When our youngest turned one last month we had a little family celebration with snacks and cupcakes. I tried to keep the menu pretty simple with some tried and true favorites.
I wasn’t organized enough to get photos before everyone started eating…so please excuse the messy, unstaged plates. Those are little roast beef sandwiches in the top corner with a variety of spreads, a Greek salad with fresh mint and a classic Pampered Chef favorite that has been around for roughly 87 years, Chicken Florentine Ring.
There was one recipe that was a new one…kind of odd, but yummy. Pesto Squares…or Pesto Cacti, depending on which one you took.
They look like a dessert because of the green food coloring I put in the top layer. But they aren’t. They are like a cream cheese pesto dip on crackers. And I have to credit my aunt for being able to get the cactus-shaped ones out of the pan in one piece – it wasn’t easy! The recipe is below, with my suggested tweaks.
In addition to the red velvet cupcakes which are a regular feature on here, I also made these fun-shaped chocolate chip cookies. Confession: they were not from scratch. They came in a plastic-wrapped tube. I baked them in a big sheet and then cut them into shapes. No one knew the difference.
And because I always hate wasting the “scraps” created by using cookie cutters, I saved them and later in the week they appeared on top of bowls of ice cream and as two-bite desserts after dinner. You can also chop them into tiny bits and mix them into frozen yogurt for a homemade Blizzard-type thing.
You could even keep them in the freezer. Is that taking the not-wasting-thing too far? OK maybe. Anyway, here’s the recipe for the little pesto squares, which, by the way, can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time:
Pesto Party Squares
from The Pampered Chef, circa late 90s
1 1/4 cups round buttery crackers (about 30) crushed – I think that means Ritz 😉
3 TB butter, melted
2 pkgs (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 container (7 oz) pesto
1 container (8 oz) sour cream, divided
4 green onions with tops, thinly sliced
1 plum tomato, seeded and finely chopped
Preheat oven to 325°. Finely crush crackers in a sealed bag. Combine crackers and melted butter, mix well. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 casserole. Bake 15 minutes. Whisk cream cheese and pesto until well blended. Add 1/3 cup of the sour cream and eggs. Whisk until smooth. Pour mixture over crust. Bake 20-25 minutes or until center is set. Carefully spread remaining sour cream over hot filling. Cool completely and refrigerate at least 3 hours. Just before serving cut into squares and sprinkle with green onions and tomatoes.* Yield: 40 small squares.
*I meant to sprinkle with tomatoes because I thought it would look like pretty red flowers on the cactus – but I forgot. Also, I don’t recommend doubling this recipe as it becomes a little too thick to really set up as well as it should. If you need more than 40 squares, make two pans. And lastly, I thought the crust could be thicker so it would feel more like dip on a cracker. Next time I make them I’m going to increase the amount of crackers.