{this moment} Puppies!

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Joining Soulemama in {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Pretzel Bites

To quote struggling_along: “These are awesome!”.

DSCN4190These being ham and cheese filled pretzel bites. I found the recipe here at Pip & Ebby. What a great soft pretzel!  Adding ham and cheese takes it over the top. We eat them as a light meal or as a snack. Somehow, either way, there are never any leftovers!

DSCN4187  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made these in the last few weeks. I usually make a double batch and try to freeze some for another day. I managed to freeze a small batch just to see how they did in the freezer. I froze them after boiling but before baking. They baked up great with only a few extra minutes needed in the oven. “Extra” cooked pretzels reheat superbly in the oven or toaster oven. I read in the comments (on Pip & Ebby) that the microwave works well too.

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Here’s how they look after boiling. I froze some at this stage, then bagged them once frozen.

Here is the pdf printable of the recipe. I’ve reproduced the pdf printout below for your convenience. Although, I recommend popping on over to Pip & Ebby – if only to drool over her photos.

……….

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites
(Source: penniesonaplatter.com)
Servings: 48 bites
Ready in: 2 hours,45 minutes
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F)
2½ to 3 cups flour
1 package (1/4 oz) instant dry yeast
½ cup finely chopped ham
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
Directions:
1.In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and warm milk until dissolved.
In a large bowl combine 2 ½ cups flour, the milk mixture and the yeast. Stir
until a soft dough forms. Add the remaining flour as needed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times, forming a smooth ball.
2. Brush the inside of a large clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and
cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for about 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface.
3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust
hands and rolling pin with flour. Roll one of the four sections into a 12×4- inch rectangle. With the long side facing you, gently press ¼ of the
ham and cheese into the bottom third of the dough, and roll as tightly as possible, starting with the end that has the filling. Cut into 12 1-inch pieces and transfer to a
baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining 3 portions of dough.
4. Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
5. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
Boil pretzels in batches, cooking about 20 seconds each, turning once. They should be
slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them back to the baking sheets.Bake until
puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Brush warm pretzel bites with melted butter
and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm
…………

 I cut the rolls into thirds instead of bite-sized pieces. After boiling I cut the thirds into bite sized pieces. I also grease a cookie sheet instead of using parchment paper, which kept sticking to the bottoms.

If your kids love to help in the kitchen, like mine do, I suggest getting them involved in the first steps of the process. My youngest two (4 and 2) are quite capable at measuring out the ingredients and mixing up the dough. They also help sprinkle flour, roll the dough out, prepare, and add, the filling.

DSCN4235DSCN4182You’ve got to try them!

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Another Scarf and a Scarflette

 Just like his older brothers, Ishmael needed a scarf. I went with the suggested “sparkly green” yarn (which I also used in the mini-gnomey hat).

DSCN4311_medium2After all that plain ol’ knit a row, purl a row I was ready for something a bit more interesting. Maybe something with cables, or a lace pattern. I found the Liza Rose Scarflette pattern, free on Ravelry, a perfect fit for a skein of Malabrigo Rio that I had been debating what to do with.

  The Liza Rose is a surprisingly quick knit. I cast on Saturday night and finished on Sunday. It does involve 2 different lace patterns, 2 different styles of binding off and a picking up stitches on 3 sides. Despite that I still say it’s a quick and easy pattern. Picking up stitches took the most time but picking up stitches has never been a strong suit of mine. Apparently I had been going about it all wrong.

Now, I did take some photos of myself wearing my new scarflette. However, my arm’s length doesn’t capture my face and the whole scarf so I focused on the scarf. Plus, I’m not very photogenic. I have this horrible tendency to wear weird expressions and have my eyes closed.

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DSCN4326DSCN4257DSCN4253DSCN4255Time to get back to the holiday gift making.

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Fire Up the Oven {In the Kitchen}

Daily morning flurries & cold windy days.

I’m practically embracing any reason to fire up the oven. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts. How about a slow roasted roast?!

Here are a few oven dishes we have been enjoying as of late:

Cranberry Orange Bread- I use America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe, my family prefers I leave out the nuts.

Puff Oven Pancakes – Oven 425F. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a large cast iron pan. Mix 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour. Pour into preheated pan. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up. Serve topped with fruit and the last of this year’s maple syrup.

Muffins- Oatmeal Banana and random “some of this some of that ” concoctions.

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites – recipe coming soon!  Recipe here.

Pizza! Plain cheese is always welcome. We also like to add a little chopped onion, broccoli and bacon to ours.

Roasted Green Beans, Baked Potatoes (lightly EVO and salt the skin before baking), Fermented Fries, Cumin Lime Carrots

Whole Roasted Chicken- Made Chicken Pot Pie with the leftovers and Bone Broth (froze the extra in cubes for future use).

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder–  This was excellent! I replaced the white wine with chicken broth. This recipe is very similar to how I make Beef Pot Roast. Marinated Pork Tenderloin  and Smothered Pork Chops- I’ll have to share that recipe with you soon, it’s also my favorite way to cook ham steaks.

