Easy Hot Dog Pretzel Buns

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Forget sad store-bought buns and make your own super soft, super easy hot dog pretzel buns for your next spring or summer BBQ! You’ll taste the difference, trust me!

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Today’s recipe comes inspired and halfway executed by my handsome husband. For the past week, he’s asked me if we could make pretzel buns for hot dogs and bratwursts. As we were snuggling watching TV last night, he looked up at me with these adorably doughy eyes and asked “Can we make the buns tonight? I just really want to make them.” It was probably one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.

Soft pretzel buns.jpg

So we got up and started a big batch of hot dog buns at 8pm. The night before I leave for 4 days. Because why not?

I’ve actually wanted to make homemade pretzel buns for a while, but just never got around to it. Plus, anytime I’ve made pretzels at home, they’ve never gotten that perfect pretzel look. You know the really browned outside with the white splits in the center? I follow recipes to a T, adjust the heat in my oven and even let them soak a second longer in baking soda water, and still, I don’t get that perfect crust.

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Don’t get me wrong, they brown up beautifully and taste like a pretzel should, but you know me, I’m a food blogging perfectionist and I just WANT THAT DAMN CRUST. It’s like poaching an egg and never getting that luscious runny yolk. Because of my pretzel attempts, I actually had no intention of photographing these. Imagine my surprise at 10pm when they come out of the oven with a beautiful pretzel crust. I actually think I squealed a bit.

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Now, they still aren’t perfect, but they are good enough for me. The outside is slightly crispy while the inside is warm and super soft. I stuffed one with leftover pulled pork (just for photos) but ended up eating it for breakfast. What goes better with coffee than pulled pork?

soft pork pretzel buns.jpg

The best thing about these buns (te-he-hehe) is that you can stuff them with whatever you’d like. Hot dogs, brats, pork, chicken, salad, a shoe, an old sock. I mean, whatever tickles your fancy. The bun will make the meal though, that I can promise you.

Easy Hot Dog Pretzel Buns

Quick easy pretzel buns.jpg

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Yields 8 buns. Slightly adapted from Food Network.
Prep time: >10 minutes
Cook time: About 14 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm (110 degrees) milk
  • 1/2 cup warm (110 degrees) water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • Sea salt

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour in the water, milk, 1/4 cup sugar and melted butter. Let sit until yeast starts to bubble and foam, about 15 minutes.
  2. Attach a dough hook to the stand mixer. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until mixture forms a dough and pulls apart from the bowl, about 5 minutes.
  3. Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead with lightly floured hands until smooth and elastic, another 2 – 3 minutes. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into four equal pieces. Then cut those pieces in half so you have 8 equal size pieces. Roll the eight pieces into soft balls and place four on each sheet, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches apart from each other. Cover with damp clothes and let rest for about 20 minutes.
  5. Once rested, roll the 8 pieces into 6 inch logs (so they resemble hot dog buns). Place on the same parchment paper lined sheets and cover with damp clothes and let rise about 30 minutes.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and mix in the 1/2 cup of baking soda. Dip the buns into the baking soda & water mixture and let boil for about 30 seconds on each side. Using a large slotted spoon remove the buns and shake off excess water.
  7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease two new pieces of parchment paper liberally with nonstick cooking spray and place on the two cookie sheets. Sprinkle immediately with sea salt. Score about 3 – 4 slices on the top of the buns.
  8. Place four buns on each cookie sheet and bake for about 13 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown. If you want an extra crispy crust, broil for an additional minute.

Nutritional information per bun:

Calories: 300
Fat: 3.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 55 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Protein: 9 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 7

Creamy Asparagus Gazpacho

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It is easily the hottest (and most humid) day in DC. I stood outside waiting for the bus for less than 5 minutes and was drenched, head to toe. Honestly, it’s really the perfect kind of day to have a big bowl of this easy asparagus gazpacho. (With a fruity cocktail of choice, of course).

