Thursday, June 16, 2011


Hi everyone!  We are back at home, safe and sound.  I had to bid adieu to California Wednesday afternoon.  (Yep, I speak German.)  I had work to do at home, and we missed Chris.  I think he missed us too until we came home and immediately thrashed the house.  He is a pretty neat and clean guy, so I am sure he loved having us gone all week.  We wreck a house pretty quickly.
As you may know, I did a sampling/tasting last weekend at Draeger’s in Blackhawk.  I sample my BBQ sauces with pretzels. Just regular mini pretzels…. Since I buy them in bulk, I run the risk of having a whole lotta pretzels left over.  This time, I ended up with more pretzels then anyone could ever eat.  Ever.  After handing them out to the neighbors like some sort of weird Halloween treat, I still have too much.  I decided to try to mix some pretzels into some easy recipes that I was already planning on making.
My first recipe is for cookies.  Chocolate Toffee Pretzel cookies to be exact.  I really like the combination of sweet and salty, so I pretty much figured these would be a winner.  Oh man, was I right.
The cookies started like a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I creamed together (with a hand mixer) softened butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla.  I beat that mixture until it was creamy and smooth.
Then I tossed in some eggs and beat the heck out of that.
In a separate bowl, I whisked together flour, dark cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  It is important to mix the dry ingredients separately.  This will ensure that you won’t have any lumps of powdery stuff in your cookies. 
I slowly beat the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.  Seriously slowly….otherwise your kitchen will be covered in flour, cocoa, etc.
Once the dough is mixed, I added crushed pretzels and toffee bits. Toffee bits are available right by the chocolate chips in your grocery store.   I stirred these in with a spatula.  I had crushed the pretzels in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.  I wanted crumbs, but not pretzel dust.  I ended up with some big chunks and some small ones…..
I dropped the dough onto a greased cookie sheet with a mini ice cream scoop.  This will ensure equal sized cookies, which means they will all bake for the same amount of time.
Good lord, these cookies were amazing.  They are sweet, salty, chocolaty, crunchy, etc.  They are everything you would want in a cookie.  I gave them out to the kids that were over playing at my house, and they loved them.  You have to make these cookies.  Even if it requires buying pretzels especially for this recipe….you have to try them.
My second idea/recipe was to try making chicken nuggets coated in crushed pretzels.  My kids, like all kids, are obsessed with nuggets.  They could eat chicken nuggets morning, noon and night.  Me?  I like them too, but not quite as often. 
To make these nuggs, I used chicken breasts, pretzels, eggs, panko bread crumbs, flour and pepper.  I didn’t need additional salt, obviously….
Before I started cutting the chicken, or crushing the pretzels, I heated up a shallow pan with about 1 inch of vegetable oil in it.  This will be a shallow fry, not a deep fry.
I crushed my pretzels in my food processor.  I wanted smaller crumbs for the nuggets then what I used for the cookies.  You could still use a plastic bag and a rolling pin….you will just have to work harder.  But hey, it is a good way to work out some aggression.
I cut my chicken into small “nugget” sized pieces.  One package of chicken goes surprisingly far.
I set up a standard breading station…..flour, egg, and then pretzel crumbs mixed with bread crumbs.  That is the order you will coat your chicken in….first flour, then egg, then press the crumbs in.  I breaded all my chicken first and let it sit on a wire rack.
FYI-I put pepper into the flour for additional flavor.
Since I didn’t have my trusty photographer with me, I couldn’t take pictures of me breading my chicken.  My hands were too messy.  Breading is a messy business.
I fried the nuggs in batches.  Too many in the pan at once will bring the temperature of the oil down.  Plus, crowded chicken will steam, not fry.
I cooked the chicken about 4 to 5 minutes per side, until the chicken was browned on both sides and cooked through.  You can see in the picture above that I had already flipped the top right nugget.  It is nice and brown.
I figured this chicken was going to be good, but I didn’t realize that it was going to be freakin’ amazing.  So crunchy, salty and delicious.  I dipped mine in a spicy mustard.  The kiddos stuck with ketchup.  These were a real crowd pleaser, and super easy to make.  You have to try this recipe. The pretzels give the chicken so much more crunch and flavor then plain bread crumbs, or even a beer batter.   Go ahead, buy a bag of pretzels! 
Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Cookies
2 & ¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup dark cocoa powder, unsweetened
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
¾ cup toffee bits
¾ cup crushed pretzels
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla.  Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.  Slowly beat dry ingredients into wet.  Once dough is well blended, stir in toffee and pretzels with a spatula.
Drop onto a greased baking sheet with a mini ice cream scoop.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Pretzel Coated Chicken Nuggets
1 pack chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 4 (cut into nugget size)
2 cups pretzel crumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 cups flour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pepper
Oil for frying
Set up breading assembly line….in a shallow dish, stir together flour and pepper.  In another shallow bowl, beat eggs.  In third bowl, stir together pretzel crumbs and bread crumbs
Pre-heat oil over medium high heat (about 1 inch deep) in a shallow frying pan. 
Bread chicken by dipping first in flour, then in egg, and finally in crumb mixture.  Fry, about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through.  Keep warm in a low oven.

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