3 Recipes for Homemade Pretzels

There’s nothing quite like a hot, fresh soft pretzel! With a little salt, some mustard, or cheese dip you have a truly satisfying snack. And pretzels would make for the perfect finger food at your next party! They could work for kids and adults, we are thinking circus-themed for the little ones (maybe the adults too)! Today we’ve got three recipes from around the web for the perfect homemade pretzels for just about any dietary need too!

Homemade Soft Pretzels with Roasted Jalapeno Cheese Sauce – This recipe comes from the beautiful blog Smells Like Home! Such a great tutorial and recipe with pictures to guide you along the way!

Soft Pretzels with Roasted Jalapeño Cheese Sauce Image & Recipe from Smells Like Home

Gluten Free Soft Pretzels – This recipe and tutorial comes from the blog Gluten Free Girl & The Chef. A sweet little blog you should check out if you are eating gluten free! Don’t these pretzels just look amazing!

Gluten Free Soft Pretzels Image & Recipe from Gluten Free Girl & The Chef.

Vegan Soft Pretzels – A great recipe from Little Miss Vegetarian! Jessica recommends serving these pretzels up with a side of spicy mustard!

Vegan Soft Pretzels Image & Recipe from Little Miss Vegetarian.

Have you ever made your own soft pretzels before? How did they turn out?

Pretty DIY Food Packaging

Happy Tuesday everyone! Over the last year we’ve shared a lot of recipes that would make great party treats, or even tasty dinners and snacks. Today we’ve rounded up some tutorials for you to create beautiful handmade packaging for them. This packaging will add the perfect touch to any party or gathering. We’ve paired each tutorial with a different recipe we’ve featured on our blog. Enjoy and get crafty!

Dip Dye Cupcake liners – How cute are these liners by Lauren of the blog Little Wren? You could dye these to match any party theme or decor and we think these semi-homemade chocolate chip cookie cupcakes that we featured a while back would look perfect inside these colorful liners!

Image & Tutorial from Little Wren

DIY French Fry Boxes – This tutorial and PDF pattern comes from Creating Keepsakes (image from Seven Thirty Three). Our baked sweet potato fries would look amazing in here. Or any treat/favor would do!

Image from Seven Thirty Three & Tutorial from Creating Keepsakes.

DIY Pie Wedge Box – This beautiful tutorial, which includes a free printable, comes from Lavender’s Blue Designs. How gorgeous would a slice of cake or pie look in this box? Why not try our homemade pumpkin pie packaged in this pretty paper?

Tutorial & Image from Lavender’s Blue Designs

Have you made your own packaging for baked goods before? How did it turn out?

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Don’t Forget Your Pets This Holiday Season: DIY Pet Treats & Sweets

Birthdays and holidays usually revolve around people. But our canine and feline friends are also an important and special part of our lives and memories. So while your making plans, buying gifts, and baking goodies this holiday season don’t forget to share the love with your pet! Today we’ve got a few recipes for our favorite dog and cat treats that you can bake with love & simple ingredients at home. Enjoy, we know your pets will!

Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Dog Treats – this recipe from All Recipes is a delicious way to let your pet enjoy the flavors of the season. And what dog doesn’t love peanut butter?

Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Dog Treats from All Recipes

Apple Cheddar Dog Biscuits – the perfect blend of sweet and savory! This tasty (for dogs that is) recipe comes from Martha Steward and is sure to have your pooch begging for more.

Apple Cheddar Dog Biscuits from Martha Stewart

Chewy Cat Treats – This beautifully written post and recipe comes from the delightful blog Joy The Baker. She whipped up a batch of these special treats to celebrate 2 years with her adorable feline friend. Check out the recipe if there is a special cat in your life!

Chewy Cat Treats from Joy The Baker

Have you ever thrown a “party” or whipped up something special for the family pet? Do you include them in holiday celebrations? If you try out a recipe let us know what your pet thinks!

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Our Favorite Cookie In A Jar Recipes

Cookies are amazing any time of the year, but fresh baked cookies at Christmas time takes amazing to an all new level. If you are looking for great cookie recipes to bake up for a party or searching for a great gift idea we think you’ll love these recipes we have collected from around the web. Some of the recipes even accommodate special dietary needs (vegan & gluten free).

Cranberry Hootycreeks from All Recipes

Cranberry Hootycreeks – Recipe from All Recipes.

These cookies look great in the jar and taste delightful. You could even change out the cranberries, chocolate chips, and nuts to suit your personal tastes. Dried currants, walnuts, & white chocolate chips could be a lovely combination! This recipe would make a great gift for a neighbor, coworker, or as a hostess/host gift if you are visiting family or friends over the holidays.

Julia’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies – Recipe from All Recipes.

Chocolate chip cookies rank at the top of most people’s favorite cookie lists. Simple, chocolatey goodness. This recipe is very delicious and again provides opportunity for experimentation (different kinds of chocolate chips, or swapping chocolate chips for M&M’s etc..). If you aren’t sure what cookies your friend would want, chocolate chip is a safe bet.

Gluten Free & Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies – Recipe from Oh She Glows

This recipe promises thin, crisp, and chewy chocolate chip cookies that even those on the most restricted diets can enjoy. But don’t get us wrong, these cookies aren’t really a compromise. They are kind of amazing. Angela’s recipe uses a mix of almond & oat flour to create this crowd pleasing cookie. Scroll to the bottom of her post to see the recipe!

Vegan & Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies From Oh She Glows

Gingerbread Men Cookie Mix In A Jar – Recipe from Food For My Family

These gingerbread men are tasty and adorable. We love the idea of attaching cookie cutters to the jar to really complete the gift! We love this recipe for a holiday staple! Shaina even included free printables—holiday gifting can’t get much easier!

Gingerbread Men In A Jar Recipe from Food For My Family

Have you ever given cookies in a jar before? What are your favorite recipes?

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Gluten Free Pizza – 3 Recipes You’ll Love!

Roasted Veggie Pizza (Image from All Recipes)

So we are always looking for tasty recipes that work great for everyday but also for special gatherings—like birthday parties. What is more classic at a birthday party than pizza? Today we have 3 recipes to create 2 different semi-homemade pizzas your family and guests will love!

The Crust (Makes 2 12-inch pizzas)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg (16 oz) Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix (3 1/4 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 Eggs*
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Yeast Packet (enclosed)
  • 1-2 Tbsp dried herbs of your choice, such as basil, rosemary, garlic, (optional)

*For vegan version replace the eggs with 2 Tb Flaxseed Meal + 6 Tb Water; let stand one minute. Add to recipe as you would the eggs.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the water and yeast. Let the mixture stand a 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs (or egg replacement) and oil to the mixture and blend briefly.
  4. Add GF Pizza Crust Mix and blend with a hand blender for about a minute on medium speed, until combined.
  5. Split the dough in half, leave it in the bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place to rise for at 20 minutes.
  6. Place the dough on greased pizza pans. Using wet hands, spread out dough to cover the full pizza pan. Bake without topping for 7-9 minutes.
  7. Remove the half-baked crusts from oven, cover with sauce and toppings (see our suggestions below). Bake for 15-18 minutes.


Balsamic Caramelized Onion, Gorgonzola, & Parsley Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large vidalia onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp sugar or stevia in the raw
  • 1/2 lb crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • Half-baked pizza crust (see above)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley or basil (whichever you prefer)

Directions:

  1. In a large sauté pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onions in oil until the onions are soft and dark brown, approximately 25 minutes. Stir in sugar (or stevia) and balsamic vinegar, and continue cooking for 1 or 2 more minutes.
  2. The oven should be preheated to 425°F already and the pizza crusts should have been baked for 7-9 minutes.
  3. Spread onions evenly over the half-baked crusts, top with crumbled Gorgonzola and chopped parsley or basil.
  4. Continue baking for additional 15-18 minutes.

Roasted Veggie Pizza With Red Sauce

Veggie Ingredients:

  • 8 to 10 medium fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced zucchini or yellow squash
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme and dried rosemary
  • Pinch of salt & pepper

Veggie Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Line a large baking sheet with foil. Arrange chopped veggies on pan.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, spices, garlic, salt & pepper.
  • Roast veggies for 20 minutes. Then remove from oven and set aside.

Sauce & Cheese Ingredients:

  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 small (6-oz) can tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp. sugar or stevia in the raw
  • 1-2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 tsp each dried oregano, basil, and parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup parmesan grated

Sauce Directions:

  1. Saute garlic and onions over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until onions are soft.
  2. Add diced tomatos, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, spices, sun dried tomatoes and stir. If the mixture is too thin or not sweet enough add more tomato paste or sugar.
  3. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes then add salt & pepper to taste.

Assembly Directions: 

  1. Oven should be preheated to 425°F and pizza crusts should be half baked.
  2. Spread sauce generously over pizza crust (save the extra for dipping crust in).
  3. Top with cheese, then sprinkle roasted veggies on top.
  4. Bake an additional 15-18 minutes.

If you are in a rush you can always use pre-made pizza dough, and if you are vegan you can substitute the cheese with vegan alternatives. What is your favorite pizza recipe?

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Skip the Chips & Soda Part I: Serve These Healthy Chip Alternatives Instead!

Chips and soda… the staple at any party, gathering, lunch, or event. They seem to be easy crowd pleasers and relatively affordable. But the average 12 oz soda contains 140 calories and 39g of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends 37g of sugar per day for men and 25g of sugar daily for women. We all want to live healthier and happier. It doesn’t mean we can indulge in a sweet treat or drink every now and then.

This week we have some swaps you can make that won’t have you or your guests missing the chips and soda!  So don’t worry, you won’t be the weird guest or bad host if you show up with one of these alternatives in place of the standard chips and soda. Instead your healthier options may end up being the life of the party! We will start out by sharing some swaps for potato chips, and Thursday we will have a collection of alternatives to soda!

Swap Out Chips With These Alternatives:

Apple Chips – These are a lighter and healthier alternative to the standard potato chip delivering a nice crunch and slightly sweet taste.

Seneca Apple Chips

Kale Chips – These aren’t as pretty as some chips, but they are very healthy and tasty!

Baked Kale Chips from All Recipes

Soy Crisps – These are super crunchy, high in protein, and taste great alone or with any dip you would normally serve with chips.

Whole Foods Sea Salt Soy Crisps

Fresh Veggies – These are crunchy and pretty, and serving them with a healthy dip can deliver the salt and tang you crave in a chip! You can save time and pick up a pre-made platter from just about any grocery store these days!

Fresh Veggie Platter

Whole Grain Pretzels – We are in love with the Newman’s Own line of pretzels! They are made with organic ingredients, low in calories, have an excellent crunch and taste, and are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors. We are partial to the honey wheat!

Newman’s Own Pretzels

Lentil Chips – these chips are light, fluffy, high in protein, and very tasty!

Mediterranean Snacks Baked Lentil Chips

Lentil Crackers – These crackers are crispier and crunchier than the chip version and super tasty!

Mediterranean Snacks Lentil Crackers

What would you serve in place of the standard potato chip?

 

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Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes for Fall Birthdays!

Pumpkin cupcake filled with caramel and topped...

Pumpkin cupcake filled with caramel and topped with cream cheese buttercream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With summer leaving and fall beginning we are excited about fall flavored cupcakes! Today we have a recipe for gluten-free pumpkin cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting—yum! Enjoy these at your next fall birthday bash, or just because it’s fall!

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 2 cups Red Mill’s gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk you can make it by combining 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar and letting it stand for 10 minutes before mixing in)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup raisins (your favorite variety—we love golden raisins here)

Frosting Ingredients

  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cupcake Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.
  2. In a mixer (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), beat the butter, molasses, brown sugar, and honey together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. (Start on low-speed and increase to high-speed to get the mixture light and fluffy.)
  3. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and pumpkin purée. Beat until well mixed.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients—the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the pumpkin batter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  5. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the pecans and raisins.
  6. Arrange paper cupcake holders in a muffin tin. Spoon the batter into the cupcake paper cups, filling them close to the top of the cups. Bake about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven to a rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Directions:

  1. Beat the cream cheese, butter or margarine, orange peel, and orange juice until creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar until blended and smooth.
  2. Spread icing on cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with walnuts!

