Cowboy Party Ideas, Entertaining, Family Fun, Family Reunion, Feast on This, Hospitality, Man Food, Parties, Recipes, Summer Cookout Party

Cowboy Style Backyard BBQ

Duuuuude! …Ranch that is.  When I think of a backyard barbeque I think of the time that I was a guest at my girlfriend’s ranch when the hands threw a BBQ feast that would knock you right out of the saddle.  I was the only dude; everybody else was the real deal.  Weeeeee doggies!  I loved when I got to stay the weekends with her.  Her life was so much different from mine.  I was a city girl – well, if you want to call the thriving metropolis of Edgerton, Wyoming a “city” (population 150).  Wilma, on the other hand, was a country girl through and through who lived on a ranch clear out in the middle of nowhere, where the deer and the antelope roam.  She had two older brothers and her dad was as close to John Wayne as you could get without cloning.  He sat tall in the saddle on his giant horse, Keno.  Keno was a plow horse with a shiny black coat and giant hooves.  Looking back, he was probably a clydesdale or something kin to it.  Wilma’s mom was the craftiest lady I knew.  She was always dressed so nice in her country western flare.  She made all sorts of grub from milk products and her summertime garden and all that a working ranch has to offer.  Her house was immaculate and decorated with stretched animal skins backed by layered, pinking-sheared felt, and Indian blankets hanging on the walls.

She also made jewelry out of porcupine quills. Porcupine quills?  Well, here’s the story that I got.  Wilma’s brothers were coming home kind of late one night and hit a fat and waddling porcupine in the road.  When they saw her in their headlights they swerved left and right, dust flying everywhere, but they couldn’t get the old Ford shut down in time.  Thump!  They bailed out to see if she was okay and saw that she was dead.  She was so big that they knew she was pregnant, so they did a prairie style emergency cesarean section on her and brought the little dickens home to mom to see if she could keep it alive.  Mom nursed the little critter with a tiny baby bottle, and not only did the tiny beast live, it became a family pet.  She plucked its quills to make her jewelry.  She made beautiful things from those quills.

Wilma had a bedroom in the ranch house, but her brothers all slept in the bunkhouse with the other ranch hands (probably why the house was always so clean).  We never saw much of them.  Our days were spent riding her horse bareback all around the ranch, and sometimes following her dad on his rounds.  Sometimes we’d pack up her record player and her Tanya Tucker, Dolly Pardon, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn records (…yes records – I know, this dates me.  If you don’t know what records are, ask your mom…) and we’d haul them up to the attic of the barn.  We’d push the hay bales around to make a stage, and then we’d string an extension cord, plug the record player in, and take turns pretending to be Country Western stars at the Grand Ole Opry.  “Stand by yer man…doot doo dooo…”  She knew all the words to all the songs, I just lip-sinked and pretended until I learned them.  See the thing about that kind of music is nobody listened to twangy Country Western in my house in the city.  But by the third sleep-over with Wilma I could cut loose at the top of my lungs with the best of them.  That’s also the beauty of living in the boondocks – nobody can hear you.  You know, I can still smell the barn in my memories.  Wood, leather tack, and hay —aaahhhchoooo— God bless me!

I always got a kick out of the phone thing too.  At Wilma’s house the phone was on a “party line,” and they had a special ring to let them know when the call was for them.  If you picked up the phone to make a call you might hear people talking, and if you lacked manners you’d listen in to see what they were saying – but everyone in Wilma’s house was polite not to, at least when I was there anyways.  And at night after we cleared away the supper dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, Wilma, her mom, and I, we’d gather around the CB and listen to the trucker’s conversations as they cruised by on the nearby highway.  Wilma’s mom even let me make up a “handle” so I could hold that microphone and push the button and say, “Breaker, breaker, one-nine,” and hopefully snag a passerby into a mini-chat.  What was my handle?  It was pretty corny – Capricorny!  The conversations were never too intelligent either.

Okay, so getting back to where I started…there was one weekend that I stayed over when the whole ranch had a barbeque planned.  My gosh it was a big to-do.  Wilma’s mom had made several salads and a big pot of ranch style baked beans, and several desserts.  There were a bunch of bow-legged cowboys hootin’ and hollerin’ in the back yard, some standing around the cook, others trying out their rope tricks on a saw-horse bull’s head, and another gang tossing horseshoes – clank!  The BBQ stove was made from a big barrel cut in half lengthwise with welded-on hinges and a vent pipe sticking out the top.  It was filled to capacity with ashen charcoals.  It was also big enough to cook a couple dozen steaks at a time, and you could feel the heat of it from three bunkhouses away.  The smoke from that iron trench rose to the heavens and made a big old cloud in the back yard.  It smelled sooooo good, as only charring, perfectly seasoned, aged bovine can smell.

They asked me how I liked my steak and I said, “Well done, please!”  In just three shakes of a lamb’s tale (that’s a nano-second to you and me) here it came.  I looked at it like a beginner climber might look at Mount Everest.  It wasn’t like any steak I’d ever seen before – it was a ROAST, that could have fed my whole family.  I weighed in at about a buck o-five, this steak was just under that.  It took up my whole plate at an inch and a half thick.  The crimson juices ran all over the plate until they were spilling over the sides.  When I stuck my fork in, it wiggled a little and let out a moo.  I asked, sheepishly, if my side-of-beef could smolder just a smidgen longer on the hot coals until it was dead, dead, dead.  They gave me heck and teased me for a stretch, but obliged me.  When I got’er back I worked on that thing most of the night trying to git’er done, but it was mission impossible.  I rolled around in bed that night with a belly full of cow that would last me the rest of my life.  Okay, maybe not that long.  Yeehaw!  I am a Wyoming girl after all.

So, for my backyard BBQ I’m gon’na play on my memories of this grand little shindig and add a little dude to it, ’cause I really don’t know no better (and yes, I know that was not proper English).

Here’s what I’m thinking for my City Slicker Cowboy BBQ party:


Set up several bench type picnic tables in the backyard.  Cover them with red and white check tablecloths.  Set up a CD player with my favorite Country Western tunes, or set it on a good Country Western radio station – Sirius Satellite if you have it.

In the invitation ask guests to dress up in western apparel:  cowboy boots, cowboy hats, button up shirts with tight Levis and big belt buckles, or women’s shirts and skirts with Cadillac Cowgirl accessories.

Come ‘n Get It MENU

Marinated and grilled Tri-tip

Corn on the cob

Potato Salad

Boston Baked Beans


Corn Bread



Iced Tea

Peach Cobbler

By the way, isn’t this a cute idea for napkin holders?  I found a motherlode of bluejeans pockets at my local antique mall a while back and this is how I decided to put them to good use: 

MARINATED AND GRILLED TRI-TIP   (Serves approximately 8)

Marinade Ingredients

1 cup lemon juice
1 cup soybean oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup black pepper
1/2 cup garlic salt (recommended: Lawry’s)
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped dried onions

2 (4-pound) tri-tips, trimmed


To make the marinade, mix all of the ingredients except for the beef in a large mixing bowl. Place the trimmed tri-tips in a plastic container and pour the marinade over. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

Heat grill to medium temperature.

