Next weekend, Jake and I will be hosting a mini Oktoberfest, mostly as an excuse to make sausages and enjoy some time with friends. So, this past weekend, we had our friend, Lindsay, over to do some sausage prep. And of course anytime Lindsay comes over, we have ourselves a cooking fest. This is what was on the menu Saturday night (linked to the recipes we followed, if applicable):
- Chicken and Apple Sausages
- Beef and Pork Sausages
- Caesar Salad with a homemade Caesar Dressing
- Chargrilled Oysters
- Fettuccine made with spinach and basil
- Fettuccine made with pumpkin puree
- Bolognese Sauce
- Pesto Sauce
We recently bought a stainless steel sausage attachment set for the stand mixer and were excited to try using it. Jake first prepared the meat by cutting it up into smaller pieces and then he placed them in the freezer for a little bit so they would get really cold. He also put the grinder attachment in the freezer to get that nice and cold. While waiting for that, he ground a lot of the spices needed, like fennel, caraway seed, coriander, marjoram, etc. Since we don’t have an herb grinder, he used the coffee bean grinder that we have. I think it might all be the same thing anyway.
Then, he ground all the meat. For the chicken and apple, he actually fed some of the apple through the grinder, as well. Then he added all the different seasonings. These were then placed back into the refrigerator to keep them cold.
Finally, he stuffed the casings. And in the case of the chicken and apple sausage, he used vegetarian casings! The verdict is still out on how all of these sausages taste, since we won’t be cooking then until next weekend, but they look delish!
Lindsay made arancini for the first time and it was fantastic! She prepped the risotto and the filling before coming to my house. The filling calls for pancetta, but she used prosciutto. I think it gave the same overall flavor profiles, except probably less smokiness than intended. It did give a sharp saltiness, which was do good and complimented the smoother, creamier flavor of the risotto.
She did the two-step breading with egg first, then rolled in breadcrumbs. A
And instead of pan frying, baking, or deep frying, we decided to use my handy air fryer! Success!
Homemade Caesar Dressing
With all the heavy foods, lindsay and talked earlier in the day about trying to incorporate some greens/veggies into the cooking day. She also tried another first for her. She made a caesar salad with homemade caesar dressing. It was really good! Unfortunately, I was so full by the time it was done that I only just tasted it and didn’t get to eat a lot! She was originally going to plop all the ingredients into a blender, but we used the immersion blender instead. This was so easy and really should be a simple weeknight meal for anyone – just a few chopped romaine hearts and this dressing, maybe with chicken on top. Perfect!
The third dish Lindsay made was charbroiled oysters and clams. The intent was to just do oysters, but all the stores she went to were low on oysters! The inspiration was a trip to New Orleans this past March for my bachelorette party; we had grilled oysters that Lindsay wanted to recreate. (In my opinion, the ones Lindsay made last weekend were sooo much better.) We employed Jake to try to shuck these, but the oysters were too hard, so we ended up cooking them for a few minutes to get then to open up a bit. Then, we opened them and added the butter sauce. Ugh, these were so good, too!! I’m telling you, we really had a feast. I love seafood in general, but pair it with butter, garlic, parsley, and cheese…incredible. I swear you could put those ingredients on dirt and it would still taste delicious. Haha!
I actually prepped the bolognese sauce earlier in the day because I luckily reviewed the recipe and saw that it needed to simmer for 3 hours. This was simple, but time consuming! Waiting for the milk to first boil down, then the wine to boil down, then the 3 hour simmer…I could’ve taken three naps! It was a really nice recipe and totally yummy, but it didn’t taste like I expected for some reason. I think I’m more used to some of the bolognese recipes I’ve had at restaurants (authentic or not) that don’t have the carrots, celery, etc. I expected it to be a little thinner//less tomato-y. I’m not sure I’d make this again, only because I think I’d like to experiment with more bolognese recipes. I’m determined to find the right one for me!
The pesto was so easy and, oh my goodness , it was so fantastically good. I was hesitant about making the pesto because I’ve always been a little “iffy: on the flavor, but this sold me. This was a nut-free recipe, so it really let the basil and cheese shine. In fact, I’m about to drizzle this over our Monday night’s shrimp dinner.
Then, I made two different pastas. One was a two-ingredient pasta I wanted to try because it sounded so easy. It was just one can of pumpkin puree and 3 cups of flour. I found that I needed more than 3 cups. I added the extra flour slowly to the mixture. So, if I had to guess, I probably used a total of 3.25 – 3.5 cups of flour so that the dough wasn’t too wet. And wow, this batch made A LOT of pasta. I ended up with probably 24 oz if I had to guess. I froze 6 bundles of about 3 oz for Jake and I and for Lindsay. Then, we probably cooked about another 6 oz. The pumpkin flavor was very subtle and the texture was perfect. I was very pleased with this!
Spinach and Basil Pasta
I was also loving the other pasta, which was made with blended spinach and basil. The color was amazing and the smell was divine. I thought eating it with the pesto would be basil overload, but it wasn’t. Lindsay had it with some bolognese; that didn’t look as pretty, but was still so good!
Now, the diet starts on Monday again and lasts until next weekend’s mini Oktoberfest. You NEED to follow or check back to see what we’re cooking up that day.