Soft Pretzels at Home!

Bagels and pretzels used to scare me because they involved kneading, boiling, and baking! Scary! Yeast used to terrify me, boiling bread just seemed ridiculous, and I used to shy away from baking quite a bit!

I guess it’s safe to say a lot has changed!

Today I made soft pretzels.

Rolling out the yeast risen bread…

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Boiling the bread… Gah!

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Baked!

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Great recipe for a rainy day and a killer one for your football party arsenal! I spotted the recipe on Foodgawker from Burried Carrots. Make sure you check out those dipping sauces she posted too!!

Here’s how I brought the recipe together.

1 (2 1/4 tsp) package rapid-rise yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1 cup water (at the temp your yeast package specifies)
1 T olive oil
Coarse salt for sprinkling boiled pretzels

Boiling water for the pretzels:
6 cups water
3 T baking soda

Combine the yeast, flour, and salt. Heat up the water and honey to your yeast’s specifications. I get mine into the low 120’s.

Use the dough hook on your stand mixer to mix the ingredients. Mix on low until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Next mix on speed 2 for 4 to 6 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you’re doing it By hand if should take about 8 to 10 minutes.

Oil the dough ball and rise in a warm place until doubled in size: 45 minutes to an hour.

Punch the dough down and then let it rise one more time for 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough again and portion the dough out into 12 pieces. Let the pieces rest, covered for 10 minutes. This will make the dough easier to roll out.

Now, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and get the boiling mixture going.

Roll out the dough into 20 inch ropes and twist into pretzels. Boil the pretzels for 30 seconds on each side, drain, and place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt and bake at 450 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes.

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Try not to eat all of them!! Pretzels alone are not a balanced diet!!

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Birthday Cupcakes!

Last week was my 28th birthday and I had a very exciting plan for some cupcakes! I’ve bookmarked quite a few recipes on Foodgawker over the past couple of months. Many of them are cupcake recipes! ūüôā I picked two of them to make for my birthday!

First was the Irish Carbomb Cupcake. An obvious St. Patrick’s Day inspiration!

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Second was a Mexican Chocolate Cupcake!

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For the Irish Carbomb Cupcake, I followed the recipe except for two things. For the ganache, I added twice the whiskey called for ūüėČ and I added the whiskey after it had cooled a bit. For the frosting, I added about 1/2 cup less of the confectioners sugar.

For the Mexican Chocolate Cupcake, I wouldn’t change a thing! Just note that the recipe is made at high altitude in Denver!

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So the question is: are you on Team Irish Carbomb or Team Mexican Chocolate??

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Orange Cookies Gone Wild

Yesterday I finally made some orange cookies I’ve been meaning to make for about a month now!

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I found the recipe on my new addiction: Foodgawker.

Here is the recipe from Bake-Aholic:

Cookies:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup orange juice from the zested oranges
3 T orange zest

Icing:
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 T orange zest
2-3 T orange juice

For the cookies, cream the butter and the sugar. Next add one egg at a time and then mix in the sour cream. Last, slowly incorporate the sifted dry ingredients.

Drop by teaspoonfuls and bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes.

While the cookies bake, make the icing. I combined the butter and sugar first and then mixed in the zest and orange juice.

The night that I made these my boyfriend said I should’ve tried chocolate chips in them. Obviously it was a bit late for that but I came up with this twist!

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I had some extra ganache in my fridge from some cupcakes, so I decided to drizzle the ganache over the cookies! The ganache is super easy to make.

Over a double boiler whisk together the following ingredients until smooth:

4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream

I looked at Ina Garten’s recipe and also added 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee.

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I hope you all enjoy these!

First Time Cinnamon Roller

I am a first time cinnamon roller.

Or I was…

I had¬†had my fair share of cinnamon rolls from the can in the refrigerated isle and I’ve even had some really good frozen ones, but lately I’ve been wanting to try making them from scratch.¬† And making things from scratch and making your boyfriend wait until 11 am for breakfast is just fun :D.

