Roll Out the Barrel: Oktoberfest Party

Prost! Today is the first official day of Oktoberfest…

Hollie's Hobbies

Oktoberfest Party: Photo Booth

It was one of my best friends birthday recently so we decided to throw her a birthday party with an Oktoberfest theme. Whats not to like, beer, costumes, and German food.

To start I decorated with some beer and fall things I had around the house, empty bottles, beer steins, burlap runner, dried wheat and fall leaves. I also bought a blue and white harlequin tablecloth ( the official Oktoberfest pattern) from a party store and hung it over a curtain rod in my family room to make a back drop for a ” photo booth”. I had props like steins, lederhosen, German signs and Oktoberfest bibs from the party store. I set my camera on a tripod in front of it and tried to get shots of all the party goers.

I am also very lucky that I have some home brewing friends who made a keg of beer…

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Homemade Spicy Sloppy Joes

Homemade Spicy Sloppy Joes

Easy comfort food with a kick !

Homemade Spicy Sloppy Joes

2 lbs ground beef (use turkey or chicken if desired)

1/2 c chopped yellow onion

1/4 c chopped green pepper

2 t minced garlic

1 12 oz bottle of chili sauce ( I used Heinz)

1 6 oz can tomato paste

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 T hot sauce

1/2 t salt

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1/2 t dried oregano

1 t mustard

1/2 c water

Brown ground beef with onions peppers and garlic over med high until meat is cooked through. drain off excess fat or liquid if needed. add chili sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, cayenne, oregano and mustard, stir to combine and heat through, add water and stir. Turn heat down to low and cook for about 10 minutes. Serve on toasted buns, add arugula and shredded cheddar if desired.

Homemade Spicy Sloppy Joes

Homemade Spicy Sloppy Joes

 

**Leftovers make great nachos, heat, spread on tortilla chips and sprinkle with cheese and sour cream

Parmesan and Cauliflower “Risotto”

Parmesan and Cauliflower "Risotto"

 

My husband is back on the low carb diet so I am back to being creative with cauliflower. This hand mashed cauliflower has the same texture and flavors of a risotto without the rice and carbs. I don’t even think my kids noticed the difference.

Parmesan and Cauliflower “Risotto”

1 head cauliflower cut into florets

1/2 c ricotta cheese

3 T- 1/4 c cream

1/4 cup shredded parmesan

juice of 1/2 lemon ( about 2 T)

salt and pepper

 

Steam or cook cauliflower until fork tender. Drain excess water, Add to a med sized pot and hand mash with a potato masher. Add ricotta, lemon juice, cream (start with 3 T and add more if needed) stir in Parmesan cheese and add salt and pepper to taste. Heat over low until heated through.

Parmesan and Cauliflower "Risotto"

 

Here is a close up of the texture. If you prefer a puree of cauliflower instead just add to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth.

Parmesan and Cauliflower "Risotto"

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Cinco De Mayo is this weekend and I will be in London but here are some recipes for you to enjoy while I am gone.

Spicy Tequila Pulled Pork

Spicy Tequila Pulled Pork

Beer Ritas

Beer-ritas

Chicken Frito Pie

Chicken Frito Pie

Chicken Frito Pie

Cactus Pear Margaritas

Cactus Pear Margarita

Salsa and Guacamole

Homemade Salsa and Guacamole

Calabacitas

Calabacitas

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and here are some ideas for decor

Enjoy!

Red Thai Curry and Chicken Quinoa

Red Curry and Chicken Quinoa

Yes I am jumping on the quinoa band wagon too. Why not, it is easy to prepare, full of protein, and cholesterol and gluten-free. It even tastes better than rice. What is quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah), it is actually a seed but is easily prepared as a grain, like rice. In fact I made mine right in my rice cooker, same amount of water and time as rice too (1 part quinoa, 2 parts water).

quinoa cooked in a rice cooker

It came out, light and fluffy, like a cross between couscous and rice. I added some salt a squeeze of lime and some chopped cilantro.

Since we love curry at my house I made red curry with chicken and served over the top.

Red Thai Curry with Chicken

1 lb chicken cutlets, sliced into thin strips

2-3 T oil

2 c chopped broccoli

1 c match stick or sliced carrots

1/2 c peas

1/2 onion sliced thin

1 t chopped garlic

2 t red curry paste

1 can coconut milk

2 c quinoa

4 c water

2 t cilantro chopped

juice of 1 lime

salt

add quinoa and water to rice cooker and turn on.

Heat a large skillet over med high heat, add 2 T oil, add chicken and onion and cook until browned, add garlic, broccoli and carrots, cook 2 minutes, scoot chicken and veggies to the sides of the pan, making a well in the middle. add curry paste and cook 1 minute, add coconut milk and stir to combine. lower heat to low add peas and cover for about 3 minutes.  When quinoa is done cooking, add lime juice salt and chopped cilantro, serve curry mixture over quinoa.

Red Curry and Chicken Quinoa

Try some quinoa in place of rice or pasta in your favorite recipe.

