Hot Buttered Pretzels

Hard pretzels don't really do much for me. Sure, they're oft-lauded as a great healthy snack, but honestly, I'd rather have a bowl of kale. Even the peanut butter-filled kind, while marginally better than plain ones, leave me unsatisfied-not to mention thirsty.

But soft, buttery pretzels, hot out of the oven, with a lightly crisp exterior and a chewy, yet puffy interior are a totally different story. Serve them with tangy mustard or creamy cheese sauce for the ultimate game night/ballgame/study session snack (don't forget the cold beer!). You could probably even get away with serving them (plus soup and maybe a light salad) for an easy supper.

Most importantly, they're super-simple to make using pizza dough (check out my latest book for more on this glorious product!). Make it yourself or pick it up at the store and go from there.

INGREDIENTS2 tablespoons baking soda pantry
1 recipe pizza dough $1.50
flour for rolling pantry
1 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted $1
2 tablespoons large-grain salt, such as sea salt or kosher salt (optional) pantry

Total cost of ingredients: $2.50

DIRECTIONSPreheat the oven to 450 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Fill a large pot with 10 cups of water. Place on the stove over high heat and whisk in the baking soda. Bring water to a light boil.

Meanwhile, roll the dough out into 10 12-inch ropes on a lightly floured surface.

To roll a pretzel shape, draw the ends of the rope together to form a circle. Twist the ends together once or twice. Layer the twisted ends onto the bottom curve of the shape. You can use a little water to wet the ends to make them stick.

Working in small batches, drop the pretzel-shaped pieces of dough into the water, boil for 30 seconds, and then transfer to the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until pretzels are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Brush with the melted butter, then sprinkle lightly with the salt.

Serve plain or with desired dipping sauce.

Serves 5-7.

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