Making homemade pretzels are easier than you think. If you have made any yeast bread, and even if you haven’t, give this a try. I promise once you’ve tasted a home made pretzel you will be making them often.
You can use any herbs and cheeses you want, but my favorite combinations are Basil/Mozzarella & Parmesan or fresh Rosemary (Pictured here) and those same cheeses. But you can also use Italian seasoning. I like to use those cheeses not just for the flavor, but the melt. But please use what ever you have on hand. If you don’t want cheese filled, you can just make herbed or plain pretzels with this recipe.
WHAT YOU”LL NEED:
1 1/2 cups a little warmer than room temp water (between 75-80°)
1 Package or 2 1/4 tsp active dry or instant yeast
1 1/2 tbls sugar (yes, you need sugar for many reasons)
Grated Parmesan, herbs, melted butter, garlic powder, course salt. (All of these are optional. Let your creative juices flow, or keep it simple and only use course salt)
Directions: For the dough: 1. Combine water yeast and sugar in bowl of stand mixer. let sit for 10 minutes or until it’s starts to get foamy. 2. Add the flour, salt and butter and any herbs you are using. Knead on med for about 10 minutes. (dough should be smooth and have pulled away from the sides of the bowl)
3. Cover the bowl and let dough rise till almost doubled in size (Almost, because we still want a little rise left in the dough) About an hour. (you can use your oven with the light on for this. I have noticed it is about the right amount of heat. No heat, jut the light) 4. Meanwhile combine the cheeses in a bowl and refrigerate until needed. 5. Preheat oven to 425° 6. Line 2 large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 7. Add the water and baking soda to a large pot and bring to a boil.
8. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. 9. One at a time, use your hands to roll each dough portion into a 16′ rope, then roll flat to 4″ wide. (Piece should end up being 16″ long x 4″ wide.) 10. Add about 3- 3 1/2 tbls cheese along the edge and length of each piece, leaving about 1/2 inch space between edge of dough and cheese. (pictured here.)
11. Tightly roll the rope up, starting on the long side. Tucking the edges so that no cheese escapes. 12. Make a U shape and cross the ends over and pinching them to the bottom of dough. 13. Lay each pretzel on the lined cookie sheet. (Continue with this process until all 8 portions are a pretzel.) 14. One at a time, boil the pretzels in water for 30 seconds each.
15. Remove the pretzels from water with slotted spoon or spatula. Drain a bit and place back on lined baking sheet. 16. Once all pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with a little course salt. 17. Place in preheated oven and bake 16-18 minutes. allow to cool a bit before serving.
You can make these the main dish, served with a salad, or as a snack. I like to serve these particular pretzels with garlicky marinara, but you can serve them with any dipping sauce you choose, or just as is. Here are some ideas for dipping sauces. Beer & Cheese, Ranch or Honey Mustard.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, and as always…..LET”S GET COOKING!
Not everyone likes spicy, so if this is you, pass this one by or take a walk on the wild side and give it a try. This recipe can be made Vegan and serves 6-8 people
IMPORTANT! You will want to prep your shrimp the day before you want to make this. Let’s talk about the shrimp for a second. I like to use large wild caught because they just taste better, but understandably, most will have to use another. But regardless, try to get the largest you can. Where I live it is hard to get fresh, so I do buy frozen and thaw it ahead of time. (If using shrimp, keep shells to make stock)
This recipe can be made vegan or made with blackened chicken, beef pork or fish (This includes lobster. I will be trying this soon.), or heck, just grill an Andouille sausage and lay it on top! You are the boss of your kitchen! If making vegan, just leave the meat out or add alternative meat/sausage after it is cooked.
The white bean is up to you as well. You can use Navy, Great Northern, Lima or Cannellini. My personal favorite to use for this recipe is Cannellini, because they are larger, firmer and buttery.
1 lb large Raw Shrimp peeled & deveined
2 lbs dry white beans
1 med/lg onion finely chopped
1 green pepper finely chopped
4 leaves kale rib removed and roughly chopped.
