This past weekend, I put together a Tavern-style menu for some back-to-back Dungeons and Dragons campaigns we were running. And while I’ve put together Tavern-style feasts or medieval-themed snacks before, this time I wanted to go all out. I prepared a full Tavern’s menu, with food and drink choices for the players, and acted as the “wench” throughout the run of their campaigns, filling orders whenever there was a good break in the gameplay. (It takes a special person to enjoy making and delivering food instead of playing DnD, but I swear, I had a great time!)
I made the menu using Canva, my ultimate favorite graphic design tool. It allows you to make great images very quickly, even if you have no graphic design skills. I would highly recommend it! See the full menu and descriptions of each item below.
Foraged Salad: I got a large box of spring mix and combined spring greens with items that look like it could be foraged from a forest. I added a variety of mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, and rainbow carrots. It’s a great way to offer a simple green salad and “pretty” it up a bit! I couldn’t find them in time, but I’d also recommend topping the salad with an edible flower or two.
Stuffed Eggs: Stuffed eggs are period appropriate, but they often stuffed them with cinnamon, raisins, and other sweeter spices, and then fried them to make them a bit crispier. I decided to cheat a bit and use a typical “Deviled Eggs” recipe.
Roast Goose: I created a couple of fake options on the menu to fill it out a bit. If anyone asked for the roast goose, I told them it ran away.
Stew: (Pictured below.) Go figure, I had to make stew on the hottest day of the year. Luckily, my slow cooker did all of the work and I didn’t have to turn on the stove. I used a recipe for Garlic Rosemary Beef Stew, and put it inside of sourdough bread boules, found at Trader Joe’s. (Potatoes are not accurate to the time period, but I kept them in because they’re delicious and an inexpensive way to fill out the stew.)
Sandwich: I hope you don’t have any vegetarians attending. This is a meaty menu. The sandwich was a French Dip: I heated up slices of deli roast beef, topped it with some slices of Provolone, and served with a side of Aus Jus. (I used a seasoning packet to make it nice and easy.)
The Fancyman’s/Commoner’s Feast: (Pictured above.) The Fancyman and Commoner Feasts were other joke items, the overall dish would be similar no matter which one the players ordered, but I may have simulated some additional “bites” and crumbs on the plate for the Commoner’s Feast. I picked up an assortment of inexpensive but delicious meats and cheeses, and paired it with some fruit and mixed nuts. I tore chunks of the bread instead of cutting it which added to the authenticity. This item got a huge reaction from the tables both times I served it.
Scones: I made scones a day in advance, so they were all ready to go. When ordered, I reheated one in the microwave for about 20 seconds, split it open, and added some butter and jam.
Ale: It’s historically accurate that they drank ale instead of water, so it’s the top of the menu. (Although if people asked for water, I did give it.) I just picked up a large variety pack of Ale from Costco.
Wine: The wine doesn’t have to be pricey, unless your friends are snobby about that sort of thing. I picked up $3 Chuck and decided to make a joke of it. You could also pick up an inexpensive wine and create your own label to put over the bottle.
Cider: I picked up some bottles of Hard Ginger Cider from Trader Joe’s. It’s extremely gingery, but that made it feel a bit more unique and old-timey.
Mountain Water: Something watery, from a mountain, and it’s a local favorite? That would be Rainier beer. (Although some players pointed out that this could also be Mountain Dew!)
Tea: Pretty self explanatory. I made up a batch of iced tea in advance and had hot tea on standby. This was great for anyone who didn’t want an alcoholic beverage or needed a bit of extra caffeine as the game went on.
Fireball: It’s just Fireball. (Mixes well with the Cider or Elixir of Life, or great on its own.)
Elixir of Life: I wanted a caffeinated beverage on the list, and my friends love Coke Zero, so that’s what this was.
What items would you add to your Tavern menu? (Also, holy cow, read the comments. So much great insight and suggestions for other historically accurate menu items!)
When I go camping with my friends, I often want to bring some sort of treat, but cupcakes and foofy desserts just don’t seem to be appropriate. So I put together this cookie for the next occasion! This trail mix cookie is yummy, hearty, and easier than carrying a bag of loose trail mix. It’s great for hiking, camping, or anytime you need a quick snack while out and about. The cute little tree sprinkles are a fun bonus, and made me think of Dipper from Gravity Falls! I’m pretty sure he’d approve of these cookies. Plus, they would totally keep you nourished while you’re looking for supernatural activity in your Great Uncle’s town.
