Friday, August 30, 2013

Football Food: Pretzel Bites


I saw this recipe on beantown's blog and I knew it was right up my alley.  The recipe wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be, and it was really delicious.  It's also something you can make up in advance and stores well overnight, which is a plus when cooking for a crowd.  Make them mini and you get a lot of bang for the buck, and they go much further! 
So...if that fit's your criteria, here is the recipe for....
Pretzel Bites
Ingredients:  1 1/2 c. warm water, 2 T. brown sugar, 1pkg active dry yeast, 6 T. butter (melted), 2 1/2 t. salt, 4 1/2 – 5 c. flour, 2 qts water, 1/4 c. baking soda, 1 egg, beaten + 1 tbsp water, sea salt for topping
Directions:
1.  Mix brown sugar, yeast, melted butter and water. Give a quick mix,  let sit for 5 minutes or until slightly foamy.
2.  Add salt and flour to wet mixture. Mix on low speed with a dough hook (I did this part by hand), gradually increasing the speed to medium. Continue mixing until all flour is encorporated and the dough is pulling away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. If needed, add more flour until the dough pulls away from the bowl and is no longer really sticky. Transfer dough to a clean work area, knead by hand for 3-5 minutes, shape into a ball.
3.  Grease a medium bowl with oil. Toss dough into bowl, then flip to coat all sides with oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm location for an hour or until dough is doubled in size.  I sometimes put the dough in the fridge to stop it from rising further if I'm not quite ready to make my pretzels. 
4.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Carefully and quickly, add baking soda (this may splatter).
5.  Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long snake. Using kitchen sheers, cut 1″ pieces. Set aside. Repeat process with all dough. Keep the remaining dough covered with plastic wrap until ready to roll and cut.
6.  Prepare a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Whisk one egg together with 1 T water, set aside. Boil 10-15 pieces of cut dough at a time for 30-45 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, transfering to your prepared baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining dough pieces.
7.  Brush egg wash over dough balls. Immediately sprinkle with course sea salt.
8.  Bake for 15 min. (until golden brown).
9.  Serve with mustard and cheese dip. Store any remaining pretzel bites in an airtight container.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Football Food: Baked Artichoke and Jalapeno Cheese Dip

This is one of those recipes I would have overlooked based on the 'name,' but I tried it when a co-worker brought it to a work event, before I knew what I'd be tasting, and I really did love it!  It was really easy to throw together.  I baked mine up in mini dishes for a football gathering, but the original recipe calls for a pie plate....a community dish is good too, especially if there are other items in your football spread. 
If you need a new hot dip to try out, I highly recommend this guy.  It reheats well too! 
Baked Artichoke and Jalapeno Cheese Spread
Ingredients:  1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese (softened), 6 oz jar of artichoke hearts (drained and coarsely chopped) 1/2 c. mayonnaise, 1/4 c. finely chopped red bell pepper, 8 pickled jalapeno slices (drained and chopped, if you don't want the heat, you can substitute this with 2 T of chopped green chilies), 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese, 1/3 c. panko bread crumbs, water crackers. 
Instructions:
1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray. 
2.  Mix cream cheese, mayo, artichokes, bell pepper, and jalapenos.  Reserve 1 T of cheese, stir in the remaining to your mix. 
3.  Spread cheese evenly in bottom of pie plate.  Sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs and reserved 1 T of cheese. 
4. Bake 20 minutees until golden brown and serve with crackers. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Football Food: BBQ Chicken Sliders

I saw this recipe at 6Sisters and I had to try it out because it was hot.  Very hot.  And I was feeling lazy.  Very lazy.  You don't have to use an oven, thus-no hot house, well, no house hotter than the typical house in Texas  and....you just toss a few things in crockpot, nothing pretty, nothing organized and later that day....dinner.  Very, very delicious dinner.  I saved this in a file and got caught up with bows and bobbles on my blog, but then....with football games  coming our way, even if you embrace a hot house as fall starts to tease our weather forecast, you still get to be lazy....very very lazy and enjoy the game while your dinner cooks itself.    I made the mini version of these sandwiches, and I halved the recipe....mostly because baking 6 chicken breast for a party of one seemed a bit excessive, but this is a keeper. 
The full recipe....
Place 6 (boneless, skinless) chicken breast in a crock pot.  Cover with 12 oz of bbq sauce (your favorite, my favorite is what is on sale at the store), 1/2 c. Italian salad dressing, 1/4 c. brown sugar, and 2 T of Worcestershire sauce.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.  Shred and place on buns (in my case-I used the Hawaiian Rolls.....manna from heaven). 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Football Food: Hawaiian Sweet Roll Ham Sandwiches

