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German-Swiss Party Soup

apple-beer-cheese-soup

The first course for the dinner party was this cheesy soup. I told you yesterday that this party was all about the cheese and I wasn’t kidding!

german-beer

Then there was the beer. Since I was serving 20 people, I tripled the recipe. And since I’d bought a nice variety of German beer for the party, I used a variety for the soup too. Honestly, any beer will do. No need to go out and buy anything special, whatever you have on hand, German or not, will work perfectly.

my-peeps

A few photos of my sweet guests!

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October 13, 2016   2 Comments

cheese, beer, cheese, pretzels & cheese

beer-and-pretzel

While in Germany, do as the Germans do. That’s the saying, right? Well, in Germany, they drink a lot of beer, eat pretzels (and lots of other REALLY good bread!) and throw back a ton of cheese!

You can count on doubling down on that cheese when you’re in Switzerland. All of that led to a lot of cheese at my German-Swiss Dinner Party.

apps

The onslaught of cheese began when guests arrived, at the appetizer table. I served our family favorite, Blue Cheese Fondue with bread, cherry tomatoes, salted baby potatoes and Belgium endive spears. Directly next to the fondue pots was a raclette grill. What is Raclette?

  • ra·clette

    1. a Swiss dish of melted cheese, typically eaten with potatoes.
    2. a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese that is usually fashioned into a wheel of about 6 kg (13 lb). It is most commonly used for melting. It is also a French dish based on heating the cheese and scraping off (racler) the melted part.
    3. a traditional Swiss dish that dates back to the time when cowherds would pasture their animals high in the Alps and camp alongside them. There, they would cut open their wheels of cheese and warm them on a rock by the campfire, scraping the edge of the cheese as it melted over cooked potatoes, pickles and ham for the most rustic of meals. Raclette comes from the French verb racler, to scrape.

swiss-raclette

Raclette cheese (as seen above – when we enjoyed it in Gruyere, Switzerland) can be found at specialty stores year round and at Trader Joe’s during the holidays. It wasn’t available at TJ’s yet and I didn’t feel like going to another store, so I used a delicious apple-pie cheddar, Gouda and Gruyere in my raclette grill.

accompany

The cheese was served with the same accompaniments that we enjoyed in Switzerland; boiled potatoes, pickled onions, gherkin pickles and thick slices of bread.

raclette-grill-plus

This is my raclette grill, it’s not as big and fancy as the Swiss version. It has eight small grill pans that slide under the broiler along with a granite top that heats up and can keep accompaniments warm, if desired. I served the accompaniments at room temperature, off to the side.

pretzel-sandwich

To go with all that cheese, I whipped up some homemade mini-pretzels. The large ham and Swiss cheese pretzel sandwich pictured above, is one that I devoured in Munich. It was SO good!

pretzels

My pretzels were a bit more tame.

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October 12, 2016   1 Comment

Brussels Sprouts Flatbread

brussels-sprouts-flatbread

These tasty flatbreads have so much going for them.

  1. They are easy and quick to make
  2. They have bacon
  3. The bread is prepared naan, no dough to knead
  4. Did I mention that they have bacon?
  5. The ingredient list is short, only five things, one of which is bacon!

I haven’t had bacon in a long time, as you can tell, I’ve really missed it.

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October 3, 2016   1 Comment

now I’m the winner

Nancy Chili Rellenos

Remember when I had my 7th Blogiversary contest and Nancy was the Grand Prize Winner and we cooked together?

sample stack

One of the other contestants who put forth a recipe for the contest sent me the sweetest email after I had delivered the stack of 7 cookbooks to her front door. Amy G. said that she still wanted to share her winning-worthy recipe. I made it, so I know it’s a winner! Amy said that the recipe could be frozen, so I made a double batch at the end of August and can’t wait to pull my frozen stuffed steaks out of the freezer for Sunday’s supper!

So yeah, not only did I get to cook with Nancy and make her great overnight rellenos but I got Amy’s delicious stuffed flank steak recipe too! I’m the winner now! Thank you, Amy G.

meat-market-sign

Here is what Amy wrote:

“I know I wasn’t the lucky winner to prepare a recipe, but I still wanted to share my flank steak recipe with you.  And, it is not so much a recipe, as a method.

Do you recall the Phoenix Meat Market at 7th Ave and Osborn?  I think it closed mid-1990s…boo hoo!  They sold a steak called “Mexi-Flank Steak”,

And I was lucky enough to watch them prepare a batch one day.   After the market closed, I’ve made my own.

I’ll warn you…this is NOT a pretty presentation…the cheese and chilies will squish all over the place when you carve the meat! But, it is oh so yummy, and piled on to a tortilla, it doesn’t matter what the heck it looks like! I serve the steak with hot tortillas and seasoned black beans, (or a bean/corn salad) and Spanish rice if you really want to blow the diet!  Can’t go wrong with guacamole, too!”

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September 23, 2016   4 Comments

Nancy’s Chili Rellenos

Nancy Chili Rellenos

 

A week ago today, my 7th Blogiversary contest winner, Nancy Bull, came over and we cooked her favorite recipe together.

recipe card

I asked Nancy to send me the recipe ahead of time so that I could purchase the ingredients and get set up for our time together. Since this is an overnight recipe, I made one the day before and popped it in the oven when Nancy arrived.  She brought a casserole dish with her, I pulled another one from my cupboard and we each made a pan of Nancy’s Chili Rellenos.

