(ARA) - Barbecues are not just for summer anymore, but the rich flavors can be enjoyed year-round and even in-doors. As kids head back to school this fall, a great way to celebrate is with a Cowboy themed BBQ.
“Kids of all ages have an inner-cowboy screaming to come out” says Dotty Griffith, author of “The Contemporary Cowboy Cookbook” and an expert on entertaining and cooking cowboy-style “Whether you are rounding up the gang for a back-to-school bash or just celebrating a birthday, a cowboy themed party is an easy way to engage children, have fun, and create an experience that is sure to be unforgettable.”
Here are a few suggestions to help you “rustle up” a good time:
Lasso the Gang: Create eye-catching, mood-setting invitations with your kids by writing out the party details on construction paper, rolling them up in a colorful bandana and tying with twine. Also, consider finding horseshoes and attaching the invitation to them, or if the invitations can be hand-delivered attach them to a cowboy hat. At the craft store, try to pick up themed stickers or hand stamps to decorate the invitations.
Show-Stopper Props: For the truly adventurous wrangler host who wants a sure fire way to impress the kids, try any of the following rentable props to make them feel right at home on the ranch -- OK Corral entrances, split-rail fences, bales of hay, long-horn steer or buffalo skulls, a covered wagon, three-dimensional farm animals like pigs, cows and lambs and a ranch scene mural for fun photos.
Character Building: Everyone loves to play dress-up, so encourage the children to come to the party donning a western-themed costume, i.e. a cowboy, cowgirl, or sheriff. At craft stores, look for straw cowboy hats and bandanas, just in case someone wants to touch up their outfit during the party.
What’s Cooking: As we all know, children can be very picky eaters. That’s why the simple cuisine of the Wild West – a true American BBQ -- is so perfect, as it can be interactive and fun. To help capture the flavors of the west while putting together a down-home American ranch BBQ for the little cowboys, look for recipes and products that do double duty and will make the your job as head rancher look effortless.
Griffith suggests delighting kids with finger food appetizers like chicken strips and sliced vegetables and recommends using a bold, creamy Ranch dressing like new Wish-Bone Ranch-Up! as a dipping sauce. The dressing does its double duty with its easy squeeze bottle that is great for allowing kids to make designs on their plates and dip away. Pick an easy to serve main dish like hamburgers and allow kids to get creative when topping them with other kinds of easy to squeeze condiments, like colored ketchup or mustard. Griffith also suggests side dishes that are sweet and tangy like a coleslaw or potato salad using Western Dressing, which is known for its sweet and smooth taste. And save the best for last by serving an assortment of ice cream in spatter ware coffee mugs. (For more Wild West recipe ideas, go to www.wish-bone.com)
Serving It Up: Purchase cowboy-themed plates and cups at any craft store; set the table with white paper table cloths and allow kids to draw their favorite western scenes around their eating area. Use colored bandanas as napkins, turn Cowboy hats upside down to use as chips bowls and try to find plastic cowboy figurines at craft stores to decorate the table.
Musical Cowboy Hats: For a sure to please game, play musical cowboy hats and have kids walk around hats until the music stops. The one who manages to get a hat after each round wins.
Ready, Set, Draw: Create a craft area for the children and supply them with all the usual suspects, glue, crayons, glitter, etc, but add a little Wild West flare, by giving them twigs, grass and wildflowers to see what they come up with.
Kiddie Tunes: Divide the children into small groups and have one adult teach each group the words to a favorite campfire song like, “Old McDonald” or “Home on the Range.” After the kids have mastered the tune and the words, have each team put on a show for the other cowboys and cowgirls on the ranch.