Category Archives: Dips and Sauces

Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels

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I’ve had a love affair with everything you can make homemade for quite some time now. From homemade oven-baked bread (that didn’t work very well… I need to try that again), to perfect pancakes, applesauce muffins, and even infused liquor, I love when I can take a few simple ingredients and make a whole lot of something I otherwise would have to buy at the store. Someday soon I will foray into making my own yogurt, bagels, kombucha, and sauerkraut too. 
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One thing I’ve had in the back of my mind to try was soft pretzels. They seemed like an easy enough task, though I wasn’t sure. History claims that a very long time ago, AD 610 according to TLC Cooking, a monk was frustrated with his class and had some leftover bread dough. He rolled the dough out into rolls and made the iconic pretzel shape to resemble hands crossed in prayer. Originally called “pretiola”, Latin for “little reward”, they were quickly re-named “brachiola” which means “little arms”. They reached Germany, where they became a huge hit and were known as bretzels. This translated in America to pretzels, and so the famous street/fair/and sports event food took its place in our history.
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So when I found on Sally’s Baking Addiction a 30 Minute Pretzel recipe, I knew I had to try it. However, my favorite soft pretzel is the Auntie Anne’s cinnamon raisin with glaze, so rather than a plain salt that’s what I was after. With a few tweaks, I was sure I could re-create that $6 treat for far less. This recipe ended up making 8 medium-sized pretzels. I’m sure you could cut it in half for one, or make smaller ones for young-uns. You can also omit the cinnamon and use less sugar and just roll in sea salt for regular soft pretzels and dip in mustard or cheese. In fact, I think I’ll need to make another batch of plain this weekend…
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Ingredients:
1.5 cups water
1 packet yeast
1 cup sugar or brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
4 cups flour plus extra
2 eggs, beaten
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Step 1: Pour the yeast into 1 1/2 cups warm-ish water and stir. You don’t have to wait for anything to rise, just mix it well.
Step 2: Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. (Flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and raisins). Add in the yeasty water and mix with your hands. Add more flour if needed. Once you have a fairly rubbery dough, break off a fist-sized chunk and place on a floured surface.

Step 3: Roll the dough out into a long strand, then cross it over into the pretzel shape. I’m actually going to try making letters and other shapes next time.

The next step is optional. Rumor has it boiling in baking soda water gives pretzels that chewy texture and browned color. Boil 1 cup baking soda in 9-10 cups water. Dunk the pretzels, and let boil for 5 minutes, then dry on a rack before baking. **Oh wait… it said 30 seconds. That could explain a lot. Only leave them in the boiling soda water for 30 seconds if you do this step**

A little hint: putting a wooden spoon across the top of a pot keeps it from boiling over. At least up to a certain point.

My post-baking conclusion was that while the boiling did cause a different color and taste, I like the pretzels without the baking soda step better, so I won’t be doing that in the future. However feel free to experiment yourself, maybe the altitude has something to do with it… #ColoradoBakingProblems

Step 4: Beat the eggs in a flat bowl/plate and coat the pretzels fully.

Step 5: Brush on some butter and cinnamon/sugar if you want extra sweetness. Bake the pretzels at 425 for 10-15 minutes, until nicely browned. Make sure to watch for burning.

Step 6: To make the glaze, take 1 cup powdered sugar and mix in 2 tbsp melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla flavoring, and 1-3 tbsp milk (depending on the consistency you want).

Drizzle the glaze over your pretzels and enjoy!

Warm and chewy right out of the oven, these pretzels were fantastic! Just as good, if not better, than anything I’ve had from a mall or baseball field. Will definitely be making these regularly, they are so easy and take less than a half hour total time.
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National Pretzel Day is April 26, so you have plenty of time to practice and perfect your favorite recipe!
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80% of all pretzels in the United States are made in Pennsylvania, where the hard pretzel originated. Unfortunately the Pretzel Museum in Philadelphia has closed, but they leave behind some fun facts:
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bullet Pretzels without salt are called baldies.

bullet An 1859 parade in New Orleans featured a float carrying a pretzel-baking machine.
bullet An average pretzel has 3.5 grams of fat and 260 calories.
bullet German kids wear pretzels around their neck for good luck on New Year’s. 
bullet Pretzels top some Christmas trees in Austria.
bulletA page in the prayer book used by Catharine of Cleves depicts St. Bartholomew surrounded by pretzels which were thought to bring good luck, prosperity and spiritual wholeness.
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For lots more fun facts on pretzels check out the TLC website.