Yes, this took 3 hours and , yes, it was totally worth it.  I got the recipe from Pioneer Woman, because my friend Mal recommended it a while back.

Here’s my version of her version. It’s a bit different because I like to use rapid rise yeast.

First the ingredients list.

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1¬†package rapid rise yeast
  • 4 cups flour plus 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • lots of melted butter
  • 1¬†cup sugar
  • cinnamon for sprinkling

Start by putting the oil, milk, and sugar into a saucepan on the stove.  Scald this mixture by heating it until it is about to boil and then removing it from the heat.  Mine started to foam on top just before I removed it.

Let this mixture cool until it is at the proper temperature for the yeast you are using.  Mine instructs me to use liquids at a temperature between 120 and 130 degrees.

In the mean time, I mixed together the yeast and the flour in a warm kitchen aid mixer bowl (a warm bowl is important, especially if you’re in a cold log home!).¬† I added the warm liquids and mixed it with the paddle attachment.

I covered this mixture and let it sit for 10 minutes before continuing with the recipe.  With rapid rise yeast, this 10 minutes replaces the first rise in a double rise recipe. 

After that mixture sat, I added the last 1/2 cup of flour as well as the baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

This round of mixing was done with the dough hook.  I let it go on speed 2 until a dough ball formed and started to clean the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough ball out onto a floured surface and roll it out to 1/4 inch.  Mine was about 2 feet by 10 inches! 

Drizzle the melted butter onto the rolled out dough.  Be generous here.  You want enough butter to soak up lots of the cinnamon and sugar. 

Spread the melted butter (I used my hands) and then sprinkle a hefty amount of cinnamon onto the dough until you have it covered and then sprinkle about 1/2 cup sugar on top of that.

Roll this mixture up from a long side.¬† Don’t worry if the cinnamon sugar mess¬†is oozing around, just keep rolling…

…until you end up with¬†way more cinnamon roll than you realized you were getting into¬†;).

Get out your knife and start cutting!  I cut mine into 1/2 inch thick rolls. 

The cutting will “smoosh” the dough but just gently reshape¬†them to be round¬†as you pick them up.¬† If you want a stiffer dough, refrigerate it before you roll it out.

Now, put some rolls (or all of the rolls, if you’re feeding an army) into baking tins and¬†let ’em rise!¬† I let mine rise for 1 hour in a warmed oven.¬† I preheat¬† oven¬†to 170 and then turn it off for this purpose.

Here are the rolls that I froze for a later date.

Bake your rolls at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.

These probably could have baked for one minute less.¬† You’re looking for a golden brown on top.¬†

I’m an irresponsible blogger and didn’t take any pictures of the icing, but I put a twist on the pioneer woman’s maple icing.¬† I subbed¬†in almond extract for an almond flavored icing.¬† The adapted recipe is:

  • 1/2 bag powdered sugar
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of¬†brewed coffee
  • pinch of salt

Mix all of the ingredients until smooth.¬† This makes enough icing for all of these rolls, so if you’re freezing some rolls, you’ll want to halve this recipe so that you don’t have too much icing.¬†

Make sure that you let the rolls cool for at least 5 minutes before you ice and devour.

Jesse and polished off all but 3 of these.¬† I can’t say I regretted it….

Fresh Baked Bread

Myyyyy goodness, does this house smell good when there is a loaf of bread baking in the oven!!  

Let’s start at the beginning…

I got a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for Christmas! And the only attachement I’ve used so far is the dough hook :P. ¬†I made herbed yeast pull apart rolls the other night – don’t get too excited, no info on that one. ¬†What I do have pictures of is the loaf of white bread I made last night!! ¬†I was motivated by my new toy and because Jesse and I have forgotten to pick up bread at the store twice now… ¬†AND I’m really trying to overcome my fear of yeast breads! ¬†Anyhow, here’s how it all went down!

After mixing the dough, I let it hang out in a bowl by the fire for 10 minutes (only 10 miutes because I used instant yeast).  

Then I rolled it out, shaped it into a loaf, and threw it into the greased loaf pan! ¬†I spaced and did get any pictures of all that, but here’s the result!

