Sunday, November 30, 2014

Beer & Bacon Party Decorations

You read about the delicious beer & bacon tastings & other dishes that we had at my husband's Beer & Bacon birthday party.  This party was pretty simple to decorate for, which was great because his birthday was the Sunday after Halloween where we had been trick-or-treating Friday night & tailgating & going to the football game all day/night Saturday. By Sunday, we were exhausted, but we still wanted to have over a couple of friends to celebrate Steve's birthday.
For this party, I had ordered a couple of things from Oriental Trading.  This beer garland came from there, as well as the bacon suckers.  Yes, bacon suckers.  They didn't actually taste like bacon, just sugar, but they looked like little pieces of bacon.  If you ever need an idea for a party or cheap party supplies that are super cute, you can't go wrong with Oriental Trading.

The big Harp/Guinness sign has actually been around our house for close a decade.  My husband currently works for a wine company, but many moons ago before we met, he & his roommate at the time both worked for a beer company.  Their entire house was beer themed.  Pretty standard for a male only house, am I right?  As time went on & we bought our own house & got married & had kids, the beer theme just didn't quite go with our motif, so most of the things are out in Steve's man garage.  This sign is one of those things.  It might not go with the theme of our house, but it went perfectly with the theme of this party, so I drug it inside & put it up on the table.
The "serving dishes" probably look familiar from the Wine & Cheese party & other events. I figured the cutting boards would be a great way to serve the bacon & would go well with the big Harp/Guinness sign.  The other decorations were also super easy.  I took the 6 pack holders that the beers came in & cut off the sides & back, leaving only the front & the bottom to make a little stand-up sign.  I then used some of the cardboard I had cut off to write the pairings.  It worked well as decorations & information. Can't beat that. : )

See these posts for more info on this party
Beer & Bacon Party Food
Beer & Bacon Party Decorations
Beer & Bacon Chili

Beer & Bacon Birthday Party Food

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Speaking of things I am thankful for, my husband had a birthday this November.  For his birthday, I wanted to combine two of his favorite & bacon.  He totally dug it & although I don't love bacon nearly as much as he does, it was delicious.  Here was the spread.
The main dish was the beer & bacon chili.  Visit this post Here where I tell you all about how to make this DELICIOUS chili.  Served with the chili was some amazing beer & bacon cornbread.  We also had beer & bacon baked beans.  I'd love to tell you that I made these from scratch, but I was running low on time, so I added a little Guinness & some nice big chunks of bacon to the maple baked beans that Bush's had already nicely made & canned for me. ; )

We finished the meal with beer & bacon cupcakes.  I made the same Guinness cupcakes that I made for my grandfather's Vintage Beer themed birthday party.  Now I made a couple of changes from the first time I made these cupcakes. This time, I didn't separate the ingredients & cook them down like I had the first time. I actually dumped all the ingredients together & mixed them up like a regular cake batter. So yeah, I totally cheated, but guess what? I actually liked the consistency a lot more. Weird, but it worked. Another change I made was the icing. The first time I made these cupcakes, I went with a dark chocolate icing. This time, in order to keep with the beer & bacon theme, I used this seasonal icing that was out called Maple Bacon icing.  It was so good with the Guinness cupcakes.  The icing was sweet, but the little bacon crumbles that you sprinkle on top cut the sweet & it balanced so great with the Guinness cupcakes.  I will definitely use that icing again.  I don't know if they have it year round or not, I just found it with all the caramel apple & pumpkin stuff in the middle aisle at Walmart. : )  God bless Betty Crocker.
Along with the chili & other delicious beer & bacon items, we had a beer & bacon tasting.  My husband is in love with bacon & beer for that matter, but I can say I really had no idea there were so many different kinds of bacon until having this party.  Here were the pairings that we had at our party.

Peppercorn Bacon paired with Sierra Nevada Celebration
The spice of the peppercorn really went well with the hops in the Celebration. I think this was my hubby's favorite pairing.  I'm sure it helped that this is one of his favorite beers too. : ) 

Applewood Smoked Bacon paired with Dunkelweizen

This German wheat beer went nicely with the smokiness of the applewood bacon.

Black Forest Bacon paired with Fat Weasel Ale
 This amber ale was paired with the Black Forest bacon.  Now, I don't care much for amber ales (I am still in the brown ale-stout level on the beer evolution totem pole), but this black forest bacon was AMAZING.  I had never even heard of such before, but found it at Trader Joe's & it was great. Definitely something different to try & enjoy.

Brown Sugar Bacon paired with Palmetto Espresso Porter
This was definitely my favorite pairing because let's be serious, I love sweets & the sweet/salty combo of this bacon was fantastic.  The espresso porter was also great.  The coffee flavor went great with the brown sugar in the bacon.  For the brown sugar bacon, I took a pack of thick cut bacon & sprinkled it with 1/4 cup of brown sugar & then cooked it in the oven for about 35 minutes at 375.  Speaking of cooking bacon in the oven...have you ever cooked bacon that way?  I had not before.  I usually fry it in the frying pan or even throw it in the microwave, but I made all of this bacon in the oven because I didn't have time to monitor a billion frying pans on my oven.  And guess what?  It was all amazing.  I put tin foil in baking sheets & cooked it all in the same oven at 375.  Some of it got done before others, like the black forest only required about 25 minutes, but if you keep an eye on it, it turns out great.  I think I will always make my bacon this way because it was great.

