A Belated Thanksgiving Feast: An ode to the classics with a couple of twists

Thanksgiving this year was a bit different for us. We had planned on hosting some family that day, but due to unforeseen events, it hadn’t transpired as planned.

Even though we didn’t celebrate that day, I decided to go ahead and make a mini Thanksgiving meal for Jake and I to enjoy the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was able to try out a bunch of new recipes.

 

Here’s what was on the menu, linked to their original recipes. I put an asterisk next to the ones that I think were especially unique:


Pretzel and Sausage Stuffing

(Here’s the link to the recipe.)

This pretzel stuffing is definitely worth making again. I asked Jake what his favorite thing was that I made and he said the stuffing. I think the herbs and the pretzel give it a really special, unique flavor.

The original plan for this pretzel stuffing was to make my own pretzel rolls a day or two in advance. I was going to make the same ones that I made for the Mini Oktoberfest that we hosted last month. However, I didn’t have the time, so we picked up some frozen pretzels at the store. The recipe calls for 12 cups, so I should’ve gotten 2 or 3 bags. The stuffing tasted good, but definitely needed that extra “bread”.

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I tore the pretzels into pieces and toasted in the oven according to the recipe directions – 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 – 20 minutes until toasted, but not hard.

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In the meantime, I diced the onion, carrots, and celery. The recipe calls for 3-4 stalks celery, 3 carrots, and 1 medium onion. However, the amounts specified are about 3/4 -1/2 cup of each. I found that the quantities yielded more than the 3/4-1/2 cups. I think it would’ve worked out fine if I had more pretzels to balance out the vegetables. I went ahead and added the minced garlic and poultry seasoning with my prepped vegetables since they were all going to go into the pan/pot to cook at the same time anyway.

I sauteed these with the butter until they were soft. After cooking, I put them back into the “prep” bowl so I could use the pot to cook the sausage.

No photo for the sausage, but I used a few link that we had in the freezer. They were hot Italian sausage link. I thawed them out and squeezed the filling into the pot to cook through and crumble.

While I was cooking the sausage, I chopped the herbs. (Don’t they look B-E-A-UTIFUL?)

Once that was sausage was done cooking, I added back the cooked vegetables and mixed in the herbs.

I prepared the liquid by mixing the chicken broth and eggs.

I then poured the stuffing into the baking dish, packed it in, and poured the liquid evenly over the top of the stuffing. I then baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes covered and another 20 minutes uncovered. I added a little extra time uncovered than the recipe specified because the top was brown enough to my liking.


Roasted Vegetable Gravy

The ingredients are flexible, but here’s what I used:

  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour

I didn’t follow an exact recipe for this, but I had recently watched a holiday cooking tips video by Food Network. Basically, they were saying there is no need to use flour or cornstarch to try and thicken up your gravy. Instead, puree some roasted vegetables and add that to the gravy. I LOVED THIS IDEA and I would definitely do it again. The gravy ended up with a unique flavor and it was just something different than the “norm”.

I basically used the leftover carrots, celery, and onion that I didn’t need for the pretzel sausage stuffing. I chopped the vegetables into medium/large pieces and I didn’t even bother peeling the carrots. I roasted the vegetables (no seasoning, just tossed with a little olive oil) in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It time it, but it probably took about an hour to roast to the point where the vegetables were very soft.

Once the vegetables were done, I put them into a blender and added a bit of hot chicken broth. Actually, I had previously been boiling the green beans (for the green bean casserole) in chicken broth, so I just took some from that pot. I like to think maybe a little bit of the green bean flavor infused into that chicken broth too 🙂

I blended until it was a puree. I think I could have blended it a little more and added a little more broth.

To at least get a base for the gravy, I melted the butter and mixed in some flour. Then, I added chicken broth.

Finally, I mixed the puree in with the gravy base and it was done!

Here’s a photo of some of the other dishes with the gravy displayed at the bottom left.


Citrus Roasted Turkey

We bought a small 6 lb turkey, since the dinner was primarily just for the both of us and we were hoping to make a little doggy bag for Jake’s dad and for us to have some leftovers.

