Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese

Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese - the perfect thing to serve Dad this Fathers Day weekend!

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It’s almost Fathers Day so what better way to celebrate than with pretzels and beer cheese! I mean what dad doesn’t love bread and cheese right!

So let’s talk about making pretzels. I have made them a few times and yet they always make me a little bit nervous. As you can see from my photos I certainly am not a pretzel forming expert, but truly you could make them in any shape and they would taste just as delicious.

So if you are a pretzel making novice like me I highly recommend looking up "how to form a pretzel" on youtube, visually seeing someone else do it just helps it to make more sense and have saved me on more than one occasion.

Now, when it comes to the beer cheese I absolutely think this is necessary, especially if you are making this for Father Day. You can use any type of beer that you love because if you love the flavour of the beer your using you will love the flavour of your beer cheese. But if you are not wanting to go the extra step these pretzels are also really delicious with your favourite grainy mustard.

So go ahead and treat dad this weekend - we all know he deserves it!

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prep time 2 hours

cook time 12 minutes

total time 2 hours 12 minutes

servings 6 pretzels

Ingredients

1 cup milk

1 pkg active dry yeast

3 tbsp brown sugar

2 1/4 cup flour

6 tbsp butter

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup baking soda

2 tbsp coarse salt

Instructions

In a small saucepan heat milk until it is about 110 degrees. Pour into a medium sized bowl the sprinkle on yeast and allow to sit for 2-5 minutes or until yeast is frothy.

To the yeast add in sugar and 1 cup of the flour and stir to combine. Stir 2 tbsp of the butter that has been softened into the mixture then add remaining flour and 1 tsp of salt.

Our the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth but still slightly tacky.

Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a towel. Allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 and prepare your baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down your dough to deflate then turn your dough out onto a floured surface. divide into 6 pieces then roll each piece into a 30-inch rope. Form each rope into a pretzel shape by making a U shape then crossing the ends of the U. Cross again then flip the ends down to form the pretzel shape (I highly recommend checking out a youtube video if you haven’t made them before).

Once you have formed each of your pretzels bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add in baking soda - 1 tbsp at a time being careful not to let the water boil over. Carefully place the pretzel in the water and cook for 2 minutes then flip. Using a slotted spoon remove from the water and place on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with coarse sea salt. Continue will remaining pretzels.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown then brush with remaining melted butter and serve immediately.

Beer Cheese

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/4 cup cream cheese

1 tbsp worshishire

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp garlic

1/2 tsp paprika

salt to taste

1/4-1/2 cup beer

In a food processor combine all ingredients and pulse until fully combined. Pour ingredients into a saucepan of microwave safe dish and heat until melted and smooth.

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Loaded Greek Hummus

Hummus loaded with tomatoes, cucumber, olives and feta - the perfect combination for a delicious healthy snack!

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So it’s Friday and I don’t know about you but I love Friday nights that involve lots of snacks and a movie or two. That's where this extra yummy greek salad topped hummus comes in.

I mean seriously, who doesn’t love hummus? It's healthy, delicious, and easily pairs with so many different flavours. While it’s super easy to pick up tasty hummus from the grocery store it is also just as easy to make your own - all you need are a couple of cans of chickpeas, lemon, olive oil, garlic and cumin - most of which you probably already have in your pantry. Throw it all together in your food processor or blender and all of the work is done for you.

Now, while I did say you can just throw the chickpeas right into the food processor directly from the can I do recommend spending a few extra minutes and removing the skins. It makes for more of a smooth textured hummus which I think it totally worth it.

I also love cooking the garlic in the oil for a few minutes as well to not only flavour the oil but to also take away the raw garlic bite and mellow it out.

So the one piece of advice that I have for you on this beautiful sunny Friday - serve this for dinner tonight with some veggies and grilled pita - your family will thank you!

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prep time 30 minutes

blend time 5 minutes

total time 35 minutes

servings 4 - 6

Ingredients

2 cans of chickpeas (preferably low sodium)

1/4 tsp cumin

4 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

1.5 tsp salt

2.5 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup cherry tomatoes halved or quartered

1/3 cup cucumbers finely diced

1 tbsp red onion finely diced

2 tbsp crumbled feta

3 tbsp sliced kalamata olives

Instructions

In a small saucepan place olive oil and whole garlic cloves and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until garlic is lightly browned.

Drain the cans of chickpeas into a colander and rinse then remove the skins by pinching between your thumb and index finger. Once all of the skins have been removed place the chickpeas in a food processor or blender along with cumin, salt, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic cloves. Blend on high for 3-4 minutes adding in water as needed until hummus is smooth then scoop your hummus into a bowl or onto a serving tray.

In a small bowl combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, feta and olives - stir to combine. Pour the vegetable mixture over the hummus and serve with vegetables and pita bread.

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Hoisin Chicken Potstickers

These spicy and crispy hoisin chicken potstickers are a delicious way to start a dinner or a great meal all on there own.

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Ok, guys, these potstickers are seriously so good. Now while these may not be the most traditional potsticker you have ever had, sometimes it’s good to stray from the usual and switch things up a little.

I also love that almost every culture has some type of dumpling. Whether it be gyoza, pirogies, samosas or ravioli they are a favourite around the world and essentially comfort food for many children and adults.

