A little thing called Pinterest.

Dear Ladies and Creative-Gentlemen-Secure-With-Their-Sexuality,

I need to introduce Pinterest to your life.

Pinterest is an online pinboard. Organize and share things you love.”

No other website have I come across that excites more joy and anguish at the same time.  Pinterest will show you what you want to see.  You “follow” fellow pinners who tend to pin things that make you feel all warm and gooey inside.  Unless you don’t like feeling warm and gooey and then you follow pinners who make you feel cold and solid inside (is that the opposite of warm and gooey?)  Hey, whatever rocks your boat.  But that’s the greatest part of Pinterest.  What rocks the boat will be at your finger tips until you click and click and suddenly five hours have passed and you can’t remember the last time your blinked or that life actually existed outside your computer screen.

What I have found is that diamond rings, french bulldogs, good-looking men, fantastic recipes and do it yourself projects are things that rock my boat.  Thanks Pinterest, I get it, I’m a girl.  And now the whole world knows.

It awakens the creative child within you and literally makes you way to stand up from your computer, buy arts and crafts and totally make your life into one big DIY mess.  You suddenly will have to urge to buy fabric and make your own headboard or buy chalkboard paint and make all your apartment into one big classroom.

Instead of these extremely difficult projects that I would most likely quit halfway through, I tackled a simple DIY project that I knew I could handle.  Making my own canvas print.

First you print out the picture you wish to transfer onto the canvas.  Apply a thick layer of Mod Podge to the canvas.

Press the picture (ink side down) into the painted canvas and push out all the air bubbles.  Make sure the entire picture is pressed into the canvas and pay attention to the corners and ends.

Leave it to dry overnight.  Once ready to remove the paper, saturate the picture with water.  With your fingers, rub the paper off of the canvas until it is completely removed.

After all the paper is removed, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the print and you’re done!  The picture does not come out true to color after it has been transferred to the canvas but it still looks great.  It almost has a vintage look to it.  And plus, you did it yourself =)

Now it’s your turn.  Tell me what project you will tackle or share your favorite pin!

Or maybe this will be your first one! Pin It


Mini Hiatus

Yikes.  Today is the first day of March and on the 10th, I will turn 25 years old.  I have used this date as a deadline for all-things-important in life.  I better boogie because I only have 9 more days left to do a lot of things.

I have not yet made a real content-filled post in 2012.  Let me paint you a quick picture of what my new year has been filled with.  Just so everyone is on the same page.  And because I know you are all just dying to know.

Christmas Time: bells will be ringing.

New Year’s Eve: a little song a little dance a little seltzer down your pants.

New Year’s Resolutions: you win some, you lose some.

A Trip Back To New Jersey: struggles and strife.

Valentine’s Day:  two forks, two people, too perfect.

Current Feelings: nothing is more complete then to love where you are and to love the one you’re with.

So here I am, March 2012.  This year you will bring me to a Quarter Century.  How can something be so terrifying and exhilarating at the same?

Bring it on.


Over the bridge to the other side of the bay

I’ve written a post with this exact title before.  I recently took a weekend trip to San Francisco with some family, friends and friend’s dog.  Since we went over the bridge to the other side of the bay only this time, a little higher up in California, I decided it was the perfect title.  We (and yes that does include the pup) rode bikes over the Golden Gate Bridge.  Does NOT get any more touristy than that but what can I say? I loved every second of it.

All pictures are from my iPhone.


Eggtastic Sandwiches

So I have a grown up job.  I work 8-5 every weekday and wake up earlier than I had to in high school. 

Every-single-morning I dragged myself out of bed in high school, I promised myself I would be rich enough to never have to wake up before my own mind and body wanted me to wake up.

But I’m not rich.  And I wake up to an alarm Monday-Friday after pressing snooze at least 5 times.   That’s an extra 45 minutes I rather spend half asleep, getting jolted awake by an alarm and searching for my phone that inevitably gets lost in the covers every 9 minutes per snooze then to get my butt out of bed in the morning.

Clearly, I am not a morning person.  However, I have found a little piece of sandwichy goodness that makes waking up a little easier.  A homemade prosciutto and egg sandwich that just needs to be reheated in the morning.  I was sent this simple but fantastic (hence the eggtastic) recipe by a friend of mine at my new grown up job.  Thanks Ashley for the tip and thanks to Macheesmo for this great recipe.

