Pinterest Test Kitchen # 87 ~ Homemade Pretzel Bites

Technically this could be filed under the Sundays With Sarah posts but since I helped I am putting it under the pinterest test kitchen. It’s one of the perks of being both the blog owner and mom so even though Sarah mixed and made the dough I’m still claiming it 🙂

homemade_pretzel_bites_recipe

Plus we tried it once before and it could have been submitted to that pinterest fail site. But we read up on homemade pretzel making and figured out what to do differently and easy peasy we had a delicious treat for this summer’s first ladies swim night. (What is a lady’s swim night? An evening moms and ladies eighteen and older bring a favorite finger food and beverage to my house and come float in the pool. It’s so fun and relaxing!)

We served them with both sweet (chocolate and caramel) dipping sauces as well as two different kinds of cheese sauces. I couldn’t choose a favorite…it was all good!

What you’ll need:
1/4 oz packet of dry yeast
1 TBS sugar
1 cup of warm water
1 tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour 
4 TBS unsalted butter, divided
3 TBS baking soda
coarse salt
What you’ll do:
Mix the sugar and yeast together in a small bowl
Add in warm water and stir until the sugar completely dissolves
Put it aside and let it sit for 10 minutes
Mix the salt and flour together
Chop 2 TBS of butter into chunks and add to the salt and flour mixture.
Mix on low speed until it becomes coarse crumbles. 
Still on low speed slowly add in the yeast mixture just until combined.
Using your hands gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead until it is no longer sticky.
Place the dough into a bowl, cover, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add in the baking soda.
Cutting off small pieces of dough roll it into about 1/2 inch thick ropes.
Cut the rope into bit size pieces.
Boil a few pieces at a time for about 30 to 45 seconds until puffy.
Remove from the boiling water and place on baking sheet.
Brush with melted butter and top with a sprinkle of coarse salt.
Repeat until all of the dough is used.
Bake on 350 degrees until golden brown, about 8 to 11 minutes.

The original recipe did a few things differently. Firstly, they left the dough in ropes and made sort of long pretzel sticks instead of bites. Secondly, they also had a second  20 minute rest before they boiled the dough.

Hope you enjoy!

Things I Saw

I’ve been walking a lot lately, mainly at the gym, but with the weather so nice I just hate the idea of doing my exercising indoors, you know?

Yesterday, for the first time in weeks, I didn’t have somewhere pressing to be first thing in the morning so I headed downtown for my walk.

It was such a beautiful day and before I knew it I had walked five miles. My time was a little slower per mile than usual but I am chalking that up to a rougher terrain. At least that’s my story and I am sticking to it!

downtown_Pensacola_Garden_Street

No idea what these are but their cheerful red caught my eye.

Poor confused crepe myrtle…is it still summer?

I love the beautiful greenery that grows up so many walls and fences downtown.

This hill is much steeper in person, trust me. Especially at the end of the five mile walk.

Technology is an amazing thing. This little app on my phone tracks distance, how many steps and how long I walked, and calories used. Pretty useful for a gal trying to be all healthy, isn’t it?

For the record I took all of these pictures with my phone. Rob thought I had taken my camera camera with me. I didn’t because
1.) It’s kind of bulky and heavy and 
2.) I was exercising, people. Maybe a little slower than some but I was booking it as fast as this forty four year old new to physical exertion woman could book. One day I will be faster. One day I might even be a runner I think.
Maybe.

Test Kitchen #60 ~ Blueberry Shortbread Bars

I am not quite as adventurous in the kitchen as Rob. He’ll plunder cabinets and spices and throw some deliciously creative something something together that becomes a family favorite. I will tweak a recipe to suit what I want but I still usually start with a recipe as a guide.

Which is what happened with this week’s recipe. I came across this on pinterest but the more I thought about it and after a successful blueberry picking trip I realized I would definitely be changing things up a bit. And since I was changing a thing or two I decided to use a really good homemade shortbread recipe instead of  the cookie base they used. (This still looks yummy though so at some point I will probably make it and follow the directions 🙂
What you’ll need for the shortbread crust:
1 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour

What you’ll do:
Cream together butter and sugar.
Gradually stir in the flour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed for about three minutes.
brown sugar shortbread dough
Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper leaving some to overlap for easy lifting.
Pat the dough evenly on the bottom of the pan. (I didn’t quite get a full pan but it was close.)
Prick with a fork and bake at 300 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes on until the bottom begins to brown.
Allow to completely cool.
brownsugar shortbread
What you’ll need for the cream cheese layer:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tsp almond extract
confectioner’s sugar ( I eyeball the amount until I have the right consistency…probably about 1 1/4 cups)
What you’ll do:
Beat the cream cheese and almond extract until smooth.
Gradually add in confectioner’s sugar. (Add milk a little at a time if you need to smooth it out.)
measuring cups, cooking, baking
What you’ll need for the blueberry topping:
1 cup of blueberries
1/4 cup sugar (less if your blueberries are really sweet)
2 tsp flour
little bit of water
What you’ll do:
Combine the first three ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat.
Cook until the blueberries begin to break down and it begins to thicken.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Whew! That seems like a work intensive dessert but really it’s all easy…it just has parts. Now it all comes together really quickly.

Simply spread the cream cheese mixture over the shortbread and then pour and smooth the blueberry compote on top. Cut into squares and enjoy!

fresh blueberries shortbread cream cheese filling bars

Can’t believe I almost forgot this fun tidbit! All the pictures were taking with my iPhone5s which is kind of fun.