Jalapeño Popper Cheesy Stuffed Pretzel Bites

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It’s been a minute since I made these. These poppers from The Slow Roasted Italian were one of my contributions to the Super Bowl spread back in February, but with March Madness back in full gear this weekend, I though some cheesy game food made sense.

But honestly, it’s not like I really need a special occasion for these when you’re talking cheese + beer + japaenos + salty pretzels. Just maybe someone to help us eat them!

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Making these pretzel bites went much more smoothly than the last time I tried making homemade pretzel buns. Let’s just say adding baking soda to boiling water can end up like those volcanos you used to make with baking soda and vinegar as a kid. I was seriously cleaning baking soda off my stove and oven forever (it was even between the glass on the oven door). So as you can imagine, I appreciated that this recipe added baking soda to hot water in a bowl. And I can promise you I set that bowl in the sink when I added it just in case!

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The dough for these bites starts off using a beer rather than water for the main liquid in the dough. The recipe was written using a Blue Moon, however I used a Belgain white beer. I think you could work with anything lighter in the lager-hefeweisen class, although I’m not sure you would want to go too dark or too hoppy for this recipe. If you’d rather not try the beer, the original poster comments that you could substitute water or milk.

Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Cheesy Pretzel Bites
From The Slow Roasted Italian

Ingredients:
12 ounces warm light beer warmed in the microwave to 110-120 degrees
2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
12 ounces of bacon, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 (4oz) can diced jalapenos (can sub chopped green chiles)
1 large egg
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. Kosher salt plus more for pretzel tops
2 Tbsp. baking soda
2 cups water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Pour beer into a microwave-safe bowl and heat until it reaches 110-120 degrees F. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Add sugar and stir. Allow the yeast mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy and smells like yeast.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix cheese, cooked bacon, and jalapeños.

In a small bowl, beat egg and set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Add flour and salt to the mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on to speed 1 for 3-5 minutes until the dough comes together in 1 ball. Add more flour a tablespoon at a time as needed if the bread is too sticky. Turn the speed up to 2 and add flour slowly (1 tablespoon at a time) until the dough is no longer tacky, about 1-2 minutes. Take the dough out of the mixer and form into a ball. In order to divide the dough in pieces, first quarter  the dough. Roll each quarter into a fat log. Cut the log into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a long and cut into 3 more pieces. When you are done, you should have 36 pieces.

Fill a medium bowl with 2 cups of hot water and SLOWLY add baking soda. Place the baking sheet, baking soda after, and the cheese mixture on the counter within reach.

Roll each dough piece into a ball and then flatten it into a circle. Add 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture in the center. Carefully pull each side over the cheese and pinch to seal the cheese mixture completely inside. Set aside until you have 3 stuffed balls. Transfer the 3 stuffed balls into the hot water mixture. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and set on the baking pan. Continue until you have filled all the dough pieces. Brush egg wash onto the balls and sprinkle with course salt.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until the tops are browned. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

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Sweet potatoes seem to be a devisive ingredient. It seems you either love them or hate them. Maybe it’s the marshmallow-loaded Thanksgiving side dish that gives them a bad day? (But let’s be honest. I LOVE that too… in its own right). Thankfully here, the hubbs and I are both on board with sweet potatoes, especially roasted. I think I could eat those for dinner alone!

So, as you can see, the topping of this Sheperd’s Pie from Cookin’ Canuck definitely got my attention. One thing I tend not to do with either normal potatoes or sweet potatoes at home is make mashed potatoes. I don’t really have a good reason why. I guess somehow in my mind I made it out to be a complicated process, but honestly, it’s probably faster than many other methods of cooking them.

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At work, I’ve shifted over to 10-hr days. On one hand, I’m loving the extra day off, but as the primary cook in the house, I’ve been looking for ways to make dinner a little easier on the hubbs. Especially in the winter where its not quite as easy for him to just grill everynight. Putting this dish together was an easy process, and it allowed for me to do all the assembly (up to the final bake) the day before. For a busy night or a spouse roommate who doesn’t like to cook as much, all they have to do is bake it!

And, on top of easy… it was delicious. I think the hubbs ate half the pan 🙂

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I will say, I did use the bison meat, but didn’t read the package well enough, so I only made the pie with 12oz of meat. If you can’t find bison or would prefer beef, I’m reasonably certain this could be made with ground beef as well. It seems that anywhere from 3/4 to 1-1/2 lbs of meat would work, just dependent on how much food you’d like and ease for package sizes, etc.

