Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pretzel Bites With Honey Mustard Sauce

It has been quite some time since we've posted a recipe that uses yeast. I wanted to try something fun while we are stuck inside with all this gloomy, drizzly, cold, and downright yucky winter weather. 
These are definitely fun.
You use quick rise yeast so from start to finish these only take just over an hour. 
And... can we talk about that honey mustard sauce for a second? 
It's good... like... really good. I see it being used for just about everything in my house for the next little while. Pork, chicken, beef, bread - yup, that'll work just fine. 
If you are new to working with yeast then this is a great recipe to start with. It's one of the easiest I've tried. It can be a bit fiddly to boil all those little pieces but it goes by quickly!

Pretzel Bites With Honey Mustard Sauce

Honey Mustard Sauce
1/2 cup light mayo
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup prepared mustard

2 to 3 cups of flour
1 pkg quick rise yeast (about 3 tsp)
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup very hot water (about 120 degrees)
2 Tbsp oil

For Boiling
8 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda

1 egg white, beaten lightly
coarse sea salt

Prepare sauce - whisk together mayo, honey, and mustard until smooth. Cover and chill until needed.

Prepare pretzels - In a large mixing bowl combine 1 1/2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add in the hot water and oil and stir until well combined. Add in enough flour to form a stiff dough. Knead by hand for 1 -2 minutes, until soft and pliable. 
Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and set in a warm place to rise for 30 - 45 minutes - until doubled. 
Preheat oven to 425. 
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set side.
Punch down dough and turn out onto a very lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 8 pieces.

Roll each piece into a snake about 1 inch in diameter. 
Cut each snake into approx 2 inch pieces. 

Once they are all cut, leave them on the work surface and cover with a towel. Let sit about 10 or so minutes while water comes to a boil. 
Bring water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan. 
Place pretzel bites into the boiling water - about 10 or so at a time - for 10 seconds. Flip the bites over for another 10 seconds. 
Remove from the water using a slotted spoon, allowing to "drip dry" for about 2-3 seconds. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining bites.

When all bites have been boiled briefly - using a pastry or basting brush, brush the bites with the beaten egg and then sprinkle generously with the coarse sea salt. 

Bake in 425 oven until golden brown, about 12 - 15 minutes. 

Serve warm with the honey mustard sauce.
These are okay the next day but are definitely better the day they are made. 

A little crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Warm and salty goes perfect with the sweet mustard sauce. 
So much to love. 

We're sharing Carole's Chatter, be sure to pop over and say hi!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

German Chocolate Cake

I eat a lot of cake. It's true. Since Sue and I were young we've been exposed to a lot of baking. 
BUT... believe it or not... I have never eaten a German Chocolate Cake. 
Weird, right?
Well... I decided I needed to right that wrong. 
Also.... German chocolate cake is not German. It's named after a man with the last name German. *Boom* Mind blown. All these years I thought it was from Germany. 
Still a crazy delicious cake though. 
The frosting is magical.
I may need to add this cake to my rotation of favorites.

German Chocolate Cake

6 oz chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup boiling water
2 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk
4 egg whites, whipped to form stiff peaks

1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 egg yolks
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup coconut
1 cup pecans, toasted & chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Line 3 - 8 inch pans with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside. 
Prepare cakes - In a medium bowl, place the chopped chocolate. Pour in the boiling water and vanilla and stir until smooth. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. set aside. 
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth, scraping side of bowl as necessary. Beat in both sugars until smooth. Beat in egg yolks. 
Stir in the chocolate until well combined.
Alternately beat in dry ingredients with the buttermilk until well mixed.
Gently fold in 1/4 of the egg whites then fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Spread evenly in prepared pans, batter will be thick. 

Bake at 350 until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean - about 30 - 45 minutes.

Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen and then invert cake onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
While cakes are cooling, prepare frosting/filling.
Prepare frosting/filling - In a large saucepan, cook and stir evaporated milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and salt over medium heat until thick and bubbly - about 12 or so minutes. 
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, coconut, and pecans. 

