Winter in OZ.

For the first time ever, the lovely folks over at Foodbuzz asked me to participate in their amazing 24×24 project. This is a special day each month where, all over the world, 24 food bloggers commit to posting 24 great meals at the same time. It’s big, and it’s fun, and I’m so blessed to have been a part of it!

Now, I must first mention that I live on Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. And even if you don’t know much about North Dakota, I imagine you’ve at least heard of Minot in a joke somewhere. After all, “Why not, Minot?” It’s where, “Freezin’ is the reason!” And to celebrate this, I chose to have a very special, themed lunch with some dear friends of ours that will be moving to a new duty station soon. Dorothy and her friends teamed up with me to present “Winter in Oz!”

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We’ve been lucky so far this season. We’re 3+ months past when snow usually begins accumulating, and we’ve got just this small dusting on the ground. That’s my flowerbed above, and you can still see the bricks! After the massive flooding this past summer, this is a welcome reprieve! Still, our friends are moving to sunny California, so this last meal is helping them to say goodbye to Minot with flair! :-)

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^^ Because I couldn’t leave these out. “Ding, dong, the witch is dead!” ♪♫

Other than decorations, let me walk you through our indoor (because no one wants to sit on snow, no matter how little!) picnic lunch, Wizard of Oz-style.

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Chicken tenders breaded in an onion & parmesan coating for a perfect “shaggy lion” look.

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Creamy, homestyle mac ‘n cheese, baked into a cobbley road, along
with a few extra “bricks” (Captain Crunch cereal) for snacking.

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Cheese & crackers for the munchkins running through the house.

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Ranch dip with a heavy kick of fresh basil, along with lots of fresh veggies.

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Perfectly “witchy,” these deviled eggs bring out her baddddd side. ;-)

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A beautiful Emerald City, as constructed by my 10-year-old
son Jack, using every green block he owns!

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And to wash all that down, some sparkly “Glenda’s Good Witch Ginger Ale.”

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I made shimmery sugar cookies for Dorothy’s famous red slippers…

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And the Tin Man stopped by with popular Tin Roof Sundaes!

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And in case you thought he wasn’t there, this Spaghetti Scarecrow was
carefully keeping watch over the garden veggie tray. ;-)

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I also bagged up some extra ruby slipper cookies for our guests to take home, too.

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(I carved tiny slippers out of red Dots candies, sticking
them into hand-colored lollipop sticks. I loved them!)

Now, on to the recipes. :-)

I’ve featured the recipe before for my Baked Mac ‘n Cheese casserole, but let me share it here once again.

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Baked Mac ‘n Cheese

  • 4 cups elbow pasta
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk (I use 1%)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz. processed cheese (Velveeta), cubed

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a 4-qt. saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk; stir in the salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil; cook and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheeses until melted.

Drain pasta; stir into cheese sauce. Transfer to an ungreased 2-qt. baking dish (if you don’t have this, I learned this weekend that a 9×13 baking dish is perfect, too). Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 22-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Yield: 8 servings

And as for the chicken, I threw together a few things to come up with this lightly-seasoned, shaggy entree.

Cowardly Lion Onion Chicken

  • 2-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders
  • 3 cups crushed French’s Fried Onions
  • 1 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°. In a gallon-sized bag, combine crushed fried onions and bread crumbs; shake well. Dip each chicken tender in egg wash, and add chicken in batches to crumb mixture, shaking well to coat evenly. Place tenders on baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken juices are clear.

Yield: 8-10 servings

And lastly, I needed to use up some basil from my fridge, so I came up with this dip.

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Toto-ly Basil Veggie Dip

  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp. basil, chiffonaded (about 3/4 cup fresh leaves)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. ranch dressing mix

In a food processor, place the chiffonaded basil and lemon juice. Pulse in a few quick bursts until you have a paste-like mixture. Add in the sour cream; blend well. Add ranch dressing mix and pulse until combined. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

And that’s it! I hope you’ve enjoyed your time in Oz, and please let me know if you try any of these recipes or ideas! If you need a 10-year-old to make an “Emerald City,” just let me know, and I’ll hire mine out. ;-)

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14 comments on “Winter in OZ.

  1. Your mac & cheese looks fabulous – just the kind of thing to warm you up on a chilly day!!

  2. I love this Oz theme you incorporated for your farewell luncheon and how you created dishes to match the characters. Very creative of you and the ruby slippers and Emeral City are wonderful. You did not miss a thing and I’m sure everyone had a great time!

  3. I love this! Being at this lunch and seeing the pictures, really show all the thought and effort toward a really amazing experiance.My kids thought everything was amazing. Thank you so much for inviting us over, you are truly a amazing friend.

  4. Kristina on said:

    This looks amazing!! I will definitely be using this theme for our next dinner with friends =)

  5. Christy @ Confessions of a Culinary Diva on said:

    Clever and fun! Terrific photos. What a great send off for your friends!

  6. Eva {not your mama's dinner} on said:

    This is incredible! Really well done! So creative and fun… But the real question is: who doesn’t want an Emerald city? :) Now I’m gonna watch that movie again…

  7. Looks like such a fun theme party!! Well done.. I enjoyed all the food titles. :)

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I’m Nicole, and I’m glad you’ve stopped by my little corner of the web! I’m a former Air Force wife whose passions are baking, cookie-making, and photo-taking… all to the benefit of my loves – my family! C’mon in to…read more.

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