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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Sippin on Gin And Juice: Cucumber Lime Gin Fizz

I can’t drink Craft Beer all the time, IPAs are sometimes too heavy in the dog days of Summer. This is my new favorite cocktail, light, refreshing and delicious.

Cucumber Lime Gin Fizz

1/4  Hot house cucumber

1 Lime

1 jigger Gin ( about 1 1/2 oz)

1 c ice

1 t chopped mint

8 oz club soda

Muddle mint and about 2 T cucumber in the bottom of a glass, add juice from 1/2 a lime ( about 1T) add gin and club soda, stir. Garnish with cucumber and a lime slice.

Cool as a Cucumber Pasta Salad

Cool as a Cucumber Pasta Salad

Cool off this Summer with this refreshing, easy and tasty pasta salad.

Cool as a Cucumber Pasta Salad

8 oz pasta cooked, drained and rinsed

2 cucumbers peeled, quartered and cut into 1 ” pieces

1 T chopped fresh mint

1 T chopped fresh parsley

1 T chopped ginger ( I used the refrigerated pre-minced found in the produce section of my supermarket)

1/2 c sour cream

3 T rice wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste.

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir to incorperate. Chill and serve.

 

Cool as a Cucumber Pasta Salad

Lebanese Please: My New Favorite Food

Lebanese Please:Herb Tossed Salad with Lemon Coriander Dressing and Fried Potatoes with Lemon, Red Pepper and Cilantro

 

On a recent trip to London I was amazed by all the great food. It is not just the land of Fish and Chips and Bangers and Mash. They are utilizing fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients creatively. Also there are many ethnic restaurants that span the globe. I was intrigued by the amount of Lebanese restaurants we found around Kensington. So being the foodie I am we had to try one. After reading about the 5 freshly squeezed lemonades on the menu I was hooked and had to try Comptoir Libanais. I think it might have even been a chain restaurant but it still was delicious. My friend and I shared a Falafel Wrap and Salad, Baba Ghanouj, and a dish called Lebanese Fries. I also had the fresh squeezed Apple, Ginger, and Mint Lemonade. (It is the glass full of green stuff) It was all delicious and so fresh and tasty. The potatoes and the salad were my favorite, though the pickled turnip on the falafel wrap was pretty darn good too. So I came back inspired and wanted my husband to be able to get a hint at the taste and feel of the food.

Comptoir Libanais in South Kensington

I gave it a try and even if it was totally wrong it had the same fresh feel with the emphasis on fresh herbs and citrus which is what I was looking for. Perfect for Summer, I will be making these again and again.

Lebanese Style Fried Potatoes with Lemon, Red Pepper and Cilantro

4-5 cups diced potatoes, I used Yukon Gold

1/2 stick butter

1 lemon juiced

1 t red pepper flakes

2 T fresh cilantro chopped

1 t salt

Melt butter in a large pan over med high heat. Add potatoes and cover and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and stir and cook 15 minutes more or until golden and crunchy on the outside.

Fried Potatoes with Lemon, Red Pepper and Cilantro

 

Add lemon juice and red pepper flakes and toss to coat, cook about 5 minutes more over med heat. Then toss with cilantro and serve.

Fried Potatoes with Lemon, Red Pepper and Cilantro

 

Tossed Salad with Herbs and Lemon Coriander Dressing

Lemon Coriander Dressing

2 T lemon Juice

1 T olive oil

1 t ground coriander

1/4 t black pepper

1/4 t salt

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl, serve over salad.

Tossed Salad with Herbs

4-6 cups of fresh crisp torn greens ( I used hearts of romaine and spring mix)

1/2 c thinly sliced radishes ( Soak the radishes in ice water after slicing that will remove some of the bitterness and make them crisp)

1/2 c grape tomatoes

1 cucumber peeled and sliced

2 T chopped fresh parsley

2 T chopped fresh mint

 

Toss the salad with the dressing and serve immediately, I topped with grilled chicken and served with warm pita bread.

