Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

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I’ve been making a lot of baked pretzels lately. I like to bake them and then put them in the freezer so I don’t sit there and eat the whole batch. To warm them up, I’ll just put them in the microwave for about 1 minute and 30 seconds. I also like to use Alton Brown’s recipe for homemade pretzels. Then, I find other ways to flavor them up. One time I used a package of ranch seasoning mix. Those were ok, but I like these better.  These little pretzel bites would be fun to make for a game party. We never have those at our house and I wish that we did. Although, I’m not sure if there’s people out there that have NHL parties at their homes? I’m not a football fan at all.

To make these, use your favorite pretzel dough recipe. Take the dough and divide it into 4 separate balls. Roll them out length wise. Place some cut up pieces of ham, pepperoni, or whatever you like in the center of the dough. Then some cheese. Fold the pretzel dough over so that it covers the ham and cheese and crimp the pretzel dough shut. Cut them into equal size pieces and place them on a baking sheet. Brush them with egg wash and sprinkle on some kosher salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown.

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Ham and Cheese Pretzel Brites

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 1 cup cheese (your favorite)
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 egg beaten
  • salt (for the top of the pretzels)

Directions

Step 1
Make the dough. In a stand mixer with the dough hook, combine flour and salt. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Add the yeast package to the warm water a long with the sugar. Turn on the mixer and let the water mix in with the dough until it's elastic. Place the dough into a greased bowl and let it sit for an hour.
Step 2
After an hour, take the dough and divide it into 4 separate pieces. Use a rolling pin to stretch the dough out length wise. Once the 4 pieces have been rolled out, place the ham in the center of the dough. Then the cheese. Fold the dough over the cheese and ham and crimp it shut. Cut the dough into equal size pieces.
Step 3
Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with salt.
Step 4
Bake at 400 for 15 minutes then enjoy.

Alton Brown’s Chocolate Fudge

I’ve been becoming quite the candy maker lately. I made some more caramels and fudge yesterday. I’ve tried making pumpkin fudge before, and I think there was something wrong with the recipe. It could be that the pumpkin caused the sugar mixture to start burning too early when it hasn’t even reached 234 degrees yet. I tried about 10 different times  to get that recipe to work and just couldn’t get it. That made me angry.  I decided to try a different fudge recipe this time from Alton Brown. This was super easy to follow and the chocolate mixture did not start burning before the temp reached to 234 degrees. I was pretty happy. You can add whatever you like to this fudge recipe. I added chopped pecans and marshmallows. Any type of dried fruit would be good, candy, cookies, you name it.

This is real fudge people. Not the fudge you make where all you do is melt some chocolate in a microwave or mix some kind of cake mix. I came across a “fudge” recipe the other day ago that just required some cake mix, butter and oil. I was kind of confused because they had called it fudge when the recipe didn’t require any sugar or chocolate to be boiled together until it reached a certain temp. Whatever I guess… it looked pretty easy though and I’m a fan of easy recipes. I also like the difficult recipes every now and then.

Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetenuped chocolate
  • 3` tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Directions

Step 1
Grease an 8 by 8-inch pan with butter. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, chocolate, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter, half-and-half, and corn syrup.
Step 2
Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and attach a candy thermometer to the pot. Cook until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F. Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter
Step 3
Do not stir. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes or until it drops to 130 degrees F. Add vanilla and nuts, if desired, and mix until well-blended and the shiny texture becomes matte. Pour into the prepared pan. Let sit in cool dry area until firm. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Alton Brown’s PIzza Dough

I just want to share with all you guys this awesome pizza dough recipe.  I was going to make some lasagna this fine evening, but I didn’t have enough cottage cheese. We had got this deal on fresh mozzarella at the grocery store (b1g1 free) this weekend and I really wanted to make something with it. Pizza it is! Had all the ingredients for that on hand. Using fresh mozzarella cheese on pizza changes everything. I used to use the bags of already shredded mozzarella cheese up until now.

You can’t go wrong with any of Alton Brown’s recipes either. Sorry, I’m an Alton Brown fan. The recipe says to cover and refrigerate the dough for 24 hours, but I was in a hurray so I skipped that part. You have to brush the pizza dough crust with a little bit olive oil to make it that golden brown color on top. For toppings use whatever you like, and please if you already haven’t yet try using fresh mozzarella instead of the shredded mozzarella in the bags. You will see a difference.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour (for bread machines)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons olive oil
Olive oil, for the pizza crust
Flour, for dusting the pizza peel

Directions

Place the sugar, salt, olive oil, water, 1 cup of flour, yeast, and remaining cup of flour into the mixer’s work bowl.

