Homemade Small Batch Pretzels

For me, soft pretzels conjure up happy memories of snack stations in the local mall of my childhood and sunny days at the State Fair.

While they are mostly a nostalgic food for me, soft pretzels are one of my mom’s favorite salty treats. A few days ago, my mom came over to my house to spend an afternoon together. When the time came to consider a snack, the subject of soft pretzels came up. Since we live several hours from the nearest mall that sells soft pretzels, we decided to make our own.

These soft pretzels are easy to make and delicious! They have a rich, chewy texture, with a pleasant, golden crust. A brush of butter and dash of kosher salt adds some wonderful, salty flavor to this decadent treat.

A few notes on the recipe:

Shaping the Pretzels:

Forming a pretzel is EASY! This recipe should result in four pretzels. Cut the dough in four relatively equal pieces. Starting with one piece, roll it until it is about 18 to 20 inches long (step 1). Then, form a circle with the two ends overlapping (step 2). Next, overlap the ends (twist them) one more time (step 3). Finally, fold the ends toward the circle and press the ends down to form the traditional pretzel shape (step 4). Repeat the process to form the remaining three pretzels.

Baking Soda Bath:

Soft pretzels should be given a baking soda bath prior to baking. This should result in a chewier pretzel. To complete the baking soda bath, combine three cups of water and 2.5 tablespoons of baking soda in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, dip the pretzels in the mixture for 20-30 seconds, and remove with a slotted spoon or spatula.

Cost Analysis:

I was, frankly, shocked when I did the price analysis for this recipe. Pretzels are a great inexpensive snack at $0.09 a piece!

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Homemade Soft Pretzels (Small Batch)

  • Difficulty: Easy
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This small batch pretzel recipe results in four delicious, buttery soft pretzels in about half an hour.

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon (heaping) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • kosher salt or sea salt, to taste
  • cooking spray
  • For the baking soda bath you will also need:
  • 3 cups water
  • 2.5 tablespoons baking soda

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine warm water and yeast in a mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to dissolve for about one minute. Then, add sugar and table salt to the yeast mixture and stir until dissolved.
  3. Gradually add flour into the yeast mixture. You can use a dough hook on a stand mixer, or mix with a wooden spoon. Continue adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky, form the dough into a ball, and cover it with a thin towel or cloth. Allow the dough to rest for about 10 minutes.
  4. While the dough is resting, combine water and baking soda in a saucepan to create the baking soda bath. Heat the baking soda mixture on medium heat. It will need to reach a boil before you can “bathe” the pretzels. Also, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. (Alternatively, you can use a baking mat.)
  5. After the dough has rested, cut the dough ball into four relatively equal pieces. Starting with one piece, roll it until it is about 18 to 20 inches long. Then, form a circle with the two ends overlapping. Next, overlap the ends (twist them) one more time. Finally, fold the ends toward the circle and press the ends down to form the traditional pretzel shape. (There is a tutorial with pictures available on the website post). Repeat the process to form the remaining three pretzels.
  6. After the pretzels are formed, they will need a quick (20-30 second) baking soda bath. Carefully drop a pretzel into the boiling baking soda mixture, allow it to soak for 20-30 seconds, and remove it with a slotted spoon or slotted spatula. Allow the excess water to drip off, and place it on the lined baking sheet. Complete the same process for the remaining three pretzels.
  7. Top the pretzels with kosher salt and bake in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Once the pretzels are baked, melt a tablespoon (or two!) of butter and brush butter on top of the hot pretzels.
  9. Top with additional kosher salt, if desired, and serve warm! These pretzels are great plain, but can be served with nacho cheese dipping sauce. Enjoy!

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Oven Baked Black Bean Quesadillas

Black bean quesadillas are a staple in our household. They are easy-to-make, cheap, quick, and tasty. Plus, you only need four ingredients to make this recipe! Well – perhaps five ingredients because I rarely eat a quesadilla without good salsa!

Why make quesadillas in the oven?

I frequently make quesadillas in a frying pan (click here for that recipe). A frying pan does get a quesadilla nice and crispy, but there are two major reasons to bake your quesadillas.

  1. It is easier to make a batch of quesadillas. If you want to make multiple quesadillas at once, you can prepare all of your quesadillas and bake them in one or two batches. If you use a frying pan, you will need to prepare and bake each quesadilla separately.
  2. All the quesadillas will be ready at the same time. Unlike preparing quesadillas in a frying pan, all of your quesadillas will be hot and ready to eat at the same time.

