Sheriff Hopper loves him a good doughnut, so there was no doubt in my mind that they’d be the dessert in my breakfast-themed Stranger Things menu. And I knew exactly what kind I wanted to make: apple cider doughnuts! I got the idea while watching the very first episode of Season 2. When Hopper walks into the police station in the morning, he goes straight for the doughnuts, but the secretary takes it out of his hand and swaps it for an apple. Hopper spits it out and tosses it after the first bite. So I thought it would be fun to use apples in a way he’d actually enjoy: doughnuts! Plus, they’re super festive, considering today is Thanksgiving! (Don’t worry, I’m not slaving over my blog today. I’m off visiting family and enjoying having a restful holiday. Yay for scheduling posts in advance!)
I’m kinda new to cake doughnuts (though I’ve made raised doughnuts before), so I used a recipe for apple cider doughnut holes by Lori from Recipe Girl. I decided to go with doughnut holes instead of full-on doughnuts because I lack both a doughnut cutter and doughnut baking pan, and I didn’t feel like buying one. Plus, making holes meant more surface area per bite would be covered in cinnamon sugar, which—c’mon, let’s be honest—is half the fun of apple cider doughnuts.
So fry up some festive goodness! These are perfect for dunking in your morning coffee as you contemplate the mysteries of the Upside Down. 😉
Pumpkin plays a key role in Season 2 of Stranger Things, so I knew it needed to make an appearance in my menu. I wanted to continue my breakfast theme, and pumpkin hash sounded like the perfect side dish to pair with my Fried Chicken Waffle Cones and Bacon Stuffed French Toast.
Pumpkin hash is a little unusual, but I managed to track down a recipe by Eat the Gains to use as inspiration. Like the original, mine starts with crumbled sausage, cubed pumpkin, and chopped onion (though I used red onion for a little extra color). Then I added a little garlic and sage since I’ve got Thanksgiving on the brain. Stir in some green onion for a pop of color and add some fried eggs on top, and you’ve got a hash Hawkins, IN would be proud to call its own.
P.S. Can I just say that I’m inordinately proud that, in the three recipes I’ve made for this menu so far, I’ve included FOUR kinds of protein? Chicken, bacon, sausage, AND eggs! Whew, I may need to go on a run when this is all over.
P.P.S. That’s a hilarious joke because I have, in fact, NEVER gone on a run.
P.P.P.S. Don’t worry, I won’t be putting meat in the dessert. 😉
The secret’s out: This whole Stranger Things menu is gonna feature breakfast foods! We started out with Spicy Maple Fried Chicken Waffle Cones, and now we’re moving on to rich, fluffy french toast.
This recipe is inspired by the French toast Sheriff Hopper serves to Eleven in Season 2. Granted, the version he made was a little more basic, but you know me—I can resist playing with my food! Stuffed French toast seemed like the way to go, and the bacon stuffed variety was perfect for health-food-hating Hopper.
This was my first time making French toast, so I took inspiration from several recipes: The Kitchn’s basic French toast, Spicy Southern Kitchen’s Bacon French Toast, and Bon Appetit’s tips for avoiding French toast mistakes. Although I’m not the biggest fan of French toast (hence why I’ve never made it before), I feel like this is a really solid recipe. It starts with thick slices of challah soaked it a lightly sweetened custard, filled with fried bacon and cooked in butter until golden. The texture on the inside was rich, faintly sweet, soft, fluffy, and moist without being wet. In fact, the inside of the bread reminded me a lot of a soufflé. It contrasted so well with the salty bacon in the very center. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar and a healthy drizzle of syrup, and you’re all set!
Normally, I try to stick to classic books around here, but sometimes I like to shake things up and make a menu for a TV show or movie. Even then, I try to stick to the classics. Still, every once in a while a show comes along that is clearly an instant classic, destined to remain in our minds and hearts for years to come. Stranger Things is one of those shows.
I loved Season 1, so when Season 2 premiered a few days before Halloween, I watched eagerly with a pen and paper in hand, ready to write down anything and everything the characters ate. There was no way I was letting another season go by without making a Stranger Things menu!
To start things off, I wanted to serve a tribute to the food Hopper leaves for Eleven in the woods at the end of Season 1. He places what looks like chicken wings in a Tupperware container along with some plastic-wrapped Eggos on top. Instead of making straight up chicken and waffle, I decided to try a fun new version. I’ve seen fried chicken in waffle cones popping up on Pinterest, so this is my interpretation of that trend.
I started with the breading from my fried catfish recipe and used it to bread some cubed chicken breast. Then I fried them up, glazed them with a mix of maple syrup and sriracha, and scooped them into some waffle cones. Easy and delicious—perfect for the strangest of season premiere parties! 😉
I first heard of opera cake almost a year ago, and I’ll never forget how floored I was by the elegant appearance. It’s traditionally a thinly layered torte composed of joconde sponge cake, coffee syrup, coffee buttercream, and chocolate ganache. The delicate, refined style and the rumor that it was created in honor of the Paris Opera House had me transfixed. I knew when I got around to making a Phantom of the Opera menu, this HAD TO BE my dessert.
