Friday, January 31, 2014

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites with Homemade Cheese Sauce

Woot! Woot! It's Friday! We have a crazy fun weekend planned and I can't wait for Hub to get home so we can start enjoying it together! One of our plans is our friends Super Bowl Partay!! Are you ready for some foootballll!? I'm so excited!! I flipping love Peyton Manning and couldn't be happier for him...except if he still played for the Colts...and he was taking them to the Super Bowl, not the Broncos. AND I'm so glad our friends are going to be doing the hosting. We thought about throwing a Bowl Bash, but then we got lazy and waited for someone else to suggest throwing a party. It worked out! So today I'm showing off a super popular recipe that would be a perfect addition to any Super Bowl Party! Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites!
I found it about a year ago and make it all the time. I was so afraid of yeast before and after I made this recipe and have messed it up several times :) That is until now! Hub bought me a food thermometer for Christmas and I'm able to get the "warm" water to the perfect desired temperature. Now making these amazingly-soft-yet-also-super-crunchy pretzel bites is a snap!
The best part about making these is when you boil the water and add the baking soda! It does this crazy bubbly foam up thing, so you can't pour it in too fast. I love food science stuff. At the end I got a little lazy and made some longer sticks, too. No matter what the shape or size, these are delicious!
I also made an awesome cheese sauce to go with these. I kind of made it on the fly last minute and just threw a bunch of stuff together, but I'll try and give as close of measurements as possible. Once you get the base, you really can make the cheese sauce your own. Pick out your favorite cheese and seasonings and get to dipping! These babies don't last long.
1 1/2 Cups warm water (between 105-110 degrees)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
6 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp brown sugar
4 1/2-5 Cups flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
Vegetable oil
3 Quarts water
3/4 Cup baking soda
1 egg and 1 Tbsp water, beaten together slightly
Chunky coarse sea salt

1. Mix together the warm water, sugar, yeast and melted butter in your mixer bowl with your dough hook attachment. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

2. Combine 4 1/2 Cups of flour and salt together and add to the yeast mixture on slow speed, continue mixing on slow. Once all the flour is in, turn up the speed to medium and mix until the dough pulls away from the bowl. If the dough seems too sticky, add in the extra flour a little bit at a time. Take out the dough and knead on a lightly floured surface with your hands for a few minutes.

3. Roll the dough into a ball. Coat a large bowl with oil and roll the dough around in the bowl until the dough has a layer of oil on it. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet.

5. Start pulling out chunks of the dough and roll into a long rope that is the same thickness throughout. Cut into 1 inch pieces.

6. Boil the water in a large saucepan on high heat. Once boiling, SLOWLY add in the baking soda. If you go too fast, it will boil over and you'll have a huge mess. Throw in several pretzel pieces and let boil for about 30-45 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on the baking sheet, making sure the pieces don't touch.

7. Brush the egg wash over the pretzel bites and sprinkle on the coarse salt. Place in the over and bake for about 13-15 minutes, or until they are the desired golden brown you want them to be. Remove and immediately add more salt and transfer to a wire rack.

I added garlic butter on top of mine and served with a cheese sauce.

Cheese sauce
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 Cup milk
1/4 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 oz Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
Dash of salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add in the flour and stir until combined. Add in the milk and stir for about 1 minute. Add in all the cheese and seasonings and stir constantly until cheese is melted. Serve with your favorite pretzel bites or tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Need some great sauce pans? Check these out!
What about an affordable yet amazing Kitchenaid?

You could easily keep off the salt and brush the bites with melted butter and cinnamon sugar when they come out of the oven and serve with some icing! Yummy dessert! What are you planning on making for the Big Game this Sunday? Can't wait to hear your recipes! Might even try a few myself! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thanks for stopping by!

**I linked up to the homeacre hop, serenity now, weekend potluck, creativity unleashed, friday favorites, tickled pink, foodie friday, tidy mom, the jenny evolution, kitchen fun with my three sons, bloom designs, full plate thursday, create it thursday, inspire me wednesday, wicked awesome wednesday, worthwhile wednesday, share your stuff tuesday, titus 2 tuesday, the tuesday talent show, the scoop, coastal charm, homecoming, give me the goods, between naps on the porch, amaze me monday, craft o maniac, much ado about monday, more the merrier, best of the weekend