Creamy asparagus soup

I’ve been cooking stove-free for almost a week and I have to say, I love it. With the exception of a pan of birthday brownies and the roasted asparagus for this soup, we’ve been living off the grill and no-bake dinners. I must say, It’s so nice not to have to sweat while I prepare dishes. I can’t say the same for my hubby, who has taken to sweating over the grill, but at least we can eat inside our house without sweating.

super creamy asparagus soup

See, we live in a small-ish townhouse and when the oven is on, it has this knack for heating up THE ENTIRE PLACE. Not to mention our place was built in the 20s, so our air conditioning is a wall unit. Like, one that sticks out and makes a lot of noise when its on. It does eventually cool our place off, but we go deaf with noise while it’s on.

roasted asparagus

I won’t complain, I love where we live. It’s charming, quiet and super dog-friendly. Plus, we have the world’s cutest patio (that I’m still decorating) so I can put up with a loud ac unit for that.

blending

Before I jump too far off topic, let’s get back to this gazpacho. The best thing about it is that you can serve it chilled or hot. Honestly, I had it both ways and they are both absolutely mouth-watering. However, since it’s apocalyptic hot outside, I’d suggest serving it chilled with a bunch of fresh garnishes. One of the best garnishes (besides the crunchy croutons) is good olive oil. I was recently sent a bottle of Cobram Estate First Harvest Olive Oil and it’s life-changing.

oliveo il

So smooth, it’s something you want to sip and savor on it’s own. But on this gazpacho? It’s perfect.

creamy gazpacho

Esp. paired with a glass of chilled white wine (or rose). I know, I’m on the rose bandwagon but it’s SO good. I’ll have a little post about that one soon.

Creamy Asparagus Gazpacho

Creamy asparagus gazpacho

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 4.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: About 30 minutes
Total time: About 1 hour

Ingredients: 

For the asparagus:

  • 1 pound green asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 pound white asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the soup:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the garnishes:

  • 1 cup croutons
  • 1 habanero pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish
  • Pine nuts for garnish
  • Olive oil for garnish

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In two large baking dishes, spread the asparagus so none of the stalks are overlapping. Drizzle both with olive oil and garnish with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast for about 20 minutes, flipping the stalks at 10, or until slightly browned and softened. Remove from stove and chop into quarters. Toss into a blender.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook about 4 minutes, or until slightly translucent. Add in garlic and habanero and cook for another 2 -3 minutes. Add in the vegetable broth and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer another 20 minutes, or until reduced slightly and vegetables are tender.
  4. Pour into the large blender (with the asparagus) and salt and pepper; then blend until creamy. Add in heavy cream and blend again until smooth.
  5. Chill for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until chilled. Pour into bowls and garnish with croutons, chopped pepper, cilantro, pine nuts and drizzle with olive oil.

Nutritional information per serving (1 bowl): 

Calories: 326.5
Fat: 22 grams
Carbohydrates: 18.75 grams
Fiber: 2.45 grams
Protein: 5.75 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 8

Mango Coconut Smoothie Bowl

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This is, hands down, my favorite flavor profile in the entire world. This mango coconut smoothie bowl might just be my new favorite thing.

Crunchy creamy smoothie bowl

When I was in Thailand, I’d get a mango sticky rice for dessert every. single. day. See, the Thai people do it right. They don’t eat shitty desserts filled with preservatives or sugar, they eat all natural desserts made from things found in nature.

smoothie ingredients

I miss Southeast Asia more than I can verbalize. I miss the sounds, the smells, the people. What I miss the most, tough, is the tastes. Despite the fact I got sick (from the water – NOT the food), the food I had there in the kitchens of the locals, picked up from the markets and made for us at local restaurants was some of the best I’ve ever had. Every dish was so incredible packed with flavor – fresh chiles, homegrown spices, locally sourced meats and veggies. Everything tasted like it was made with nothing  but love.

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Now, I know the US has an incredible food culture – I’m not doubting that. I love visiting the states and biting into every delicious morsel. Food is here is made with love, but not in the way the Thai dishes are. It’s so hard to explain and maybe someday I’ll be able to say what I actually mean.

Mango coconut smoothie bowl

Until then, I’ll talk about that dessert. Now, I’ve thought about recreating it for the blog about a million times. But I know it wouldn’t do the actual dessert justice. So instead, I took those exotic and refreshing flavors and turned them into something you can have for breakfast – a smoothie bowl!

Easy delicious smoothie bowls

Unless you’ve been living somewhere without Pinterest, you’ve probably seen the smoothie bowl craze. I’m not one to jump on bandwagons, but I just couldn’t resist. I mean, look at how frackin’ beautiful these bowls are? It’s a smoothie with added fruits and crunchy stuff. (“But I love caramel and crunchy stuff!”) Once you get over how pretty it is and stick your spoon into the thick, creamy smoothie, you’ll melt.

creamy smoothie bowl with mango

Or, if you’re really lucky, you’ll wake up on the white sandy beaches of Phi Phi Island.

