Soft Pretzels

{i could just eat these all day}
I have to give credit to my dear hubby, Warren, for coming up with the idea of making pretzels. It was his idea. I hate to admit it, but that's what we had for dinner... straight pretzels. Sad, huh? Oh the joys of being poor married students- livin' on a prayer, baby!
For the dough:
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons melted butter
veggie oil for greasing the bowl

Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel or Kosher Salt

In a medium bowl, combine water, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix with mixer on low to dissolve yeast. Add in flour and melted butter and mix until just before dough starts to come together. Then add dough to your awesome 1980's Bosch mixer, using the bowl fitted for the dough hook (or if you are living in today's world, your Kitchen Aid mixer with dough hook). Mix until dough comes together and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Transfer dough to a bowl lightly greased with veggie oil, turn once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 50-55 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 450F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil in a large pot.

Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope shape about 20-24 inches long. Make a "U" shape, and then twist, pinching the ends down to secure (you all know how to make a pretzel shape... we've all watched the guy do it at the Pretzel place in the mall). Don't judge my kitchen... or my husband who has his tongue sticking out.

Once each piece is in the shape of a pretzel, pop one or two in the boiling water. Keep it in there for 30 seconds, removing it using a slotted spatula. Place it back on the parchment paper. Once they have all had their boiling bath, brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt. Then bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown or darker on the edges. Let cool before eating!
Serve with whatever you like to eat them with... my top favorites are cream cheese with marinara, nacho cheese, caramel, and chili (weird, huh?).

Directions for freezing:
You can do this many ways, they all work just fine. After the dough was split into 8 pieces, I froze them just in their ball form. You can also twist and boil them, and then freeze, so you just have to bake them straight from the freezer. I don't, however, recommend baking them and then freezing because reheating causes them to be tough and chewy.

Source: Annie's Eats via Alton Brown

Stuffing & Mashed Potato Cupcakes, anyone?

{i have no idea what to call these- other than delicious}
I saw these on one of my new favorite foodie blogs, way far back in her archives. I must have been looking for something specific. With Thanksgiving coming up (Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner) these looked and sounded wonderful, not to mention EASY and ADORABLE!

1 box Turkey Stuffing (and the ingredients to make it)
4 servings of instant mashed potatoes (or the real stuff depending on how much time you have) (and the ingredients to make it)
1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)
Dried Parsley 

What ya do is: Prepare stuffing as per directions. Spray cupcake pan with cooking spray. Scoop a spoonful of stuffing into each little cupcake slot, and press the stuffing down so not to have air pockets, like this:

Then make your mashed potatoes (or if you are making them scratch, you probably would have wanted to start making them hours ago). Once your mashed potatoes are done, scoop a spoonful and plop it on top of the stuffing in each cupcake slot. Press down. If you have left over potatoes you can obviously add more to each cupcake. Sprinkle with cheese and Parsley. Bake for 10 minutes at 325F. Goes great with turkey for Turkey Day! 
Source: The Ungourmet


Cream Cheese Brownies

{it's okay, they are cooked all the way this time}
I just have to say thank you to my wonderful oven and kitchen, for being on good terms with me right now. Without them on my side, these brownies would have come out gooey, and uncooked and unprepared to be eaten. Thank you! Seriously, some days that's what it feels like. I know I'm only limited in my skillz (ya like that?) but really, sometimes I know it's not entirely my fault. Luckily for me (and anyone else who eats these) everything was in perfect working order.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup all purpose flour

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

In a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil: sugar, water and butter. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stir until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and stir until completely blended together. Then add flour and baking soda, mix well. Pour into greased 8x8 inch baking dish. To make the topping, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Then add sugar, vanilla and egg and beat again until completely smooth and blended. Spoon small amounts on to brownie batter, evenly. Once the cream cheese layer is spread over the brownie batter, take a small knife or a toothpick and make cool designs on the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 325F, or until brownies set up. Use a toothpick to determine when brownies are finished. Let cool and serve.

Brownie source from allrecipes.com "mmm... brownies"  
Cream cheese topping from Joy Of Baking

Snickers Cupcakes

{cupcakes sent from heaven}
I saw these on Annie's Eats, and I just had to make them! So I gave it a whirl only I simplified them because again, I'm not having much luck with cakes from scratch. 
1 Chocolate Cake Mix- any flavor you'd like, really! (and the ingredients to make it)
5 Regular size Snicker Bars, cut into chunks
1/3 cup Caramel sauce (you can make your own if you feel so inclined, but I used the Smucker's brand)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup caramel sauce
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Bake your cupcakes per directions on box. Once they are cooled. Cut a cone shape out of the top center of each cupcake. In a medium bowl, mix 1/3 cup of caramel sauce with Snickers Bars, enough to coat. Then scoop a spoonful of candy mixture into each hollowed out cupcake, like this.
To make the frosting, mix butter with electric mixer for 2-3 minutes on medium or until butter is smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla, caramel and mix until blended, then whip in heavy cream until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Decorate cupcakes however you wish! ... And don't forget to garnish with more Snickers Bars!