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Crock Pot Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Well the one good thing about all this snow and ridiculously cold weather is that it inspires me to make awesome comfy foods. Definition of Comfy Foods: a food that is best enjoyed on the couch, in pajama pants (yes its acceptable if you wore them yesterday, and last night), and warm socks, when it's cold outside, preferably in a's just easier to eat things out of a bowl. So to give the finger to the cold get over the cold I made some Crock Pot Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal!
It really is a perfect meal for a freezing cold day like today. I am so over not being able to feel my face after going outside for more than three minutes. This is about the time of year where I start pouting about not living somewhere warm year-round. But Hubby always reminds me how much we love our family and we wouldn't be happy without living so close to them and blah blah blah.
I tease. I do love them and would miss them so much...but with a low of 60 degrees versus -7 degrees I think I'd survive :) And you know they'd all come visit!
This recipe was so simple. All I did was throw everything in the crock pot, gave it a few stirs, cooked and done. I scooped some into a bowl and added more cinnamon to the top. I made sure to leave the apple chunks large to keep enough texture so it wasn't all mushy. Perfect! Full disclosure...this will be mushy oatmeal. If you don't like your oatmeal too mushy, try adding less liquid.
This is my way of giving the cold the finger :)

2 1/2 Cups old fashioned oats
2 Cups apple juice
2 Cups milk
1-1 1/2 Apples, peeled, cored and chopped into pieces
1/3 Cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Pour everything into your crock pot and give it a few stirs. Cook on low for 4 1/2-5 hours, depending on how your crock pot cooks. Spoon out and enjoy!

I made mine last night and am enjoying a warmed up bowl with a glass of milk as I type. Ooo I wonder if this would be good with ice it too early for ice cream? Please say no!

What are your favorite comfy foods on weeks days like today? Would love great ideas of things to bake while I'm cooped up!

Need a great crock pot? Check this one out!

Thanks for stopping by!

**I linked up to wicked awesome wednesday, worthwhile wednesday, share your stuff tuesdaytitus 2 tuesday, the tuesday talent show, the scoop, coastal charm, homecoming, give me the goods, between naps on the porch, amaze me monday, craft o maniac, much ado about monday, more the merrier, serenity now, weekend potluck, 504 main, simple living and eating, my turn for us, tidy mom, life in velvetkitchen fun and crafty friday, the self sufficient homeacre, all things thursday, full plate thursday

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rocky Road Marshmallow Treats

Hey Hey Everybody! Happy Monday to you! I hope all of your week's are starting off wonderfully! I am convinced the CEO of American Greetings doesn't like his/her in-laws. I just went to three different locations looking for a birthday card for one of my amazing mother-in-laws and found nothing! Sure there were son and daughter in-law cards, but nothing for the parents. Maybe the places I went just don't sell those kind of cards, I don't know. But I do know if you need a mom-in-law card don't go to Meijer, CVS or Kroger...cause they don't have em :)

So keeping in line with what I was saying yesterday about being crazy cheap frugal, I noticed there was a certain cereal box that had been living in our cabinets much longer than most cereals last around here. My Hubby has this thing where he has to eat a humongous bowl of cereal every night before he goes to bed. I don't know what it is, but he has to have it. If for some reason we're out of milk and it's 10:30 at night, he'll go get it. Even on vacation he'll buy a box of his favorite sugary snack and a small thing of milk and keep it in the hotel room fridge. I think it's cute. So when this box was still around for a couple weeks I knew something was up.
Found out Hubby didn't like the new kind he had decided to give a try. He said "Go ahead and throw it out, I won't eat it." I said "What?! Are you nuts?! It's still almost full!". Then my creative wheels got to turnin' and I ended up making these:
Rocky Road Marshmallow Treats!
All I did was make these just like I make my rice crispy treats, but substituted the rice for Rocky Road. Yum!
I decided to kick some up a notch and added melted chocolate...mmm....drooling!
3 Tbsp butter
6 Cups Rocky Road Chocolatey Almonds cereal (or whatever kind you want :)
4 Cups mini marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla

1/4 Cup Chocolate Chips
1 tsp shortening

Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

In a large saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add in the marshmallows and vanilla and stir until melted. Toss in the cereal and stir until evenly coated. Pour cereal mix into the pan and press down with a buttered spatula or wax paper. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

If you're adding on the chocolate, melt the chips and shortening in a small bowl. Drizzle onto the squares with a spoon. Enjoy!

I made these a few days ago and they are still chewy. I wrapped them up in aluminum foil for storage. Oh and p.s. Hubby loves these!! He eats them all the time! Weird, right?

So are you ready for some football?!?! I've got a few yummy ideas still to make this week for my friends Super Bowl party. I'll make sure to share them before the big game.

Here's the 9x13 I use:

Thanks for stopping by!

