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Random Friday Fun Facts: Hacking a foody recipe so I can make it with an awake toddler

So recently we were at Applebee’s (because we are officially Old People who go to Family Restaurants where it doesn’t matter if Hannah cries a little bit, and they have unlimited refills of diet coke) and I saw something in the desserts that spoke to me.  Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites with a cream cheese dipping sauce.  Yum.  But because I’m trying to be off deserts, and also because they were like $8.99, I thought to myself, “self, I bet I could make something like that.”

And it’s been a while since I’ve been domestic and tried out new recipes, I decided to look online and find a cinnamon sugar pretzel bite recipe.

I found this one from some people called Kevin and Amanda, who seem to love cooking, getting excited over food, making gifs of their finished product, having a really great manicure; and they blog-crush on some other cooking bloggers called Two Peas and Their Pod.

They were really, I mean REALLY excited over these pretzel bites.  Like, seriously excited.  It was a group blogging effort with the two peas and the pod people, so there were four of them in a trendy kitchen getting excited over pretzel bites.  The post is really long.  They go into detail about the salted caramel sauce that’s way beyond what I cared about, given the fact that I was just trying to satisfy a sweet tooth.

But their recipe seemed easy enough, and so I thought I’d try it at home.

The only thing is, these food bloggers don’t seem to have toddlers roaming around, trying to find things they can chew on, or digging through your purse when you’re not looking trying to eat your lip gloss.  Also, I don’t have nearly the kind of kitchen gadgets they have.  I have an espresso machine, a blender, a tea kettle, a toaster oven, and a soda stream.  And that’s it.  No microwave (they freak me out).  No fancy mixer.

I was going to try out the recipe adding in my own little touches to make it something that I could do while Hannah was zooming around trying to eat the cat food.

So, going through their recipe, here’s what I did:

Yeah, I have both an old and new pineapple on my counter.  Don’t judge.

Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.”

Hannah was napping when I started the recipe, so gathering the ingredients and making the dough was easy enough.  Only thing is, I don’t have a stand mixer or a dough hook.  And there’s no way I’m getting one.  That is just way more of a commitment to domesticity than I am willing to make.  So I stuck it all in a regular bowl.  And mixed it with a spoon.  The way the pioneer women did.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.
Again, not using a mixer.  So just did this myself with my hands.  When it looked like it was all combined, I called it done.
Coat a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or foil and place in a warm , draft-free spot until the dough doubles in size, about one hour.
Easy enough, except I covered with a paper towel and put on the stove.  Because I don’t know where a draft free spot would be that also wasn’t accessible to either the cats or the baby.  
At this point Hannah woke up, so we had lunch and went for a walk at the lake.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring the water to a boil and add the baking soda.
My messy pulled-apart “bites”
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a rope about 22″ long. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches, about 15 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a well-greased baking sheet.
Here’s where I really cheated.  Hannah was zooming around at this point and ain’t no way I had the time or space to roll pieces of dough into a 22″ rope and then cut them nice and evenly.  So I just held chunks of dough in my hands, twirled it around so it made a skinny rope, and pulled pieces off that seemed bite-size.
The finished product
Bake the pretzel bites at 425 for 8 minutes, then remove from the oven and immediately place the pretzel bites on a cooling rack. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle the tops generously with cinnamon sugar. You want to do this over a cooling rack and not on the pan you bake the pretzel bites on or else the sugar will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Then put the pretzel bites back on the first pan and continue baking for an additional 8-10 mins until golden and cooked through.
Again, I don’t have a cooling rack.  So my hack for this was to put the egg and water into the original mixing bowl, dump everything in there and pour the cinnamon and sugar in, and then put them all back on the pan, with aluminum foil wrapped around it.  Tear it off, and the pan is like new.  No burning sugar to scrape off.  Easy peasy.  
The finished pretzel bites were yummy, which was the point of the exercise.  Even my hubster, who’s not a fan of sweets, noshed on them all night long.  There was also a recipe for salted caramel sauce, but I realized I had some from Trader Joe’s already, so I opened that up.  Cuz why cook when you can open a jar?
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites with Salted Caramel Sauce: it’s what’s for Dinner.
(for what it’s worth, I went to school with Auntie Anne’s daughter.  I guess pretzels run in the genes of those who grew up in Lancaster County)