Twice Baked Potatoes and a Double Dose of Malice

The Feast / The Adventure / The Recipe

Our adventures in Phandalin continue, so if you are currently running the D&D Starter Set, beware possible spoilers ahead. You can also catch up on the previous Chef DM adventures here.

The Feast

Normally there is a bit of a theme to what I cook for our sessions. Sometimes it’s rustic cooking, southern dishes, or all geeky desserts. This session though, we decided to go all over the map. I knew I wanted to make some twice baked potatoes, but the rest evolved like pregnant woman shopping for groceries right before lunch. Pure craving based decisions.

I found a recipe for a twice baked potato casserole that I had to make. It looked delicious and gave me a chance to use my new Pioneer Woman casserole dish.

20170205_115930The recipe can be found below.

Fair warning, it makes enough to feed an army, so be prepared with a very large mixing bowl for the prep. Also, when you are mixing, I would add the milk slowly and mix as you go. I dumped the milk in without realizing it was going to make things a little soupy. Don’t get me wrong, it was still absolutely delicious, but there was some gloopy factor with mine.

Once I had the potato goodness decided, things descended into the “oh shiny” realm of meal planning. I decided some pork cutlets would go nicely with a potato dish which is not left field at all…yet.
Since pork cutlets are so thin, you only need to pan-sear them a short amount of time on each side. You can go with a light seasoning, or you can marinade for some extra set in flavor. I mixed some minced garlic, vegetable stock, and melted butter to give the pork a little flavor bath beforehand.

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I sprinkled a little salt, pepper, and a tiny pinch of cayenne on the pork cutlets before I seared them. These are super simple and fast to cook, so they are easy to add to any meal.

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I promptly decided that we needed naan for this meal. I love naan, so I will often insert it into pretty much any meal, Indian in nature or not. I am still not a bread making expert (I’m working on it), so I bought my favorite pre-made brand.

Hand-made naan is the best, but Stonefire is really fantastic for the “still learning” bread makers like myself.
Beast companion Flynn agrees with our choice of naan with the meal.

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Now since I wanted naan, hummus was a logical addition. Who does not love some red pepper hummus with their baked potato casserole?
PITA CHIPS! We need those too. Imagine a chunky Texan girl wondering around a Kroger and shouting this as she puts everything you can find on an end cap into the basket. I swear I get distracted when food shopping like a little kid on a sugar high.

You know what goes with a southern casserole, pork, and Indian bread? Kolaches of course. See what I mean about random cravings? Our favorite rogue and paladin duo brought a delicious variety of treats from Kolache Factory. If you have one of these around your location, stop by. They have great savory and sweet kolaches.

Fun Fact Time: Texans have a huge love of kolaches. Especially if you live anywhere near Austin. There is a place outside of West, Texas called the Czech Stop. It is gas station off I-35 with a kolache shop inside. It does not look like much from the highway, but this place is massively famous here in Texas. There is always a line out the door for these kolaches, and I am biased living not too far(ish) from West, but man oh man they are fantastic. If you drive down I-35 in central Texas and don’t stop at the Czech Stop, you will get surprised gasps all around.

Obviously we had way more food than necessary for this adventure, so the session began with our overstuffed groans of contentedness.

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The Adventure

We left off on our last adventure with the group walking right into an encounter with a band of very oblivious goblins. Despite me rolling numerous perception rolls as the group bashed away at the outside door, the eight goblins in the dining hall did not notice the noise coming from the backdoor. The goblins remained completely unaware of the party until Mordecai opened the door to the dining hall. Fighting ensued, and Varel decided to cast a flaming sphere to try to take out the boss in the room. In the process, he lit one of the very large dining hall tables on fire. Varel really likes his fire.
With chaos erupting from the growing fire, the group focused on the boss goblin; and as his forces scattered about, the leader went down fairly quickly. Seeing their shot caller go down, the other goblins lost their will to fight and attempted to run away. Kava acted fast and put herself between two fleeing goblins. She cast thunder wave and annihilated them both swiftly. Unfortunately thunder wave also lets out a loud boom that is audible within 300 feet of her. The castle is big, but not over 300 feet big; so all surprise and stealth has effectively been taken away. Monsters in the immediate area rushed in to attack after hearing the boom, and it became clear that it was going to be constant fighting from here on out.

