Turn off oven and ‘no-bake’ some cookies

WESTON — Since the summer weather is holding on this week, why not revisit a taste of the fair?

The Alstadt family is sharing two recipes — including one that won Best of Show and first place — at the Pemberville Free Fair.

Lydia’s No-Bake Cookies, with their sweet, peanut butter taste, took top honors. For the cook’s corner, her mom Stephanie, and sister Emma, baked pretzels, which are a nice salty complement.

Stephanie and Emma also entered items at the fair, which is a family highlight every summer.

“We like to cook, and we wanted to see how we could do at the fair,” Stephanie said. “They have certain things for the kids to make and Lydia had done no-bake cookies last year, and she’s pretty good at doing them, so she wanted to do that again.

“I just chose some things that seemed fun to do,” she added.

That included chocolate-chip cookies, cornbread muffins and blueberry muffins.

They compete with her cousin, Caren Simpson, who lives in Monclova.

“We like to go against each other and see who’s the better baker,” Stephanie said. “I would say we did about the same.”

Emma baked her Rice Krispie Treats, with extra marshmallows, for the fair.

Lydia and Stephanie have one suggestion for making the no-bake cookies.

“It’s really hot, when it comes off the stove. We always let it sit there, just a little, in the pan to thicken,” Stephanie said. “We don’t want it melting all over the place.”

The pretzel recipe can be made easier by bringing out the bread machine, Stephanie said.

“You can use your bread machine, too, for just kneading the dough, instead of taking all the time of hand mixing it,” she said. “Use the dough setting, then take it out and twist them when they’re done. It makes it easier.”

Another tip is to monitor the oven temperature.

“Make sure the oven’s really hot before you put it in, because you don’t want them to get soggy,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie got the pretzel recipe from her friend and has been making them for about 15 years. She recommends using thick, kosher salt for the topping. Add mustard or cheese, but they are good all by themselves, she said.

“My husband loves them plain,” she said.

Stephanie, who is from Portage, and Michael met while working at Pagliai’s.

She said she’s tried making the Pagliai’s breadsticks.

“I have a pretty good recipe. It doesn’t really taste like Paglia’s, but I have a pretty decent recipe,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie, who homeschools, and Michael, who is an ag technician, have five children, Emma, 9, Lydia, 7, Christian, 6, Ivan, 3, and Elijah, 1.

The large family loves the Pemberville Free Fair.

“We like Pemberville because it’s free. You can go in free, you can enter (items) for free. It’s just a lot less hassle. You go in that day and it’s easy,” Stephanie said.

They also visit Grandma Ella Werth, who lives at Otterbein, making it a true family outing.

The girls like to be in the kitchen with mom.

Emma’s favorite dish to make is Mexican food, including tacos and burritos, and pancakes for breakfast. Lydia’s preference is no-bake cookies. Mom also leans toward the desserts.

“At Christmas time, I like making truffles and sweets, that’s fun,” Stephanie said.

She learned to cook from her mom, Linda Burkhart, who lives just a couple miles away.

“We have a big garden at my parents’ house,” Stephanie said. “I like to do hot peppers, and I have a big garden of watermelons right now, which is really exciting. And we do tomatoes and onions.”

Lydia’s No-Bake Cookies

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup peanut butter

2 cups quick oats

Directions

Bring first five ingredients to boil, then add peanut butter. Mix in oats. Scoop on a cookie sheet and let set until firm.

Buttery Soft Pretzels

Ingredients

4 teaspoons dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/4 cup warm water

5 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup baking soda

4 cups hot water

1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

Directions

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center, add the oil and yeast mixture.

Mix and form the dough until smooth, about 7-8 minutes. Oil a large bowl, place dough in and let stand 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, dissolve soda in hot water.

Divide dough into 12 equal parts. Roll and shape into pretzel. Dip in hot water mixture. Sprinkle with salt and place on greased baking sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes until browned.