Sunday, November 27, 2011

Recipe Review: Soft Pretzels

A few weeks ago I made soft pretzels at home using a recipe from Budget Bytes. The pretzels were surprisingly easy to make and turned out really well. In fact, I made another batch this weekend, and we're already down to the last couple pretzels. 

I had never made pretzels before, and honestly thought it was going to be much tougher than it actually was. Especially since I went the route of Budget Bytes and used frozen bread dough instead of making my own. I highly recommend this recipe for it's ease and, come on, who doesn't love eating soft pretzels?

Budget Bytes lays out the recipe really well, both in writing and with pictures, so click on the link above for more detailed instructions.

Soft Pretzels
Step 1: Allow frozen dough to thaw, then cut into eight equal pieces.
Step 2: Stretch each dough piece into a long strand. The dough will not cooperate with you at first, but it'll come around eventually and stretch out for you.
Step 3: Twist each strand into a pretzel shape. Feel silly for having to consult a picture of a pretzel to make shape and wonder how those people at Auntie Anne's twist their dough so quickly.
Step 4: Let the pretzels rise for about 30 minutes.
Step 5: Boil each pretzel in a baking soda solution for one minute. This is how they get their pretzel-y taste. Who knew?! This is definitely not a step to skip, unless you just want pretzel-shaped bread rather than pretzel-flavored bread.
Step 6: Bake the pretzels and end up with a tasty, tasty result. You should also probably let the pretzels cool on a rack for awhile before you start eating them.
Step 7: Eat a pretzel. Then have another because they're so delicious.

Honestly, the hardest part of this recipe was probably stretching out the dough because that stuff likes to retract. Other than that, this recipe was one of the easiest I've ever made. Maybe sometime I'll try this with homemade dough, but the frozen dough works just fine and is much quicker.

I love baking, and I'm so glad this is a quick and simple recipe for a delicious snack. I'll need to dig up something a little more challenging for my next recipe review, though, I think. Stay tuned!

Anyone try any good recipes lately? Please share!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ten for Tuesday: Bonus Wedding Pictures

Our ceremony program, designed by Drew.
Before the ceremony.
Our "wacky" wedding party picture.
The ONLY picture our photographer got of Drew and me walking down the aisle. Does anyone have one where our eyes aren't closed?
My wedding shoes (picture from Mom P).
Our escort cards from the reception, also designed by Drew (picture from Mom P).
Because I'm the new girl in the family.
Celebrating a victorious ceremony. All right!

Just hangin' out in the park.

One of the reasons we booked our photographer is because he takes awesome infrared pictures like this. Absolutely amazing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Reception: Part 2

And now for the rest of our reception recap! I think the rest of these pictures do a good job of speaking for themselves in terms of how much fun our guests were and how much excitement was present, so I'll keep my comments on the brief side.

First up, our awesome and delicious cake. A woman who attends our church made it for us, and she did an amazing job! It was exactly what we wanted and tasted so good.
You'll notice in the picture above that Drew and I chose not to purchase a cake cutting/serving set for our reception and instead used a giant knife provided by the banquet hall's kitchen. We're classy.

I served Drew his cake first and was all nice and sweet about it. I had a hunch he would try to smear my cake all over my face when it was his turn.
And I was right. What a stinker.
But at least he helped me clean the frosting off of my face. I should've made him go first so that I had a chance to retaliate, but oh well.
We were able to kiss and make up pretty quickly :)
After cutting the cake I headed out to the dance floor with all the single ladies for the bouquet toss.

Cindy, my younger sister and bridesmaid, may have caught the bouquet, but I think we can all agree that the real winner was Drew's cousin's toddler who caught a stray rosebud. Probably the cutest thing all night.
Also a cute part of the night? Our first dance.

Drew and I had our first dance to "How Sweet It Is" by James Taylor. A little more upbeat than traditional first dance songs, but perfect for us. I worked for months to convince Drew this would be the  perfect song, and I'm glad he agreed with me.
One of my favorite pictures from our wedding day.
After our first dance, it was time for my dance with my dad. We danced to the song "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman, which is the same song he and my older sister danced to at her wedding a couple of years ago. Coming up with father-daughter dance songs is tough, so I'm glad I could use my sister's song as our fallback option.

