Strawberry Pretzel Salad

If you are a fan of the salty-sweet combination, this recipe is an absolute MUST to add to your arsenal.

I first tried this dish at a bed and breakfast in my hometown (which is, unfortunately, no longer in business). Fortunately, they included their recipe in their fantastic cookbook, so their legacy lives on. A note at the bottom of the recipe mentions that this salad was one of the most requested items on their menu. Try it, and you’ll see why. It’s a versatile dish–works as a side, a dessert, breakfast, snack, etc.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Served at The Inn at Harvest Farms Lake

Crust:
2 c pretzels, crushed
¾ c butter, melted
3 T sugar

Mix pretzels, butter, and 3 T sugar. Press into 9×13 inch pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool 30 minutes.

Cream Filling:
1 – 8 oz package cream cheese
1 c sugar
2 c whipped topping

Blend cream cheese and 1 c sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over cooled pretzel crust.

Jell-O:
1 – 6 oz pkg strawberry Jell-O
2 c boiling water
2 – 10 oz pkgs frozen strawberries

Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Stir in frozen strawberries. Chill 10 minutes—watch it to be sure it doesn’t begin to congeal. Pour over cream cheese filling. Chill until set.

Yield: 12 servings

The Once and Future Beans

I first sampled these baked beans at a family barbeque a couple Fourth of July’s ago. My brother-in-law took a hit for the team and stayed up late preparing them.

I’ve served them at barbeques ever since and have often been asked for the recipe, which originated from Alton Brown.

Notes: The recipe suggests cooking the dish in a Dutch oven, but since I don’t have one of those yet, I use my slow cooker, and it works great. I cook the bacon, onion, jalapenos, tomato paste, brown sugar, & molasses in a skillet and then transfer them along with the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. On really hot summer days, I’ve even plugged in the slow cooker outside and let them cook there–which makes one less item to heat up the kitchen and to take up valuable counter space.

The Once and Future Beans

from Alton Brown’s Good Eats

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
1 pound bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
Vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Soak beans in a plastic container overnight in just enough cold water to submerge them completely.

Place a cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat and stir in the bacon, onion, and jalapenos until enough fat has rendered from the bacon to soften the onions, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, dark brown sugar, and molasses.

Drain the beans and reserve the soaking liquid. Add the drained beans to the Dutch oven. Place the soaking liquid in a measuring cup and add enough vegetable broth to equal 4 cups of liquid. Add the liquid to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Add in cayenne, black pepper and salt. Give them a stir and cover with the lid. Place the Dutch oven in the oven for 6 to 8 hours, or until the beans are tender.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

As of late, I’ve been trying to lower my postpartum spectacular carb intake.

Several years ago, I read The South Beach Diet, and I decided to give it a whirl. Those first two weeks of phase one were really tough on me, but I survived. I’m such a picky eater (I think it mostly stems from a texture aversion to a whole of foods) that I was even more limited than most on what I was willing and allowed to eat during Phase 1. My morning weigh-ins ultimately gave me the incentive I needed to persevere, though. Once I transitioned into Phase 2 (in which you’re allowed to introduce “good carbs” and “good fats” back into your diet), it got a lot easier.

Anyhow, after reading the book, I learned that sweet potatos actually have a lower glycemic count than your run of the mill white potato. Counterintuitive? Tell me about it!

And the great news? I like them SOOOOO much more than traditional french fries. I think the flavor is amazing!

A baby shower that my mom and sisters hosted for me earlier this year took place at a local bed and breakfast. At the luncheon, sweet potato fries were served, and I couldn’t get enough! YUM! (I realize that the intense craving may have been slightly tied to simply being pregnant, but I even crave them now–several months after delivery). I’ve been on the hunt for a good recipe ever since.

Special thanks to my friend, ReBecca, for pointing out to me that a great recipe was under my nose the entire time–in one my cookbooks!

South Beach Diet Baked Sweet Potato Fries
from The South Beach Diet: Quick & Easy Cookbook, page 282

Sweet potato makes these golden oven fries much healthier than the fried white potatoes we all grew up eating. If you want to add a spicy touch, use Hungarian hot paprika.

2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika

Heat oven to 425.

Slice each sweet potato lengthwise into 8 pieces. Toss with oil, salt, and paprika. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned on the bottom (about 15 minutes).

Turn slices and bake until bottom is browned and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes more. Serve hot.

Notes: I actually cooked mine longer because I like a crispy exterior. I also didn’t measure the ingredients–just mixed till it looked right. I also used Kosher salt instead of table salt because it is more forgiving & I didn’t want these to be too salty.

Yield: 4 servings