Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Tip Tuesday" Plus "National Pretzel Day" With “Honey Butter Homemade Soft Pretzels”

Who doesn’t love pretzels? Can you believe that today is National Pretzel Day? Pretzels come in so many varieties, sticks, loops, long, short, braids, hard, soft, thin and thick. Hard pretzels originated in the United States in 1850 at the Sturgis Bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania.  In Europe, snack pretzels are sprinkled with salt, sesame, and poppy seeds, or with cheese. In the U.S., they come in a variety of flavors and with different coatings, such as yogurt, chocolate, strawberry, cheese, mustard, nuts, sugar glazes, and also salted. Pretzels can be crumbled and used as a topping for ice cream, which eventually led to the development of an ice cream cone tasting like a pretzel. 

A pretzel is known by different names in other countries. In Germany, pretzels are called Brezel, in Polish it is known as Precel, the Norwegian and the Danish people call it Kringle, and the French, Spanish, and the Italians call it Pretzel, Bretzel, or Brezel. In Italy, the Taralli is an Italian snack food that is similar in texture to a pretzel. Taralli can either be sweet or savory. Sometimes they are glazed with sugar, may be flavored with onion, garlic, seeds, pepper, fennel, or just salt. The sweet and plain Taralli are often dunked in wine. The Taralli shapes are classically formed into small rings or ovals. They are baked, or deep fried.  

Americans consume an average of 1.5 pounds of pretzels per year, supporting an industry that has an annual value of over $550 million, according to National Day Calendar.

Free Pretzels on National Pretzel Day:

Auntie Anne’s: If you have the My Pretzel Perks app, you can get a free Original or Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel between April 26 and May 1. Plus, if you download the app by April 25, you could be one of five people who will win free pretzels for a year.

Ben’s Soft Pretzels: Donate $1 or more to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and get a free Jumbo Soft Pretzel. All proceeds go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

Philly Pretzel Factory: Receive a free pretzel on April 26 at most locations. This offer might not be valid at locations in aquariums, zoos, airports or train stations.

Most people agree that the pretzels were invented by monks and have a Christian background. According to history, in 610 AD, an Italian monk invented pretzels as a reward to children who learn their prayers. He called the strips of baked dough, “pretiola” (little rewards) these strips of baked dough were folded to resemble arms crossing the chest. However, there is no source cited to back up these details. Another source locates the invention in a monastery in southern France. In Germany there are stories that pretzels were the invention of their bakers. In Greece, ringed bread, derived from communion bread used in monasteries a thousand years ago, may also be related to the invention of the looped pretzel.

Within the Catholic Church, pretzels were regarded as having religious significance for both ingredients and shape. Pretzels made with a simple recipe using only flour and water could be eaten during Lent, when Christians were forbidden to eat eggs, lard, or dairy products such as milk and butter. As time passed, pretzels became associated with both Lent and Easter.

In the 19th centuries, southern German and Swiss German immigrants introduced the pretzel to North America. These immigrants became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Many handmade pretzel bakeries populated the central Pennsylvania countryside, and the pretzel‘s popularity spread. In the 20th centuries, soft pretzels became extremely popular in other regions of the United States. Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York became famous for their soft pretzels. With increased popularity due to mass production, pretzels were distributed at schools, grocery stores, movie theaters, sports stadiums, arenas, and street vendors. Selling pretzels on street corners in wooden glass enclosed cases were found in New York City. 

As a young child, I remember when I would go to NYC with my family especially at Christmas, the hot soft pretzels was always a treat. We would be walking along 5th Ave, near all the famous department stores, like Macy’s and Lord & Taylor, and low and behold we would see one, a vendor selling hot soft pretzels on the corner. You could smell the baked dough and the mustard as you were getting closer to the stand that sold them. It was wrapped in waxed paper and placed in a brown paper bag. To me, the best time to eat them was in the winter when the weather was cold outside. The hot bag filled with pretzels would warm your hands. Then as we continued walking, I would pull apart a piece of the warm pretzel and leave the rest in the bag to keep warm. All the salt would be the first thing that I would lick off. The hot soft dough would just melt in your mouth and it always seemed to warm up your stomach. At that time you could get 3 pretzels for $1.00, and what would be left, was an empty bag with some salt crystals left at the bottom. What a delicious memory to have with my family.

