This morning I peeled off the piece of washi tape that was holding my computer shut and began my first work day of 2018. Do you know how much of a struggle it is to type “washi” into a computer that doesn’t have autocorrect turned off yet? It’s less of a struggle than actually figuring out how to turn off autocorrect and less of a struggle than the combined first-day-back-at-work struggle, but about 60 times the struggle of sitting on the couch all day yesterday where my chief goal was to not eat the entire bag of potato chips.
The first half of our holiday break was filled with great hiking, cross country skiing at eggsister’s with eggbrofam, and bopping down to Minneapolis for great conversation with great blog friends. We also tried an Indian restaurant in Fargo that was soooo (!!!!) good. I want to go there every day. But then the temperature got hilariously low, it was like the sun just forgot to show up for a few days, and we had to cancel our second annual new year’s eve day Bemidji ski trip and stay inside for a long time. We cleaned a lot, did house planning, and then I got into Star Wars slightly.
In cleaning I got rid of every piece of Tupperware that wasn’t a) a deli container (I now buy them in bulk, they stack really nicely, all take one type of lid, can go in the dishwasher, and are so cheap that when you make too much dinner party brisket you can send your friends home with some and not ever worry about getting your containers back), or b) very cute. We also kondo’ed our linens, props, and tote bags and now have fairly manageable storage areas for all of these things. This cleanliness will last for at least two weeks.
Some other very enjoyable things I engaged in over break were:
-Getting into cheese balls
-Beginning History of Love
-Rewatching Virtue/Moir’s 2010 long program
-Ooing and Ahhing over the Nose Job episode of Unorthodox, which is a particularly great episode
Now I’m getting ready to hunker down for the weekend to watch the u.s. figure skating championship. I’ve got a grocery list for things to make from Healthyish that will take me through Sunday so I can make soup and zone in on some programs that I am extra looking forward to, including Nathan Chen’s short program, Ashley Wagner’s La La Land program, and both programs of Chock/Bates and the Shib Sibs. And of course Jason Brown and Adam Rippon and Karen Chen… I guess it’s safe to say I’m excited for all them.
Alright I’ve been meaning to post this spätzle and cheese with hot dogs for forever now and figured that now would be a great time to do it, with the cold snap and the snow storms and all. (Who ever thought that the dead of winter would be a great time for diets anyway? I’ll start making more salads when the ground thaws and my garden starts allowing me to, thank you very much. *Flips hair, rolls eyes*)
This is a mac and cheese for dumpling lovers. And wiener lovers. Haha I mean hot dog lovers. I mean we all know that the only way to make mac and cheese better is to add cut up hot dogs, but did you know that the only way to make that better is to replace the noodles with little baby dumplings?? Spätzle are so chewy and soft, they deliver more textural satisfaction than an al dente noodle, I truly will never tire of them. These little guys get coated with an insanely delicious combination of gruyère and cheddar, but changing up the cheeses would totally work. (And psst… If you’re looking for a non-cheesy spätzle recipe, Molly on the Range has a spätzle, Brussels sprouts, and bacon dish that is just delightful this time of year.)
Homemade spätzle is a little bit of a process, but it’s a fun way to make homemade pasta-type things without fancy equipment. The way I make it, all you really need is a rubber spatula and a slotted spoon with holes that are on the larger side (1/4” or larger is ideal). You press the batter right into boiling water to make oblong little dumplings and occasionally if you’re lucky a massive plop of batter will fall into the boiling water, yielding a meatball sized spätzle. Those are the best.
And while I typically preach that a casserole of macaroni and cheese should be covered in bread crumbs and baked, I find this spätzle version is at its height fresh off the stove, when the cheese is at its sauciest and the dumplings can dance freely around each other with no crust holding them in place.
Happy new year!!!!
Spätzle and Cheese with Hot Dogs
serves 6 - 8
for the Spätzle:
3 c (384g) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 c (240g) whole milk
for the sauce:
1/4 c (67g) unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
6 tb (48g) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c (600g) whole milk
6 oz (170g) cheddar cheese, shredded
6 oz (170g) gruyère cheese, shredded
1 package (10 oz or 6 links) hot dogs, chopped into 1/2” pieces (beef, turkey, veggie dogs, any kind will do!)
Chopped fresh chives or scallions, for serving
To make the spätzle, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg, a few turns of pepper, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs and milk. Stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, use a rubber spatula to press the batter through a large slotted spoon or spätzle maker and boil for 2-3 minutes, until the spätzle float to the top. If you find the batter too thick to press through the slotted spoon, hold the slotted spoon closer to the surface of the boiling water so that the steam softens it a bit. Transfer to a strainer, toss in a bit of olive oil so they don’t all stick together, and set aside while you make the sauce.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onion with a pinch of salt until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add a few turns of black pepper and the paprika. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add milk a third at a time, stirring continuously and allowing to thicken after each addition. Add cheese and stir until melted. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Reduce heat to low. In a separate skillet, cook the hot dogs according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Stir the spätzle and hot dogs into the cheese sauce. Top with chives or scallions and black pepper and serve. Enjoy!
(Tip: if not serving immediately or if you're reheating leftovers, stir another splash of milk into the spätzle before serving to loosen up the sauce.)