What have I been up to?

I have been pretty busy so I have not been able to blog lately I hope that will change in the future will see what happens. My latest endeavor is working with my friend Robyn and we’ve been making soap.  We’re really looking forward to possibly selling the soap as a lot of the soup that is out there I’m not able to use because of the soy in it. I will post pictures once its all done and we have them labeled.   Right now they’re in the second week of curing and they need to fully cure for three weeks. I will be handing out samples to my friends and family right around Easter.  I know that this is a short post, and I hope in the future you had some larger ones.

Okay, maybe one picture.

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Pretzel Dogs

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Tonight, I made Pretzel dogs, again, for dinner.  It’s become a favorite in the family and originally, I was actually going to make them for our neighbor’s, whom we have dinner with every Friday.  They had to cancel tonight, but why change the menu, right?  I decided to write this post with the recipe and directions on how to make them, as I have some friends that have been asking.

First, what is a pretzel dog?  It’s a hot dog, wrapped in cheese, wrapped in a soft pretzel, brushed with butter, and baked.  There are many variations you can do, for example, the kids don’t like the cheese, so theirs has no cheese in it.  There also Italian sausage ones, that have pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese.  Play with it, see what you like.

Second, where I got the recipe… Food Network.  I took the soft pretzel recipe, and adapted it to what I needed.

Third, by adaption, what do I mean?  I’ll explain.

1) I’ve found that I truly love my bread machine and it’s dough setting.  I put the ingredients  for the dough in the bread machine.  That would be:

1 1/2 cups warm (110F to 115F) water
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted (4 tablespoons)
22 ounces flour, approx. 4 1/2 cups
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast, approximately 1 tablespoon

Vegetable oil, for pan (I did not oil the pan because I used the dough setting on my bread machine.)

I added the ingredients, in that order, to the pan for the bread machine, put it in the machine, set it to the dough setting, and let it go.  If you do not use a bread machine, follow the instructions on the website that Alton Brown gives, as it has you proof the yeast first.

2) After the bread machine was done and the dough had doubled in size, I turned on the oven to 450F, and set up my big pot with the 10 cups of water and 2/3 cup of baking soda, as stated in the recipe.

3) I then turned out the dough on a lightly greased cutting board.  The recipe calls for vegetable oil, I can’t use vegetable oil because it has soy.  I have used olive oil and peanut oil, both work just fine.  If you are doing soft pretzels, cut the dough into 8 pieces.  For pretzel dogs, I have found that cutting it into 12 pieces makes a nice bread to dog ratio.

Take a piece of the dough and roll it out flat, big enough for the dog to fit fully inside, with any additional ingredients.  For the cheese filled, lay down 2 pieces of cheese.  Make sure you use a cheese that melts nicely.  I’ve been using American cheese, but I don’t see why shredded cheese might not work, just don’t put so much that it won’t melt.  The key is to use cheese that melts nicely.  Then put the dog on the cheese and pull the part of the dough on the long side up and over the dog, and roll it up.  Wrap the ends over and pinch the seams so they don’t separate.  This is the hardest part for me, I lose patience and don’t pinch the seams well enough.

Once this part is done, and the water is boiling, set a dog in the boiling water for approximately 30 seconds.  Take out with a flat spatula and put on a baking tray with parchment paper or silpat.  I find that 4-5 per baking sheet seems to work well.  Once you have 4-5 on the baking sheet, you can either brush with egg wash (as in Alton Brown’s recipe) OR brush with melted butter, which is what I do.  Tonight, I actually brushed with melted garlic butter.  Then sprinkle some pretzel salt, or I used Kosher salt.

4) Bake at 450F for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown and YUMMY!  

You’ll want to let them cool for at least 5 minutes before eating them, but it is worth it.

So, there you go.  If you have questions, let me know.   

Condensed Cream “of” soup

I’ve been meaning to note this for days, but just didn’t have time because of Resurrection Day, official new job, moving my old home office to the new home office, and just plain tired.

Sunday, I went to my cousin’s house to celebrate Resurrection Day with our families.  One of the two days a year I get to see that side of the family, so we always look forward to it.  We serve lunch potluck style and this year I was tasked with our traditional Party Potatoes.  Believe it or not, a recipe I got from an ex-boyfriend’s mother.  But the family has always loved it, so we make it every year.  This year, I was faced with a challenge though as one of the few ingredients to use is Condensed Cream of Potato soup.  Well, condensed soup tends to have MSG in it.  There may be some obscure brand somewhere that does not, but since I don’t plan on searching high and low for something I can make at home so easily, I didn’t find one.  And yes, you heard that right, making condensed soup, from scratch, easily.  Takes 10 minutes, give or take.  I got the recipe/instructions here.  Again, very easy.

The party potatoes call for 2 cans, so I doubled the recipe.  Came out pretty good.  The flavor was there, though, admittedly, I didn’t add enough salt.  I will have to add more next time.  Not related to the making of the soup, I didn’t add enough sour cream so the end result wasn’t as creamy as it should have been.  And definitely, more salt.

Next project, strawberry cake, from scratch.