Jake stuffed the turkey with onion, oranges, apple, and rosemary. He also put a few small slivers of onion right under the skins and squeezed a little bit of the juice from the orange on to the bird.

He also laid bacon pieces over the top of the turkey for both some flavor and to help keep the bird moist.

In the baking dish, we also added some additional orange, apple, and onion chunks. I also put a tiny bit of chicken broth at the bottom of the dish to also help keep the bird moist.

We cooked between 325 – 345 degrees Fahrenheit for about 3.5 hours. We don’t trust the plastic temperature gauge that comes in the turkey, so Jake took it out and we just checked it periodically with a meat thermometer. (Because Jake loves to cook meats, we have about 4 different meat thermometers. Haha!)

The turkey yielded a lot more meat than we thought and it was very juicy! I was so sad that this bird didn’t have a lot of skin because I love eating that crispy delicious part. However, I can’t complain. And I know Jake was really happy with the way this turned out given that there was not a lot of prep and no brining involved.


Green Bean Casserole

(Here’s the link to the recipe.)

This was a Food Network recipe that I hadn’t tried before. It was very easy and flavorful, without a lot of ingredients because it uses cream of mushroom canned soup. First, I took the thick stems off the green beans and broke the larger pieces in half. I boiled the green beans in chicken broth.

In the meantime, I chopped the onion. I then sauteed the onion and mushroom in melted butter until the onions were translucent and the mushrooms were soft.

I then mixed the green beans with the onion and mushrooms. I added the can of cream of mushroom soup, added in some store-bought French-fried onion rings, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.

I put everything into a baking dish. I baked for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

After the initial 20 minutes then I added the cheddar cheese and baked until the cheese was melted.

I had a little extra of the French-fried onion rings, so I added the rest on top.

Overall, this was really good and easy. The cheddar cheese ruins the look of the casserole. Maybe next time I’ll mix the cheese in instead of just sprinkling it on top.


Homemade Cranberry Casserole

(Here’s the link to the recipe.)

I’ve never made cranberry sauce before, but I know that fresh cranberries are tart, so I was worried at how this would come out. It still had a bit of tartness and at first, I thought maybe it was too sweet. However, the more that I ate it, the more that I liked it and the more I think I had previously just been comparing it to canned cranberry sauce. This is definitely worth a try and is very simple.

I pretty much just plopped all the ingredients into a small pot and kept it on a low boil/simmer until the cranberries were popped and cooked down. It may seem a little liquid-y at first, but let it sit and cool for a bit and everything will come together.

Whipped Potatoes

Finally, there were the whipped potatoes. I’m sorry, but I can’t divulge the exact recipe! This is my mother-in-law’s recipe and I’m happy that I was able to to give it a try. There isn’t anything in this that is unusual. In fact, I encourage you to use your favorite mashed potato recipe. The only new thing you may want to try is whip the potatoes using a hand mixer instead of just mashing! This helps keep the potatoes creamy, even after refrigerating and eating as leftovers.

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I hope that these recipes and tips give you some ideas either for next Thanksgiving or for you holiday or Christmas meals this year.

Sincerely,
Fu’d

No-Fail Ginger Cookies (Tip: Try them with matcha frosting or ice cream!)

I had made these ginger cookies a few years ago for the very first time. And even as a beginner cooker/baker (which I still very much am) I was incredibly pleased at how easy these were and how well they came out. These cookies will always be special because I made these for Jake’s grandfather. I only knew his grandfather for a little bit before he passed, but he was suffering from Alzheimer’s and had a hard time remembering people and events. However, I brought him these cookies and he always remembered that I did that and how soft and chewy they were. I will ALWAYS remember that.

I really didn’t make any substitutions or modifications at all with the actual recipe. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

As a side note, I have also used this recipe to make ginger cookie sandwiches with matcha frosting inside. What?!?! YES!!! If you’re interested in the frosting recipe, here it is! It is very sweet, but if you’re looking to impress or have that sweet tooth, try it!

I do, however, follow my own process for baking by using parchment paper on top of a baking rack because, otherwise, there is no doubt I would end up with burnt bottoms. I’ll talk a little more further down about what I did.

