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Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Beer Cheese Fondue

It's almost time for the Super Bowl... aka the best night of the year to eat snack food! I'm not a big football person, but I can always get excited for appetizers! Buffalo wings, meatballs, chips & salsa, anything wrapped in bacon... I can't wait for Sunday. Back before Christmas, my husband and I visited a new steakhouse here in Lima for his work holiday party. We ordered a few appetizers, and the one that stuck out was a beer cheese fondue with freshly baked pretzel balls. It was SO good, I knew I had to re-create it at home. Soft Pretzel Nuggets might be a little bit of work - but they are so worth it! Paired with a super simple Beer Cheese Fondue, these snacks will be a hit at your Super Bowl party.   IMG_5873   Start with the pretzel dough. Combine warm water, sugar, salt, and yeast in a stand mixer. Add flour and melted butter; mix to combine. Knead with the dough hook about 5 minutes until smooth. (You can also do this by hand, it will just take a bit longer.)   pretzel dough   Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.   IMG_5800   Divide the dough into 6 portions and roll each into a long rope. Cut into 1-inch nuggets. (At this point, you can freeze the nuggets if you want to work in advance. I highly recommend this!)  

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  When you are ready to bake, bring a pot of water to boil along with 2/3 cup of baking soda. Boil the pretzel nuggets for 30 seconds, and then remove to a parchment-lined baking sheet. The boiling process is what gives soft pretzels their chewy texture. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 450*F until dark golden brown, about 10 minutes.  

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  While pretzels are baking, get started on your cheese fondue. It's really simple - a little diced onion, garlic, beer, and shredded cheddar! Cook the onion and garlic first, then add the beer and cheddar along with a little cream and stir until smooth. Such a great combo with the soft pretzel nuggets.   IMG_5870   They'd also be great sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar instead of salt. (Maybe with a chocolate dipping sauce??! YUM!)   IMG_5866   Looking for additional Super Bowl recipe ideas? Check these out! --------

Soft Pretzel Nuggets

Servings/Yield: about 75 nuggets
  • Pretzel dough
    • cups warm water, 110*-115*F
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • teaspoons instant yeast
    • cups all-purpose flour
    • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • To finish
    • 10 cups water
    • cup baking soda
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • additional kosher salt
Method To make the pretzel dough, combine the warm water, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast. Add in the flour and melted butter; mix just until combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. (Alternately, if you do not have a stand mixer, you can stir everything together with a wooden spoon; then, knead by hand 6-8 minutes until smooth.) Place dough in into a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 55-60 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Divide dough into 6 portions. Roll each into a long rope about 1-inch in diameter. Cut into pretzel nuggets about 1-inch long. (At this point, you may freeze the dough chunks on a baking sheet until firm; then store in a freezer bag.) When you are ready to bake the pretzels, preheat the oven to 450*F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan. Drop the pretzel nuggets (either fresh or frozen) directly into the boiling water; boil for about 30 seconds. Remove using a slotted spoon and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining pretzel nuggets. Combine egg yolk with water. Using a pastry brush, coat each pretzel nugget with the egg wash. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. Bake in the preheated oven about 9-11 minutes until dark golden brown. Cool at least 5 minutes before serving. Source: adapted from Annie's Eats   

Beer Cheese Fondue

Servings/Yield: about 4 cups
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup beer
  • 4 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cream
Method In a saucepan, saute onion in butter over medium heat until soft. Add garlic; saute 1 minute more. Add beer. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Toss grated cheddar with flour; add to saucepan. Stir until melted. Stir in cream. Serve with soft pretzel nuggets. Source: adapted from Taste of Home
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Chief in Northland completes remodel

October 23. 2013 7:30PM LANCE MIHM 419-993-2091 • lmihm@civitasmedia.com LIMA — Chief Supermarket at 120 W. Northern Ave. recently completed major renovations and will hold grand opening events over the first three weekends in November. Chief Director of Marketing Annette Hoeffel said it was like getting a completely new store. “Ceiling tiles and floors have been replaced,” Hoeffel said. “The bathrooms have been redone, and it looks beautiful.” The store was designed to offer many new shopping experiences, Hoeffel said. "We will have a cheesemonger and fishmonger available to assist customers on selecting the right cheese or seafoods,” Hoeffel said. “They have expert knowledge and will be able to assist in special orders.” Also available will be a cheese shop, a celebrations area featuring floral bouquets and balloons, expansions of the produce and deli departments, and fresh sushi made daily in the deli area.FrontP1080408   10.7_P1080406   10.7_P1080401 Also located in the store will be a new restaurant, Boots BBQ, based out of Defiance. The store is owned privately and will feature ribs, brisket, pulled pork and other barbecue favorites with five sauces to choose from. The store will feature a savings zone with an entire wall in the store dedicated to the best deals. Price freezes will be available for 90 days on more than 600 store items most often used by customers. Hoeffel said special giveaways, food samples and cooking demonstrations will be available each weekend of the grand opening. There will be random prize drawings each weekend, and a 55-inch flat screen television will be given away on the final weekend as a grand prize. ~article reposted from The Lima News. www.limaohio.com
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Mary’s Memo – August 12th

ANOTHER REASON FOR NOT SMOKING


Smoking may increase your risk of colon cancer, at least among women, suggests a new Norwegian study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The researchers followed 600,000 people for 14 years and found that female smokers were 19 percent more likely to develop colon cancer, on average, than women who never smoked. And female smokers tended to develop the cancer at a younger age than male smokers. Women who smoked for at least 40 years had a 50 percent higher risk of colon cancer. Though this study did not find that male smokers were at increased risk, they are not off the hook, since some earlier studies found that they, too, are more likely to develop colon cancer. Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 2013.