Place tri-tips on grill at a 45 degree angle to establish grill marks and cook about 35 minutes, or until cooked to desired doneness. Remove the tri-tips from the grill and let rest about 2 to 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite side dishes.

Corn on Cob



As many ears of sweet corn on the cob as number of guests

Butter (lots and lots of it)

Cajun Seasoned Salt, like Slap Ya’ Mama (or another favorite of mine is the wonderful Hatch Chili seasoning from Urban Accents that I got at Central Market in San Antonio, TX)


Leave the corn in the husks and grill on the grill, about five to eight minutes per side until all sides are burned. Remove from grill and keep warm in oven on low (170 degree) heat.  When ready to serve cut the stem ends off completely about 1/4″ up the cob.  Let your guests peel the husks off by loosening the husks from the corn where the cob was cut.  Grab the silks end firmly and pull the husk off the cob.  The silks should slide out with the husks and you should be left with a nice clean cob of corn.

Now I have some dandy little plastic corn cups that fit a cob of corn perfectly.  Place a couple pats of butter in each dish and then about a teaspoon of seasoning sprinkled all down the length of it.  Lay the hot cobs of corn on top and roll them around until they are covered with seasoning and melted butter.  Offer little cob forks to make them easier to hold onto.

Potato Salad

POTATO SALAD (serves approximately 20)


12 large red potatoes cooked until tender and cubed, skins on or off as preferred

6 hard boiled eggs, cooled and chopped

1 large red onion diced

6 stalks of celery chopped

1/4 cup sweet pickle relish

1 small sprig of dill weed, chopped

1 bunch of green onions chopped

1 or 2 large jalapenos, seeds and stems removed, diced

Sauce Ingredients:

2 ½ cups Mayonnaise  (more or less, as you like it)

¼ cup red wine vinegar

3 tsp Iodized Sea Salt

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp pepper


Put first eight ingredients in a very large bowl.  Mix up sauce ingredients and pour over the ingredients in the bowl.  Toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Optional additions:

Add 2 Tablespoons of mustard to finished potato salad.

Add a half-cup of blue cheese crumbles and a quarter cup of crispy crumbled bacon as a garnish on top of potato salad.

Baked Beans

BOSTON BAKED BEANS (serves approximately 8)


1 large package dried navy beans (or 6 cups)

2 bay leaves

8 cloves

1 large white onion, peeled

1 cup molasses

1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons iodized sea salt

2 teaspoons pepper

2 cups boiling water

1 lb of salt pork


Rinse the beans and soak overnight.  Drain and rinse the beans again.  Put in a large kettle and cover with fresh water to about ½ inch above the beans.  Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Simmer until tender, about 2 hours.  Drain. Place into a casserole dish.

Poke the cloves into the onion and add it to the beans.  Mix together the molasses, sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Add the boiling water and stir to blend thoroughly.  Pour over the beans, adding more water if needed to almost cover the beans with liquid.

Push the piece of salt pork down into the beans until it disappears.  Cover beans and bake in a 275 degree oven for about 4 ½ hours.  Uncover and continue to bake another half hour.  Take the pork rind out and chop up into bite-sized pieces and return to casserole.  Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.  May also be served cold by allowing to cool and refrigerating overnight.

Cole Slaw Fruity



1 head of green cabbage, shredded (approx. 8 cups)

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

1 cup grated celery

2 Fuji apples peeled, cored, and chopped

½ of a small white onion finely sliced

1 green bell pepper thinly sliced

3/4 cup of white raisins

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Optional: caraway seed, ground (’cause that’s how my grandma made it)

Sauce Ingredients

1 ½ cups mayonnaise

¼ cup lemon juice, or white wine vinegar

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt


Place the first seven ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix together sauce ingredients and pour over veggies.  Toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.  Just before serving sprinkle with slivered almonds and ground caraway seeds.  Serve within 2 hours for a crispier salad.  The salad will become more wilted the longer it marinates.

Mexican Beans
Cowboy Beans / Charro Beans (mmmm…one of my favorties)



2 boxes Krusteaz Honey Cornbread mix

1 1/3 cup of milk

4 eggs

1 (16 oz) can of creamed corn

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 Tablespoons diced jalapenos

2 green onions chopped finely


Prepare 1 large 9 x 16-inch baking pan by lightly greasing with shortening or cooking spray.

In a large bowl blend all the batter ingredients until just moistened.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden on top and springs back when touched.

PEACH COBBLER (serves approx. 6)


2 Tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon ground mace

½ cup brown sugar

4 cups sliced peaches (fresh or frozen)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon butter

Topping Ingredients

1 ¼ cup flour

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons Baking powder

¼ cup butter, melted

1/3 cup milk

sugar cinnamon mixture


Put first 6 ingredients in a saucepan and cook until thickened.  Add another Tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 3 Tablespoons water if needed for thickening.  Fresh and frozen peaches produce moisture.  If using canned peaches, drained, you won’t need any extra cornstarch.

Pour peach mixture into an oblong glass dish 8 x 12-inch that has been lightly greased with butter.

Place all topping ingredients in a bowl and mix together.  Dough should be very much like biscuit dough.

  Topping can be added to the peach mixture one of two ways.  Some like a peach cobbler with a topping that looks a lot like drop biscuits.  Others like a cobbler with a lattice topping like pie.  If you like the drop biscuit type then just take small spoonfuls of the batter and slide them off onto the peaches with your finger or a knife, dropping a small pile about ½-inch apart all over the top until all the batter is used up.

  If you like the lattice top, sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and pat out the dough with your hands, flipping to coat with flour.  With a floured rolling pin roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness.  Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice the dough into strips.  Lay one set of strips horizontally across the top of the peaches about an inch apart.  Pull every other strip back and lay in a vertical strip.  Lay the pulled back strips over it and pull back every other of the other strips.  Lay another strip in and lay the pulled back strips over it.  Repeat until you have a lattice pattern over the peaches.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes for drop biscuit topping, less for latice top, or until the crust is just golden and the filling is bubbly.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


I’ve heard that in the olden days the cowboys would dump the grounds in with the water and set the pot on the fire to cook.  When the coffee was made they’d break an egg into the pot to round up the grounds.  Let’s be honest… that’s got’ta be the nastiest cuppa-joe on the planet.  We’re not doing that.  We’re just gon’na brew it in the old Mr. Coffee machine (or Keurig).  And since we’re sissy city slickers anyway let’s splurge and have some creamer – flavored creamer if you are one of those.  Serve it in little tin cups for looks.



