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I so love October. It is probably my favorite month of the year. Fall sunshine, apples, the turning of the leaves, pumpkin patches; all culminating in my favorite holiday at the end of the month, Halloween! But I’m feeling a little blue because October is just about over and it feels like it flew by faster than a witch on her broomstick. And then I got sick this week.  Really sick. For an October-lovin’ gal, getting sick the week of Halloween is a cruel trick for sure.

I had so many posts that I wanted to write this month. But as I  woke up this morning, I realized that I still have a little bit of time, even if it is the eleventh hour, so I thought I would just do a round-up of all my faves this month.

We started off our October celebrations in September actually. Oktoberfest is usually celebrated in Munich, Germany, the last Saturday of September through the first Sunday of October, but many people celebrate all month long around here! And this recipe is one that can be enjoyed year-round. (St. Nicholas Day, December 6th, will be here before you know it!)

As you can see, we take our Oktoberfest very seriously around here. My husband’s mother is German, and I also have a very strong German heritage, so we usually go all out breaking out the lederhosen that he wore as a young man (we spent many years begging the children to just try them on– though they are probably both much too big for them now) and putting on the Oom-pah-pah music. Then we open a Bitburger  and chow down on some  delicious traditional food from the Motherland. My stepfather is also from Germany and he painstakingly, and with great patience, taught me to make this dish – Thank you Eberhard! I will never be able to make it as well as you do though :-)

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Beef Rouladen

Ingredients:

  • Top round cut 1/8″ thick
  • Dijon mustard
  • Hungarian paprika
  • Sweet onion
  • Center cut bacon slices
  • Home-style kosher dill pickles
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Cornstarch

Slice the pickles and onion into smaller pieces so that they will fit inside the top round when rolled up. Lay out the slices of top round, and for each slice: coat with a thick layer of mustard, sprinkle with paprika and salt, then place a slice of bacon on top and lay down a hunk of onion and pickle.

Roll them up, pulling in the sides, and tie each bundle with kitchen string. Warm a heavy, deep saucepan over med-high heat. Add a small amount of olive oil to coat the bottom of pan and a pat of butter. Once the butter has melted add the beef rolls and   turn them continuously until browned on all sides.

Add a small amount of water, turn down the heat to low, and place a lid on the pot. You will continue to add small amounts of water as you cook over low heat (about 1 cup of water in total) until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. They are done when you can put a skewer in the roll and it pulls right out with no resistance. Take the meat out of the pan and set aside. Mix a tablespoon or two of cornstarch into a dish with water to make a paste. Pour cornstarch mixture a little bit at a time into the pan drippings, stirring constantly until it is the thickness you desire for the gravy. Serve gravy over meat with your choice of spaetzle noodles or potatoes.

For some reason the kids don’t like this dish, but not to worry, I picked up plenty of German wieners for the kids!

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October fun continued with a trip with the boys back to my husband’s and my college alma mater for homecoming, to show them where mom and dad met, and I scored some of this:

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The best cheese in the world! I still have to figure out when to crack this baby open – Hmmmm, maybe for some homemade mac & cheese? Yes please!

I continued to take advantage of October’s bounty with an outing to Seattle Restaurant Week. I enjoyed a fabulous, laugh-filled, girls-night-out at The Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market with a great group of gals including fellow food bloggers Amateur Gourmand and Foodie Critic Melissa Liton (contributor to the Belles of the Sound Blog). Part of the reason for the gathering was to celebrate Jenn’s (Amateur Gourmand) birthday, so the most goose-bump inducing part of the evening was when our server led us in a rendition of the birthday song, and the entire dining room full of patrons joined in! I guess the other diners must have known just how lovable this gal is. The restaurant is a field and stream theme and so of course I HAD to try the Elk Meatloaf – very rich, but delish! I was having such a fantastic time that only picture I got was this one – Mmmmm, leftovers!

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Caramel is another food theme of October that is highly revered in our house.One of my husband’s favorite fall treats is the caramel apple. This year I decided to make them for him from scratch, but after many failed attempts and much lamenting on Facebook, I had a generous offer for a caramel making lesson from Chef Scott Smith of Herban Creations.

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How could I pass that up?! Chef Smith came to my home and took me through this process – it really is easy – no measuring and only 3 ingredients! I like that!

Fill a saucepan 3/4 full of sugar, add water until mixed with the sugar it is the consistency of wet sand. Cook over medium high heat – do not stir! The sugar mixture will bubble, watch the heat and turn down as needed to control the cooking process and keep the mixture at a slow boil until it is the color of caramel. Then take off the heat and slowly pour in heavy whipping cream (now you can stir it, vigorously) to thin it a bit – but not too much.

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Let the caramel cool until it coats a spoon, then add a little salt to taste, and dip your apples.

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More cream can be added to make caramel sauce that is great over ice cream or use without cream to make sugar webbed designs!

Chef Smith is a personal chef who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and trained under many prominent chefs. But mostly I like him because he’s just such a nice guy! He will plan a menu with you, shop for all the ingredients, and then come and prepare meals in your home. He also gives private lessons in your own kitchen! So if you have a holiday party coming up that you want to sit back and enjoy without being stuck in the kitchen you might want to book him soon!

Finally, my favorite food of October has to be PUMPKINS! We took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch and the boys picked out these beauties.

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So many yummy pumpkin foods! Pumpkin bread (I made this delicious pumpkin bread from Allrecipes.com.) pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin seeds! Oh! Can’t wait to scoop these out!

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These are always a welcome treat around here!

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Just separate them from the pulp (leaving some – those crispy bits of roasted pulp are probably the best part!) rinse them, soak them in heavily salted water for a few hours (or overnight) and then roast on a cookie sheet(sprinkled with more salt!), turning frequently, at 425 degrees until they are toasty brown. YUM! Just in time for Halloween!

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Hope you have a great one!  Now, what to make for dinner…

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