FAST FIXES FOR DIET DERAILERS


Let yourself cheat on weekends. Trying to eat healthy 100 percent of the time is unrealistic, but 80 to 90 percent of the time isn’t, says nutritionist Jackie Newgent, R.D.N. “It is okay to enjoy a couple of not so perfectly healthful meals per week,” she says. “You can specifically plan to have those on the weekend without worrying about willpower. Plus, when it’s possible, plan to walk at least 30 minutes before your less-than-stellar meals to help accommodate extra calories in advance.” Source: Consumer Reports on Health, August 2013.

FEED YOUR BRAIN!


Several foods have been linked to improved brain health. Blueberries and walnuts contain polyphenols that have been shown to protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that people who do not get enough omega-3s are at increased risk of fatigue, poor memory, decreased concentration and mood swings. Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, August 2013.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF BEAN SALAD


While doing some summer housecleaning I found a bean salad recipe from my sister, Ann, from ages ago. It appeals to me because one of the ingredients is stuffed olives and I haven’t tasted an olive I didn’t like!

ANN’S BEAN SALAD


• 1 (14.5-ounce) can blue lake green beans
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can yellow wax beans
• 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 1 cup chopped sweet onion
• 1 cup sliced stuffed olives
• Italian dressing
• Vinegar (optional)

Drain beans. Add other vegetables. Marinate in Italian dressing. If you like it more tart, add vinegar to taste. Chill overnight. Source: Ann Trentadue, Upper St Claire PA.

RAVE REVIEWS FOR THIS ONE!


Although most fresh fruits are available throughout the year, they are not always USA-grown. That’s why I like the summer fruit selection best of all because the grapes I used in Grape Salad were grown here. I used equal amounts of red and green for added color. Calories were cut by substituting reduced-fat cream cheese for regular and light sour cream for full fat one. Because toasting enhances the flavor the pecans were toasted that go on top.

GRAPE SALAD


• 2 pounds green seedless grapes
• 2 pounds red seedless grapes
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
• 1 (8-ounce) carton light sour cream (I use Daisy brand)
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Wash grapes and pat dry (important). Combine vanilla, cream cheese, sour cream and brown sugar. Stir into grapes and toss gently. Before serving, top with toasted pecans. To toast nuts, lightly brown in a nonstick skillet, stirring constantly, until nuts give off a nice aroma, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Source: Adapted from recipe in Four Seasons Colony Cookbook, via Renee Isaac, Bryan.

GADGETS


Oxo has a new 3-in-one adjustable potato ricer with a rotating stainless steel disk to easily change puree consistency. Fine setting is perfect for fluffy mashed potatoes, turnips and carrots. Medium setting is ideal for spaetzle and pressing water out of cooked greens and coarse setting is great for chunky applesauce, egg salad and pressing tomatoes for sauce. I bought mine at Bed Bath & Beyond at 20% off with coupon. Also, at a Crate and Barrel I found a 6-inch Anchor Hocking made-in-the-USA glass pie plate. Now I can make 2 serving-size pies, quiches and frittatas. They should also be available at Amazon.com.

PS:
A Chief customer has lost a recipe for Dilled Carrots that I had on a memo during the 80s. I seem to have lost mine, also. If you have the recipe would you please leave copy at the Chief Supermarket nearest you?

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Buffalo Chicken Meltdown

Today's recipe is inspired by one of my college cafeteria's most popular sandwiches - the Buffalo Chicken Meltdown. (Sounds intense, huh?) Whenever the dining commons served up this sandwich, the line would be crazy long for the main entree. Something about a deep-fried chicken patty, smothered in buffalo-barbecue sauce, topped with cheese must have been very appealing to college students. My friends & I always gobbled them up.   IMG_4351   The cafeteria always seemed to serve these sandwiches on a Tuesday or Thursday, which also happened to be 'speedwork at the track' day. (I was on the cross country & track teams in college.) I just remember getting through 2 or 3 repeats and everybody would be clutching at their bellies... "Did you have the Buffalo Chicken Meltdown for lunch?" "Yea... when will we ever learn??!" As tasty as those sandwiches were, they didn't prove to be great running fuel. Something about the deep-fried goodness plus cheese plus buffalo sauce was just not a good combination. (Not a good combination for running... but otherwise an excellent combination.) So, I set out to re-make my college favorite, but make it a little healthier. I replaced the deep-fried chicken patty with a lean, grilled chicken breast. I kept the standard sauce (barbecue + buffalo sauce), but kept it to a small amount of cheese, and served it up on a fresh-baked onion bun. Dare I say these were better than the original? They are super easy, too. Start by making your sauce - just a mix of barbecue and buffalo wing sauce. Use more buffalo if you like it spicier, use less if you're a bit of a wimp.  

