Friday, March 28, 2014

March 28, 2014

Our Spring Break week flew by in a flash, though we still have the weekend ahead of us.  It has been a great week, and although we cooked a little, we primarily hung out and relaxed.  It has been really great - rejuvenating for all of us.  The break from school work, schedules and practices has been fabulous.  And now we are recharged and ready to get back to all of it!

This week we tried out some new snacks including 2 keepers: soft pretzel bites & banana muffins with streusal topping.  I also made more croutons and realized that I have never shared that quick recipe so that along with another tried and true recipe, rice pilaf, are also on this week's list.  We didn't try any new dinner entrees that earned keeper status but perhaps we will next week!

Happy Cooking!

New Recipes
Soft Pretzel Bites
Banana Muffins with Streusal Topping

Tried and True
DIY Croutons
Rice Pilaf

Pretzel Bites

*10.5 oz AP flour
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp sugar
* 1/4 oz yeast
* 7/8 - 1 cup water (less in summer, more in winter)
* 1 cup boiling water
* 2 tbsp baking soda
* coarse salt

1. Place the first 5 ingredients in a stand mixer bowl.  Beat with the paddle until well combined, and then switch to the bread hook  Knead the dough for 5 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth and quite slack.  Grease and flour a small bowl. Place the dough inside, and cover.  Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
2. While the dough is resting, combine the boiling water with the baking soda to dissolve it.  Set it aside to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. After the dough has rested, transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface.  Divide the dough into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece into a 12-15 inch rope.  Cut each rope into 10-15 pieces.
5. Pour the water and baking soda solution into a 9 x 13 pan.  Place the bites in the solution, and swish around.  Leave the bites in the solution for 3-4 minutes.  Transfer the bites to the parchment lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.
6. Bake the pretzel bites for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy immediately, or leave covered at room temperature to enjoy later.  Reheat briefly in the oven or microwave.

Pretty easy recipe!  And the kids loved that for a yeast dough it was a quick process - only one rise time.  They loved making and eating them!  Hannah suggested a nacho cheese sauce...maybe next time!  :)

Banana muffins with Streusal Topping

Ingredients for the muffins
* 2 cups of DIY Bisquick mix (or boxed Bisquick mix if you use that)
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
* 2/3 cup milk
* 1 egg, slightly beaten
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Ingredients for the topping
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 tbsp cold butter
* 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Mix all the muffin ingredients together.  Split evenly among greased muffin cups.
3. Mix the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Using a pastry cutter cut in the butter.  Sprinkle the topping over the batter.
4. Bake the muffins for 17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in the pans, then turn onto a wire rack.  Serve warm or room temperature.

We used skim milk, since we had that on hand, as well as the DIY Bisquick mix that we make.  These came out great, and our batter made 16.  Easy and delicious!  I also only used a little over 1 tbsp butter since that is what was in my fridge, and it worked out fine. 

DIY Croutons

* Bread, cubed
* Italian seasoning
* Garlic powder
* Cooking spray or olive oil

1. Place parchment on a baking sheet.  Spread the bread cubes out on the parchment.  Spray with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle the Italian seasoning and garlic powder on the bread cubes.
2. Cook in a preheated 300 F oven for 20 minutes, or until they have reached the desired level of "dried-out-ness".
3. Store in a covered container and use on salads, or crushed as part of chicken or fish breading.

What a great and easy way to use heels of bread, or ends of homemade loaves that have passed their prime.  So easy, very delicious, and very quick.  We loved these!  I've been making them on  a regular basis and we've been eating lots of salad!

Rice Pilaf

* 2 tbsp butter
* 1/2 onion, diced
* 1 cup rice
* 2 cups chicken broth
* 1 oz white wine (optional)
* salt and pepper to taste
* parsley, if you have it on hand

1. Melt the butter in a pan suitable for stove top and oven use.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Add the onions and cook until transparent.  Add the rice to glaze with the butter.
3. Add the broth and wine to the pan.  Bring to a boil.  Cover.
4. Move the covered pan into the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, and add a touch of parsley if you have it on hand.

My mother-in-law shared this recipe with me years ago and I am so glad she did!  We love this, and it is very easy.   Whenever the kids hear it is part of the meal plan they cheer!