Cooking with a Toddler, Soft Pretzel Recipe, and a Giveaway

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Catherine Helmick. Congratulations, Catherine, you have won an autographed copy of The Dawn of Christmas and a bar of oatmeal and honey soap!

Hello, readers! This is Erin, Cindy’s daughter-in-law. Since she doesn’t have a staff, I try to help her when I can with behind-the-scenes stuff such as addressing problems readers might have with the website, answering questions in e-mails, or helping with mailing out books. Because she is currently under a deadline to finish an editing round of Seasons of Tomorrow, I wrote a “guest” blog for this week. I share a fun story of baking with my toddler as well as a delicious recipe of Cindy’s that is special to our family. Afterward, we will give away a copy of The Dawn of Christmas and a bar of Kristin Lail’s homemade oatmeal and honey soap, which truly smells like a delicious baked good. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!

Helping mommy bake and cook is one of my two year old’s favorite things to do. I’ll ask her if she wants to make something, or as she calls it, “mix it, mix it,” and she will go to the kitchen table, grab a chair, and pull it right up to the counter. She stands on the chair while helping me pour each ingredient in the mixing bowl. She insists on having her own spoon to “mix it.” I let her taste safe ingredients, such as brown sugar and chocolate chips, and she has more than once made a face as she stubbornly sticks a fist-full of plain flour in her mouth, despite my warnings that she won’t like it. She is genuinely helpful at tasks such as placing cupcake liners in the pan, or using a whisk to combine dry ingredients. We’ve made a test batch of almost every recipe on this blog since September, and we’ve made many other baked goods. She even knows to stay back when I open the oven, warning me, “Mommy, it’s hot, hot!”

Besides getting to feel like a big girl, I think one of the reasons she likes baking so much is that to her, baking is almost like magic. We mix in several ingredients that are “yucky” by themselves, such as flour, raw eggs, salt, yeast, and butter, put it in the oven, and something delicious comes out. She is also a big help eating the resulting food!

This week is Thanksgiving, a time that most people will either cook or help cook a meal for their family, or join with extended family in celebrating and eating. I am so thankful for my family, both for my immediate family of my husband, daughter, and soon-to-be-born son, and for my wider reaching family consisting of parents, in-laws, siblings, and grandparents. We all have different viewpoints and personalities, but like well mixed ingredients, we can come together to be a wonderfully blended unit.

This recipe is one I got from Cindy’s personal recipe stash, and is one of her most requested foods at family gatherings. The fun thing about homemade soft pretzels is that everyone can prepare them to their personal taste. I prefer savory pretzels, such as with butter and salt or Parmesan cheese while my husband loves them sweet with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. His older brother even likes these pretzels the best when they are shaped as rolls and eaten as bread with dinner. How do you like your soft pretzels? Or what is your favorite type of bread to have with Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner?


Soft Pretzels



1 1/2 cups warm water

1 1/8 tsp. (or 1 packet) instant or “bread machine” yeast ((note: active dry yeast can also be used, but you may want to give it an extra 5 minutes or so after dissolving in warm water to let it activate))

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup bread flour

3 cups all-purpose flour


Soda water bath:

2 cups warm water

2 Tbsp. baking soda


Possible Toppings:

melted butter for brushing

course sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling

cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling

mustard for dipping

Parmesan cheese for topping



In mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1 1/2 c. lukewarm water. Add brown sugar and salt and dissolve. Add bread flour and all-purpose flour, kneading dough until smooth and elastic. Let rise in a warm place in a covered bowl for at least 30 minutes.


While dough is rising, prepare the baking soda water bath with 2 cups warm water and 2 Tbsp. baking soda, stirring often. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

After dough has risen, dust your hands with flour. Pinch off golf ball sized bits of dough, roll into long, thin ropes, and shape into desired shapes. Or using a butter knife, cut dough into bite sized pieces, similar to the pretzel bites sold in stores.

IMG_0529 IMG_0536

Dip each pretzel in soda solution and place on greased baking sheet. Allow pretzels to rise another 10-20 minutes in a warm place. Bake in 450 degree preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden.

Top pretzels as desired by brushing them with melted butter and sprinkling with coarse salt, or sugar & cinnamon. Enjoy!



Book Giveaway

For today’s giveaway, Cindy is giving away a copy of her newest release, The Dawn of Christmas! This is a hardcover novella that makes a great Christmas read or gift! She is also giving away a bar of homemade oatmeal and honey soap, which has a yummy smell similar to baked oatmeal! To enter to win, simply scroll down to the bottom of this post and leave a comment.

If you are reading about this giveaway anywhere other than Cindy’s website, such as on Facebook, in an email, or on Goodreads, please hop on over to the website by clicking here: and then leave a comment at the bottom of the post under the words “Leave a Reply.”
5-Dawn of Christmas

Only comments left on my website will be entered into the giveaway.

The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, December 3, at noon Eastern Time. The winner will be chosen using and will be contacted privately, as well as announced on next week’s post.

As always, please remember that all of my giveaways are limited to US residents only. For a complete explanation of the terms and conditions of this giveaway, please go to

Helpful info for first time commenters:

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  • Please be aware that I aim to get the items sent as quickly as possible, but at really busy times it can take up to six weeks. (I don’t have a staff. But I do have two daughters-in-law who help when they can. But they each have a life and professions not connected to my writing and giveaways. What?! <big grin>

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