Tomatillos 101 : Meatloaf with Creamy Tomatillo Gravy

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What’s a tomatillo? Is it a green tomato? I often get asked these questions when checking out at the supermarket. These crazy little husked fruits are actually members of the goose berry family and have a tart taste. Mostly used in latin cuisine, these are the little gems that make salsa verde and the green sauce for enchiladas green. They are actually not ripe when green which makes the taste tart instead of sweeter like its red, purple or brown counterparts.

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To use the husk must be removed, revealing a slightly sticky skin. After removing the husk, skin and seeds are all edible.

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I love to make cream sauces with these because I love the balance of the cream with the tartness. This gravy would also be great on chicken or pork.

Meatloaf with Creamy Tomatillo Gravy

for the meatloaf

2 lbs ground meat ( I used 1/2 pork and 1/2 beef my favorite meatloaf combination)

1 egg

2 T cream

2 T Cholula Hot Sauce (use your favorite)

2T ketchup

2t salt

1t black pepper

1t dried oregano

1 t cumin

2 t chopped garlic

1/2 c bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, place into a baking pan and form into a loaf shape. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

for tomatillo gravy

5 tomatillos, husks removed and chopped

1 c chopped onion

4 garlic cloves chopped

1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth

1 t green hot sauce (optional)

1/2 cream

1/2 t pepper

1/2 t salt

Saute tomatillos and onion in a large pan until soft, add garlic and saute 2 more minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Add cream, salt and pepper and cook for 5 more minutes, puree with a hand blender or regular blender if desired.

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Serve over sliced meatloaf with masked potatoes or rice.

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Cobb Salad, Family Style

I love a good Cobb Salad, it is so easy and so versatile. I like to serve mine in a glass 9×12 pan and serve it family style so that everyone can pick and choose what toppings they like, it’s is kind of like a low carb taco night. Use the ingredients your family likes and serve with a vinaigrette or ranch dressing.

Family Style Cobb Salad

2 heads of romaine hearts chopped into bite sized pieces

2 tomatoes chopped

1 ripe avocado peeled and chopped ( sprinkle with lemon or lime juice to prevent discoloring)

2 cups cooked chicken or turkey chopped ( I used a rotisserie chicken from my stores deli)

6 slices of  cooked bacon chopped

1/2 c blue cheese crumbled ( Use feta or even cheddar if that is your family’s preference)

3 hard boiled eggs chopped

Add lettuce to the pan, top with remaining ingredients, in rows. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. Serve with dressing and tongs so that each person can get the ingredients they desire. This salad is also great for parties and pot lucks.

Easy Mustard Vinaigrette 

2 T olive oil

3 T red wine vinegar

1 t dijon mustard

salt and pepper

whisk together all ingredients, serve over salad.

Greek Stuffed Zucchini

To low carb or not to low carb, that is the question. Yes, I know I lose weight this way, especially belly fat. But sometimes it is unrealistic, I have 2 teen boys, there is no way they are giving up on bread, pizza crust and cookies. My husband wants to, but he loves cereal and beer too much. I don’t think I can ever swear off potatoes for ever. So where does that leave us, weeknight dinners that cut down on the big bad carbs, pasta, white refined sugars, rice, potatoes and bread. We are still keeping fruits and veggies, all types. Beans and legumes are ok in our book. An occasional splurge on weekends and whole grain cereals for breakfast are fine too. I am not saying that we are going on a big strict diet, we are just going to try and incorporate more vegetables into our diets and leave out bad carbs when they are not necessary.

So that brings us to my Greek stuffed zucchini, it has all the flavor of yummy stuffed zucchini, just without the bread crumbs, which don’t add flavor anyway, just filler.

Greek Stuffed Zucchini

3 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise

1/4 cup chopped or grape tomatoes

1 T lemon juice

1 T minced garlic

1 T fresh oregeno

3 oz  feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Using a spoon, scoop out the middle of the zucchini halves and add to a food processor bowl.

Add remaining ingrediants to food processor and pulse until it forms a smooth mixture, Fill the empty zucchini shells with the tomato and cheese filling.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until zucchini shell is tender and filling is bubbling.

Serve as a side dish, snack or appetizer.

WaZoo 2012: A beer festival to benefit Lowry Park Zoo

You should always use your skills to help charity, mine happen to be eating and drinking beer. So a perfect way for me to help out is Lowry Park Zoo’s Annual WaZoo. A beer festival to help raise money for the zoo. Sponsored by our local beer distributor, J. J. Taylor distributing, among others, this is one of the largest beer festivals in our area, with more than 250 varieties to try as well as food from local restaurants. Sounds perfect right?, Well add summer tropical weather to an outdoor event and the outcome can be dicey. I still don’t know why Florida based organizations try to put events on here in the summer, it’s hot, and it rains, a lot. We had a similar problem a couple of weeks ago at the Back to the 80’s Pub Crawl for The Family Network for Disabilities, another monsoon and no back up rain plan. Oh well it’s for charity, and there is beer, life goes on.

The doors opened at 6:45 for VIP tickets, the line was in a word, long. Check in went smoothly but at about 6:55 the skies opened up. So just as everyone was entering, there was lightning, thunder and torrential rain. The beer booths were abandoned, people were huddling under any shelter they could find, and tents were being blown over.

