Butter Usage – by month – May 2016

11 May 2016 – 16 Tbs – Pretzel Toffee – Did not work – need to use a thermometer for the temp of toffee. Damnation

12 May 2016 – 16 Tbs – Shortbread with mini chocolate chips & Heath pieces – just saying damn skippy – And my birthday – the 50th. So where do we go from here? Being old that’s where I go anyway. Just something I have to do. I have always said it is better than the alternative.

21 May 2016 – 16 Tbs – Pretzel Toffee – again. This time I got it right. It is stupidly good. Yep. Stupid. D&D_1465

This was not the best month for me. My Fred died and I miss him so. But I also miss my Mom and my little Bering and my big dog Duke. I am kind of tired of people and dogs I love dying.  Yep tired of all this.

Will do better next month – really need to get back into the kitchen and do something useful.

The kitchen always makes me feel better.

Pretzel Toffee

I love toffee. I can’t help myself. And when you pair it with salty pretzels what is not to love?  I am going to plan this carefully – Florida = humidity, but I think past weekend was my time. In May that is a strange land indeed. What the hell, I will give it a go.D&D_1465

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (how would this work if we changed it to brown sugar?)
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups of pretzels
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a baking pan with a Silpat. Cover with the pretzels in a single layer. Sprinkle walnuts evenly over the pretzels.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Cook until the sugar is light amber in color, about 7 – 10 minutes. It can separate but that’s okay.

Pour sugar mixture over the pretzels with the walnuts. Top with chocolate chips then use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate over the toffee. Cool the toffee in fridge. Then break into big or middle-ish pieces. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Fridge = dry, and in NW Florida, at this time of year, that is a good thing for toffee.

Butter Usage – by month (November 2015)

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Carrot Cake Cookies

It is always great when I start a butter usage post with using butter the first day of the month. It’s the little things in life that make me happy.

1 November – 8 Tbs – Chocolate Chip Blondies
6 November – 4 Tbs – Star Crunch
7 November – 8 Tbs – Toffee Snickerdoodles
11 November – 8 Tbs – Bolzano Apple Cake
12 November – 8 Tbs – Butterscotch Thins – totally, ugh, disaster
13 November – 16 Tbs – Carrot Cake Cookies
13 November – 8 Tbs – Carrot Cake Cookie Cream Cheese Frosting
13 November – 16 Tbs – Pecan Tassies
14 November – 8 Tbs – Cheddar Pecan Crisps
19 November – 16 Tbs – Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars
And now Thanksgiving ….
25 November – 13 1/3 Tbs – Sunday Sweet Potatoes
25 November – 12 Tbs – Sweet Potato Biscuits
25 November – 6 Tbs – cornbread
25 November – 6 Tbs – cornbread
26 November – 5 Tbs – Cornbread Dressing
26 November – 3 Tbs – Corn Pudding
26 November – 14 Tbs – Upside-Down Butterscotch Apple Sour Cream Cake

159.3 Tbs = 19.91 sticks = 4.98 pounds

As it should be. November is a high butter month. Let’s see how December goes. Hoping for good numbers. Even better than this.

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

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Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bites

A friend from work sent me this recipe in an email that said, “Please make these next.” So I looked at it, and realized I had everything at home to make it, asked the Man of the House to take out my baking bowl (bowl with butter and eggs in it – usually two of each), and made them that very night. I brought them into the office the next day – surprise! They seem to be accepted rather well – that would be understatement since I do not do a lot of chocolate anything.  I cut them in bite-sized pieces because that just made a lot of sense.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar, only ever have light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, divided
1 cup crushed salted pretzels, divided – just crush them with your hand, it is easy
2 teaspoons canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square glass baking dish (Pyrex) with parchment paper,  and do the sling thing which will help you get the bars out of the pan. Spray with cooking spray. Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together flour and salt.

In a stand mixer, mix together the melted butter with the sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time,  and vanilla and mix until combined.