(Printable Recipe)

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck

Ingredients:

For the sweet potato topping:
1-1/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into ~1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

For the filling:
2 tsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 to 1-1/2 lbs. ground bison or ground beef
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried crushed rosemary
1 cup beef broth
1 cup frozen peas

For the sweet potatoes:
Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the water and leave the sweet potatoes in the pan. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, salt and pepper.

For the filling:
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the onions and cook until they start to turn translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the meat, crumble while cooking, until cooked through. Add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth and frozen peas. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the meat mixture to a baking dish. I used a 1-1/2 qt dish. A square pan would also likely work, although a 8×8 pan will be full. Cover with the mashed sweet potaotes ensuring all edges are covered. At this time, the dish can be refrigerated to bake (wouldn’t leave it more than 1-2 days) or baked immediately at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Steel Cut Oatmeal

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It seems like I keep going on a “break” and then coming back again. I’ve decided that, if nothing else, I’d like to start blogging again as a mechanism of saving the recipes that I make all the time. Let’s be honest. It’s a good referene, especially when I can pull up a recipe while out and about (clarification: I’m at the store and completely forgot to check if I need any ingredients for the recipe I’m making). There may or may not be any frequency to my posts, but here’s hoping the ones that go up are our ‘keepers’.

Both of us start our jobs really early here. The hubbs goes in at 5:30. I start at 6:30. Considering neither one of us are the best morning people, you can imagine that this translates into both of us eat breakfast at work. Over the last few months, we both fell into the habit of grabbing a granola/protein bar for breakfast for convienence. One of the downsides (I realize there are many), I would be hungry again in a couple hours. Regardless of how you look at it, 9:00-9:30 is too early for lunch.

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In an effort to get back to more ‘real’ breakfast food, I decided to return to my old breakfast of choice, oatmeal. For years, I would make my own oats at home (usually microwaved) with cinnamon and unsweetened applesauce. I still do this on occasion, however I really enjoy it when I plan ahead enough to have a pot of these steel cut oats prepared.

They probably take 35-40 minutes from start to clean-up, however much of this is hands-off time. The trade-off for that time is that I get 4 servings of pre-prepared oatmeal that just has to be heated up in the microwave at 6:30 in the morning. Perfect. Most of the time, I just reheat, however you can add a splash of milk or water when reheating if you want more of a creamy texture. Top with blueberries (fresh or frozen, if frozen just add before heating) and/or a sliced banana, and I’m a happy (and full) girl!

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(Printable Recipe)

Steel Cut Oatmeal
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients: (about 4 servings)
1 cup steel cut oats
3-1/2 cups water
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of milk or almond milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the steel cut oats and salt. Stir.

Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 20 minutes. You will need to stir the pot occasionally or the oats will stick to the pan.

When the oats start to thicken. Add the milk, applesauce, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the oats thicken to your desired consistency.

You can serve immediately or measure out into 4 containers. If saving, refrigerate until use. Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes (can add a splash of milk or water if desired). Top as desired. Enjoy!

Mom’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These. These are the chocolate chip cookies I grew up eating. See, in our house growing up, the chewier the better. While it’s probably not the recipe that I first made growing up (Mom – which recipe did we use then?!?), this is the recipe I made time and time again when I lived with my parents. The recipe that Mom used to bring to the track meets in college.

The recipe that I temporarily lost… I have a bunch of home/family recipes saved as .pdf documents on a laptop that won’t currently turn on. So, as you can imagine, I’ve been calling and texting my parents recently asking for several different recipes. I really need to get those files off that computer and onto something more secure!

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The secret in this recipe is the use of pudding mix in the dough. You’ll notice the recipe calls for much less sugar than a typical recipe because it gets some of the sweetness from the mix. It also keeps the cookies soft and chewy. These cookies are suppose to be soft, so if you’re going to error on a side while baking them, error on underbaking. After the first batch or so, Mom has been known to only leave them in the oven for 6-7 minutes sometimes! On a similar note, you’ll want to leave them on the pan to cool for several minutes before removing them to a rack or papertowel to cool completely. Otherwise, you’ll end up with what we called a “trainwreck” cookie. And those… they just have to be eaten immediately 🙂

I added some butterscotch chips into the dough this time as I was craving them. We’ve used all kinds of combinations throughout the years, and any combo of milk, dark, white, and/or butterscotch chips has all been delicious.

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Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Mom’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Mom

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
2-1/4 cups flour, or more to consistency
1 pkg. milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add pudding mix. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and mix well after each egg. Add vanilla and mix.

Combine the flour and baking soda and mix. If the dough seems too sticky, you can add flour 1/8-1/4 cup at a time until you can form it into balls. Stir in chocolate chips.