Metal-Gear-Solid-2-alert

source: Myinstants

…shit

Kava’s luck did not improve as they progressed through the castle. She beast shaped into a wolf, and while backing away from a door for a better position to strike anything that may come through that door, she managed to step on a trip wire triggering a cave in where she was standing. Hearing yet another loud noise, the hobgoblins in the next area rushed in to attack the group. The non stop fighting continues as the group dispatches the newest appearance of baddies without major indecent.
As they made their way through the castle, they found a room with a bloodied alter and goblin worshipers bowed before it. These were zealot followers of the gnome and dwarf hating god Maglubiyet. Seeing the group enter, the worshipers rushed them hoping to add them to the sacrifice on the bloody alter. The group has dealt with many a goblin, so these zealots were not too difficult to deal with. However, as the zealots started to go down, the leader starting whistling to unseen help. Mung, being a half-orc of high goodly religious conviction, dispatched the lead worshiper of the heretic god with a mighty blow from his mace. Unfortunately as he was making mince of the leader’s face, two large gricks rushed into the room just in time to see the death of their keeper.

source: Epic Path

Ewwwwwww

These nasty little fellows took offense to Mung’s actions and immediately attacked him. The group was able to do away with the two slithering face grabbers, but Mung did take some serious damage during the fight. A short rest with some much needed healing was in order before they moved on. Despite his brush with monstrous face chewing, Mung was ecstatic to find a shrine in the next room depicting many deities, including dear old “dad” Lathander.

Refreshed and ready to proceed, the group moved on hoping to find Gundren. They encountered more hobgoblins and attempted to lure them out using an illusion of Sky running from their position. Unfortunately the hobgoblins had been waiting for the group after hearing the loud boom, so they were not easily fooled into the trap. The hobgoblins were dispatched fairly easily, and the group made their way into what appeared to be a barracks for the brunt of the hobgoblins they had faced so far. While investigating this room, they heard scratching and muffled noises coming from a locked and barred door. Unsure if this was Gundren Rockseeker or another waiting monster, Mordecai and Kava tried to listen for clues as to what may be waiting on the other side of the door.
The noises they heard were definitely not human and seemed like they may be some kind of beast. Feeling like they must be getting closer to the final encounter of this castle, they opted to conserve some energy and spells and bet on this possibly being a beast looking to escape rather than fight. Mordecai retrieved a crate of salted meats from a nearby storeroom and slid a few pieces under the door to see the reaction of the beast. Hearing sounds of ravenous eating and eager scratching for more food, the group placed the crate in the middle of the room and stood back leaving a clear path to the crate. Varel used mage hand to open the door from a safe distance, and a VERY hungry owlbear burst from the room with wild eyes and a slobbering maw.

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source: Forgotten Realms Wikia

It’s so CUTE but oh man it can KILL you!

Their planning paid off because luckily it was more interested in eating the meats and escaping the castle than tearing their insides out. They were able to move on without harming the captive creature. See kids, you can solve problems without fighting!

They made their way to the last room of the castle to find a large grizzled bugbear named King Grol holding an unconscious Gundren at knife point. He demanded 1000 gold or he would kill Gundren and never tell the group where to find Gundren’s map to the Wave Echo Cave. Being a fairly new adventuring band, they had no where near 1000 gold to pay off King Grol, and with the element of surprise being taken away, there was little hope they could attack before Grol killed Gundren.
Things looking grim, Mordecai pulled off a truly epic move that likely saved Gundren from certain death. He agreed to pay Grol the 1000 gold and proceed to throw a “sack of money” to Grol as payment. As soon as Grol caught the bag, a cloud of two doses of malice poison exploded from the bag blinding Grol instantly…for 8 hours. This massive boss encounter has now been turned into a bugbear madly fumbling around as the group proceeded to hand him his own ass. Sometimes a DM can plan an intricate fight, and then have your boss completely disabled by a clever player. I’m not bitter at all. I swear…

