Roll Out the Barrel: Oktoberfest Party

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 especially for our party, delicious!  But this is a great time to taste some of the fall varieties of craft beers like Oktoberfests and Pumpkins.

For appetizers I set up a “Pretzel Stand” I had assorted flavors, shapes and sizes of pretzels and dips to go with them. I even made some homemade Pretzel Bites by following this recipe. http://www.snixykitchen.com/2012/10/24/pretzel-bites-with-four-distinct-dipping-sauces/. I made the dough a day ahead of time and covered it tightly with plastic wrap. then boiled and baked the pretzels the next day. I also found that I needed to add about 3/4 c more flour than the recipe called for to get the dough to be the right consistency but I live in Florida and baking here can be weird.

Oktoberfest Party: Homemade Pretzel Bites

Oktoberfest Party: Pretzel Stand

For dips I made a Sweet and Spicy Mustard Sauce

1 c mayonnaise

3/4 c coarse mustard

2 T  jarred grated horseradish

2 T honey

Oktoberfest Party: Sweet and Spicy Mustard

a Chocolate and Toffee Dip

1 brick cream cheese softened

1/2 c brown sugar

1/4 c white sugar

1/4 c cocoa powder

1/2 c toffee chips (Heath)

1 t vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in a mixer on low until combined.

Oktoberfest Party: Chocolate and Toffee Dip

I also made Beer Cheese Dip using an Oktoberfest Beer instead of an IPA.

To make all of the food seem more festive I labeled them with German names on the tables.

For the main course we had Brats braised in Beer, Rouladen, Oma’s Potato Salad, Saurkraut with beer and apples, and Homemade Cucumber Salad

Oktoberfest Party: Rouladen

Cucumber Salad

4 cucumbers peeled and sliced thin

1 cup sour cream

2 T sugar

2 T white vinegar

1 t dried dill

1 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

Slice cucumbers and place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes, then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl

Oktoberfest Party: Cucumber Salad

Last but not least, everyone’s favorite, cupcakes. My friend made 3 different kinds for our Oktoberfest themed party. Apple Strudel, German Chocolate and Bavarian Cream. ( I will try to get the recipes to post on here)

Oktoberfest Party: Cupcakes

Fun was had by all, the food, beer and company was all delightful. Go on try some of these ideas at your next Fall party and share your tips below.

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Peach and Cream Muffins

Peach and Cream Muffins

My good friend just brought me back a bunch of delicious peaches from Georgia and I wanted to use them before they started to go bad. I made these yummy muffins which are great for breakfasts, snacks or dessert.

Preheat oven to 375

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 white sugar

1T baking powder

Pinch of salt

(Whisk these ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.)

1/2 c of melted butter (cooled slightly)

1c heavy cream

1/4c water

2 large eggs

1/2 of pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 c of fresh peaches peeled and diced

In a bowl whisk together melted butter, cream, eggs, water and vanilla. Get your dry ingredients  and mix together in a large bowl and then make a small”well” in the middle, pour in the wet ingredients and stir by hand until incorporated but not over mixed (there may be some lumps). Add peaches and mix gently. Divide batter into 12 large muffin tins or 18 for smaller snack sized muffins, bake until golden brown about 20-25 minutes (check by inserting a toothpick into the muffin, it should come out clean)

Peach and Cream Muffins

Peach and Cream Muffins

Heels in the Kitchen: Elvis Cookies

Elvis Cookies: Oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip

Today I am wearing heels in the kitchen, special occasion?  No, but 15 months after knee surgery I still look like a 10 year old trying to walk in her mom’s shoes. I am sick of flats, and flip-flops, I want to wear grown up shoes, after all I love shoes and there are too many pairs of heels to count, in my closet, just collecting dust. Maybe I am over thinking it, so I figured if I put them on while I was busy in the kitchen I would forget about the awkwardness and just walk in them. Well, I think it was slightly helpful, next step mopping and gardening in heels, the neighbors (and my family) may think I am crazy but I am getting back in my shoes!

Oh and I made these delicious cookies today, oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip. So obviously I named them Elvis cookies, thank you, thank very much.

Elvis Cookies: Oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip

1 1/2 c flour

1 c sugar

1/2 t salt

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 c butter softened

3/4 c peanut butter

1 egg

2 bananas mashed

1 1/2 c old fashioned oats

1 c mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, butter and peanut butter to a large bowl. Beat on low until ingredients are combined and the mixture starts to crumble. Add egg, bananas and oats, mix until it forms a dough, stir in chocolate chips. use a med ice cream scoop or a heaping tablespoon and place dough on cookie sheets.

