Monday, March 31, 2014

homemade soft pretzels (auntie anne's copycat recipe)


whenever we walk through the mall, i always smell the aroma of warm pretzels wafting from the auntie anne's pretzel store.  i haven't bought a pretzel from auntie anne's in years, but they always smell so good.  so, i was intrigued when i found a copycat recipe to make your own auntie anne's pretzels at home.

when we made these pretzels, we made them into different types of pretzels.  we cut some into small bite-sized pieces, and formed some into traditionally-shaped pretzels.  we salted half of the pretzels and dipped them in mustard and cheese, and we covered the other half in cinnamon sugar.  we even wrapped some of the pretzel dough around hot dogs to make pretzel dogs too!

all of them were so good.  there's absolutely no reason to buy pretzels at the mall when you can make your own right at home!

this recipe made a bunch of pretzels, which is fine if you are cooking for a crowd.  since we are only two people, we put the extra pretzels in ziploc bags and froze them until we were ready to eat them.  they reheated really well!

bite-sized pretzels . . .


traditionally-shaped large pretzels . . .


pretzel dogs . . .


homemade soft pretzels (auntie anne's copycat recipe)
prep time: 10-15 minutes
rising time: 1 hour
baking time: 7-10 minutes
yields: 12 large pretzels
adapted from yammie's noshery

ingredients:
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons active-dry yeast
6 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup warm water

directions:
warm the milk until it is between 110-115 degrees F.  stir the yeast into the warm milk and let it sit for 3 minutes.  add the milk, yeast, melted butter, and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.  add the flour, one cup at a time, and mix until the flour is incorporated and forms into a dough.  kneed for about 10 minutes.  place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.  allow the dough to rise for 1 hour in a warm place, until doubled in size.

preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.  combine the warm water and baking soda in a wide and shallow bowl.  punch down the dough and divide it into 12 even portions.  roll each portion of dough into a very thin and long rope, then either form the dough into a pretzel shape or cut it into small pretzel bites.  dip the dough into the water and baking soda mixture, then place on a greased baking sheet.  bake for 7-10 minutes, or until brown.  once baked, brush each pretzel with melted butter and sprinkle with either salt or cinnamon sugar.


enjoy!
love, laurie

Friday, March 28, 2014

tissues, vitamin c, and a kitten


i'm totally exhausted from the upper-respiratory infection / head cold that i have been fighting this week.  today we both decided to take a sick day and stay home from work.  leko is in charge of making us feel better today, and he takes his job very seriously.  i snapped this picture on my phone of him sleeping.  he is such a cutie!  hopefully, we will be able to rest up and to get ourselves healthy again since we have such busy schedules the next few weeks.

have a good weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, March 27, 2014

i want a do over.


i managed to make it through the entire winter without getting sick.  i was so proud of myself for keeping myself healthy and out of the doctor's office this season.  this week, whatever has been going around finally caught up with me, and i've been battling an upper-respiratory infection.  i decided to take myself to the doctor this morning before work and ended up doing a number on my car.  (there should be some type of law saying that you shouldn't be allowed to drive when you are sick.)  a medical bill and a car-repair bill all within an hour of waking up this morning.  i want a do over, please.  where is the reset button on today?

i hope your day is going better than mine.
love, laurie

{image source}

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

d.i.y. hello apparel sweatshirt


there are a ton of cute graphic print sweatshirts for sale on the internet these days.  however, most of them are crazy expensive.  for example, i love this green sweatshirt from hello apparel . . . but it is $50!  i know it's cute and all, but at that price you have got to be kidding me.  that's entirely too much money for a sweatshirt.

since i'm not willing to shell out fifty buckaroos on the real deal, i decided to make my own.  you may remember that i shared a tutorial last march for how to make your own graphic print sweatshirt.  i followed those same steps and made my own hello apparel sweatshirt!

this project was fun to do, and cost just a fraction of the price of the real one.  i bought a sweater on clearance at target for only $2.24 and i used all of the same supplies that i had leftover from when i made my happy camper sweatshirt last year.

you can't beat an inexpensive and fun project!

 ^just $2.24 for this sweatshirt!  i couldn't believe it!^
 ^i drew the design on freezer paper with a pencil^
^then i used an exacto knife to cut out the letters^
^i ironed the freezer paper onto the sweatshirt^
^first coat of paint^
^second coat of paint^
^i let the paint dry overnight, then i peeled off the freezer paper^
^voila!^
there you have it!
super simple and super cute!

love, laurie

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

strawberry blueberry yogurt smoothie


i was rummaging through the freezer the other day and found some frozen strawberries and frozen blueberries.  since they had been in there for a while, i decided to make a smoothie to use them up.  i blended them with vanilla yogurt and milk, and it was such a yummy combination.  i love a good smoothie!

