These days, every minute I spend with my boys seems special.
Maybe it is part of being an older mom or maybe its just part of being a mom period, but at every age I’ve though “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
I have truly always enjoyed them, but I’m not sure there has ever been a time when that was more true than right now.
At almost 7 and almost 8, they are the perfect blend of still little enough to still think I rock and grown up enough to be more fun than work. We laugh, have long conversations and just hang out together. Not a day goes by that I’m not awed by Christian’s intelligent questions and Alex’s sheer competence with pretty much everything. Really, watching them slowly turn from little boys to just boys is the most amazing thing.
You know what else is amazing? Their enthusiasm. For the last two years I’ve said this Christmas is the one, but this one really is. Their enthusiasm is so infectious and it is hard not to get caught up in it! My parents will be here Saturday which will pretty much kick off two weeks of celebrating.
In the mean time….I have a birthday to plan for!
Alex turns 8 next Tuesday. It is hard to believe.
(Even stranger is that I though I was really old to be having a baby when I was pregnant with him and now eight years later here I am expecting another. But that is a whole other story…)
As picky as he is, Alex is still a little foodie at heart. He loves to watch Chopped and Iron Chef with me, and is already dreaming up recipes. True to his foodie status, he has requested not one but two birthday desserts.
The first, a Salted Caramel Ice Cream Cone Cake from Food Network.
And the second, Red Velvet Cup Cakes with White Chocolate Filling.
This little guy doesn’t make things easy on his Mama does he?
I love that he knows what he wants and though my talents lie elsewhere in the kitchen, I’m really looking forward to the challenge of putting these together for him. It’s the first time he’s gone through all my clipped recipes and found exactly what he wants for his birthday. My little boy is growing up! (Sniff, sniff…)
Speaking of challenges in the kitchen, I have a confession.
I get really weird about cooking certain things. (Remember my asparagus phobia?) It’s really pretty embarrassing, all things considered.
I’ve had this recipe for Soft Quinoa Pretzel Bites written for over 6 months, and it has been on my to do list each week for that time. Somehow, it never got made.
Breads I can do. But I’ve always gotten nervous about things like pretzels and bagels. (I’m still recovering from my failed bagel attempt in 1998.)
Whatever the reason, I was chicken and it was so silly!
These were easy to make and so delicious. The boiling part is absolutely no big deal – it’s as simple as boiling pasta.
And….drum roll please….BOTH BOYS LIKED THEM! A LOT! (As in asking for them the next day.)
The ones you see here are gluten free, but I’ve included a flour substitution for those of you who aren’t. If you do make them gluten free, make sure you serve them warm. Like most gluten free goodies, these are worth the extra effort to re-heat! (P.S. If you tolerate gluten these are much better with it.)
- 1 3/4 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar (or sugar of choice)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 cups all purpose or gluten free flour blend *see note
- 1 1/2 cup toasted quinoa flour (see note)
- 2 ounces coconut oil, melted
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cups baking soda
- 2 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter of choice), melted
- Pretzel or Kosher Salt
- In a small bowl combine warm water, yeast and sugar. Stir gently until combined and set aside for 5 to proof.
- In combine salt and flours in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until well combined. If using all purpose flour switch to the dough hook. (no need for gluten free flour) And add in yeast mixture and oil. Mix on low until combined and then increase speed to high and mix for 4 minutes. Remove from bowl and place into a well oiled bowl. Cover and place in a warm place for 50 to 55 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Bring 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil in a wide saucepan or roasting pan.
- Turn the dough out on an oiled work surface and divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 24 inch rope and slice each rope into 1 – inch pieces. Place a lightly damp towel over the dough to prevent drying out.
- Using a slotted spoon lower pretzels into boiling water and boil for 30 seconds, flipping them over a couple of times. Remove pretzels from the water and place them on prepared baking sheets. Brush each pretzel with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until dark golden brown. Serve warm, brushing with additional butter if desired.
- If using gluten free flour blend, ensure that you use one with xanthan gum. If yours does not have it, add 2 1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum to your flour mixture.
Never toasted quinoa flour? It’s really simple but completely optional. I do it because I love the nutty and less earthy taste that it brings out. All you need to do is line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the flour out to about 1/4 inch deep. (I do a box at a time.) Bake on 220 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Allow to cool completely and then store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.