2 ribs celery finely chopped
2 cups Broth or Stock (Depending on if you’re making it Vegan or the protein you are using.
5- 5 1/2 tsp Blackened seasoning for Shrimp. (make your own here)
Optional Items: Green onions, Cotija or Feta cheese for topping. Butter & Soy sauce
PREP WORK: (IF YOU ARE USING FROZEN SHRIMP) Plan on one day to defrost, day 2 to marinate (You can skip this step, but I don’t recommend it.) and day 3 eat! If you are using fresh shrimp skip the defrost day. DAY 1 defrost shrimp.
DAY 2: Peel (keep the shells refrigerated untill ready to make stock.) and devein your shrimp. Devein shrimp by first peeling it, and then with a sharp knife make a shallow cut along the length of it’s spine. Using the tip of the knife or your finger remove the intestine vein. (Do I need to devein? Well, that’s up to you, but the vein is referring to the crustaceans poop shoot, so if you don’t want to eat poop, yes!) Rinse the shrimp and pat dry. Drizzle shrimp with 1 tbls oilve oil, then sprinkle with 5-5 1/2 tsp blackened seasoning and mix till all shrimp are coated. Cover and refrigerate over night. Sort and rinse the beans. After rinsing, cover with water and allow to soak overnight.
Day 3: Chop all veggies and get your seasonings ready. Measure out your stock/broth. (if using shrimp, boil the shells removed earlier in about 2 1/2-3 cups water for about 15 minutes. Next, par- boil the beans. (It de-gasses them) You can skip this step if you don’t mind the gas. Simply add the beans to a pan and cover with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5-7 minutes. you will see white foam developing as pictured Above. Spoon off the foam. Then drain and rinse thoroughly.
Add the beans, all the vegetables, seasonings Miso, 2 cups of stock/broth and salt to the pot of your pressure cooking device. (Following all manufactures guidelines) Cook on the bean/chili function, choosing the longest cook time. While the beans are cooking, you can make the rice. When beans are finished, allow to cool for about 10 minutes. following your devices instructions, use the quick release function to remove the steam/pressure. BE CAREFUL, it’s HOT! Carefully remove lid. Remove the Bay leaves. With a potato masher or the back of a large spoon or ladle, mash about 1/3 to 1/2 of the beans. Stir to combine. Now lets cook the shrimp!
Heat a heavy skillet until it is hot, smokin’ hot (med-high)(I use cast iron, but you can use what ever heavy skillet you have.) Place marinated shrimp a few at a time in skillet . Don’t overcrowd. Cook on both sides for about 2 minutes. What you are looking for is a nice dark, burnt coloring. Don’t over cook your shrimp, they cook really fast and you don’t want them tough. When each batch is done, place aside until all the shrimp have been cooked.
SERVING: Scoop out some rice and place in the bottom of shallow bowl or plate. (At this point I like to put a dollop of butter on the rice) Next, scoop some of the beans on top of the rice. add the Blackened shrimp to the top of the beans and top with green onions and Cotjia cheese. Serve with corn bread or warm tortillas. You may have left overs. I like to reheat it the next morning topped with an egg.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, you can tailor it to your tastes. If you make it, let me know your thoughts. Let’s get cooking! ~Kristy
Making your own seasoning blends, not only tastes better, but saves you money!
This combination of herbs and spices is great to use in any dish asking for Cajun seasoning or if you are making something a little spicy. (If you don’t like it to spicy, reduce the cayenne to 1 1/2 tsp) Try to buy organic and here is why.
As a kid, I hated most of the Thanksgiving dinner. Not sure exactly why, but maybe it was the gooey, wet stuffing, dried out turkey, the cottage cheese jello salad or that damn canned cranberries sauce. I stuck with the mashed potatoes and dinner rolls. Don’t get me wrong, I love the flavors of Thanksgiving, just differently.
