Honey Whole Wheat Pretzels...and wee weekend guests

Note:  I've been nominated for Babble's 50 Top Food Blogs!  I have 4 more votes to get into the top 50.  So Close!! If you like what I've done here, would you follow the side link to Babble and vote for me?  I am on page #2 "Snippets of Thyme"

** Thank you to FoodBuzz for choosing this article for their "Top 9 Blog Pics"

A very special weekend took place at our house.  With very special people.  My adorable first cousin came for a visit with her two sweet little girls.  Have I mentioned that these two little tots are the most precious and adorable 7 month old and 4 year old girls in the entire state of Texas.  I didn't?? Well, they are.

Getting to immerse ourselves in all things toddler and pre-schooler are a rarity around here with being in the "teen" stage.  We couldn't wait to delight in little fingers and toes, giggles and gurgles, and tiny, tiny everything!

Whenever the girls travel without their Daddy, they carry a little doll that my cousin made.  One of the most adorable moments that made me smile was watching Daddy carefully being put "night-night" before going to bed.  

A big question for me was what could little hands make in the oven?  Sweets, cakes, or tarts?  What about pretzels!  What fun it would be to roll out pretzels, shape them in their loopy shape and bake them in the oven.  

This was the second time that I made pretzels.  Believe me when I say these are the best pretzels I have ever tasted.  Nothing beats biting into a warm, doughy pretzel soon after it has come out of the oven.  We had a wonderful time rolling out the pretzel dough.  Shaping it into the loops was definitely a delightful task for a 4 year old.

It seemed, however, that we had a little leftover dough. What should we do with it?  Do you see that little quirky robot character below?  Well, indeed, baby dolls are so "passé" for girls these days.  Robots are the NEW baby doll!  Yes ma'am, this little robot friend was patiently waiting for a robot sized pretzel of his own.  Making a teeny of tiniest pretzel for who was now affectionately known as "baby mwok" became the highlight of our baking journey.  

Once all of the pretzels were hot out of the oven salted and buttered {but most importantly Baby Mwok had his} we all enjoyed these yummy treats for snack time.

The baby wasn't ready to delight in pretzels yet, but she was transfixed by Patrick's beard!  Every time he passed by she stared in seriousness at his beard.  Finally, a tiny little hand reached out to see what all of this stuff was on his face.  Precious!  

Pretzels are a great snack for kids ranging from 4 year olds all the way up to, ahem, let's just say 14 and 17 year old types.  We used half whole wheat in these pretzels and substituted sugar for honey.  Like I said, I don't think any store bought pretzel will do it anymore.  These pretzels are easy, delicious, and healthy in terms of "snacks".

It's HOT here in Houston.  We did manage to get in a little walk to the lake. It's tough to play outside during the afternoon here and waiting until early evening is the best time for all of the little ones to come out to the parks and pools.

The girls love being outdoors.  I remember babysitting for the baby a few months back.  I walked with her outside for almost an hour.  She stared seriously and intently at everything around her, completely content and happy to be outdoors.

Not only did I enjoy baking with these special cousins but watching my teens share in the kitchen moments was sweet as well.  It makes me think of the future and of their children and what they might be like.  

Honey Wheat Pretzels
*Adapted from Food Network
1 1/3 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package fast acting yeast
11 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 2 1/4 cups
11 ounces whole wheat flour, approximately 2 1/4 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda (Snippet's notes:  Do NOT put this in the mix.  It is for the boiling water!!)
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

1. Combine the water, salt, yeast, flour, butter and honey. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

2. Preheat the oven to 450˚ degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

3. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

4. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

5. Place the pretzels into the bo
iling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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