Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cheese Stuffed Pretzels

The last time I made these babies they were gobbled up before I could even sneak a pic.  This time I squirreled some away so that I could take a pic the next day. While they look much better fresh out of the oven, I just had to post this because these are so worth sharing.

I stuffed some with cheddar and some with mozzarella.  All was eaten either way.  Everyone wanted to nix the ham.  Frankly, I have to agree- just cheese please.  Oh and plain was awesome too.


Adapted from this recipe at Gourmet.

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110–115ºF)
1 cup warm milk (110–115ºF)
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
slices of sharp Cheddar or mozzarella

6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda

1 to 2 tablespoons pretzel salt or coarse salt

Stir together yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, 5 to 8 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.) In a separate bowl, stir remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar into warm milk until dissolved.

Add 2 1/2 cups flour and milk mixture to yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time, if necessary. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and bubbles appear on surface, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400ºF with rack in upper and lower thirds. Line two 4-sided sheet pans with parchment paper.

Roll out sheets.  Cut rectangles out and place your cheese slice on top.  Fold dough over onto itself and seal all around.  Crimp sides to keep them together. Keep lining them up on a sprayed baking sheet before you go to the baking soda boil.  The baking soda boil is completely necessary for the pretzel taste.

Bring water (6 cups) to a boil in a 4- to 5-qt saucepan. Reduce heat and stir in baking soda. Make sure your baking soda is completely dissolved. Cook pretzel bites in batches in gently simmering water, turning once, until slightly puffed, about 20 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to sheet pans. Salt with pretzel salt.

Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes (cheese may ooze slightly- and dang that's a nice little snack for the cook!).

Serve warm or at room temperature with dip.

Honey Mustard Dip

1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey

Mix the ingredients together and use for dip.  This stuff is awesome.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cranberry Bliss Oatmeal Cookies

Below I had collected some of my favorite cranberry recipes because its Cranberry Time here in the USA.  The cranberry bliss bars picture is not the greatest.  Really they disappeared before I had time to give them a proper photo shoot.  So now I updated the pic and here it is:

If you want the recipe for these luscious bars, click here.

Since I really like the flavors in these bars, I decided to give them a try using an oatmeal cookie as a base.  I like them.  They came out pretty good. WOuld I make them again.  Yes!

Cranberry Bliss Oatmeal Cookies
I used the Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Quaker Oats as my base.

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
3/4 cup Craisins®, chopped
1/4 cup candied ginger
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. About five minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, ginger and salt; mix well. Add oats, white chocolate, ginger and Craisins; mix well.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pumpkin Gouda Soup

Oh my!  This is liquid gold.  Best. Pumpkin. Soup. Ever.

I had it last year at a Christmas Pot Luck, thank you dear friend Sandy, you rock the house.  Check out her fabulous blog and podcasts here at Quilting for the Rest Of Us.  I knew it was on my to do list but I kept thinking of other things to make. Finally, after a year, I made it.  Don't wait that long.  Trust me.  This is a do again real soon.

Pumpkin Gouda Soup
Recipe adapted from here at Taste of Home

4 bacon strips, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth
5 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup half and half
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. Saute onion in drippings until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.

Stir in the broth, pumpkin, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Cool slightly.

In a blender, process soup in batches until smooth. Return all to pan. Stir in cream; heat through. Add cheese; stir until melted. Yield: 9 servings (2-1/4 quarts).

If you used heavy cream  then it is 214 calories per cup.  Not bad.  I used half and half so it is less and tastes just as great.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ham and Potato Soup

I have found a great site that I wanted to share with you:  Personal Life Media.  It's a site that has podcasts on everything.  My favorite that I listen to all the time is Inside Out Weight Loss.  Renee Stevens has wrote a book by the name, Full-Filled and she also offers free podcasts on working toward the goal of ending everyone's weight loss struggle.  They are some pretty powerful podcasts.  In the beginning I listened to several of them over and over again.  There are over 200 though.  Renee Stevens website is here.  The podcast site is here. And Personal Life Media home page is here.

These podcasts have helped me to shift my attitudes about weight loss.  It has made a significant difference in my life.  Not just for weight loss but also my personal life.  I have made many small changes.  I kind of looked at it like this, the changes are like a wave building in the ocean, gaining momentum. And these things do build on each other.  I hope you can get some wisdom from listening to these podcasts, I know I definitely do.

