Sunday, April 28, 2013

Easy Homemade Soft Pretzels

Who would have thought you can make quick soft pretzels at home, no venturing to a crowded and loud mall required. You're probably thinking right now, yeah right making pretzels at home is sooo time consuming, what with making the dough, kneading the dough, the rising of the dough, the boiling of the dough, etc.  That's what I thought too! But due to some good fortune I stumbled across a blog that promised pretzel making would be simple and done in 30 minutes...."pshh, I gotta try this for myself", I thought. nom nom nom...excuse me, sorry im in the middle of finishing my 3rd preztel, and trying to type at the same time. 

Oh man, Sally's baking addiction wasn't kidding! These were some awesome and quick pretzels.  They were not only super fast to make, but there is no dough rising, no boiling, and barely any kneading involved. They were uber soft and I could barely contain myself when these bad boys came out of the oven. I wanted to stuff my face before I could even take photos, but then I snapped to it soon enough to realize if I ate all the pretzels immediately, then there would be none left to take pictures of... phew, close call. Once I took the pictures I then proceeded to stuff my face :)

 I hope you try these preztels for yourself, I was always a little intimidated with pretzel making but this recipe replaced all my fears and I cannot wait to try all sorts of different variations of pretzel flavors, like cinnamon and sugar, jalapeno, chocolate....the list goes on and on. 

30 Minute Homemade Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Sally's baking Addiction

Yields: 8-10 Pretzels


1 1/2 cups luke warm water
1 packet of highly active yeast (I used Fleischmann's)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg
course sea salt


-  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
-  In a large bowl, pour in the warm water and yeast, stir with a spoon until the yeast is dissolved, about 1 minute. Add in the salt and sugar and stir until incorporated.
-  Slowly add in the flour about 1 cup at a time, mix with a wooden spoon until it gets sticky, continue to add in all your flour and at this point is when I started to use my hands to finish mixing the dough. The dough should no longer be sticky.
-  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface, once kneaded, shape into a ball, with a knife or your hands separate the dough into about 1/3 cup sections, or use smaller or bigger sections depending on how large you want your pretzels.

Divide your dough into sections
-  Roll the dough into a long rope about 20 inches long and form the pretzel shape and place on your parchment paper.

-  In a shallow bowl beat your egg and dip the pretzel (both sides) into the egg wash and place back onto your parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt.

Dipped in egg wash
-  Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, and turn the oven to broil for the last 3-4 minutes until the tops of the pretzel are golden brown, be careful to keep an eye on the pretzels once you switch it to broil because it might take only a couple of minutes for your pretzels to brown depending on your oven.

This was left in 4 minutes once switched to broil

This was left in for 3 minutes once switched to broil

I link up to these awesome parties! including the newest addition Our Growing Edge over at Bunny Eats Design.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Gotta Love Coconut Oil: Strawberry Banana Muffins w/ Streusel Topping

I've been on a mission lately to dust off some of my kitchen gadgets and pans I've bought months ago and finally let them complete their mission in life. 

I've have this jumbo muffin pan, which has been sitting in the back of the cabinet underneath the multiple loaf pans, regularly used cupcake tins, and donut pans.  Just sitting there sad and lonely, and I started to feel sorry for it.  I know I know it sounds silly, why should I feel sorry for a inanimate object.  But I do, becuase why bother buying something if you aint going to use it, then your just wasting money and taking up space in your tiny kitchen that can barley hold all the kitchen crap you've already accumulated over the I right?  

So today was the day the jumbo muffin tin was going to have its day in the oven. I adapted my nanas banana bread recipe and came up with one hell of an oishii muffin.  I love using coconut oil in place of butter or vegetable oil, not only is it better and healthier for you but it gives the baked goods an extra special flavor that you wouldn't get with butter or vegetable oil.  These Jumbo muffins are great for breakfast along with a cup of coffee or as a snack. They are loaded with fruit and incredible moist, thanks to the rippend bananas, greek yogurt and coconut oil. You got to give these a try, if you're not a strawberry fan then you can easily switch out the strawberries for blueberries, raspberries or just use bananas. 
Now go save a lonely unused kitchen gadget or pan today and you'll be happy you did.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Show me your Pucker Face! Lemon Curd Filled Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

I love spring! You know why I love spring? Because it means winter is finally over and summer is coming, and the threat of a unexpected snow storm is finally dissipating with the warmer breeze.  You know the weather is changing when your little city you live in starts teeming with life again, people are out of hibernation and they are working in their gardens, kids are playing outside and people are out walking their dogs and riding bikes.  It felt like a ghost town in the winter time and I'm just so happy to finally be able to enjoy the warm weather again and go out and hike and just soak up some much needed vitamin D.  Of course for this ginger kid that means with plenty of SPF applied.  

In honor of spring finally arriving in Northern Japan I wanted to make something light, bright and a little tart. These Lemon Cupcakes do the trick, especially the tart lemon curd filling that are added to the inside of each cupcake. I made sure to reduce the sugar in the cupcake, only because the frosting is sweet and makes up for the not very sweet cake. 

The Lemon curd was amazing, easy and quick to make and gave the filling a nice tart flavor. The buttercream was a simple frosting with added lemon juice of course.  Now I love stuff a little bit more sour and some people at work really enjoyed the tartness while others made a tiny pucker face, so if you want to dial back on the lemon juice just make sure when making the lemon curd that you add less lemon juice. I used 2/3 cup but you can always reduce the amount to 1/2 or even 1/3 cup to not make the filling so sour.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kalamata Olive and Pesto Sandwich (Vegan Friendly) a.k.a Copycat Corfu Sandwich

Have you've ever had that favorite item on the menu that you would always order at a resturant and then once in a blue moon you would decide to try something different, and it just wasn't as good as your favorite or you were disappointed and wanted to kick yourself for ordering something different when you should have just gotten what you love? That was me everytime I didn't order this sandwich and try something different, I would always regret it.  

This is one of my all time, hands down favorite sandwiches in the whole wide world. I like to call this a copy cat version of the Corfu Sandwich from a awesome little cafe in Anchorage Alaska.  Before we left AK to live in Japan, we made sure we visited all of our favorite restaurants in Anchorage and took a menu from each place so we could recreate them at home.
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