I've got a few names at the marina - Ellen, the Crazy Cat Lady and the Pretzel Lady. Ellen is pretty obvious - it's the name my mom gave me. It's a good name. I like it. I'm usually the only one around named Ellen. So, imagine my surprise when I saw that someone had written down my name on the BBQ sign-up list a few weeks ago and said I was bringing dessert. I don't like being told what to do, so I crossed dessert off and wrote down pretzels instead.
Turns out there actually is another Ellen living on a boat by herself at the marina just now. What are the odds? I wonder what she thought when she saw that someone crossed dessert off and wrote in pretzels instead. I bet she doesn't like being told what to do either.
I used to always hate these potluck things because I never knew what to bring. Or, I've got a great idea for what to bring, but never have the required ingredients on board. But, now I've discovered pretzels and they've transformed my life.
Okay, I know what you're thinking. Pretzels? Really? You might as well just slap a bag of potato chips on the table. That would be just as exciting.
No, we're not talking about ordinary pretzels here. These are magical pretzels. They have the power to get people's attention. Sometimes, it's in a good way and they say things like, "Wow, these are great! They go perfectly with a beer!" Unfortunately, other times, they say things like, "Oh my god, what is on these! My mouth is on fire! Quick, hand me a beer to wash down the taste!"
Yes, they're spicy pretzels!
Super simple to make. You take a bag of ordinary pretzels. You know how pretzels are a great low-fat treat? We're going to change all that by pouring a lot of oil into a bowl. Then we add a package of ranch dressing mix, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper and garlic salt. Mix, let sit for a few hours so the spicy oil sinks in and enjoy. I use this recipe here.
The last time I made them, I doubled the cayenne pepper and lemon pepper. What can I say, I like spicy food. Some people complained that they were too spicy. So, this last time, I cut back on the spice level. I'm sure some other people will complain this time. Too spicy for some, just right for others and bland for a select few. It's like Goldilocks and those bears all over again.
Just so that everyone knows what to expect, I labeled the container - "Spicy pretzels (but not as spicy as last time)."
Lately, I've extended my pretzel repertoire and have added pretzels covered in cinnamon sugar, chocolate and sprinkles to the BBQ potluck rotation. I haven't heard anyone complain about these ones. Just goes to show you that sugary treats are always popular.
This is another easy way to transform low-fat pretzels into something your doctor would recommend you eat in moderation.
Same basic principle as the spicy pretzels, except that you need a heat source. I use a microwave, but you could probably do this on the stove or in the oven. You mix up cinnamon, brown sugar and white sugar with some vegetable oil. Toss your pretzels in the sugary oil and then heat up for a minute in the microwave. Stir and heat for another minute and repeat again. Then, you sprinkle some chocolate morsels in the bowl, melt slightly in the microwave and give it another stir. I use this recipe here.
You're then supposed to spread the pretzels out on some large baking trays. Well, clearly the author of the recipe doesn't live on a boat. Where would I store large baking trays? And considering my oven is the size of a bread box, what would I use large baking trays for?
You learn to adapt when you live on a boat. Some waxed paper spread out on the table works just fine. Let the pretzels set for a while, put in a container and tuck away in the fridge until needed.
Like with the spicy pretzels, I labeled these so that people know what to expect - "Cinnamon sugar pretzels with white chocolate and sprinkles for extra fun." If I were you, I would use semi-sweet chocolate instead. I switched to white chocolate for this last batch and it didn't melt as well, so I ended up with some pretzels having rather ugly white chocolate clumps on them. Make sure you do add sprinkles though. They won't really stick that well to the pretzels, but they're colorful and make you smile when you sprinkle them on.
What types of things do you bring to potlucks? Go on, share your recipes! I'm always looking for new ideas, especially things that are easy to make.
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