The cookies themselves have all of your typical trail mix ingredients: peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips. But you can play around with those and substitute your favorites! (Next time, I think I’d try walnuts, dried cherries, and chocolate chips.) They’re also full of oats and wheat germ, which provides extra protein and vitamins. That means they’re practically a health food. Right?
Give them a try, and then let me know in the comments what trail mix ingredients you’d put in them!
Dipper’s Trail Mix Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3 cups quick oats
- 1 cup peanuts
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup natural tree sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until well mixed. Add the vanilla and mix.
- Combine the flour, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda together, and then add to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until just blended.
- Mix in the quick oats, peanuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and sprinkles.
- Using a cookie scoop, place the cookies on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Place additional tree sprinkles on top.
- Bake for approximately 14 minutes, or until the bottoms begin to brown.
- Remove and let sit for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.
This recipe makes approximately 42 cookies, so make it when you’ve got a crowd to feed! (Or when you want to eat a bunch of cookies for dinner. I don’t judge.)
It’s here! Ghostbusters Day! I’ve been waiting a while for this movie to come out, and I can’t wait to finally see it. I enjoyed the first two Ghosbusters films, love Paul Feig, and love all of the ladies in the new one. Plus, I’m all about supporting films with women playing fun and diverse characters. Am I expecting it to be the best film ever? No way. But the first Ghostbusters weren’t either. I’m expecting a fun romp, something I can laugh at and quote and be swept away with for a couple hours.
In honor of the new movie, I decided to tweak and adapt a “Ghostbuster” cocktail recipe into something truly amazing. So, behold, the new and improved Ghostbuster! It’s got the signature green color, little “ghost” bits in it, and it tastes like a candied apple. YUM! Make a round for you and your friends before you see the new film, and then let me know in the comments what you thought of the movie!
- 1.5 oz Sour Apple Pucker (in honor of the film’s setting: The Big Apple!)
- 1.5 oz Marshmallow Vodka (you know why…)
- a few drops of Irish Cream
- Shake together the Sour Apple Pucker and Marshmallow Vodka in a shaker with ice. Pour into a martini glass.
- Carefully place a few drops of Irish Cream onto the top of the cocktail. (Be extremely careful and use extremely small drops. I recommend using a dropper or straw to place them in. If you put too much in, or with too much force, it will just fall straight to the bottom.)
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of Outlander. The book series-turned Starz series has captured the attention of so many. And while most of us focus on, umm, other scenes, Theresa Carle-Sanders has chosen to focus on its food. The creator of OutlanderKitchen.com, Theresa has made a name making historical and character-based recipes from the book series. And today, some of her recipes have now been released in a book titled “Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook“.
I had a chance to sneak a peek at some of the recipes from this book, and they’re all amazing. The recipes include the passage or reference from the book where they’re mentioned, beautiful pictures, clear instructions, modern-day adaptations, and notes to make the recipe as perfect as possible. And the recipes are GOOD.
Theresa and the folks at Random House are letting me share a recipe AND give away a copy of this book. Check out the recipe for the delicious goat cheese and bacon tarts, and scroll all the way down for the contest! (Can we talk about these tarts for a second? They have fried sage on them. Fried Sage! I’ve never seen that before, and now I need to incorporate it in everything.)
Goat Cheese and Bacon Tarts from “Outlander Kitchen” by Theresa Carle-Sanders
(This recipe is inspired by Voyager, chapter 4, “The Dunbonnet”)
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch strips
- ½ recipe Blitz Puff Pastry (page 29), chilled, or 1 pound (450 grams) frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 8 ounces (225 grams) goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Zest of 1 lemon, grated or minced
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 36 small fresh sage leaves, or 18 large ones, cut in half lengthwise
- Move a rack to the top-middle rung and heat the oven to 400°F.
- In a frying pan, crisp the bacon over medium heat. Drain on paper towels.
- On a lightly floured counter, roll the pastry out to a 16-inch square. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the goat cheese, bacon, poppy seeds, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate.
- Lightly beat the egg with 1 teaspoon cold water to make an egg wash.
- Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut 36 rounds from the pastry. Transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Bake until puffed and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely on the baking sheet.
- Reduce the oven to 300°F.
- In a small frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter until bubbling over medium heat. Fry the sage leaves in batches until crisp. Drain on a paper towel–lined plate and repeat with the remaining sage leaves.
- Top each puff pastry round with a teaspoonful of the goat cheese mixture and a fried sage leaf. Heat in the oven for 5 minutes and serve.
Find this recipe on page 74 of Outlander Kitchen for more notes and information!