Elvis Cookies: Oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip

bake for about 18 minutes or until edges brown and cookies are slightly golden. (my oven is on the slow side so check after 14 minutes)

Elvis Cookies: Oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip

Let cool and enjoy! Makes about 4 dozen

Elvis Cookies: Oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, that figures since I am German. However, I always feel a little Irish this time of year, I think we all do. So celebrate and make these delicious Mocha Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting.  This recipe makes about 10 cupcakes, double it if you are having the whole family over of a party.

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

for the  mocha cake

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 T instant espresso coffee crystals

1 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

3/4 c milk

1/4 c shortening

1/2t vanilla

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350

Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl. Add milk, shortening and vanilla, beat on med speed for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat 2 more minutes.

Pour into muffin tins lined with baking cups. (I use an ice cream scoop, so that they are all filled evenly) Bake for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let Cool.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting

1/4 c butter softened

2 1/2 c powdered sugar

1 T Bailey’s Irish Cream

2 T milk

Cream butter on low-med speed until smooth, add 2 c powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add Bailey’s and milk, beat until smooth. Add remaining 1/4 of powdered sugar slowly until frosting is desired consistency.

Frost cup cakes and sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon if desired.

IMG_7217 IMG_7210

Chicken and Cheese Fondue Sandwiches

Chicken and Cheese Fondue Sandwiches

 

I love pretzels and cheese fondue, ok I love cheese fondue with everything. I would eat cheese fondue for dinner every night but let’s admit it that is really an appetizer. So how to make it into a real dinner….. I will put it on a sandwich, and add some healthier things and hey, its dinner. So I put fondue, chicken, apples, and spinach on a pretzel roll and voila dinner is served. I made my own pretzel rolls because I like to set myself up to fail. I am not a baker, in fact I hate it and I am not very good at it either. I had to make a second batch because the first batch looked like a dog had chewed on all my rolls. The second batch was slightly better and tasted great but from now on these will be an item I get from my bakery.

Chicken and Cheese Fondue Sandwiches

4 large or 8 small pretzel rolls

4  thinly sliced chicken cutlets

1/2 t thyme

1/2 t nutmeg

1T oil

1 apple sliced thin

1 c  fresh baby spinach

2 oz goat cheese

1 c shredded cheddar cheese

1/8 c flour

1 t chopped garlic

1 c white wine, beer or water

Sprinkle the chicken cutlets with the thyme and nutmeg. Heat oil in a skillet and cook chicken for about 3 minutes per side, or until cooked through and no longer pink. Cover with foil and set aside. Add garlic and wine/beer/water to a small sauce pan, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Toss flour with shredded cheese to coat, add to sauce pan with goat cheese and whisk over med.heat until melted and well combined, turn heat to low.

Goat Cheese and Cheddar Fondue

Slice rolls and add chicken spinach and sliced apples, spoon fondue on top and serve. If fondue gets too thick, turn heat up and stir until melted.

I think they were great without the chicken too, so they would be a good vegetarian option.

Chicken and Cheese Fondue Sandwiches

A Nod to My Northern Neighbors: Peach Pecan Pie

 

It’s that time of year here in Florida where you can’t drive on a major road and not see a sign for fresh Georgia peaches. We are lucky to be a neighboring state. Georgia also grows delicious pecans so I decided to try to use them both in a dessert. My oldest son’s favorite dessert is pecan pie which he usually gets only once a year at Thanksgiving, so I decided to lighten it up with the fresh peaches and make it into a summer dessert. Turned out delicious and best of all this recipe doesn’t contain any corn syrup.

Peach Pecan Pie

1 9″ ready to bake pie crust

2 eggs

1/2 c melted butter

2 T flour

1 c brown sugar

1 T milk

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t salt

3/4 c pecans

1 c fresh peeled and diced peaches

Beat eggs with a whisk in a large mixing bowl, add melted butter and continue whisking. Stir in flour, sugar and salt. Add milk and vanilla and then stir in peaches and pecans.

Pour into pie shell and bake 45 minutes. Tent with foil if crust starts to get too brown.

 

It is done when sides are set and there is only the slightest jiggle in the middle

 

Let cool and serve with whipped cream if desired

 

Salted Caramel Brownies

Cheater, Cheater Pumpkin Eater. No one has to know how easy these brownies are, they look elegant and delicious and you can pretend you slaved over them all day. Best thing is they start with a brownie mix, I used Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge but please use the brownies of you choice.