I personally like the frozen Minute Maid concentrates the best.  I mix them up with twice as water as directed and then slice up several lemons and float the slices in the lemonade.  It will probably  need some more sugar (try 1 cup to start).  I like the pink lemonade with pulp.  And when I’m feeling really fancy, I add a bag of frozen strawberries (or raspberries, blackberries, even blue berries) to the pitcher.

If you are feeling really really fancy you can make Fruity Lemonade:  Fill a glass with a chunk or two each of the following fruits:  Watermelon slice, pineapple chunk, frozen strawberry, maraschino cherry, orange slice, lemon slice, lime slice, raspberries and a mint leaf.  Mingle the fruits with ice cubes and pour the lemonade over the top.  Serve with a striped straw.  When you are done drinking you have a nice little fruit salad to munch on.

For another change of pace I make Limeade from frozen concentrate, use club soda for the liquid – a little more than called for, add some sliced limes, just like I do for the lemonade. Plus, I add a jar or two of drained maraschino cherries to the pitcher.  Lip smackin’ good!


1 gallon of fresh tap water

1 Family Size tea bag

sugar or other sweetener

I brew my tea in the sunshine.  I fill my freshly scoured sun tea jar with cold tap water and hang a Family-size Lipton teabag in it (folding the corner over the lip of the jar and holding it in place with the lid), screwing that lid on snuggly.  Then I set the whole business out on the back patio until the sun brews it a nice dark golden brown all the way to the bottom.  I hurry and bring it in and pull that teabag out, and since I like mine sort of sweet I add about a cup of sugar and stir it in while the tea is hot.  Ten I set the jar in the refrigerator to get cold.  I like my tea over a tall glass heaping with ice cubes.  Mmmm… mmmm…. mmmm, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Unless of course it’s…


Not me, Mrs. H., but by BFF Treva’s mom, Mrs. H. — Mrs. Hendrickson.  She was bar-Nunn the best cook of the prairie.  Treva’s mom had a gallon container of this concoction in the fridge at all times when we were kids.  It was the number one requested beverage of all gatherings of kids in our school for all time.  It was always the first beverage to run out, and believe you me the party was over when that happened.

In a one-gallon pitcher add:

1 small can (6-oz) frozen lemonade concentrate (or spoon out half of a large can)

1 envelope Orange flavored Kool-aid, non-sweetened

5 Tablespoons Instant tea

1 ½ cups sugar

Add fresh cold water to the gallon mark

Stir until mixed.  Mrs. H. always poured hers into a clean gallon-sized plastic container like what distilled water and drinking water comes in, so she could cap it and store it in the fridge.  I always use a gallon size bottle of drinking water to make my tea, so I will have the container to make my tea –  just like Treva’s mom had.  This tea just goes with everything.  You’re gon’na love it.

Now, what to do after grub time…


Set up a “stage” using bales of hay, and after dinner let your guests have a go at some Country Western Karaoke.

Cowboy Poetry

Ask your guests to do a little research before the party and round up some cowboy poetry.  Perhaps your guests are poets-and-didn’t-know-its and would care to take a dare and write some lines of rhymes on their own times and bring ’em. Gather everyone around the fire pit or bonfire and let him or her take turns sharing the funniest and cleverest.  Roast marshmallows and invite your guitar-playing buddy to lead the gang in some prairie tunes, like Home, Home on the Range.  It will be a little like camping. 🙂

Cowboy Poetry, by Hal Cannon

Cowboy Poetry Classics, by Various Artists (Audio CD – Sep 13, 2005)

Coyote Cowboy Poetry, by Baxter Black (Hardcover – Oct 1, 1986)

Elko! A Cowboy’s Gathering, by Various Artists (Audio CD – Jan 25, 2005)

Cactus Tracks and Cowboy Philosophy, by Baxter F. Black (Paperback – Oct 1, 1998)

Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion, by Charlie Seemann and Virginia Bennett (Paperback – Jan 20, 2004)

 (And there are tons of others.  Type “Cowboy Poetry” into the search box at

Also, try this website:

We are lucky in our family that we have Harold.  He’s my cousin-in-law who dabbles a bit in cowboy poetry, among his many other talents.  He wrote a poem once about MUSTANGS that I just love.  It’s actually best when he tells it, live and sitting around a campfire.  I’ve lost my copy that Sonya sent one Christmas and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.  We got together for a family reunion a couple summers ago and he told of few of his poems while we were all sitting around after dinner.  Darn-it, where’s a video camera when you need one?

MUSTANGS by Harold Anderson


Horseshoes & Steer Roping

Definitely set up a horseshoe pit (see Family Reunion chapter for how to set up a horseshoe pit), and even a sawhorse mounted steer head for some roping practice.

Target Practice and Knife Throwing

Set up a target strapped to a tree for knife throwing competitions, or line the fence with pop cans for some target practice.  If you live in the city use rubber band guns or a Red Ryder BB gun.  It will be a hoot, I promise!

Rubber Band Gun vendors:  (really cool gun!)

Gunnysack races

Be sure and pick up some gunnysacks for races at your local farm and ranch store (like Murdocks), and maybe even a small horse trough filled with water and a half a box of apples, so the kids can bob for apples.

Needle in a Haystack

Make a big haystack and hide some treasures in it for the kids to find.

Rope Tricks

Make sure you have some lassos so your guests can learn some rope tricks.  Here’s how to do them:

Rodeo Race

This is a team relay race so divide your group into however many teams of equal number and be prepared with a stopwatch to time them.  At the starting line is a giant stick horse, a cowboy hat, and a neckerchief.  At the whistle the first person on the team has to put on the gear and ride the stick horse through the rodeo arena.  First they’ll zigzag through the pole bending, at the end of the poles are the barrels, which they must circle each one without knocking ’em over.  They’ll ride from the last barrel to the waiting rider, hopping and kicking like they’re on a bucking bronc to the finish line.  The next rider has to put on the gear and repeat the process (in reverse) to the waiting team member at the other end.  Whichever team finishes in the quickest time wins.

Square Dancing or Line Dancing

Remember when we all had to learn to square dance in P.E. class at school when we were kids?  You always wondered where in the world you would ever use that in life – well…right here, at your Cowboy BBQ, that’s where.  Clear an area for the Square Dance and see how much you remember.  Get a Square Dance CD to refresh your memory if it has faded over the years from lack of use.  Or, if you’d rather, learn a couple of line dances and teach them to your guests.  There is a wonderful line dance video out there that you can use to teach yourself and your guests.

Square Dance Fun for Everyone (2 CDs and Booklet) – Kimbo; Audio CD

Let’s All Square Dance – Various Artists; Audio CD

A Quick Start Guide to Line Dancing (Shawn Trautman’s Learn to Dance Series) – Shawn Trautman; DVD


Give each guest a harmonica and give everyone time to pick out a tune… then have a contest and pick the winner of the best tune.