Want to win a copy of Outlander Kitchen? Enter Below!
It’s June. The sun is shining, temperature is climbing, and everyone in Seattle is complaining about their home’s lack of A/C. Clearly, summer is almost here. And with summer comes one of the tastiest desserts: strawberry shortcake! National Strawberry Shortcake Day is right around the corner (on Tuesday, June 14th!) and I’m preparing to celebrate the holiday with a new recipe and a fun event!
Various Macy’s locations around the country are going to be holding special events on the 14th with local chefs to celebrate Strawberry Shortcake Day. I’ll be at the one in Downtown Seattle. Join me at 6pm to meet Stacy Fortner, the Executive Pastry Chef at Dahlia Bakery and see a baking demo! Best of all: the event is free! If you’re one of the first 50 people there, you’ll also get a special gift from Pyrex, and if you make a purchase in the home department that day, you’ll get a copy of the (amazing) Dahlia Bakery cookbook. If you’re not in Seattle, check out Macys.com/events to find one near you!
In honor of this upcoming holiday and to stretch my baking muscles a bit, I thought I’d make myself some Strawberry Shortcake. And this time, I wouldn’t cheat and buy pre-made items at the store. 😉 No, this time, I decided to crack open a copy of Helen Brown’s Holiday Cook Book, a somewhat bizarre 1952 cookbook that I recently added to my vintage book collection. Her strawberry shortcake recipe was very basic and written in a colloquial way, like you would find in notes on a family recipe card. (“Add enough milk to make a soft dough” instead of actual amounts.) I took her recipe, added some flair, and figured out some of the measurements. So enjoy my take on Strawberry Shortcake, using a recipe from the 50’s, and incorporating my natural sugars.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbs sugar, divided
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 5 tbs unsalted butter
- 1/4 milk
- 1 pint strawberries
- whipped cream
- Natural Ruby Sparkling Sugar
- Sparkling Strawberries
- Mix the flour, baking powder, 1 tbs of sugar, salt, and egg together.
- Add the butter in small pieces. Mix with your hands to incorporate the butter into the batter.
- Add half of the milk and mix. Slowly add in more milk as needed to make a soft biscuit dough.
- Place the biscuit dough into a parchment paper-lined casserole dish or cake pan, pushing and stretching it lightly to fill the pan.
- Sprinkle the top with some ruby sparkling sugar.
- Bake at 450 degrees for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- While the shortcake is baking, rinse and cut up the strawberries, and mix them with 2 TBS sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
- Once the shortcake is out of the oven, let cool slightly.
- Cut the shortcake into squares, and then cut each square in half to make a biscuit “sandwich.”
- Place the bottom part of the shortcake onto a plate, and place some of the strawberry mixture and whipped cream on top.
- Top with the top half of the shortcake. Garnish with whipped cream, ruby sparkling sugar, and a sparkling strawberry.
Will I see you on the 14th at Macy’s? What’s your fave strawberry shortcake recipe?
This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Every year, I look forward to spring and summer for one specific reason: the fruit. Fruit is so cheap, delicious, and plentiful then, and I just can’t get enough! Right now I’m loving all of the giant, plump strawberries available everywhere. And while I often eat them by themselves (or with a light dusting of sugar or whipped cream, if I’m feeling fancy), I thought I would jazz them up a bit with some of my Natural Ruby Sparkling Sugar.
These strawberries are dipped in chocolate and covered in sparkling sugar, making them look like a jewel-encrusted version of the fruit they are. I think these would be beautiful at a wedding or baby shower, or any time you want something extra special. Plus, they’re super easy to make!
- Wash and fully dry the strawberries
- Heat the candy melts according to directions.
- Dip the strawberries into the candy melts, coating up to the top.
- While the strawberries are still wet, dip them into a bowl of the ruby sparkling sugar, making sure to fully cover the candy melts.
- Place on wax paper until hardened.
You can change the colors of the candy melts and sugar to match the occasion. I’ve even seen people do this with orange sparkling sugar to make the strawberries look like carrots!
If you have spent any time with me recently or follow me on any social media, you’re probably aware that I’ve been obsessed with Hamilton. And honestly, you should be obsessed with it too. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Hamilton: An American Musical is a Broadway show that uses hip hop, rap, and diverse, color-blind casting to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton’s life. I know. It sounds ridiculous. But I promise, even if you don’t listen to rap, even if you’re not an American history buff, you’ve gotta give it a try. Right now. You can find it on Spotify and iTunes and Amazon and wherever you listen to music. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
…Done? Good. Now, remember the song “My Shot”? It’s probably the one stuck in your head at this very moment. We’re gonna play with that today and make Hamilton’s Shot!