Herb Tossed Salad with Lemon Coriander Dressing

Herb Tossed Salad with Lemon Coriander Dressing

Pinspired: Cucumber and Avocado Summer Rolls

I was looking for a starter to bring to a barbecue at my in-laws. It’s August and its hot as can be here in Florida so I didn’t want to do anything that required an oven. I was stumped so I went on to Pinterest,  and reviewed my boards, I had pinned this Summer Roll recipe from Williams-Sonoma awhile back. It seemed perfect but I have never made Summer rolls before, never used rice paper, so I had my reservations. I couldn’t come up with anything else though so I decided to go for it. I am glad I did. I have to say as long as you prep all the ingredients before hand and follow the instructions it’s pretty easy and the rice paper is much more forgiving that I thought it would be. My husband even rolled a few and had no trouble and he is not a patient man. They were so fresh and delicious, I will be making these again, and again. My only snag was my neighborhood supermarket was out of rice paper ( normally my market has it by the pre-made sushi/fish counter). I had to take a trip to the Asian market, but that was fine, they were super friendly and had several different kinds, their prices were cheaper than the supermarket too.

Cucumber and Avocado Summer Rolls

For the dipping sauce:

juice from 1/2 lime

2 T canola oil

2 T rice wine vinegar

1/2 Dijon mustard

1/2 soy sauce

1 t brown sugar

1/4 t red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl

For the Rolls:

1 package rice paper rounds (I used about 12)

1 head green leaf lettuce, washed, leaves left whole (not iceberg or romaine hearts, it needs to be soft and flexible)

1 bunch basil

1 bunch mint

about 2 c matchstick carrots (or carrots and shred them yourself)

2 haas avocados peeled and diced

2 T lime juice

1/4 t salt

1 english cucumber peeled and cut into matchstick like strips

Prep all vegetables. put into piles or bowl for easy access. For the avocado, toss with lime juice and salt to prevent browning. To cut the cucumber, cut into 4 pieces and then slice into planks

turn on its side

and then cut into thin strips

Get a large sallow pie plate or bowl and fill with warm water, must be big enough to submerge whole sheet of rice paper. Place a clean kitchen towel in front of the water and all prepped ingredients next to it. (I had not yet chopped my avocado in this picture)

Submerge 1 sheet of rice paper into water until pliable, place on towel, submerge 2nd sheet and place directly on top. Each roll will have a double ply of rice paper. Then Place one lettuce leaf on top of paper (tearing if needed to fit) the Horizontally , one row of carrots, one row of cucumber and one row of avocado, then place 2 mint and 2 basil leaves on top.

lift bottom edge of rice paper up and over the filling and roll once to make a tight cylinder. If paper sticks to towel, use water to wet fingers and gently pull off. Fold in the sides of the paper and continue to roll into a cylinder shape, place seam side down on a platter and continue rolling the rest of the rolls, place a wet paper towel between layers to prevent sticking.

Cut on the bias and serve with dipping sauce.

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.

Blueberry and Cucumber Salad with Lime and Ginger Dressing

This healthy and  refreshing Summer salad is punched up with a zip of lime. Delicious as a side to any dinner or add grilled chicken to make this the entrée.

2 c fresh spinach washed and torn into bite sized pieces

2 c romaine washed and torn into bite sized pieces

1 c fresh blueberries

1 cucumber  peeled, halved and sliced

1/4 c sliced roasted almonds

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl

Dressing:

Juice of 2 limes, or about 2 T

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

1 t sugar (or substitute)

1 t minced ginger

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl, pour over salad, toss together

Greek Chicken Pitas with Tzatziki Sauce

GREEK CHICKEN PITAS WITH TZATZIKI SAUCE

This is one of our favorite week night dinners, quick, easy and healthy.

For the chicken

1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breat cutlets

1/2 T Greek seasoning

1/4 c olive oil

2T red wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a shallow baking pan (or large ziplock bag), add chicken and turn until well coated. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 min.

Grill over med heat about 3 minutes per side ( these were very thin cutlets, adjust your grilling time accordingly) or until no longer pink.

Cut chicken into bite size pieces or strips.

GREEK CHICKEN PITAS WITH TZATZIKI SAUCE

Serve over grilled pita with chopped cucumber, tomato, kalamata olives, lettuce, crumbled feta cheese and tzatziki sauce.

GREEK CHICKEN PITAS WITH TZATZIKI SAUCE

Tzatziki Sauce

1/2 c greek yogurt

1/2 c sour cream

1T chopped fresh dill

1/2 t minced garlic

1/4 cucumber finely grated

1/2 t salt

1/8 t pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and chill. Serve with chicken pitas, can also be served with cut up vegetables and pita chips as a dip.