More on Birthday Celebrations

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.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Scraps

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

3 eggs

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.

Spreading filling over pre-baked crust

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3 thoughts on “More on Birthday Celebrations

  1. Selena Shelley

    My favorite line: “I tried to keep the menu pretty simple with some tried and true favorites.” 🙂

    Simple is all relative, my dear!! Looks great and I’m sure everyone was impressed as usual!

      1. Selena Shelley

        I’m glad you can appreciate the relativity. Yes, I have a note on my list to call you this week… ‘course it’s been on my list for probably a month now. But I’ll give you a try sometime this week for sure and feel free to do the same.

        Sounds like you may finally have a little more time on your hands with both boys at school. :)))

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