First, use a fine colander to sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and set it aside.

This recipe also calls for butter. I only had cold butter, but I used this handy dandy trip I learned a while ago to soften it without melting it. Boil some water, fill a glas that’s big enough to fit over the stick of butter (a beer glass works great). Let the hot water sit in the glass for 5 minutes. Carefully (I recommend with oven mits) dump the water out and out the warmed empty glass over the cold stick of butter. I also typically put everything in a bowl for the condensation to fall in. Let that sit for 5 – 10 minutes. Voila! Butter is soft!

I used a hand mixer to mix the butter and sugar until creamy.

I then incorporated the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar in batches. I added about 1 cup of dry ingredients at a time and incorporated, then did the next batch, and so on until all the ingredients are combined together.

Add some sugar (about a half cup) into a separate small bowl. Make 1″ balls with the dough and roll in the sugar. Do this until all the dough is used.

I prepared the baking sheet by putting a baking rack in/on a baking sheet. Then, I put parchment paper on top of the baking rack.

Bake for about at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. I judge doneness by the slightly darker color it becomes and the fact that the tops gets those cracks in them. Once done, I let it sit for a few minutes as is out of the oven. I carefully transferred the parchment paper with cookies on top off the rack and onto the baking sheet that should still be hot. This helps to give a little more cooking time to the bottoms without burning them.

I haven’t done this yet, but I can imagine how good these would be served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Wow!

Enjoy!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Guilt-Free Alfredo Sauce with a Cauliflower Base

I had somewhat recently joined a Facebook group that was created for people who live in the same town to share photos of their home cooked meals. First off, this group is absolutely amazing – the things that people cook and all the encouragement is a breath of fresh air. There’s been a recent onslaught of people making chicken broccoli alfredo. So, of course, I started to crave it like crazy!

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Here’s a version that I adapted for the pressure cooker from a Pinterest recipe. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) If you don’t want to use a pressure cooker, feel free to follow the original recipe as is, but be sure to read on for a few tips and suggestions! I also tried to make my own pasta shells…that was a disaster. Luckily I was smart enough to pick up some backup shells at the store.

Here’s what I used for the sauce:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of milk (I used almond milk)
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Your choice of cheese (optional) – I used shelf-stable parmesan and a shredded pizza blend

You can supposedly pair this sauce with a number of dishes, but I made stuffed shells with chicken and broccoli. So, here is the rest of what I used:

  • 1 box of shells, cooked and drained
  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 1 large chicken breast (You may want a little more if you want to try something unique with the sauce. Read on to learn more!)
  • More cheese for topping
  • Breadcrumbs to sprinkle on top (optional)

Cut the cauliflower head into medium sized pieces (doesn’t need to be perfect) and put it in the pressure cooker. Mince or use a garlic press and put all the garlic in with the cauliflower. Add one cup of vegetable broth and season with salt and pepper.

I chose to cube the chicken breast, seasoned with salt and pepper, and put into a little tin foil boat. I put this on top of the cauliflower in the pressure cooker. If you chose to use some additional chicken for the unique twist on the sauce, add a handful of the chicken cubes in with the cauliflower, but outside of the foil. (You will end up incorporating that extra chicken right into the sauce.)

I set the pressure cooker to the poultry setting for only 5 minutes and then used the quick release when done. This was enough time to cook the chicken and soften the cauliflower.

Add the 1/2 cup of milk.

Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender or food processor), blend everything together. If you added the extra chicken into the sauce, this means you are blending chicken right into it. This may seem odd, but I accidentally did this the first time and I loved it. It gave the sauce flavor some depth and it also help give the sauce a little thicker in consistency!

I decided to put in some cheese and about 1 cup of small cut broccoli so they would fit in the shells for baking. (I left larger chunks of broccoli for addition to the baking dish after the shells were stuffed.) Go ahead and dump the cooked chicken cubes in there, too.

Mix together well.

I chose to microwave the remainder of the broccoli with a little water but feel free to pre-cook it any way you like.

Spread a thing layer of sauce at the bottom of the baking dish.