So the group had it made in the shade. No problem. Walk in the park. THINK AGAIN!
As Sky backed up from King Grol to get a good bead on him (rangers shoot things after all), she was suddenly grappled from an unseen assailant. Waiting in a small room to the side of Grol’s quarters, a female drow seized the opportunity to attack as soon as Sky stepped in front of that door. Sky feels the arms wrap around her and a sharp pain in her side. This counted as a surprise attack from the held action of the drow, and as bad luck would have it for the group, the drow’s initiative hit next. She disengaged from Sky, grabbed something from under a close by bedroll, and headed out of the room. Sky was able to perceive that what the drow had grabbed was a map, so the group knew this had to be Gundren’s map to the Wave Echo Cave. Jeez Grol, crap hiding place much?

Mordecai and Kava broke away from the fight to pursue the drow. In Kava’s fast wolf form and Mordecai’s long stride as a hybrid, they were able to keep pace with the drow. The drow could tell that escape was not going to happen, so she turned to fight her pursuers. While this chase was happening, Varel, Mung, and Sky neutralized Grol and stabilized Gundren. Mung went after Kava and Mordecai while Varel and Sky stayed back to cover the interrogation of Grol. The drow attacked Mordecai, stabbing at him with her dagger. When she hit though, she revealed more than she intended. In Mordecai’s hybrid form, he becomes immune to bludgeoning damage, so when he took no damage from what looked to be a slashing weapon, he knew something weird was going on. Before he could really consider it more, Mung arrived and as Kava knocked the map free from the “drow’s” grasp she and Mung began holding the “drow” at bay so Mordecai could grab the map and run. He shifted to his full cat form and proceed to dash far away from the fray.
Seeing Mordecai take off into the castle, the “drow” darted through the door to the hobgoblin barracks and locked Mung and Kava out. As the “drow” ran, Kava did get an attack of opportunity, bit the “drow”, and rolled a good perception; so she noticed the blood of the “drow” was a strange purplish color. What is the deal with this lady? Sky was still holding between the barracks and Grol’s quarters, and I will admit I enjoyed the confusion in the moment I told Delphine “as you wait, Mung comes out of the barracks in front of you”. Now Delphine knows Mung is not in the barracks, but her character has no clue where Mung is currently. Unless she rolls well on insight, so has no idea that is not really Mung. She did not roll well on insight.

The “Mung” grabbed Sky and put his mace to her throat. He shouted demands that her friends return with the map or she would be killed immediately. Mordecai, Mung, and Kava did roll a high enough perception to hear this yell, so they began to return to Grol’s quarters. Mordecai made a quick stop at a grain barrel though and stashed the map before returning. Imagine Mung’s surprise when he came back into the room and saw himself holding Sky captive. As the group was left scratching their heads at this situation, Sky was able to break the grapple and begin attacking the “not Mung, Mung”. At this point it became all hands on deck attacking this creature, and Sky luckily landed the killing blow. As she killed the “not Mung”, she saw the creatures face begin to haphazardly change between multiple visages until it became a mostly featureless purple humanoid and fell dead to the floor. Bum bum buuuuuuum, doppelganger.

Doppelganger-5e

source: Forgotten Realms Wikia

Shifty bastard. ZING

And on that strange note of “what the hell is going on here”, that was where we ended the session. The plot thickens, and our group is left to wonder what they will run into next.

Until the next adventure, Bon Dungeon Eats!

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Recipe: Twice Baked Potato Casserole

This recipe comes straight from my favorite Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, so the recipe can be found here.

One small step I added, when I was finishing the casserole, I turned on the broiler before I took the dish out and let the top brown a little. If you want to brown the top, make sure to keep a close eye on it so it does not burn.