What’s your favorite type of pretzel or topping?



Picnic favorite: 9-layer Taco Dip

 

I’m going to a park to play volleyball with some friends, and we will grill and have a picnic afterwards. Everyone brings something to share. I wanted to make something different from your typical hot dogs and chips type food, and anything taco-related is always a hit, so this is what I came up with. Since I already had the majority of ingredients, only needed to buy the lettuce and tomato, this was super cheap. Even if I had to re-buy everything, for a party of 10 or so people this is a cheap side/dip. It is nearly filling enough to count as a meal!

Ingredients.
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup taco seasoning
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
1 can refried beans
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/2 ripe tomato
1/4 head of lettuce, shredded (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup sliced black olives

Step 1: Brown the ground beef in a skillet. While cooking, layer the cream cheese on the bottom of an 8×8 pan with a spoon.

Step 2: Spread the sour cream on top of the cream cheese. Now you have 2 layers of cheesy goodness to build your mexi-masterpiece on top of.

Step 3: Open the refried beans and mix it up in the can. You can heat this first, I just scooped it right out of the can and layered it on.

That’s 3 if you’re counting.

Step 3: Once beef is cooked, add the taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water and cook until the water boils off. The beef should now smell tangy and reminiscent of Taco Bell. Pour that over the beans and spread evenly.

Step 4: Add as much salsa as you like on top of the beef. I just put about 1/4 cup since I’m adding real tomato as well.

Step 5: Add a healthy handful of shredded cheddar or whatever type of cheese you like. We’re up to 6 layers now…

Step 6: Cut the lettuce into small strips and cover the cheese with crunchy green goodness.

Step 7: Dice up a big fresh red tomato into small chunks and add those on top.

Step 8: Sprinkle the sliced black olives on top to complete the pretty picture.

And there you have it, 9 layers of tasty chip-ready dip! You can of course omit any layers you don’t particularly like, and it’s also an option to toss this in the oven or microwave for a few minutes after the cheese layer to warm up the meat/beans/cheeses before topping with the fresh veggies if you like it warm.

Feta and Red Pepper hummus

 

As a spread, appetizer or snack, hummus is filling, satisfying and nutritious. You can eat it with fresh veggies or crackers, or spread it on a sandwich, wrap, burger, gyro and more. I love hummus, and had some chickpeas left over from an earlier curry recipe, so I decided to make a snack.

Most hummus recipes call for tahini, of which I had none, so I created my own recipe. I love garlic hummus, and red pepper hummus, and feta cheese hummus. So I figured, why not combine it all!? Turns out that was an excellent idea, and I hope you think so too.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup garbanzo beans/chickpeas
2 tbsp feta (~1 oz)
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp water
1 clove garlic, diced
2 tbsp red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seed
Dash salt & pepper

Step 1: Blend the first 4 ingredients in the blender, scraping sides with a spoon. Add water until desired thickness.

Step 2: Add all spices, mix well and pour onto serving dish.

Step 3: It’s that easy, now enjoy! I cut up a carrot, a celery stick, a roma tomato and had some wheat thin crackers. Delicious!

Amount Per Serving (1/4 cup)
  Calories 215.4
  Total Fat 15.9 g
  Saturated Fat 3.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 10.5 g
  Cholesterol 6.3 mg
  Sodium 298.6 mg
  Potassium 140.7 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 14.9 g
  Dietary Fiber 2.9 g
  Sugars 0.2 g
  Protein 4.2 g

Radish, onion & herb cheese dip

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Sadly I don’t remember where the inspiration for this dip came from, but I read on another blog about putting fresh raw radishes into a dip, and decided to make my own version based on what I had in my house.
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Dip:
1 package cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup radishes, diced very small
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried onion
~1/2 tbsp sea salt

Step 1: Mix room temperature cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl until blended. The dip should be spreadable but a spoon could stand up in it.

Step 2: Add in all the other ingredients, and mix well. Serve with whatever crackers you like. This was a hit at a small gathering I had!

Addictive farm fresh dip!