Since Nancy was my guest blogger, I asked her to write-up a little something about the dish:

“We’ve been making this dish for probably 25 years or more.  My mom found the recipe in a church cookbook and thought it would be a great breakfast casserole for Christmas morning.  Every Christmas Eve, after cleaning up from dinner, all the Bull girls gather in the kitchen to make the casserole(s) for the next morning.  Thank goodness it’s so easy because by the time we get to this, there have been festive beverages consumed!  We pop it in the fridge for the night and bake it while we open presents on Christmas morning.  The family has grown over the years so now we make 2….leftovers are never a problem!

 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we have over the years!  Cheers!

Nancy”

swim up

This recipe could not be easier. In fact, Nancy was a little embarrassed about this at first, be I assured her that people, my followers included, LOVE easy-breezy recipes. And you can rest assured – this one is a winner! I know, because the two of us enjoyed it for dinner that night and I had some for breakfast the next morning. Just as good the next day!

grind garlic

A few notes: Nancy’s recipe called for a 4-ounce can of diced green chiles. I only had 7-ounce cans. Nancy said that we should use the 7-ounce cans – the more the better. Good idea! The recipe called for garlic powder, I didn’t have any, so I used a mini-chop and ground up dried minced garlic to make my own powder.

nancys chili relleno

Since I actually made two pans, the one Nancy and I enjoyed and the one I made with her, I asked her if the cooked dish could be frozen. She said they never have had any left over, so she didn’t know. I was leaving town the next day, so I baked my second pan, let it cool, then refrigerated it. Next, I removed it from the pan, then I double wrapped it in plastic, then wrapped that in heavy foil and froze it. I pulled it out six days later, transferred it back into the baking dish, let it defrost in the refrigerator and then reheated it in the oven.

The verdict: It does not freeze well. It was soggy and not even close to as delicious as it was when it was freshly baked.

chili rellenos from oven

Lastly, when the casserole comes out of the oven, it is puffy as all get out.

rellenos deflated

In the five minutes that it rests before cutting, it deflates. That’s natural and what is supposed to happen, so don’t fret.

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September 5, 2016   6 Comments

corn 3 ways

menu

I know that yesterday I mentioned that I’d highlight the 4th of July main courses and dessert next, but that was before I remembered that in addition to all the wonderful salads and sides my friends brought, I also made a few sides and salads myself. So let’s get to those first.

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July 12, 2016   No Comments

Rachael’s appetizer and little party bits

olive salami picks

Connor’s friend, Rachael, brought these super easy and super tasty little appetizer picks. Luckily I was able to snap a photo before they were all snapped up!

chip & dip

No one had signed up for chips and dip, so I asked Connor to provide those.

chip and salsa

You have to have chips and dip!

flag snack tray

I threw together a red, white and blue flag snack tray using, red grapes, banana slices, strawberries, yogurt covered pretzels, blueberries and raspberries.

white house

Lastly, I purchased a mock gingerbread house at Trader Joe’s, which was really a sugar cookie White House and I pretended like it was Christmas in July. I loved putting it together since our long family tradition of Marissa and Connor each assembling their own Christmas gingerbread houses has fallen by the wayside. Mostly because they hate it! Oh well, a mom can reminisce.

Tram and Scott

These were a few of the little extras at the 4th of July Party Pot-Luck Pool Party. The main course and dessert details will follow in the coming days.

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July 11, 2016   No Comments

grill pan dinner – fresh fruit week day 3

Kim gifted me with fresh Mission figs and sweet little plums. I know, it’s like a darn fruit stand over here!

figs and plums

I ate all the plums straight away and then worked the figs and all those peaches, ripening and being picked each and every day, into our meals.

grill pan chicken peaches figs

What follows is one of the quickest and easiest of the bunch.

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June 2, 2016   No Comments

Fresh Fruit Week – Day 2

The parade of peaches continues. Yesterday the peach salsa had the extra benefit of mango and strawberry.

Today’s salad gets an extra fruity punch from apricot.

almond crusted cheese salad

Dave is the salad lover in our family. I love soup. But I will admit, I do love this salad.

Oh, and I used the sliced honey roasted almonds from Trader Joe’s but plain sliced or silvered almonds, or any nut of your choice for that matter, would work perfectly fine. I would just toast them in a dry skillet or in the oven first. Enjoy!

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June 1, 2016   2 Comments

lucky long noodles with jalapeño

I faced my usual challenge while trying to balance having fun with my guests and taking photos to use for this site during my Friday the 13th Dinner Party.

So in place of the usual photos of the cooking process, how about photos of the guests?

lucky 13

Above you see everyone hanging out in-between dinner and dessert, enjoying each other and the beautiful evening in Linda Land, as Tram and Steve so sweetly have dubbed my backyard.

blondes vs brunettes

Here are The Blondes, Amy and Anne vs. The Brunettes, Peggy and Tram, posing in front of the red wine selections.

the girls

Eventually, the were able to pull me out of the kitchen for a quick snapshot.

scott and amy

Adorable Scott and Amy. Scott with his lucky grapes and Amy holding the fun Texas Boot Scraper they brought me as a hostess gift. They found it at Sweet Salvage and thought I’d love it because of my Texas connection. They were right, of course! OK, on today’s recipe.

meal13

This dish was chosen because of the superstition that it is unlucky to cut a noodle before eating and the unlucky connection between hot peppers and friendship.

Cutting Noodles: While noodles are thought to bring good fortune and a long life in Chinese culture, cutting those same noodles brings about a different fortune. Cutting noodles (especially those served on the New Year and at parties) causes bad luck and a shortened lifespan.

Hot Peppers and Friendship: Many people believe that hot peppers can bring discontent among friends. One version of the superstition says that spilling pepper can cause disagreements between friends. And when working in the kitchen, handing a hot chili pepper directly to a friend will cause disagreements in your relationship. However, the bad luck can be avoided by putting the hot pepper down on a surface and allowing said friend to pick it up as a separate action.

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May 23, 2016   3 Comments