Don’t forget it makes enough to feed an army, so be prepared with a very large mixing bowl for the prep; and when you are mixing, I would add the milk slowly and mix as you go. This will keep you from ending up with an over soupy mix.

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Roasting Chickens and Doors

The Feast / The Adventure / The Recipe

The group that I DM for met to continue their adventures in Phandalin. If you are currently running the D&D Starter Set, beware possible spoilers ahead.

The Feast

I was born and raised in small town Texas, so a large amount of my experience is steeped in southern style cooking. Some southern cooking basics include: cooking with butter, making enough for an army – no matter how many people are coming over, and making sure you say “like my mama makes it” at least four times while cooking.

One of my absolute favorite cooks is Pioneer Woman. She is an amazing cook, hilariously entertaining blogger, and definitely takes southern cooking to another level. Today’s delicious roasted dark meat chicken is based on her recipe here. I added chicken thighs into the mix and tweaked a few things here and there, but this recipe is super easy and leaves you with a tasty chicken dish. The recipe with my added tweaks can be found below.

I was serious though when I said cooking with butter.

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Before you roast the chicken, you basically bathe it in a pan full of butter and spices. I seasoned the butter with seasoned salt, garlic power, and red pepper for a little kick. After thoroughly drowning the chicken limbs in a pool of seasoned butter, I set them on roasting racks and proceeded to brush them with more butter. Seriously, butter on top of butter. I added some black pepper and paprika on top of the butter baste to give the skin some extra flavor.

Speaking of butter, this is the only butter I will ever use now.

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My husband and I went to Ireland last year and were introduced to the joy that is Irish butter. It costs a little more here in the states, but man oh man is it worth the extra coin. I cook and bake with this butter alone now. The taste is way more clean and rich than any processed yellow paste from America. No lie, my chocolate chip cookies became ten times more addictive once I switched to Kerrygold. Dear people of Ireland, thank you for your beautiful country and this heaven in a gold package butter.

So with the power of Irish butter and Pioneer Woman recipes, we ended up with some quite tasty chicken for our heroes’ feast.

Now in our house, you can’t have a feast without bread. I basically married a viking, so meat, potatoes, and bread are a staple for our meals. I have not fully mastered the art of scratch-made yeast rolls yet, so I cheated and bought “Kroger original yeast dinner roll dough”. They make fantastic rolls, so don’t be scared to buy frozen dough. Seriously, all you need is a muffin pan, cooking spray, time enough for the dough to rise, and you guessed it – melted butter for the tops.

Pro tip of the day: If you are ever find your house is just not warm enough to get the dough to rise (yes Texas is cold every great once in a while), a heating pad on a low setting will get those little dough balls on track for dinner.

Another thing about southern cooking is that feasts are always better when you go potluck. You don’t have to shoulder the burden of the whole meal on your own, and you get a nice variety of dishes.
Two of my wonderful adventures brought the best cornbread casserole ever, and some quite tasty (and gorgeous to look at) green beans.

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All in all, it made for a great country style heroes’ feast.

We only use the finest of paper china of course.

Last but not least, never forget the desserts. Maybe it is my inner (and outer) big gal, but you just need something sweet to finish things off. Now I LOVE to bake. My KitchenAid mixer is well loved and definitely well used, but this session my awesome adventures brought the baked goods.

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Whole Foods bakery has some fantastic varieties of cookies and treats. They have made many an appearance at our games. And homemade banana bread, be still my heart. That is one of my favorites, and someone almost earned their way to a DM inspiration die with this delicious loaf of yum.

Of course when you marry a viking, this is what his “dessert” looks like.

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Beast companion Sooba was all to willing to inspect the quality of all food served.

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The Adventure

Once we stuffed ourselves to proper fullness, the adventure began. Since we are all new to this group, let me give you some introductions.