So while they can maybe be devoured in a matter of moments they don’t exactly come together in moments. They are certainly one of those little things that are a labour of love. Honestly, it took me over an hour just forming these little beauties. But the one thing that makes up for the tedious work is the fact that you get so many and they freeze so well! I mean honestly, unless you're having a party you’re not going to eat 48 of these in a single meal. But once they are in your freezer you can have a quick meal or delicious snack in less than 10 minutes. Just be sure to check the internal temperature as you may need to steam for a couple of extra minutes if they start out frozen.

So while it may be easy to get a frozen bag from the grocery store nothing beats making your own - you know exactly what is in them and with the spicey-hoisin flavour combination, you will never be able to go back to generic store-bought ones again!

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prep time 1 hour 20 minutes

cook time 10 minutes

total time 1 hour 30 minutes

servings 48 potstickers

Ingredients

2 tbsp soya sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tsp sambal oelek

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp corn starch

1 medium carrot finely chopped

2 scallions

1/2 cup water chestnuts finely chopped

1 lb ground turkey

1/4 cup hoisin

2 tbsp cilantro leaves finely chopped

1 pkg wonton wrappers

sesame seeds

Instructions

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients except the wonton wrappers and sesame seeds and mix until thoroughly combined.

Place a single wonton wrapper in the centre of your palm then using a small bowl of water and your fingers wet the edges of the wrapper. Place a teaspoon of the turkey mixture in the centre of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half so the edges meet and crimp to seal. Wet the bottom of the potsticker with water and press into sesame seeds to create a sesame crust. Continue with each wrapper until all of the filling has been used.

To cook place 1 tsp of oil in the bottom of a frying pan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat then add in 1/2 cup of water and cover with the lid. Allow to steam for 7 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Serve with soya sauce or your favourite dipping sauce.

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Sesame Ginger Sticky Wings

These sweet and sticky wings are the perfect combination of heat with a sweet kick of ginger and garlic.

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Who doesn’t love wings that are crispy, sticky and spicy right! For me, wings are one of those things that when done right can be a meal in itself, but unfortunately so many do it so wrong.

I strongly believe that wings need to be crispy and very well done. The great thing is that most restaurants will happily oblige and cook them well done and if your extra luck you're at Earls and they will finish them in the Forno oven making them not only crispy but also smokey.

So needless to say if I’m going to make wings at home they need to be delicious and crispy. While you can’t go wrong with a classic hot wing sometimes you want something a little bit different. These sesame ginger wings are spicy, tangy, sweet and sticky - possibly one of the best combination. One of the key pieces is the squeeze of fresh lime when they come out of the oven - trust me you don’t want to skip this step.

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prep time 5 minutes

cook time 45

total time 50 minutes

servings 4

Ingredients

2 lbs chicken wings

salt + pepper

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp agave or honey

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/4 cup sambal

2 tbsp soya sauce

3 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp ginger

1 lime

cilantro + sesame seeds to garnish

Instructions

In a small bowl combine sesame oil, agave, white wine vinegar, samba, soya sauce, finely chopped garlic and grated ginger. Whisk to combine then set aside.

On a baking sheet lay out the chicken in a single layer and sprinkle with salt + pepper then bake at 400 for 35 minutes then remove from the oven. Pour your sauce over the wings and toss so they are fully coated. Return to the oven and bake another 10 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and wings are slightly crisp.

Remove from the oven then squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the wings and garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds.

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Sweet + Spicy Chilli Chicken with Crunchy Cucumbers

This sweet + spicy chilli chicken has everything that you love about takeout without all of the calories. Perfect served over rice or on its own!

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I don’t know about you guys, but I love chicken when it's sweet, sticky, + spicy. Most of the time at restaurants it’s deep-fried which is super yummy, but let’s be honest, not something that we want to eat all of the time.

So this recipe is a great alternative when you want that traditional take-out taste but without the calories. I also think that the cucumber is a great addition to freshen it up and add a crunchy freshness that is perfect for this dish.

This Chilli Chicken is perfect as a main dish served over rice, or, if you're like me, on its own as your full meal! I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

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prep time 20 minutes + 1 hour brining

cook time 10 minutes

total time 1 hour 30 minutes

servings 4

Ingredients

1.5 lbs chicken breast

2 cups pickle juice

2 tbsp oil

6 cloves garlic

1 tsp red chilli flakes

3 tbsp white sesame seeds + more to garnish

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp soya sauce

2 tbsp ketchup

1 1/2 tbsp honey

1 tsp sambal

1 long English cucumber cut into 1 inch pieces

2 green onions

Instructions

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces and place in a ziplock bag. Pour pickle juice over chicken and allow to brine for 1 hour.

To make the glaze in a small bowl combine oil, garlic, chilli flakes, sesame seeds, vinegar, soya sauce, ketchup, honey and samba. Whisk until combined then set aside.

Drain chicken and pat dry using a paper towel. Using a wok or large frying pan cook chicken over medium heat for 5-8 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and golden brown. Pour glaze over the cooked chicken and stir 1 - 2 minutes or until coated. Remove from heat, add in cucumbers and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds - serve immediately.

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