The only noticeable difference between oven baking and pan frying is the texture of the tortilla. The oven baked tortilla is much crispier, while the pan fried tortilla has a crunchy yet chewy exterior. Both are good.

Cost Analysis:

Black bean quesadillas are a nice and cheap meal or appetizer. A basic black bean quesadilla will cost about $0.88 to make. This doesn’t include the cost of salsa.

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Oven Baked Black Bean Quesadillas

  • Servings: 2 quesadillas
  • Difficulty: easy
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This quick and easy vegetarian quesadilla recipe is the perfect no hassle lunch or party appetizer!


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 flour tortillas (preferably taco size)
  • 6 tablespoons of shredded Mexican cheese
  • a few drops of olive oil (or other oil neutral oil if preferred)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Lay your tortillas on a baking sheet. Place a few drops of oil on one side of the tortillas. Lightly rub the oil into one side of each tortilla.
  3. Flip the tortilla on the baking sheet so that the oil side is DOWN.
  4. Add three tablespoons of shredded cheese to one half of the tortilla (non-oil side)
  5. Add a quarter cup of black beans to the same half of the tortilla (non-oil side)
  6. Fold the tortillas in half
  7. Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes, and flip halfway through the baking process.
  8. Slice tortilla into four pieces (I use a pizza cutter)
  9. Serve with salsa, preferably pico de gallo!

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Easy Vegetarian Refried Beans

When we were newly married, we lived near an excellent Mexican restaurant. We didn’t eat there often, but when we did, I always got a dish that included refried beans. We no longer live near the Mexican restaurant, so I make them at home instead!

This recipe is delicious (and reheats reasonably well). It is a great side dish, but we often eat them as part of an entree. I use the refried beans as a filling in my tacos (in lieu of meat). I combine the beans with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and guacamole. It is absolutely delicious.

The beans are also relatively inexpensive. It costs about $1.65 to make a batch of the beans, and you should be able to get two entree-sized servings out of the batch. If you are serving as a side dish, you should be able to get four servings out of the batch. Enjoy! – Kristin

Frugal Cost Analysis:

Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Easy Vegetarian Refried Beans

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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These homemade refried beans are easy, delicious, and cost $0.83 per serving. You'll never go back to the can…

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (more if you like them spicy)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice, optional
  • 1 can (14.5-15.5 ounces) pinto beans, NOT drained

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat.
  2. Add diced onion and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add garlic and chili powder and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Mix in the pinto beans (with liquid from can), the vegetable broth, and lime juice.
  5. Continue to cook the mixture on medium heat for about 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to stir and mash (or mush if you prefer the term) the mixture periodically. The beans are ready when they thicken.
  6. Serve in tacos, as part of a taco salad, or as a side dish to any Mexican fare.
  7. Enjoy!

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Easy Summer Caprese Appetizer

It is a gorgeous summer day, and James and I wanted something light for lunch. We had some leftover crusty artisan bread (click here for recipe) and decided to make a lunch out of one of our favorite appetizers: easy summer caprese!

We had some fresh mozzarella, a few tomatoes that had seen better days, our trusty basil plant, and the leftover homemade bread. On a colder day, I would make make a toasty caprese sandwich (click here for recipe), but some days are just too warm for a grilled cheese!

A few notes: If you don’t have fresh mozzarella, you can use part of a block of mozzarella cheese (or even mozzarella cheese sticks). If you don’t have fresh basil, a pinch of dried basil will still be tasty! If you don’t have or want bread, this is delicious as a salad.

If you serve this as an appetizer, it will cost you approximately $0.60 per person (assuming you 4 servings). If you eat as a light meal, only plan on 2 servings. See the cost analysis below:

Cost Analysis:

Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Easy Summer Caprese Appetizer

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

An quick and easy appetizer perfect for a warm summer day.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 loaf of bread (see artisan bread recipe)
  • 3 ounces of mozzarella cheese (fresh mozzarella if you have it)
  • 4 basil leaves, sliced (I keep a basil plant for economical fresh herbs)
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil + more for bread if desired
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine chopped tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil in a bowl.
  2. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar to bowl.
  3. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Mix ingredients.
  5. Serve with slices of bread (cut into half or quarters) or as a salad. If you would like, you can toast the bread and serve this as bruschetta! Advise your guests to put the mixture on top of the bread for optimal deliciousness!

-Kristin

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