Play Harmonica in One Hour, Featuring Bobby Joe Holman by Bobby Joe Holman (DVD – Nov 29, 2005)


After dinner, how about a nice outdoor movie under the stars?  Drag the TV outside on the patio.  Gather all the lawn chairs around it.  Wrap everybody up in a saddle blanket or sleeping bag, and let’s watch an old western.  Pick a movie, any movie:

The Shootist                Tombstone                  Silverado                     Quigley Down Under

The Cowboys              Tom Horn                    Open Range                The Quick and the Dead

True Grit                     Bite the Bullet             Wyatt Earp                  The Sons of Katie Elder

Pale Rider                   El Dorado                   Nevada Smith             Long Riders

Paint Your Wagon      Outlaw Josey Wales    Once Upon a Time in the West

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance             Young Guns                The Magnificent Seven

Maverick                     Urban Cowboy           8 Seconds                    Unforgiven


Pure Country               Lonesome Dove (ummm… that’s a little bit long to watch in a night)

Campfire Stories

And when we’re done with that, how about sitting around a campfire and telling stories, roasting marshmallows, or singing to the guitar until everyone is snoring?

Stories for Around the Campfire, by Ray Harriot (Paperback – Dec 1986)

More Stories for Around the Campfire, by Ray Harriot (Paperback – Dec 1986)

The Kids Campfire Book: Official Book of Campfire Fun (Family Fun), by Jane Drake, Ann Love, and Heather Collins (Paperback – Jun 12, 2001)

I personally love Patrick McManus

Board Games

Here is the short list of some “Cowboy” themed board and card games if you’d like to give them a try.  Look for them online at Board Game Revolution and

Cowboys: The Way of the Gun

Wyatt Earp (card game)

Snorta!  New Edition from MATTEL (I hear this one is hysterically fun)

The Farming Game by Weekend Farmer

Racing ‘N Rodeo Board Game, by Weekend Farmer

Late for the Sky Rodeo-Opoly, by Late for the Sky

Life on the Farm, by

* * * 

Well, partner, I reckon I better run off now and git something done with myself.  Been sittin’ here at this dern computer most of the morning.  Can’t wait to get this party started with you.  Happy Trails!!!

* * *

 “Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves.  And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.” 

John 18:18

Entertaining, Family Fun, Feast on This, Mexican Fiesta

Stir Crazy® Mexican Fiesta

Well, today is my yard work day.  There is grass to mow (like seriously if it doesn’t get done today I’m going to have to get goats), rakes to leaf (wait, did I say that right? You see why editing is such a chore for me), a few gardening tasks, plants to water, and bamboo to chop (that is taking over my river bank), and yet here I sit, drawn to the screen of this infernal contraption again like cats to catnip.  All I can think about is writing and telling you (that one dear anonymous person out there who might see this post) all about the Fiesta Party I threw for my sister years ago, believing with all my heart that my experiences will be the cat’s meow, soooo captivating to my audience-of-one that you get right to work planning your own Fiesta Party, for Cinco de Mayo in fact, maybe, which is coming up very soon.  Prrrrrr  (that was Kitty-soft-paws…from Puss-in-Boots –yeah, was it lost on you?  Hey, what can I say, I’m a dork!).

Okay, all kidding aside, this really is a fun way to spend an evening with your friends – your kooky friends who like to cook, and eat, and play games.  Since I purchased my game many howling moons ago, Decipher seems to have gone out of business and their games appear to be out-of-print, which is truly unfortunate, however, you might get lucky to find a copy at a thrift shop or online.  Until then I will share the contents of my box with you and let you improvise.

HERE IS HOW THE GAME WORKS: Have you seen the Food Network show, Chopped? It is a lot like that. You split your guests into two teams (a SALT team and a PEPPER team).  These teams play a game against each other to win ingredients from the pantry of groceries you purchased ahead of time. Each team then has 90 minutes to produce a main dish, side dish, and dessert with the ingredients that they won, and recipes that they have stashed in their memories.  At the end of 90 minutes, everyone sits down to partake of the created dishes and judge them. Stir Crazy provides the spinner, grocery lists, chef’s hats, aprons, and a cassette tape with audio instructions, and about an hour or so of perfect fiesta dinner music.  I’ve included a picture of this for the visual people out there – me, me, oooo pick me.

“How many cooks can you fit in your kitchen?” I didn’t see any way for two teams to be able to prepare their dishes together in the same kitchen, specifically my itty bitty galley kitchen for sure, so I sat up a 2nd kitchen in our den (just off the kitchen) using a long table and electric skillets, an electric double- burner camp stove, a toaster oven, pans, bowls, and utensils, and paper towels.  The BBQ grill in the back yard was also available as a third stove.  And may I also suggest a wash station be added to this auxiliary kitchen with a basin of hot soapy water, another with rinse water, and a pitcher of water for cooking.  It will keep you from having to constantly invade the other team’s kitchen (possibly catching an elbow to the eye) to get water or wash things. Of course what host would mind the imposition (and possible bruising), since your guests are basically making their own supper?  Ha!

At my party I announced the time periodically during the preparation, and retrieved necessities for anxious contestants on an unyielding deadline. I ran for drink refills for everybody, and took several pictures. I had to stop and laugh, yes, nearly pee’d my pants a few times, as the interaction between players got pretty hilarious. I heard a husband shouting sarcasms to his wife on the team in the other room, “Who said this was fun? We’ve got to have a party like this!”

The players not only cook the food, they are also supposed to decorate tables within the time limit. Everything they do is judged, everyone votes by secret ballot and prizes are awarded at the end, even a prize for the dish the dog wouldn’t eat.

Well, I guess I can’t vouch for my guests, but I had so much fun with this party. We didn’t end up with a dish that the dog wouldn’t eat, everything turned out yummy, which was an accomplishment considering that no recipes are used. And after supper we found places to sit all around my tiny little house, and played games.

Here are the scrapbook pages from my party:Fiesta party scrapbook page1

Fiesta party Scrapbook page2

scrapbook page3

I scanned my copy of the host guide for you and have included those images here.  Read through it in planning your own party.











I also have included a copy of the invitations.

Missing of course are the chef hats and aprons, the cassette tape (with the audio instructions for how to play the game, and the wonderful mood-setting music), and name badges (badges? – we don’t need no stinking badges).


Recipes for Snacks and Beverages (provided by the host)


12 cups water

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 whole cloves

1 ½ sticks of cinnamon

12 oz. whipping cream

1 ½ oz. Unsweetened baking chocolate

1 ½ cups coffee beans, ground

1 ½ tsp. Vanilla

In saucepan, boil water. Stir in brown sugar, cloves, and cinnamon stick (broken in half). Reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes. Whip cream into soft peaks – refrigerate. Stir chocolate into brown sugar mixture until melted. Add ground coffee. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Strain mixture through coffee filter. Pour into cups and garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.


Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves to the 4 scoops of coffee grounds that you put in the filter of your coffee maker. Pour in cold water and brew . Add 1 oz. Unsweetened baking chocolate, 1 tsp. Vanilla, and ½ cup brown sugar to the freshly brewed coffee in the pot. Let it sit on the hot plate until chocolate melts. Stir immediately, or keep in a thermal carafe.  I serve mine with Coffee mate French Vanilla creamer, canned aerosol whip cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon to garnish.

HORCHATA (pronounced Or-chaw-ta)

Makes about 5 to 6 cups


1 cup of long grain white rice

1 cup chopped almonds, without skin

5-6 cups of water (to taste)

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup of simple syrup or sugar (more or less to taste)

1 tsp. vanilla extract


In a clean coffee grinder (one that does not smell of coffee) or food processor, pulverize the rice into dust. If using a coffee grinder it works best if done in batches.

Combine rice, almonds, cinnamon, and 3 cups of hot tap water in a large glass bowl or pitcher. Let sit covered overnight.

Pour the mixture into a blender and purée several minutes until as smooth as possible. Add the sugar and remaining water and blend again for just a few seconds.

Strain the horchata through a sieve lined with 3 layers of damp cheesecloth, or a tea towel, into a bowl. Pour a little at a time and keep stirring to help the mixture go through the sieve. Once all the liquid has passed through to the bowl, gather the cloth together at the top, give it a twist and squeeze out any additional liquid. Pour the liquid into a clean pitcher. Cover and refrigerate.

The drink should keep several days, refrigerated. Serve in tall glasses over ice. Garnish with ground cinnamon, or some lime zest if desired.


5 large Plum tomatoes (vine ripe) – diced (skin on)

2 medium Garlic cloves – chopped

1 or 2 *chilies – diced (*Chilies of choice: roasted Anaheim, Chiles de Árbol, Pasilla Chiles, Serrano, Jalapeno, Poblano, or Habañero)

2 slices, ½ inch thick, of white onion – chopped

½ tsp. Dried oregano

¼ tsp. Ground cumin

2 tsp. Olive oil

1 tsp. Rice vinegar

½ tsp. Salt

Fresh Cilantro to taste

Lime juice to taste

Pan roast your chili of choice. Dry the frying pan, peel, seed, and de-vein chilies. Pan roast the garlic until just toasted. Toss in bowl with remaining ingredients. 1 Tbsp. of canned tomato sauce can be added. Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips.


2 large ripe mangos, peeled, diced

1 cup finely diced Mexican or Hawaiian papaya

2 Tbsp. finely diced white onion

2 Tbsp. finely diced red bell pepper

2 Serrano chilies, minced with seeds

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Cilantro

1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint

½ tsp. Salt (or to taste)

Toss all ingredients together gently in a glass bowl. Refrigerate and serve cold, within 4 hours for best texture and flavor. Great served with roasted grilled poultry, fish or pork…but I just love it with tortilla chips as a dip.


I bought a Margarita Bucket from Sam’s Club and to that I added:


Margarita salt (for the glasses)

Limes (for garnish)

And you’ll need Margarita glasses for your guests

A day ahead of your party, add desired amount of tequila to the contents in the bucket and place in the freezer. As guests request, dip and swirl a Margarita glass in the slushy liquid in the bucket and then dip in the Margarita salt to coat the whole rim of the glass. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out the Margarita slush into the glass. Serve with a slice of lime placed on lip of glass for garnish.


1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz)

1 Lemon cut into wedges

1 Orange cut into wedges

1 Lime cut into wedges

2 Tbsp sugar

Splash of orange juice

2 Shots of gin

1 cup of sliced strawberries or raspberries, grapes, and melons

1 small can of diced pineapples (with juice)

4 cups ginger ale

Pour wine into a large pitcher and squeeze the juice from the lemon, orange and lime wedges into the wine. Toss in the citrus wedges (leaving out seeds if possible). Add pineapple, then sugar, orange juice and gin. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale, berries, grapes, melon and ice just before serving. If you’d like to serve right away, use chilled red wine and serve over lots of ice. The best Sangrias are chilled around 24 hours in the refrigerator which allows the flavors to really marinate into each other.

If you would like to make yours non-alcoholic, use a bottle of sparkling red grape juice in place of wine and replace the gin with 2 Tbsp of instant tea.

After Dinner Entertainment

You can make it a dinner and movie night, in which case I would recommend re-watching something like Zorro (with Antonio Banderas and Selma Heyek), or a spaghetti western like The Magnificent Seven, or The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, or the cartoons Rango, and/or Puss in Boots.

Game Options


In case you are unfamiliar, Lotería is basically a bingo game, except instead of numbers it is pictures. Everyone gets a Lotería card and a handful of pinto beans to mark the spots. Each player antes a dime into the pot for each round. A deck of cards with the same pictures is shuffled and used by a caller for calling the spaces.

And just like Bingo, a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line is a “Lotería!” The winner collects the dimes wagered for that round. You can increase the ante if you’d like. We were poor.

Everyone clears their cards and pitches in another ante for the next round. It is easy to play, and perfect for mixed-age crowds. The only challenge is keeping up with the caller, who is supposed to keep a fast pace. If you are unfamiliar with Spanish you have to keep watching the caller to flash the card so you can see the picture. It’s a lot like a tennis match (look up, look down, look up…), but it is also enormous fun.

I asked my mom if she would be the caller for our game, since she was the only one that knew Spanish and could pronounce the words correctly.

CANASTA (cards)

I love this game.  Lots of fun.  Players who are unfamiliar will catch on pretty quick.  This is a great game to play for hours, snacking and refilling drinks in between sets.

MEXICAN TRAIN (dominoes)

I love this game too.  I especially love to play it with JoAnn, although I am sure she cheats with her constant table talk of how she can’t see the dots and doesn’t know if she has any dominoes to play, and then miraculously has none left to play when everyone else at the table is stuck with our stupid piles of double twelves and such.

MEXICO (dice) – see rules at and

If you want to make a night (or day) of it, I have, on other occasions, set up game tables around my house and split my guests into groups of four players, each group starting at a different table, with a different game being played at each table. After an hour or so I ring a bell to signal them to move to the next table for the next game. When all the players have made it through all the games, its goodnight Irene! Or, Jose!  Or Maria!  Or whatever your party name is.

It is helpful to have at least one person at each table that is very familiar with how to play the games, so they can teach it to the others who may be unfamiliar.

