could eat there 3 or 4 times a week. I love the carnitas and the carne asada is amazing. Occasionally I indulge in the rolled tacos, YUM.

Rolled tacos are one of the most popular taco stand foods. Deep fried little rolls of heaven. All my life I’ve seen them called taquitos and I had only tasted the frozen variety, which are nothing to write home about. But rolled tacos from a taco stand, those are something I can get down with. Of course if I really ate these taco stand delights as often as I would like I’d have to go around in elastic waist pants all the time.


Needless to say, when I saw this recipe I was instantly intrigued. They are a healthier homemade version. I love the fact that these taquitos, or rolled tacos, are not deep fried but still have a nice crispy salty finish. These are not a dead match for taco shop rolled tacos, but I think I actually like them better, let’s face it, it’s nice to know what’s inside and not have to worry about mystery meat. They come together quickly, can be frozen and baked later, and taste wonderful! Try them today!

Creamy Baked Taquitos or Rolled Tacos
(Adapted from Pink Parsley)

3 oz cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat)
1/3 cup salsa
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I didn’t have any fresh so I used dry but fresh is best)
3 Tbs chopped green onions
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (boiled, roasted, left over, anything works)
1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
8-12 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the salsa, lime juice, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, cilantro, green onions, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Fold in the chicken and cheeses. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Stack tortillas on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap. Cook 30 seconds, or until tortillas are soft and pliable. (Mine took 60 seconds total after coming straight out of the fridge)

Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly. Place seam side-down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

Spray the taquitos lightly with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden-brown. Serve with salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole.

So You Grew a Garden… Now What? 10

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

It’s time for another zucchini recipe! This recipe comes courtesy of Pastor Ryan via the Pioneer Woman blog. It is another recipe that I knew I would make the moment I saw it, almost a year ago. At the time our zucchini plant wasn’t producing very much but I kept the recipe in a little file in the back of my brain. When I decided to do this garden series I knew without a doubt that this would be a part of it. I am so happy that I didn’t forget about this little gem because they were SO GOOD. If you have zucchini in your garden right now, you.must.make.these.

Zucchini Cakes
(Slightly adapted from Ryan Dretzel via The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients

1 large zucchini
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 – 3/4 cup of Italian style breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
2 eggs (add 1 first then if the mixture is too thick add the 2nd)
1/2 tsp thyme
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
Olive Oil

Directions

Shred a cleaned and dried zucchini with the large holes of the cheese grater. Squeeze the shredded zucchini using a clean kitchen, removing as much liquid as you can. (I was surprised how much liquid came out!)

In a medium bowl, stir together the shredded zucchini, garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, salt, pepper and thyme. Check the texture. It should be batter like and not “crumbly”. Add the second egg if needed.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot enough, carefully drop the batter into skillet (about 2-3 tbsp of batter) and flatten a little with a fork. Cook for two minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with ranch for dipping.