Hamilton’s Shot is a red, white, and blue shot made with Caribbean rum. It’s colorful and tasty and fun. Plus, the shot comes with a “greenback” for those who need a bit of a chaser. (Get it? Cause Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury and he’s on the $10 bill! I know, genius.) But you may not even need it: the grenadine and blue curacao add a very fruity and sweet taste, so you’ll barely even notice the burn of the rum.
Now, the trick to getting the beautiful red, blue, and white layers is to tip the shot glass slightly and to slowly pour the next ingredient onto the glass so it meets up with the previous layer. The first try or two may not turn out super well. Don’t throw away your shot! Take a break and enjoy the not-as-pretty but still tasty drink, and then try one last time. Soon enough you’ll have a shot that makes you satisfied.
- 1 part grenadine
- 1 part blue curacao
- 1 part Caribbean white rum
- (optional) green fruity drink (I found a green Sunny D in the juice aisle. Ecto-cooler could also do the trick!)
- Pour grenadine into a shot glass, filling it just 1/3 of the way. That would be enough.
- Tip the shot glass and slowly pour in the blue curacao, aiming for the inside wall of the shot glass.
- While still tipping the glass, pour the white rum slowly, aiming for the inside wall of the shot glass.
- Slowly place the shot glass upright and marvel at the beautiful shot you created!
- Pour some of the “greenback” into a glass.
- Time to take a shot! (Once you perfect this shot, you’ll be making them non-stop for your friends!)
Now that I’ve made one Hamilton-themed drink, what comes next? I think I’ll have to perfect a recipe for a Hurricane. 😉
Are you a fan of Hamilton? Have you seen the show? CAN YOU GET ME TICKETS? Lemme know in the comments!
(By the way, I’ve slipped some Hamilton song titles in this post. How many can you find?)
A few weeks ago, in honor of the Season 6 premiere of The Walking Dead, I received a review copy of The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse. Now, I originally thought this would be a series of zombie-themed recipes, but what I didn’t expect is that this book would be full of practical advice. You may not realistically expect to be caught in a Zombie Apocalypse in the near future, but it got awfully windy and stormy in Seattle this past week, and many of my friends and neighbors ended up without power. Luckily, since I was reading this book, I knew to start making something delicious with my perishables, just in case the fridge/freezer didn’t make it through the night. I made Apocalypse Nownies, one of the first recipes and one of my many favorite puns in the book. These brownies were so great, I got permission to reprint the recipe here! Check it out at the end of the post.
In addition to these fun and delicious recipes, this book is full of amazing tips and tricks for any survival situation. You have recipes and guides for using up ingredients in your pantry, foraging and hunting through your neighborhood, gardening, pickling, and even repurposing MREs into slightly-more-gourmet fare. You’re taught how to find and filter water, and how you can prepare a variety of heat sources to cook your recipes. It’s incredibly practical and informative, set in an entertaining, zombie filled premise. But I’m guaranteed this book will save lives, or at least save you a bit of discomfort. Get it, read it, and then keep it in your emergency kit/bug-out bag. (Don’t have one of those yet? This book will show you how to put one together.)
Ok, enough talk about disasters and survivals. Let’s make some brownies!
Recipe from The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse by Lauren Wilson
- 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 8 oz. chocolate (unsweetened baking preferable, or whatever you have on hand)
- 6 tbsp. butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
- 1 1/4 c. white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. espresso powder (optional, but recommended)
- 1/8 tsp. salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional, but recommended)
- Start a cooking fire, either well in advance to generate sufficient embers for 350 degree baking, or with the Hibachi Grill. Grease and flour a baking vessel.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking powder until well-combined. Set aside for now.
- Set a medium pot, half-filled with water, over the cooking fire to use as a double boiler. Add the chocolate and butter to a second mixing bowl and rest it on the pot, stirring occasionally until completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the sugar, vanilla, espresso powder, and salt (if needed). Mix until well incorporated and let cool for about 2 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until the batter is shiny and smooth after each addition. Add the flour mixture and whisk again, more gently this time, until the mixture is smooth and shiny. The batter should be fairly thick. Add the walnuts and mix until just combined.
- Transfer the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth out to edges if needed. Bake for about 20 minutes in a 7-by 11-inch metal baking pan. Check the brownies after about 15 minutes to avoid overbaking–they are ready when the sides are firm and the center has just set (a knife or toothpick in the center comes out relatively clean). Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even cooking, especially if using an Oven Hack.