But truth be told, I was thoroughly daunted by the time and energy required to make such a cake (we’re talking joconde, flavored syrup, buttercream, and two thicknesses of ganache!). I had no idea how I’d manage it will a little baby on the verge of crawling, and I had a feeling a lot of my readers would consider it too much work as well.
I searched online for an easy version and couldn’t find one, so I decided to create my own! I went with a chocolate strawberry theme, in honor of the red, black, and white motif so closely associated with Phantom of the Opera. This recipe uses frozen pound cake from the grocery store, strawberry jam, vanilla buttercream, and chocolate ganache. I made my own buttercream, but you can even use the stuff in the can to save time. So in the end, the only thing you HAVE to make from scratch is the ganache! The final flavors are a delicious combo of sweet buttercream, rich pound cake, sweet-tart jam, and bitter-sweet chocolate. Sooo delicious!
I’ve been eager to share this recipe for weeks! When I first started planning my Phantom of the Opera menu, I came across this recipe, and it was just too perfect to pass up. The black and red color scheme and wicked theme made them just the side dish I needed!
They may look complicated, but they’re actually very easy to make. Just whip up your favorite bread dough (I used a basic bun recipe I developed for my cookbook) and create a black rice flour mix to go on top. Spread on the topper, bake, and you’re all set to enjoy some piping hot bits of brimstone! 🙂
Roses are one of the many iconic items from The Phantom of the Opera. They’re most commonly found in the movie–as mysterious gifts from the Phantom that appear for Christine seemingly by magic–but they make appearances in the book and stage play as well. They’re seen as the Phantom’s calling card, so I knew they had to have a place in our menu.
In the past, various “apple rosette” pies and tarts have caught my eye on Pinterest. I noticed that they were all dessert bakes, so I decided to make a savory version. I whipped up the herbed pie crust that will appear in my cookbook next year and filled it Gouda cheese and carmelized onions, topping it with rosettes made from thinly sliced Gala apples.
I love the way the cheese stretches just a bit as you bite into it and how the sweet apples and flaky, savory crust play off each other. Just a little bit of bite from the caramelized onions finishes it off. Bon appetit!
Happy October, Wonderlanders! Our new book of the month, in honor of Halloween, is The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux! I remember reading it in college and loving all the drama, intrigue, and interesting themes. Plus, the spooky nature of the Phantom makes this book a perfect choice for October.
One of my favorite themes in the book (and maybe the most common) is the concept of angels and demons. I’ve always thought of the Phantom and Raoul’s battle for Christine as symbolic of the battle between Heaven and Hell over the human soul. I’m not sure if this is the intended interpretation or not, but either way I wanted to include an homage to this theme in my menu. Which brings me to Devils on Horseback!
I heard the recipe name tossed around several years ago and looked it up out of curiosity. As it turns out, Devils on Horseback is a fancy name for a dish many of us know and love: BACON. WRAPPED. DATES.
* resists the urge to squeal *
I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m CRAZY about bacon wrapped dates The Mister and I once spent a whole party hanging out by the oven as we waited for tray after tray of bacon wrapped dates to come out, snagging as many as we could before the hostess (my sister) took them away to serve to other, less obsessed guests. So when I saw that I had an opportunity to make them for this menu, I was like UM YES THIS IS HAPPENING.
In Amelia Writes Again, Amelia tells the story of how her sister Cleo invented a marshmallow game when they were little. The rules: squish a jumbo marshmallow until it’s sticky, then throw it on the ceiling. See how long it sticks and catch it in your mouth when it falls!
I would be lying if I said I didn’t try to play this once as a kid (Mom, if you’re wondering what that weird gray streak on my bedroom ceiling was, now you know). Reading about this game is one of my fondest memories from the Amelia books, so I decided to try my hand at homemade marshmallows for our dessert this month!
This recipe comes from the America’s Test Kitchen youtube channel. The steps are simple, reliable, and easy to follow. I wound up with great marshmallows on my first try, and I’m planning on tweaking the recipe to make chocolate marshmallows for Christmas!
NOTE: This recipe needs to set overnight.
In Amelia’s Notebook, Amelia complains about the terrible cafeteria food at her school, citing the fact that the brownies seem “fossilized” and the mystery mush looks like it’s made of dog food. I think we all have memories of gross cafeteria food (I can recall some particularly slimy sliced turkey), so I thought it would be fun to redeem a tired cafeteria standby: tater tots.
Amelia’s school tater tots are called “tater gems,” but she thinks they taste more like cardboard. To make some delicious, Amelia-worthy tots, I started with a simple recipe for tender, healthy baked tater tots from Wishful Chef and amped it up a bit with garlic powder, minced onion, and snipped parsley. I even made some honey sriracha ketchup to serve on the side! These tater tots are super easy and ultra flavorful. If Amelia’s school served them, they’d be a hit! 🙂