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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Graduation Party Revisited

Graduation Party Ideas

I can’t believe it has been a whole year since my oldest graduated from high school. He has now completed his first year of college and is working part time. He votes, pays taxes and insurance and is a true adult in everyone’s eyes but mine, to me he is still my baby. As I see many parents getting ready to celebrate their own children’s accomplishments and graduations I decided to revisit some of the highlights from last year’s graduation party and post them here.

For decorations we did all of our sons school and baby pictures under a sheet of clear plastic on the table, it was fun to reminisce and see all the crazy hairstyles he went through as a preteen. We also rolled the napkins into diploma shapes and tied them with black ribbons. Then made little stacks of them around the table.

Graduation diploma napkins

For food we incorporated his favorite food, chips and set up a chip and dip bar. We set out various types of chips and dips in different bowls plates and cake stands and let everyone mix and match.

Chip and Dip Bar

Don’t worry we also had vegetables for dipping.

Veggie platter

Some dip ideas are… ( click on the link for the recipes)

Salsa and Guacamole

Bacon Horseradish

Kalamata Olive

Beer Cheese

Goat Cheese and Marinara

Sweet Potato Hummus

Pimento Cheese

Also you could include some dessert dips

Creamy Reese’s Peanut Butter Dip

Key Lime Pie Dip

I was lazy and let Publix make the cake, but this book cake would be pretty easy to replicate using 2 different sized rectangular or square pans.

Publix's Book Style Graduation Cake

Congrats to all who graduated and the people that helped them get there, have fun celebrating this momentous occasion.

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus …..with Beer!

Yes another pumpkin recipe, gotta get them in while I can. This one is a spicy earthy dip perfect on Pretzel Crisps or Pita Chips. Beer can be omitted just add more olive oil., or try your favorite style instead, stout, pumpkin beer etc..)Bring this to your next fall gathering.

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus

1 can garlands beans (chick peas)

1 can pure pumpkin

4 garlic cloves

2t chipotle chili powder

1/2 t cumin

1/2 t  ground ginger

1 t cinnamon

1 t salt

3-4 T olive oil

2 T honey

1/4 c beer ( I used an IPA, Lancaster Brewing’s Hop Hog to be exact)

2 T lemon juice

1 T pepitas

Combine all ingredients except pepitas in a food processor. Whirl until smooth, taste, add salt or olive oil if necessary. Pour into serving bowl, top with 2 T olive oil, pepitas and a sprinkle of chipotle chili powder.

Pinspired: Sweet Potato Hummus

I love, love, love, Pinterest. I get so many great ideas and recipes there. When I saw this on the site I knew I had to try it. Smoky sweet potato hummus was originally found on www.blissfulbblog.com and thankfully someone pinned it. I had a book club meeting for Saving C.C. Honeycutt and knew this would be a perfect dish to bring, but I made a double batch so I could take it to a family gathering the next day. It was a hit at both events.

This is the recipe I used since I was making a large amount, but make sure to check out the original recipe here:

4 sweet potatoes

1 lg can 19oz of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 chopped chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce)

2 garlic cloves

the juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste found in the ethnic food section of the supermarket)

salt and pepper

Wash and pierce the sweet potatoes several times with a fork. Bake the sweet potatoes for 1 hour on a baking sheet lined with foil. Cut in half and scoop out the potato into a food processor. add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. You may add more olive oil or water to get it to your desired consistency. Top with smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil before serving.

Taking Taco Night Up a Notch, Homemade Salsa and Guacamole

Sure I used to eat jarred salsa when I was a kid, I think I even liked it, but once I found out how easy it was to make my own I have been doing it ever since. Simple, fresh and delicious, try making your own for this weeks taco night.

Gather your ingredients:

3 ripe tomatoes , cut into quarters

1 T lime juice

3/4 of a medium sized, red onion (ratio of tomatoes to onion should be about 3 to 1), cut into quarters

1/2 jalapeno, sliced (I used 1/2 because this was a big one from my garden, use as much as you want depending of your spice tolerance)

2T of fresh cilantro

1t salt

Add tomatoes, lime juice, onion, and jalapeno to a food processor, pulse until chopped and combined, add cilantro and salt and do about 4 more quick pulses.

Pour into a bowl and let sit at room temp at least 15 min before serving.

That was easy, now don’t even clean up, were making Guacamole.

Cut 3 Avocados in half, remove pit and scoop into food processor (its ok if there is some salsa left in it)

add 1/2 cup of your already prepared salsa

add 1/2 tsp lime juice

salt and pepper to taste

Pulse ingredients until smooth and incorporated

Voila, now you have homemade guacamole too. Serve guacamole immediately or cover tightly and put into the refrigerator,

Happy Easter, Bunny Spinach Dip

I cheated but hey it’s a holiday, we can’t always be creative. I used the tried and true spinach dip recipe, but took it up a notch by making a bunny bread bowl. I think it turned out pretty cute and besides why mess with perfection?

Here’s how to make the dip:

1 10oz package chooped frozed spinach thawed and squeezed dry

2c Sour Cream

1c mayonaise

1 envelope vegetable soup mix

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill for at least one hour.

To assemble:

Hollow out the middle of a round sourdough loaf

Cut one loaf french bread in half for the ears, use bamboo skewers to attach to bread bowl

Add Spinach dip to Bread Bowl

Use Grapes or Olives for Eyes

Use Chives for Whiskers

Use Grape Tomato for Nose

Serve with raw veggies and torn bread

Beer Cheese Dip

Image

Beer Cheese Dip

Let’s start with an easy one. This is an all time crowd pleaser and one of my most requested recipes.

2  8 oz packages of Cream Cheese (slightly softened)

4-5 scallions trimmed and chopped

1  1oz package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 bottle of beer (I used Drifter Pale Ale,using different beers will give the dip different flavors, just make sure your beer has flavor, I am a hop head and prefer pale ales and IPAs, but Stouts work nicely too)

Put all the ingredients into a a large food processor until combined. Transfer to bowl and serve with Veggies, Kettle style chips and Pretzel Crisps ( I prefer the original and sesame flavors with this dip)