Today, Pennsylvania is the center of the American pretzel production for the hard crispy and the soft bread types of pretzels. Pennsylvania with its large German background produces 80% of the nation’s pretzels. In 1963 the largest pretzel of it’s time weighing 40 pounds and measuring 5 feet across was baked by Joseph Nacchio of the Federal Pretzel Baking Company.  In 1993 the Pretzel Museum opened in Philadelphia, operated by the Nacchio family.

My recipe this week is called “Honey Butter Homemade Soft Pretzels” I have made these before and I usually have my family knocking on my door, for more. The soft dough is so light and the honey butter melted on the top of each pretzel reminds me that I’m back on the corner of 5 Th Ave, reliving my childhood all over again. Memories never tasted so good. So enjoy, whether you like the sticks, chocolate covered or the big soft ones with mustard on top, celebrate pretzels with a bag today.

Honey Butter Homemade Soft Pretzels

Total Time: 1 hr 55 minutes
Prep: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons yeast
2 cups of warm water
6 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of honey
3 eggs beaten
Honey Butter Mix (recipe follows)
Kosher salt, for sprinkling

Honey Butter Mix
1/2 cup of melted butter
1/4 cup of honey
In a small bowl combine melted butter and honey

Preheat oven to 425 °F degrees. In a large bowl, combine the yeast and warm water; allow to sit for 5 minutes till somewhat foamy. Add the flour, salt, sugar, honey and eggs. Mix thoroughly for about 10 minutes. Let the dough rise about 10 to 15 minutes. Divide the dough into 4-ounce portions and roll out each piece into a long rope shape. Now shape the pretzel dough and pinch the 2 (arms) to maintain them from coming apart. Place on greased cookie sheet or you can use parchment paper and let rise for 1 hour. Brush with Honey Butter Mix and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 20 minutes till light brown. Remove to cool for 5 minutes prior to eating; if you like them warm just a few minutes. 


Tip Tuesday: Salt

Did you know? Ancient Romans seasoned vegetables with salt, which is where the word “salad” originates.

Think outside the salt shaker! Salt is a versatile household powerhouse—here's how to use it to clean your kitchen, preserve your produce, and even soothe common aches and pains.

1. Brighten a wooden cutting board: Sprinkle salt over the cutting board and scour it using half a lemon. Rinse the salt and lemon juice off with water and let the board dry.

2. Put out a grease fire: Turn off the heat and try to cover the fire with a lid. If the fire doesn’t go out, pour a large amount of salt on it to snuff out the flames.

3. Soothe a sore throat: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in an 8 oz glass of water to temporarily relieve throat pain.

4. Set the color of new clothes and towels: Add a tablespoon of salt to the wash to help seal in the fabric color.

5. Relieve bee sting pain: Mix salt and water into a paste and apply to the bee sting immediately. Leave the paste on for 30 minutes. 

6. Make milk last longer: Add a pinch of salt to your milk carton to make it last a few days longer.

7. Clean wicker furniture: Scrub your outdoor furniture with a stiff brush dipped in salt water to get rid of any dullness. Let the furniture dry in the sun.

8. Stop candles from dripping: Make a saltwater solution of 2 tablespoons of salt for every 2 cups of water. Soak your candles overnight and then set them out to dry.

9. Clean greasy pans: Sprinkle a generous amount of salt in the pan to soak up any grease. Scrub the salt around to remove any burned-on bits, then wash with soapy water.

10. Prevent windows from frosting: Dip a sponge in salty water and rub on the inside of your windows. This will stop any ice from forming.

11. Stop apples from browning: Mix a 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every 1 quart of water and soak the apple pieces for about 5 minutes.

Till Next Time…..

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

"Tip Tuesday" Is All About "Garlic"..."Grandma’s Marinara Tomato Sauce" & "Grandma’s Meatballs"

Welcome, to my blog and Tip Tuesday! Come on in have a glass of wine! If you would like to share some tips that have helped you out just let me know by posting below or by an email to angellite13(at)optimum(dot)net and I will post them with your name in a future blog post. I think this will be fun and “Tips” are always a time saver. 