Stuff the shells with the sauce, chicken, broccoli mixture and place shells in the dish. I placed the microwaved broccoli around the shells.

I topped the dish with the rest of the sauce some more cheese, and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs.

I baked at 375 degrees Farenheit, covered with tin foil for about 15 minutes.

I then baked for another 15 minutes uncovered. I broiled at the end for a few minutes to get the golden brown color on top.

Lastly, serve and enjoy! Leftovers are delicious, too. I had this for lunch two days this week AND I was able to freeze some for when I get the craving later on 😉.

Again, I chose shells, but feel free to eat this with any type of pasta or give it a try over some vegetables, on a white pizza, with rice, etc.

Sincerely,
Fu’d

A Visit From My Parents: Cabbage Casserole and Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

My parents and I don’t get to visit with each other very often. They’re retired out in Nevada and I’m here on east coast. And although they came out to Hawaii for my wedding this summer, we didn’t have a lot of time spent together between preparing for the wedding and entertaining others that had come to celebrate with us. Before that, the last time we visited was during the holidays a couple years ago. Fast forward to last week – They happened to be setting off on a cruise from NY, so they took some time beforehand to stop by and see me and Jake.

I decided I wanted to prepare a couple of dishes for them so they could eat at their leisure. I made a cabbage casserole with ground turkey and a simple slow cooker chicken/black beans/corn/salsa dish to go along some Jasmine rice.

I had made this cabbage casserole once before for my friend Lindsay, but I forgot some of the things I didn’t particularly like about the dish. I ended up making and baking the whole thing as specified in the recipe. But believe it or not, I ended up taking everything out of the casserole dish, rinsed it off, added new seasonings, and re-baked it. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

First, the recipe calls for cooking the chopped cabbage a bit in water to soften it up. I think this was unnecessary. I think it could have just been cooked down a bit when added to the ground turkey mix.

Separately, I cooked the ground turkey and then added in the onion, diced tomato, and first part of the tomato paste.

Once the onions were translucent, I added the semi-cooked cabbage, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice, packet of minute Basmati rice, and chopped parsley. I let that cook for about 15 minutes. (I didn’t use dried mint as specified in the recipe because I didn’t have any.)

The recipe then calls for the rest of the tomato paste stirred in and everything transferred to a baking dish to bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 40 minutes.

The image below is what it looked like the first time I baked it.

I taste tested it and wasn’t thrilled with it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I thought there was way too much tomato paste and there was a little too much spice for this particular dish.

I put it in the fridge overnight and re-evaluated the next day. I still wasn’t happy, so I ended up dumping everything back into a pot and rinsing it with water to try and get rid of some of the excess tomato paste and cayenne pepper. I tried to drain most of the water out and put it back on the stove to evaporate some of the water. I added in garlic powder and onion powder. I put everything back into a clean baking dish, sprinkled some cheese on top, and put it back in the oven to bake. The result the second time around was much better in terms of flavor. I should have let the water cook out a little more, though. It fell apart a little bit when serving. Also, I froze the leftovers and had some a couple of days later. It was a bit mushy because of the little bit of extra water.

Overall, I learned my lesson for the next time I make this and will make it right the first time!


The second dish I made was the slow cooker chicken. This is a recipe I’ve made several times in the past, both in the crock pot and in the pressure cooker. Since I was making this ahead of time, I went with the crock pot since I had some time. This is one of the easiest recipes that takes almost no effort at all. I used one large chicken  breast torn into a few smaller pieces, one can of black beans (not drained), one jar of medium heat Tostidos salsa, and about 3/4 cup of frozen corn. That’s it. Set it on low for about four – six hours. You can choose to use chicken tenders and leave them whole or do what I did and take the chicken out, shred it with a fork, and put it back into the mix.

We ate this over some Jasmine rice. Very simple, but very good. I imagine you could eat this as an appetizer with chips, too!

I had also ended up making a quiche with some frozen store-bought pie crust and they really loved that, as well. I think they liked having the variety and ability to choose what and how much they wanted to eat.

