So even though I’ve written extensively about our soft pretzel experiments, I dropped off blogging this past week because I was up to my elbows prepping for our Oktoberfest party (and, you know, doing *real* work too :P). In my excitement for the party, I also did not take as many pictures of the food as I thought I would. It was definitely a party-food adventure! I also marveled a bit about how different this party was than the last one I hosted with my roomie years ago (let’s just say there was more kegs and fewer babies lol), but we had nothing but fun the whole night. Even Onyx (our kitty) enjoyed herself.
Mr. Foodie and I were only too happy to show off our winning pretzel recipe which still doesn’t resemble ball-park pretzels, but tastes delicious. We made bacon-wrapped potatoes which are the easiest thing in the world – just cut up a pack of bacon and wrap each small potato, securing the bacon with a toothpick. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes. They are great warm, but also at room-temperature which is always preferable for party food. I also chopped up some bratwurst and bought some new mustards for variety.
For appetizers and finger foods, I went with one oldie, but goodie–deviled eggs–and two new (to me) dishes: kale chips and roasted chickpeas. Is there any party food better than deviled eggs? I don’t think so. They are always the first to go no matter what else I’m serving. My deviled egg recipe is unfussy, but so tasty. I put eggs in room temp water to cover, bring to a boil, boil for 8-9 minutes, drain and fill with cold water, add ice, and let cool. This method makes fairly consistent, perfect boiled eggs (and if you do see the little green ring around the yoke, who cares? It still tastes great). I mash the yokes with a fork, add a few spoonfuls of mayonnaise and tablespoons of spicy brown mustard, mix together and scoop or pipe the filling into the egg whites. Then I top with a dash of cayenne pepper–not paprika, although that is good as well. I LOVE the slow heat of cayenne with the creamy-tangy egg mixture. It’s everything you love about deviled eggs without tasting overly salty, creamy, or sharp.
If you haven’t noticed yet, I love Kale. I am definitely on that bandwagon. I use it in smoothies, in soup, I even put it in our omelettes this morning. I like it because of its bitterness which pairs well with a lot of dishes. And of course it has great nutritional value. But I had yet to make the crisp Kale chips I enjoyed at a friend’s party many years ago. And they are SO easy. Basically pull the leaves off the stems and cut into bite sizes, spread on a baking sheet and either drizzle with olive oil or spray with olive oil cooking spray (the easiest), massage into leaves and sprinkle sea salt and garlic powder over all. Bake at 300 for 15-20 minutes (there is major disagreement about oven temp and cooking time for kale chips throughout the interwebs – I recommend trying different temps and cooking times to achieve the crispiness you want).
The Roasted Chickpeas were a hit! I used canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried on paper towels. Then you spread them out on a baking sheet to roast (I recommend putting something under them for easier cleanup). Roast at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until they are roasted through. They should be crunchy, but not burnt. While they’re cooking, mix together olive oil, sea salt, garlic powder, and lemon zest. As soon as the chickpeas are done, drop them in the oil mixture and toss to coat. Spread them out again to let the seasoning stick to them. After they cool, you can eat them with your hands. This crunchy, salty treat is elevated by the lemon flavor!
Normally, I do not recommend trying to make a new recipe for party because chances are, you are not paying as careful attention to the dish as you normally would and sometimes it takes two (or three or four) tries to get it right. Welp, I ignored myself and tried to make two versions of beer cheese soup for this party – one stovetop and one slow cooker). Both were spectacular fails. Why did I suppose beer cheese soup would be easy? I mean, I make soup all the time, but apparently including cheese causes massive issues. And because I’ve never successfully made it, I still do not know exactly what went wrong both times. Maybe it was the cheese I was using, or the heat level, or the liquid to solid ratio. It is a mystery. I will say that the slow cooker version smelled and tasted better, but it still wasn’t the thick, cheesey soup that it should be. Oh well, #soupgoals.
Everyone went home with a sweet treat – our gingerbread cookies with royal frosting! Mr. Foodie and I had a blast. With the wedding coming up it means a lot to us to take some time out and reconnect with friends!