this can hardly be called a recipe because i didn't even measure anything.  i just put a handful of each type of berry in the blender with a few spoonfuls of yogurt and some milk.  i added more milk as needed until i reached the consistency i wanted.  (i tend to like my smoothies thick.)


strawberry blueberry yogurt smoothie
total time: 5 minutes
yields: 1 smoothie

ingredients:
frozen strawberries
frozen blueberries
low-fat vanilla yogurt
skim milk

directions:
blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth.

enjoy!
love, laurie

Monday, March 24, 2014

ex-haust-ed.


the past few weeks have been so hectic.  our schedules have been crazy busy and we have been running nonstop.  i found this image the other day and it made me laugh because it is exactly how i feel lately.  there are way too many "tabs" open in my brain right now.  needless to say, we are both totally exhausted.

this weekend we wrapped up a major project that we have been working on for the past few months.  luckily, we were able to squeeze in a few hours of sleep yesterday before we begin our next big project today.  it doesn't look like our schedules are going to ease up any time soon.  we know how to keep ourselves busy, that's for sure!

happy monday!
love, laurie

Friday, March 21, 2014

hair cut!


when i get busy, my hair gets neglected.  it's been over five months since the last time i got my hair cut, and i noticed that my hair was in need of a little help.  so, yesterday i got my hair cut!

i absolutely love my hair stylist.  she always does such a great job.  it's amazing how much healthier and lighter my hair feels now!  (she cut off over 8 inches!)  yesterday was the first official day of spring, so getting my hair cut was a nice way to say goodbye to winter and to welcome spring!

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, March 20, 2014

minestrone soup


today is officially the first day of spring, but it doesn't look or feel like spring at all.  in fact the weather has been really cold and rainy the last few days.  it has been so depressing.

the perfect thing to warm you up on a damp day is a bowl of soup!  i made this minestrone soup this past weekend, and we have been eating it for dinner this week after work.  i love coming home and just having to heat up a bowl of soup after a crazy day.  it makes life easy when you are super busy.


this soup is absolutely delicious.  ryan could not stop raving about how much he liked it.

i'm going to let you in on a little secret . . . what makes this soup so good is the parmesan cheese rind.  it totally enhances the flavor of the soup.  i'm telling you, it's a game changer.

we served our soup with some freshly grated parmesan cheese on top, and a big slice of rosemary bread.  it was so good!  we will definitely be making this soup again soon!


minestrone soup
prep time: 5-10 minutes
cooking time: 25-30 minutes
yields: 6 servings
adapted from the daily muse

ingredients:
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz.) can san marzano whole peeled tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (32 oz.) box low-sodium vegetable stock
1 leftover parmesan cheese rind
1 cup dry ditalini pasta
salt and pepper to taste

directions:
in a large soup pot, saute the onion and carrots in the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened.  add the garlic and cook for another minute.  season with salt and pepper.  dice the tomatoes, then add the tomatoes and the tomato juice from the can to the pot along with the beans, rosemary, thyme, and red pepper flakes.  stir in the vegetable stock.  add a leftover parmesan cheese rind and let the soup simmer until the rind gets droopy.  add the dry pasta and cook for 15-18 minutes, until the pasta is fully cooked.  remove the parmesan cheese rind and throw it away.  season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  serve warm with freshly grated parmesan cheese on top.  


enjoy!
love, laurie

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

happy birthday!


happy 65th birthday today to ryan's mom!

love, laurie

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

irish soda bread scones


i mentioned yesterday that i'm not irish, so i tend to not really celebrate st. patrick's day at all.  however, once in a while i do get a craving for irish soda bread.

so, in honor of st. patrick's day i decided to be festive and to make some irish soda bread.  instead of making it into a loaf, i made it into scones.


this recipe was so easy.  honestly, it has to be the simplest "bread" recipe that i have ever made.  there are only a handful of ingredients, and they come together in just a few moments to make the most delicious scones.

buttermilk is brushed on these scones before they bake to give them a wonderful crust on the outside, and the butter inside makes them perfectly flaky.

seriously, these things are addictive.  i made them on saturday morning, and we polished them off in no time.  they are great with some scrabbled eggs for breakfast, or just as a treat with a cup of coffee or tea.

this recipe is a keeper for sure.  i can't wait to make these again!


irish soda bread scones
prep time: 15 minutes
baking time: 20-25 minutes
yields: 6 scones
adapted from a cozy kitchen

ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter, cold
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup buttermilk

directions:
preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  in a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and sugar.  using a box grater, grate the cold butter into the dry ingredients.  cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the butter is well distributed.  add the raisins and toss to coat them in the flour.  make a well in the center of the mixture, and pour in the buttermilk.  use a spatula to incorporate the buttermilk into the flour mixture.  turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it comes together.  form the dough into a circular disk approximately 8-9 inches in diameter.  cut the dough evenly into 6 triangles.  place the triangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  freeze the triangles on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.  remove the baking sheet from the freezer, and brush the triangles with buttermilk.  sprinkle the tops with a bit of salt and granulated sugar.  bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.  serve warm with butter.

