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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Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken

 

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken

4 chicken breasts

1 c mexican creama, found in the dairy section  ( or 3/4 c sour cream and 1/4 c mayo mixed)

2 chipotle chilis in adobo chopped

1 1/2 c queso fresco (mexican cheese found in the dairy section), crumbled

 

Preheat oven to 350, mixed chopped chipotle chilis with crema in a shallow bowl/dish. Crumble queso fresco onto a plate or shallow dish. Dredge chicken breast in creama mixture, then dredge into cheese and place in a baking pan.

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken

Bake for 30 minutes or until chicken in no longer pink ( use a meat thermometer)

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken

 

A great accompaniment to this dish is a Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad. Mix one bag cooked frozen corn with 1 c chopped cherry tomatoes and 1/2 chopped avocado. Add 1 T chopped cilantro. Squeeze the juice from half a lime over the top and add salt and pepper.

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad

It’s that time of year!: Pumpkin Vinaigrette

Pumpkin Vinaigrette

I love fall and even though it’s not quite here yet I couldn’t resist making something with pumpkin. This is just the beginning, stay tuned for more pumpkin recipes or try these.

Pumpkin Vinaigrette

2T pumpkin puree

1/4 c apple cider vinegar

3 T olive oil

1 t honey

salt and pepper to taste

add all ingredients to a blender and mix until smooth ( you could also wisk by hand)

Pumpkin Vinaigrette

 

Food Trend: Burrata Cheese Salad with Basil Honey Vinaigrette

Burrata Cheese Salad with Basil Honey Vinaigrette

 

Burrata cheese is popping up on menus all over town. What is it? Pure indulgence, it is fresh mozzarella cheese filled with shredded mozzarella cheese that has been soaked in cream. Here is my recipe for a delicious salad using the best that summer has to offer. Make sure you use good ripe tomatoes for this recipe.

Burrata Cheese Salad with Basil Honey Vinaigrette

makes 1 dinner or 2 appetizer portions

For the vinaigrette

2 T fresh Basil leaves

1 T honey

2 T balsamic vinegar

1 T olive oil

salt and pepper

Mix the above ingredients in a blender until smooth.

 

Salad

1 vine ripened tomato sliced

1 c spring mix greens

2 T thinly sliced radish

2 t sliced fresh basil

1 T pepitas ( roasted pumpkin seeds)

1 ball Burrata cheese

Layer greens, and tomatoes on a plate, sprinkle sliced radishes, pepitas and chopped basil on top. drizzle with Basil Honey Vinaigrette and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Burrata Cheese Salad with Basil Honey Vinaigrette

Burrata Cheese Salad with Basil Honey Vinaigrette

 

Mexican Corn Salad

Mexican Corn Salad

A smokey, sweet, fresh and zesty side to go with steaks or grilled chicken.

Mexican Corn Salad

5 ears of fresh corn on the cob,husks and silk removed

1 T olive oil

1/4 c crema ( a mexican sour cream found in the dairy section) or 3 T sour cream and 1 T mayo

1/4 t smoked paprika

zest of 1 lime

juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup crumbled Queso Fresco ( mexican crumbling cheese) you could substitute Parmesan or Feta but use less as they are stronger cheeses

1 T chopped parsley or cilantro

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 Drizzle olive oil over corn and rub in ensuring all sides are coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. roast for about 20 minutes or until corn starts to char.

IMG_8771

Let corn cool so you are able to handle it and remove niblets from cob with a sharp knife. Mix together with remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

* you could grill the corn as well, that was my intention before it started pouring down rain.

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

Memorial Day Weekend Menu

Looking for some new recipes to celebrate your long weekend. Here are some of my favorites.

Oma's Potato Salad

Oma’s Potato Salad

Red White and Blue Strawberries

Red White and Blue Strawberries

Red, White, and Blue Salad

Red White and Blue Salad

Barbecued Orange and Jalapeno Ribs

Orange and Jalapeno Ribs

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

Oma’s Potato Salad

Oma's Potato Salad

I was not sure I would ever post this recipe here. It is kind of a family treasure. My Oma (grandmother in German) would make this for every family gathering, it was our favorite, and now my mom makes it for all the special occasions. Everyone I know who has tried it loves it, it is so simple but so good. It is not the traditional warm German potato salad, we never had that, this was the only potato salad I ever knew until I was a teen. I have tried adding some other ingredients or doing it a little different but it is just not the same. It has to be made just the way Oma taught me.  So I have been sitting on this recipe not sure if it was a sacred family secret, and then my mom asked me to share it (said it would be perfect for Summer barbecues) so I guess it is ok to let the family treasure out of the bag. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Oma’s Potato Salad

5 lbs red skinned potatoes

1 c mayo

1 c  dill pickles chopped, **only use Claussen or other high quality refrigerated pickles

1 cup red onion chopped

1/2 c of the juice from the pickle jar

salt and pepper

Boil unpeeled red potatoes whole in salted water until they are cooked through. Use a fork to test doneness. Drain and wait until the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm (very important).  Peel and cut into bite sized pieces and place into a large bowl. while the potatoes are still warm pour 1/2 or the pickle juice over the top ( 1/4 c) When the potatoes are warm they absorb the pickle juice like a sponge, much like salting fries when they are still warm. Stir in the mayo, chopped pickles and onions and rest of the pickle juice. stir until combined and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve. ( Although my son likes it best when it is still a little warm)

Oma's Potato Salad

Oma's Potato Salad

Roasted Succotash Salad

Roasted Succotash Salad

Roasted Succotash Salad

This is bursting with flavor and super easy to make.

Roasted Succotash Salad

1 box frozen corn, thawed

1 box frozen lima beans, thawed

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes halved

1 T chopped fresh basil

Olive oil

lime juice (from 1 lime)

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, toss corn and lima beans with about 1 T olive oil. I do this in a colander so I don’t use any excess oil. Place on a sheet pan and season with salt and pepper. Roast veggies for about 15-20 minutes or until corn get brown on the edges. Add to a mixing bowl with tomatoes, basil and squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the top, season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Great warm or room temperature so it’s perfect for pot lucks.