Source: Annie's Eats


Carrot Cake Cupcakes

{and cream cheese frosting that will knock your socks off}
One thing I love about having family close by, is sometimes they pawn off cake mixes to me. I'll be honest, I haven't had much luck with making cakes from scratch. I see other people do it all the time, but mine seem to always have a flaw. I hear they are tricky to master, so I guess I'll have to keep practicing. But in the mean time, I'm welcoming any and all cake mixes that you have no need for. Oh, and don't judge me for not being perfect like everyone else who knows how to make a cake from scratch.
1 Carrot Cake Mix (and the ingredients to make it... eggs, oil, milk)
1 8oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar (you may need a little extra for thickness)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 baby carrot, shredded for garnish (optional)

Make cupcakes as per directions on box. Once cupcakes have cooled, begin making the frosting. In a large bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Then add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and fluffy. You may need to add a little extra powdered sugar to make a tiny bit thicker. Top with shredded carrot pieces as garnish.


Apple & Pear Crisp

{tis the season, for apples}
It's come to my attention that many of you in the US are no where near experiencing fall like weather. Unfortunately, I am. I'm enjoying the scent of falling leaves and am being forced to finally shut my windows. I've also noticed the abundance of apples in the grocery stores. So, it only seemed necessary to bake something with apples. Thus, this beauty!
sorry it's kinda blurry
2 Pears
3 Apples
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

For the topping:
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
2 sticks of butter (yikes!)

Preheat oven to 350F. Peel, core, and cut pears and apples into chunks. Mix in a large bowl the pears, apples, zests, juices, flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Once it's well combined, scoop the mixture into a 8x8 inch baking dish (if you want it a little thinner, you can use a large dish such as 9x13).

To make the topping, mix all the ingredients together with a fork until it's crumbly. Top to fruit, and bake for 45-50 minutes. Serve warm, preferably with vanilla ice cream. :)


Best. Chili. Ever

{simplicity truly is better} 
It's been raining all day long. A steady flow of nothing but drizzling ice cold droplets, sent from the Arctic itself. It's depressing, really. Ya know what's good during rainy days? Chili. And maybe some cornbread. Shoot, I didn't think about cornbread.
1/2 lb ground beef, or turkey if that's your thing
1 8oz (284 ml) can of light Tomato Soup
1 8oz (284 ml) can of corn (optional)
1 16oz (540 ml) can of red kidney beans
1 16oz (540 ml) can of black beans
1 packet of Chili seasoning found in the gravy isle
1 cup of water
1/2 of an onion, chopped finely
1 16oz (540 ml) can of chopped tomatoes, or equal fresh
Salt and Pepper to taste

In crock pot or slow cooker, mix soup, Chili mix, and water. Drain beans, corn, and tomatoes and add to crock pot.
Stir together and set crock pot for 4 hours. Feel free to open up the lid here and there and stir it up- make your house smell good. During the last hour, brown your meat. Add the onion to the meat while it's cooking, and once the onions turn slightly opaque, remove from heat and add to crock pot. Garnish with cheddar cheese!


Double Chocolate Chunk Brownies

{chocolate; a love story}
Just make sure to bake yours all the way. I'm only human, I must admit. I open the oven door too much and thus my things usually need to be baked longer. Like these. They were good the second day after they set up more, still the best brownies I've ever had in my life- which is quite the compliment since this was my first time making them from scratch. They were pretty amazing, I have to say. Chocolaty like you wont believe, and a flaky top that only boxed mixes can achieve!
1/2 half cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour (for more cake like brownies use cake flour, or self rising flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (separate from the rest)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In medium sauce pan, bring water, butter and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, stir to combine. Sift in flour and baking soda. Once the batter is cool, add in the other semisweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips, and mix. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until brownies have set up (you can use the tooth pick trick, too). Enjoy!


Don't you worry!

I will be full of yummy food ideas when I get back to Canada. We are still vacationing- I've had so many great ideas pop into my head, I had to start writing them down. I'm anxious to try the Snickers Cupcakes from Annie's Eats- these look so good! Also, can't forget my new cookbook that I won from The Ungourmet- so excited to crack that bad boy open! Have a good weekend everyone! And thanks for reading my blog!

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