But on Pretzel Day? Well, I like Pretzel Day.

Dough recipes have always intimidated me. My pie crust skills leave much to be desired and my bread and pizza dough attempts have been so-so. I never seem to have the patience for all that waiting and rising business, so I typically avoid making dough.

Pretzels changed all of that.

Soft pretzels are one of the most delicious snacks that can be obtained at any major commercial center, sporting event, or street corner in the US.  (They’re also featured in one of my favorite episodes of The Office).

If only I had known that making pretzels from scratch was so easy! How have I been living in pretzel darkness for all of these years?! Not only are soft pretzels easy to make at home – they’re just as good as any of the store-bought varieties (and trust me, I’ve tried them all).

This morning, Josh and I were loafing around a bit and I decided to look into some baking endeavors. A pretzel recipe popped up on Pinterest, and Josh was so excited about the potential of these buttery dough-knots that I had to give them a try.  The recipe is from The Curvy Carrot, and the only adjustment I made was switching the instant yeast to active dry using a conversion I found through Google.

I feel great to have conquered the creation of one of my favorite snacks.  The difficult part will be refraining from baking and eating pretzels all day, every day.  Watch out, friends and loved ones: a basket of fresh-baked pretzels is coming to a doorstep near you!

Buttermilk Doughnut Muffins

During finals week, in a fit of stress and hunger, I made the most delicious muffins.  I feel like the term “muffins” is a misnomer, however, and a more apt name would be “Bite Size Mouth Sunshines” or “I Can Now Die Happies”.  Whatever one calls them, these butter-soaked, sugar-coated muffins are delicious and make me happy during even the bleakest hours of studying.

I adapted my version from this recipe.  In my version, I added nutmeg to my cinnamon/sugar mix, then using easily 10x as much of the stuff than the original recipe called for.  Oh, and I required far, far more butter than was used in the original recipe – I estimate that I used somewhere in the 3 1/2 sticks ballpark.

(Notice how filthy my kitchen is during that point in the semester!  But still fully functional and perfectly suited for making sugary snacks.)

Apple Funday

What’s to do on a lazy October afternoon?

Josh was recording with a friend, so Teddy and I took a drive to Orchard Hill Farm where we procured some delicious Maine macintosh apples (and a couple of apple cider doughnuts, of course).  I was determined to log some hours in the kitchen turning my apples into something much less healthy.

Between work, school, and dog parenting, I’m left with little time for creative kitchen endeavors.  Thus, when I’m fortunate enough to have an entire day to myself, I like to spend it at home performing my favorite kind of science experiments (the delicious kind!).

I decided my apples would be best put to use in a crisp.  I modified this recipe from JoyofBaking.com.  I like my desserts terribly sweet and was slightly aghast that the original recipe called for only three tablespoons of sugar in the apples.  Additionally, I add copious amounts of nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice to almost everything I cook this time of year.  My version of the recipe looked more like this:

Topping:

1/3C old fashioned oats

1/2C all-purpose flour

1/4C granulated sugar

1/3C light brown sugar

 6 TBS cold unsalted butter, cubed

a few dashes of salt

lots of nutmeg

a dash or two of cinnamon

however many pecans I threw in – 1/3C I think!  (omit if your loved ones are allergic or risk being known as a jerk)

Filling:

8 medium size macintosh apples, peeled and chunked

juice of 1/2 lemon

1tsp lemon zest

1/3C granulated sugar

two tablespoons pure maple syrup

I don’t get very fancy with my dessert preparation, but here’s a summary of steps I took:

– Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Grease an 8X8 glass baking dish with oily substance of your choosing (I used cooking spray).

– Mix all of the topping ingredients.  I used my fingers to mash and grind the components into a crumbly texture.  A food processor could be used, but then you’d have to wash more dishes (and no one likes more dishes).

– Mix all of the filling ingredients.  You could try adding all sorts of deliciously flavored things to the apple filling – I chose Maine maple syrup, but was slightly disappointed with the lack of maple flavor in my finished product.

– Spread the apple mixture into your baking dish, then spread the topping mixture evenly on top.

– Pop into the oven for 30 – 40 minutes

Wondering how to kill time when your apple crisp is in the oven?  Here are my recommendations:

Pre-game for your baked good with snacks.  I chose these tortilla chips, which was problematic, because they’re quite tasty and I ate a few (hundred?) too many of them.

Read your favorite blogs – Girl and Closet is one of mine!

Alternatively, take adorable pictures of your pet.

But don’t get too distracted from baking!  When your crisp is looking golden on top and bubbly ’round the edges, it’s time to take it out of the oven and let it cool for at least 30 minutes.

(I really stress this last instruction about the cool down – if you get over zealous about apple crisp consumption like I did and eat it right away, you’ll burn your tongue!)

Burnt tongue aside, I was quite pleased with the result of my lazy baking afternoon.  I don’t have finished product pictures because I was far too concerned with getting apple crisp in my tummy right away.  I spent the remainder of the day watching trash television on my computer interspersed with bouts of academic and/or domestic productivity.

Speaking of academia, I have been so busy with school lately.  I’m glad to be so inundated with assignments, though – I would be worried about the quality of my education if I had a surplus of free time whilst enrolled in so many credit hours.  At the risk of jinxing myself, I think I may be finally getting into the swing of things at school.  This semester had rough beginnings, but I hope I’m past all that and can focus on finishing up this degree.

In the midst of school and work and Ted care, Josh and I rearranged our house.  There’s lots of great reasoning behind the change, but I’ll save that for another post.  For now, here’s a poorly lit preview of what one of our new bedroom walls looks like:

More to come soon!