March 23, 2013

Pretzel Bites

Ever been to the mall and gotten one of those yummy soft pretzels?  Yeah, they're delicious.  When I saw a recipe for them on Pinterest, and that the recipe involved making the dough in my beloved bread machine, I was in!  Every time I've made them, they are gone in a heartbeat! 

Here's the recipe (originally from Dine and Dish):

  • 1 1/8 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • coarse salt
  • melted butter (approx. 4 Tbsp.)

  • Directions:
    • In bread machine pan, place the first four ingredients in order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting.
    • When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pinch off a decent size piece of dough and roll into a rope.  Cut rope into 1-inch (ish) pieces.
    • Bring water and baking soda to a boil. Drop pretzel bites into boiling water, about 10 at a time; boil for 10-15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.
    • Place pretzel bites on greased baking sheets. Bake at 425 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
    • Immediately toss bites in melted butter in a large bowl, while sprinkling with coarse salt.

    Mini Pecan Pies

    I've been making the same pecan pie recipe, from my family cookbook, for several years.  My hubby loves pecan pie, and requested it for his 30th birthday party.  So I decided to make a mini version for the party.  I used the same recipe and just separated it into mini muffins.

    Ingredients:
    • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
    • 1 c. light corn syrup
    • 1 c. sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 1/2 c. pecan halves
    • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
    • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
      • I used two crusts for the mini-muffin version
    Here are the basic directions for a 9-inch pie:
    • Mix eggs, syrup, sugar, vanilla, and butter until well combined.
    • Stir in pecans
    • Pour into pie shell
    • Bake at 350 degrees about 50-55 minutes until filling is set

    Here are directions for mini pies:
     
    Mix eggs, syrup, sugar, vanilla, and butter until well combined.

    If making mini pies, chop pecan halves into smaller pieces
    (no chopping necessary for a whole pie)

    Stir pecans into mixture

    For mini pies, roll out crust and cut into circles to place into muffin pan
    (Obviously, do not do this for a whole pie :))
     
    Place pie crusts into well greased mini muffin pan and fill about 2/3 full with pie filling
     
    Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 25 minutes until filling is set

    Mint Chocolate Brownie Bites

    Many of my baking ideas come from my husband's requests, his likes, etc.  While watching an episode of Pioneer Woman, my husband noticed that her dessert that day was mint chocolate brownie bites.  His mouth starting watering and he said his "famous" line around our house: "Will you make some of those?".  So I did.  I didn't use her exact recipe, mostly because I didn't have all the ingredients on hand the first time, but she was definitely my inspiration. 

    Here's what you'll need:
    • 1/2 c. butter, melted
    • 1 c. sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/3 c. cocoa powder
    • 1/2 c. flour
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. mint extract
    • almond bark or milk chocolate chips for melting
    • Andes mints (approx. 10-12)


    First, combine the melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and mint extract.  Mix well.

    Next, add cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder.  Stir until just combined. 

    Spoon batter into mini muffin pan - these don't puff up much at all, you can safely fill them almost completely full.

    Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes

    Remove and place on cooling rack with wax paper or foil underneath
    *I used cupcake liners and then removed them at this point to make sure I had a perfect shape (instead of risking them sticking to the pan)

    Turn brownies upside down.
    Melt some almond bark or chocolate chips (I add a little shortening to thin the chocolate out and make it silkier and smoother).
    Chop the Andes mints.
    Pour melted chocolate on each brownie, letting it drip down the sides.
    Top each brownie with chopped Andes mints.
     
    Leave on cooling rack until the chocolate is set.  Enjoy!
    *Makes about 2 - 2/12 dozen

    Justin's 30th Birthday Party

    My hubby recently turned 30, which in my opinion, is cause for a celebration!  He's my favorite person in the entire world, and I really wanted to do something to celebrate him and make him feel special.  So I did what I (think) I do best: rounded up a bunch of friends and family and made a bunch of food!  The majority of the menu was chosen by Justin, inspired by some of this favorite foods.  Here's what I made:

    
    
    
    Mini Pecan Pies
    (recipe here)
    Mint Chocolate Brownie Bites
    (recipe here)
    Mini Sweet Potato Meringue Pies
    (recipe here)

    Pretzel Bites
    (recipe here)
     
     
    Jambalaya
    (recipe here)
     
     
    Meatloaf Muffins, Cornbread Muffins, & Pretzel Bites
    (click on names for recipes)
     
     
     
    Also on the menu:
     
    

     
    Turkey and Ham Sandwiches

    Guacamole & French Onion Dip

    The majority of the food
     
    Set-up of the desserts
     
     

    Camo Birthday Cake
     

    The handsome birthday boy with his cake
     
     
    Happy birthday Justin!  I love you!
     
    Be sure to check out the links for recipes!  
     

    March 3, 2013

    Duck Fajitas

    This may sound completely crazy to some (or a lot) of you, but around my house, having duck as the meat in our meal is totally normal.  That's what happens when you're married to a man who is obsessed with duck hunting.  If you'd have asked me several years ago if I would not only be eating duck on a regular basis, but that I would be cooking it myself, I would've thought you were crazy.  But here I am, wife of an avid duck hunter, and have become quite the fan of the meat.  So anyway, if you're still reading, then maybe you're interested in what I've done with the duck this time.  A couple nights ago I made duck fajitas for supper.  Here's how it went:

    Ingredients:
    • Duck breast (I used 4 - they're pretty small)
    • Meat tenderizer (optional)
    • Bell peppers, cut into strips (I used a little each of green, red, yellow, and orange)
    • Onion, cut into strips
    • Fajita seasoning (I'm too cheap to buy the packets in the store, so I based mine very loosely on this recipe)
    • 1-2 tbsp. oil
    • Tortillas
    • Whatever toppings you like.  I like shredded cheese, sour cream, and salsa.
    Just starting out
    Directions:


    • Sprinkle meat with tenderizer and cut into thin strips
    • Pour oil into skillet and add meat, peppers, onions, and seasoning
    • Cook on medium - medium-high heat until meat is well done, stirring several times and adding more oil or water if necessary to keep meat moist
    • Place into tortillas and top with your favorite toppings!

    
    
    Almost done!