This is one of those recipes I've seen floating about, but I didn't try it out until some of my coworkers were raving about the recipe at work.  They were right, it's DELICIOUS.  It makes 12 little mini ham sandwiches....perfect for a football watching party, AND you can make it in advance, then pop it in the oven when your guest arrive.  Win.  Win.  The recipe is originally from the blog beyerbeware.
Hawaiian Sweet Roll Sandwiches
Ingredients:  1 pkg 12 Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, 1 onion (grated), 1 stick of butter, 3 T Dijon mustard, 2 t. Worcestershire sauce, 3 t. poppy seeds, 1/2 pound shaved ham, 8 slices of Swiss cheese. 
Instructions: 
1.  Melt butter in a skillet and add onion, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and poppy seeds.  Simmer for several minutes. 
2.  Slice rolls length wise.   Place on foil lined baking dish.   Place half the onion mix on the bottom of the rolls.  Top with ham and then cheese. Place stop on rolls. 
3.  Top remaining rolls with spread.  Cover with aluminum foil and place in fridge until you are read to bake/eat. 
4.  Bake covered by foil for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Football Crafts

 I'm bringing football crafts to Good Morning Texas today.  I have a collection going here on pinterest with recipes and ideas from the past.  First up are the foam fingers above.  Great straw toppers, or cupcake toppers, and just plain fun.  Here is the full tutorial, including a free template you can download to cut out the shape of the finger.
Easy oatmeal pie desserts.  I blogged about those here.  
 Very simple koozie, great for a party gift, or a fun vessel for gifts for football fans.Here are those instructions.
Last up, chili and cornbread in a jar.  Again, very easy.  The tutorial is found here.   Make the chili the day before (or even freeze weeks ahead of time, plop the cornbread mix on top the day you plan to serve these, bake as directed on your cornbread mix (I put my jars on a tray) and then serve.  The nice thing about these is you don't need 874 little bowls of stuff for people to build their bowls.  I'll post the link to today's show on my facebook account after it's online.  I'm a giver.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer 2013

 I'm saying goodbye to summer.  It's gone too fast. Per usual.  I've spent the last week ++ in all day meetings getting ready for a new batch of students, teachers, stories,tears, and hopefully a lot of laughs.  I started out the summer heading to Brazil.  I blogged about that here.  I really feel like I slept the remainder of June.  It was an amazing trip but I was so tired when I got home.  The work.  The heat.  The year of school I was putting to rest right before boarding that plane, and then that boat.    I don't know.  I didn't ask questions.  I just slept.  When I woke up, I started moving.  One of my favorite activities each summer includes visits to the farmers markets in the area (above photo is the Dallas Farmer's Market).  I love heading out to Terrell and grabbing fresh peaches at Hams.  I love heading downtown and buying from the local sheds, or from anyone who is selling fresh farm produce cheap.  This year I also decided to try out Pecan Lodge.  Every time I'm downtown at the Farmer's Market, the line is literally wrapped around the large building.  The wait is hours long, yes plural hoursss.  My Mom and I went early one morning-45 minutes before it opened, there was already a dozen people in line, on a Wednesday morning.   So, I stood.  Look, I read it was #2 in the world, so I didn't ask questions, I just got in line and caught up on WordsWithFriends.....
 ...and it was, it was the best bbq I've ever eaten.  I've talked to other folks who have stood in that line and by the time they got to the front the Lodge had run out of food.  I would cry.  So....the secret is to go early, but  go.  BBQ can be a hit or miss depending on the grill and the day, but....really, wait.
I also tried out this little joint called Baby's J's near Palestine that made it's name this year as one of the best BBQ places in Texas (yes, I chase bbq).  It was really good bbq and I know why it made the list, but the best part-the people working here are some of the nicest folks I've run across.  Why Palestine?  I heart their antique stores.  There is also a railroad that runs through the town tourist can take.  I take a car so I can carry home all my goodies...and I always find goodies.
 I also tried out Summer Adventures at Fair Park.  The plus-all the rides were open for one price.  I usually don't ride rides at the fair because A)  They are expensive and B)  I'm eating too much friend food to do all that flipping.  It was nice to walk around the park without the crowds the fair brings, and grab a Fletcher's Corn Dog Pre-Fair.
 I also visited the Bush Library.  I've never been to a presidential library, but it really was amazing to relive these 8 years.  For me, I know some of these events are what I'm going to look back on as pivotal points in the American History I've lived through.
 More antiquing and boutique-ing in the towns around me.  Downtown McKinney, oh how I adore you....
I also headed to Good Morning, Texas a time or seven.  I've prerecorded Monday's shows.  There are a lot of changes in the work, so I'll be interested to see how things develop over the next year as the station is sold to a larger company.  In the meantime, I'm collecting a few iphone photos to eventually share the behind the scenes.  It's an interesting world.  
 At the beginning of August I headed to New York City.  Here is that story with photos.  Having said that...I have no idea what next year will bring.   As a planner, that's fun.  And scary.   But...with one of my last two days, I decided to head out for one last day trip through Texas.  I headed to Muenster, a little German town near the Oklahoma border.
 They have some cute little stores (antiques and boutiques), my favorite was Sisters, as much because she had cute stuff, but the owner was also a sweetheart.
I also visited the local grocery store, but check it out...
 ...it has your every day groceries, but it also has a meat department with German sausages and cheeses.  They also sell German desserts, including Streusel...and the prices, so cheap...I filled a cooler full of some goodies to bring home with me.
 The down town area was just a block or two, right off of 82, so it didn't take too long to look around, and find a place to eat.  I googled/yelped/and researched to find the best place to eat (there were several choices).  I settled on The Center, and the food was good.  So....I guess the internet doesn't lie.
 There is also a little bakery, Bayer's, that is mostly gas station, but they sell German sweets and breads as well.  I never turn down an iced cookie.
One of my favorite things about teaching=having the summer off.  I miss getting the opportunity to see these same places in the other seasons of the year, but I can't deny my love of two months free from work, and full of adventures, both big and small.  I decided years ago to be a lifelong tourist, even if those tours just took me a block or an hour down the road.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

