Today’s Holiday Recipe: Cranberries Gone Wild Dip!

Today’s featured holiday recipe is Jean Eppler’s now-famous Cranberries Gone Wild party dip. Jean took top honors in our contest last year In Search of the Perfect Party Dip, and her wonderfully-named party dip quickly became a holiday hit among our readers, many of whom wrote to let us know that they were serving it at their holiday parties.

Jean’s dip is easy to make, full of great flavor (most people just can’t believe they’re eating fresh cranberries!), and with its gorgeous red and green colors makes the perfect addition to a Christmas buffet. Jean recommends serving this dip with Tostito’s Lime Tortilla Chips and a Lime Margarita, and we agree – they are the perfect complement to Cranberries Gone Wild. Thank you, Jean!

Congratulations to Jean Eppler and her Cranberries Gone Wild Dip!



Time: 15 minutes prep + 4 hours refrigeration

12 oz.  package fresh cranberries
1 bunch  green onion, chopped
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper
1  1/4 C sugar
1/4 heaping tsp. cumin
2 T fresh lime juice
dash kosher salt
2  8 oz packages whipped cream cheese

1. Chop cranberries in a food processor.

2. Chop up your green onion, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper into small pieces.

3. Add all ingredients (but the cream cheese and lime chips) into a bowl. Mix them all
together, cover and store in the fridge for at least 4 hours. The sugar needs some time to soak into the cranberries and break up their bitter taste.

4. When you are ready to serve, spread your cream cheese on a platter.

5.  Pour your cranberry mixture over the cream cheese.

6.  Spread it all around.

7.  Serve  with lime chips

A lime margarita tastes great with this dip!

Submitted by Jean Eppler of Fargo, ND

Today’s Holiday Recipe: Panettone Bread Pudding

It’s December 1st, and for the next 24 days we’ll be featuring a different holiday recipe for you here on our blog. Today’s recipe features a traditional Italian fruitcake called Panettone, which originated in the city of Milan. Not to be confused with our American version of fruitcake, Panettone is a light, moist, flavorful cake more like a bread, with candied orange peel, lemon zest and raisins. It is wonderful served in slices after a meal, or even for breakfast. On this occasion, however, Tony uses it to spice up a traditional comfort dessert, with his recipe for Panettone Bread Pudding.

“Panettone is the King of Christmas Cakes in Italian culture,” Tony says. “In Etobicoke, the Toronto neighborhood where I grew up, the grocery stores and bakeries would be stacked with huge displays of Panettone. Big, bright boxes in every color, tied with fancy ribbons, all ready to give to your friends and loved ones. To me, Panettone signifies, hey, Christmas is here now.”

“Bread pudding is a popular dessert found in many countries, and originated as a way to use leftover bread.” Tony says. “I like using the Panettone for this recipe, because the bread is already filled with the flavors of the holiday season.”

“We use bread pudding in both savory and sweet dishes at Sarello’s,” Tony says. “But what I like about bread pudding even more than its versatility, is how easy it is to make .”

Soaking the Panettone in the wet ingredients before baking ensures that every piece of bread is moist. To further ensure the outcome, place your baking dish in a water bath to prevent the bread pudding from burning, curdling or drying out during baking.

For this occasion, we served the bread pudding with fresh berries and a dollop of vanilla gelato. But you can also enjoy it with our homemade Caramel Sauce.

With only 23 shopping days left before Christmas, keep your baking schedule easy and fun with these simple, yet crowd-pleasing, recipes. To get today’s recipes, just click on the link provided below.


Tony’s Panettone Bread Pudding

7 large eggs

1½  cups heavy cream
1½  cups milk
1 tbsp. honey
½ cup sugar
1½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ lbs. Panettone, cut into cubes

Early Preparation: Pre-heat oven to 300° F

Combine the eggs, cream, milk, honey, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the Panettone cubes and mix together. Cover with a damp towel and let the mixture soak for 30 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Place the baking dish into a larger pan (like a roasting pan), and fill with hot water until it reaches half-way up the sides of the baking dish. This water bath will help to prevent burning, drying out or curdling of the mixture.

Bake at 300° F for one hour. When ready, the top should have a nice, golden crust. Place a toothpick into the center of the dish to test for doneness. Remove from oven and allow to cool for fifteen minutes before serving, if serving warm.

To Serve: Cut into squares, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with ice cream and fresh berries. Or drizzle some of Homemade Caramel Sauce over the top for some added comfort.

To Store: Wrap tightly with plastic or place in an airtight container for up to 5-7 days. Reheat in the microwave to warm it up before serving.

Leftover Cranberry Sauce? Make Baked Brie in Puff Pastry!

Ten years ago my dear friend, Karen Seljevold, read an article in The Forum which stressed the need for donations to our local food pantries as winter approached. Moved by the story and never one to shy away from a good cause, Karen reached out to her friends Linda Lamb and Jenni Monson and said, “We should do something.” The three ladies brainstormed ideas and the Pantry Party was born, with Gina Kraushaar joining the group as a fellow host a few years later.

The annual party is hosted in their homes, trading off between the friends from year to year. Dozens of women are invited to attend the party with the intention of coming together to enjoy food, wine and friendship, and all they ask in return is that each guest makes either a monetary or non-perishable donation to the Fargo Emergency Food Pantry.