The “Beast” Barbarian
Mordecai Emberbeard
Male Dwarf Barbarian
played by John
The “Trickster” Wizard
Varel Naergel
Male Gnome Wizard
played by Dan
The “Divine” Paladin
Mung
Male Half-Orc Paladin
played by Ross
The “Lost” Ranger
Skylarke Tealeaf
Female Halfling Ranger
played by Delphine
halfling_ranger
Source: RPG Wizzard
The “Bookworm” Druid
Mayastan Kava
Female Dragonborn Druid
played by Shannon
dragonborn_druid
Source: Blogspot
Down with the Redbrands

We started this session immediately after the group had dealt with the Redbrands, the criminal element in Phandalin. They had ventured to the Redbrand hideout to find the leader and run the group out of town.
A little extra back story on our previous session; the last session presented a unique situation for me as a DM. We had two members that needed to step away from our games for a while and two new players that wanted to join the game. It stinks to lose players, but I wanted make sure they could come back one day if they chose to. So my conundrum, hiatus two characters and bring in two new ones all at once. Our bard and monk were mysteriously captured by a magical trap in the hideout, and the group were barred from entering the leader’s study. While looking for another way in, they happened upon our two new characters Mung and Sky in the Redbrand’s dungeon. When they found the leader GlassStaff, instead of fighting the group, he teleported away with the adventurers he had captured, so our players’ characters are still alive but out of game until they group can find them again. Our two new players have also now joined in after being rescued by the group. Problem solved…for now.

After clearing the hideout, freeing our two newest adventurers from the dungeon, and encountering the leader GlassStaff, our team had to decide what to do next. Sky being new to the area asked if this hideout was all the criminal gang had. The Redbrands actually operate out of a tavern at the edge of town as well, so of course Varel suggested they go and finish the gang off and burn their tavern to the ground. Varel is not afraid of some mischief and loves a chance use his fire spells. Varel had managed to take the leader’s glass staff from him before he teleported away, so he suggested he and Mordecai walk through the front door declaring their leader defeated while Sky sneaked in from the second floor balcony and the rest of the group flank from the back of the tavern. In true grand Varel fashion, he walks in the front door with the glass staff in hand proclaiming their wizard leader bested, and Mordecai was in his fully intimidating hybrid weretiger form. Unique quality of Mordecai, he comes from a line of dwarves that have the ability to shift into a large cat form and humanoid weretiger form. It makes for quite an entrance when they are heading into a fight.

weretigerSource: Deviant Art

They definitely surprised the Redbrands in the tavern and took them all out without too much trouble. Mung did have a great moment that had us all laughing. He walks in the backdoor of the tavern and rather than attack, he used the spell Command speaking “repent” to attempt to make one of the thieves turn from his evil ways. Mung is a paladin that actually believes he is the son of The Morning Lord Lathander. He is a half-orc that literally thinks his mother was impregnated by a god. Mung is pretty special. So when the thief succeeded on his constitution save and told Mung to piss off rather than repent, Mung took offense to that. John was about to have Mordecai attack that thief, and Ross asked him to let Mung have that one. He then had Mung punish the Redbrand for his heretical words by way of a morningstar to the head. Don’t blaspheme to Mung, man.

With the Redbands fully wiped out, the group took a cask of ale from the tavern, set the place on fire, and proceeded back to town to celebrate. Picture a dwarf, gnome, dragonborn, half-orc, and halfling walking away from a building on fire all badass style with epic music in the background. They were met by the townsfolk with great appreciation for clearing out the troublesome Redbrands. A night of partying was in order. Varel of course told stories of how he single-handedly took out the Redbands and their leader and showed off his new staff to the ladies. Varel loves any chance to gloat about his triumphs. Mung took this time to speak to the folk in the tavern about the greatness that is Lathander. He wants the world to know about the grace of dear old “dad”. Kava, being the quiet sort, sat back enjoying the sight of it all. The children of the town have been fascinated with her in the past as they had never seen a dragonborn, so before she knew it, she was surrounded by curious kids looking at her in awed reverence. Also, dragonborn tails are apparently the best jungle gym in town.