Mango Coconut Smoothie Bowls

Super creamy smoothie bowl

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 2.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: About 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • 1 medium frozen banana
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (I used low-fat, feel free to sub in full-fat)
  • 1 tablespoon flax seed
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons honey

For the toppings:

  • About 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup crunchy granola
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup mango chunks, defrosted
  • Additional honey for drizzle

Directions: 

  1. Combine the mango, banana, coconut milk (start with 1 cup and add more if necessary), flax seed and honey. Pulse on high until thick and creamy.
  2. Pour the smoothie into two deep bowls. Top with blueberries, granola, coconut flakes, mango chunks and additional honey for sweetness. Serve immediately!

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 475
Fat: 16 grams
Carbohydrates: 70 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 7.5 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 12

Calphalon Self-Sharpening Knife Set Giveaway

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I don’t have a recipe for you guys today, but I have something just as exciting – A GIVEAWAY! It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these on the blog and I thought it was far time we remedied that.

Calphalon Self Sharpening

And what better giveaway for a bunch of like-minded foodies than a sexy knife set? Not just any ol’ knife set though – this is a self-sharpening knife set from Calphalon.

knives

I love my knives, the ones I’ve had for years and years. So much love goes into every single slice, chop and mince. They’ve seen me through three houses, a fire, three dogs – two careers, a failed book. Normal people probably don’t get it, but when you’re a cook, your knives? They are apart of you. The reasons your recipes succeed are owed as much to them as they are to your talent.

Self Knives2

So when Calphalon reached out to me about trying a new set, I was extremely skeptical. What, like replace my knives? However, I have to say – it was love at first slice.

oranges

These knives cut like butter, truthfully. They cut as smooth and as elegantly as my far-more expensive knives. As much as I love slicing, chopping and mincing with them, the self-sharpening aspect has to be my favorite. The block automatically sharpens the straight edge knives with every single use. No more sharpening on your own – they do it for you! For gals with full time jobs and busy travel schedules, things that handle their own sharpening and maintenance are probably my favorites.

self sharpen

The chef knife, bread knife, santoku knife and parer are all made with high-carbon, no-stain German steel while the steak knives are made with stamped Asian steel. I’m not lying when I say these are seriously sexy, seriously powerful knives.

super sharp knive

And because I love you, one of you will win one of your very own! Retailing at $180, this is a seriously good deal. To enter, simply fill out the easy prompts below. Giveaway ends July 24 at midnight. GOOD LUCK!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by the folks at Calphalon, however, all opinions and photographs are purely my own.

Roasted Turkey, Cheese & Sprout Sandwich

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I’ve always been a huge sammie girl. When it comes to lunch preparation, I always flock to the deli counter and the side of the store with the fancy cheese in it. Of course as a kid I grew up eating American cheese and white bread, but I’m happy to admit my tastes have changed just a little bit.

Roasted Turkey Sandwich

Instead of white bread, I use French bread. Instead of American cheese, I use slices of Cabot horseradish cheese or fresh mozzarella. Instead of dicey turkey, I use Hormel Natural Choice Oven Roasted Deli Turkey. I also have amped up my condiment and topping game quite substantially, and my sandwiches always have a beautiful bouquet of veggies on top, like beets, radishes or fresh green sprouts.

When I was asked by Hormel to create some recipes using their new NATURAL CHOICE products and I quickly jumped at the opportunity. I’m a healthy girl and I love food that is preservative-free and nutritious, and these deli meats are exactly it – fresh and delicious without any extra crap mixed in.

Roasted Turkey Sprout Sammie

I knew immediately I wanted to make a simple version of a French bread sub. I loaded it with cheese, topped with fresh sprouts and homemade mayo/mustard sauce. It was To. Die. For. It’s the kind of sandwich all other sandwiches want to be when they grow up, let me tell you that.

Roasted turkey, cheese & sprout sandwich

Easy Sprout Sammie

Serves 3.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 slices Hormel Natural Choice Oven Roasted Deli Turkey
  • 9 slices sharp vintage cheddar cheese
  • 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • Fresh green sprouts
  • 2 large tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Slice the baguette into three equal parts and then slice in half. Spread with olive oil.
  3. Top one side with 4 slices of deli meat and 3 slices of cheese. Place the other bread slices on the same pan and bake for about 8 minutes, or until crispy and cheese is melted.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk the Dijon mustard and mayo together.
  5. Remove the bread from the oven. Spread the top part of the baguette with Dijon/mayo mixture. Top with fresh greens and tomato slices.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hormel for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

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