Using the paddle attachment, start the mixer on low and mix until the dough just comes together, forming a ball. Lube the hook attachment with cooking spray. Attach the hook to the mixer and knead for 15 minutes on medium speed.

Tear off a small piece of dough and flatten into a disc. Stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up to the light and look to see if the baker’s windowpane, or taut membrane, has formed. If the dough tears before it forms, knead the dough for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Roll the pizza dough into a smooth ball on the countertop. Place into a stainless steel or glass bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.

Place the pizza stone or tile onto the bottom of a cold oven and turn the oven to its highest temperature, about 500 degrees F. If the oven has coils on the oven floor, place the tile onto the lowest rack of the oven.

Homemade Peanut Butter

I was looking for something easy to make today, since I didn’t feel like baking. Well.. I take that back. I really wanted to bake but being it Easter and all there were so many desserts. Pie, shortcake, and lemon bars. I wanted to have all 3 of them.

Making your own peanut butter is so easy. That is, if you own a food processor. When I made this, the peanut butter kind of formed a ball at first, and I wondered what was going on. You have to let the food processor run until the peanut butter is smooth. That is key when making peanut butter. If you want even healthier peanut butter don’t add in any oil at all. It’s so good, I want to make my own nutella next!

Add about 15 oz of peanuts to a food processor or more, depending on how much peanut butter you want. Pulse until it looks like this:

 

Isn’t it amazing how something like this?

Can turn into this? ;)

Ingredients from Alton Brown

15 ounces shelled and skinned AB’s roasted peanuts, recipe follows
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil

Directions

Place the peanuts, salt and honey into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Place the lid back on and continue to process while slowly drizzling in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Place the peanut butter in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Alton Brown’s Meatloaf

Ben and I are fans of Alton Brown and just recently, Ben bought his cookbook online. We’ve been wanting to try the meatloaf recipe, but didn’t want to spend oodles of money on ground chuck and sirloin. I subbed extra lean ground turkey for this recipe and loved the taste. The meatloaf however was over cooked. I don’t know what my problem is with cooking meat to the right temperature? We had a thermomoter too and I was pulling it out to check what the temp was after 30 minutes. Not even close. I even googled to see what the temperature of the meat should be when the turkey was cooked through. One website said 165. Think that’s a little bit too high. Alton’s recipe said 155.

The great thing about this recipe is, that it’s only 3 points per slice using extra lean turkey. I sliced it into 10 equal servings. You could have 2 slices for only 6 points too or make a turkey meatloaf sandwich.

Chop your veggies.

Process the bread croutons and spices together until they look like this.

Next, process the vegetables after you’ve taken out the bread crumbs.

Mix everything together in a bowl. It’s ok to use your hands.

Shape your meat loaf into a loaf form so that it looks like the picture above. Use a bread pan to help you.

We had meatloaf and french fries.

Servings: 10 (That’s per loaf. This recipe makes 2, and I halved the recipe. )

Points Plus: 3 (per slice, cut into 10 equal portions)

 

Ingredients

6 ounces garlic-flavored croutons
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and broken
3 whole cloves garlic
1/2 red bell pepper
18 ounces ground chuck
18 ounces ground sirloin (I used extra lean ground turkey)
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg

For the glaze:

1/2 cup catsup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon honey

Directions

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a food processor bowl, combine croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme. Pulse until the mixture is of a fine texture. Place this mixture into a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed. Combine the vegetable mixture, ground sirloin, and ground chuck with the bread crumb mixture. Season the meat mixture with the kosher salt. Add the egg and combine thoroughly, but avoid squeezing the meat.

Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of the tray. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. Set the probe for 155 degrees.

Combine the catsup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes.

Good Eats Turkey Brine

Sorry, I don’t have a beautiful picture of a roast turkey. I had my Mom and Grandma over for a Turkey dinner last night and didn’t really get the time to take pictures of the turkey breast after it came out of the oven.

The only proper way to cook a turkey is by brining it. We watched Alton Brown do it on his show one year, and we’ve never cooked a turkey a different way since. This recipe on Food Netowrk has over 3,000 reviews for it! That tells you it’s good, right there.

