Just the other day I convinced you all (except Mavis) that chocolate covered pretzels were the perfect potluck food.  This summer we attended a ham radio field day (yes, The Husband is a ham geek but a damn sexy one if you ask me) and I brought my new go-to potluck food. Here’s what was left of them after the first pass.

Plate pretzels RW

Yes, the first pass.  They fared well.  Quite well I think – aside from one guy complaining (joking? it’s hard to tell with ham geek humor sometimes) about mustard pretzels being on the dessert table that is, although I’d like it noted he still took one.  The Husband went back to field day after the kids went to bed for the night and he watched a guy snatch the very last pretzel.  So I guess I was totally right about them being the perfect food to sit out for extended periods of time.

Here’s Sweetey Petey enjoying one in case you need more photographic evidence they were popular.

Plate Pete RW

If you recall I also promised to share the rest of the potluck food. I focused solely on the dessert table for the post.  Yes, yes I did risk looking like a crazy fool in front of a bunch of people who have no idea I have a blog just to snap pictures of half eaten trays of food for you.  Because I love you all.  Or at least like.  I at least like you all.  Or at least most of you.

Anyway, here’s a breakdown of the dessert table.

The generic brownie.  Somebody always brings brownies.  They did okay. Not great, but solidly in the middle.

Plate Brownies RW

Store bought cake.  These did not fare well at all.  Nobody goes to a potluck for store bought cake people, so stay away from bringing these.  They sure were pretty though weren’t they? 

Plate store bought RW

I have no idea what these were.  Some sort of pastry?  It appears to have been pretty popular despite being purchased.

Plate Pastry RW

Apple pie.  Let’s face it, apple pie is always a winner no matter where you go or who you are with. So if you have the time, feel free to make one of these (message me your address if you need a taste tester mmmm K cause I love pie.)

Plate Pie RW

This was some sort of dump cake I think.  It was popular . . .

Plate dump cake RW

. . . so was the chocolate cake with caramel frosting.  Nothing beats a good homemade caramel frosting if you ask me (and apparently all the other folks who devoured this.)

Plate caramel cake RW

Fruit.  I’m tossing this into the dessert category here because it was with the desserts.  I devoured the cherries because cherries are expensive.  Must.  Get.  Money’s.  Worth.  From.  Free.  Potluck.

Plate cherries RW

For the record, the pre-sliced cherries made me look less like I’d been gutting chickens.  I had some blood red fingers after pulling pits out for Sweetey Petey.

Plate fruit salad RW

Watermelon is a classic and somebody always brings it.  It also always gets eaten.

Plate watermelon RW

This used to be cheesecake.  Clearly it was popular.  I bet Paula Deen’s mini cheesecake recipe would be a great option.  You all know that one right?  Quick, easy and already portioned.  I’ll have to keep that in mind . . .

Plate Empty RW

There were chocolate chip cookies too.  I forgot to snap a picture but I tried one.  Despite their claim of being “famous chocolate chip cookies” they were meh if you ask me.

So there you have it.  The potluck dessert table.

– Joanna

P.S.   My mom called me out on my lackluster blogging schedule the other day (over the phone of course since she has no clue how to leave comments.)  So, for the official record here are the reasons I’ve been a bad blogger lately:

1)  I’ve been painting the half finished wall in the Don Draper room (that’s what we call our family/play/TV/bar room.)

2)  I’ve been stripping painted over wallpaper again.  This is actually going faster than the last time I attempted this.  Possibly due to lack of blogging.

3)  I bought a carpet cleaner and have been cleaning the carpets (the Mother-in-Law will be happy about this because she noted the state of my carpets last time they visited.  Yeah, they are bad.  I have two kids and two dogs so they are bad.  Less bad now though thanks to my new Hoover baby.)

4)  I’ve been working on Sweetey Petey’s birthday party.  I am having Chipotle cater it so a lot of the food stress is gone, but I picked a pretty random theme (Giraffe’s Digging) and have not only created my only image for invites, but am also attempting one of those giant plywood cut-outs you stick your face through.  It’ll be of Giraffe’s.  Driving a construction digger.  And it’s gonna be awesome.