Today happens to be “National Garlic Day!” Garlic is used in many households for wonderful tasty dishes. You can NEVER be without garlic cloves in an Italian house. Garlic is called "the stinking rose" or “the fragrant pearl." Its pungent flavor is used as a seasoning or condiment. Garlic cloves can be eaten raw or cooked. They may also be dried or powdered. According to Ron Engeland, author of “Growing Great Garlic” there may well be over 450 identifiable strains of garlic.

Did you know that garlic, is a species in the onion family. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, and leek. Garlic has been used throughout recorded history for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Here’s some “Garlic” trivia and “Tips” that you may enjoy reading.
  • Central European folk beliefs - considered garlic a powerful ward against demons, werewolves, and vampires. To ward off vampires, garlic could be worn or hung in windows etc.
  •  Egyptians worshiped garlic - and placed clay models of garlic bulbs in the tomb of Tutankhamen.
  • How Can You Get Rid of Garlic Odor on Your Hands after cooking? After exposure, scrub your hands with salt and lemon juice, using cold water. Then rinse off with soapy warm water. Another way is to rub your hands on the stainless steel sink. Then wash your hands and the odor should be gone.
  • It is said that if you carry a garlic clove with you when traveling over water, it will prevent you from drowning.
  • Soldiers throughout history have used it for these properties when going into battle.
  • Garlic Tea - For sore throat, make a garlic tea by steeping several cloves of garlic in half a cup of water overnight. Hold your nose and drink it.
  • Garlic is also used for hair growth.
  • Alliumphobia is what the fear of garlic is called. Garlic only contains 4 calories per clove.
  • Chicago was named after the American Indian word for the wild garlic that grew around Lake Michigan, chicagaoua.
There are many Garlic Festivals throughout the country. One is called “The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival,” in Saugerties, New York (Oct 1 & 2,  2016)


Making a great tomato sauce is something you can be proud of once you get it right. No store bought pasta or spaghetti sauce can compare with the taste of a sauce that you make from scratch. You can use this sauce on a variety of pasta including spaghetti, macaroni, and it is also a good base for lasagna and meatballs. My recipe this week is two fold, one is my mom’s “Marinara Sauce” and the other is her “Meatball” recipe. Of course these two dishes contain garlic. The recipe for this sauce was passed down from my family, and now to you. Buon Appetto! 

Grandma’s Marinara Tomato Sauce

2 cans of 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
2 cans of tomato paste
Olive Oil or Canola Oil
5 large garlic cloves
Salt to taste
2 1/2 tablespoons of Oregano flakes
2 1/2 tablespoons of Parsley flakes
2 1/2 tablespoons of Basil flakes
2 dried Bay leaves

On medium heat sauté olive oil to thinly cover bottom of pot. Add garlic. Then add crushed tomatoes and paste.  Add 1/2 can of water (use paste can).  Put in salt, parsley, basil, oregano to taste and add 2 dried bay leaves.  Stir while cooking on low simmer (after starts to boil) for 1 hour. You can add a small amount of sugar if desired (optional). Cover on or slightly off to thicken sauce. Enjoy with pasta of your choice and meatballs.


Grandma’s Meatballs
Yields: 30 meatballs-(10 meatballs per pound)

2 cups of bread crumbs (if too stiff add a sprinkle of water)
3 lbs of beef chuck chopped meat (80% lean, but not too lean, you need a little fat for moisture)
1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic
3/4 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese

6 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
3 fistfuls of fresh parsley-chopped
Vegetable oil or Canola oil 
Place oil about 1/4 to 1/2 inches in frying pan. Heat oil before placing the meatballs in pan. Put the beef chuck in a med-sized bowl and add all ingredients except the oil. Gently combine the meat using your hands until evenly mixed. The mixture should be slightly wet and workable, not too sticky. Using your hands, gently shape meat into balls. Don’t worry if they are not perfectly round, but try to make them all uniform for even cooking. Don’t roll them over and over, be gentle. Add the meatballs to the pan and fry them until they are brown on one side then turn. Keep turning with tongs until they are completely and evenly browned. Transfer the cooked meatballs to a paper towel to drain. Now it is time to place your meatballs into your sauce to cook for a while and then serve with pasta of your choice.