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  Season some chicken breasts with salt & pepper, and grill them up. During the last couple minutes of grill time, brush the sauce on top, and lay a slice of cheese on each chicken breast so it melts.  

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  Once the chicken's done, it's all about the assembly. Just a toasted onion bun, topped with the chicken, some chopped green onions, and a little ranch dressing. You could certainly add lettuce & tomato, but I wanted the barbecue-buffalo flavor to really come through.   IMG_4350   My husband never had the privilege of enjoying the Buffalo Chicken Meltdown in college, so this was his first experience. He gave it two thumb's up for sure. (I will actually admit, we ate this for dinner three nights in a row last week. It was so easy since the chicken was already grilled up!) _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Buffalo Chicken Meltdown Servings/Yield: 4 sandwiches
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 4-6 slices provolone cheese
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 onion buns, toasted
  • ranch dressing, for serving
Method Preheat grill to medium-high. Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper. For sauce, combine barbecue sauce and buffalo wing sauce in bowl. Set aside. Grill chicken breasts, 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through. During last 1-2 minutes of grilling, brush with sauce mixture and top with provolone cheese. Serve chicken on toasted onion buns topped with green onions and a drizzle of ranch. Source: inspired by a dish served in the Greenville College cafeteria
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Lemon Poppyseed Muffin French Toast with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Have you ever tried the fresh-baked jumbo muffins from the bakery case in your local Chief store? I am a big-time baker at home, so it is very rare that we buy any baked goods from the grocery store. However, the first weekend of May, we made a bit of an exception. We had just completely gutted our kitchen (no countertops, no dishwasher, no cabinets, no sink...) and it also happened to be my birthday. While I was out for my morning run, my hubby decided to surprise me with breakfast from Chief. He ran and picked up a half-dozen or so of the bakery muffins in all the different flavors for a nice little birthday treat. We cut them all in half so we could try more flavors, and man, I was pleasantly surprised! These muffins rock. My favorite flavor was the Lemon Poppyseed, and I knew I had to come up with a special recipe that highlights these muffins. I thought of a couple ideas (bread pudding, dessert trifle) before I landed on French toast. What better way to make a breakfast classic even sweeter?   IMG_4182   The idea is pretty basic - slice a bakery muffin (any flavor that is your favorite!) into 1/2-inch thick slices, dip it in an egg batter, and fry it up in a griddle until crisp & golden on the outside. I served the lemon poppyseed variation with a strawberry-rhubarb compote, because lemon + strawberries are a match made in heaven, and my mom has had rhubarb out the wazoo in her garden. Start with the strawberry-rhubarb compote first... it can simmer while you prepare the French toast. Combine some strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, water, & vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat, and just let it bubble away until thick. It's that simple!   [caption id="attachment_2787" align="aligncenter" width="308"]IMG_4180 At the beginning[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2792" align="aligncenter" width="321"]IMG_4188 After 20 minutes of simmering[/caption]   While the compote is simmering, prepare the French toast. I found it easiest to slice each muffin into 3 slices top to bottom. Make a little egg batter, coat both sides of each muffin, and fry in a bit of butter on a griddle over medium heat.  

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  Just a few minutes on each side until it is golden brown.   IMG_4187   Serve it up with a drizzle of the strawberry-rhubarb compote, and you don't even need any syrup! This was a perfect breakfast for summer - very light, with the citrus and fruit compote. It would be even tastier served up with some more sliced strawberries. (I accidentally used all mine in the sauce!)  

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  You could totally go crazy with flavor combinations here. Pistachio muffins with chocolate glaze, blueberry muffins with good ole' fashioned maple syrup, banana-walnut muffins with caramelized bananas. Your creativity is the limit! _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lemon Poppyseed Muffin French Toast with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Servings/Yield: about 4 servings
  • For the compote
    • 1-1½ cups sliced strawberries
    • 1 cup diced rhubarb
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup water
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the French toast
    • 4 bakery-style lemon poppyseed muffins
    • 3 eggs
    • ½ cup milk
    • 2-4 tablespoons butter
Method For the strawberry-rhubarb compote, combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, water, and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low until bubbly and thickened, stirring occasionally, about 20-25 minutes. For the French toast, whisk together eggs and milk in a shallow bowl. Slice each muffin into thirds, into slices about 1/2-inch thick. Preheat skillet or saucepan over medium heat; add about 1 tablespoon butter to pan. Dip each slice of muffin into the egg mixture, coating both sides. Place onto hot skillet; cook until golden brown. Flip, and cook the other side until golden brown. Serve warm French toast with strawberry-rhubarb compote. Source: adapted from The Rhode Show