Allllllllrightythen….I guess that about does it.  Thanks for reading and have a blast my amigos and amigas!!!  Andale, andale, arriba, arriba!  (Please trill your R’s and use your Speedy Gonzales voice, I beg you!) 🙂

“And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it [is] the gift of God.”  Ecclesiastes 3:13

Entertaining, Family Fun, Feast on This, Kentucky Derby Party, Office Parties

First Saturday in May — KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY

Jolee & ColtIt’s April.  My sweet little granddaughter is over and she is chompin’ at the bit to take a carrot across the road to feed the colt.  The neighbor’s painted mare has had her foal and he is just about the cutest thing we’ve ever seen!  He looks just like his mama, but with l-o-n-g legs and a miniature little body.  He is the star attraction at grandma’s house these days, following his mama around, nursing, nibbling on grass, and growing like a weed. Now that he has learned to walk and run, he has begun to jump and romp and play.  Oh my goodness he is darling.

Just like that little colt I’m jumping in the stalls to have a party!!!  And perhaps because of him, I want to have a Kentucky Derby party.  The timing could not be more perfect.  The annual Run for the Roses is held the first Saturday in May, the Preakness is three weeks later, and the Belmont Stakes rounds out the triple crown another two weeks after that, in June.   How fun would it be to dress up and get to go to the actual Churchill Downs in Louisville, and see the horses run live?  So much history.  So much tradition.  So many stories.

I’ve always loved horseracing.  When I was a kid, while other kids’ dads were leaping out of the stands at little league baseball games, my dad was listening to a commentator on the radio announce, “The horses are at the paddock…they’re in the gate, aaaand…(ring) THEY’RE OFF!”  Our town used to hold pari-mutuel racing at our fairgrounds for a good many years and my husband and I would go for the afternoon almost every weekend of the season.  As far as I’m concerned any sport that you can attend LIVE is the best.

At the official website for the Kentucky Derby ( there is a tab for planning your own Kentucky Derby Party.  There you can preview the horses and bet the derby, pick up recipes like Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie and the Early Times Mint Julep, and sort through a fitting spread of party game ideas (

Think I’ll call my party the Hoffman Stakes, and of course hold it at the Hoffman Downs (aka: our house).  I kind of like the idea of Derby foods too, and bluegrass music is picking in my ears.  I think it would be fun to have everyone come dressed nice, as if they were going to the real Kentucky Derby…fancy clothes, and fancy hats for the ladies (or, we could be casual and do crazy hats for the ladies and gents).  I like the idea of a Buffet of derby foods, so guests can help themselves for the duration of the party.  If I have them arrive about an hour before the telecast we can spend some time getting to know the horses and making our wagers with each other, and then when the race is about to begin we can gather around the television to watch the run-for-the-roses LIVE! After the race and the excitement and the exchange of wager winnings, I have an evening of games planned, a video game, a board game, and a yard game, in addition to all the snacking and sipping, and contests and white elephants, and…..oh just keep reading….it’s gonna be a  hoot (I hope).  I’m so excited!!!

Here’s my plan:

horse clipart1 Month Ahead – Find everything for the party:

Rose clip artPARTY GAMES (for after the big race)

Purchase and get familiar with them.  My plan: Set up a video horse racing game in the living room for 10 players, a horse race board game in the dining room for 10 players, and a horseshoes pit game outside for 10 players.  Rotate between games about every hour.

DSCN9201I chose Derby Day DVD game

This DVD game comes with a DVD, play money, lucky horseshoes (cardboard), a bookie betting board and pen, and instructions for play. I purchased mine from several months ago and paid about $20 for it (I believe), and it works perfectly in my USA zone DVD player.  The game is super easy to play. Just pop the DVD in the player and press start when ready. The instructions say to hand out $100,000 to each player or team for betting money. Once that is done and someone has been selected as the bookie, you press play on the DVD. The pre-race parade for race #1 pops up on the screen. In the parade each horse is shown briefly with their name and odds. There are 12 horses in each race. Once all 12 horses are shown on the board the DVD goes into pause mode so that everyone can place their bets. Once all bets have been placed you just hit the pay button and the horses are off. You watch the race and the announcer gives the play by play. At the conclusion of the race a slow motion photo finish comes up with the winning horses listed. The DVD goes into pause mode again so all winners can receive their winnings from the bookie.

There is a quick betting guide on the back page of the instructions that tell you what the pay off is for each bet under each of the odds. The horse that finishes dead last is the “Wooden Spoon” and the person or team who bet on him gets their money back. When all winners have been paid the DVD may be started again for the next race. Eight races finishes a game, and whomever has the most money at the end of the eighth race is the winner. Lucky horse shoes are used by players or teams when placing a bet and will double the amount won if the horse bet finishes in the money. Lucky horseshoes may only be used once.

At the end of 8 races you can start another eight. The horses will be the same for each of the next 8 races, but they will not finish in the same order as they did in the first 8 races. So you can play and play and play until you are sick of playing. The horses are simulated. The races are not actual race footage. It is like a video game, but it is well done. Your guests will be screaming at the TV just as if they were at a real racetrack.

DSCN9204The Horse Race Game (board game)

I purchased my game from quite a while back and paid around $25, I believe.  This is the game description from the manufacturer:  “Add some excitement and a real adrenaline rush to your next get-together. The Horse Race Game is one of those games your friends will ask for again and again. Players line up their horses at the gate, pay entry fees and place bets. Then roll the dice to move the horses forward or add to the purse. The anticipation grows as the pot gets bigger and the horses advance, till one crosses the line and the “”owners”” share the winnings-it’s a different race every time and anyone can win! 8 years and up.”

And this is the Product Description: “And down the stretch they come! Bring the excitement of the track into your own home with this board game tribute to the sport of horse racing! In fact, it’s the official board game of the Kentucky Derby. Don’t worry – you can’t lose any real money in this game – you’re playing with fun money! Players pay a $1.00 entry fee and are then dealt cards with racehorses on them, such as Skybiscuit and Peace Admiral. Some unlucky horses have been scratched from the race. If you roll the number of a scratched horse, you’ll have to pay the pot! If you roll the number of a remaining horse, that horse advances a spot. You’ll experience the rush of a neck-and-neck horse race, board game style! Only one horse will cross the finish line first – will it be the favorite, or will Longshot Louie take the prize? If your horse wins, you’ll collect the pot. The person with the most Fun Money at the end of the game is the winner. Game comes with Game Board, Fun Money, Horse Cards, Dice, Plastic Racehorses, and Game Instructions. For 6 or More Players, Ages 8 and Up.”

DSCN9206Outdoor Game of Horseshoes

Set up a horse shoe pit outside (I think I’ll set up an Easy-up behind each pit for shade and put misters all around each shelter to keep my players cool, since it is sometimes pretty warm in this neck of the woods this time of year.  And also, a cooler for cold beverages at each pit, and a boom box with music).

