Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easy Agave Marshmallows

A couple years ago, I was looking for treats that didn't have highly refined sugars.  I really liked marshmallows and I was tickled pink to find a recipe for ones made with agave nectar.  They turned out beautifully on the first try and my husband even likes them better than regular marshmallows.  I started to blog about these delectable treats back in early 2009, but never published the post.

Since that time, I've experimented with variations and different flavors.  My favorite is a vanilla bean marshmallow with toasted coconut.  The agave lends a nice, subtle flavor.  It is much stronger when you first whip up a batch, but it mellows as it sets up.  I'm almost sure you could replicate this recipe with honey in place of agave, if you don't like agave or don't have any on hand.  These are really simple and easy to make if you haven't made marshmallows before.  You don't have to worry about cooking a sugar syrup to a certain degree, which also eliminates the need of a candy thermometer. 

 On a side note, there is a new recipe book out dedicated to marshmallows of all shaped and kind, called "Marshmallow Madness! by Shauna Sever".  I can't wait to get my hands on it and review it!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Who doesn't love a warm soft pretzel?  They are definitely a snack that we love around my house.  When I started making these pretzels, I would make them into bite sized pieces.  They were good, but I like them best in pretzel form.  Plus reheating them is much easier when you aren't dealing with tiny pieces.

In preparation for our upcoming Pinewood Derby (for Cub Scouts), we had our Webelos Scouts make part of the refreshment...soft pretzels.  I made a double batch of dough ahead of time and then my lovely friend/Webelos Leader brought all of the ingredients to our Den meeting, so the boys could experience measuring the ingredients and mixing the dough.

I was surprised at how involved the boys wanted to be in mixing the dough.  When it came to shaping the dough into pretzels, they caught on quick.  Even my  friend's five year old was able to produce nice looking pretzels.  It was great to have so many hands to get our 36 pretzels shaped and ready for the boil & bake.  I highly recommend getting your kids involved in making these.

One of the best things about these pretzels, besides being delicious, is that they freeze really well.  Once they have cooled, place into freezer bags and freeze.  They can be reheated in a toaster oven or conventional oven.  I toast them for about 5 minutes, but that will vary based on your toaster oven.  For conventional oven, heat oven to 425 degrees and bake for 6-8 minutes (until pretzels are heated all the way through).

After you make the recipe once, you will realize why I double the recipe and freeze the pretzels.  They are perfect snacks and everyone loves them!

P.S.  This is another recipe that the butter can be subbed with Earth Balance, for those with allergies or diet restrictions.  I've made them both ways and they are both tasty.

This recipe was adapted from Bobby Flay's recipe.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a wonderful friend, who is also my Visiting Teaching Partner & the wife of our Bishop, who makes The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies...seriously.  My husband is an aficionado of cookies (& cookie dough!) and now he has two favorite cookies; this one & his Mom's Almond Sandwich Cookies.

Since my friend's name is Catherine, my husband aptly named these cookies C4's for Catherine's Chocolate Chip Cookies and they are totally 'da bomb!  They are slightly puff with the perfect combination of chewy and a little crispy on the bottom.  It is exactly how we like our cookies.  You have to try them and then tell me how you like them.

P.S.  Make sure you have an oven thermometer, unless you know your oven well.  I've had a ton of success with all my baking once I invested in one.

P.S.S. These cookies can be made with Smart Balance or Earth Balance in place of the butter, for those that can't do butter (due to diet or allergy) and they turn out really well.  Of course butter is best, but not everyone can do butter.

2 Years Later

Life has bought me back to my neglected blog, which needs a bit of a makeover.  I'm in the midst of trying to be the best mom I can be while balancing my other passions in life.  Ahh, the joys of motherhood!