Form into balls and press down slightly to flatten the dough once on the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies just appear ‘set’. Allow to cool on the pan for severeal minutes before removing to a rack.

Meal Plan – Week 6

Warmer, dry weather (finally!) has me wanting to keep things light and quick this week. Plus, the new recipes are from two of my favorite blogs. Be sure to check them out!

Here’s what I’m thinking for a menu plan. Plus input from the hubbs that he wants a specific pizza.

BBQ Chicken Pizza – As long as he’s cooking it, I will happily eat BBQ chicken pizza weekly! I may actually get pictures of it this time so I can post this variation on the blog!

Tequila Lime Flank Steak Fajita Salad with Chile Lime Vinaigrette from How Sweet It Is- Lots of words. Looks amazing! And come on, chips?!?

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Greek Chicken Pitas – Yes, repeating again. These are just SO good (secret: it’s all the sauce)!

Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing – More SPRELLY!

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Artichoke Salsa and Roasted Aspargus – I’m loving that we’ve been able to get asparagus on sale recently.

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Copycat Panera Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad

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This salad. I have been obsessed with this summery salad since it first debued at Panera. Berries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, feta cheese, and grilled chicken. I’ve tried for years to re-create it at home. Even posting a similar one here, although I never have been able to get the dressing quite right at home.

So, you can guess how excited I was a year or so ago when I found the Panera poppyseed dressing in the refrigerator section at Target (note: I can also buy it at Kroger, although it is usually slightly less expensive at Target).

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I now have the hubbs hooked on it too. I’m not kidding when I say we ate this weekly until we had to retire the grill for the winter. Now that the warmer weather is creaping back and berries are creaping back into the stores, we’ve picked that habit back up. It is now at the point where I prefer our homemade version — we add WAY more fruit!

The recipe is pretty quick and easy. Washing berries, draining the pineapple and mandarin oranges, and grilling the chicken. We use a variety of berries depending on store sales/which ones look better, but the traditional is strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. You’ll notice blackberries replacing the blueberries in this photo. Use whichever berries you like! As for the salad, you can cut up an entire head of Romaine lettuce or you can buy the pre-mixed salad mixes. We honestly do both depending on the time we have available. You could even use pre-grilled chicken to make this a layer and go type of dinner.

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Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Copycat Panera Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad
Adapted from Panera/The Cookin’ Chemist Original

Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1-2 heads of Romaine lettuce (or other pre-mixed greens), washed and chopped
1 (16 oz) pkg. strawberries, rinsed and sliced
2 (6 oz) pkg. rasberries, rinsed
2 (6 oz) pkg. blueberries, rinsed
1 (15 oz) can pineapple tidbits (or pieces), drained
2 (8 oz) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 pkg. feta cheese
Panera Poppyseed Dressing

Preheat the grill. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts. Grill until cooked through. Let set for 5 minutes. Slice.

Divide the salad greens between 4 plates (we usually do 2 plates and 2 bowls for lunches). Top with the berries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, pecans, and feta cheese. Top with the sliced chicken. Add dressing in desired amounts.

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Hopefull where you are it’s looking like a good weekend. Ugh, here… one of the city’s bigger races, the Monument Ave 10K is this weekend, and the weather report at race time on Saturday is low-30’s with a 50% chance of a rain/snow mix PLUS 20-25mph winds. I may “accidentally” oversleep…

All I want is ONE dry race. I am apparently some type of black cloud for good race day weather.

So if your weather looks like ours, and you’d rather stay inside, here’s a few links to check out.

Banana Pup Pops on Bitz & Giggles – My dogs would freak out over these. Let’s be honest… they freak out over anything frozen, including plain ice. This might be a fun summer project.

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Lemon Yogurt Poppy Seed Bread from Valerie’s Kitchen – My maternal grandmother used to make some type of poppy seed bread that I’ve never quite been able to recreate. Maybe it’s just the “grandma’s is better” philosophy, but this one looks to be worth a try.

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This Unruly Mess I’ve Made by Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis – My husband and I saw these two (and crew) in concert in January. This is the new album, and I have been listening to many of these songs on repeat!

This bathroom idea. The wallpaper? I love this look. Would I hate it in a few years? And the reno was in Phoenix?!?

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Healthier General Tso’s Chicken by Nutmeg Nanny – The hubbs loves stir fries, although his only requirement is that the sauce be thick enough to actually coat the meat and vegetables. The photos of this one look like it fits the bill (and healthier take-out fake-outs, always a win).

