Monday, July 25, 2011

Homemade Soft Pretzels

These are so yummy!  My sister made them when we went to see The Green Lantern and then yesterday when we went to see Harry Potter 8 for the second time.

Soft Pretzels:

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
  • 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

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 sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the 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, 1 by 1, 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. 

Recipe found here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Harry Potter Feast

Before the release of the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, my sister Cady and I decided it would be best to celebrate the end of an era with a feast.  Months in the works, it all came together for July 10th, less than a week before we planned to see the movie on the 16th.  It's taken me forever to finish this post (call it laziness), but alas it is here, just in time for our second round of the movie today.

The day before (Saturday), we did the last of the shopping, and started most of the food preparation.  Shopping spanned three different stores, and disappointingly not finding black licorice ropes to put the finishing touches on the cauldron cakes.  Finally, we began our 4 hour bake-fest.


Pumpkin Juice:

  • 2 2/3 cups pumpkin pie filling
  • 3 1/2 cups apple juice
  • 3 1/2 cups apricot nectar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

In a large pitcher, mix together pie filling with apple juice and apricot nectar until desired consistency.  Add spices.  If desired, add more spices.

Note: That made one large pitcher for us and, in my opinion, it tasted very similar to the drink sold at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  I was very pleased with it.  We used a dark, pulpy apple juice though, none of that mostly sugar stuff!  We made the pumpkin juice from our own recipe.  We found a number of recipes online, but most of them called for actual pumpkin instead of pumpkin filling.  We didn't want to mess with that, so we just made up our own based on the ingredients on the pumpkin juice bottle from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and some of the recipes we found.


Treacle Tarts:

  • 32 shortbread pastry cups
  • 11 tablespoons black treacle
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 oz unseasoned bread crumbs

Combine treacle, cinnamon, and bread crumbs until thoroughly mixed.  Spoon into shortbread pastry cups and place on cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Note: Adapted from this recipe.


Cauldron Cakes:

  • chocolate cake mix (plus ingredients on box)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the chocolate cake according to the directions on the box.  Coat pan with shortening and flour completely.  Bake according to directions on box in muffin pan without cupcake liners.  Cool completely before removing and turning upside down.  (The widest part needs to be on the bottom.)

While cupcakes are baking, make pudding filling.  Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small saucepan; gradually stir in milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.  Cook 1 additional minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Beat egg yolks at medium speed of an electric mixer until thick and lemon colored.  Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot mixture into yolks; add remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm.

When cupcakes are completely cooled, use a spoon to remove the middle of the cake, careful not to dig all the way through.  When pudding is firm, fill the holes in the cakes to the top.  Serve immediately.

Makes 24, or the number of cupcakes on the cake mix box. 

Note: If you wish to have different colored potions, I suppose you could use food coloring on some or all of the pudding.  Left overs need to be kept refrigerated.  Pudding recipe from The Southern Living Cookbook.


Pumpkin Pasties:

  • 4 pie crusts
  • 2 cups pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, egg yolks, spices, and salt in large mixing bowl, beat until light and fluffy.  Add evaporated milk, beat until just blended.

Using a round cookie cutter, cut circles into pie crusts.  Spoon filling onto one side of the circle before folding in half and sealing with a fork.  Cut three slits in the top.   Brush with egg whites.  Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, and reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45-50 minutes.
Makes 12-16 pasties.

Note: We used the lid to our can of shortening, which is about six inches in diameter.  Filling recipe from The Southern Living Cookbook



  • 24 oz cream soda
  • 2 oz butterscotch schnapps

Serve immediately to keep carbonation.  Makes enough for 2-3 people.

Note: Use butterscotch schnapps over butterscotch extract in order to get a lower alcohol content.  Butterscotch extract has almost twice the alcohol content than schnapps.  If you desire a less sweet beverage, substitute 12 oz of cream soda for plain soda water.  Adapted from this recipe.


