Posts Tagged 'Game Day Snacks'

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Those of you who are lucky enough to have spouses or partners who love to join you in the kitchen, I envy you.  Dr. O is wonderful (really!) and has many redeeming qualities, but he does not cook.  He does not slice, he does not chop, he does not stir.  He rarely even toasts.

So you can imagine how good Alton Brown’s soft pretzel recipe must be if it’s the one thing that gets him in the kitchen.  He asks for them again and again, knowing that I’ll only make them if he helps.  (These pretzels are so amazing that I might make them even if he didn’t help, but I’ll never tell.)

Here’s the recipe if you want to give them a try:

Homemade Soft Pretzels
Makes 8

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups warm (110° to 115°F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

Method:
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.  Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined.  Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil.  Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil.  Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.  Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope.  Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.  Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds.  Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.  Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.  Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Alton Brown, FoodNetwork.com

Soft Pretzels

This recipe produces absolutely amazing results.  This is the best soft pretzel I’ve ever had – at a stadium, a bakery, anywhere.  If you’re a pretzel person (and I am!), we’re talking ecstasy.

We tried honey mustard and spicy brown mustard as dipping sauces; the spicy brown won, hands down.  The pretzels would be fantastic with cheese as well.  We had a few leftover pretzels (hard to believe!); some were sliced horizontally for sandwiches, others were reheated in the microwave for 25 seconds on high.  The reheated pretzels weren’t quite as good as fresh out of the oven, but they still beat the heck out of a SuperPretzel.

TIPS: If you don’t quite get how to form the pretzels, watch Alton do it here.

Recipe link: Homemade Soft Pretzels

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Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip

The holidays are about get-togethers, and get-togethers often include dip. Today’s recipe – Pampered Chef’s Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip – is one of my favorites. I first made it waaaay back when (2002?  Eek!), and I decided to pull the recipe out for last month’s game day-themed gourmet club meeting.  As always, it was a hit!

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it:

Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip
Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups of dip
Prep time: 15 min. | Chill time: 3 hours

Ingredients:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced (about 3/4 cup)
6 bacon slices, crisply cooked, drained and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon sugar
Lettuce leaves
Bread or crackers for serving

Method:
Place cream cheese in a medium bowl.  Gradually stir in dressing; mix well

Remove seeds from tomato and dice it.  Reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish.  Finely chop bacon, celery, and onion.  Add tomato, bacon, celery, onion, and sugar to cream cheese mixture; mix well.  Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours to allow flavors to blend.

To serve, line a bowl with lettuce leaves.  Fill with dip.  Garnish with reserved tomato.  Serve with bread, crackers, or crudités.

Source: Pampered Chef’s Celebrate!

Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip

I didn't have any lettuce on hand, so I supposed this is technically Bacon and Tomato Dip. It's delicious nonetheless!

Bacon flavor and general creamy goodness is enough to bring this to the top of my list, but I especially love it because it’s easy, it can be made ahead, and it can be made with light ingredients.  (I used real bacon – although turkey bacon would work – with light ranch and light cream cheese.)  So.  So.  Good.  Try it for your next holiday gathering or game day party!

Chocolate Cupcakes (aka A Cupcake Recipe That Actually Works in Denver)

I have had a major love-hate relationship with cake since we moved back to the Denver area.  I love it, of course, because I love to eat it.  I hate it because most sea-level cake recipes produce cupcakes that either (a) have sunken-in tops or (b) practically explode all over the muffin tin.  I’ve had some moderate success with the “standard” high-altitude recipe adjustments (oh, if only there truly were standard adjustments), but most of my attempts have resulted in failure.

Recently, I inherited a high-altitude baking cookbook – High Altitude Baking (original title, eh?) by Patricia Kendall – from my friend Hilary.  I knew from my experience with Pie in the Sky by Susan Purdy that recipes don’t necessarily work well at altitude just because they’re published under that claim…  While I had great success with her Independence Pass Brownies, the 1-2-3-4 Cake was dry, dense, and practically inedible.  I wanted to make cupcakes for the Super Bowl, though, so it was time to take a chance on a new recipe.  I chose Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes as the first recipe I would attempt from High Altitude Baking, mostly because I had all the ingredients except an easy-to-purchase cup of sour cream. My first rumbling of trouble came when I realized that I had purchased light sour cream (habit!) instead of full-fat for the recipe.  I forged ahead with the recipe anyway and ended up with predictably less-than-fantastic cupcakes: while they did have decent crowns, they were exceptionally airy and almost chewy from the lack of fat.

Dr. O had put in a request for a few more Super Bowl snacks and we needed to head back to the store, so I decided I’d pick up some full-fat sour cream and try the recipe again.  This time, I ended up with delicious but ugly results; the cake was far more moist, but the batter had overflowed (even with the cups only half full!) and the tops of the cupcakes were crusty and misshapen.  (Sigh.)  Even with lots of icing, there was no covering that up.

Thankfully, I had also replenished my supply of baking cocoa while we were at the grocery store, which meant I had everything I needed to try one more recipe from the book: Chocolate Cupcakes.  After my two sour cream cake failures, I had higher hopes for this recipe because it had a traditional ingredient: oil.  (The only fat in the sour cream recipe came from two squares of chocolate and the sour cream itself.)  I followed the hand mixer instructions (see below), baked them for 23 minutes (instead of 25) and guess what?  I had beautiful, moist little cupcakes – with crowns!