Tip: In place of bread crumbs, take chunks of stale Italian bread and soak in a bowl with water or milk. As it softens remove crust and squeeze water or milk out of bread chunks. Separate into small pieces and add to chopped meat mixture.

Don’t forget to pair your meal with some delicious red wine……

Don’t forget to drink responsibly!

Till Next Time………………………………..

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Tip Tuesday" and “Ham Asparagus Strata” Yummy!!

Welcome, to my blog… all my friends, family, and followers! I am finally back! I am taking it slow so I will only be posting on Tuesday for a few weeks, then I will be back on Friday as well. If you have noticed I have renamed, “Soupy Tuesday” for the Spring and Summer to “Tip Tuesday.” I will still be posting a fabulous recipe but then at the bottom of my recipe I will be posting some “Tips” for food, cooking, baking, household tips, etc. As I did with “Soupy Tuesday,” I am also welcoming your “Tips” too. So if you would like to share some that have helped you out just let me know by posting below or by an email to angellite13(at)optimum(dot)net and I will post them with your name in a future blog post. I think this will be fun and “Tips” are always a time saver. 

Next, I just want to thank all of you who have been sending well wishes and prayers to my mom, my dad, and myself. My mom was in a rehab center for her back from November to the end of February. Her condition is getting better. We did have a few set backs but she is trying to regain her strength. It is very slow going and my family thank you for your continuing prayers and thoughts. I was also in the hospital after my mom came home and so you can see things have been a little busy around here. So again thank you dear family and friends for your concern, understanding, and your prayers.

This recipe is taken from a cookbook that I have used before called, “Better Homes and Gardens Annual Recipes 2007.” I have the pleasure to participate in my food blogger friend Louise‘s, Months Of Edible Celebrations.” She is posting to her blog recipes that are taken from cookbooks, magazines, booklets, etc. on Wednesday as “Cookbook Wednesdays.” So stop over at her blog and tell her that I sent you.... 

“Ham-Asparagus Strata”

This cheesy breakfast or brunch recipe is a make-ahead special. Fix it the night before and pop it in the oven the next morning. I have made this before and used only veggies, but you can add whatever you and your family likes. Enjoy!

Serving yield: 6

4 English muffins, torn or cut into bite-size pieces (4 cups)
2 cups cubed cooked ham (10 oz.) (you can also add Vegetables/no meat)
2 cups cut-up fresh cooked asparagus
4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup dairy sour cream
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

In greased 2-quart square baking dish spread half the muffin pieces. Top with ham, asparagus, and cheese. Top with remaining muffin pieces. In bowl whisk together eggs and sour cream. Stir in milk, onion, mustard, and salt and pepper. Pour over layers in dish. Cover; chill for 2 to 24 hours. Bake, uncovered, in 325°F oven for 60 to 65 minutes or until internal temperature registers 170°F on an instant read thermometer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.



Clever uses for White Bread: These tips are the greatest things since sliced…well, you know. 

People eating white bread these days are shamed by the healthy eaters all around them. I happen to love white bread (peanut butter and jelly on soft white bread, there is nothing better!) but buy the multi-grain in an effort to eat healthier. If you find yourself with an uneaten loaf of white bread here are some creative household uses for it.

Clean the coffee grinder…put a couple of chunks of white bread in, pulse a few times and dump out. The grounds hiding in the corners will stick to the bread chunks.

Safely pick up broken glass…catch tiny shards by gently pressing a slice of bread down on the area where the glass broke. Toss immediately into trash to avoid scattering them.

Keep fresh baked cookies soft…before putting cooking into a covered container, add a few slices of bread to the bottom. The bread will become hard, keeping the cookies soft.

Degrease soups & sauces….soak up the oil that’s risen to the surface of your soup/sauce. Simply place a stale piece of bread on top, let it sit for a few seconds, then remove it.

Erase photo smudges….make a ball out of a few pieces of stale bread and swipe it across fingerprint-covered photos. The porous bread absorbs the oils without leaving scratches.

Stop foul smells….soak a slice in vinegar, place it on a paper towel and leave inside an empty trashcan, lunchbox, etc overnight. When you toss out, odors will be neutralized due to the acidic vinegar.

FUN FACT: Wonder Bread’s name was inspired by the “wonder” of the sight of the International Balloon Race of 1921.


Till Next Time………………………………............

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved