Easy French Bread

Easy French Bread | Revamperate Easy French Bread | RevamperateToday I have to get my life back together. I spent almost a week in Las Vegas for a work conference, and as part of the event staff I worked extra long days, so my feet and the rest of my body are still screaming. The day after I flew home, Andrew and I spent the day at California Adventure, which was SO FUN…but not for my feet. A week away means I have a lot to catch up on for work, the blog and at home. OK, now, let’s talk about bread! 

I have wanted to make my own bread for the longest time, and I’m so glad that I did. Fresh bread is seriously the best, and it’s even better when I make it myself. Of the two loaves I made, I cut one of them the moment it came out of the oven and slathered it in butter. It was PERFECT. 

Later that night, I served some to Andrew with soup and (I think) he was pretty amazed. There’s no doubt that making bread can be a fairly long process, especially if you’re not very accustomed to the process, but it’s totally worth the work. I’m not sure I will ever buy french bread again…because mine is better. Plus, it’s easy despite the time it takes to complete. I always worry when working with yeast because I feel like I’m not kneading it enough or I’m kneading it too much and you just never know how you’re doing until you bake it. The nice thing with this bread recipe is it’s pretty foolproof as long as you follow directions and allow the dough ample time to rise. 

Easy French Bread | RevamperateIngredients (makes two loaves):

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water (approx. 110F)
  • 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Once preheated, turn OFF the heat. The keeps the oven warm for the dough to rise. 

In one bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Gradually stir in the warm water (test the temperature with thermometer to ensure it’s right around 110F) and stir until a dough forms. At this point, it should feel similar to playdough –  springy and not very sticky.

If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, knead the dough on medium speed for about 10 minutes (If not, knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes). Shape into a ball and lightly coat in olive oil and return to a metal or glass oven-safe bowl. Cover bowl tightly with foil and place bowl in the warm oven until doubled in volume, 30-40 minutes. Putting it in the oven speeds up the rising process.

Punch dough down (super fun!) and divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, cover the dough again and let rest for about 15 minutes. Press each piece of dough into a large rectangular and roll it up from the long side to make a loaf. Moisten the edge with water so that it sticks, and place the loaves seam side down.

Easy French Bread | RevamperateIn a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and a tablespoon of water.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and sprinkle with flour. Place the loaves several inches apart on the parchment and cut several shallow diagonal slits on top of the dough and brush on the egg/water mixture. Cover once more with either cling wrap or foil so that it is loose. Let sit in a warm place until the loaves double in size again, about 25 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the dough has finished rising, bake the bread for 15 minutes. Remove, brush with the egg wash and bake again for about 15 minutes until the edges and tops of the bread are beginning to brown and the tops are stiff. 

Let cool for several minutes before cutting and serve warm alongside a cup of soup or with a big spread of butter. You won’t ever want to buy French bread again! Enjoy!

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Popcorn

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Popcorn | RevamperateI’m generally not the popcorn maker in this household, but I thought I’d try a new recipe and add in a cookie-inspired twist. Thus, I made brown butter snickerdoodle popcorn, and it’s so wonderfully easy to make you won’t even believe it. And yes, the brown butter totally makes it. You can use regular butter instead of taking the time to brown it, but I really do think the rich nuttiness of the brown butter adds something extra. Andrew is my personal popcorn maker because he always makes PERFECT popcorn. My skills are not quite as developed, so I usually leave it up to him. Even when I made this snickerdoodle popcorn, I was pretty sure Andrew could have made it even better! Next time, I need him to start sharing his secrets for making the perfect popcorn.

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Popcorn | Revamperate Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Popcorn | RevamperateIngredients:

  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernles
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar 

To pop the popcorn, pour the vegetable oil (can substitute other types of oil) into the bottom of a large pot with a lid. Heat on medium heat. If you splash a tiny bit of water into the pot, it should sizzle to let you know it’s hot enough to begin popping. Add the kernels in one layer (if piled too high, it will not pop well) and replace the lid. 

Let sit on medium heat for about a minute until you can hear the sizzling. Grab your pot holders, lift the pot a couple inches above the hot burner and shake. Shake until you hear the kernels pop and as soon as they begin to slow down, set the pot back on the burner and turn off the heat. When the popping stops, immediately pour the popped popcorn into a large bowl. 

In a small bowl, toss together the cinnamon and sugar and stir to mix. 

Then brown the butter. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or spatula for several minutes. It will bubble and foam before it begins to turn a reddish brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and drizzle over the popcorn. Shake the popcorn to distribute and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture, toss until evenly distributed. 

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Popcorn | RevamperateThen start snacking! I would recommend tasting as you go to ensure the popcorn isn’t too sweet for you – I thought it was perfect, but Andrew thought it was on the sweeter side, so adjust your cinnamon/sugar combination as you wish. This also makes a pretty large batch, so you can half it fairly easily if you need to. Nonetheless, it was pretty easy to eat the entire batch! Pour the popcorn into a few treat bags or containers, and they also make great gifts!

Easy Reese’s Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Reese's Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats | RevamperateReese's Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats | Revamperate
Rice krispie treats were always a favorite of mine, especially in my “adult” years…I guess I have to use adult pretty loosely as a twenty-something, but it’s technically true. Of course, Andrew loves peanut butter and chocolate anything, so combining his favorites into my beloved rice krispie treats resulted in these delicious Reese’s peanut butter rice krispie treats. They’re so good! I may or may not have eaten half the batch by myself…

I mixed in Reese’s to add to the peanut buttery rice krispie treats, and then I added even more chocolate chips to really bring out the chocolate flavor. It’s all about timing – I added the Reese’s early on, which made them melt into the treats and added the chocolate chips a little later so they wouldn’t melt as much. If you’d rather have unmelted chunks of candy, just add them into the mixture when it’s cooled a little bit. Let’s get to it!

Reese's Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats | Revamperate
Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1 1/3 cups peanut butter
  • 6-8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

First, pour the Rice Krispie cereal into a large bowl and set aside. Chop the Reese’s peanut butter cups and set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat. Add in the marshmallows and stir with a whisk until completely melted, keeping the temperature at medium heat or below. Then add the peanut butter and stir until smooth. Pour the hot peanut butter mixture over the cereal and stir with a spatula until all of the cereal is coated. Let sit for a minute to cool slightly.

Reese's Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats | Revamperate Reese's Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats | Revamperate
Add in the chopped Reese’s candy and stir. It will still be warm, making the Reese’s melt into the rice krispies. Continue to let the mixture cool until it’s only a little warm, and mix in the chocolate chips. Move the mixture to a parchment-lined square pan and press the rice krispies down with a spatula (or your hands) into the corners until it’s flat.

Let them cool completely before cutting, and then cut into squares and serve!

No Yeast Soft Pretzels

No Yeast Soft Pretzels | Revamperate No Yeast Soft Pretzels | Revamperate
Once upon a time I worked in the mall (a year ago, actually) and I’m amazed I didn’t gain 200 pounds from mall food. More specifically, the pretzels. Wetzel’s Pretzels was my go-to spot because they were cheap and buttery and they offered a special deal to mall employees, so they were even cheaper. Seriously, those are my favorite pretzels and I strive to be able to make those calorie-filled pretzels one day…but today is not that day. Instead, today I’m sharing how to make NO YEAST soft pretzels.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Pretzels without yeast? Are you cray? Does that even work? Well, yes it does, but it won’t be like your average pretzel. The yeast does more than just make the dough rise, and it will make these taste a little more like bread or a dinner roll than you usual mall or fair-style soft pretzel. That doesn’t mean they’re not delicious!

These soft pretzels are very easy to make without yeast (in case you don’t have it in the house or something) and they taste wonderfully satisfying with butter and course salt on top. Trust me, they are really delicious. I ate half the batch by myself! They also reheated surprisingly well the next day, but there’s no doubt fresh-out-of-the-oven is the best you can get. Here’s how to make them…

No Yeast Soft Pretzels | Revamperate
Ingredients (makes 8 small soft pretzels):

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs butter, cut into cubes + more for topping
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Course salt (for topping)

First, whisk together the the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Cut your cold or slightly softened butter into cubes and add to the dry ingredients, and mix with the whisk until the mixture is crumbly, pressing into the butter. If it’s easier, you can use your hands. Whisk in the milk and oil, stirring until well combined.

No Yeast Soft Pretzels | Revamperate
Move the dough to a floured surface and divide into two balls. Knead the ball into the flour 10-12 times (it will be sticky at first) until the dough is easier to handle. Then divide into eight balls and individually roll each one into long strings of dough, about 6-8 inches or as long as you can stretch them without breaking. Using the flour and an even surface will make this easier. Then form each into a pretzel and set on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat for each ball until you have eight formed pretzels.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Brush the egg generously onto each pretzel and bake on 425 degrees for 8-12 minutes until you barely begin to see brown. At this point, they will be very light and soft. If you bake them longer, the outside will become crunchier, so it depends how soft you like your soft pretzels.

While they bake, melt about 1-2 tbs of butter in a bowl. When you remove the pretzels from the oven, immediately spread the butter on with a brush and top with course salt for that deliciously buttery and salty flavor. Serve and eat while warm and enjoy!

Easy Chocolate Pudding with Homemade Whipped Cream

Easy Chocolate Pudding with Homemade Whipped Cream | Revamperate Easy Chocolate Pudding with Homemade Whipped Cream | Revamperate
When I was a kid, I remember loving to make chocolate pudding from that powdered Jell-O box mix. We’d shake it up in a Tupperware container with milk and let it sit in the fridge until it was ready to eat, and I loved that pudding. Still do. BUT homemade is always better, right?

Although I’m not sure adult me can compete with my childhood love of powder pudding mix, I sure did try, and my chocolate pudding was pretty darn good. Take that, 8-year-old me. This really easy chocolate pudding recipe is light and creamy and offers all the taste of chocolate without feeling overwhelming. Plus, topped with homemade whipped cream and chocolate shavings, it’s a wonderful treat for those weekday evenings when you just want something light but chocolatey. Plus, it not too bad for those of us trying to trim our hips (yes, that a big goal for me right now…and I’m not making any progress).

Chocolate pudding ingredients:

  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbs chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • 1 cup low fat milk

First, whisk together the corn starch, cocoa powder and sugar in a small saucepan to remove any lumps. On low-medium heat, whisk in the milk and stir well. Let the mixture heat until almost boiling, and remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the mixture into a bowl (or individual bowls) and cover with plastic wrap. Leave the container in the fridge for 1-2 hours before eating, but first you’ll want to make this homemade whipped cream. Sorry, this is where those calories go…but it’s worth it. In my opinion, homemade whipped cream will always be better than store-bought, and it’s also really easy to make.

easy-chocolate-pudding-homemade-whipped-creameasy-chocolate-pudding-homemade-whipped-cream-4
Whipped cream ingredients:

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tbs powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

I’ve used different recipes for making whipped cream, but this one is great for making it a little thicker for piping and it’s not overly sweet. First, beat the whipping cream with a whisk attachment on high speed for several minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla while it whips and watch it become increasingly fluffy. You will know it’s done when you form peaks in the whipped cream by removing the whisk. Thick is good, so whip it for a little bit longer if you’re not sure about it.

Once the chocolate has set, either pipe the whipped cream on top like I did with this awesome parfait server my mom got my for Christmas, or just throw a dollop of it on a bowl of pudding and dig in. The whipped cream totally makes it…enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars with Honey

Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars | Revamperate Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars | Revamperate
Hey there, I hope all you moms had a happy Mother’s Day! Is it really Monday already? The weekends fly by way too fast.

In the spirit of Mondays, let’s talk about easy stuff. More specifically, easy snacks. Cereal bars like these peanut butter Cheerio bars are a great on-the-go breakfast item for those days when you just can’t get out of bed and take a three minute shower. We all have those days, right? Best of all, these cereal bars are super easy to make so you can whip them up in one night and eat them all week long.

Ingredients (makes 8-10 bars):

  • 3 cups Cheerios (honey nut recommended)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbs sugar

In a small saucepan on the stove, melt the peanut butter on low-medium heat, stirring constantly with a spoon or whisk (a spatula will likely melt). Stir in the honey and sugar and continue to stir until it becomes more fluid. Turn down the heat if it starts to bubble at all in order to prevent burning.

Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars | Revamperate Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars | Revamperate
Pour the mixture over the Cheerios in a separate bowl and mix with a spatula or your hands (like making Rice Krispie treats!) until it’s fully mixed and super sticky. Move the cereal to a parchment lined square pan and let sit for a minute to cool. While still warm, press the cereal bars down into the pan and corners, making the top as flat as you can. Leave the tray to cool completely before cutting squares with a sharp knife.

Serve these peanut butter Cheerio bars alongside a glass of milk or orange juice and breakfast is served…or grab one and run out the door while still wearing your slippers! Andrew and his coworkers enjoyed them for a nice snack one day. Enjoy!

Homemade Circus Animal Cookies

Homemade Circus Animal Cookies | Revamperate Homemade Circus Animal Cookies | Revamperate
We’ve got some celebrating to do! You know why? Tomorrow is National Animal Cracker Day! Plus it’s the weekend. That’s also a pretty big reason to celebrate.

Maybe that’s not your standard holiday, but it’s still worth celebrating, especially when you have these homemade circus animal cookies. You know the ones – Mother’s Circus Animals. This recipe may not be 100% homemade, but they seriously taste like Mother’s Cookies. I’m stunned actually. I’m going to eat the entire batch in one sitting, but that’s OK because they were really easy to make!

Ingredients:

  • Generic animal crackers (about 30 of them)
  • Bag of white chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Pink food coloring
  • Rainbow nonpareils sprinkles

I used Target-branded animal crackers, and I think it’s important that you use animal crackers, not cookies, to achieve the right taste. Even the sprinkles are super important to really make them taste like circus animal cookies.Homemade Circus Animal Cookies | Revamperate
This is probably the easiest recipe tutorial ever, so let’s do this!

First, microwave the white chocolate on a defrost setting for about 45 seconds, stir and replace. Continue this routine in 20 second intervals until the white chocolate is completely melted. Stir in the vegetable oil to thin out the chocolate and use a fork (or a dipping tool like this one) to dip the animal crackers.

Personally, I find dipping things in chocolate very difficult, but these are really easy because they’re flat. I placed the animal crackers in the chocolate facedown and used the fork or dipping tool to flip it over and pick it up. Then carefully tap the fork against the side of the bowl to let excess chocolate drip off and place the dipped crackers on a cooling rack or sheet of wax paper to dry.

I tried both ways and preferred the wax paper in the end. It keeps the back solid, whereas the cooling rack leaves lines, but the chocolate has a tendency to spread when on the wax paper, changing the shape a bit so you just need to be carefully when laying out the chocolate covered crackers.

Homemade Circus Animal Cookies | Revamperate Homemade Circus Animal Cookies | Revamperate
While the chocolate is still fresh and melted, add the small rainbow sprinkles on top and let the cookies dry completely. I started with the white cookies before making the pink chocolate. Honestly, I just wanted to do less dishes…but it worked out. After dipping half of the crackers, mix a few drops of pink food coloring into the white chocolate until you achieve a dark pink color. Then dip and sprinkle the rest of the cookies and let them sit out to harden.

Now take a bite and tell me they don’t taste like Mother’s circus animal cookies! BRB, eating them all. Have a happy weekend!

St. Patrick’s Day: Lucky Charms Rice Crispy Treats

Lucky Charms Rice Crispy Treats | RevamperateLucky Charms Rice Crispy Treats | Revamperate
St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and I’ve been waiting for a good excuse to make something with Lucky Charms. Well I found one! Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year with rainbows and sugary cereal (as it was meant to be, obviously). Much like regular Rice Krispie treats, these Lucky Charms rice crispy treats will bring you back to your childhood with memories of sticky marshmallows and sugary cereal. Sounds amazing, right? Rice Krispie treats were always a favorite of mine. In fact, they’re a weakness of mine at vending machines. Back when I worked in retail and needed some sugar to push me through the day, Rice Krispie treats were my go-to snack choice. Then I started making them myself with extra ingredients (like these white chocolate graham cracker Rice Krispie treats), which were pretty darn good. Now, bring on the marshmallows!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 4 cups of marshmallows (large, double recipe for mini marshmallows)
  • 6 cups of Lucky Charms cereal

Melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove on low heat. Slowly stir in the marshmallows until they’ve melted completely, and pour the mixture over the Lucky Charms, mixing together with a spatula. Move the cereal to a rectangular pan and let sit for a minute to cool slightly before pressing the rice crispy treats down and into the corners. Using your hands or a spatula, press it down as flat as you can and into the corners, and let it cool completely. Cut the cereal into squares with a sharp knife and serve!

