Pumpkin Soft Pretzels

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A few years ago, I went through a serious soft pretzel phase. They were the first yeast bread-like item I’d ever made successfully, and I just couldn’t stop making them. It eventually got to be so ridiculous that I caved and had a “Soft Pretzel Week” on Savvy Eats, wherein I covered pretzel recipes, dip recipes, and pretzel food science.

Making soft pretzels became second nature, and after a time, I hardly even needed to measure the flour out – I could just tell from the feel of the dough if it was right or not.

And then, I just stopped. I’m not even sure why – maybe I felt a little burnt-out on pretzels, or the stockpile of frozen twists in the freezer was enough for a few months.  I’m not sure what it was, but a few weeks ago, I found myself craving a good soft pretzel. And because I had an open can of pumpkin puree that needed to be used up, and because it is pumpkin month, I decided to replace much of the oil with the pumpkin puree.

It turns out that making soft pretzels is a bit like riding a bike – as I kneaded the dough, punched it down and shaped it into pretzels, it felt comforting and familiar. Except whereas when you ride a bike again after a long time away, all you get is a bike ride, when I made this old favorite recipe, I come away with warm, springy soft pretzels.

Pumpkin Soft Pretzels

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Southwestern Cheese Dip

The very first time I ever made soft pretzels, it was in honor of the start of spring training for the Milwaukee Brewers. Then I went on a soft pretzel spree and did an entire week of posts devoted to soft pretzels. And then I was sick of soft pretzels and didn’t make any for six months.

It seems only appropriate that my return to soft pretzel baking aligns with the National League Championship Series. Soft pretzels to kick off the season and soft pretzels to cheer on the Milwaukee Brewers.

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On Monday, I made an entirely stadium-themed dinner for us to eat during the game. It  was a painful game to watch, but at least we had a great meal.

Soft pretzel sticks with southwestern cheese dip + sweet Italian sausage. I didn’t have time to photograph the sausage before the game began, so instead you get a photo of a Milwaukee Sweet Italian Sausage.

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But really, that was a painful game to watch. Here’s hoping the rest of this week goes better.

Go Brewers! If you are a Cardinals fan, I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends for the next week.

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Beast Mode!

Southwestern Cheese Dip

For this dip, I used Garlic Gold’s new Southwestern nuggets. However, you could also use garlic powder and your own southwestern spice blend.

Makes about 1 1/2 – 2 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat milk
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup Garlic Gold Southwestern nuggets

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly.

Stir in half the milk and all of the cheese. Stir constantly for 3 minutes, then add the rest of the cheese and the pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the cheese is completely melted.

Remove from heat and stir in the Garlic Gold nuggets. Serve with soft pretzels.

*Disclaimer: I am an employee of Garlic Gold, and this product was sent to me by the company. However, the opinions contained in this post and this blog are entirely my own.*