Bake the brownies according to the directions and let cool.

Salted Caramel Topping

1/4 c butter

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 regular whipping cream

1/2 t sea salt

Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in sugar and cream.

Bring to a simmer and continue cooking over med. and whisking occasionally until it has thickened and turned a caramel color, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in 1/4 t sea salt.

Let carmel cool slightly, pour over brownies and cool or put in refrigerator until carmel has hardened. Sprinkle with remaining sea salt, cut and serve.

No Stress Breakfast: Bacon and Egg Cups with Goat Cheese, Arugula, and Tomatoes

I am not a fan of breakfast, not because I don’t like to eat it, just because I am not a morning person. Also it can be hard to get everything ready on time to feed a whole family or god forbid guests. I feel like a harried short order cook with a huge mess in my kitchen. It can ruin my whole day. This is an easy way to serve a crowd or just make ahead for the week to save you time and stress.

Bacon, love it probably more than any other food, but it can be messy. When I was a young bride I was not such a great cook and I tried making bacon in a fry pan on the stove, what a mess, it doesn’t really fit in the pan, and it never cooks evenly. Who wants to stand over the stove with grease flying at you? Then there is the microwave, sure it cooks but your oven is covered in a layer of grease that will take forever to clean, there goes the 5 minutes you saved choosing that method of cooking. For whatever reason one day I tried it in the oven, why had I not ever tried this before? There was no mess, no standing like a slave to the cook top and guess what it came out better and more evenly cooked. Not to mention you can make a whole pound at one time if you are feeding a crowd or in my case a family of 4, who loves bacon.

Lay your slices on a heavy-duty sheet pan with sides. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Take out and drain on paper towels. My family likes it “well done” this was cooked for about 17 minutes.Unused bacon can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag and reheated in the microwave for 30 seconds or warmed in a skillet pan.

For the Egg Cups:

8 eggs

3T half and half or milk

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1/4 t black pepper

1/2 t salt

3 T creamy goat cheese

1/2 c chopped arugula

1/2 c chopped tomatoes

Grease or spray a 6 muffin tin. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a large bowl add eggs, spices, goat cheese and half and half, whisk until combined.

Pour into muffin tins, I used a large ice cream scoop. Then add about a tablespoon of tomatoes and a tablespoon of arugula to each cup. and stir with a fork.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until eggs are set. Eggs will rise but with deflate when removed from the oven. If you are worried about spillage in your oven, place muffin tin on a cookie sheet before baking. You can put any uneaten cups in a large freezer bag  and place into the freezer for future use.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Cookies: Lemon Cranberry Cookies

The leftover produce of the week was lemons. I do have a great Strawberry and Lemon muffin recipe, but this time I decided to make cookies. They came out more like a shortbread than a sugar cookie, delicate and crumbly with just the right amount of lemon. These would also be good with dried blueberries or cherries.

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1cup sugar

1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 T)

1 large egg

1/4 c fresh lemon juice

1 T lemon zest

1 c dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)

Preheat Oven to 375

In a med sized mixing bowl stir together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl beat together room temp butter and sugar. Add egg, lemon juice and zest, then slowly add the flour mixture while beating on low/med speed. Stir in dried cranberries (or other fruit).

Roll into 2 inch balls and press flat on a an ungreased cookie sheet (use a silpat if available) with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.  Bake until golden on the edges about 9-11 minutes.

Strawberry and Meyer Lemon Muffins

ImageIt’s Strawberry season and we always are left with some in the refrigerator that are kind of on their way out. So to prolong their life a little I try to incorporate them into recipes. My kids love these muffins for breakfast or an after school treat.

Preheat oven to 375

 

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 white sugar

1T baking powder

Freshly ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt

(Whisk these ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.)

1/2 c of melted butter

1c of whole milk 

2 large eggs

1 T of grated Meyer Lemon Zest

1T Meyer Lemon Juice

1/2 of pure vanilla extact

1 1/2 c of fresh clean strawberries sliced

 

In a bowl whisk together melted butter, milk, eggs, zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Get your dry ingredients and make a small”well” in the middle, pour in the wet ingredients and stir by hand until incorporated but not over mixed (there may be some lumps). Add sliced strawberries and mix gently. Divide batter into 12 large muffin tins (I use and Ice cream scoop for even sized muffins) bake until golden brown about 25 minutes (check by inserting a toothpick into the muffin, it should come out clean)