happy fourth!

4th of July

Happy Friday! Happy 4th of July weekend!

A time to roast weiners, dress like a flag, toss a corn hole bag and watch a fire display in the sky. She’s a great country and we love celebrating her birthday!

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend everyone!



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homemade pretzels

Homemade PretzelsFirst of all can we talk about how gorgeous these pretzels are? I know I made them, and photographed them – so yeah, total bragger here. But in all seriousness, these things are pretty. (And gosh do they taste damn good.)

Homemade PretzelsYou may be thinking…homemade pretzels, sounds like a lot of work. You would be kind of right and kind of wrong. Right in that there’s yeast, and rising, and rolling,  and boiling before baking. Wrong in that none of those things are exactly difficult to do, just takes an itty bitty bit of know how and a twinge of patience.

I’ll be the first to admit yeast in recipes intimidates me. Or at least it used to. I now test my water temperature before adding yeast – this is the only way to be sure that you have enough heat to activate the yeast yet not too much to obliviate it. We are looking for 110 to 115 degrees F here. Most warm water out of faucets run this temperature but the only way to know for sure is to test with a thermometer (candy one will do fine).

Homemade PretzelsIf working with dough in general scares you then this is the dough for you. It’s easy to handle and hard to overwork. Even Miss “I don’t like to get my hands dirty” Jettie helped with the rolling. (The fun part if you ask me – well, other than the eating of course.)

The baking soda bath is important for the golden, chewy outside that many love about a soft pretzel. It can be skipped but I wouldn’t – I mean, if you’re going to make a soft pretzel then make a soft pretzel.

Homemade Pretzels Homemade PretzelsWhen these beauties come out of the oven you will be hit with the aroma of warm, baked, fresh pretzels. Like those stands at the mall but better…much, much better. It will take every ounce of will power you have not to shove a piping hot one in your mouth. But don’t. Wait 5 minutes. That is when your pretzel has reached perfection.

Homemade Pretzels Homemade PretzelsBelieve it or not I made 56 of these bad boys for Bingham’s party. Even more unbelievable is that I made them 4 days before the party and froze them to be reheated the day of. You guys, if there was ever something that tastes as fresh reheated as it does day of baked it’s these pretzels. I would say our guests agreed seeing how we only had one left when the party was said and done. Never have I been more pleased with a make ahead item. (I may or may not have already made 2 more batches for my freezer and a couple of friends.)

Now I want to know what you like with your pretzel. These are delicious plain but a little honey mustard is more than welcome in my world. Spicy is excellent as well. If you try this recipe let me know how you accompanied them by tagging #PPJrecipe.





homemade pretzels
  • 1½cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 2tsp kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 4½cups all purpose flour
  • ½ stick unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for bowls and sheet pans
  • 10cups water
  • ⅔cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Coarse salt (I used sea salt)
  1. Fit your mixer with a dough hook. Put warm water, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Let set for 5 minutes or until yeast in nice and foamy. Add flour and butter. Mix on low until combined. Increase to medium and mix until dough is smooth and releases from sides of bowl easily. This took about 2 minutes for me.
  2. Pull dough out of bowl and set on clean surface. Clean and dry mixing bowl. Put a little bit of vegetable oil in bowl and rub around entire inside. Place dough back in bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place for at least an hour. Should double in size.
  3. minutes before your rising hour is up prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper and brushing a little olive oil on top.
  4. Preheat oven 450degrees F. Put 10 cups of water and the baking soda in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil.
  5. While water is heating up (and after dough has risen) place dough on a surface lightly coated with vegetable oil. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into 2½' to 3' long "snakes". Take each end, make a "U" shape, twist around each other and then attach to bottom of "U". This will look like the classic pretzel. Set on prepared baking shape and repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Place each pretzel, one at a time, in the baking soda bath (at a rolling boil) for 30 seconds. Take out of bath with a spatula and place back on baking sheet.
  7. Brush each pretzel with egg wash, then sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes - will be nice and brown on top. Let set 5 minutes before devouring. Serve with your favorite mustards or cheese.
To freeze let fully cooked pretzels come to a complete cool and place inside of freezer bag (4 per gallon bag). Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw at room temp for 30 minutes before placing in a 450degree F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. It is amazing how good these things are out of the freezer. Make a bunch!


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strawberry cobbler

Easy Strawberry Cream Cheese Cobbler

Ben and Jen are getting a divorce…we need some dessert.

To be clear, I typically couldn’t care less who is leaving/cheating on/having a baby with who. But there are certain celebrities you root for regardless of the fact that you do not know them on a personal level whatsoever. They seemed so down to earth in a way. And it looked like they had the whole good,fun parent/successful career/happy marriage balancing act figured out.

At the end of the day though, it wasn’t working. Which in reality makes them even more human than super celebrities (with the exception that it is has to be announced to the world that they are indeed getting a divorce – not typical for the rest of us humans).

So who to root for now…I’m going with Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell. They are ridiculously adorable. Of course let’s not leave out the ultimate of celebrity couples – Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. They seem to have something very special going on.

