Lately

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It feels weird to not be blogging.  I mean, I feel really, really uncomfortable about this.  I feel guilty, even though there’s nothing  to be guilty about.  I didn’t realize how therapeutic it is to blog.  It’s weird – it’s like I can’t stay away.  We belong together, you and me. 

I’m trying to find the balance between blogging, working, and living.  I’m trying to figure out how you food blog if you have a real, normal job.  I know people do it…. I just don’t know how.  How do you take pictures of the food if it’s dark before you leave for work and when you get home?  The only solution is to bake on the weekends and take pictures.  And that’s fine, some days.  But I like to do a whole lotta nothing on the weekends.  

Going home for the holidays was amazing.  Getting to see my family just lifted my soul right up.  I needed to see everyone.  I’ve never gone so long without seeing my family.  I know a lot of people are fine being away from their families.  I’m not though… I’m like a big, grown-up baby.  I need those folks in my life.  So I’ve got a big case of the sads right now, now that I’m back in Chicago. 

I miss the company of my family.  I miss my parents’ good cooking, and my mom and dad taking care of me.  I miss playing board games with my sisters, and watching late night Netflix. 

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New Years was fun.  I made bacon wrapped little smokies, tropical rum jello shots, and red velvet cake.  It doesn’t get much trashier than that.  I really liked the cheesecake stuffed red velvet cake.  I’ll have to make that again for the blog. 

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This is Ass Toss.  A traditional, wholesome New Years game for the family.  There’s Eric!

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Happy New Year, everyone!

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I flew home, took the train from Midway into the city, then transferred to the bus.  With a suitcase, carry-on, and my laptop.  Never again.  It was awful having that much stuff.

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Eric and I needed a pick-me-up last week and made some pudding shots.  I know – what’s up with all of these shots lately?  I don’t know the answer to your question. 

They’re made with chocolate pudding, Cool Whip, vodka, and Baileys.  The first one tastes really good.  The sixth one doesn’t. 

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I’ve been eating a lot of candy lately.  I don’t know what that has to do with anything, but I thought you should know.  Candy and sodi pop cures the winter blues.

Poll: Which flavor of Starburst is the best? 

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Eric and I may have found our new favorite Chinese in Chicago.  Featured: Orange Chicken and Thai Basil Vegetable Fried Rice.   - at Yummy Yummy Asian Cuisine

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My dad gave me this Nutkao chocolate hazelnut spread for Christmas.  Do I dare say it’s better than Nutella?  Because it is.  I used it in a frosting for a chocolate cake. 

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Pour over coffee at Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago.  Does anyone make coffee like this at home?  It takes a long time.  I don’t know…. I have about five minutes to brew and drink coffee in the morning.  I couldn’t use this method.  Supposedly this makes the best cup of coffee.   I’ve had to do some research for work. 

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Eric and I had the worst meal of our lives this weekend.  It was really, really bad.  I Yelped the whole experience, but basically the waffles were sour and funky.  These were the Mexican “Chocolate” – notice there’s no chocolate. 

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Chicken and Bacon waffles.  The chicken was about three days old.  *Shudder* 

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  Not to toot my own horn (but I’m going to anyway) but I can make breakfast better than that place.  I made chocolate chip pancakes and bacon this morning and it was delicious doggonit.  I like making breakfast for my Ericcakes.

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  I made honey wheat pretzels today.  They were good but kind of ugly.  I’m not so good at shaping pretzels.  They turned into one big pretzel blob

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  I’m posting the recipe in case you want to try it out.  It’s my own recipe, and it’s pretty easy.  I guess that’s all for now.  I know I have more to tell you but honestly it’ll probably waste your time and I know you have stuff to do. 

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Honey Wheat Soft Pretzels

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (115 grams)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (170 grams)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon melted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water

1/3 cup hot water
1 teaspoon baking soda
Egg wash (optional)
Sea salt
Melted butter (optional)
Cinnamon-sugar (optional)

Stir together yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup water until dissolved; set aside ten minutes or until bubbly.