Eggtastic Sandwiches 

  • Eggs
  • Shredded cheese
  • Prosciutto broken into bite size pieces
  • English Muffins

Grab a muffin tin and spray with cooking spray.  Then crack an egg in each muffin area.  This method cooks the eggs into the perfect sandwich shape.

Place the tray in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.  While waiting for the eggs to cook, slice the muffins.  Place the muffins on a cookie sheet and put into the oven to toast.  You can toast the muffins while cooking the eggs.  Multitask my friends!!

Arrange the egg, cheese and prosciutto on the bread and.. well.. you’re done! 

Stick the sandwiches in the freezer for an hour uncovered.  This trick allows all the moisture to evaporate and creates a less soggy product.  After an hour, wrap each one in aluminum foil and put them all into a bag.  This bag o’eggs is about to be your morning glory for the next week or so.  Once you’re ready to grab one of these puppies to defrost in the morning, just heat them up in an oven for about 20 minutes on 250 degrees with the foil on.  The cheese melts and the egg gets all toasty warm.  The original recipe did not have any meat on the sandwich, but Lover Boy and I need pork in almost every meal possible so we added the prosciutto.  Even though it dried out in the freezing process, once you warm the sandwich up, the salty addition is bliss. 

These have become a life saver.

Pin This Recipe!


Smetzels? Yes please!

So let’s say we are learning from our mistakes.  Many mistakes.

Pretzels, Round Two

But first look at this pretty espresso picture..

   mm-MMM!  that makes me warm and fuzzy inside..

So on my quest of all things pretzel, I have starting doing research online to find maybe another crazy soul like ours that has tried to sell twisted dough in this untwisted world.  Believe it or not, I have found one!  Amy Gross has some pretty good looking pretzels and the girl could not be more of a trail blazer.  She is a New Jersey native, went to college in Philadelphia and has started her own pretzel selling business at local Farmer’s Markets in Maine!   Good thing she’s not selling in California because we would have some stiff competition.  This week we decided to try her recipe.

Soft Pretzels (Thank you, Amy Gross)

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4-5 cups flour
  • Butter
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • Kosher salt

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, then stir in the remaining 1 cup of the water.  Mix 4 cups of flour and salt in a large bowl.  We also added a teaspoon of sugar.  Add yeast mixture and mix to form a stiff dough, adding extra flour if necessary. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes or until dough is elastic.  Form the dough into a ball and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let dough rise for 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Butter a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.  Pinch off a small amount of dough and form into desired shape.

Bring at least 4 cups of water to a boil, then dissolve baking soda in boiling water.  Drop several shaped pretzels into boiling baking soda bath. Allow to simmer until pretzels float to the surface.

pretty lil pretzel

Remove pretzels with slotted spoon or spider and drain on a kitchen towel.

Place pretzels on prepared baking sheet and brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden.

Snagged a DONE picture before Lover Boy got to them

 Now, if you compare this recipe to the one we tried before, there really isn’t too much of a difference.  Round Two however, has salt added to the dough.  I enjoyed the salt in the dough, and because we snuck in the sugar, it balanced out? I’m not too sure if that makes sense but sounds right to me.  Come on people, we’re not pretzel pros yet.  We left the dough rise for exactly 45 minutes as per the recipe instead of leaving it out for a long time as we did in Round One.  We felt this really didn’t make a difference in the final product.  This recipe also did not have us oil the bowl at all.  At first we thought it made the dough dry and brittle when rolling out into the pretzel shapes, HOWEVER!  it made the dough crack when dropping it in the baking soda and then split even further when baking.  You can see the cracks in the picture above.  These cracks created a wonderful crunchy texture and allowed the melted butter to nestle into the pretzel.  And butter nestling of any sort is A-OK with me. 

Some thoughts for Round Three:

  • The dough is still missing something and we decided to next time add melted butter to the dough.  Butter = better
  • Read a little about “bread flour” instead of all purpose flour.  Bread flour has a higher gluten content and creates a fluffier dough.  Sorry all you Celiacs… Gimme that gluten!
  • No oil in the bowl to allow for crackling goodness
  • Round three is pushed off a couple weeks bc of a trip to Las Vegas and Turkey Day.  We are in charge of the turkey so we have bigger things on our plate.  Pun intended.