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Monkey Squares by The Girl Who Ate Everything – I have So. Many. Bananas. It doesn’t help that we eat them almost daily (so we always buy them), but neither of us will touch them as soon as there is a spot on the peel. That is unless they are mixed with copious amounts of butter and sugar and subsequently baked. Banana cake plus browned butter frosting. Sounds amazing. And a double win if I end up using bananas for the dogs above and for us in these babies!

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100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

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I did it! The hubbs finally admitted my pizza crust was better than Trader Joe’s. I think it was the bubbles that got him (he loves when there are bubbles in a pizza crust when it bakes).

Either that or the fact that this crust can stand up to some serious pizza toppings.

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I’m not quite sure why I fell off the pizza dough bandwagon. At one point, when I was blogging more previously, I was pretty good about keeping some dough on hand. The great thing about pizza dough is that you can prep it, allow it to rise for the first time, and freeze it until you’re ready to use it.

This recipe makes 2 crusts, although they end up more of a hand-tossed style on thickness, so you might be able to stretch it into 3 pizzas if you really like a cracker thin crust. There’s a couple things we really like about this recipe. The first is that it is 100% whole wheat. The whole wheat version from Trader Joe’s definitely has its place in our house, but by the list of ingredients, it seems it’s probably about 50:50 whole wheat-white flour. The second is that it is so easy to work with when prepping the pizza. This is actually probably the winning factor for the hubbs since he’s the pizza baking guru in the house.

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Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients:
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1-1/2 Tbsp. (or 2 pkts) of active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of the mixer. Using the dough hook, mix on low until the ingredients are well combined and the dough has been allowed to kneed, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove the dough, form into a ball, and place in a covered bowl in a warm, draft-free place. If I am baking anything in the oven, I usually cover the mixer bowl with a towel and set it on the stove top. Allow to rise for 60-90 minutes or until the dough begins to “flatten” on top.

Form into two equal balls of dough. At this point, the dough can be rolled out to be used immediately for a pizza or frozen. If freezing, wrap in plastic wrap and then place in a freezer ziploc bag. Remove from the freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for 3-4 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator) when ready to use.

Meal Plan – Week 5

Slight randomness in this, but one of our dogs has a stuffed animal (Jenna, if you’re reading this, it is Mr. Bear) that has developed a worn-out hole in his belly. I’ve been putting off fixing it for a little bit because I am horrible with a needle and thread. In all seriousness, I sewed my supplies ziplock bag to my tote bag when I took Home Economics in middle school. The pup was playing with it tonight, and I felt really bad about not having Mr. Bear in one piece. I really need to attempt to fix it… I’m probably better off talking one of the surgery residents at work into “suturing” his belly closed. Anyone have any good sewing tips?

Nonetheless, the hubbs is off tomorrow and headed to get groceries, so here’s our list:

Ready Spaghetti – It’s Monument Ave 10K week. Pasta! This is a recipe from a child-geared cookbook I had as a kid. It’s not gourmet, but provides more of a homemade sauce in a pretty quick matter. Plus, I just like it every once and awhile.

15 Minute Avocado Caprese Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette from Joyful Helathy Eats.

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Chicken Brauts – We have buns and sour kraut to use.

Copycat Panera Grilled Chicken and Berry Salad – I’ve made a similar one of these before, but this one is slightly different. And, now you can buy the Panera Poppy Seed dressing.

BBQ Chicken Pizza – Slightly different than my other recipe. This is an at home copycat from a brewery pizza in Tempe, AZ. It’ll always be slightly inferior as my BBQ sauce isn’t made from their stout.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! After missing last week, I wanted to be sure to be on top of this one. If you’re reading this first thing in the morning, then we may not have left yet, but if it’s mid-morning on the East Coast, you can envision us driving north blaring 90’s pop music!

Bring on the Hot Chocolate 15K (just hope I have a solid 9 miles left in my legs after the rest of the tri training this week)!

Here’s what I’m loving:

I know I’m a touch late on the board here, but is anyone else excited about the smaller iPhone? I semi-hate how big phones have gotten. All I want is for it to fit in my pocket!

These cookies from Picky Palate. Butterscotch is my favorite. In fact, oatmeal scotchies are my favorite type of cookies for that reason. I’m going to have to make these!

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This quote may need to be the theme of the weekend 🙂

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We’ve both been craving Greek food after eating at a local Greek restaurant here in town a couple weekends ago. With the warmer weather blessing us recently, these skewers from Recipe Runner may also need to make an appearance on the dinner menu.

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Lastly, someone needs to give me a kick in the butt to finally try making these. I had some time to kill in the airport recently, so I re-arranged some Pinterest boards. Now my macaron board is staring me in the face. Maybe these strawberry colada ones guys from Taste and Tell?

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