Friday, December 18, 2015

Mint-Chip Chocolate Soft Pretzels!

Unbelievable, but in a week (Lord willing!)  our family will be sitting around the Christmas tree in our pajamas, surrounded by our traditional happy mess of wrapping paper, ribbon and plates of cinnamon rolls! From all reports, the weather sounds as though it will be mild, so the grandkids will probably be outside on the driveway enjoying the new scooters that Pop-pop and Ninny (Dave and I) got them -Shhh!!! Don't tell them!!  With the passing of my step-mom in February, this will mark the first Christmas that no "Greats" will be with us  - Dave and I are "the old folks!" How things change, yet they remain the same! 

This holiday marks a day when the world changed, yet everything appeared to stay the same. A baby was born who was destined to transform not only people's hearts, but all of human history. But....Who knew? Amidst the hubbub of the noisy Bethlehem census, one could barely hear the cries of a newborn babe. Few probably noted the coming and going of shepherds and wealthy men to the obscure stable where this child lay. Even when the quiet of the night silenced the din of crowded Bethlehem , how many lifted their weary heads and saw the brilliant star in the sky? They were tired; they were hard-pressed; they just sought rest.......and peace...... Who knew? 

My prayer is that the rest and peace that was given to all mankind on that holy night of Jesus' birth might be real in your hearts this Christmas season and throughout the coming year. Who knew? I pray that YOU know! Merry, merry Christmas to you and yours! 

Enjoy this festive recipe as a treat sometime during this holiday season. Not too sweet, but delightfully soft and yummy, it's sure to become a favorite! 

Mint-Chip Chocolate Soft Pretzels!

1 ½ Cup warm water
1 Tbsp/packet Red Star Platinum Yeast
3 ½ Cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
¼ Cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tsp. instant coffee
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
¾ Cups mini mint chocolate chips, divided ( ½ and ¼ )
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. water and ½ tsp. kosher salt (for egg wash)

Place water and yeast in EZ DOH bucket. Stir to dissolve yeast. Let rest for one minute. Add 1 cup of flour then remaining ingredients (plus the 1/2 Cup of the mint chips) , except for the beaten egg. EZ DOH-it until the dough is smooth and all ingredients have been thoroughly incorporated, about 2-3 minutes. You may add additional flour if the dough is too sticky. Remove dough from bucket and “smooth” the dough. Spray the bucket lightly with cooking spray and replace dough in bucket. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Remove dough from bucket and divide into 12-16 equal pieces (I made 16). Roll each piece of dough into a rope measuring 20 + inches. Pretzel formation: Lay the rope horizontally and pick up the ends to meet; About 2” from the each of the ends, twist the dough then bring down to the base and press lightly into the dough. Stretch into pretzel shape. Repeat with all dough. Dip both sides of each pretzel into the egg wash and place the pretzel on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let them rest for 15 minutes. Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes. Remove from sheet and cool on wire rack. Press the remaining mint chips onto the pretzels while the pretzels are still warm. 


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Brown Sugar and Spice Doughnuts!

I'm not sure if I have mentioned it, but my hubby just took a new job two months ago. He's now the pastor at one of the oldest churches in the county. It's a darling "little white church in the woods" with a wonderful congregation of only about forty people right now. This new journey is not starting off slowly - these folks knew they needed some change, and change is indeed occurring! So far the change is mostly physical (you can see some of the pics on Facebook at Old Springfield Church). It's invigorating and exciting to experience! But of course, the traditional duties must be attended to, also. This week I accompanied Dave on his visits to the shut-ins of the church. I met some delightful people!! One that particularly charmed me was Dorothy, a 92-yr.old widow who was the church organist years ago. Her home was crowded with mementos from her past - bottles she had painted, photos of friends and family, a framed button collection.... and at least four keyboards! She still plays regularly....and she gets her exercise by dancing to tape recordings of music she played "back in the day". She led us into the small living room where she insisted on dancing for us. After she popped the tape into the player, she grabbed her wheeled walker and began to delicately pace up and down the room, swaying to the music. It was beautiful to see her embracing life in spite of her limitations! I was reminded to embrace every moment I've been given and make the most of it! 

Your friends and family will appreciate it if you'd sweeten their moments with these delicious doughnuts!! They're perfect to serve as a holiday morning surprise! I wish you joy as you embrace these busy weeks before Christmas! 

Brown Sugar and Spice Baked Doughnuts!

1 Tbsp./ Packet Red Star Platinum Yeast
¼ Cup warm water
¾ Cup milk, warm to the touch
¼ Cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 egg
½ Cup butter, softened
2 ½- 3 ½  Cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

Sugar coating:
½ Cup butter, melted
½ Cup sugar
½ Cup Brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg

Place yeast in EZ DOH bucket. Add warm water and stir to dissolve yeast. Add milk, then 1 cup of flour, then remaining ingredients. EZ DOH-it, adding flour as needed, until dough is smooth, not sticky. It should be a very soft, tender dough. Remove from bucket, spray the bucket with cooking spray and replace the dough. Cover and let rise until doubled.  While dough is rising, stir together the sugars and spices for the coating. Place in a covered container that can be used for shaking/coating the doughnuts when the time comes.

Punch down dough and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out into an approximately ½” thick rectangle. Using a doughnut or biscuit cutter, cut out 3” doughnuts with 1” holes. Place doughnuts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover gently and place in a warm spot until almost doubled in size.  Remove cover and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 5-8 minutes, until golden. Dip warm doughnuts in warm melted butter, then place in the sugar container and gently toss doughnut in sugar mix. Remove from container and enjoy while warm!! 


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cheddar and Green Onion Beer Bread!

My prayer is that you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving last week! Maybe you found a roll recipe on this blog that you decided to serve......I'd love to hear from you if you did! Let me know which one you chose to serve....I, of course, HAD to serve the "Every Thanksgiving's Oatmeal Rolls", along with an assortment of garlic, cinnamon, pecan and white rolls - I was up and baking bright and early!

Of course, it's not all about the bread....I hope your celebration was one of true joy and thanksgiving. We had our annual "Turkey Bake Off" and, for the first time in years, I won!! My hubby usually wins with his grill-smoked turkey (It IS awesome!). But it wasn't the win that made the day so was family. Everyone was home, which was wonderful. For the first time, Dave and I were the oldest people at the table - We missed Grandma Jo (she passed in February), but we remembered her by fixing her traditional offerings of green bean casserole and ambrosia salad.  It was a gorgeous day here, too, so we were able to spend much of the afternoon outside, throwing footballs, taking walks, etc. There was no rushing off to early "Black Friday" sales here....we just relaxed. 

However, NOW it begins! Shopping, decorating, baking, celebrating....REPEAT! It's a time when super-easy and super-tasty food is fully appreciated! Today's recipe fulfills both - easy and tasty! And, let me add QUICK! I hope you enjoy it in the happy rush of the Christmas season! 

Cheddar and Green Onion Beer Bread!
3 Cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. coarsely ground pepper
12 oz. beer (I used an ale)
½ Cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp. chopped green onions

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper in the EZ DOH bucket. Crank several times to adequately mix the dry ingredients. Add beer and EZ DOH-it just until ingredients are moistened. Add cheddar cheese and green onions and EZ DOH-it until they are incorporated. Divide and transfer the dough into 2 - 3 1/2 x 7" loaf pans (this is what my pans measured at the base - They aren't full-size 9x5" pans) . Brush with some melted butter. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until golden and the bread tests done in the center. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack 


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