After a night of well earned revelry, the party rested and immediately set out on the next leg of their journey. GlassStaff after all was just a small fish in the big pond, and they wanted to find out who was orchestrating the woes of Phandalin. The whole adventure started with goblin attacks outside of the town and is culminating to large plot of an unseen evil wishing to claim the long lost mines that once made the town a thriving center. Through intel gathering and a partnership with Sildar Hallwinter, a member of the Lord’s Alliance, the party found their only real lead with in the Cragmaw castle. A long forgotten ruined castle that had become an outpost for goblins, hobgoblins, and other nefarious sort. They hoped here they would find Sildar’s traveling companion Gundren Rockseeker. Gundren is believed to be the last link to finding the Wave Echo Caves and the lost mines.
The group found the castle with no problem and were able to scout an inconspicuous side entrance they felt would give them quiet entrance to the castle. Little did they know that they would face their mightiest foe before they even set foot inside the castle. In true Critical Role like fashion, the group were almost undone by…a locked door. The first approach was to quietly pick the lock. Mordecai is even proficient in lock picking and has the tools. Sadly John rolled pretty low, so Mordecai just could not get the damn thing to open. Sky wanted to try her hand at it, but one low roll and unfamiliarity with how lock picks work led to a broken pick. I am starting to feel bad for them and thinking about lowering the DC on this lock, but then Varel walks up Mr Cocky and says let him try. Low rolls continue and another pick is almost broken. Mordecai has had enough at this point and said screw the stealth and swung his great axe at the door. Unfortunately this is a strong outer door and another low roll…the door was barely nicked. Mung stepped up and took a swing with an axe that deals full damage to wood based creatures. Since the door is not living though, that bonus does not count, and you guessed it, low roll again. The door stands mocking them. Varel gets tired of this all and shoots a fire bolt at the door. Low damage roll leaves the door only lightly weakened, BUT it is on fire now. Mordecai in a fit of rage slams the now lower DC door with his great axe and huzzah they are through. FINALLY IN THE CASTLE.

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An artist I am not, so please know the maps are not very impressive.

Now I know what you are thinking, that much noise to get through the door; something is waiting for them on the other side right? Nope. I rolled perception for every single enemy in the next room every single time they made noise. I kid you not, all 5s and 6s. The MOST unperceptive bunch of goblins you have ever encountered. So the group is expecting their cover to be blown and just waltz into the next room. There are eight, EIGHT, goblins having a meal totally unknowing they are there until that door opened to the dining hall.

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OH, hey guys. How’s it going?

Unfortunately we ran out of time and had to end the adventure at this point. I had an entire castle worth of bad guys ready for the session, and they beat up a door. Gotta love some D&D.

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Next time fellas. Next time.

Now to plan the rest of the castle incursion. This group keeps me on my toes, so I am sure it will be thrilling and require some epic treats.

Until the next adventure, Bon Dungeon Eats!

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Recipe: Roasted Dark Meat Chicken

  • 10 chicken legs with skin
  • 8 chicken thighs with skin
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper (or spicy seasoning of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (or to taste)

Preheat your oven to 400-degrees. Melt your butter in a saucepan and add the lemon juice, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and red pepper. Stir until combined. You can taste the mixture to make sure you have the right garlic/lemon ratio and heat. Add more seasoning as you need to get this mixture the way you like it.

Rinse and pat dry your chicken legs and thighs. With metal tongs, transfer them one by one into the butter mixture and then to a rack over a baking sheet. Once all of the chicken pieces are coated and on the rack, take a pastry brush and coat the chicken pieces one more time. Sprinkle with seasonings of your choice. I used black pepper and a light amount of paprika.

Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, and then check the thigh temperature (165°F is suggested for safely cooked chicken temp). Once the temperature is close to done, turn your broiler on to give them a nice golden color on the skin. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn though. Pull the chicken out of the oven once you are happy with the color and enjoy!