In this recipe, I combine two of my favorites. Creamed Corn Casserole and Herbed Stuffing. My test kitchen peeps loved it! So let’s Get Cooking!
20oz Frozen Corn
4 Cups Herbed Bread cubes. (You can use store bought Stuffing mix, but I make my own ahead of time.)
5 stalks Celery
2 to 3 cloves garlic minced
3 Tbls oil divided
1 cup heavy cream or cashew cream
2 to 3 cups broth. Chicken or Veggie
4oz (1 stick) butter or vegan butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese or vegan alternative. Divided (I use Violife Plant Based Parmesan)
2 tsp Ground sage
1 tsp dried Thyme
1 tsp salt divided
pepper to taste
Prepping: If you are using store bought stuffing mix, skip this step. I like to make a loaf of Rosemary Garlic bread a few days before. The day I make the casserole, I cube 4 cups up into 1 1/2 inch cubes and toast. Defrost corn. Finley chop onions and clean and finely chop celery.
Directions: Preheat oven to °350. In a large skillet over med to med high heat and 2 tbls oil. Add corn and fry until parts are getting dark then set aside. In same skillet add additional tbls of oil and add the onion and celery. Sprinkle with half the salt. Saute until soft and translucent. about half way through, add the cube of butter and the garlic and continue to cook. About 5 minutes. Add the sage, thyme and pepper. Add corn and stir together.
In a large bowl combine toasted bread cubes, fried corn mixture stir to coat all bread. Taste, if more salt is needed, sprinkle a pinch on and stir. Add 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese and mix. Add cream and stir. Dump all mixture into a greased or buttered 8.5″ x 8.5″ square baking dish. Pour broth over top to just cover. Sprinkle remainder of Parmesan cheese on top and bake uncover at °350 for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is toasty brown. Serve warm.
Home made bread and rolls are one of the best comfort foods. The aroma, the first bite into that warm pillowy goodness…. oh dear, as I am writing this, I find my mouth is watering. Funny what our senses can invoke. You get the picture.
This recipe is one I have used for other dishes and rolls, but today have put a Thanksgiving day flare on it. You’re gonna love it, and so will your Guest, Trust me!
1/4 cup (2oz) luke warm water
3/4 cup (6oz) canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree
1 packet or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbls Maple Syrup
1 large egg, room tempreture
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups (17.5 oz) all purpose organic flour divided
3/4 Full fat plain Greek yogurt or Vegan alternative, (if using plant based, add 1 Tbls of oil)
2-3 larger garlic cloves if small, 4
1/2 cup fresh sage sprigs. (usually the whole store bought hanging clam shell)
1/3 cup Olive oil
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese or Vegan alternative (I like Violife plant based Parmesan)
Directions; Bring Pumpkin, yogurt and egg to room temp. When these are at room temp, warm the water, just above body temp. (Just so it feels barley warm when you put your finger in) Place Pumpkin, yogurt, egg, maple syrup and yeast to stand mixer bowl. Mix on low until combined. In a small separate bowl whisk together 1 cup of flour and the salt. Add this to the yeast mixture slowly. Put dough hook on and continue to add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time. The dough should stick to the hook and come off the sides. Knead in mixer for about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm location for an hour or until it is just over doubled in size.
While the dough in rising, make the filling. Using a food processor or blender combine the garlic, sage, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Process until combined. * NOTE This may take a few scrapes with rubber spatula to complete. Once the dough has risen, it’s time to make the rolls. Preheat the oven to °350
With oiled fingers, take dough out of bowl and place on floured surface. Roll dough out into roughly a 12 x 20 inch rectangle. Spread sage and garlic pesto evenly across the top. Then cut into roughly 2″ x 6″ strips.
Grease a square 8.5x 8.5 baking dish. Roll each strip and place inside baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes at which point check to see if they are becoming to brown. If so, loosely lay a piece of foil over top and continue to bake another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and serve.