5)  I’m 95% sure that 90% of my readers these days are friends or relatives that I’m friends with on Facebook so they know the haps already.

I do still have lots to say and a ton of drafts started and some fun house projects to share eventually.  Very soon I’ll be starting a new series called The Patrick Project as well.  I’ll leave you to ponder on what that might be . . .

Question of the Day:  What do you think The Patrick Project is?? 

Pretzels in the Pan Crop R

Until recently I would have advised you NOT to invite me to your potluck.  I stink at bringing food other people like.  Let’s review my past potluck contributions:

cold quinoa salad with raisins and toasted coconut

brushetta with goat cheese

greek yogurt cucumber salad

marinated feta cheese, olive and cucumber skewers

I thought they were all perfectly yummy, and best of all healthy . . . but no one else ate them.  Any of them.  It’s not that they weren’t tasty or that I’m a bad cook, they were just out of the norm.

I was chatting with my friend Amber a few months ago and she noted she has this same problem.  She’s 100% Paleo and super excited for the food she brings to get-togethers.  Her contributions are super healthy, super within her diet and . . . super unpopular.  Or so she tells me – I go NUTS for her food because she’s an awesome cook.  We commiserated and I explained how I was done sharing food I like and was set on sharing food everybody likes.  Let’s face it, more people share the culinary tastes of my Father-in-Law than me.  It’d be a frigid day in H-E-double-hockey-sticks before I could get my Father-in-Law to eat a cold quinoa salad with raisins and toasted coconut and let’s not even discuss the goat cheese.  I shudder to think what he’d say if I served that to him.

After much debate I’ve recently come up with a solution to my potluck woes.

I’d like to introduce you to the perfect potluck food . . . dun dun duuuuuuun . . .

CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS!

Pretzels Crop R

I have reasons people, oh do I have reasons!

Pretzel Title RW

One.  Who doesn’t like pretzels?  Nobody, that’s who.  Pretzels even come in gluten-free versions if that’s an issue.

Two.  Who doesn’t like chocolate?  Nobody, that’s who.  Chocolate even comes in vegan versions if that’s an issue.

Three.  They are fast and easy to make.  Melt chocolate.  Dip pretzel.  Top if desired.  Done.

Four.  They can be made last minute.  Keep a bag of pretzels around the house and some chocolate and you are always ready to go, no special trip to the grocery required.

Five.  They are completely customizable to any and every occasion.  That’s right.  Every occasion.  Wilton candy melts come in a ridiculous amount of colors to account for every holiday, graduating seniors class colors, birthday theme, season and more!  For formal occasions or to appear fancy, use more expensive chocolate.  Dip your pretzels in a mix of white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate and you’ve got every type of chocolate lover covered.  And toppings!  Yes, let’s discuss toppings.  Crushed peppermint for Christmas.  Toasted pecans for Thanksgiving.  Green sprinkles for St. Patty’s Day.  Yellow sprinkles for summer.  Orange sprinkles for fall.  Red and blue sugar on white chocolate for Fourth of July.  I could go on but there isn’t enough room on the internet  to list all the options.

Six.  They are portable.  They store well, travel well, there’s no messy sauces to deal with and they are easy to grab a serving off the picnic table.  They won’t go stale, get soft or slimey or squishy and they have a shelf life that makes them just as tasty for a second helping when that fabulous party extends late into the night.  Plus, if by some miracle, there are any left and you take them home there’s no need to be concerned about contracting botulism from them sitting out on a table for hours and hours.

Seven.  They are pretty.  Yes, pretty.  Presentation is half the battle and the better they look the more likely they’ll end up on that disposable plate instead of that plain old generic brownie default.

Eight.  If you have kids, they can help! Get them dipping and rolling and you’ve not only got your potluck portion covered, but you’ve gotten your kids in the kitchen, kept them entertained and covered craft time.