While we danced my dads brothers and parents lined the dance floor for moral support.
We even had my mom join us for awhile since she was getting a little emotional watching us. I'm glad we had her come over so we could share a moment together.
After all of the "required" dances took place, it was time for everyone to join us on the dance floor! I believe this was when I changed out of my awesome, yet uncomfortable, wedding shoes and into flip flops. Great choice, me.
My family definitely dominated the dance floor at first, but Drew's family quickly joined in on the action. Our DJ even made a comment about how we had the best representation of both families on the dance floor of any wedding she had done before. We're a pretty fun bunch!
The dancing didn't stop all night, and it was such a blast. I couldn't have asked for a more fun and awesome time, and everything ran so smoothly. I have no idea how we pulled it off.

I had such a fun night at our reception, and I can't wait for the weddings coming up in the next year that I will be attending. So much fun!

And that pretty much concludes my wedding recap! I have a ton more pictures from our photographer, so I'll probably sort through those and post some bonus footage sometime next week. Thanks for reading my recap!

The Reception: Part 1

Here's another roundup of my wedding posts so far, just in case you're catching up:
Make sure you check back later tonight for Part 2 of my reception review!

Our Reception: Part 1

Drew and I pretty much made our own reception centerpieces, since we didn't want to mess with flowers and just wanted something simple. We ended up decorating each table with three different sizes of candles placed on silver chargers.
Word of advice to anyone hoping to find medium-sized candle holders: they're pretty much impossible to find. We originally picked some up from Dollar Tree only to realize they weren't wide enough for the medium-sized candles sold at Michael's and Jo-Ann (where we purchased ours). The properly sized candle holders were eventually found at Michael's, but we had to purchase them a few at a time since they were so hard to find in quantities more than 3 or 4. The Flint store was responsible for saving our butts when they got a shipment in and luckily held them all for us for two days. Phew!
The rest of our table decor was pretty simple - silver runners with a white accent runner.

We were also fortunate to get our chair slipcovers for free, which really helped complete the look we were going for.
Our reception favors were mini boxes full of candy corn - pretty much the only "fall" element in our entire wedding (minus the season itself).

And now for some fun pictures of our wedding party's grand entrances to the reception. We all walked danced in to "Love Machine" by The Miracles (also known as one of the songs from the dance scene of "Heavyweights").
Kevin and Cindy definitely had the best entrance. Sorry, everyone else.
Drew and I didn't dance in - we had to keep our "first dance" pure.
Once everyone was seated we listened to toasts from some of our wedding party. First up was Michelle, who introduced Drew and I to each other at Disney. Basically, she's the one who was responsible for our wedding even happening :)
Drew's best friend and best man, John, also gave a speech and did an awesome job. Way to return the best man favor to Drew!
After Michelle and John spoke, my dad came up to thank everyone for coming and pretty much brought everyone to tears. Nice work, Dad.
After that we enjoyed an awesome buffet dinner, and then got to the "big" reception stuff like cutting the cake and dancing. I'm going to dedicate another post to those festivities, so check back later today for the rest of our reception!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Our Wedding: Outdoor Shots

Before I start with this post, I just want to say how much fun recapping our wedding has been! I felt like we had to wait forever for our pictures, and not many people have posted pictures to Facebook yet, so I've kind of been sitting in suspense. I seriously love our wedding pictures and am so grateful we had an awesome photographer in Adam

But enough about that, let's move on to today's recap!

Once the ceremony ended and Drew and I dismissed our guests from the sanctuary, we headed back in to get a couple of family shots...
The Thomas side of the family. This is a completely normal picture for us.
My new family!
...and signed our marriage license! Drew was a good husband and held my bouquet for me while I signed the license.
We took quite a few more family pictures in the church, and then it was time for our wedding party to head to a nearby park for outdoor pictures!

The weather really cooperated with us that day, so not only did we have the beautiful changing leaves in our pictures, but the temperature was somewhere around the high 70s/low 80s. Absolutely perfect, especially considering the couple weekends leading up to our wedding were rainy and cold (50s/60s). I don't know how we got so lucky, but I'm glad we did!

We probably spent close to an hour at the park taking a bunch of different group shots and pictures with just me and Drew. Here are a few of my favorites:
We seriously could not have planned for a more gorgeous day or a better location to take our pictures. I am so thankful we had such a great photographer who had such good ideas for our pictures and really took advantage of the scenery.

Once we finished up at the park, it was time to head to our reception! We actually ended up arriving a bit ahead of schedule, which was a nice little bonus (especially for our hungry wedding guests!).

I broke down our reception into two posts, so be on the lookout for both of those tomorrow!