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It was nice to see them and I’m glad the food turned out well 🙂 I hope this inspires you the next time you need to prepare foods ahead of time or feed a small crowd!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

I had been really craving tomato soup and grilled cheese. So I searched Pinterest and found a recipe I could make with ingredients I already had at the house. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) I had also seen in other Pinterest posts that people have made grilled cheese croutons. We also happened to have half a loaf of French bread from the day before, so I sliced it and made some grilled cheese croutons, as well as a couple of mini grilled cheese and prosciutto croutons for some extra dunking action.

I first cut up and cooked the bacon.

Once browned a bit, I added the onion and carrot. I was feeling lazy, so I only used about half of a carrot.

Once those were tender, I added in the tomato paste. I let that cook for a few minutes and then added the flour. I didn’t bother measuring – just eyeballed it.

From reading past recipes and experiences, I know that if you don’t cook the flour down, you can sometimes taste it in the final dish. So, I let the flour cook for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes. When I added the tomatoes, I didn’t crush them separately as the recipe indicates. I just poured the can into the pot and crushed a bit with the back of a cooking spoon. The canned San Marzano tomatoes are tender enough that they break up easily. Plus, I knew I was going to be blending it all later. I added the chicken broth and seasonings and let it all simmer for 30 minutes.

After the simmer, I used my immersion blender and blended the soup right in the pot. This was so much easier than trying blend in the food processor in batches!

The grilled cheese was air fried, only because that’s what’s convenient for me. Cook these on the stove or in an oven if that’s what works for you. I used a combination of a vegan cheddar cheese and regular american cheese. I then cut into bite sized pieces. I made two more grilled cheese sandwiches for us to eat and dunk in the soup, with the same cheeses and the addition of a slice of prosciutto. Yum!

All in all, this satisfied the craving. Although, I just have to say, there is still nothing that compared to childhood Campbell’s canned tomato soup. 😉 I would make this again!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Leftover Pasta with Quick Bolognese Sauce and Herb Garlic Bread

I know I’ve written about pasta and garlic bread in the past, but I really wanted to share this because of two things: the quick bolognese sauce using leftover meatballs and herb garlic bread.

First, Jake’s mom had given us four large meatballs that we kept in our freezer for a few weeks. So, instead of needing to buy and cook ground meat, I crumbled two of the meatballs and cooked as part of the sauce. I left two meatballs so Jake and I could each have one with our dish. I didn’t follow a bolognese recipe exactly this time, but I did remember most of the steps involved with the one I used last time and used that as my basis. (Here’s the link to the recipe I used previously.)

The garlic bread I made was based on an herb garlic bread recipe that I absolutely LOVE. I made a modified version of it because I didn’t have all the ingredients. This time, it was only OK, but I highly recommend that you try the actual recipe. (Here’s a link to the original recipe.)

And, of course, to start off, we had smoked gouda cheese, pecorino  romano cheese, prosciutto, and crackers. Yum!

For the sauce, I sauteed chopped onion, celery, and carrot.

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After that, I crushed the meatballs in before adding the various liquids. I then added in about 1 cup of whole milk and let that cook down. Then, I added in about 1 cup of cooking wine and let that cook down.

Finally, I added 28 oz chopped Italian tomatoes, some basil, rosemary, oregano, and a bay leaf. I let that simmer for about 20 minutes. This is the quick version because the original asks you to cook each of those elements down at barely a simmer, which took forever and then the final simmer with everything was supposed to be 3 hours. I found that increasing the heat a bit to speed up the reduction processes and shortening the final simmer didn’t make a huge difference.

Toward the end, I added the last two meatballs into the sauce to simmer together. I grated a little pecorino romano on top.

I forgot that we also bought shrimp to add, so I ended up stirring everything and the shrimp together. The shrimp were already cooked, so they just needed to warm through.

The herb garlic bread is much better made in the blender, but I didn’t feel like taking out and cleaning another appliance. So, I fine chopped the basil and green onion together. My basil was on its last legs, so I think perhaps wasn’t as potent as fresh basil would be. I sliced up some garlic, and grated a little more pecorino romano. Together with about 1 Tbsp of butter, I used my fingers to mix everything together to make a spread.