Stir in flours, honey, butter, salt, and 1 tablespoon water until combined.  Knead the dough for five minutes or until elastic.  Place dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proof in a warm area for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.  Divide dough into eight pieces and form into pretzels.  Place on lightly oiled baking sheets.  Cover with plastic wrap and proof 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Stir together hot water and baking soda; brush lightly onto pretzel dough.  Brush with egg wash for more shine, if desired.  Sprinkle sea salt on top.  Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, if desired. 

Makes 8 pretzels

54 comments:

  1. Love the pink and yellow Starburst - strawberry & lemon. Starburst make great "chips" for poker games while camping, by the way!

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    1. Carrie, I like the way you think. I want to play poker really badly! The pink ones are my favorite.

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  2. Uh yum, Thai basil fried rice sounds like the best thing ever!

    I know what you mean about the post-family/holiday blues :( I've been stress baking like crazy as a result!

    Your holiday treats looked fab, though. Happy new year Emily!

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    1. Sally, it was good! Yup, me too. Baking takes away the sadness. :( Happy new year!

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  3. Red Starbursts are totally the best. Yellow ones suck.

    That red velvet cake looks amazing! Looking forward to the recipe :)

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    1. I agree that the red ones are great. I think I like the pink ones the best. The orange are last on my list.

      I'll have to make that on a special occasion. Not sure when that'll be!

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  4. Oh the cake looks so delicious....I'll pass on the starburst...Never a fan of them. I'll use up the calories on the gorgeous cake!

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    1. I understand. I didn't use to like sugary candies but I do now.

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  5. It has to be rough being far away from family. I'm glad you at least had the holidays with them.

    Get a light box. I never have daylight when I cook. The photos I take in my light box are always better than anything I take outside of it. You can get a cheap one on Amazon.

    I'm not really find of Starburst. I would rather waste sugar calories on something rich and decadent. If I'm going to break my diet, I'm really going to break it!

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    1. Rachel, I love natural light. I don't think I could get a light box. You're like Debbie! I don't mind wasting calories on candy or rich desserts.

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  6. Strawberry, definitly. I always eat these at the end!!!! Wait... I love red too!!! Of Red and pink, it goes together anyway!!!! Spending time with familly during holidays is priceless!!!! LOve your pretzels!

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  7. Love the tropical flavor starbursts, but orange is my favorite regular. Sorry to hear about the waffle place being a bust. While always busy and not the most creative breakfast menu, Ann Sathers always hits the spot for us in the hood.

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    1. Mmm Ann Sather cinnamon rolls! I don't think I've had the tropical flavor.

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  8. I don't even have a fulltime job and can't figure out blogging. ;) You do what you can. I love your updates. And sharing all your food. I might be making a first trip to Chicago later this year, meeting up with some other bloggers, like Anna. We'll have to let you know, it probably won't be until Oct.

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    1. You have a big family and lots of activities going on! That is a full time job! I would love to meet up with everyone. Is that for Blogher?

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  9. cherry! love family time, and those pretzels look amazing-- totally trying those out :)

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  10. It's hard to get over the post holiday, post pastry school let-down. BUT just think how much worse it would be if you had to be job hunting. It's fabulous that you snagged a great job. (THEY'RE lucky, actually.)

    The pretzels look amazing. And the cinnamon sugar would definitely not be optional for me.

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    1. That is true! I'm grateful to have a job!

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  11. Blog when you want to and it feels fine to do, certainly no fun if you are stressed about it...your loyal followers will enjoy your blog when you have something you want to say....Love the shots!!

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    1. Thank you for the support, Jean! The shots were good. I made them into cake and brownies too.

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  12. I hear you on the food blogging with a full-time job thing. It's the main reason I don't really update much anymore. No energy/time/good lighting to shoot. Once in a while I make something blogworthy, though!

    Glad you had a great time with your family. Hang in there with the blues, it'll get better. Just make sure to stay warm - winter finally got here..

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    1. What can you do? We gotta make a living! Brr it's so cold! I hear it's going to be freezing this week.