Now that I have wasted your precious time with celebrity gossip let’s talk dessert. Cobbler to be precise. The perfect dessert when you want to feed everyone you love something special without spending a ton of time preparing. This one is really something special…and crazy yummy.

Easy Strawberry Cream Cheese Cobbler

The first step is to melt a stick of butter. Yeah, that is always a good sign. You then pour the easiest batter on top of the butter and decorate with a layer of summer’s best berries. And if that isn’t enough there’s cream cheese. Butter, strawberries, cream cheese. You’re welcome.

Easy Strawberry Cream Cheese Cobbler Easy Strawberry Cream Cheese CobblerIn case you are wondering, yes, this is buttery and rich. That is why it is best to cut it with a little dairy. Ice cream is what we had on hand, but fresh whipped cream would be good as well. As far as fruit goes feel free to swap out with your favorite. Or throw some blueberries in with the strawberries for a 4th of July festive dish.






strawberry cobbler
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 10
  • ½cup melted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1cup milk
  • 1cup all-purpose flour
  • 1cup sugar
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp salt
  • 4cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 4oz cream cheese, cut in small pieces
  • Fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven 350degrees. Pour melted butter into a 9X13 dish. Set aside.
  2. Combine egg, milk, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Mix until combined and pour over butter. Do not stir.
  3. Arrange strawberries on top in a single layer. Distribute cream cheese pieces evenly.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden on top and bubbling around the edges. Serve warm on it's own (but it's even better with some ice cream). Enjoy!


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yoga newbie

Believe it or not yoga was not an exercise I was even remotely interested in trying until recently. My reasoning for this was simple – I like action. I want to jump, lunge and run over and over again until I can’t jump, lunge or run anymore. Yoga always seemed too slow paced for me…with a lot of focus on breathing and poses. There was no way I could shut my mind off enough to simply think about breathing and where my arms and legs are positioned. That is until I tried it once…and now, well you could say I am intrigued.

What sparked my interest in said exercise? Mostly looking to mix things up in my regular workout routine and admittedly Giada de Laurentiis (slightly red-faced fessing up to this). I have always been curious how she can love pasta, cheese and chocolate as much as she does yet maintains an incredibly lean figure. Of course I am well aware that A. she may not really eat much of all those things, B. she has a personal trainer and C. (the obvious one) she is on the extremely lean side – definitely not for everyone. But with all that being said, every article I have ever read about Giada has her doting over yoga. One in particular claimed that she used to be a gym rat but now only does 3 1-hour sessions of yoga a week with some hiking mixed in here and there. For whatever reason I never forgot reading that…or maybe the reason is that I subconsciously wanted some yoga in my life. And that is why we are here.

What I know about yoga: nothing. I mean yes, there’s breathing and posing and centering…but the reality is I know nothing. My experience thus far involves this beginner video which shockingly I have enjoyed using the past few weeks:

71wTWu8aZnL._SL1443_What surprises me even more is how refreshed I feel after a mere 20 minute session. All that focus on breathing really does center a person. As far as the posing…well, let’s just say I have a ways to go (especially considering this is a beginner video).

I want to know more though, which is why I am turning to any and all yoga experts out there. DVDs I can do at home are vital for me – it’s simply easier with my schedule and the kids. Sticky did give me Jillian’s Yoga Inferno (which I am terrified to try) but I am wondering what other DVDs would be ideal for a newbie like me. As well as any youTubers worth following. Any and all advice is welcome – I am sure there are others out there interested in learning more as well. (Considering most yoga-obsessors I have seen are in amazing shape – we would love to know your secrets!)


As far as working out in general is going, it has been a rough 7 days or so. I blame all the party craziness. It takes a lot of willpower to do something for myself, like exercise, when I have a plate the size Mount Rushmore I could be doing instead. But those times are the ones where we need to remind ourselves that the plate will clear faster and more efficiently if we take care of our body, mind and soul first. I am pretty good about staying on track, but that reminder took some extra pushing this past week for sure. And it feels good to have pushed through it.

Here’s to taking care of “us” and loving it (not feeling guilty over it)!




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rain gear

With the way our weather has been going the past few weeks – monsoon in Ohio – I was prepared for the inevitable rain come Bing’s party. Even with a 10 day forecast claiming 0% chance of precipitation, I knew better than to get my hopes up. Well wouldn’t you know Bingham got himself one of the few sunny, summer days we have had all month. What a lucky little man.

More on the party later, but for now let’s talk about rain gear. Or basically everyday gear for those of us experiencing all this wet weather. Bad news is I’m not sure we will be drying out anytime soon…good news is rain gear is crazy cute. My absolute must have item is a clear bubble umbrella – that totes one with the stripe trim (#5) is impossible not to love. And glossy red Hunters…well, those are always on my wish list:

1Hunter Original Gloss Pillar Box Red/2Totes Pin Dot Bucket Hat/3Boden Short Rainyday Jacket/4Laundry by Design Faux-Leather Trim Hooded Toggle-Front Jacket/5Totes Bubble Umbrella

Stay dry!


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