Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow Day = Warm Pretzels

When I lived on my own I would bake pretzels every time there was a snowstorm. Not sure why this was, maybe it was the smell of something warm and gooey resonating through my apartment or just the comfort it lent from eating them while looking out the snowcapped windows. 

The tradition still lives on in my house and today is no exception. My daughter and I are now in the kitchen baking up a wonderful batch of ooey gooeyness. Of course, she's more taken with a lemon and trying to squeeze it into the dough, but it's all good. Honestly, there's really nothing that can ruin a white snowy day and seeing the snowflakes accumulate inch by inch. 

I've learned the hard way that instead of doing the whole wheat version, I'm better off with regular white flour. Of course, using the healthiest (ie, GMO-free) kind I can find! It's made my life a lot easier.  I follow Alton Brown's recipe below, but I do omit the butter. Really though, with 403 5-star ratings, how could you go wrong?

Homemade Soft Pretzels 


  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 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. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Candle

After seeing dozens of posts on Pinterest with DIY candles and jars, I decided to try my hand at it as well. I've given them as little gifts already and they're super cute and very well received. Then again, what gift isn't? The holidays are all about giving! 

What you'll need:

Jar (I used an empty jar from peanut butter we buy)
Epsom Salt
Tea light candle
String (you can use thin ribbon or twine)
Greenery (I clipped juniper from my mom's house)
Pine Cone or Cinnamon Stick- optional, I didn't use any in mine
Candy cane - optional

So what you're going to do is fill the jar a teeny tiny bit with epsom salt. Clip whatever greenery you have around and lay it inside and tie it along the rim on the outside as well. If you have tiny pine cones, you can also tie that with the green or by itself if you so wish. For some of the candles I dropped in candy canes, if only to make it merry and festive. It was a very nice touch!

I assure you that the receiver will love this gift. Make sure they light it up because that's when the magic really happens. It seriously looks like White Christmas in a jar! It reminded me of a quiet, snowy evening that sparkles and shines. I seriously could stare at it for hours on end!  

If you're on a budget like I am, this is a perfect gift to give! Happy Tidings!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Choosing the right color

Today I had a conversation with my sister-in-law and she touched upon something I've been contemplating in my space... PAINT! During that time, I also had a bunch of color swatches sitting in front of me (because I usually carry them everywhere I go in my house). These colors also happened to have been in the brown/tan family. A decadent long list of names like: Caramel Apple, Toasted Almond, Barley Harvest, Gingerbread Man, Graham Cracker, Maple Syrup, Biscuit, Peanut Shell, Gingersnaps, Baked Cumin - - the list goes on and on and makes my stomach growl.

Seriously, it took me two years to figure out which white color I was going to paint our cabinets and now I have the 'daunting' task of choosing a wall color to (gulp) compliment them. Mind you, I'm indecisive when it comes to picking out a box of cereal. It's no coincidence that I go with oatmeal every morning, it's just simple. Oatmeal, yes, now that would make a great wall color!

My sister in law's dream color? Pie Crust... perfect! Only that it doesn't quite exist, except for the one you bake. The thoughts it conjures up, though, is enough to keep me in the kitchen all day long. Not only is it a warm color, but also one that would go great with white cabinets. 

After many moments of contemplation, I finally chose a color that was suitable for the kitchen and my husband (reluctantly) painted the kitchen on his rare off-time. 

As you can see from my previous post, the blue is way gone and I couldn't be happier! Next on my list is bead board wallpaper and the kitchen walls will be complete. Of course, there's really no hurry. And yes, I've restored our nook to its original table rather than a makeshift desk. Love it much better.... for now.