Soft Pretzels


I’ll be honest — soft pretzels are a guilty pleasure of mine. I have very fond memories of going shopping with my family and being rewarded at the end with a hot pretzel and lemonade. I also like getting the pretzel rolls to make mini-sandwiches with, but they’re a bit hard to find nearby me.

Making pretzels seemed daunting to me. They’re like bread and bagels mixed together, some mystery that makes them magically chewy yet snappy and soft.

It turns out that they’re not that hard to make! I was inspired by my Secret Recipe Club partner for this month, Nicole from Collie’s Kitchen. Nicole is a half-country/half-city girl that is a full-time college student and mother. I can’t even imagine how she does everything, including making these great soft pretzels!

I didn’t have milk powder or a bread machine, so I had to use a little improvisation with these pretzels. These turned out way better than I expected and I imagine that there will be more pretzels in my future (gotta use up that bread flour!). We might even make these pretzels a Memorial Day tradition; they taste great when smooshed around a local sausage, coleslaw, and grilled onions.

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March & April #TeaSwap

I’ve really enjoyed organizing and participating in the Tea Swap the past couple months. The past two months I got some great treats from Nattie and Brianna. Nattie’s package came from across the pond and I was introduced to different tea companies and tea types (Chili Garlic Rooibos?!). Brianna sent me on an iced tea kick and now I always have a pitcher full of the stuff in my fridge. It’s amazing how the same tea can taste totally different when brewed hot versus cold.

Here are the teas I received:

If you want to get in on the next tea swap or share one that you participated in, head on over to the tea swap page!

Tea Swap Sharing

Mango Ginger Tart with Pistachio & Coconut


When my sister was graduating with her undergraduate degree in English last May, I had to show up to the ceremony with a little treat for her to eat afterwards.

This tart is incredibly easy to put together and is flavorful yet light. I first saw it on Zen Can Cook, thinking it was odd that a recipe so simple would be on his site. Then I knew it was destiny when fellow DC food-blogger Olga of  Mango & Tomato re-created it with some crystallized ginger. How could you go wrong with mango and ginger?

I was a bit lazy, which yielded a more “rustic” result. I used pre-chopped mango from the store instead of slicing my own, which made the tart a bit more clunky and testy when slicing. But the end result was still scrumptious and looked perfect for the occasion in my Panibois Baking Molds wrapped with ribbon and cute graduating owls. 

Spring Coconut Macaroon Nests


Macaroons are light, almost meringue-like cookies that originated in Italy, France, and Belgium. They were originally comprised of mainly almonds, similar to the Italian cookie amaretti. But once North America got its hands on the cookie, by way of Scotland, we swapped the nuts for coconut and made it our own. The coconut macaroon is popular in Australia, the United States, The Netherlands, and Germany.

Macaroons are a favorite treat in my parent’s household because they are on the lighter end of the sweet scale, especially when homemade. Made this way, they are also highly customize-able. You can choose different fillings (chocolate & almond spread for my in-laws, lemon curd for my side), to dip or drizzle with chocolate, or to eat them plain (my Dad’s favorite way). The shredded coconut I use is a little bit drier than the common “blue bag” (Baker’s Angel Flake) brand, and I also supplemented it with a little unsweetened shredded coconut to tamper the sugar level even more.

Besides decorating these to be cute nests, the best part was getting to snack on the leftover sweetened condensed milk, a tradition in my family. And since I was making these at my condo, I didn’t have to beat anyone at rock-paper-scissors for the rights to do so.

I saw this recipe linked to in an Easter Dessert Recipe Round-up  at Rachel Cooks, which led me to two different variations on Two Peas and Their PodCoconut Lemon Macaroon Nests & Nutella Macaroon Nests. My personal favorite was eating them plain, followed by the chocolate ones. It may have been the lemon curd I used, but the lemon versions were a bit too sweet. And, I almost killed my sister because I forgot that these were tropical jellybeans that had “strawberry” as one of the flavors! (She’s allergic to strawberries).

If you want an even easier version, you can look at Danny’s Macaroons, or a quick white-chocolate dipped version I made a while back for my Dad.

The Persimmon Tree® Tea Company: Wellness Blend & Green Caramel

persimmon_logoCheck out my other post about Lychee Burst & Jasmine Passion from The Persimmon Tree® Tea Company to learn more about the company and their teas.

You can head on over to their Facebook or website to learn more about them, or browse their teas.

Wellness Blend Tea

Designed to do exactly what the title says, this blend of organic herbs, fruits, and spices works well as pick-me-up. Invigorating and life affirming, Wellness Blend combines the best flavors, herbs, textures, and tastes into an excellent elixir. Add flavor and wellness to your senses, your body, and your mind.

This tea has a nice balance of sweetness, acid, fruitiness, and spice. The tartness of the fruit and the spiciness of the herbs balance each other out, and the licorice keeps it bright and clean tasting. The combination of flavors is warming yet calming at the same time. The use of green roobois worried me since I don’t like red roobois, but this added to the fresh taste and to balance out the other flavoring a to keep it from being too potently spiced. The roobois is also more hearty and less vegetal than a green tea and can hold up to a longer brewing.

It is great to have a warm cup of this before bed time to unwind, especially since it has no caffeine.

Green Caramel Tea

Our Green Caramel features roasted and steamed green loose-leaf tea leaves, rooibos and sweet caramel pieces. This low-caffeine treat combines just the right amount of body with the richness of the creamy caramel flavor. Enjoy on its own, or with a sprinkle of sugar as a low-calorie dessert.

For all of the ingredients in the description of this tea, I was expecting a sweet, burnt, and roasty cup. I got a clean grassy green tea with a subtle sweetness at the back. The second steeping of the leaves was a little more sweet. I did read on Steepster that others put more than the typical amount of leaves when brewing and preferred those results. Perhaps I will try over-leafing and see what that brew tastes like. 

Disclaimer: I was given these teas by The Persimmon Tree to review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.