I remember attending my first Pantry Party several years ago before they began accepting monetary donations, when the evening would end with several rooms packed to the hilt with bags and boxes of non-perishable food donations. The entire house was literally filled with food. There was no way you could leave a party like that without feeling warm and fuzzy, knowing that you’d joined others in doing good.

Karen estimates that there were several hundred pounds of food collected each year before they also began encouraging cash donations. The bulk of the gifts are now monetary and, while I miss the visual dynamic of all that food, I love knowing that the pantry can make our dollars stretch much further than our food donations. This year alone, Karen expects their cash contributions to exceed $1,800, in addition to dozens of bags of food.

“When you get an idea and have great people around you, it’s easy to do something like this,” Karen said. I’d argue the easy part, as planning a party for 30 to 50 women is never a simple task, but I understand the sentiment. Everyone has a good time at this party, including the hostesses.

Like any great party, there is no shortage of delicious food at this event, and this year the star of the appetizer buffet was Karen’s baked brie in puff pastry. When I asked her for the recipe she rolled her eyes and said, “This is way too simple for you, Sare. It’s a brick of brie cheese covered in raspberry jam and wrapped in puff pastry. Seriously, there’s nothing to it.” Yet, it was the dish everyone was talking about and returning to for more. 

And hey, aren’t we all looking for that one dish that impresses everyone, with minimal effort on our part? I jazzed it up today by adding candied pecans and homemade cranberry sauce instead of jam (great way to use leftovers), but Karen’s version was just as satisfying. “Who knew cheese could taste this good?” exclaimed Dave Wallis, our Forum photographer.

RECIPE: Baked Brie in Puff Pastry Appetizer 

RECIPE: Sarah’s Homemade Cranberry Sauce

And the Winner of the Great Sarello’s Soup-Off Is…

The Great Sarello’s Soup-Off has come to a close and, with 122 votes cast over two days of tasting last week at Sarello’s, one soup reigned victorious.  While our voters enjoyed all five of our featured finalists’ soups, in the end there was no stopping the juggernaut that was Tom Shorma’s Walleye Chowder, which received an impressive 54 percent of the vote.

We congratulate Tom for his original use of a favorite regional ingredient which both surprised our voters in its creativity, and delighted them with its wonderfully delicious local flavor. People were positively gushing about Tom’s walleye chowder which, with its lovely red color, will cut a pretty picture when served in the soup bowls which were graciously offered as our grand prize by our friends at Prairie Fire Pottery in Beach, ND.

An avid foodie, Tom is also a passionate outdoorsman and experienced fisherman, both on the lakes of Minnesota and in over 30 fly-in fishing trips to Canada. Tom told us that he serves as the “head chef” in their group of six to eight fishermen, and is responsible for cooking up fresh walleye two to three times each day, for four days straight. Tom approaches this culinary challenge with enthusiasm, making it his goal to give the group as much variety as possible.

Some of Tom’s features include the traditional shore lunch, Cajun walleye and even walleye tacos. But Tom said that each year the party favorite ends up being his personal favorite, and after tasting Tom’s walleye chowder in last week’s Soup-Off our voters gave it their endorsement, too.

Tom’s chowder is a clever twist on a traditional Manhattan clam chowder, which has a tomato based broth as opposed to the thick and creamy classic New England chowder. When submitting his entry, Tom advised us of the factors he considered when creating his chowder, which included easy preparation and ingredients that can be found in most any local grocery store.

He even recommended looking for ingredients that are already cubed or chopped, which shortens the amount of prep time. Tom also takes the time to pre-measure all of the spices, which he puts in a small container to pack for the trip.

With both a daughter and mother-in-law requiring a gluten-free diet, Tom said that his chowder is easy to modify to accommodate their needs, and even included these tips in his recipe.

While Tom’s walleye chowder was the star of the Great Sarello’s Soup-Off, our voters raved about all five of our finalists’ featured soups. To select our finalists among the dozens of recipe entries we received, we looked for soups that were unique to each other and different from what we typically offer at Sarello’s. Any one of these soups would be a welcome addition to our menu.

Finishing in second-place is Michelle Erdmann of Fargo, with her recipe for Italian Sausage and Cheese Tortellini Soup with Spinach (Gio’s favorite), affectionately dubbed “Ogre Stew” by her coworker’s children who noticed that the shape of the pasta resembles Disney-character Shrek’s ears.

Third place honors go to Renee Crary of Detroit Lakes, with her elegant and creative blend of white and black beans called Tuxedo Bean Soup. Our runners-up, both hailing from Fargo, are Kristen Berg Rheault’s Valley Borscht and Sarah Ann Miller’s Beer Cheese Soup. All of the entries can be found on our blog at

Whether you submitted a recipe, cast a vote, or contributed a prize for our winners, we are grateful to everyone who participated and helped make the Great Sarello’s Soup-Off such a success.

Tom Shorma’s Walleye Chowder

Michelle Erdmann’s Italian Sausage & Cheese Tortellini Soup with Spinach

Renee Crary’s Tuxedo Bean Soup