Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Salty Soft Nuggets of Amazingness

Last Christmas I had saga o' the burning ham and cheese rolls, this year, no saga, just delicious Pretzel Bites.  I guess if there was any drama it would be how dramatically lumpy and gross the cheese sauce I made was - yuck!  We won't talk about that...
We worked quickly before church on Christmas Eve to get the bites boiled and baked.  Off to church we went, then Andy's folks came to church with us and came back to our house for appetizers.  Bronwyn loved the bites, kept asking for more and more.  Her grandma also thoroughly enjoyed them.  I think we should make them again - many many more to just sit and eat ourselves silly with them.  This time I think I will buy some cheese sauce, it'll be way less lumpy.

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites
Soft Pretzels:
 1 1/2 cups warm water
 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
 Vegetable oil
 3 quarts water
 1/2 cup baking soda
 1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
 Coarse sea salt

For the cheese sauce: (good luck!)
 ½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
 ½ Tablespoon all-purpose flour
 ½ cup milk
 8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated

For the Pretzels: Combine the 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring the 3 quarts of water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches. We did about 15 bites at a time. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure they are not touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Serve with cheese sauce.

To make the cheese sauce:
 Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the Cheddar cheese until smooth and all of the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

*If you want to make cinnamon and sugar pretzel bites-instead of adding salt, sprinkle the bites with cinnamon and sugar. For the frosting mix-soft cream cheese-about 3 T, powdered sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a little bit of milk. Whisk together. Add more milk if it is too thick, if it is too thin, add more powdered sugar. I don't measure. I just guess until the consistency is right.*

Friday, March 20, 2015

Meet and Greet!


Today at The Misadventures of Myrtle Grace we are doing something a touch different, we thought we were participating in a blog hop... But somehow we didn't get included in it... but we'll tell you about our favorites anyway...

I may have fooled many of our regular followers into thinking that I cross stitch, well, I don’t.  My craft passion?  Punch Needle.   I design my own patterns and love doing it.  After they are punched is when they turn into cross stitch and then I ask others to stitch them for models that I then sell patterns for.  But when it comes to the chicken/egg question for Myrtle Grace Motifs?  It’s punch needle.  Myrtle Grace Motifs is my business name,  we design and sell cross stitch and punch needle patterns wholesale to shops across the country (even the world).

Today I am picking favorites!  I’m showing off which of my patterns are my favorites.
#1 – Home Sweet Home – This pattern turned out better than I could have hoped.  There are so many fine lines and wording isn’t always easy with punch needle, but this one?  The words were the focal point and it worked out well.
#2 – Love in Bloom – this time I got to use texture to create flowers and how fun it turned out.  With punch needle you can vary the length of the stitches (the loops) and create fun texture with it.
#3 – Rusty Bucket – this is my pup.  No, it’s not a goat; many times I have been asked this question.  This is my lab mix dog Rusty.  We call him Rusty Bucket, and it really does look like him!  Pink nose and all.  Again, the flowers in this one, I used a longer stitch length for dimension.
#4 – Bronwyn’s Baby Blocks – my daughter’s name is Bronwyn and I wanted to create a pattern for her.  These blocks were so fun – it looks like 2 blocks – but the photo is actually of both sides of the block.  Just Another Button Company came to the rescue with amazingly cute buttons for this one.  My mom came to an even bigger rescue and stitched it together for me.
#5 – Ollie the Owl – This was one of my first attempts at a double sided project and it was so fun.  With those big eyes, he just comes alive.

Well those are my five favorites.  I feel a little bad for the rest of my patterns, maybe they will get extra love another day.

If you’d like to know more about Myrtle Grace Motifs there are a few links below.

http://myrtlegrace.blogspot.com/ (hey that’s where you are already!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Popeye Would be Proud

Soup is hit or miss in our house.  We either love it and eat it all up, or it sits in the fridge and we hope the leftover fairies somehow eat it.  This soup was a hit.
I had my doubts on this recipe, I think it was the simplicity of it and also the fresh spinach that you basically just wilt into the soup.  We are certainly spoiled with our own chicken stock and this time I added some turkey stock from Thanksgiving.  There are also the tomatoes we canned!  Don't worry, we didn't grow the spinach or roll our own orzo, that would be just too over the top.  I will say, I get so much satisfaction in putting empty jars and containers on the shelf in the pantry.  It means we are using the goods we have made. Sure I feel accomplished when we do the canning or make the stock, but when we use it?  I truly feel like I had accomplished something.
Need a dish to warm you on a cold night?  Give this one a try, guaranteed to keep you cozy.

Italian Orzo Spinach Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, peeled and diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) orzo pasta
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
4 cups loosely-packed spinach
salt and black pepper

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 4 minutes, until soft. Add carrots, celery and garlic and saute for an additional 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, orzo (pasta), thyme, oregano, rosemary and stir to combine. Bring soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.

Stir in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until it is bright green and wilted. Season with salt and black pepper to taste (if needed). Serve warm.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Nutless Wonder

The thing about a recipe called "Apple Nut Ring" - is the nut bit.  You see, I have never actually added nuts.  This recipe goes way back to when I was a kid.  My mom bought a stoneware pan and this recipe came along with it.  I remember making this as a kid on Saturdays for Sunday morning breakfast.  Recently I asked my mom to borrow her pan to make this recipe.   Poor Andy was quite confused that there were no actual nuts.  Perhaps I shall try again with the stated nuts.  It is quite simple and can be made in pans not stoneware, the biscuits dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar are so very good.  Well worth the messy hands and confused looks from your significant other.

Apple Nut Ring
2 8 oz pkgs. Refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbls cinnamon
1/2 stick melted butter or margarine
2 - 3 med Apples
1/3 cup (optional) chopped nuts
1/4 cup (optional) Raisins

Separate the biscuits into 20 pieces. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip biscuits into melted butter, then roll in sugar mixture. Arrange biscuits around outer edge of Deep Dish Baker, using a total of 15; overlap remaining 5 biscuits in the center. Peel, core and slice apples into thin slices. Place an apple slice between each biscuit and place apple slices all around the outer edge. Mix nuts and raisins with remaining sugar mixture and pour over all. Bake at 400 for 35-30 min. Makes 20 rolls.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Shape Matters

Waffle makers - we now own three of them.  My folks gave us one years ago that they got as a white elephant gift.  (Oddly enough there was a wedding card inside for my cousin as it was a wedding gift to her.). It makes waffle sticks.
Friends of ours gave us one that is similar to a fancy hotel model that flips, but it was thin and rectangle.  Thinking of the properties of liquids and how they pour rectangles aren't exactly the shape needed for waffles.
For Christmas - Andy gave the family a gift - a round hotel style waffle maker!  Every time I stay at a hotel with breakfast provided, I make waffles in their fancy waffle maker.  Now we can do it at home.  Better yet this recipe was on Pinterest and we gave it a try.  Andy made them and wow they were so good.  Well worth any effort necessary to make them. Can't wait to have them again.

Easy and Fluffy Belgian Waffles

1 3/4 c. AP flour
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. cooking oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1.Preheat your waffle iron.
2.Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth.
3.(Grease waffle iron before each use) Pour approximately 1/2 cup batter onto the hot waffle iron, and cook for 3:30 minutes, or to your liking.
4.Serve hot and fresh with berries and whipped cream!

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