New Year’s Pretzel

Growing up, we would make New Year’s Pretzels and give them to friends and neighbors to celebrate the new year. The dough is straight forward and easy to make. The fun comes when rolling the dough and making a pretzel. We had one of our nephews helping to make them this year. Its a great activity for the family as everyone can make their pretzel a little different.

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New Years Pretzel Dough

1 package (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 deg F)
2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup melter butter
2 eggs
1 cup lukewarm mashed potatoes
7 to 7/12 cups flour


1 cup confection sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

To start, zap the water for about a minute in the microwave so that it is warm to the touch, about 110 degrees F.  Add in the yeast and whisk slightly to dissolve the yeast.  Add the water/yeast mixture to your mixing bowl and add the next 5 ingredients mixing as you go. Using mashed potatoes helps to make the dough firm and moist. Then, add in about 5 cups of flour. Switch to a dough hook and add the remaining flour and knead with the dough hook or by hand for about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours.

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When you are ready to make the pretzels, cut the dough into 4 to 6 pieces depending on how big you want each pretzel. I did 6 for this one and was able to make each about 12″ in diameter. You will need a wide space to start rolling out the dough. You need only a little flour as too much flour will cause the dough to slide on your work surface and it will be hard to roll.

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Roll one piece until it is 36″ to 48″ long and abut 3/4 to 1″ in diameter.

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I’ve discovered you always have to make it longer than you think and don’t forget the dough will increase in diameter by 2 to 3 times, so if it looks thin, that’s OK.

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Place the center portion on a greased tray

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and then flip the two ends once twice and then attach the ends on the sides of the big loop.

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Next we have to let the pretzel rise in a warm space with lots of humidity.  I like to warm the oven slightly (around 100 deg F) and place a jelly roll pan in the bottom with a cup or two of boiling water to keep the humidity nice and high in the oven. Perfect! Let the pretzels rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  You can see in the photo above how much the diameter increased.  Then bake at 400 degrees (375 convection) for 9 to 11 minutes, just until the crust is a golden brown.

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Cool on wire racks.

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Mix up the icing so that it is firm and not too runny. I like to use a pastry bag or zip lock bag with a corner cut off,  to decorate the pretzel with the year and what ever else you want to write – this is your pretzel! The ones you get in the stores typically coat the entire top with icing, if you like icing, that’s a good way to go.  Me- I like to eat them with a little butter. Ymmm…

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There is nothing like some tasty New Year Pretzel to start the new year.

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Beats the cold outside every time.

Zucchini Bread

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It’s late summer, and the zucchini in my family’s garden are ready to be picked!

We’re going to use them to make the most delicious zucchini bread. This recipe is quick and simple! And as my dad likes to say, you can pretend that you’re getting your veggies for the day with every slice you eat. Enjoy!


Zucchini Bread

2 cups grated zucchini (about 1 large or 2 medium zucchini)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 cup of chopped nuts (walnuts)


Start off by greasing and flouring two loaf pans. Glass is best, if you have them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

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I start off by grating my zucchini and setting it aside. Instead of a food processor, I just use my old hand grater as it takes no time to convert the zucchini into 2 cups of tender shreds ready for the bread.zucchini bread 0102

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Next, chop up 1 cup of nuts (walnuts are a personal favorite), into medium size pieces and set aside.  Slightly larger chunks give you a great crunch in every bite.zucchini bread 0101

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Now mix the flour, salt, baking soda ,and cinnamon together in a bowl. Whisk to incorporate all of the ingredients together.

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In a second bowl, beat the eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla until blended.  Add in the grated zucchini.

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Pour the flour mixture into to the zucchini mixture and mix until incorporated.  Add the chopped nuts and stir.

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Now, pour about half of the mixture into each loaf pan.  Place the pans in the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  If you’re not sure it’s done, insert a toothpick into the top of the loaf and see if it comes out clean.

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Let the pans cool for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then, you can remove the loaves and let them cool on racks.

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It’s hard definitely tough to wait unit the bread is cool before eating it – especially when you can see the hot steam coming off the freshly cut slice…. yummm:)

Buckwheat Banana Bread (Gluten Free)

I’ve been baking way too much this week. I like to tell myself that it’s a healthy form of stress release.


Thank goodness for hungry med school friends who are always willing to take the masses of banana bread off my hands. The recipe for this bread appears somewhat similar to the gluten free chocolate muffins I posted yesterday, but it totally deserves its own post. To me, the flavor and texture of this banana bread are out of this world. It’s like something you’ve never tasted before, but once you experience it, you want to keep eating nonstop.


My friends have even asked me if I put some sort of magical ingredient in here. Luckily, the ingredients are simple and extraordinary on their own:) I’ve already made this bread twice this week. It’s a good thing that I ran out of bananas…or I’d be likely to bake it again.


Buckwheat Banana Bread (Gluten Free)

modified from Happy Healthy Life – Triple Banana-Dark Chocolate-Peanut Buckwheat-Banana Bread

3 large bananas, mashed (can also substitute pumpkin or sweet potato puree for some of the banana)
1/3 cup agave (or maple syrup, honey)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground flax seeds
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans (or any nut), roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a bread loaf pan with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil.
Add bananas to a large mixing bowl and mash very well. Add in the melted coconut oil, vinegar, vanilla extract, and agave.
Fold in the flours, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, flax seeds. Stir well to form a very thick batter. Add in the chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of pecans. Pour this mixture into the loaf pan and smooth out the top with a spoon. Sprinkle the remainder of the pecans on top.
Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Cool the loaf before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Crust Love: Mrs. V’s Sweet Raisin Bread

We’re crust people. It’s just part of who we are. My dad and I share a common understanding about the complexities and deliciousness of the perfect crust. My mom isn’t as discerning, which is totally fine. Sometimes life is simpler when you’re not so particular.

raisin bread 0014I adore crusts of all textures, shapes, and sizes that come from all types of bread. I love it plain, dipped in good olive oil, or smothered with butter. For us, the crust is arguably the best part of the bread. We enjoy making bread of all varieties, from super crunchy yeast breads in Dutch ovens to beautifully braided challah to sweet zucchini loaves. Each type is delicious in its own special way and boasts a distinct texture of crust.

Continue reading Crust Love: Mrs. V’s Sweet Raisin Bread

Honey Wheat Bread

Nothing beats a fresh baked loaf of bread on a cold winter day. We make this bread year round, but there is something special about a warm slice of hearty bread to accompany a big bowl of soup for a cozy winter meal. Plus, there just aren’t words to describe the amazing aroma that fills your kitchen when you have a fresh loaf of bread baking away in the oven.

This honey wheat bread is a favorite in our house. The honey makes it slightly sweet, while the whole wheat flour provides robustness and an almost nutty flavor.  This bread is incredibly versatile, and the possibilities for delicious creations with it are endless!

Continue reading Honey Wheat Bread