- Consume ravenously after letting the cooked brownies cool for 10-15 minutes.
Find this recipe and more in The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse!
I had the pleasure of exploring the 3 Howls Distillery in SODO a couple weeks back and trying some of their delicious spirits. (I’m a huge fan of their banana, blood orange, and rosemary vodkas!) Their spirits are made by geeks–the distillers have backgrounds in science and tech, and use those in their practice. For instance, they use vapor infusions for their spirits! You know that we love geeks here, and they love us as well. So much, in fact, that they wanted to make a geeky cocktail just for us!
They took the idea of a Hemingway Daiquiri and used a bit of science know-how to turn it into a beautifully layered cocktail. I like to think of it as Hemingway’s Ghost: The middle layer floats among the other two clear layers, based on the weight of each layer. It’s the perfect cocktail for Halloween, and the layering “trick” helps make this “treat” perfect. Grab yourself a couple quick supplies and make yourself some Hemingway’s Ghosts for your Halloween party!
- 1.5 oz 3 Howls Gold Label Rum
- 1 oz grapefruit Juice
- .25 oz lime juice
- .5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
- Pour Maraschino Liqueur into the bottom of a glass.
- Shake the grapefruit and lime juices in a shaker with ice. Pour the juice mixture on top of a spoon right above the liquid already in the glasss. Let the juice run down the inside of the glass from the spoon.
- For the top layer, pour the rum into the spoon in the same manner as the juice.
- Serve and enjoy! You can enjoy the cocktail as-is to taste the indivual ingredients, or you can gently mix them together after the “ooh”s, “ahh”s, and pictures have stopped.
Have you made a layered drink before? What’s your fave concoction? Let me know in the comments! And special thanks again to 3 Howls for providing the recipe. Check out all of their awesome spirits!
While at the Fancy Food Show in NYC, I came across a booth for Banza, a high protein and gluten free pasta made from chickpeas. I love pasta, I love chickpeas, and I love free samples of food, so I have to admit I stopped by their booth a couple times. The pasta sample was SO good. So good, in fact, that I’ve kept in contact with the folks over at Banza, and agreed to work with them on creating an awesome recipe showcasing their pasta. I’ve been testing it in all of my normal pasta dishes, and it works so well that Mr. Geek now requests it over normal pasta for dinner. But I didn’t want something normal. I wanted to make something EPIC. I turned one of my fave Mac and Cheese recipes into a slightly spicy, protein-packed, gluten-free dish made for a superhero. And I topped it with sprinkles because no one was there to stop me. Guess what? It was delicious. (And the sprinkles added a slightly sweet crunch which complemented the spicy mac and cheese really well!)
So give this dish a try when you want to make something warm, gooey, and comforting, that won’t leave you feeling like you just ate your weight in carbs. Pair it with a big, fresh garden salad and you’ve got yourself a balanced meal!
PLUS, get $10 off your order at eatbanza.com when you use code “GEEKYHOSTESS”!
Superhero Mac and Cheese
- 2 tbs unsalted butter
- 3 1/2 tbs gluten-free flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 7 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 1 ounce pepperjack cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- One box Banza elbow macaroni (8 oz)
- 1 ounce (1/4 cup) white cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 ounce (1/4 cup) pepperjack cheese, grated
- ½ tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1/8 cups gluten-free breadcrumbs
- 1 tbs lightning bolt sprinkles
- To first make the sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and continue to whisk and cook for 2 minutes.
- Slowly add milk, whisking constantly.
- Let sauce cook until it thickens, about 10 minutes, while stirring frequently.
- Remove pan from heat and add the cheeses and seasonings listed in the “SAUCE” section. Stir until everything is fully melted. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the macaroni according to the package, but remove 1 minute before the lowest cook time on the packaged directions. (It will continue cooking in the oven!) Rinse the pasta in cold water and let it drain.
- Oil an 8-inch casserole dish and set aside.
- Combine the cooked pasta with the sauce, and mix until well coated. Pour the mac and cheese mixture into the casserole dish.
- Cover the mac and cheese with the additional grated cheese, then the chili powder, then the gluten-free bread crumbs, and finally with the sprinkles.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling and amazing looking. Enjoy!
(Don’t need gluten-free options? Feel free to use regular flour and bread crumbs!)
What’s your fave mac and cheese recipe? Would you be willing to try sprinkles on your dish? And have you tried Banza?