School Days: Candy Filled Apple

 I saw this idea for cutting the bottoms off of 2, or in this case-16 oz bottles around the net for awhile.  It's such an affordable way to make an apple share for fall parties, or teacher gifts.  I've been a fan of apples for awhile now, and even have a board dedicated to the treat and theme on my pinterest here.
I simply cut the bottom off one of the 456 bottles of Diet Coke I had heading out for recycling...
 I bought some red spray paint for about a dollar at the super center, and gave the inside of the base a quick squirt.
I filled a bag with red candy, stuffed it inside in a baggie and added a leaf and bow.  For less than a buck-an edible treat in a seasonal theme.  I've also seen these around where two bases of bottles are bother together to look like the full apple, but I'm digging this.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

School Days: Scrappy Clothes Pins

 I love customizing clothes pins and using these to close up gift bags, or hang things in the house.  These are so easy to make, incredibly cheap, and cute!  I bought 36 clothes pins for a dollar.  I used left over paint and scraps of paper from old projects I keep in a bag for projects just like this....
 I picked out 6 paper colors that went well together, and one more to make a tag for delivering this little guys.
 I sprayed the sides and innards of the pins.  This isn't necessary, but...I've been trying to get rid of this neverending can of spray paint for awhile now (also a buck...and it's sort of like Mary Poppins carpet bag...it never quits).
 It's no necessary to spray the tops since I'm covering these up....but there is also no reason to avoid it.  I took a glue stick and ran it along the strips of paper I had cut out to fit the tops of the clips.
 I put some paper on the insides of the top too since these show.
Round up and these cost about 3 cents a piece to make.  Even I can afford this on my teacher salary.  ;o)  In other news...I knew being a hoarder of small scraps of paper would pay off someday!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

School Days: Ruffled Book Bag

I made this super simple ruffle strip bag recently.  I love book bags.  I carry them by the dozen.  I also love whipping these sort of things up, they make great gift bags for gifts, or just great gifts.  This is a really simple one.  I had some scraps of fabric left over from other projects.  The middle was about half an inch thinner than the outer strip  I sewed the scraps I had together and made each of them one long strip.  It was almost three times the length of the bag.  I layered the first one in the middle of the larger piece, and pinned both to the top of the bag.
I set the needle at the top, and started squishing and sewing.  The only difficult part is keeping it even down the bag, not that it matters that much to me.  You could sew and ruffle it before you add it to the bag, pin it in place so it's straight and sew it to the bag, or you could go for broke and just run that needle down the bag....I live life on the edge.
I added a flower to the side with more scraps and now I'm ready to gift give.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

School Days: Pencil Holder

 I've seen this idea floating around on the net.  This would make a cute teacher gift, maybe with the teachers name, or a fun word like 'create' stickered or painted on and some ribbon.  This is my new pencil cup for my desk....the only thing missing is my 'desk'....but I just love the look.  Quirky is always a good thing....lots of pencils....even better!  Now about that desk....