Stir well and then let sit to thicken - stirring every so often to help cool faster. (Can put in fridge to speed up process.)
Assemble cake - Place one of the cakes on a serving platter. Top with 1/3 of the coconut pecan frosting. Place another cake, then another 1/3 of the frosting, then the last cake and the last of the frosting.

Chill until ready to serve. 

This yields a very large layer cake so is perfect for family dinners or office birthdays. Or... you know... days when you just want to eat a LOT of cake. 
This cake may be a tad more fussy than the usual chocolate cake but is definitely worth it. I can't believe I waited this long to try a German chocolate cake. I won't wait that long to have another!

Be sure to pop over to Carole's Chatter for tons of fun links! 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Banana Split Delight

Sometimes a dessert is just a dessert.
And, sometimes a dessert is sooooo much more. It is heaven. It is all things amazing. It is the stars aligning in the universe. 
This right here... it's one of the latter. 
So many layers of ridiculous tastiness. 
Yes... you are going to dirty some dishes on this one but, you know what? It won't even matter once you dive into it. It serves 16 and the servings are VERY generous. 
This is one of those savor-every-bite-in-the-hopes-it-will-last-forever dishes. 

Banana Split Delight

First Layer
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

Second Layer
2 (8oz each) bricks of cream cheese (total of 16 oz)
1 cup icing sugar
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup whipped cream

Third Layer
4 medium bananas

Fourth Layer
2 3/4 cup milk
2 pkg (4 servings each) vanilla pudding 

Fifth Layer
3 cups whipped cream

Sixth Layer
1/2 to 1 cup of chocolate fudge sauce
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts

Whipped cream
16 Maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Prepare 1st layer - stir together graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, and sugar. Stir in the butter until well mixed. Press the mixture into the prepared 9 X 13 pan. Bake at 350 for about 15 - 18 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool to room temp. (Can be placed in fridge to speed up process.)

Prepare 2nd layer - Beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Beat in the icing sugar. Beat in the pineapple until well combined. Finally, fold in the whipped cream. Carefully spread over the crust.

Prepare 3rd layer - slice bananas and lay over the pineapple layer. Lightly press the bananas down into the cream cheese layer.

Prepare 4th layer - Pour milk into a mixing bowl, sprinkle with the 2 boxes of pudding powder. Beat until well combined and thickened but still spreadable, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Spread over the bananas.

Prepare 5th layer - Spread the whipped cream over the pudding layer.

Prepare 6th layer - Drizzle the chocolate sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the walnuts.

Lastly, decorate as desired with extra whipped topping swirls and maraschino cherries. I did 16 swirls to indicate where to cut the dessert for 16 slices. You don't have to do this if you don't want to.
Chill until ready to serve.

How cute does it look? Am I right?

I made this for our mom to take to a luncheon she was going to so I only managed to get a photo of it cut because she smuggled the last piece out!
She said it was a HUGE hit. 

I stored it overnight in the fridge and they served it the next afternoon and it held up very well. You want to let it sit for at least a couple of hours to set up. 
FYI - if you don't want to whip your own cream you can always use thawed Cool Whip instead. 
So many flavors some through - the pineapple, the cream cheese, the banana, the toasted walnuts (DEFINITELY toast the walnuts, don't skip this!!), the chocolate.... 
Need I say more?
You should probably go make this. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Reuben Roll Ups

I always forget about Reubens when I an craving something different for lunch. They take as long as a regular sandwich to make but taste out of this world. Corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut with a little Thousand Island dressing. Can't beat that. 
I used some Pillsbury crescent dough and came up with a snack version of the Reuben that is perfect for game night, after school snacks, AND lunch. 

Reuben Roll Ups

2 cans of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1/2 cup Thousand Island Dressing
10 slices of Swiss cheese
 thinly sliced corned beef
1 jar of sauerkraut (about 1 - 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Unroll a can of the Pillsbury crescent dough and pinch together the seems. Flip over and pinch the seams together on the opposite side.

Spread 1/4 cup of the Thousand Island dressing over the crescent dough. Lay 5 slices of Swiss cheese down the center.