This party was pretty easy to throw together in an afternoon, See this post here for more info on the decorations. It turned out to be one of my favorite parties, mostly because my husband really enjoyed it. I mean, with tons of beer & bacon, can you really blame him?  : )

See these posts for more info on this party
Beer & Bacon Party Food
Beer & Bacon Party Decorations
Beer & Bacon Chili

Beer & Bacon Chili

For my husband's birthday, I threw a beer & bacon bash.  You can read more about the party here, but the star of the show was the beer & bacon chili.
November seems to be the best time of year for chili, but this chili is so good, you will want to eat it year round.  Here are the ingredients you will need. 

* 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 chopped green bell pepper
* 1 chopped small white onion
* 1 minced garlic clove
* 1 (1 1/4 ounce) package chili seasoning mix
* 2 tablespoons chili powder
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 1 (16 ounce) can flavored pinto beans
* 1 (16  ounce) can kidney beans (rinsed)
* 1 bottle of Guinness (you can substitute your favorite brew if you'd like)
* 1 package of your favorite bacon
* salt & pepper to taste (I just sprinkled across the top of the chili once I had everything else assembled)

1. Saute onions and bell peppers in olive oil until tender.
2. Add ground beef and brown slowly over low heat, stirring often.
3. Add garlic and cook until ground beef is thoroughly cooked.
4. Add chili seasonings, chili powder, cumin, crushed red pepper & saute for a few minutes, coating the beef with the spices.
5. Pour the ground beef/spice mixture into your crockpot.
6. Add in the tomatoes, both beans and beer. I cut up the bacon into pieces & threw it in here as well, although you can cook the bacon before you throw it in if you would rather it have a crunchy consistency.
7. Mix everything together in the crockpot & add in the sugar.
8. Cook on the high setting for the crockpot (usually 4 hours), stirring occasionally.
9. Before serving, add salt and pepper.

This chili is amazing with a little added cheese & those little chopped green onions. I'm not a sour cream lover, but my husband loved adding a dollop to his chili. Serve this with beer & bacon won't regret it.  : ) has a great recipe here or see it below.  It was amazing!

Beer & Bacon Cornbread
Dry Ingredients
* 6 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
* 1 1/2 cup corn meal
* 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese

Wet Ingredients
* 3 large eggs
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1/3 cup sour cream
* 1 cup beer (I used Guinness to go along with the Guinness in the chili)
* 1/2 cup melted butter

* 1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375. Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl & mix, then combing all the wet ingredients in another bowl & mix.
2. Once mixed, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & add in the bacon.
3. Pour into a greased 9x13 cake pan & spread evenly.
4. Add the cup of cheese to the rop
5. Bake at 375 for 30 -35 minutes.
6. Enjoy with delicious beer & bacon chili. : )

See these posts for more info on this party
Beer & Bacon Party Food
Beer & Bacon Party Decorations
Beer & Bacon Chili

Monday, November 24, 2014

Wine & Cheese Please

I'm sorry I have been so MIA & haven't been posting.  We had 2 trials in 3 weeks & another that was supposed to go next week.  Between that, a toddler & a 4 month old who has had the enterovirus, double ear infections, & RSV in a span of a month...things have been CRAZY.  And crazy reminds me of wine... : )  So here is a little wine & cheese party I threw when we had some people over for our fantasy football drafts earlier this Fall.
When I was still pregnant, I kept telling Steve how one night after the baby was born & I got the ok to drink again, I wanted to just stuff my face with cheese & drink wine.  Well, that night finally came & it was magical.  : )  We had a handful of friends over & I set out many reds & whites & lots of cheese.  The good thing about a wine party was that I already had everything that I needed for set up...wooden cutting boards & candles sitting on top of wine corks.  I love using wooden cutting boards as serving trays.  I like the way the wood looks with all my wine corks...and all my wine too, of course.  And having a husband in the wine biz means we rarely have a shortage of wine or wine corks, so I have them all around as decoration. 
Oh still my heart.  For cheese, we had slices of Irish cheddar, French emmental, imported fontina and Holland gouda.  We also had giant chunks of asiago, Havarti, sharp cheddar & something called "beer cheese".  I'm not sure exactly what it was but it was from Sam's Club & it was delicious.  For meats, we had Pepperoni, prosciutto, salami wrapped mozzarella...this was a party tray from Sam's Club & was delicious.  I also had slices of salami, pepperoni, prosciutto & soppressata.  I tossed out some grain crackers & a tiny little loaf of pumpernickel bread out too, along with some magno chutney, whole grain mustard & a little mayo in case anyone wanted to make some mini-sandwiches.  I don't believe in wine & cheese without fruit & sweets, so we also had strawberries, grapes & 3 types of brownies.  I have to say, I kinda wish I could eat this spread every day.  : )  Happy early Thanksgiving everyone!  I hope you all get to enjoy a little wine with lots of love & family.