I then spread each half of fresh french bread. To cook, I put the two halves back together and wrapped in tin foil. I baked for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees Farenheit. Then, I took the tin foil off and split the halves apart again and sprinkled more grated cheese on top.  I broiled to get some brown color. This didn’t work as well this time because the edges of the bread browned faster than the cheese. Next time, I’ll try a low broil.

I sliced into wedges before serving.

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The last step was to cook the pasta. I took out three 3-oz nests from the freezer and boiled then in salty water. Then, it was time to plate each dish and ENJOY!

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I hope you enjoy, too 🙂

Sincerely,
Fu’d

 

 

 

 

Mini Oktoberfest

It has been an entire week since I last published a blog post. I guess that’s what happens when work is particularly busy! Nevertheless, Jake and I hosted our planned Mini Oktoberfest last weekend and it was so much fun! We prepared a bunch of German eats and our friends spent the day with us eating, laughing, playing games, and having some drinks! We even had a stein-holding contest. I opted out due to the impending embarrassment and also because I played videographer. Haha! More to come on that…

Here’s what we made (with links to the recipes):

We had some friends that brought extra delicious treats, as well:

Sausages

I already wrote last week in my food blog post (Oh My! Homemade Pasta and Sauces, Carbonara Arancini, Caesar Dressing, Sausages, Chargrilled Oysters & Clams) about Jake’s sausage prep. When he cooked them this past weekend, he grilled the majority of them, but he chose to cook some of the beef and pork sausages in the smoker. The cooked brats were placed in a beer, butter, and onion bath and sat for 5-10 minutes to give a little extra flavor. Overall, the sausages were good, especially for a first attempt. The beef and pork recipe was actually for patties, which I think made them a bit dense. The chicken and apple sausage may have had too much liquid from the apples because they fell apart a little easier. They were, however, really flavorful and full of great spices. The only problem is there was so much excitement, we didn’t take any photos of the cooked sausages. Oops! Jake thought the smoked brats smelled and tasted a like kielbasa, so he definitely wants to try those next.

I’m sorry if this photo is not up your alley, but for those who appreciate meats, this is probably like a Picasso!

Pretzel Rolls and Beer Cheese Dip

I made the pretzel rolls and beer cheese dip the morning of the party, since I didn’t want the pretzels to get stale overnight. I was NOT looking forward to it, but I sucked it up and did it. The dough was actually really simple to make and I loved how smooth and clean it was after rising for an hour.

I read comments on the recipe that people wished they made smaller pretzel bites so more people could try them. So, I opted to make pretzel balls instead of the twisted pretzels. I simple tore off approximately equal size pieces of dough from the risen dough ball and rolled it in my hands. I tried to cut an “X” on top of each one, but they were a little too soft – that’s why the rolls didn’t come out very symmetrical.

I plopped two at a time into the boiling baking soda/water bath. It became cumbersome to set the timer to 30 seconds each time, so I just eyeballed it. Letting them sit for longer than the 30 seconds, though, did make the dough more soft and gooey. I suggest not trying to multitask or anything while doing this. I then baked them and only after 5 minutes, I checked the bottoms. Not surprisingly they were already brown, so I moved all them on top of a baking rack.

Toward the end, I actually let them sit for another 5 minutes or so in the oven with the temperature off. This is because I felt like the sides could get a more brown, while trying not to over-brown the tops. I thought to myself during the baking process that flatter pretzels would’ve cooked more evenly on the outsides. In the end, though, they turned out great. They just needed that extra little time to sit.

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I followed the beer cheese dip recipe, although I accidentally put all the mozarella in the mix, instead of reserving the specified amount for sprinkling/browning on top. Luckily, I had some extra I was able to add. I don’t think the changed ratios of cheese made any negative difference to the dip. I actually also doubled the recipe, which was perfect for the amount of pretzels and people. People loved this dip!

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Cabbage Casserole

The cabbage casserole was prepared completely the day before, except for the final baking, which I did while the pretzel dough was rising. I used ground chicken, so our guests that can’t eat beef could munch on this. The main deviation from this recipe is that I ended up using probably only 2/3 of a medium/large cabbage, which is a bit less than I think the recipe intended. I found that it would’ve been difficult to fit in the pot if I had had more and the ratio of meat-to-cabbage would’ve been a off. This dish was a great addition that doubled as both an entree and a side.