Aside from beverages and the baked goods, we had sherbert lemons from my Honeydukes jar.  And licorice wands, which was just black licorice.  (Yum.)  For the main course, we had roast beef, broccoli, roasted potatoes, and yorkshire pudding.


Yorkshire Pudding:

  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup beef drippings, divided 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Leave 2 tablespoons of drippings in roasting pan and place in oven.  Place the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and remaining 2 tablespoons of drippings into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process for 30 seconds.  Pour the batter into the hot roasting pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  While the pudding is cooking, carve the roast.  Serve the pudding with the roast.

Note: A 3-bone-in standing rib roast cooked in a 13 by 9 inch roasting pan will give you enough drippings for the pudding.  Prepare pudding while roast is resting.  Recipe found here.


For music during the feast, I made a CD of seven songs, one from each movie.  "Prologue" from The Sorcerer's Stone, "Harry's Wondrous World" from The Chamber of Secrets, "Double Trouble" from The Prisoner of Azkaban, "Hogwarts' Hymn" from The Goblet of Fire, "A Journey to Hogwarts" from The Order of the Phoenix, "Dumbledore's Farewell" from The Half-Blood Prince, and "At the Burrow" form The Deathly Hallows, Part 1.  The CD just played quietly in the background throughout the meal.

My mom was able to download Lumos, the font from the American books, so I could make place cards for each guest and labels for the variety of food.  I thought it was a nice touch to the formal dinner.  At each place setting, you can see we have three glasses that are all mismatched--it made me feel like we were at the Burrow!  One class was for water, one for butterbeer, and one for pumpkin juice.  It was a lot to drink, but they were all tasty!

The feast went just as planned and turned out to be so much fun.  It was really cool to have our own celebration for the end of this series and to do everything ourselves.  I must say, it was almost as authentic as being at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando!

And no, this was not a costumed affair.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beazy & Luce

Just a quick update on my kittens.  First and foremost, they're getting fixed on Wednesday.  Hopefully their surgeries go well, and hopefully they get to stay with us a little longer than a week afterward.

It seems like it wasn't too long ago when they were both under a pound, and significantly underweight.  Now they're both over 2 pounds and very healthy!
Bea has been struggling to be able to get onto my bed for a while, but last week she finally conquered it!  It takes her a lot more energy than it takes Lucy, but she's getting there.  

They're also doing better with using the litter box.  Bea especially had a lot of issues.  In fact, she preferred my carpet.  And not just one spot, all over my room.  But now they're able to stay out in my room all day and all night.  It gives them a lot more space to hang out, and they're not very destructive.

Lucy usually sleeps on my bed with me, but I think Bea sleeps under the bed.  I try to put her up there with us at night, and I think she stays for a little while, but she prefers obscure places.  Another of Bea's favorites is in between my open bathroom door and the wall.

They love to be out in the rest of the house and out on our back patio, even though that part belongs to Hurley and Bagheera.  The big cats are doing a little better with the kittens.  Hurley sometimes hisses at them, sometimes acts like he's too tired to pretend like he hates them, sometimes he actually licks them.  In fact, we've even witness Bagheera licking Bea.

Even though Garrett was the sweetest and cuddliest kitten we've had yet, I really like these two.  I'll miss them a lot when they go.  They follow me around everywhere.  And they sleep on my bed!  It's my greatest cat dream!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ten on Ten :: July 2011

It's been exactly one year since my first Ten on Ten.  I missed October 2010 and December 2010, so this is only my eleventh appearance, not thirteenth.  Boo!  I'm disappointed I forgot those two months now.

Obviously this is Ten on Ten Harry Potter edition.  With the movie coming out in less than a week, my weekend pretty much revolved around marathoning the movies (I'm almost done with the fifth one, as I type) and preparing for this magnificent feast.  This is only a sneak peak at our Harry Potter extravaganza.  Check back later this week to see pictures, recipes, and more!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

America's Birthday Cake

Despite not planning a big bash for the 4th of July, I really wanted to try to bake this red, white, and blue cake.  Unfortunately, it didn't turn out too well, starting when the three cakes went in the oven, and we had to change our plans.

