My daughter requested to have her birthday party at the horse barn where she takes lessons. We decided on a country theme, a color, and a menu. The party favors consisted of a mason jar with the girls names inscribed on a chalkboard label (also used as a water glass) a bandanna (also used as a napkin) a jar full of candy and a canvas that also doubled as a place mat. Despite the damp and dreary weather, the girls had a fabulous and very fun time, taking turns grooming and riding the horses, and petting the numerous other animals out on the farm.
PARMESAN BASIL CHEDDAR STARS
Beat 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese, 1 /2 cup softened butter, 3 tablespoons of half and half, and 1 teaspoon of salt at medium speed with a heavy-duty mixer until blended. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of flour and 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, beating just until combined. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Divide into 4 equal portions, and flatten each into a disk, roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with a star-shaped cutter. Place 1-inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 11 to 14 minutes or until golden, cool on baking sheets on wire racks for 30 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Southern Living, December 2012
MASON JAR CRUDITE WITH PIMENTO CHEESE
1 pound smoked cheddar, grated
1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 quart of mayonnaise
6 ounces of canned chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Place in a mason jar then top with fresh vegetables of your choice.
Recipe adapted from Citiscapes Magazine, September 2013
CHOCOLATE DIPPED TRAIL BITES
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons orange juice
In a food processor combine half the sugar and the orange peel. Cover and process until sugar is colored and very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add dried and fresh cranberries and chocolate pieces. Pulse until finely chopped.
In a large bowl, beat butter, oil, remaining sugar, vanilla and salt with an electric mixer on low speed until evenly blended. Beat in half the flour and the baking soda until evenly incorporated. Stir in remaining flour until evenly incorporated. If dough is slightly dry or crumbly, gradually knead in 1 to 2 teaspoons more orange juice until cohesive. Let stand about 10 minutes, or until soft but not sticky.
Divide dough in half, place each on a 12-inch piece of plastic wrap. With lightly oiled hands, use the plastic to shape each into an evenly thick 11-inch log. Roll each log in plastic wrap, twist ends to close. Freeze at least 1 hour before slicing.
Position rack in middle of oven, heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment, set aside.
Working with one dough potion, cut into slices a little more than 1/4 inch thick. Place slices about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Repeat with second portion.
Bake one baking sheet at a time for 7 minutes. Rotate from front to back, bake 4 to 6 minutes more or until cookies are just beginning to brown. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack, let cool 3 minutes to firm up. Using a wide spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack. Cool completely. Dip in melted chocolate and sprinkle with salt.
Place 2 cups of chocolate pieces and 4 teaspoons of shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave each on 50 percent power 1 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth. Dip cookies partially into chocolate, transfer to wire rack to cool.
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, December 2012