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  13. I make pour over coffee every morning! I swear to you its EASIER than a big coffee maker and of course pour over tastes amazing. We have a single pour over maker as well as a large glass contraption that makes a whole pot of coffee. The single cup maker is so easy you just place it over your coffee cup, put in a mini filter, put coffee grounds in the filter, and then pour boiling water over it. soo easy! and i missed your posts, glad your back :) being away from family is hard but at least your close enough to visit fairly easily! my sister lives in a different country than me right now,.. its rough!

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    1. OH man! That would be rough. I hope she gets to visit regularly?? You are absolutely right. My family isn't thaat far away and I should be grateful! Perhaps I should invest in a pour over coffee pot-thing. I'm intrigued.

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  14. Red Starbursts are my favorite, followed by Pink, then Orange. Yellow tastes like Pinesol (or so I imagine).

    Your New Year's Eve looked like fun! And I agree, candy cures the winter blues!

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  15. So happy you had a good visit home. I've missed reading your posts but I know life has to happen too. The red velvet cake looks amazing. I hope you can manage to come around once in a while and let us know how you're doing.

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  16. Emily,
    Please don't stop your blog! I think you are brilliant, funny, creative, and inspiring (and I am an old person). I have made so many of your wonderful recipes and they have become some of my very favorites. Thank you so much for all your hard work. It is so appreciated by many people! (Plus I love following your adventures with Eric) Sincerely, A loyal fan

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    1. Oh wow! Thank you for the compliments. I'm blushing. I'm glad you liked the recipes! I'm going to try to improve my recipe writing and make them even better. Eric and I do have a lot of fun adventures. :))

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  17. I love lemon starbursts!

    And I'm glad you're back to blogging even if it's not recipes and just these catch-up posts!

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    1. Joanne, you are in the minority. Nobody seems to like the lemon!

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  18. Sorry to hear about the worst meal ever - it does sound pretty bad! Everything else looks great though :-)

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  19. it's amazing how blogging becomes a part of your life eh? i can't imagine not blogging either!

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    1. Same here. It's nice to take breaks but I don't think I could quit.

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  20. Waste our time??? How could you possibly waste our time? Don't be foolish now!!

    It would be great if you kept on blogging even a couple of times a week. Your's is the best blog I follow because you are such a character and super-normal/human plus you have great recipes. I'm so glad you got to spend some time at home over the holidays - it's great to have that re-charge that only family can give you.

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    1. Ohhh I think I can, Linda. I think I ramble.

      I would like to. I might try making two or three recipes on Friday nights then taking pictures on Saturday and blogging. We'll see. Awwww thank you!!

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  21. Work, life, blogging, I hope you find the right balance with plenty of "life" in there. However enjoyable, blogging is a big time sink, and we've been lucky to get so much of your time for so long. Enjoy the time you and Eric spend getting to know Chicago better and please don't feel guilty on our account. You know we'll be there with each new blog entry.

    ps -- I find pretzels hard to shape too -- mine end up looking like pretzel blobs so I usually just do sticks.

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    1. Well now I don't feel so bad. Everything you make looks perfect! You are too kind. Did you end up coming to Chicago?

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  22. Hooray!! You're back! I was checking your blog every few days just in hopes that you had changed your mind....or at least posted another entry :) **smiles**

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  23. Hi Emily!

    I wanted to share with you this link about photographing in all different types of light... even in the dark. I think you'll find it helpful!

    http://taylortakesataste.com/photographing-food-issue-1-window-lighting/

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    1. Thank you, Monique! I will check out the link. I need to take a photography class too, because my pictures blow.

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  24. hey, try go4food at old china town. and of course you are traveling w/ mcgee....

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  25. Hey Emily! I have been following your blog lately and am interested in pastry school. I was wondering what kind of job you are doing now that you are finished with school?

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    1. Hey! Email me and let's talk! Which schools are you looking at?

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  26. I'm the same way when it comes to family!! Glad you got some fun time at home!

    where was that awful breakfast? must stay away when i'm in Chicago!

    and I want some of those pudding shots!

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    1. Waffles. Eek.

      Pudding shots are fun. You should make some!

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  27. Those waffles looked so good. It's a shame they weren't actually tasty. Haha. But at least you got some pretzels! My family would love those.

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  28. Thanks for the tip on Nutkao. Been wanting to try it since I can get it CHEAP at Big Lots around ATL.

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