When I got my October assignment for the blogging group, the Secret Recipe Club, I chuckled. I was assigned Erin's blog, Making Memories with Your Kids. I had weeks to explore the blog, find a great recipe, make it and write a blog post about it. I chuckled because even my grandkids are getting too old to want to make memories with me! In fact, last week took my eldest granddaughter to Reno to celebrate her 21st birthday. We did make some memories, but none of them concerned cooking or crafting.
On the days leading up to the reveal, I enjoyed exploring Erin's blog. You don't have to have kids at home to find something to like on Erin's blog. I found lots of cute things to craft for Halloween, and fun treats for trick-or-treaters. My favorite had to be the Slimy Slug Candy. Erin hails from Oregon where the slugs are legendary, giant, yellow banana slugs! I recall being introduced to them at a state park while on an RV trip with Michael. My plan was to make these candy slugs with a few drops of yellow food coloring to honor the creepy banana slug.
As happens all too often, life has a way of tripping up my best laid plans. As I sat in a surgical waiting area of the hospital on Friday, Michael was having surgery. I logged on to my iPad to surf the web and pass the time. Then I saw a memo on my calendar. Midnight Sunday was Secret Recipe Reveal time! I realized that the candy slugs would have to wait until next year as I was bringing Michael home from the hospital on Saturday. No time for candy making and the inevitable mess I knew I would make. I whiled away the time between internet outages looking for another recipe from Erin's blog. It to would need to be something I could work on in the intervals between running up and down the stairs, sharpening my rusty nursing skills. When I saw the recipe for Soft Pretzel Bites, I knew it was the one. I could make the dough, play nurse while it was rising, then boil and bake the pretzels later in the day. Perfect! Plus, I had all the ingredients at home, so I could avoid a trip to the grocery store. I think it might be bad form to leave a groggy husband in the car while grocery shopping. Or not. 🙂
Surgery went well and yesterday we headed home. Before I ma started the pretzels this morning I had a sudden attack of guilt for leaving Michael unattended. I needn't have worried. As soon as I told him I had planned to make pretzels but was reconsidering, he said, "No, those sounds really good right now." Getting me out of the room was probably as much a motivation as were warm soft pretzels. My plan to make the pretzels came together perfectly. I was able to fulfill my nursing duties and present my patient with a plate of warm soft pretzel bites with cheese dipping sauce with his seafood salad lunch.
I had never made pretzels before but they were surprisingly easy to make. I did freak out a bit when I added the baking soda to the boiling water and it bubbled up violently! I was sort of expecting it, but it still took me by surprise. Use a large pot to boil the water if you make these pretzels, and you should make these pretzels! When I tried remove the first batch from the baking sheet, they stuck to the pan despite the cooking spray. I then realized it was the egg wash that caused the sticking, so I drained the boiled bites on paper towels, brushed with the egg wash, then placed them on the greased pan. That worked better for me. I agree with Erin that the original baking time of 13 minutes is too long. I took her advice and pulled them out of the ben at 10 minutes and they were perfect. Leave them in a little longer if you like them crunchy but I wanted what the recipe promised, soft pretzel bites! I made the cheese sauce too but as the afternoon I found myself squeezing yellow mustard straight out of the bottle on the pretzels. Loved it! That is the way I like the warm soft pretzels at the mall.
These were fun to make and gave me a little distraction in an otherwise worrisome day. The best part was that Michael loved them, declaring them the best pretzels he's ever eaten. I thank you for that Erin.
I think these would be fun to make with the kids. Just not my kids. Or their kids.
- * 1 ½ cups warm water
- * 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
- * 1 package active dry yeast
- * 3 ounces unsalted butter (melted)
- * 2 ½ tsp. Kosher salt
- * 4 ½ cups flour
- * vegetable oil spray
- * 3 quarts water
- * ¾ cup baking soda
- * 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbls. cold water
- * Coarse sea salt
- Combine water, yeast, brown sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until combined. Let stand for 5 minutes for the yeast to proof.
- Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth pulls away from the sides of the bowl. About 3 – 4 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and kneed into a ball. Oil a bowl with vegetable oil. Add the dough and turn to coat. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit until double in size. About an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Remove the dough and place on a flat surface. Divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a snake about 22 inches long. Cut into 1 inch sections.
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add baking soda. (Use a large pot. It bubbles a lot!)
- Boil the pretzel pieces in the boiling water mixture for about 30 seconds. I split them up into four batches.
- Place on a cookie sheet (sprayed with cooking spray.) Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle with salt.
- If you are going to make cinnamon and sugar covered pretzel bites (and of course we did!) then don’t add the salt.
- The directions said to bake them for 15 minutes but that was way too long for our bites. We ended up cooking them for about 9 – 10 minutes only.
- Remove onto a cooling rack and let cool a little before eating. They are amazing warm!!! For cinnamon and sugar pretzel bites, dip each pretzel bite in melted butter and then roll in cinnamon and sugar.
- f you like to dip your pretzels in sauce (and who doesn’t) here’s a great cheese dip recipe!
- * ½ Tbsp. unsalted butter
- * ½ Tbsp. flour
- * ½ cup milk
- * 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, grated
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until all the cheese is smooth and melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Erin says, "Time goes way too quickly to not take advantage of every single minute" and that is so true. When my forty-something kids were little, we did those things too. The sad part is that I got to do more cooking and crafting with my grandchildren because, by then, I had more time. Hopefully busy moms can find some good ideas and great reasons to put the iPhone down, pick up a spatula or glue gun, grab the kids and have some fun making memories! Visit Erin's blog for inspiration.
Try my Mini Pretzel Dogs too.