Happy Birthday Babe!

My husband is an identical twin born in 1969. If I’m counting right, that means he is 50 years old now. While I have no problem whatsoever with his age, the passage of time does have me thinking about the fact I’m not too far behind him and that does bother me. I know that 50 is the new 40, or is it 40 is the new 50? Well, whatever the phrase is supposed to be, I am pretty sure someone is trying to convince us it is not really a whole half a century OLD. Since I don’t ‘feel’ nearly 50, I am not even sure how we got this old. Regardless of how we feel, look and behave, it sounded like a good reason to host a party and even though he would have been content with a quick trip to the brick oven pizzeria, I had to have a little fun.

Theme is always my first step to planning a party. He’s a guy, a 50 year old guy at that and what is his greatest vice? BEER. I don’t remember beer being such a significant staple in our home until we lived in Europe for 7 years. All of a sudden, he was a self proclaimed expert on craft beer, Belgian beer, US beef, pale ales, stouts, lager, pils, you name it, there was beer involved. So, the theme was pretty darn easy.

Cheers & Beers, Here’s to Brett’s 50 Years….

Theme in hand, I could also quickly decide on decorations. Since beer cans stack pretty easily, I scoured Google and Pinterest for quick ideas for creating a beer can tower. Easy, peasy, 50 cans of three different beers (one per level), I was on a roll.

I thought about how I have cooked with beer sufficiently before, so what if I build a menu around beer as the ingredient? Now, if you know me, you know I don’t drink beer. Not a drop! I never have and I seriously doubt I ever will. So, some will think this was quite a stretch for a non-drinker, but it’s really not much different than cooking with wine. I can’t taste it, and the best part is you definitely cannot smell it, and that is usually what sends me to the hills. Keep in mind, my father has grown malt barley for Budweiser for over 30 years and my husband and son drink probably more beer than water but I don’t even like the smell of it. Just like you, the internet and my collection of cookbooks served me well as I set out to select my menu. I can’t take credit for any of the creative genius, merely the pairing and delivery.

First Course
Cauliflower Cheddar & Beer Soup
Beer & Irish Cheese Bread  
Second Course
Beer Battered Yogurt Fried Chicken
Creamy Risotto with Edamame
Beer & Butter Roasted Vegetables
Dessert
Chocolate Sheet Cake with White Buttercream Icing
Keto Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Wilcoxsin’s Salted Caramel Truffle Ice Cream
Party Favor
Beer Caramel Pretzel Cookie Bars  

A week in advance, I ordered an edible Miller Lite cake logo on Etsy, paying an extra $6-8 in postage to make sure it arrived in time. (Why didn’t I think about this a week ago?? It’s not like his birthday surprised me.) Two days before the party, I decorated and set the table. A white linen tablecloth came first, then round blue placemats/chargers before placing the dinner plates. I sprinkled Happy Birthday and star confetti around the center of the table before creating the beer tower. A quick trip to the grocery story netted me a pack of craft beer playing cards that were an additional accent to the table decor. I picked up the round cardboard cake trays at Michael’s, (8″, 12 ” and 16″) along with silver cardstock paper, white lollipop sticks and three rolls of blue and silver ribbon. From prior military promotion parties, I had saved a half dozen red, white & blue metallic sprays which would definitely come in handy.

To assemble the tower, using the 16″ cake round, I placed 30 Miller Lite beer cans evenly around the edge and filling in for a smooth, evenly weighted first level. In the center, I placed the 12″ cake round for level two. I had selected two six packs of Montana’s Jeremiah Johnson ales. To fill in all available space, I would have needed close to a third six pack, but in all honesty, he’s not THAT old, and I knew for the 8 cans on the top layer, the stability wouldn’t be a problem. My priority was the outermost edge. The 8″ round came next with the 8 Phillipsburg Brewing screw-top Otter Water cans. To cover the edges of the cake rounds and hold all the beers in place, the blue and silver ribbon was the next step. Making sure the edge of the ribbon covered the edges of the cake rounds, I used simple straight pins from my sewing basket to hold the ribbon tight and in place. Then, I cut two extra large 50’s from the silver cardstock paper (one set backwards), using a template printed on my computer in a font that suited my style. On the back of one set of 50, I taped two white sticks and then glued to the two 5’s together, and two 0’s. Using packing tape, I secured the sticks to the centermost can on the top layer of the tower. A final touch was to tuck in two of the metallic sprays.

I debated ordering a specialty cake, but since the cake was not intended to be the highlight of the menu, I opted for a tried and true Paula Deen chocolate sheet cake. A bright white frosting was needed for the edible logo I had purchased, so AllRecipes.com came in handy once again, rather than sticking with Paula and her chocolate pecan frosting – which is perfect on another day. Tip: When you want bright white frosting frosting, use clear imitation vanilla extract rather than real vanilla. It is the dark color that will yellow your white frosting, so this is an important step. I cut a third set of “50” out of the same 12×12 sheet of silver cardstock, taped to two more white sticks, and accented with one more metallic spray. Some additional blue tinted buttercream frosting helped covered the ragged bottom edge and polish off the cake decor.

In regards to the menu, I know you are used to me tweaking the recipes to suit my tastes and ingredients, but I did a really good job letting the creators shine. The bread was a bit of a fail, but I would be willing to make it again and pay closer attention to its doneness. The flavor was really good, but the consistency was weird and too doughy. I did bake it earlier in the week and freeze it, thaw and warm before dinner, but something was definitely off. Everything else turned out beautifully. For any guests watching calories or macros, I prepared one pan of baked chicken, just seasoned with some turkey rub, salt & pepper to supplement the yogurt fried chicken. I also made the keto friendly chocolate zucchini cake for dessert – which I might add, no one even tasted! I will share that recipe another day because I was thrilled with it’s evolution from the “real thing.”

The first course, a small cup of soup and bread was served to each guest using a small plate and ramekins. The second course was arranged buffet style to avoid passing the really hot, heavy dishes. Following some sparkler candles and quite a bit of blowing all over the cake, we served the cake and ice cream. Oh, did I mention there was beer to drink?! And a little wine for the rest of us. But don’t forget to top off your party with a little extra fun. We laughed ourselves silly playing a round of men vs. women Taboo…and the girls won!

If you would like a little help designing your next party, check out the MTMountainMaven.com Shop. You can purchase hours as a virtual event planner, menus and more. Just reach out for a custom quote and I would be happy to help you define your fabulous special event.

Blessings,
Tina

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