Braised Short Ribs

Lemon Squares, Cinnamon Roll Cookies

What is your favorite oven dish?

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As You Wish

Satisfied with their hats, my boys have moved on to requesting additional winter wear. Scarves! Simple enough. Noah immediately specified his was to be in Hunter Orange. Happily, I have some bright orange Red Heart Super Saver. Not my favorite yarn to knit with but it was free and it’s machine washable. At least that’s what I’ll remind myself when I find it lying outside or tied to various things.

Ezra asked for a blue scarf. Another freebie acrylic yarn found in the depths of my stash box. I do think the rich blue color with suit Ezra. Ishmael’s scarf is, as of yet, undecided. Although his brothers say he wants the sparkly green yarn….

These are simple scarves. Just 30 stitches cast onto size 10 needles. Knit a row, purl a row, knit a row, purl a row.  A bit mindless, good for watching documentaries and planning to do lists.

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Silver Wire Earrings {KCCO}

I started creating wire earrings quite a few years ago, around the time struggling_along and I got married. That’s 10 years now! I think I thought it would be interesting to learn how to turn some beads and wire in jewelry. Plus, I kept any earrings I wanted in the process. Somewhere along the way I decided to start selling them. I definitely remember selling wire jewelry while we where hitchhiking and traveling the west coast. A few years later, back on the east coast, we had Noah. Curious babes and tiny beads don’t mix well so the beads went up on a shelf and have mainly stayed there.

Oddly enough many things that seemed impossible with one child have become manageable with three. So when I recently found myself looking through my old beads it didn’t seem quite so daring, as it use to, to think I might make myself a few new ones.Using beads, wire and findings I already had I made eight new pairs. The photo below doesn’t show the nuisances in various beads but you’ll get the idea.

While I was at it I had to face the facts. I needed a new way to display all my earrings, so I could easily access them. I’ve tried jewelry boxes, tacking up fabric and using a picture frame lined with chicken wire, but it didn’t hold many and the earrings always seemed to be sliding around or falling off. Enter the large embroidery hoop. Covered with a piece of upcycled lace the earrings go in and out easily and the hoop keeps it just far enough from the wall that the wall doesn’t interfere. Additionally, it holds many pairs of earrings. Now to find a solution for my necklaces and bracelets and rings…..

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the new additions

If you’re interested, here are some of the previous earrings I have made and wear regularly. The five in the upper right hand corner are earrings that are missing their mate. Eventually the missing earring will turn up so I just put them aside. At the bottom is one of the few bracelets I’ve made and one of my favorites.

DSCN4135mossy_stone

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Homemade Doughnuts!

           I think we found ourselves a new fall tradition – making homemade doughnuts!             While I’m not the biggest doughnut fan in the family I won’t turn one down either. They make an extra special and festive breakfast, snack, or if they last that long, dessert. Especially with a cup of tea, coffee or milk. If you’ve never had one before HOT doughnuts really are that much more delicious!

DSCN3737I started the season by making apple spice doughnuts, perfect for fall. The recipe came with a deep fryer that was gifted to me. It’s a great cake doughnut recipe but it does call for an hour of chilling time. While an hour allows plenty of time to clean up, set up the fryer, paper and sugar for topping, and don’t forget, setting up the coffee maker! We’re a bit impatient. Once we’ve got the dough/batter made the little ones start asking “are the doughnuts are ready yet?!” So I found a quick and easy recipe that’s ready to go right away. The dough is a bit soft so I do let it chill for about 15 minutes and do a quick cleaning/ setting up. Bonus! This recipe is even crisper on the outside and, while it’s still a cake doughnut, it’s not quite so dense and filling. Also, this recipe uses butter whereas a lot of doughnut recipes call for shortening.

DSCN4124Just for the fun of it, the boys pick out various cookie cutter shapes to make the doughnuts. Once we get down to the small scraps I switch to doughnut holes.

DSCN3726So far, we’ve tried stars, trees, snowflakes (my favorite because they have more crispy points) and small leaves.

 If you don’t have a deep fryer you could fry them up on the stove top in a heavy pan, like a cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Just remember to use caution, it’s extremely hot and prone to splattering.

Now for the recipe! I found it on allrecipies.com. For your convenience I’ll reproduce it here. I also found this recipe for yeast raised doughnuts but I haven’t tried those yet. It’s easy enough the kids pretty much mix it up themselves. I referee the turn taking and make sure they use the right measuring spoon, and of course I do the frying!

Plain Cake Doughnuts

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 dash ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 quart oil for frying

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg (add more cinnamon and nutmeg if you want spiced donuts, otherwise you don’t really taste the spice). Mix in butter until crumbly. Stir in milk and egg until smooth. Knead lightly. Chill slightly to make working with the dough easier. Turn out onto a floured surface. Roll or pat to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with a doughnut cutter, or use two round biscuit cutters of different sizes or cookie cutters.
  2.  Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  3. Carefully drop doughnuts into hot oil, a few at a time (like 3). Do not overcrowd pan. Fry, turning once, until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar or spiced sugar.

DSCN4119Enjoy!

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