Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014!

We kicked off summer with our annual Memorial Day BBQ.  We even had the pleasure of having 3 retired/former soldiers join us.  Thanks Rob, Joel, and Eddie for serving our country and affording us the freedom to enjoy a great dinner with family, followed by s'mores in our fire pit!
So fun to have Clare and Joel in town to join in on all the family get-togethers.

Cayla, channeling Captain America, enjoying a s'more.

Jocelyn in black and white.  ~Swoon~

Don't let the sad look fool you - he was rewarded with a hamburger patty and a big, fat marshmallow.  Not to mention, all the things we dropped on the floor.  He loved having everyone around him.

Our dear friends Mark and Mary, along with Eddie and Daniel were able to join us this year!

The weather was perfect for a bonfire.  Just warm enough to enjoy being outside, and cool enough to stand close to the fire to take the chill off.

So proud of Clare for 'enduring' the fire.

Mark, Autumn, and Jocelyn are always picture-ready.

Whatever they're discussing, it must be serious.  :)
I love a black and white photo - it makes a picture timeless.  Mark and Autumn are great subjects for the snapshot.

My beautiful Cayla!

Clare and Kelly on their phones, and Luke capturing the essence of the evening with a s'more.

Daniel stayed close to the fire to roast marshmallows, and Chuck stayed close to Daniel just in case a marshmallow jumped off the stick.  :)

Thank goodness for bubbles and balls - they entertained the kids for hours.

It was delicious!

He's a serious roaster.

Clare and Joel cut the kids off at two s'mores each.  Pretty sure they would have eaten a dozen, if allowed. :)


Forget the marshmallows and graham crackers - it's all about the chocolate.

Mark, Eddie, Cory, and Rob deep in conversation.

Such a great evening.

God bless America - Land that I love!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I'm BACK......with Pretzel Bites!

After a lengthy hiatus, I have returned.  In short, my mom told me I needed to update my blog.  It's not that I didn't have things to say, or pictures to share, it's just that I've been busy with life, and lazy with blogging.  Hopefully that will be rectified with this post.

I thought I'd ease back into things with a quick post about something I made.  For years I've avoided making any type of bread that required yeast.  Why?  Because I was scared of yeast.  It likes to eat sugar, and it likes warm water, and sometimes using yeast requires those two dreaded words I loathe.....LET RISE!  But this was different.  On a whim, I was walking through Wal-Mart and I told Cory, "I want to make pretzels."  So, I googled a recipe, grabbed some quick-rise yeast, located the sea salt (I know, right?) and went home to whip up some homemade pretzels.

Tada!  It worked!  Within one hour, from start to finish, I made pretzel bites.  And the best part?  They were SO easy, I think I will make them again.  Here's the recipe:

Amazingly Simple Pretzel Bites

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 packet active yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 4 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 e g (whisked)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat style mat or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl add warm water and yeast. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. Add salt and sugar and stir.
  3. In a large bowl add flour and then pour yeast mixture over top. Knead with bread hook in your mixer or by hand for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Separate dough into 6-8 sections. Roll dough into ropes about 15-20 inches long and 1 inch thick. Cut with scissors into 1" pieces.
  5. In a large pan bring 2 quarts of water and 1/2 cup baking soda to a boil. Once water is boiling place about 8 pieces of dough into the water for about 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon and place pretzel bites onto baking sheet. Brush dough lightly with egg and sprinkle salt on top.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Place on cooling rack and brush tops with butter.
Variations:  1) Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar BEFORE baking.  After baking, dip in frosting.
2) Instead of cutting into bites, make round discs and use as pizza dough.  Top with cheese and pepperoni, then bake.  Dip in marinara sauce.