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German Potatoes

I had pinned 3 different German potato recipes, but I settled on the one that was more of set it and forget it, since there were already a million other things we’d be doing and cooking. I prepared the potatoes the night before and then dumped everything into the crock pot the morning of the party and let it heat through/finish cooking up until it was time to eat. I was disappointed that it called for boiling the potatoes ahead of time. It would have been infinitely more convenient to be able to literally dump it all in the crock pot and let it cook. I’m sure some adaptations could be made to accommodate this.

I think I made more than 4 cups of potatoes because I wanted to make sure there was plenty. I hadn’t increased any of the other amounts, so my potatoes were probably a little less saucy than they were supposed to be. These weren’t bad. I wished there was just a little more flavor. Perhaps if I had just increased the amounts of mustard, vinegar, or salt, then that would’ve done the trick. I also didn’t have fresh parsley and I think that would have been a nice addition, as well. It was still good and I ate all the leftovers anyway!

Onion Pinwheels

The onion pinwheel recipe was actually an onion tart recipe. I didn’t feel like making the tart dough/crust and I don’t have a proper tart baking dish. I took the easy way out and used Pillsbury crescent dough. For the amount of onions I made, I bought two cans of the crescent dough. I prepared the onion mix the day before.

Then that morning, I rolled out the crescent dough as a single piece, pinching a bit at the seams so it didn’t totally rip apart. I spread the onion mix across the rectangular piece and rolled it. I then sliced about 1/2″ thick rolls and put then in parchment paper, on top of a baking rack, so that the bottoms wouldn’t get too brown.

These were great as an appetizer and the caraway seeds gave it a unique flavor! Don’t be scared by the amount of onion. Once the crescent tough puffs up between the layer of onion, it provides a nice buttery and flaky component. Also, I didn’t use speck. Instead, I used regular bacon from our local store. I think using a heavier, higher quality bacon or pancetta would tip this over the edge.

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Cucumber Salad

The last dish I cooked is the cucumber salad. I chose to do this to provide some crispness and freshness among all the heavy foods we were eating. I used sour cream because I already had some that I needed for the other recipes. I thought that perhaps Greek yogurt would’ve been a little better for this dish. I also used a dried dill that isn’t overly dry. Overall, I think this was successful and mild in flavor, which was nice. I don’t think it was a favorite among all the other food choices, but I continued to eat some of the leftovers.

Now comes my talented friends!

Spatzle Casserole

Lindsay made two dishes. She made spatzle, which is sort of like a pasta dish. Normally, the dough is shaped by pushing it through a colander with wide holes. Because Lindsay didn’t a colander that fit the description, she ended up manually shaping the spatzle into more of a small dumpling shape to make a casserole with caramelized onions. This was another great alternative for non-beef eaters and made for a good entree or side!

Bee Sting Bars

Lindsay also made bee sting bars, traditionally called “Bienenstich”. I had sent her a recipe for a bee sting cake, but she was worried about prepping it ahead of time. She did a little more searching and found bars. She was worried about this, too, because there was no cream on the bars like the cake did. She ended up just making the bars and they were so good. Buttery bottom and a sweet layer with almonds on top. These were even better the next day!

Coconut Pecan Chocolate Balls

Last, but not least, were Liz’s delectable brownie bites with a coconut pecan frosting mixed right in there. These were ooey, gooey and delicious. I felt like eating just one was like I had an entire slice – it was so rich and these were a huge hit with our guests. I might just have to steal this for my next get together!

I almost forgot, we also had the stein holding contest. Jake won, but just by a hair ahead of Ben, Liz’s husband. They held the steins for just over 3.5 minutes! I’ll forego uploading the video because you can hear me WAY too clearly narrating. Lol.

All in all, it was a lot of prep and a long party night, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I love cooking and being able to entertain. I hope all our friends had fun, too!

Sincerely,
Fu’d