Spread half of the corned beef over the cheese. Top with half of the sauerkraut.

Roll up jelly roll style, pinching to seal.

Slice into 1 to 2 inch rolls and place on prepared cookie sheet.

Repeat with the second roll of crescent dough and remaining ingredients. (I got about 32 rolls in total but it will depend on how thick you cut them!)
Bake at 375 until golden brown - about 20 - 30 minutes. 

Serve warm or room temp.

Store any leftovers in the fridge. Can be frozen and warmed in the microwave for a quick snack. 
Note - I didn't give a measurement for the corned beef because you can use as much or little as you like. I always use to little bags of deli corned beef - about 20 slices total. 
These are also quite good at room temp so would be great to bring to a potluck or office get together.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Lightened Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Scones

These scones are "lightened" in calories with some healthified ingredients thrown in for good measure but you would never know. They don't taste healthy.
I know..I know... I say that like things tasting healthy is a bad thing. See... the thing is... I am not a huge fan of things tasting healthy that aren't usually healthy.
Vegetables. Sure. They're already healthy so you get what you get. But, scones... well... they are usually full of flour and sugar and butter and chocolate and other such beautiful nonsense. They don't taste "healthy" nor should they.
And thus... this recipe is magic. 
You're welcome.

Lightened Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Scones

3/4 cup 1% buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp Sugar Twin Brown Sugar
pinch salt
2 tsp ground flax
4 Tbsp butter, chilled
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vanilla, and egg. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flours, sweetener, salt, and flax. Cut in the cold butter using 2 butter knives or a pastry blender (or pulse briefly in a food processor or blender) until mixture resembles course crumbs.
Stir the chocolate chips into the dry ingredients.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed - do not over mix. (If dough is too dry add a bit more buttermilk - too wet, add a bit more flour.)
Knead mixture very briefly to form a ball. Pat into an 8 inch circle and place on prepared cookie tray. Cut into 8 wedges and sprinkle with the 2 tsp of sugar.

Bake at 400 for about 15 or so minutes - until top is golden brown. If you find the top is getting too brown but the middle still seems under cooked, gently pull the wedges apart just a little and lower oven temp to 375. Continue baking until scones are done.

Remove to wire rack to cool completely. 
Or, of course, serve warm!!

You get 8 good sized scones out of this. Each scone (according to Myfitnesspal) is:
210 calories, 28 carbs, 9 fat, 6 protein, and 2.25 fiber.
Pretty good for breakfast with a piece of fruit or for snack time. These also freeze quite well and just need to be popped into the microwave for a little bit to re-heat. 
From start to finish in about half an hour. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Cranberry Pecan Sprinkle Cookies

Over the holidays we make a bazillion cookies. Each year we make a few of our old favorites and then go on the look out for new and exciting recipes. 
This year, our mom found a recipe for cookies in the Vancouver Sun newspaper. I didn't have the exact ingredients called for so I did a little experimenting and came up with this version. 
They turned out very tasty and they look soooo cute. I mean, who doesn't like sprinkles?
You can cut them thinner if you prefer crispier cookies but leave them a bit thicker for more tender cookies.

Cranberry Pecan Sprinkle Cookies

1 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
pinch salt
1/2 cup dried craisins
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 cup sprinkles

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, scraping sides as necessary. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat again. 
Slowly beat in the flour and salt until fully combined. Dough will be very stiff. Stir in the craisins and pecans.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on your work surface. Pour about 1/2 cup of sprinkles onto the plastic wrap. 
Take the dough and form it into 2 logs. Roll each log in the sprinkles to coat the outside thoroughly - you will probably need to add more sprinkles.

Wrap both logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours - up to overnight.
When ready to bake - preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
Slice the cookie logs into about 3/4 inch slices. (Thinner for crispier cookies, a bit thicker for softer cookies.) and place on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 12 - 15 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and edges are just slightly brown.
Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely. 

These also freeze very well. 
How many cookies you get will be determined by how thin you slice them. I believe I got between 3 and 4 dozen.