enjoy!
love, laurie

Monday, March 17, 2014

shamrock cut-out sugar cookies


happy st. patrick's day!  i'm not irish, so i tend not to celebrate st. patty's day at all.  however, i couldn't resist an excuse to bake some treats to bring into work for my co-workers today.  so, i made sugar cookies in the shape of shamrocks.

if you're looking for a good recipe for cut-out sugar cookies, look no further.  i have made this recipe on several different occasions, and it turns out perfectly every time.  it makes the best sugar cookies for decorating, which is great for holidays, birthdays, wedding/baby showers, etc.

to be festive, i decorated them with green royal icing and sprinkled them with some green sugar crystals too.


cut-out sugar cookies
prep time: 10-15 minutes
baking time: 10-12 minutes
yields: approximately 30 cookies
adapted from bake at 350

ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, cold
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

directions:
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  cut the cold butter into small pieces and place in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  cream the butter and sugar together.  add the egg and vanilla.  beat well until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  sift the flour and baking powder together.  gradually add the flour mixture and beat until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.  turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it together with your hands.  roll the dough out (about 1/4 inch thick) and cut into shapes.  place the cut-out shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  freeze the cut-out shapes on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then bake for 10-12 minutes.  once baked, allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.  decorate as desired.


enjoy!
love, laurie

Friday, March 14, 2014

pi(e) day


today is 3-14 which means that it's pi day.  or, as the baker in me likes to call it, pie day!  i say we just skip the math problems today and dig into a slice of pie instead.  i could go for a slice of just about any kind of pie right now . . . banoffee pieclassic apple piedeep dish apple piestrawberry pieroasted strawberry mousse piepumpkin pielemon clementine pie, peaches and cream pieice cream pie, or even chicken pot pie.  you could even watch a movie about pie today too!

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, March 13, 2014

kitchen basics: measurement equivalents

next in our kitchen basics series, we're talking about measurement equivalents.  have you ever read a recipe that calls for 3 oz. and wondered how many tablespoons or teaspoons that equals?  well, i came up with this little chart that breaks it down for you.  hope you find it helpful!


. . .

are there any kitchen tips/tricks that you would like to learn?  leave a comment or send me an email to let me know what you would like to see next in the kitchen basics series.

happy cooking!
love, laurie

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

coconut waffles


this dreary winter weather is getting us down.  we're dreaming of warmer temperatures and longing for tropical weather.  since it doesn't seem to show signs of turning tropical any time soon, we decided to make a tropical breakfast to cheer us up.

when i think of tropical getaways, coconuts always come to mind.  we absolutely loved the coconut pancakes we made a few weeks ago, so we were excited to make some coconut waffles.  they were just as good as the pancakes, and the perfect thing to get us out of our winter funk.

this recipe made several waffles, so we had some left over.  we stored them in ziploc bags and then kept them in the freezer.  all you have to do it put them in the toaster to reheat them when you are ready to eat them again.  super easy!

we covered our coconut waffles in homemade strawberry syrup.  (i just cooked some frozen strawberries in a saucepan with a little bit of sugar and water until they reduced into a syrup.)  such a yummy combination!


coconut waffles
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 4-5 minutes per waffle (depending on your waffle iron)
yields: 4 servings
adapted from foodie crush

ingredients:
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup roasted coconut chips

directions:
preheat your waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions.  in a bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, and sugar.  set aside.  in a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, eggs, and oil.  add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.  fold in the shredded coconut.

pour enough batter into the waffle iron to just barely cover the waffle grid (usually about 1/2 cup of batter per waffle).  cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the waffles are golden brown.  once cooked, transfer the waffles to a baking sheet and keep them in a warm oven while you prepare the remaining waffles.  top with roasted coconut chips or additional shredded coconut.  serve warm with maple syrup and/or fruit.

enjoy!
love, laurie

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

my sewing "helper"

the ipad sleeves that i made back in january got me in the mood to break out the sewing machine more often.  so, i have been working on a few sewing projects lately. 

last night i was working on a sewing project, and leko decided that he was going to help me.  he is absolutely fascinated with the sewing machine, and he gets so excited whenever i bring it out to use it (mainly because he loves to watch the thread as it moves).  

i was concentrating on the fabric that i was sewing, and all of a sudden i realized that there was some resistance on the thread.  i looked up and found leko "helping" to guide the thread through the sewing machine.  it was so funny, i just couldn't resist taking a few pictures . . .     


he started off by playing with it pretty gently, then he got sassy and bit the spool of thread.  i told him that he couldn't eat the thread.  he got mad at me for stopping him and decided to get even by sitting directly on the fabric that i was sewing.  "go ahead and try to sew now, mom!"

since his little body was holding it down, i had to stop what i was doing.  i guess he showed me!


silly kitten!
love, laurie