Ham and Potato Soup
Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.

3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 ribs celery, diced
1 large finely chopped onion
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
3 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.

In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cranberry Recipes

Since I am feeling like a train ran over me (lung thing), I thought I might want to get something on my blog before you all think I dropped off the face of the earth.  The following are a couple of my favorite recipes that use cranberries.

I love cranberry time! These are some of my favorite cranberry recipes.
Cranberry Bliss Bars- while this is not a hot picture, these bars are the bomb!  LOVE them.

Cranberry Macarons

Cranberry Pistachio Fudge
Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake
Cranberry Salsa   

Monday, November 5, 2012


VICTORY!  I have tried to make these rolls before and I break them all the time.  I just gave up.  Haven't even tried for ten years.  I have really wanted to do a Buche Noel but the thought of doing the roll made me shrink in horror (I know it is a little dramatic but why should my daughter be the only one who gets to be dramatic?).

My Mom is not a traditional kind of birthday cake girl.  She is more of a less sweet cake kind of girl.  I decided to make the dreaded pumpkin roll.  I have a lot of pumpkin here.  It was kind of obvious. I had to do it.

Guess what? I broke it.   Ugh.  Here Mom, here is your birthday blob cake.  Ha!  No way.  MUst make it again.  This time with more strategy.  So I did.  And voila.  I did it. I did it, I did it, I diiiiid it.

It was delicious.  And while this may not be the most low in calorie cake, there is much less of it so that means less temptation at other times.  Plus, without the frosting, it is pretty low in calories.  So by itself, it would make a great low cal, snack cake.

Pumpkin Roll
via Libby's- no they did not pay me or send me pumpkin- this is purely self motivated.

1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla bean seeds

Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Fold in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.


Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar (or a little more), butter and vanilla in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.

My tip:  Place the sugared towel over the jelly roll pan, then place a flat board, baking sheet, whatever you have and flip it.  There is no guess work that way.  Thne push it off and roll away. Or roll right on it.  I have a flat baking sheet that works really well for this.
I think a buche de noel is in my future.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chicken Barley Soup

I am way behind in my posts.  All I want to do is sew.  Like a mad frenzy.  Sew, sew, sew.

I wanted to tell you about this pretty amazing article on Oprah that was written by Martha Beck .  Go there, read it.  I was definitely moved by it.  It is called, "How To Believe In Yourself".  Here is a little snippet of the article. "Since you can't control other people's thoughts, and since neither people nor their thoughts are perfect, there's no point in living life based on your fantasies of other people's fantasies about you. Got it? Excellent. I'd stop right now, except for one thing: Emotionally, we nonpsychopaths are built to care what others think of us. It's part of our social-primate biology. Our brains are like those surgical theaters with glassed-in observatories. We operate under the constant scrutiny of an imaginary audience. Sociologists call this audience our "generalized other." Some generalized others give us a daily dose of support and inspiration; some can be witheringly cruel. Sadly, even if yours is flat-out evil, you can't just will yourself to be indifferent to it. Happily, I've found a way to get it out of your mental business."

Chicken and Barley Soup

8 chicken thighs, skin and fat removed
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
2 cups pearl barley
1 pound mushrooms, chopped
4 carrots, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced (add in leaves as well)
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken broth

In a casserole dish or a 9 x 9 pan arrange thighs in a single layer.  Sprinkle with poultry seasoning and salt.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake until just shy of done- about 140 F.

In a large soup pot, put 2 cups of barley along with about 2 quarts of water. Add in bay leaf.  Cook barley covered until tender.  This will take about 45 minutes.  While barley is cooking, prepare vegetables, chopping all.  Add all the vegetables and garlic into barley when it is nearly tender.  In a frying pan saute mushrooms in butter. until golden.  Add to soup pot.  When chicken is cooked add in the juice of the chicken.  Chop chicken into bite sized pieces and add to soup.  Add in extra broth if desired or just add a few tablespoons of chicken soup base.

(If my side yard where my herb garden wasn't  soaked I would have added a couple tablespoons of parsley as well.)