Lucky Charms Rice Crispy Treats | Revamperate
We don’t have any plans for St. Patrick’s Day this year, but I might be thinking of trying some green beer this year…maybe? We’ll see. Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Homemade Chex Mix

Homemade Chex Mix | Revamperate
Homemade Chex Mix | Revamperate
Can we all agree that Chex mix just hits the spot sometimes? It’s a perfect salty treat that makes you feel less guilty than potato chips. Although, I often give in to those. Well, I don’t know about you, but I only eat the Chex cereal and the pretzel pieces, so always leave half empty bowls with the remains laying around hoping someone else will eat them. The great thing is you can totally make your own! Then you can make it with whatever you want – Chex cereal and pretzels in my case. If you want, you can even add in some almonds or some random bread pieces. Make it your own and you’ll start enjoying it even more. I don’t even buy Chex mix because I prefer to go the homemade route.

This recipe was sort of passed down from my mom, and you’ll never guess what’s in it. When you look at the ingredients, you’ll think I made a mistake, but I didn’t. This recipe really does have Worcestershire sauce in it.Homemade Chex Mix | Revamperate
Ingredients (4 cups of mix):

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Lowry’s seasoned salt
  • 3 cups Chex cereal
  • 1 cup pretzels, slightly broken
  • Sprinkle of garlic
  • 1 inch deep sheet pan
  • Spatula

Start by preheated the oven to 225 degrees. To melt the butter, you can either put it in the pan and let it melt as the oven preheats, which is what I usually do, or you can melt it in the microwave and then pour into the pan. Once the butter is melted inside of a sheet pan (should be at least 1 inch deep), add in the Worcestershire Sauce and mix together with a spatula. Then add the Lowry’s seasoned salt (yes, this really is the best seasoned salt for the recipe, in my opinion) and a sprinkle of garlic. Use the spatula to mix the ingredients together inside of the pan and then add the Chex and pretzels, stirring continually until the cereal and pretzels are evenly coated. This recipe is easily doubled or even halved, but these measurements will yield a small enough amount that you’re sure to eat it all before it has a chance to go stale. Another great thing about this recipe is that you can use old stale cereal and you won’t even notice it when it’s been baked!
Homemade Chex Mix | Revamperate
Pop the pan in the oven for 20 minutes. Then remove, sir well and repeat two more times. At that point, give it a little taste test and decide if it’s crunchy enough for you because it should be. Otherwise, pop it in for one more round. Let it cool and devour! This Chex mix recipe will fill you up and I guarantee it will go fast. It also makes a nice last minute gift. Enjoy!

Pretzel Shortbread Bars

Pretzel Shortbread Bars | Revamperate Pretzel Shortbread Bars | Revamperate It’s been a rough week for me, but that doesn’t completely stop me from baking (even if it probably should). I have a pretty bad sinus infection keeping me down, so I’ve been watching a lot of Friends and scrolling through a lot of Pins in between planning out recipes and trying to cuddle with my cat. Oliver pretty excited to have someone to play with during the week, so he’s more interested in playing than sleeping. Now, onto the shortbread!

If you’re a regular reader, you probably know I bake a lot of sweets. There’s usually lots of sugar and chocolate involved. Sometimes it’s nice to change it up a little bit by adding some salt into the mix. The right combination of sweet and salty can be just what you need sometimes, and these incredibly easy pretzel shortbread bars are the perfect compromise.

Do you have any idea how easy it is to make shortbread? I don’t know why I always thought it was so intimidating. It’s literally three key ingredients. Not even any eggs. So easy.

Here’s what you need to make about 20 bars:

  • 30-40 pretzels
  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

First, beat together the butter, vanilla and sugar until creamy. Slowly add in the flour and continue to beat until well combined. It’ll be pretty tough at this point.

Grind up about 15 pretzels in a food processor until very fine, and beat into the dough. If it’s too thick mix in with a large spoon or your hands.

Move the dough to a sheet of wax paper and kneed with your hands. Remember, your hands can do things your mixer just can’t! Place a piece of wax paper inside of a 13X9 inch (or similar) pan and push the dough into the pan, moving it into the corners and flattening the top. It should be about 1/2 inch thick.Pretzel Shortbread Bars | Revamperate Pretzel Shortbread Bars | Revamperate Grind up additional pretzels in the food processor just enough to break them into small pieces and lightly press them into the top of the dough. Bake on 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes until the edges are slightly brown and the middle is a little tough. Cool on a rack for about 30 minutes, remove from the pan by lifting the wax paper, and cut the shortbread into pieces with a sharp knife.

These are the perfect quick snack for sweet and salty lovers! Beware; they are quite crumbly, so be prepared to clean up some crumbs. It’s so worth it, I promise. Enjoy!