What is your favorite fall flavor?

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Unusual Cupcake Recipe: Dark Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes!

Chocolate bacon cupcake with chocolate butterm...

Chocolate bacon cupcake with chocolate buttermilk frosting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So at Make A Birthday Wish we love cupcakes, and today we’ve got a recipe we found on All Recipes to share with all of you that is a balance of sweet and salty and reminds us of a cupcake version of Voodoo Donuts famous Bacon Maple Bar donuts (which we are seriously craving)! So put aside your skepticism and give chocolate bacon cupcakes a try!

Ingredients:

  • 12 slices bacon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a large, deep skillet cook the bacon over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Using paper towels drain and remove excess oil from the bacon, crumble and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk and oil. Stir just until blended (careful not to over mix).
  5. Mix in 3/4 of the bacon, reserving the rest for garnish. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter.
  8. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting and sprinkle reserved bacon crumbles on top. Dust with additional cocoa powder.

We are excited to indulge our donut craving with these cupcakes! What do you think about recipes that mix sweet and salty?

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Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins!

While muffins are by no means a cupcake, we think they still could have a place at your next party… especially if you are doing a tea party or garden themed party, muffins make an excellent snack, or replacement for traditional cupcakes or muffins.With strawberries in season, we thought there was no better time to share a recipe we love for Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins. Yum!
Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins – Makes 8 large or 12 regular sized muffins!
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fresh rhubarb
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • (if you don’t have cardamom, you can omit it or use extra cinnamon instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts for topping (optional)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats for topping (optional)
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray or line with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and vinegar, and set aside to curdle (this is mixture replaces the buttermilk).
  3. In a medium bowl, add the non-dairy milk and vinegar mixture, sugars, oil, vanilla and orange zest. Whisk together until well combined.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Mix the rhubarb and strawberries into this dry mixture, carefully tossing to coat with a dusting of the flour mixture to keep the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined.
  6. Distribute the batter evenly into the muffin tins and top them with a few sprinkles of white sanding sugar and chopped walnuts or rolled oats if you are using them as a topping.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of muffin pan you use), until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then flip the pan over and carefully let the muffins fall out. Turn the muffins over and allow them to finish cooling on a wire rack.

With fresh organic strawberries in our fridge, we are definitely baking these this weekend and will let you know how they turn out!

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Guilt-Free Blueberry, Lemon, & Coconut Squares

We came across this great recipe for low-fat blueberry, lemon, and coconut squares on the Babble’s blog. We’ve made a few tweaks (adding or swapping almonds for coconut), and are sure this recipe will be a crowd pleaser—no belt-loosening required!

Blueberry, Lemon, and Coconut Bars – Makes 16 bars.

Ingredients for Base:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar or Stevia in the Raw
  • 1 scant cup unbleached all-purpose or whole wheat flour – we prefer whole wheat!
  • Pinch of salt

Ingredients for Topping:

  • 1 cup sugar or Stevia In The Raw
  • 2 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (but do not thaw!) blueberries, raspberries or cranberries. Fresh and in-season is always preferred!
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)—if you aren’t a coconut fan, or just like almonds!
  • Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add flour and salt and stir until well combined and crumbly.
  3. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8” x 8” pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray or has been lightly greased. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just barely golden around the edges.
  4. To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in the same bowl. Then add the egg, egg white and lemon juice and stir until well blended and smooth.
  5. Sprinkle the berries and coconut (0r almonds if you aren’t a coconut fan… or a mixture of both) evenly over the base, and pour the lemon filling over top. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and set. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting or freezing. If you like, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Per square (without almonds): 130 calories, 3.3 g fat (1.9 g saturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 24 g carbohydrates, 21 mg cholesterol, 1.6 g protein, 0.7 g fiber. 23% calories from fat