I know you are going to LOVE this recipe. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
This is a beautiful, delicious, colorful side dish to add to your sides on Thanksgiving or really any time of year it goes with so many other dishes, or is a great stand alone dish. If you are a plant based and are headed over to someones house that isn’t, this is the perfect dish to bring and share. Full of flavor, packed with protein and so darn pretty. This dish can be served hot or cold.
1 1/2 lbs of small red potatoes (organic if possible)
1 lb Brussel Sprouts (A few more if organic)
1/2 a red onion thinly sliced
1/2 cup cranberries (I use unsulphured, apple juice sweetened)
1/2 cup toasted whole pecans
1 cup carrot bacon roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1/3 cup organic apple cider vinegar
3 tbls maple syrup
1 heaping tbls Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbls oil or 2 tbls of oil and 2 tbls butter divided
Prepping: If you haven’t made your carrot bacon yet, start here. You can make it a day ahead if you wish. Preheat over to °425 for roasting potatoes NOT carrot bacon. Wash the potatoes and brussel sprouts. Cut the potatoes in 1 1/2 inch pieces. most the time it is in half, then in half the other way. Place in large bowl and drizzle about 1 tbls oil over them and toss to coat. Next, cut bottoms off brussel sprouts and peal off out side leaves. Then cut them in half. set aside. Slice onions with the grain, not across, set aside. Mince garlic. Measure and set aside cranberries, pecans and carrot bacon.
I I will be roasting my potatoes and sauteing my brussel sprouts. Why? Flavor my friend, flavor. Roasting potatoes gives them a rustic decadence whereas, sauteing the brussel sprouts gives them a sugary creaminess. Start by placing the oil covered potatoes on the lined baking sheet and bake at °425 for 15 minutes. After roasting for 15 minutes, turn and roast an additional 12-15 minutes. While the potatoes are roasting bring a large skillet to med heat. Add the pecans and toast. Toss often and do not look away, they burn quickly. Toast for about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Place skillet back on stove and raise the heat to med to med, high. Melt either butter or add oil to skillet. When heated add brussel sprouts. flipping them a few times to get them browned. *NOTE DO NOT overcook them, just brown them, about 5 minutes.Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a small bowl place apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and salt & pepper. Whisk well. After browned take them out of skillet and set aside. Place a little more oil in skillet and reduce heat a bit. Add onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, just to soften them, not to cook them. Add garlic and saute 1 minute, add cranberries and pecans and mix. Add potatoes, brussel sprouts and carrot bacon. Mix well. Whisk sauce again and drizzle over mixture. stir to coat evenly. Serve warm or cold.
I hope you enjoy this non traditional side dish as mush as we do here. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below,
I make a larger batch than the recipe calls for or I eat it all and have to start over. This way I can eat it and still have some for the recipe. Yes, it really is that good. You’ll see.
Preheat oven to °350, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash 2 large, thick carrots. Peel them and cut off the ends. If they are pretty long, cut them in half. Now using a vegetable peeler (Make sure it’s sharp) hold the carrot tight in one hand and peeling with the other. Try to get as many as you can and as wide as you can. *Note This takes a wee bit of practice, but don’t worry, will still be delicious! Place carrot strips in medium bowl. Next, in a small bowl mix together 2 tbls oil, 2 tbls maple syrup, 1 tsp liquid smoke, freshly ground pepper and 1/4 tsp garlic powder. Whisk it good and dump it over the carrot strips. Toss till all carrot strips are evenly coated. *NOTE(Don’t put salt in the mix, it pull the liquid out of the carrots and dilutes the brine.) Place carrot strips so they are not touching on baking sheet and sprinkle very lightly with smoked sea salt. Bake at °350 for roughly 10 minutes, Less or more depending. You will have to cook your bacon in batches, but I’m fairly certain you won’t have any left from the first batch when the second one is done :p yum!