So awesome!

It rose and doubled in size in exactly the time it was supposed to, which is more than I can say about the aforementioned herb rolls.

I stuck that beauty in the oven for ~25 minutes at 400 degrees and voila!

One trick I found on the web for making sandwich bread, was to put a pan of water at the bottom of the oven, to help to avoid a super crusty loaf and it worked. ¬†The loaf has proved to be wonderful for toast and I’m going to test it out as sandwich bread later today!

Jesse even gave his stamp of approval, which is saying something!  And now, the recipe:

2-3 cups of bread flour

3 tablespoons of sugar

2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 cup of lowfat milk

3/4 cup of water

3 tablespoons of butter

1 package of instant rise yeast

First, I mixed  1 1/2 cups of flour and the yeast in the mixer bowl.  In a measuring cup, I measured the milk and water and then added the butter, sugar, and salt.  I microwaved this until the butter was melted and the liquids were at 120 to 130 degrees.

With the mixer speed on 2, I slowly added the liquids while occasionally scraping the side of the bowl.  Once this initial mixture was incorporated, I added 1/2 of cup of flour at a time until I hit 2 1/2 cups.

Actually the last half cup all went in at once because the dough hook hit the measuring cup!  Oops!  I actually thought I was done for here, because it almost took 2 minutes for all of the flour to mix in. Then I let it knead for another 1-2 minutes like the instructions said to do and when I pulled the dough out, it felt very stiff.  I just kept following the directions, though, and everything turned out waaayyy better than I could have hoped for!

So get out there and start baking some bread!! ¬†Even if you pull a brick out of the oven, I’m sure your house will still smell good ;).

Getting Back on the Horse

I mean the title of this post is both literally and figuratively.  Because I did both this weekend.  Yep.  I fell off the horse I was riding at the branding on Saturday.  I only have one thing to say.  It hurt a lot more than I ever expected it to. 

Not that falling off of a horse is really something I ever pondered before, but I just didn’t expect it to hurt that badly as I was going down.¬† One minute I was looking at this.

The next, I was up close and personal with the ground.

Basically, I went out into the pasture to help the other 3 riders round up the 40 head of cattle.¬† Long story short,¬†the horse and¬†I¬†went down into an old creek bed (read trees) I didn’t get him steered away from said trees quickly enough, took¬†a branch¬†to the arm, and it was pretty much game over from there.¬† Ground, meet Lindsey.¬† Lindsey, meet ground.¬†

I did get back onto the horse and rode on to the corral where the cows were already nicely rounded up. 

Uh, huge sigh of relief.¬† Where’s the Bud Light? ūüėČ

Here’s how the branding goes down.¬† The cows and bulls are separated from the calves, accounted for, and vaccinated.¬† They are turned loose, but always hang around to wait for the calves.¬† The calves are branded, vaccinated, and tagged.¬† That’s it.¬† Then they’re turned back out into the pastures to eat grass and¬†roam the Wyoming prairie to their little heart’s content.¬†

Here are some photos from the branding. 

The cows and bulls in a separate corral from calves.

The cutest calf ever.

The cutest little kid on the prairie and some of the other youngins.

Some other shots…

I was on calf control duty.¬† I just had to wave my arms and yell when they tried to come over to the “working” end of the corral…¬† It was hard ūüėČ

And on to the other horse I triumphantly jumped back onto this weekend! 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes ūüėÄ

Soooooo good.¬† I used Ashley’s Chococate Avocado Cake Recipe.

Dry Ingredients

Wet Ingredients + Avocado

Results…

Lots of cupcakes…

I used Ina Garten’s Peanut Butter Icing recipe.¬† Seriously.¬† Amazing.¬† Awe-inspiring.¬† Life changing.¬†

Yeah.¬† Stop poking your computer screen.¬† It doesn’t work that way.