A smart patron opened up a garbage can and pulled out a roll of garbage bags, we followed his lead and made home made rain ponchos from the clear bags, beer drinkers are crafty. By the way mine was much more fashionable and even had a matching hat.

We had VIP passes which meant there was an air conditioned shelter filled with food and beer waiting for us, we just had to get there, too bad it was the furthest point from the entrance. We weaved through the crowd in our homemade rain gear, clutching our tiny tasting mugs. But wait did I see a sign for Dogfish Head 120 min IPA on tap, Whats a little more rain?, I can wait in that line. We did, and savored our baby mug of the rare and delicious brew, I have only had it once before on tap, and it was probably good that a little rain got in my mug because this beer comes in at almost 20% ABV. We ducked and covered in kiddy land to finish it and it was a lucky break for us, one of the volunteers for Unibroue Brewery was giving out rain ponchos, which were much more fashionable and practical than our garbage bag tunics. Also he was having trouble opening the bottle of Terrible, it had a cork like a champagne bottle. Champagne is my specialty, I can open those in my sleep. So after several strong men tried, I easily popped the cork, and was fortunate enough to get a sample of this specialty brew. Normally I am not a fan of these types of Belgium styled Abby beers, but I had never had this one before, it was dark and delicious and 10.5 % ABV. So now the rain isn’t bothering me so much.

We decided to check out a few more beers in the kiddy section, stopped at Beef O’ Brady’s booth and shared a mini cheeseburger under a small hand-held umbrella, very romantic. We finally made our way to the covered shelter in the Beastly Beverage Club sponsored by Blue Moon. There was food and Blue Moon beer, as well as a band, air conditioning and bathrooms. The highlight was Datz’s homemade chips with blue cheese dressing. This is a local restaurant with amazing food and beer selections.

We had also gotten wristbands into the J. J. Taylor Distributing’s private room which was sponsored by Sierra Nevada. This was at the back of the Beastly Beverage Club and had views of giraffes, elephants and other wildlife. We each had a full pour of Torpedo IPA enjoyed it with the giraffes, I also tried their Kellerweiss and Summerfest. Sierra Nevada will always have a special place in my heart, their pale ale was my first foray into hoppy beer. Before that I would drink beer, but never really enjoyed it, after I tasted their pale ale, I wanted more and more hops, sought out craft beers, and turned into the hop head I am today.

The rain had let up so back to the main festival, it was crowded but not too bad and all the volunteers and vendors were back at their stations. We tried a home-brewed Pale Ale from Special Hoperations a local home-brew club, it was fantastic, they promised their IPA would be on in 15 minutes and would be even better, unfortunately that was not true.I found the IPA flat and disappointing, but the Pale Ale was one of the most memorable beers of the night. Also at the event was our hometown brewery, Seventh Sun, always great and creative with their beers. The owners/brewers we there pouring the beers themselves.

As it started to get dark I noticed there were no lights towards the front of the park, what I found out later was that the storm had caused the area to lose power and they were running on back up power and generators. Not so good with crowds of people drinking lots of beer and slippery surfaces. We sampled a couple more like Cigar City and Victory but then decided to call it a night. We made it to the entrance and got a free cab ride home from United Cab service, they offered a ride for free to any lodging or residence in Hillsborough county, very smart. There was a fantastic turn out, and hopefully they raised tons of money. All in all a fun night even with the minor glitches, but please let’s reschedule this for the spring or fall next year.

My Version of a Banh Mi : An Asian Style Meatball Sandwich

If I understand this right, Bahn Mi, means bread in Vietnamese, but it is now widely known as a pork sandwich with pickled vegetables and fresh herbs. There are many variations and can be found in big cities and Vietnamese restaurants, none of which are close to my house. So I needed to give it a try on my own and here is what I came up with. I of course did not have the wonderful crispy baguettes from a Vietnamese bakery so I had to do with what Publix was selling. Still they came out delicious and my family loved them, the combination of spicy, sweet, and savory is all here on one easy sandwich. Wake up your taste buds and give this a try, I will warn you though they can be addictive.

Pork Meatballs

1.5 lbs ground pork or pork and beef mix

1 egg

2 T soy sauce

1 t sriracha sauce ( use hot sauce if this is unavailable)

1 t dried cilantro (or 2T fresh chopped)

1T fresh lime juice

3/4 c Panko Bread Crumbs

Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, wet hands and roll into balls, I used about 2-3 tablespoons of meat mixture per meatball so that it would fit onto my buns.

Cook for 20 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle.

Pickled Vegetable Topping

1 c shredded carrot (or matchstick carrots)

1 cucumber sliced lengthwise with a vegetable peeler (or shredded)

1/2 red onion thinly sliced

2 jalapenos sliced thinly

1/4 t salt

3 T vinegar

2T sugar

Mix all ingredients together in a med sized bowl

Place Meatballs on roll or baguette, top with pickled vegetable mixture and top with fresh chopped cilantro and basil. If you want more heat mix 2 T mayo with 1 t sriracha sauce and spread on roll before serving.