Horseshoes is an outdoor game played between two people (or two teams of two people) using four horseshoes and two stakes. The game is played by the players alternating turns tossing horseshoes at stakes in the ground, which are traditionally placed 40 feet apart.

In horseshoes, there are two ways to score: by throwing “ringers,” or by throwing the horseshoe nearest to the opposite stake. (This scoring system gives rise to the popular expression “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” — I’m such a sucker for such random and possibly useless information) A ringer is a thrown horseshoe such that the horseshoe completely encircles the stake.

Point System
1 Point – The nearest horseshoe to the stake within 6 inches
2 Points – If both of one player’s horseshoes are closer than the opponent’s or a leaner, the case where a horseshoe literally leans on the stake
3 Points – A ringer! (If each player throws a ringer, the ringers cancel and no points are scored)
Most games are played to 21, winner must win by two.

I made permanent pits because I had the perfect place and lots of room for them, but maybe you don’t want to.  Champion Sports has an indoor/outdoor horseshoes set with rubber horseshoes that can be set up instantly anywhere and offers a little bit safer play.

Rose clip artAuction & Door Prizes

Purchase a few Auction Prizes (DVDs: Secretariat, First Sunday in May, The Long Shot, Seabiscuit, a gift copy of the horseracing board game, a horseshoe ring puzzle, or…

horshoe from the kda dirty old horseshoe from Churchill Downs (pictured left)

I think I’ll also make a big batch of Bourbon Balls (recipe below) to send home with my guests, placed in cellophane bags and tied with jute and a little rose attached. Or, I could do inexpensive mint julep cups filled with dirt and have live mint plants planted in each (I have a ton of mint growing in my garden).  These could be part of the decor during the party.

blue ribbonMake Blue Ribbons for the Hat Contest

(I made blue ribbons out of construction paper years ago for a bulletin board at an elementary school.  This is what I will do with the leftovers!)

hat ladies
The Derby hat is a longstanding tradition of the Kentucky Derby. Almost all the ladies at the race or any Derby party will be wearing a spectacular hat.  For my party I was thinking I would require ALL of my guests (boys and girls) to come in CRAZY HATS!  The girls may want to wear the frilly stuff, but the men can get creative.  Drag out those Mickey Mouse Ears hats from the family trip to Disneyland, or the Rasta Hat with Dreads from the party store.  Got a sombrero?  Or Cowboy hat?  Oh my gosh…where is that coke can hat my grandma crocheted in the 80’s? Or that beer can helmet with long curly straws?  description

I’ll offer prizes for the most ornate, the most stylish, the most creative, and the most bizarre and possibly even most juvenile.


Most Outrageous Hat

Ugliest Hat

Most Colorful Hat

Biggest Hat

Smallest Hat

Most Boring



Rose clip artDO THE SHOPPING:  Buy Plates, Napkins, silver beverage cups, etc. and all the silver service I can lay hands on to serve my buffet foods in, and find decorations.

Jocky cut-outMake a banner for front door, and a jockey cut-out for photo-ops

Purchase play money to use in place of real money, if preferred for all the betting games.


Rose clip artParty Music

Every party needs great music. To set the tone for your Derby Day celebration, try a Kentucky-based play list. Here’s some inspiration to get you started.

Here is a fun selection I found from the PARTY SOURCE:

Louisville (Dwight Yokam)

Kentucky Moonshine (Pure Prairie League)
Eight More Miles to Louisville (Willie Nelson)

Kentucky Borderline (Rhonda Vincent)
Louisville (Lou Peggy Lee)
Kentucky Gambler (Merle Haggard)

Louisville KY (Ella Fitzgerald)
Blue Kentucky Girl (Emmy Lou Harris)
Kentucky Jelly (Brad Paisley)

Kentucky Derby (Chet Atkins)
Blue Moon of Kentucky (Patsy Cline)
Kentucky Rain (Elvis Presley)

My Old Kentucky Home (Three Dog Night)
Kentucky Woman (Neil Diamond)
Going Back to Old Kentucky (Ricky Skaggs)

Mint Julep (Etta Baker)
You’re in Kentucky (Rosemary Clooney)
One Mint Julep (Xavier Cugat)

*** You can go to, click on digital music in the search box, search for Kentucky Derby music, or any of the music listed above, and then place all your favorite tunes into your mp3 cart.  Once you’ve downloaded all your music you can burn it to a CD, or save it to a portable jump drive, or send it to your phone or mp3 player, and be ready for your party right now.  Here is a playlist I made recently:

Kentucky Derby Party Music



Rose clip artInvitationsDERBY TICKET - Copy

Plan the guest list. Let guests know that there will be a CRAZY HAT contest in various categories (craziest, prettiest, biggest, etc.) for both males and females.  If desired, ask each guest to bring one horse-themed white elephant type gift to trade for wager money (use these gifts as Auction/Door prizes at the end of the party).

Make a flyer listing this information, and include a ticket (like the one I made, pictured to the right, based on ideas I found online) for each guest in the envelope with the flier.  Tickets can be created on the computer or ordered from Party411 online.

The invitations/tickets should have the seat assignments for each guest listed somewhere on the ticket.  I placed mine at the bottom.  The guests won’t have a clue what those numbers mean until they arrive at the party and are asked to present their ticket.  The numbers will tell them what game they will be starting at.  I will have a number taped to each “seat” of the three games.  The players will have to walk around and find their starting place.  After the first game is played, divide the players of the horseshoe pits into two groups, and also the DVD and board gamers.  Send half of each group to join half of another group at a new game (so that everyone mixes and mingles).  Do the same for the last game as well.

20160523_132117-1[1].jpgRose clip artSET THE TABLE!  There are a few horse print tablecloths available online (Horse & Hound, Party City,,, if you plan ahead and give yourself time for shipping.  OR, you can toss any  tablecloth down (burlap, black and white, turf, white linen and lace, etc.) and then find some cute horseshoe eyewear at the party stores, or some real horseshoes from your local seed/feed store (painted gold, black, OR flat gray) and scatter them around on your table, along with a selection of little horse figurines (found in the toy section at most Wal-mart stores).  Set each place with red plates (layer a square plate on top of a large oval plate, and top with a small round plate, even alternate colors – red with a black print and silver charger/underplate on bottom).   Add a ROSE  print hand towel to each (you can even tie up the silverware with a thin leather lace, and silk rose), and then for a centerpiece fill a galvanized metal bucket with stemmed red roses.

Rose clip artPlan the Food and Drink (make my shopping list)   Purchase the ingredients that are not perishable now, and those that are perishable a day or two before the party.


Henry Bain Sauce was originated by the head waiter at the Pendennis Club in Louisville in 1881 and is a mainstay of Derby cuisine.  Freeze any leftover sauce for later use.

