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Carrie's Kitchen: For the love of butter

I don't know if you're on Facebook, but a very common thing to see during November is your friends listing something that they're thankful for every day of the month.

I don't do it because it's a little too sappy for me, at least the public nature of it, but I thought it would be fun (and less sappy) to write about a food I'm thankful for each week this month.

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It's going to be hard to choose just four, so I'm not going to make these my top four foods or anything as serious as that. I haven't even picked all four yet, but it was not too hard to think of my first food that I'm thankful for: butter.

Just typing that, I started salivating. It's hard to think of foods that don't taste better with butter. As a child, I ate tons of meals of buttered noodles, and put butter on any vegetable I didn't want to eat. Sometimes I still butter my vegetables, like beets and peas, and my husband always gives me a strange look. I know I'm eating the vegetables to be healthy and the butter kind of takes away from that a little, but I don't care. On some days, the vegetables (or bread, mashed potatoes, etc.) are just a delivery system for the butter.

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I always have thought that I got my sweet tooth from my father, but even my mother admits to eating "butter and sugar sandwiches" when she was growing up. (I didn't hear about that though until I was out of the house - that was never a sandwich in my lunchbox, unfortunately.) And I know a lot of people like to eat cookie dough, but my favorite stage of making the dough is just the sugar and butter.

Butter goes great with "eh" foods like noodles and peas, but it's also great with classy foods, like lobster. And steak - I love having an herbed ball of butter come on top of my steak when I'm out at a restaurant.

So for the love of butter, I've picked two recipes today that I think allow you to indulge in buttery goodness. The first is for garlic-butter pretzel bites, which have a little butter in the dough and then the rest you bathe the pretzels in once they're baked. I haven't tried these but the pictures looked amazing.

And second, I wanted to have a butter cookie recipe. Butter cookies, which I guess are defined by a particular ration of butter, sugar, egg and flour, are so indulgent. Some cookies have the predominant flavor of sugar, but when you taste a butter cookie, the butter is really what comes out most. This recipe is from Martha Stewart, and is pretty simple.

Enjoy!

Garlic-butter pretzel bites
1 cup milk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/4 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup baking soda
3 cups warm water
3 teaspoons garlic salt

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add milk and 2 tablespoons butter. Heat to 110 degrees, then pour into a large glass bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for 2 minutes then stir in brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon.
Stir in remaining flour and salt until dough forms into a ball then turn out onto a heavily floured surface. Dough will be sticky. Knead for 5 minutes, adding additional flour as necessary, then place into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place somewhere warm for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and lightly grease 3 half sheet pans. Combine baking soda and warm water in a large, shallow dish then whisk to dissolve baking soda.
Punch dough down then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 8 sections. Roll each section until 1-inch thick, then cut into 1-inch-long pieces. Dunk pieces into baking soda and water mixture then place onto greased pans. Bake for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
Melt remaining butter and stir in garlic salt. Dunk warm pretzel bites in butter then place on a cooling rack to let excess butter drip off. Serve warm.
Source: goboldwithbutter.com

French butter cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup turbinado (unrefined) or granulated sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and light-brown sugar; beat on high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, and mix to combine. Add flour and salt, and mix on low speed until flour is incorporated.
Roll dough into three 1 1/2-inch-diameter logs. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Roll cookie log in sugar, coating it evenly, and slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Place cookies on baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Using a cake tester or toothpick, make four decorative holes in each cookie. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool completely on wire racks.
Source: http://www.marthastewart.com

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