Stir in the dry mix until just incorporated. Stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips and 1/2 a cup of the crushed pretzels.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top, then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of crushed pretzels on top, pressing them into the batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove the cookie bites from the oven and allow them to cool completely in the pan and then remove the bites using the parchment sling. Melt the 1/2 cup chips with vegetable oil in the microwave until smooth – for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. Drizzle the cookie bars with the melted chocolate and allow them to cool until the chocolate hardens. Cut the cookie bars into bite-sized squares.

Notes: These keep exceptionally well in the fridge, though not necessary. Here in the Gulf Coast, it is warm even in November, so I used that as my insurance as it were.

Next time I will work to make the top layer – pretzels and chocolate – look better, but it was a Thursday night thing this time and the result was still pretty damn tasty.  Next time, I my try adding some toasted nuts. I always love nuts with chocolate chip things – bars, cookies, blondies, whatever.

Recipe source: Just a Taste.

Flavored Pretzels

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Flavored Pretzels

I love a good food experiment, especially when it seems easy, uses things I already have on hand, and in this case, I only invested the price of a bag of pretzels. Why not try it?

I’ve been seeing recipes around for an apparently easy way to make flavored pretzels. They seemed a bit too easy to be honest, but I wanted to see if the methodology would really work. So on a lazy Saturday, I just decided to give it a go. Here ’tis with my variation on the flavors.

1 pound mini twist pretzels
3/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbs Korean hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 Tbs McCormick Montreal black pepper seasoning
1 Tbs Old Bay seasoning

In a large resealable plastic bag, add oil and spices and mix them together until incorporated. Add pretzels and mixed until throughly combined. Let sit until all flavoring is absorbed, turning the bag several times over a 24 hour period.*

Well the method worked just fine. I did see some recipes that used a full cup of canola oil, but just as many used 3/4 and I went with that. Just a bit of a warning, the heat on these, if made as above, is at the end of it.

The MotH got to the heart of it when he said, these are beer pretzels.

*you can also bake these in a 200 degree oven for 1 hour stirring several times.

Holiday Cheese Balls (Cook’s Country)

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Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball

Going to take a look back at some of my older editions of Cook’s Country magazine and America’s Test Kitchen magazine to see what will come up in a seasonal kind of way.  So, first up – Cook’s Country Jan 2011, as in the title of this post.

Okay – I made this original recipe for Christmas and divided it in half for a friend who admits to liking cheese balls and to get input. This went very well – all participants in the experiment were pleased with the cheese ball.

Cheese Ball (AKA: Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball)

  • 2 cups extra sharp cheddar, grated
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbs mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 sliced almonds, toasted

Process all ingredients (except nuts) in food processor until smooth, scraping down sides (a given) about 1 minute. (my notes: whirl up garlic first to mince it – so much easier) Transfer to center of large piece of cling film.

Holding corners of the cling film in one hand, twist the cheese with the other hand to seal the film and shape the cheese into a rough ball. Refrigerate until firm, about one hour (can be refridgerated  for two days). Once the cheese ball is firm, reshape as necessary  into smooth sphere.  Unwrap and roll in nuts. (I used pecans since they are local). Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

13 Dec 2014 (or 12/13/14) divided in two for my friend Traci. Reports were good

Served 21 Dec 2014 – family really liked. Am pleased.

Now that I’ve seen the original in Cook’s Country magazine there is another variation that I would like to try and I’ll likely share with my friend Traci and her family again. I mean you have to be cool to say that you like a cheese ball. It’s a little dorky, but … come on, for New Year’s – who is going to be a critic then. If they are, they are not your friend.

Beer Cheese Ball

Cheddar cheese ball without mayonnaise, Worcestershire and cayenne. Add 3 Tbs beer and 1 tsp yellow mustard in food processor.  Replace nuts with 1/2 cup crushed pretzels.

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Beer Cheese Ball

7 January 2015

Made a full recipe to divide between me and my friend Traci and her family. Shaped it and chilled overnight yesterday. Coated with pretzel crisps – not quite real pretzels, but I like them (and had them on hand) and mixed with a few pecan pieces.  I used a bit more mustard than was called for, but it seemed like it needed it (to me) and used the now rare, at least in our area, Sweet Hot Mister Mustard. A true delicacy.