Cowboy Fare Delights 'Pardners'



Even though I'm a busy gal, I like to do something special for my sons' birthdays. One year, my son, Isaiah, picked a cowboy theme for his party.

He wanted a Cowboy Boot Cake, so that's where our menu planning began. The Western-style meal also included Chuck Wagon Burgers, Bunkhouse Beans and Happy Trails Snack Mix.

I baked a cake mix in a 9- x 13-inch pan and froze the cake overnight before cutting it into pieces to form a boot shape. Cutting and frosting is so much easier when a cake is frozen.

My cream cheese frosting recipe is one we've enjoyed for years on pumpkin bars and banana bars. We iced the boot with white, then I colored some reserved frosting for decorating. Using one of Isaiah's real cowboy boots as a model, I piped seams and stitching onto the cake and colored the heel and toe. He added candy accents.

Serving Chuck Wagon Burgers on biscuits rather than on buns made them seem more rustic—as if they might have been made over an open fire.

Bunkhouse Beans are so flavorful and also fit the theme. They have just enough spunk to suit most folks.

The kids loved Happy Trails Snack Mix! A colorful combination of salty and sweet, it's full of flavor contrasts.

We transformed our kitchen peninsula into a chuck wagon buffet. Isaiah cut out and painted two large cardboard wagon wheels. My husband, Bruce, suspended one on either side of the peninsula with duct tape. He also figured out how to make the wagon roof, bending pieces of plastic trim into ribs to hold the "canvas" top, made from a white sheet.

Additional decorations—a nail keg, lanterns, cowboy hats, spurs, ropes and a harmonica—helped set the scene.

Guests in cowboy attire gathered for "grub," which they piled high on pie tin plates, while listening to Home on the Range, Cold Clear Water and other cowboy songs.

The atmosphere and good food transported us to the prairie for sure—we could almost hear cattle lowing! Maybe this theme will moo-ve you to round up friends for a similar celebration.

Cowboy Boot Cake

Chuck Wagon Burgers

Bunkhouse Beans

Happy Trails Snack Mix