“P” is for… Pizza Pretzels!

I have a problem. I am addicted to pizza. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you already know this little factoid. During the summer months, pizza makes its sneaky way into my meal plans almost weekly. During the colder months, it’s less frequent, which is silly since pizza warms me from head to toe(s).

Recently Tim and I were hiking and trying to think of MoFo post ideas. We were working our way through the alphabet (since that’s my theme!) and when we arrived at “P”, Tim eagerly suggested pizza and then pretzels and then some festive combination of both. Why the heck not, right? Pizza in a pretzel form is pretty exciting! I tied my apron strings, gathered my ingredients, and set to work creating Pizza Pretzels and Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce. Want to see the end result?

I adapted a basic soft pretzel recipe from Urban Vegan, which is one of my favorite cookbooks. If you don’t own it, maybe you should! I will share my recipe here, since I made several changes. The next time you want pizza, try these!

Pizza Pretzels

Makes 6 big, soft, pizza-licious pretzels

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon dry sweetener (preferably unrefined and organic)
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried ground rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried ground fennel
1 cup grated vegan cheese (I used Follow Your Heart)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
seeds/seasonings for sprinkling, optional (I used pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic flakes, and coarse salt)

Directions:

1. In a glass measuring cup, whisk yeast and sugar with the warm water. Set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer), stir together flours, salt, basil, oregano, rosemary, and fennel.
3. Add in the yeast mixture, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic.
4. Knead for about 8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. If dough is too sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
5. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. If you have a second baking sheet that is the same size, stack that under the first one. This will help keep your pretzels from browning too quickly on their bottoms!
7. Fill a large, wide (my pot is 7″ high and 12″ in diameter) pot halfway with water. Stir in 1/4 cup baking soda. Bring the water to a boil.
8. Meanwhile, divide your dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14-16″ long and shape into a pretzel (make a U-shape, twist the ends together twice at the top, and fold them down to meet the bottom of the U. Press the ends gently to secure the shape). Place formed pretzels on prepared baking sheet.
9. Once water is boiling, reduce the heat so that the water is simmering (just make sure it isn’t at a rapid boil). Submerge pretzels, one or two at a time, in the water. They will rise to the surface pretty quickly. Let them simmer for about 30 seconds and then remove with a slotted utensil and transfer back to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with seeds of choice.
10. Once all of your pretzels have been water-boiled and sprinkled, slide your baking sheet into the oven. Bake the pretzels for 15-18 minutes or until golden. Rotate halfway through baking, and check often to make sure they don’t burn.
11. Let pretzels cool, only slightly (they are best warm!) and serve with Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce (recipe follows).

*I considered sprinkling these with cheezy cashew crumbles (grind cashews, nutritional yeast, and a bit of salt together until powdery), but only after I’d eaten one, so next time for sure!

Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

1 (14-oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dry sweetener
1/4 teaspoon dried ground fennel
pinch dried ground rosemary
pinch chipotle flakes

Directions:

1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth (I am NOT a fan of chunky sauces!!). Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve with your pretzels.

Enjoy!

Any requests for my “Q” post tomorrow? All I can think of right now is quinoa, and that’s boring. Maybe boring will be necessary though!

Knock, Knock. Who’s there?

Tahini.

Tahini who?

Tahihitoo!

Ah hahaaa! Lame (not really a joke) joke. Goodness, it’s been awhile, huh? Let’s catch up on the last month, shall we?

First, Tim and I celebrated his birthday with cupcakes and lots of laziness:

Jaffa Cupcakes: Chocolate-orange cupcakes with orange frosting and drizzles of chocolate ganache. These were yummy.

Next, I attended an inspirational talk given by Jasmin Singer (big thanks to the Let Live Foundation for organizing this event!). The talk focused on how we can extend our advocacy beyond just the food on our plates, and speak up for animals in our daily lives. It was really wonderful to sit in a room full of people with a passion for animal activism. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and forget that we can all do more than just eat vegan food. Watch the talk and learn how you can use your talents to further help those without a voice:

Then, I baked up a few storms for Portland’s Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti. The sale made over $3,000!!! Woohoo!! Here are a few photos of the treats I made (with plenty of help from Tim!!!):

Rocky Road Cookies: Chocolate cookies with toasted almonds, dried sweet cherries, and vegan marshmallows.

Savory Soft Pretzels: Chewy, soft pretzels sprinkled with lots of yummy seeds.

Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies: Dark chocolate sandwiched between chewy almond cookie wafers.

And finally, Tim and I visited Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary in Estacada, OR. There was a big open house and lots of people showed up to meet, feed, and play with the resident animals. This was my first time visiting an animal sanctuary and I absolutely LOVED the experience!! My favorite animal was this sweet lil’ piggie who walked right up to me and gently snorted his wet snout in my face:

Here are some more photos of the animals we met:

My favorite part of the day was feeding the pigs lettuce and seeing just how happy they were waddling around in the mud!

My birthday is Wednesday, so stay tuned for photos of the cupcakes Tim will be baking!!!