Unfrosted Chocolate Cupcakes

I frosted them with my favorite icing (see below), topped them with sprinkles, and added them to the Super Bowl spread.  Mmmmm.

Chocolate Cupcakes

I think I might have preferred chocolate icing with these cupcakes, so I’ll try that next time.  I was just so freakin’ excited about finding a high-altitude cupcake recipe that worked, though, that I would have happily eaten them without icing.  I’m looking forward to making these again and again…  Cupcakes, minus the frustration!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 24

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (I used whole milk)

Method:
Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans, one 9 x 13-inch baking pan or muffin cups.  Mix and sift flour, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder together into a bowl.  Add oil, vanilla, eggs, and milk; beat for 30 seconds with a mixer at low speed, scraping the bowl frequently.  Beat for 7 1/2 minutes more with a stand mixer at medium speed or 6 minutes with a hand mixer at high speed, scraping the bowl 4 – 5 times.  Pour batter into pans.  Bake for time recommended below, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.* Remove cakes from oven and cool in pans for about 12 minutes.  Remove cakes from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.

*Two 9-inch cakes: About 28 minutes.
One 9 x 13-inch cake: Lower oven temperature to 350F.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.
24 cupcakes (1/2-full): About 25 minutes.
(Update 12/31/10: Based on several visitor comments, I would recommend checking your cupcakes at the 18- or 20-minute mark if you bake them at 375F.  If they need more time, just put ’em back in.)

Altitude adjustments:
6,500 – 8,500 feet: Decrease baking powder to 1 3/4 teaspoons.
8,500+ feet: Decrease baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons.  Increase milk by 1 tablespoon.

Source: High Altitude Baking by Patricia Kendall  (Amazingly, this link displays the entire cake section of the cookbook for free!)

Toba Garrett’s Decorator’s Buttercream Icing
Make 2 1/2 quarts (2.37 L) (This is an absolute ton of icing!  Feel free to cut it in half or even quarter it.)

Ingredients:
2 cups (1 pound or 454 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (230 grams) vegetable shortening or hi-ratio shortening
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract, pure vanilla extract, or almond extract
3 pounds (1.36 kilograms) 10X confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 fluid ounces or 135 millilitres) water, milk, or clear liqueur
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon salt

Method:
Cream shortening and butter with an electric, handheld, or paddle-whip mixer. Add flavoring and salt. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time. Add meringue powder. (The mixture will appear dry.)

Add liquid of choice and beat until light and fluffy (approximately 5 to 8 minutes). Keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap.

Storage:
Store the icing in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

Source: The Well-Decorated Cake by Toba Garrett

Fresh Salsa

This is a short one but a good one. I get rave reviews every time I make Fresh Salsa from Pampered Chef’s All the Best (except from my friends who don’t like raw tomatoes – I have a few!). The recipe is quick, easy, and flavorful.

I started by seeding and finely dicing 6 plum tomatoes (1 1/2 cups). I put that in a bowl and added 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup of snipped fresh cilantro, 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of ground red pepper. The recipe says to let the salsa stand for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. I usually end up covering and refrigerating mine for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours before serving.

fresh_salsa1.jpg

If you’re looking for zippy salsa, this isn’t it; I suppose you could seed and chop a jalapeño and add it to the mixture for heat. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to super spicy foods, though, so this recipe suits me just fine. 🙂

Sweet Party Mix

As my last pre-Thanksgiving post, I’d like to share one of my very favorite game day snack recipes. This is a big weekend for football, and I’d hate for you to go hungry. 😉

I received the recipe for Sweet Party Mix from a dear friend who went to dental school with Dr. O. This mix is addictive, truly. The recipe makes enough for about 12 people (maybe more), so I try not to make it unless we’re going to have some help in the eating department.

For ingredients, you’ll need:

1 stick butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 12-oz. box Crispix
1 bag of pretzels (I use half of a 12 – 15 oz. bag)
2 cups peanuts
M&Ms (I use one medium bag of peanut M&Ms)

Microwave the butter, corn syrup and brown sugar in a medium bowl for 2 minutes. Stir well. Add vanilla and baking soda. Stir. Pour Crispix into a brown paper bag. Pour butter mixture over the top of the cereal and shake well. Microwave the mixture in the paper bag for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Add pretzels and peanuts. Shake together and cool on wax paper. Add M&Ms if desired.

sweet_party_mix.jpg

This mix is soooo good. The Crispix is really the best part. Dr. O is constantly leaving the pretzels and peanuts behind because they don’t soak up as much of the yummy goo. Shame, shame.

TIPS: You’ll need a grocery-size brown paper sack for this recipe. I always just ask for an fresh one when I go through the checkout line at the store. You’ll want to shake the heck out of this to make sure the ingredients are well-coated, and a large sack will give you the room you need.

For cooling the mix, I cover my dining room table in wax paper and spread it out. You’ll need a decent amount of space! Also, make sure you don’t add the M&Ms to the mix until it has cooled. Otherwise, the M&M colors will run.




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