It was supposed to look like this cake from 17 and Baking, but our cakes didn't want to come out of the pan very well, so we didn't even want to try to slice the layers in any direction!  Also, just after the cakes went in the oven, Cady was cleaning up, and accidentally turned off the oven.  It took time and a half to bake the cakes, but they turned out really moist and really fluffy.  Another issue were the recipes we used.  The white cake recipe we used to make the cake turned out a little too yellow than one would hope for a red, white, and blue cake, probably due to the fact that it used the whole egg, not just the whites.  And we used the coconut frosting recipe from this post, which isn't hard enough or thick enough to use to assemble a layer cake.  It could probably be changed a little, but we didn't make any changes.

But now that we've gotten all of the negatives out of the way, here is our recipe.

Simple White Cake:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch. 

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes or 1 9x9-inch pan.  We tripled this recipe to make 3 9-inch round cake pans.  It was a little too much batter in each cake pan, because they rose up a little too high, but we were able to cut off the tops to create a flat top.

We had the hardest time getting the cakes out of the pans because we didn't line with parchment paper.  Please don't forget parchment paper if you're making a layer cake.  They won't come off the bottom of the pan very well without it!  Just don't forget to peal the paper off when you're assembling the cake.

Since our cakes pretty much came out in two or more pieces, we just stacked the white and red on top of the blue to create a three layer cake.  In order to frost it, we had to triple the frosting recipe as well, but like I said, that wasn't the right consistency for a layer cake.

The frosting and the cake turned out really yummy, but not necessarily together.  This cake recipe would probably go better with a cream cheese frosting.  It just tastes to heavy to have such a light frosting.

By the way, we used a whole bottle of both red and blue dyes to dye the two colored layers.  The colors turned out really nicely.

I'm going to try the flag cake for a not-so patriotic occasion, just to try it.  To save time, we'll probably just use a white cake mix, because those are some white cakes!

My dad says I post too much about food.

Check out Recipes for more!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Strawberry Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

A cupcake that is.  I've recently made Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting from Jessica's blog, How Sweet It Is.  I made a few changes, but this was the easiest cupcake recipe I've ever made.  And they were so delicious.  It tastes like summer.  Really.  The recipe makes 12 cupcakes.  (I think from what I made, it could have been 15.)

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk, if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add flour, baking powder and salt with the mixer on low speed, then gradually increase speed. Add in chopped strawberries and beat on medium speed until the strawberries break down, about 1-2 minutes. At this point, the strawberries most likely have enough liquid that you don’t need to add any milk to the batter. Add food coloring and mix until desired pink/red.  If you batter seems dry and is not like typical cake batter, then add milk 1-2 tablespoons at a time, beating until incorporated.

Pour into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake is set. Let cool, then frost.

Coconut Frosting:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar + more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut extract
  • 1 tablespoon of lite coconut milk

Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixture until completely smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar slowly. Gradually increase mixer speed and add vanilla and coconut extracts, then beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl. If frosting is too thick, add coconut milk.  If it’s too thin, add powdered sugar gradually until it thickens.

I made a few changes to her original recipe.  Her's called for shredded coconut to be folded into the frosting.  No one in my house is a big fan of shredded coconut (especially not me), so I left that out.  It was actually by fate that I was able to make the frosting anyway.  I was going to just make plain vanilla since I didn't go shopping before starting this adventure, but we happened to have coconut extract and coconut milk.  This frosting was probably the best frosting I've ever had!

I didn't have to use milk in the batter, but I did fill the cupcake liners a little too full, so they capped again (like the carrot cupcakes), so I probably could have made 15 cupcakes that would have just had a nice dome shape on top.

Bake these cupcakes immediately.  They are so yummy.

Check out Recipes for more.