Sunday, October 22, 2017

Oktoberfest Celebration

We celebrated 11 years of monthly dinners with an Oktoberfest theme full of beers and brats.  Even though I am not a beer drinker, I have always thought an Oktoberfest theme would be fun, and when I saw the fun decorations from Oriental Trading, I was inspired!  I didn't completely swap out the wine for beer at this party, but I did incorporate beer into the recipes and decor.

Invite:  I created the invite on Photoshop. I used the classic design of blue and white diamond checks of the Bavarian flag and partnered it with a bright yellow.

Entry Decor:  Oriental Trading has a blue and white diamond checks bunting, that I decorated my door and tables with.  While it would have made great bunting decor, I cut the single piece of fabric into three pieces to create two table runners and a door runner for my front door.  I added this Oktoberfest hanging fan also from Oriental Trading.

My table - a yellow tablecloth and the same bunting as the front door. 

For a centerpiece, I used a giant glass beer stein with gold sunflowers.  I filled the glass with rod pretzels instead of water, just for fun.  Alongside the stein, I had an Oktoberfest lager box with empty beer bottles filled with wheat.

On the other side of the vase, I created a Prost label that matched my name cards/invitation to adhere to a pint glass.  I made these beer mug pretzels to place inside!  They were not difficult to make except for the yellowish layer/attaching the pretzel handle.  You have to wait until the yellowish layer is warm, not hot, or it melts the dark chocolate layer underneath.  Lesson learned.  The white foam top was easy.

I decorated my napkins to match the theme.  I wrapped bright blue cardstock and yellow ribbon around the folded napkin and then just set a pretzel on top. Simple. Cute.

I absolutely love my place cards.  I purchased votive holders from Michaels and made them into mini beer steins.  I created labels for the front and glued a handle made of cardstock to the votive.  I filled them with beer for added fun.

Above and behind my table, I placed more of the Oktoberfest hanging fans. I love that the package came with both of these two designs.  Above my separate drink table, I also hung a beer garland and hanging fan which was perfect.  The hanging fans and garland were both from Oriental Trading.  

The girls and I are wine drinkers mostly,  so I couldn't have a monthly dinner without wine.  I created these wine labels to go with the theme. I looked up the German words for red and white wine to include on the labels.

For wine charms, I stayed simple.  I dipped pretzels in yellow, light blue, white, and dark blue.  Then I tied them to each wine glass.

Menu: I started the evening with pretzel bites (I used premade frozen ones) and a Beer Cheese Dip.
The dip was delicious, but since I used an IPA, it had a bit stronger beer flavor.  If you want a lighter beer flavor, choose a lighter beer.

                      Beer Cheese Dip

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese softened
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 recipe Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix or one packet store-bought
6 ounces beer
4 chives or 1 scallion thinly sliced
garlic powder to taste
pretzels chips, or crackers for serving
Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, ranch mix, beer, and chives in a large bowl and mix well. Add garlic powder to taste, starting with 1/2 teaspoon and adding more if desired.
Cover and chill at least 30 minutes to blend flavor. Serve chilled with pretzels, chips, or crackers.

For the main dish, I served beer bratwurst I made in the slow cooker.  The recipe is simple and tasty.  I placed all the fixings on the side so guests could pick and choose which they wanted on their brats - onion, red pepper, sauerkraut, yellow pepper, green pepper, and a German mustard.  The Oktoberfest serving trays for the brats and paper snack cups for the fixings (and the beer dip) are from Oriental Trading.

Slow Cooker Beer Brats
2 (14-oz.) pkgs. smoked bratwursts
cooking oil
1 large white onion, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced
1-2 minced garlic cloves
½ tsp. pepper
1 (12-oz.) can beer

In a large skillet over medium high heat add enough cooking oil to cover the bottom. Add the brats and brown them on all sides; I do this in 2 batches. While the brats are browning add the onion, bell peppers, garlic, and black pepper to the slow cooker.  Add the browned brats on top of the onion and peppers. Pour over the beer.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours.

I made traditional red cabbage to serve alongside the beer brats. I had never made this before.  The girls and I really enjoyed it though.  It was easy and tasty.

           Braised Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

One half a large red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced red cabbage and toss to coat with the butter. Saut√© until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over the cabbage and toss to coat evenly. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until the cabbage is completely tender, stirring often, about 30 minutes total.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

A streudel was the first dessert I thought of when I thought of a German menu. In searching on Pinterest, I found a super simple recipe that I decided to try out to save myself time. I am so glad I did because it was delicious! I used the same Oktoberfest snack cups to serve the streusel and added vanilla ice cream to those that wanted it.

           Apple Sugar Cookie Streusel Bars 

1 pouch (17.5 oz) Betty Crocker™ sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1 can (21 oz) more fruit apple pie filling (about 2 1/3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 375°F. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch square pan with cooking spray.  In large bowl, place cookie mix. Cut in butter, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture is crumbly (do not overmix).  Reserve 1 1/2 cups cookie mixture for topping; set aside. Press remaining mixture in bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes.  In small bowl, mix pie filling and cinnamon until well blended. Spread on top of partially baked crust. Sprinkle with reserved 1 1/2 cups cookie mixture.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely, about 4 hours. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Favor:  For a fun take-home, I packed some goodies into yellow favor boxes from Oriental Trading. I created a tag for the front with "Thank you for 11 years" written in German.  Inside I placed pretzels inside another Oktoberfest snack cup, a bottle of Oktoberfest fall lager, and these fun "beer me" can openers from Oriental Trading.

Once again, this was a great theme and an amazing evening with friends.  I recommend throwing an Oktoberfest party for your friends next year!

I partnered with Oriental Trading Company for this post. I received product(s) in exchange for my honest and unbiased thoughts. All thoughts and opinions stated are my own and are in no way influenced by my partnership with the above mentioned brand.  

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