Nine.  They really aren’t that bad for you.  Sure, chocolate covered pretzels aren’t exactly on par with eating a salad, but the pretzels themselves are low in fat and if you use a super dark chocolate they can be low in sugar too.  Topping with crushed peanuts even offers a protein boost.  Take that generic brownie.

Ten.  I don’t actually have a tenth reason, but nine reasons chocolate covered pretzels are the perfect potluck food sounded less cool than ten so how about you just take my word for it okay?

Pretzels in the Pan RW

Stop back in later for a post on how well these pretzels did at our last potluck . . . as well as how well other dishes fared!

– Joanna

P.S.  If you are asked to bring a side dish to your next potluck . . . well, ignore the request and go ahead and still bring these mmmm K?  No one will be mad once they eat them.  Besides, pretzels are carby and carbs are side dishes so WIN!

Question of the Day:  What’s your go-to potluck dish?

** Editors note: this post is being fictitiously hosted by Ted Allen of the Food Network smash hit TV show Chopped. **

It’s that time again. The time when it’s every Non Chef for themselves. The time when we each have to dig deep inside with our paring knife and release the fierce competitor from within. The time to get our wild game face on and duke it out against ourselves! That’s right. IT’S FOODIE PEN PALS AND THE CHOPPED CHALLENGE TIME!!

The air is ripe with anticipation. Non Chef Joanna of Midwestern Bite won against herself last month . . . but can she do it again?

Let’s ask her. Joanna, can you do it again? Your adoring fans want to know. No, they need to know.

Well, Ted, like The Little Engine that Could once said: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can . . .

Seems you’ve been reading to your son a bit lately. Do you think Sweetey Petey will be a distraction to you, or your motivation?

Oh, my motivation. Absolutely. Unless he sees my purse. He loves my purse. In any case, I’m gonna win this for him. Mama loves you Petey!! Mama is gonna do this for you baby!!


Touching. So touching. Before we get started on the Challenge, tell me, who did you send your Foodie Pen Pals package to this month?

Well, that would be Katie Fraga of Happy Lini. She’s great! She’s out in California. I love this program so much because not only do I get to meet new people, but see new sights. I have a cousin out in California, but I’ve never been to the west coast before. Katie has some lovely pictures on her blog that really make me want to travel! She posts delightful looking eats, craft projects, Mantra Monday to kick off the week with some inspiration and even does a series she calls Artist of the Month. I’d rather she hadn’t posted about artist Bianca Green though.

Oh no, why is that?

Ted, it cost me $36 bucks!! I just had to have the typewriter print Katie featured on her blog.

It’s good she could enrich your horizons like that. Let’s move on with the challenge shall we? Who did you receive your Foodie Pen Pals package from and what did you get?

My package came from a sweet reader in Chicago named Cath! Oddly enough it arrived the same day my Bianca Green print did . . .

Aside from the nicest six page note, she sent me such a wide variety of foods I was astounded!

Local Caputo potato gnocchi and Nannina tomato basil pasta sauce! Local Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce! Local Toffee Crunch Carol’s Cookie the size of my fist! Stacy’s Pita chips in salted and also cinnamon sugar! Snyder’s chocolate dipped peanut butter pretzel sandwich cookies, Nutella to go, a lollipop, three packs of jelly beans whose profits helped needy children!

Of course I dug right in, Ted. I had to taste everything so I could start planning my Chopped meal.

I see that Joanna, but is there any food left to cook with? That cookie seems, well, it seems gone.

And the Pita chips are barely crumbs! Those pretzel sandwiches . . . one, two, three, FOUR! Do you only have four left? And just a handul of jelly beans. Joanna, Joanna, Joanna. I don’t see how you can ever win now. You’ve eaten most of the food before the competion has begun. Frankly, I’m appalled. In all my years of hosting TV and fictitious blog challenges, I’ve never seen such recklessness!

No worries. I have a plan. A small plan.

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