Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Keep it Simple. [Cinnamon Raisin Pretzel Sticks]

Raisins are delicious healthy morsels that I can't get enough in my baked goods. I love the sweetness and chewiness they provide. I already have a default raisin bread recipe that my family enjoys. I don't care much for it, because it contains whole wheat. Bleech. Today I decided to make something for myself instead of catering to my family's taste buds.

Wow. This creation was right up my alley. Chewy pretzels with yummy raisins and a hint of cinnamon sugar. What more can I ask for? Actually, there is one thing. This creation certainly isn't as moist as the original recipe. I suspect it's because the raisins weren't rehydrated so it absorbed all the moisture from the dough. In the recipe below, I suggest that the raisins be given time to rehydrate.

Cinnamon Raisin Pretzel Sticks
adapted from SugarLaw

Note: These pretzels are chewy with a hint of cinnamon. It's not overwhelmingly sweet so if you have a sweet tooth, double the amount of sugar/cinnamon mixture for sprinkling. 

1 tsp active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
1/3 cup warm water

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TBSP white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup of raisins, sprinkled with water and allow it to sit for 30 minutes

1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar

3 TBSP baking soda
3 cups hot water

  1. Dissolve yeast in water and pinch of sugar for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix flour with cinnamon until evenly distributed. Add sugar, salt, canola oil, vanilla extract, and yeast. Knead until combined, a few minutes. 
  3. Make a ball and flatten it into a pancake. Sprinkle half of the raisins on there and fold the dough several times to incorporate the raisins into the dough. Repeat this step one more time with the rest of the raisins. 
  4. Let the dough rise in a greased bowl until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  6. When dough has risen, pinch into 6 portions and roll into a long strand.
  7. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Stir baking soda until dissolved. Dip Pretzel in mixture for 15 seconds. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (mix 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp sugar).
  8. Bake for 8 minutes or until browned.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Do you have another voice in your head? [Candied Walnuts Recipe]

Toasting walnuts.

Regardless of where I am or what I'm doing, my mom's voice is in my head telling me what to do and giving her critiques of me. She's harsh. Often times, I hear "You're not good enough" or "What's the point of that? It's useless." The voice in my head is never positive. Without realizing it, I have carried this voice with me throughout my years and I don't think it's done me any good. Yes, it's kept me out of trouble, but my confidence and self-esteem is shot. Trying activities or engaging in situations outside of my comfort zone is terrifying and my first thought is always that I'll fail. To get past that point and start chasing my dreams is difficult. I can often feel her unhappy gaze on the back of my head. I am accustomed to following my mom's shadow and I often struggle to come up with what I want and not what she thinks I should do.

I love watching sugar suddenly turn into liquid form.

My current job situation brings me joy, but she doesn't approve of it. I'm still trying to figure out how to find a happy medium for myself and for my mother. Despite the negativity, I still love her and I show it to her by making food whether is baking or cooking her a meal.

Recently, we had leftover salad ingredients so I decided to create a gourmet salad with garlic bread. I know my mom loves walnuts so I can candied it. She fell in love with the candied walnuts and said it was her favorite part of the meal.

Mom's salad: egg, onions, cranberries, candied walnuts, & mixed greens with sourdough garlic bread.

Candied walnuts.

Candied Walnuts

Note: I don't like my walnuts too sweet, but feel free to the increase the sugar up to 40g (3 1/2 TBSP).

50g (1/2 cup) raw walnuts
30g (2 1/2 TBSP) sugar
pinch of salt


  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toast walnuts in a skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Toss occasionally to prevent burning. Toast until hot to the touch and crispy.
  3. When the walnuts are done, put it in a bowl.
  4. In the same skillet, add the sugar and salt. Keep the heat on medium until the sugar starts melting and turning into a light tan. (A Tip: Swirl the pan so the sugar melts evenly and turns color uniformly) Lower the heat to low. When it turns into a darker shade, add the walnuts.
  5. Mix well and let it take on a dark amber before pouring the walnuts onto a parchment paper.
  6. Allow the walnuts to cool then break into pieces.
  7. Best if used within the same day.


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