Pretzels? Yes please!

It has been officially one year since we have derooted our lives in the Garden State and repotted ourselves in the Golden State. Charlie and I promised each other that we would give California a real try and stay here at least a year. Here we are, November 2011, and I cannot quite express just how fast time went. As a kid you always hear that “time flies” and of course you never quite understand it. But lately I literally have to stop myself from saying those exact words because, how dare I be so trite.

But damn… time flies…

eekkk!! my trusty Civic finally hit 100,000 miles

Does me saying that mean I’m no longer a kid? Perhaps my fantastically amazing boyfriend and I’s new quest of making the perfectly amazing pretzel will add some youth back into our lives.

(apparently the title of this post should be “Adjectives? Yes please!”)

I have gathered a lot of information from being alive for 24 years and something that I now know for sure is that life is always better if you work for yourself. Information I have not gathered in my 24 years however, is how to make that happen. So for the sake of making this new focus of life easier to tackle, I picked something I know, for sure, that I have passion in.

Food.

Clearly! The answer to most questions is always food.

What will make me feel happy right now? Food.

What will make me feel worse right now? Food.

What is the purpose of life? Food.

What do you want a side of? More Food.

But you can’t just choose food and suddenly be set. As with most things, you need to find a nitch and it is clear to me that Californian’s love to try new things. Well let’s show them something new then!

Amish style soft pretzels is our best idea so far.

Ok so, idea, done. What’s next?

Perfecting a recipe, mass producing and making millions and millions of dollars and goodbye america!!

But before then, here’s how our new adventure in the kitchen is going and let me tell you, sit back, relax and bear with us because it’s going to be more of a slow, frustrating journey. Below is the recipe and instructions we followed and I’ve added some notes of some of the things along the way that may have impacted our outcome or changes we have made.

Pretzels (Round one)

Dough (adapted from Alton Brown’s Homemade Soft Pretzels)

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 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

First you combine the warm water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and let that sit for five minutes. Then you add the flour and butter, mix together and then knead to create the dough. This is where the use of a KitcheAid mixer would be the proper thing to do. However, we don’t have one, so we get down and dirty in the sticky. (Ahem.. gift idea!!)

Our iddy biddy kitchen =)

*Perhaps another gift idea!!*

Place the dough in a bowl that has been oiled and allow it to rise for approximately one hour.

Now in the DePasquale-Sanclemente household we of course left, went shopping, and left the dough for over 3 hours. If this is one of our mess ups, we will be sure to not do this a second time. Maybe.

After the dough has risen, divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll them into long ropes about the thickness of your finger. Add the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Arrange the ropes into pretzel shapes (ha, easier said then done.) Dip pretzel into boiling water for about 30 seconds and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush each pretzel with egg wash mixture and sprinkle with salt. Bake in preheated 450°F oven for about 12-14 minutes.

The 8 divided pieces produced way too thick of ropes for our liking so we cut those pieces in half. We tried all different thicknesses and lengths to see what we liked best. Thin and long is most reminiscent of home. We tried different lengths of time in the baking soda mixture and are not decided on which length of time is perfect. Because the mixture made the pretzels wet, we tried drying them on towels before baking and found that made the outer layer a little bit more crunchy. The egg wash was nixed immediatly because that weird green color of cooked eggs was appearing on the bottom of the pretzels. It seemed the outsides were cooking faster than the middle so we turned the oven down to 400°F and the pretzels were cooking more evenly.

Even though to pretzels were just so-so, Lover Boy and I ate about all of them before I could even snag a photo.

Some thoughts for Round Two:

  • We both agreed that the dough was not perfect. It needed to be a little bit sweeter.
  • We had used salted butter instead of unsalted and will change that next time. (Probably why the sweetness was not perfect)
  • Only let the dough rise for an hour.
  • Will mess more with the length of time in the baking soda bath.
  • Eat less and share with neighbors =)

Please tell us your thoughts and feelings about our adventure. Maybe you have an old pretzel recipe that we just have to try or you just think we’re crazy… Let me know!!


Over the bridge to the other side of the bay

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