Have you ever had a gravy or a main dish that was bland and quite tasteless? There are ways to turn that unremarkable dish into something extraordinary. Chefs all over the world know that one of the secret to amazing dishes is flavor. Coaxing flavor from the ingredients used. Whether it’s animal products or plants, there are techniques to encourage an abundance of flavor from either.
The most popular techniques include, roasting, sauteing, simmer/reduction and toasting just to name a few. In this article I will go over the most popular techniques and show you how you can turn that just okay dish into something extraordinary your friends and family will beg you to make. 🙂
Let’s talk about the ingredients we use. Most of us, by no fault of our own have a disconnect with our food. We don’t know where it comes from, we just go into the grocery store and buy it. Several years ago, once s week I would prepare a dinner for a large group of people. On one occasion, a family had come in and had a few guests with them, one of which was a young lady of about 19-20. I had prepared baked chicken and mashed potatoes. I overheard this young woman say, “I love chicken, I wonder where it comes from.” The family responded with, it comes from chicken. To which the young lady says, “I know, but where does chicken come from?” She did not know chicken was an animal or how it got to her plate. This is not to shame her, this disconnect is a huge problem throughout our society today. If we are to foster a love for food, this needs to change. I would love to go over much more about it now, but this blog is about coaxing flavors so we will save that topic for another time. On to our ingredients! 🙂
The ingredients you choose are just as important as the preparation.
Produce: Did you know produce in the grocery store has traveled on average 1500 miles to get there and by the time it reaches the store has lost on average half of it’s nutritional value? Some products such as apples and potatoes have been sitting in cold storage for up to a year. (I have links at the bottom of the page if you would like to learn more about this subject.) Buying the freshest produce possible with produce a better tasting dish, and be more nutritious. If you can, buy from a farmers market or grow your own. If this isn’t possible at least try and buy organic in the stores. Conventional grown produce has been grown using herbicides, insecticides and pesticides all of which wreak havoc on our bodies and health.
Animal Products: Most meat in grocery stores comes from factory farms and slaughter houses. The result is that the animals are kept and treated inhumanely. They are kept in horribly cramped, unsanitary conditions, given copious amounts of antibiotics and hormones, and fed God knows what. They used to say you are what you eat. But the truth is, you are what you eat, EATS! If at all possible buy from a local farm. If this is not an option, try and find a source within the grocery stores in your area that offers organic/free range meat and poultry.
Roasting: The definition from Webster’s Dictionary. To cook by exposing to dry heat uncovered (as in an oven or before a fire) or by surrounding with hot embers, sand, or stones. Roasting not only cooks your food, but intensifies flavors. Roasting is usually done in an oven at higher temperatures. °425-°450 Roasting is much like baking, but in roasting we’re trying to get the outside of the food item dark and caramelized. Here’s where brazing and basting also come in especially if your cooking meat.
I use the roasting method often for soups and ingredients I am adding to a meal. (Prepping) For Example, in this roasted carrot and potato soup recipe. The veggies are roasted before being cooked down for soup. The sugars in the vegetables get caramelized and the honey sweetness is intensified. Go ahead and try this the next time you make soup, you’ll be amazed! But I also use this for items that will be added to main dishes, or for the main dish it as pictured above in the Roasted Potato & Squash with Cranberries.
Sauteing, Simmer and Reduction
Sauteing, is much like frying in that you typically use some fat and is done in a frying pan. However that is where the similarities end. Frying is the process where you are cooking the food while making the outside of it crispy and brown and is done over higher heat. Sauteing is done over lower heat and the intent is to cook slower to release flavors and in some cases caramelize the ingredients. Sauteing is usually done with smaller quantities of ingredients as well. You use sauteing when adding the item to a soup or stew, and even other dishes such as this Mushroom & Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach sauce. It is very helpful in creating flavor.
