Soft Baked Pretzels

My daughter asked me this weekend if we could have soft pretzels like we had on the  ferry from Wisconsin to Michigan last summer. I love that, like me, the things she remembers about trips include the food she ate! Ironically, I looked at my kids food ideas  board on pinterest and saw that I had already pinned a soft pretzel recipe. Milwaukee has a plethora of German brew pubs, which means tons of homemade soft pretzels, and a new family favorite appetizer.

Monday was my first afternoon alone with all three kiddos. Miles was napping in the swing and the girls were playing great together downstairs so I figured I’d bake. Why not?

While the pretzels were baking I made a honey mustard dip and I put some Tostados queso dip in a second bowl as our two dipping sauces (Yes…dietitians have processed food in their houses too. Remember -MODERATION).

I felt so accomplished afterwards. A fun, delicious homemade dinner on the table that everyone loved. Ryan and I had ours with an Italian sausage and salad on the side to round out the meal and the kids had deli meat and fruit with theirs.

One quick disclaimer. This is a very easy recipe but beware that it is a little time consuming as you have to make the dough, knead the dough (I did this in my Kitchen Aid mixer), let the dough rise for 15 minutes, form pretzels, let the pretzels sit in baking soda bath for 2 minute and then bake them for 8 minutes. I did 2-3 pretzels in the baking soda bath at a time to speed things up. I’d assume ~45 minutes total before they are ready to eat but I promise it is worth it.

Soft Baked PretzelsFullSizeRender (5)

Source: Sprinkle Some Sugar Blog

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour (3/4 cup more if needed)
  • Baking soda Bath = 2 cups of water and 4 Tbsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp melted butter and 1 Tbsp coarse salt for sprinkling on top post baking (I used 4 Tbsp butter and pinched salt on but did not measure)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 and line baking sheet with parchment paper or a non stick silicone baking sheet mat

  1. Combine yeast and warm water and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a hook or in a bowl if you aren’t using a mixer. Let sit until your yeast is “frosty” or looks like it’s bubbling.
  2. Add salt and melted butter to yeast mixture
  3. Add flour one cup at a time until dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need more or less based on temperatures where you live. I found that I actually had to add 3 tsp of water (one at a time) to this to make it sticky.
  4. Once dough Knead dough in mixer or by hand for 5 minutes until its smooth.
  5. Form dough into and let sit in a bowl for 15 minutes (I covered my bowl with a towel as i do that with other dough I make)
  6. While dough rises prepare baking soda bath. Boil 2 cups of water with 4 Tbsp baking soda. Stir and heat until dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a 8×8 or 9×9 pan and let cool to be lukewarm temperatures.
  7. Take the dough out of the bowl and flatten slightly to cut into 8 sections like a pizza. Roll each section out to be ~15-20 inches long. Form the rope into a pretzel
  8. Once 2-3 are made place them in the baking soda bath and leave for 2 minutes (make the rest of the pretzels while they soak). If they are not fully covered spoon liquid mixture on to the top.
  9. Remove from baking soda bath and place on baking sheet. Reform if needed and sprinkle with salt
  10. Bake for 8-9 minutes until golden brown
  11. Brush with melted butter after taking out of the oven and serve HOT with your favorite dipping sauce

Honey Mustard Dipping SauceFullSizeRender

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix together and refrigerate

No Bake Granola Bites

My neighbor, great friend and new mom to her second kid just celebrated her birthday. Knowing sleep is likely down and that she is a healthy eater who loves new recipes I though these would be the perfect gift to send her way! If you are on pinterest you may have seen the picture of these floating around. Well now it’s time to try them!

I first made a batch of these bites in November and I have since recreated them two more times. Each time varying them based on what is in my pantry. I’m so thrilled with the taste, flavor and whole ingredients that go into this granola like energy ball. I can not wait until our little one eats nut butters so she can enjoy some of their deliciousness too!

Below is the coconut, flax, chocolate chip variation I made for the birthday girl. I also put a few comments on things you can substitue or ideas to adjust them as well. I’ve also heard there is a variation where you add a little whole grain flour to make them taste more like cookie dough. YUM! I’ll definitely be trying that one in the future.

No   Bites

Ingredients (makes ~14-16 bites)

  • 1/2 cup of almond butter (I’ve also used peanut butter. Any nut butter will do)
  • 1/3 cup honey (Best part! I had fresh honey from my Aunt & Uncles Bee’s out in Colorado. It honestly made a difference in the flavor this time. Much more flavorful)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 3/4-1 cup coconut flakes (I had raw coconut and chopped it but any unsweetened coconut will do. Sweetened would work too but you really don’t need them any sweeter)
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed (you could also try hemp seed)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Mix the nut butter, honey and vanilla extract (they should blend easily but if not you can heat it for 10 or so seconds to melt it down to blend easier)
  2. Add remaining ingredients. and mix until everything is incorporated.
  3. Refrigerate for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy. Store in the fridge and they will be fresh for a week!

Other ideas. Add nuts or dried fruit instead of flax seed, chocolate chips or in place of coconut. I think my next ones I’m going to do with dried cherries (because as you can probably see from my blog recipes I have an obsession with them). They are ~150 calories per bite (give or take). The nice thing is they are a whole grain rich with omega 3’s and a great snack to give you energy (and a your taste buds a party) between meals or after a meal to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Whole Grain Date & Cherry Bites

In my most recent Parents magazine there was a recipe for fig foldovers which inspired me to make a snack size bite that Elena could eat along with Ryan and I. I love the idea of having homemade snacks for our family and knew this I could change the recipe a bit to have less sugar and more whole grains. They did take a lot of dishes to make but were so worth it. We all can’t stop eating them and I already brought some in to work as well. A great way to get a whole grain snack packed with fruit and some sweetness to satisfy anyone mid day.

They made 48 bites and we decided to freeze some but continue to go through them super fast. I think next time I will all whole grain flour; the only reason I didn’t this time was because I ran out. They would work with any dried fruit but I loved the combination of the cherries and dates. If you are going to try these make sure to look for dried fruit without added sugar.

Now get to the store to get ingredients and get baking!  My husband and I love them and they are soft enough for our daughter to bite on her own (a huge bonus not to have to cut it up!).

Whole Grain Date & Cherry Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried dates, pitted and chopped (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped (no sugar added)
  • 1 1/2 tsp orange zest (I didn’t measure and just used the zest from half an orange)
  • Juice from one orange (freshly squeezed- if a few chunks of orange go in that’s okay it will cook down and add fiber)
  • ~1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened – I may cut a few tbsp out next time to see if the dough still forms with less)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  •  1 1/2 cup all purpose flour – you could use all whole grain too if you have it
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Add the dried fruit and next 4 ingredients (through water) into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until almost all the liquid is absorbed (mine took ~11 minutes). Remove from the heat to cool
  3. Beat butter quickly in a mixer then add the sugar until combined. Once combined add the eggs and vanilla and blend together.
  4. In a bowl,stir together the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour through salt).
  5. Beat dry ingredients into butter to form a dough and knead together until combined
  6. Divide the dough into 4 separate sections. Using parchment paper set one piece of dough between parchment paper (if you have it..if not lay flour down on a level surface) and roll into a rectangle
  7. Spread 1/4 of the dried fruit along one side of the dough, fold dough over and press edges down with a fork. Cut into 12 pieces.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with the other three parts of dough and filling.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned to your liking. Remove and cool before serving.