Cupcake Heaven

I may have fallen off a horse today, but it’s cool, because I kicked these cupcakes’ butts!¬†

Now that you’re drooling.¬† I know you are.¬† Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes.¬† Ashley’s got load of tips and pictures for putting these bad boys together.¬† Just make sure you whip up the avocado well.¬† I used a whisk.¬† I baked the mini cupcakes for 15-18 minutes and the regular ones for 20-22 minutes.¬†

Peanut Butter Icing

  • 5 tablespoons of room temperature butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ~3 tablespoons whipping cream

Whip together the first 4 ingredients and then add the cream until the icing is light and fluffy.

So kids.¬† Get back on the horse.¬† Whether it’s an actual horse or the most amazing cupcakes the world has and will ever know, you’ll be glad you did :D.

Know When to Fold ‘Em

You guys, I feel like Kenny Rogers was screaming this song at me when I got home today. 

First, I left my camera at work.¬† Again.¬† I know you’re probably tired of reading that by now, but trust me, I’m just as tired of having to type it.¬† It was going to be OK, though, because my roommate has a great camera, and to make it up to you guys I¬†had grand plans to document the making of…

…wait for it…

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

I’ll give you a minute.¬† Or maybe I’ll give myself a minute.¬† I am not a passionate baker by any stretch of the imagination, but this, ladies and gents, I will gladly bake any day of the week given just the right amount of motivation.

Too bad Kenny Rogers saw things differently…

I started by going to store to get avocados because I wanted to make the chocolate cupcake part of the recipe from this Chocolate Avocado Cake recipe that Ashley made a little while ago.  So after a Racheal Ray style balancing act through the grocery store with all of the other things I decided I needed, and losing my keys twice in the grocery store because I kept putting things down to rebalance, I headed home with cupcake grandeur on the brain.

Unfortunately, when I got home I could not get Ashley’s page to load.¬† Uhhhh, come on internet, don’t fail me now.¬† And things went downhill from here fast people.¬†

I decided to¬†just make the peanut butter icing while I waited for the internet to right itself.¬† I think this is when Kenny caught wind of the impending downward spiral in my humble townhouse kitchen in Wyoming….

I put the peanut butter, butter, milk, and powdered sugar into a bowl and proceeded with my hand mixer.  This thing is a gem from a thrift store raid to fill my first apartment in college 7 years ago.

Martha Stewart's First Hand Mixer

It is now in hand mixer heaven where it should have been at least 20 years ago.  The frosting broke my mixer.  I would be sadder, but this was only the beginning.  Ummmm, food processor to the rescue (I thought).  I coaxed all of the ingredients out of the mixing bowl and into the food processor. 

It whirred and whirred away, but something was amiss.¬† It wasn’t creamy peanut buttery goodness.¬† It was a weird glob of greasy…I can’t even find the word for it.

I don’t know what happened.¬† My only suspicion is that natural peanut butter (sans hydrogenated oils) turned¬†what¬†is arguably one of the most glorious sugary concoctions known to man, into this.

Yeah, that’s the same picture again, but I just kept staring at it.¬† Is this really happening??¬† OK, maybe the internet is happy again and I can at least get to the cupcake recipe.¬† NOPE.¬† Not gonna happen.¬† It was at this point that I threw in the towel and Kenny Rogers’ “Know When to Hold ‘Em” started on repeat in my head.¬†

Some days my dears chocolatey peanut butter bliss just¬†isn’t in the cards…

I would show you what I ended up with for dinner, but I just don’t have it in me.¬† It was just a pile of self loathing vegetables anyways.¬†

I’m going to go run this one off.¬† At least the weather’s turned around here and it’s a perfect 74 degrees outside with a pleasant breeze.¬†

And I really don’t want to leave you with this epic fail for the night, so why not go check out the new Kaya-face puppy pictures I added to Husky in the Room!!¬† That face can turn around even the worst of bad days ;).

Oh and Mama Pea’s African Peanut Stew from last night was the exact opposite of an epic fail.¬† It may be the least photogenic thing I’ve ever taken a picture of…

…but yeah.¬† It was amazing.¬† Let me say that again.¬† Amazing.¬† Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.¬† It was¬†a shining light of delicious in¬†a day¬†featuring a not so successful foray into the the world of baking.

I’ll see ya on the flip side.