Saturday, April 7, 2012

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites Recipe


Ever since I saw Maria's recipe for homemade soft pretzel bites, I have wanted to try my hand at them. But just like with all sweets and snacks, I needed to have a purpose for making them--otherwise Kevin and I would (and could!) eat them all ourselves. NOT good. :) Teenagers are always the best taste testers, so with youth group snack duty, I decided to make a batch of pretzels bites. 

The dough was some of the easiest I have ever worked with--not too much sticking, a beautiful rise, easy to handle. This was the first time I've parboiled dough in water (as you would with bagels) but I can't wait to try this method again. This recipe took me about 3 hours, start to finish (including the 1 hour rise). Not too shabby. 

I can't wait to see what the teens think about the pretzel bites. I know Kevin and I think they're DELICIOUS! 

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites Recipe
recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Makes 3 cookie sheets full 


1-1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast 
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2-1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
canola oil
for cooking:
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
2 Tbsp milk
Coarse sea salt


In the bowl of a stand mix, combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Attach the dough hook. To the yeast mixture, add the salt and 4-1/2 cups of flour. Turn mixer on low  and stir/knead until combine the dough comes together and pulls away from the side of the bowl. This should take about 4 minutes. (If the dough appears too wet and isn't forming a cohesive ball,  sprinkle in additional flour, 1 spoonful at a time.)  

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand for 3-4 minutes or until the dough is smooth and springs back when touched.  

Lightly coat a large bowl. (I use the stand mixer bowl--no extra washing needed!) Add the dough to the  bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Use plastic wrap to cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Dough should double in size. (I heat 2 cups of water to boiling in the microwave, then add the bowl of dough and close the door. This creates a lovely warm steam for rising.) 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Bring the 3 quarts of water to a boil in a 5 or 6 quart stock pot over high heat and *carefully* add the baking soda, 1/4 cup at a time. (This will create a volcano affect if added to quickly. I know. I speak from experience.) 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a knife or a bench scraper to cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. (about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each) Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. 

Drop the bites *gently* into the boiling water, about 15 at a time. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon and place on a plate to drain for a moment. Arrange pretzel bites on a baking sheet lined with silicone baking mat (or spray it with cooking spray.) Pretzel bites can be close together, but not touching.  

Brush the tops with the milk and sprinkle generously sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before eating. 

Serve with your favorite mustard or cheese sauce (or eat plain!) 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Creamy, Tangy Avocado Dip Recipe


Kevin and I were a bit skeptical about the combination of yogurt and avocado, but with 5 fresh avocados in the house, we thought, "Why not?!" Boy are we glad we put on our grown-up-pants and tried Maria's recipe! This dip is outstanding!! We love traditional guacamole, but this puts a whole new spin on avocado dip. The plain, tangy yogurt is the perfect accompaniment to the jalapeno-spiced avocado. You're going to LOVE this.  

Creamy, Tangy Avocado Dip Recipe
recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Makes 1-1/2 cups 

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded
1/4 small onion
1 garlic clove
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and seed removed
1/4 cup plain (unsweetened) yogurt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper

Pulse the jalapeno, onion and garlic in a food processor. Add in avocado, yogurt, cumin, Italian seasoning, lime juice, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. 

Serve with tortilla chips or crackers or vegetable sticks or cheese quesadillas or.... :)