**I linked up to homecoming, give me the goods, between naps on the porch, amaze me monday, craft o maniac, much ado about monday, more the merrier, tidy mom, serenity now, weekend potluck, 504 main, simple living and eating, my turn for us, life in velvet, kitchen fun and crafty friday, the self sufficient homeacre, all things thursday, full plate thursday, 733 blog, buns in my oven, handy man crafty woman, wake up wednesdays

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Hearts

Hey Hey and Happy Sunday to you all. Sundays at our house are a day of napping, baking and movie watching. It's pretty much the best day of the week. I can guarantee my husband will be off work and we make sure to almost never have plans. It's awesome!

So I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it on here before, but I am cheap. Like crazy cheap. Like I would make my own clothes and soap and detergent if I knew how. I would have chickens and goats if our HOA would let me. I make crock pot meals not to save time, but to save money on our grocery bill. My first purchase come spring is a garden kit so I can start making our own fresh produce. I clip coupons like it's my job. I will drive past two Krogers and a Marsh just so I can save a few cents to buy four things at Meijer. I probably say "Waste not, want not!" 10 times a week. I'm dangerously close to having all of my clothes made out of yarn. If someone bought me a crocheting starter kit I guarantee you it would happen. Maybe someday I'll write about all the ways I save our family money throughout the month. The savings would shock you!

I blame my crazy cheapness on my sister. A few years ago she introduced me to a man that changed my life forever! No it's not my was Dave Ramsey! He is an amazing man who basically breaks down how easy it is to get your financial situation under control (mine was way out of hand). All he does is introduce a few simple steps for you to follow and before you know it, credit card debit is disappearing, car payments are non-existent and there's actually money in the savings account! I became debt free in 2010 and have never looked back. I even helped my husband pay off all his debt. I am now our family's budgeter (word?) and we live a comfortable, but not out of our means (i.e. credit cards) lifestyle. Sure there's some days we still fight the urge to buy something on credit, but instead we wait and we save and we pay with cash.

Keeping in line with the coupon clipping and crock pot cooking, I have found another way to save making my own Valentines chocolates!
When we were at Ikea last week I picked up a cute little heart mold for a quarter! I knew immediately that I wanted to try my hand again at making homemade chocolates, but this time with peanut butter!
These were so easy and actually kind of fun to make. I started by making my peanut butter filling. First was the peanut butter, followed by brown and powdered sugar and some vanilla. I mixed it together and rolled it into small peanut butter balls.
I took some shortening and milk chocolate chips and melted them in a small bowl. Then I took a small paint brush and used that to "paint" the chocolate up the side of the mold and on the bottom.
I put the mold in the freezer for a few minutes, then checked to see if I missed any spots. I filled in the spots and returned the mold to the freezer. Next was to push the peanut butter balls into the chocolate mold and then top with more melted chocolate.

Next I tapped the tray on the counter a few times to release any airs bubbles. Finally I froze them again for another ten minutes or so, popped them out of the mold and...Voila!

(Recipe makes 36 chocolates)
1 Cup peanut butter
2 tsp butter, softened
3/4 Cup brown sugar
2/3 Cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2-2 Cups milk chocolate chips, divided
1-2 Tbsp shortening
1 small paint brush

1. In a medium bowl mix together the peanut butter and butter until fully combined and there aren't any lumps. Add in the brown sugar, powdered sugar and vanilla. Roll all the peanut butter dough into about two teaspoons size balls. Set aside.

2. Melt 1/4 Cup milk chocolate chips and about two teaspoons of shortening in a small bowl. Using the small paint brush, paint up the sides of the mold with the chocolate until you can't see it anymore and all the walls are covered in a thin layer of chocolate. Freeze for about ten minutes.

3. Remove from the freezer and check to see if there is any molding visible. If there is, add melted chocolate to those areas and refreeze for a few minutes. Once the molding is completely coated, add in the peanut butter balls. Push them flat and make sure the peanut butter goes below the edge of the mold.

4. Melt about 1/2 Cup or less of chocolate chips and about 1/2 Tablespoon of shortening. I honestly eyeballed this part. The shortening just helps the chocolate be shinier so just make sure not to add too much. Using a spoon, pour the melted chocolate on top of the peanut butter and tap the mold on the counter several times to release air bubbles. Return to the freezer for about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the mold from the freezer and pop out the chocolates. If you have trouble, try running a knife along the edge to help loosen the chocolate.

Repeat steps 2-5 until you run out of peanut butter mix. I got 36 out of this recipe, but I also ate a ton of peanut butter dough along the way. :) Try not to eat them all at once! Enjoy!

I was able to make all 36 for under $4! I just saved my Hubby some money that he can use to buy me dinner on something else! Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey? Here's his book if you're interested in learning more about being debt free.

The financial peace planner is also amazing!

One of his big sayings is "If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else!". Those words changed my life!

Here's a mold similar to the one I used, too.

Thanks for stopping by!