Brining reminds me of another method of marinating. You soak the turkey for a day in the fridge with water, salt, and whatever spices/herbs you chose to add in there. It makes the best juiciest turkey ever. It’s also a healthy way of cooking a turkey, instead of slathering a ton of butter all over the outside of the turkey. I’m not really sure how to calculate the points for this since it’s just marinade and some of the salt/juices ends up not coating the whole entire chicken, so Sorry about that. For a turkey breast you cook the turkey at 325/350 for 20 minutes. For every pound add on an extra 20 minutes.

Ingredients from Alton Brown

  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil

Directions

2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you’d like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Alton Brown’s French Toast + Maple Chipotle Bacon

Ingredients

1 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread
4 tablespoons butter

Directions

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

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Tonight, I think I made some of the BEST french toast I’ve ever had. Too bad Ben didn’t get to have any of it, he’s still at work but is getting dinner though. He would have probably liked this too, and it’s by one of his favorites: Alton Brown. This french toast is so rich, and custardy. I don’t even know if that is a word. While I was eating it I couldn’t help but squeal with delight the way Giada does on her show. It was that good! From now on, I’m going to be making french toast Alton Brown’s way.

I also made some bacon. We had some ground chipotle chile on our sweet potato fries for dinner on Saturday night, and I thought that would be good on the bacon with some maple syrup. Sweet and spicy! Sure enough it was. You have to be careful about how much chipotle you use too, because I had put way too much on the sweet potato fries and couldn’t eat the rest. I put just enough on the slices of bacon. YUM!!!

Alton Brown's Pork Wellington and mashed Sweet Potatoes

Well, I have to thank Mr. Alton Brown for this good supper that we had tonight. The Chipotle chilies added a nice South West flavor (notice how I didn’t say kick like Geeny Neely does all the time) to the sweet potatoes. He probably stole that idea from Bobby Flay (just kidding) ;) I don’t mind sweet potatoes, even though they are healthier, I do prefer my potatoes over sweet potatoes.

The Pork Wellington was very good also. I have never had puff pastry before and it tasted really good around the pork. You really can’t go wrong with the flavors. Instead of dried apples which we couldn’t find, we used dried apricots instead. I don’t think Sandra Lee would agree with this meal since we had to buy 3 3 oz packages of proscioutto ham, which cost about 3.99 each. Then the puff pastry was only 4.98 per 2 sheets. The pork was about 7.00 and the fresh thyme 2.00. Which totaled about 26.14!!!! That isn’t a very money saving meal. Being able to say that you have made pork wellington is an experience though. :)

Pork Wellington

Pork Wellington

Ingredients

1 whole egg
1 tablespoon water
1-ounce dried apple rings
1 whole pork tenderloin, approximately 1 pound
4 1/2 ounces thinly slice prosciutto ham
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed completely
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

Directions

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat to 400 degrees F.

Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl and set aside. Place the apple rings into the bowl of a mini food processor and process for 30 to 45 seconds or until they are the size of a medium dice. Set aside.

Trim the pork tenderloin of any excess fat and silver skin. Slice the tenderloin down the middle lengthwise, creating 2 separate pieces. Lay the tenderloin pieces next to each other head to tail, so when laid back together they are the same size at the ends.

Lay out a 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment paper on the counter and arrange the pieces of prosciutto in the center, overlapping them enough to create solid layer that is as long as the tenderloin. Top with a second piece of parchment, and using a rolling pin, roll over the prosciutto to help adhere the pieces to each other. Remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the prosciutto with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Set the tenderloin down the middle of the prosciutto. Spread the dried apples in between the 2 pieces of tenderloin and push back together so the apples are held between them. Using the parchment paper to assist, wrap the prosciutto around the tenderloin to completely enclose in a package.

Sprinkle the counter with flour and roll out the pastry to 12 by 14 inches. Spread the mustard thinly in the center of pastry and lay the prosciutto wrapped tenderloin in the center of the pastry on the mustard. Fold the puff pastry up and over the top of the tenderloin, then roll to completely enclose, brushing the edges of the pastry with the egg wash in order to seal. Turn the tenderloin over so the side of the tenderloin with the double thickness of pastry is underneath. Pinch the ends of the pastry to seal.

Brush the entire pastry with the egg wash. Place the tenderloin on a parchment lined half sheet pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees F.

Remove the tenderloin from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 whole canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can of peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Put cubed potatoes into steamer basket and place steamer into a large pot of simmering water that is no closer than 2 inches from the bottom of basket. Allow to steam for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add butter to potatoes and mash with potato masher. Add peppers, sauce, and salt and continue mashing to combine. Serve immediately.