Sauteing often goes along with Simmering and Reduction. I use this method a lot. I first saute veggies such as onions, peppers, mushrooms and garlic (Or really what ever the recipe calls for.) to get the flavors released and intensified. Then I add liquids and other ingredients and simmer. Simmering takes place at lower heat. It’s not a boil, it a soft bubble and takes the ingredients a step further at releasing flavor. The liquid becomes infused with the ingredients that were sauteed. (But a word of caution, if you need a par-cooked ingredient, don’t simmer. This will cook it further.) Most recipes simmer for about 10 to 30 minutes depending on the recipe. This method is used for sauces and gravies mostly, but is also used in other dishes as well. If more flavor is required then we move onto reduction.
Reduction is used when an intense flavor is needed, such as a sauce to drizzle over a dish OR to make a soup thicker without using a thickener such as flour or corn starch. Reduction is basically simmering for a longer period of time. Simmering reduces the amount of liquid in a recipe by steam/evaporation. When reducing, there needs to be a liquid to start with. During the beginning of the Simmering stage you may add a cup of water, milk, broth, wine or other liquids and add the end of the reduction only have a tbls or so left. (It doesn’t evaporate the flavor, only water) I use Simmer/Reduction quite a bit. Like in this Mushroom Ragout recipe.
Toasting is an art, to much and it’s burnt, too little and it’s bland. Think about toast vs plain bread. Have you ever ate a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwhich? ****Dreaming now**** So darn good, way better than plain bread! Toasting is also quite useful when adding flavor from spices. (Not Herbs) like pepper, coriander, paprika, cumin etc. Before I add any spice to a recipe I grind if necessary, then toast in a pan over low/med heat. Take care, it doesn’t take long and burns quickly, so watch it and move it around. It only take a couple of minutes, but the pay off is so worth it. I also like to toast bread for bread coatings or stuffings. Try toasting your bread the next time you make stuffing. Wow! Delish!
I hope you you try these, even if you have never done so before. Practice will get you good! Go ahead and Let’s Get Cooking!
I love soup for chilly fall and winter meals. As a newer plant based eater, I am always coming up with combinations I think will make a good soup. This is one of my favorites! This recipe can be made Vegan or Vegetarian and serves 4
Let’s Get Cooking!
1 lb organic, Russet or yellow potatoes
1 lb organic carrots
1 large yellow onion
2 tbls fresh Rosemary (you can use 2 tsp dried, but it won’t quite taste the same)
1 1/2 cups cashew cream (make ahead) or heavy cream. Reserve 2 tbls for top.
4 cups broth
4 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste
1/4 tsp Cheyenne pepper (optional)
Equipmentneeded: Instapot, Emerson blender or stand blender.
Preparation: If you are making Cashew Cream, you can make it ahead using your favorite recipe or use this recipe minus the lemon juice. Preheat oven to °425. Wash and peel the potatoes and carrots. Next dice them into large 1′ chunks. Cut onion into large 2′ pieces (keep pieces intact) and set aside. In a large bowl add potatoes and carrots only. Drizzle olive oil onto them and mix to thoroughly coat each piece. On a lined baking sheet spread out the potatoes and carrots. After they are spread out, evenly space onions within (the goal is to not break up the onions too much) Bake at °425 for 15 minutes. Turn and bake another 15 minutes. When done they should be caramelized and sweet.
Place roasted veggies in an Instapot. Add the salt, Pepper and Rosemary. Cover with stock and using the pressure cooking setting on high, cook for 15 minutes. Once the steam has naturally dispersed open the lid. I use an Emerson blender here and blend it until smooth. But if you don’t have one use a stand blender. Carefully place the mixture into the blender, it will be hot. Blend until smooth. Next add the cashew cream or heavy cream and blend until smooth and creamy. If it still seems a little thick, add some hot water or more cream. Serve it in a large bowl topped with a drizzle of cream and some warm crusty Rosemary bread. Recipe here.
A beautiful presentation is half of the joy of eating, the other half, It sure better taste great! And this soup does not disappoint. Enjoy this soup and thanks for stopping by. Let’s Get Cooking!