**I linked up to serenity now, weekend potluck, 504 main, simple living and eating, my turn for us, tidy mom, life in velvet, kitchen fun and crafty friday, the self sufficient homeacre, full plate thursday, 733 blog, buns in my oven, handy man crafty woman, cornerstone confessions, coastal charm, the scoop, between naps on the porch, by stephanie lynn, huckleberry love, diy home sweet home, the heart of your home

Friday, January 24, 2014

Homemade Fudge Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Woot Woot it's Friday! Got any fun and exciting plans for the weekend? We don't and it's awesome! Sometimes my favorite weekends are the ones where Hubby and I lay around and do nothing. Half the time we don't even leave the house...seriously. It'll be Sunday afternoon and I'll say "Huh, last time I left was Friday to get some wine."It's nice.

Come next weekend though we will be jumping up and down cheering on the Broncos! We debated last night if we're going to host a party or not. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE throwing parties and I am a sucker for cute decorations. I even thought I could make some kind of fun green dip to make a football field out of it. However, it is also so nice to make one yummy dish, grab a bottle of wine and head out the door to go to someone else's house. We're still 50/50 on it. Usually what happens is several people will start to ask us if we're going to have a party and after the sixth person asks we realize we should just host an awesome get-together. Obviously I will share with you any and everything I make if we have people over!

Speaking of things I make when people are over, I wanted to share my Homemade Fudge Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe with you. I had these out at our last football party and everyone loved them. I know when you think football parties you immediately think SALT SALT and MORE SALT! Which was what made these sweet treats a nice change of pace. After the fifth handful of chips and Fritos, having a bite of sugar is a welcome change!

These were so unbelievably moist and oh-so sweet. Actually they were a little too sweet at the size shown above, so I cut em down to make them bite-size! Squeal!!
They were perfect at this size! They were like brownie popables! Brownie Popables?! Oooo could I patent that? Are patents expensive? If anyone out there can afford a patent can you please patent and mass produce brownie popables so I can buy them and eat them all the time? A little cut from the profits would be nice, too :)

1/2 Cup flour
1/3 Cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 Cup butter
1 Cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 pan. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Premix the two eggs just a little bit in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the sugar, mixed eggs and vanilla with a whisk. Add in the dry ingredients and stir with the whisk until just combined and pour into your prepared pan. Bake for 27-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Icing Recipe: find it at the bottom of this post!

Add icing onto brownies while they are still warm. Cut up and serve with all your other football snacks. Enjoy!

The whole inspiration behind making these was my heart-shaped brownie pan that was given to me from a dear friend a few years ago.
Want one? Here's a great one from Amazon:

So are you a salty or sweet person? Or salty and sweet? Or are you like my Hubby and like everything as hot as possible? Hope you have a great weekend!

Thanks for stopping by!

**I linked up to all things thursday, buns in my oven, handy man crafty woman, cornerstone confessions, coastal charm, the scoop, homecomingmn, between naps on the porch, marvelously messy, by stephanie lynn, huckleberry love, diy home sweet home, the heart of your home, a little claireification

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Loaded Potato Bacon Chip Dip

Hello and Happy Wednesday to ya! I'm continuing on my theme for the up and coming Super Bowl parties and the yummy snacks that should can be served at them! Today's tasty treat is my Loaded Potato Bacon Chip Dip...not to be confused with my Loaded Potato Bacon Soup. This is a compilation of probably 10 different recipes I saw online and on Pinterest while trying to find the perfect dip to serve at our football party. I decided to just take the things I liked from each recipe and throw it all together! This is what I ended up with:
It is such a quick and simple recipe, and I bet you have most of the ingredients already. This picture doesn't do it justice to show how creamy, cheesy awesome it was! All the ingredients blended together perfectly and adding the potato chips made this taste like you were eating a loaded baked potato turned amazing chip dip. I promise this too will win your party guests over!
This one was such a hit people were literally scrapping the bowl to get the last of it! It is a definite crowd-pleaser!
1 Cup sour cream
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Cup of your favorite shredded cheese
4-6 pieces cooked bacon, crispy and chopped up
4 greens onions, chopped up

Mix together the sour cream and cream cheese until well combined. Stir in the remaining ingredients and chill for about an hour until serving. Serve with your favorite potato chips and enjoy!

What are you serving at your up and coming football party? I'd love more ideas! Come back soon for another football fan favorite at party time!

Thanks for stopping by!

**I linked up to cornerstone confessions, coastal charm, the scoop, between naps on the porch, marvelously messy, by stephanie lynn, huckleberry love, diy home sweet home, the heart of your home, serenity now, the country cook, 504 main, simple living & eating, kitchen fun with my 3 sons, tidy mom, miz helen's country cottage