YIELD: Makes 3 dozen appetizer or 12 main-dish servings


1 (9-ounce) bottle chutney

1 (14-ounce) bottle ketchup

1 (12-ounce) bottle chili sauce

1 (10-ounce) bottle steak sauce

1 (10-ounce) bottle Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 (4 1/2- to 5-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed

Dinner rolls


Process chutney in a food processor until smooth. Add ketchup and next 4 ingredients, and process until blended. Chill sauce at least 2 hours.

Stir together butter, salt, and pepper; rub over tenderloin. Place on a lightly greased rack in a jellyroll pan. (Fold under narrow end of tenderloin to fit on rack.)

Bake at 500° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of tenderloin registers 145° (medium-rare). Loosely cover tenderloin with aluminum foil, and let stand 15 minutes before serving. Serve tenderloin with sauce and dinner rolls.   — Southern Living MARCH 2004



Another cornerstone of Louisville cuisine is the Hot Brown Sandwich. Created by the chef of the Brown Hotel, this open-faced sandwich consists of two slices of toast topped with juicy roast turkey, tomato slices, crispy bacon, and a blanket of Cheddar-Parmesan cheese sauce. The sandwich is then broiled until the cheese sauce turns golden brown.  Many variations can be found, most commonly country ham is added and a cheddar sauce is substituted.

Serves 8
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes


2 pounds sliced turkey breast (I have used the sliced packaged roast turkey breast, found near the sliced hams in the meat section at Walmart…and I have also purchased peppered sliced turkey breast from my grocer’s deli counter – sliced just under about 1/8th inch thickness.  Both worked really well.)
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
16 thick slices ripe beefsteak tomato
16 slices apple wood-smoked bacon, cooked crisp
Cheese sauce (recipe follows)
8 slices of good fresh-baked farm bread (I found an english muffin bread loaf that was perfect)
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups half and half
1 ½ cup grated sharp white cheddar (I used a mixture of sharp, medium, and mild)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two until the raw flour flavor has cooked away. Whisk in the half and half and bring to a steam, whisking constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese until just melted.  Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

To assemble: Top each slice of bread with about 3 slices of turkey breast. Ladle the sauce over the top, sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano over the cheese sauce. Place under the broiler and cook until bubbly and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and top each with two slices of tomato, and two pieces of bacon. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.


From Louisville’s Benedict Hotel comes the Benedictine, a cucumber canapé spread.


1 large cucumber, grated

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 small onion, grated

1/4 tsp salt

1 drop green food coloring (optional)

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Squirt of Tabasco Sauce or dash of cayenne

Crustless white bread

Olives, cherry tomatoes, parsley, or watercress for garnish

To make it, start by grating the cucumber, skins and all. Wring it out in paper towels to absorb most of the moisture. Combine with remaining ingredients in food processor and pulse until well combined.

The most common way to eat the Benedictine is to make finger sandwiches by spreading the mixture on bread. With a round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut rounds out of bread slices. Spread a small amount of mayonnaise on bread rounds. Spread cheese mixture on half the rounds and top with another round. After spreading the mixture on the bread, thread cherry tomatoes and black or green olives on decorative toothpicks and use for a garnish. Or, garnish with a sprig of parsley or watercress.

This mixture also makes a fantastic dip for veggies and crackers.


The cranberries make these Cranberry Chicken Salad finger sandwiches a bit sweeter than cucumber sandwiches. They are colorful and look great on a tray of canapés.

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 cups shredded chicken

1/4 cup onion

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Add mayonnaise, sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to a food processor and pulse until well blended.

Add chicken, onion and cranberries and pulse until mixture is well combined but still a bit chunky. If needed add a couple tablespoons of milk to achieve a spreadable consistency.

Spread cranberry chicken salad on bread squares (I like whole wheat) and serve cold. Makes 24 finger sandwiches.


1 (18 ounce) jar peach preserves

1 (18 ounce) jar orange marmalade

1 (18 ounce) jar apple preserves

1 (18 ounce) jar pineapple preserves

5/8 cup ground dry mustard

1 (4 ounce) jar prepared horseradish

In a bowl thoroughly mix all ingredients.  May be stored in sterile containers in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.  Great served poured over cream cheese and served with wheat thins crackers.


There can be only one dessert on Derby Day and that is Derby Pie.  The original Derby Pie is about half a century old.  George Kern and his parents Walter and Leaudra worked together to invent the dense chocolaty, nutty dessert at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky where George was manager.  If you want true authenticity, order one and have it shipped right to your door ( If you order it from A Taste of Kentucky they will ship it with an honest to goodness dirty old horseshoe from a horse that has run at Churchill Downs attached to the top of the box.  Fun!

Although I’ve never been to Kentucky, nor ever had a slice of George Kern’s original creation, the descriptions remind me of a Nestle Toll House Pie I made several years ago.  The pie was soooooo yummy that I clipped the recipe from whatever magazine and saved it for all these years.  This is a fitting time I think to pull it out and make it over into my own Racetrack Pie.  Since there’s not a Kentuckian on my guest list, I doubt anyone will ever know it’s a knock off.


2 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shells, thawed, pricked with a fork.
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon  (Jim Beam)

1 1/2 cup butter, softened room temp
1 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you prefer)

PREHEAT oven to 325° F.


BEAT eggs in large bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, sugar, brown sugar, and bourbon.  Beat in butter. Stir in morsels and nuts.  Spoon into pie shells, dividing equally between the two.

BAKE for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve with a scoop of ice cream on top, and a tiny drizzle of bourbon splashed over (optional).DSCN8946


Note:  If you live in south Texas and have an HEB near you, they have recently come out with some designer ice cream flavors.  The Whiskey & Honey is a perfect topper for this wonderful pie!  If you don’t live in Texas and don’t have an HEB, I’m sorry for you.  Maybe Ben & Jerry’s has something similar???



1 cup finely crushed vanilla wafers

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1-1/2 cup of powdered sugar, divided

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

2 tablespoons bourbon

1-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pecans, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. In a measuring cup, blend the bourbon and corn syrup and stir into the dry mixture.

When thoroughly blended, cover and refrigerate for an hour or more.

Sift about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar onto a large piece of waxed paper. Shape small amounts of the dough into balls then roll in powdered sugar.

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Makes about 3 dozen.


20160523_131146[1]MINT JULEP

I had my first sip of Mint Julep when my husband and I visited the Oak Alley Plantation just outside of New Orleans and dined in their little restaurant on the grounds.  Seems like they had a few different versions.  I don’t remember which one he ordered, a lemon one I think, and I remember liking it.  You can’t have a Kentucky Derby party without Mint Juleps.  For my party, I was thinking of making a pitcher and lettin’ people fix their own glasses, first with crushed ice and mint sprigs, then julep mix, and stir.  They can help themselves all party long.

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

6 or 8 sprigs fresh mint

Crushed ice

5 cups good Kentucky Whisky/Bourbon  (a pint + a fifth)

Silver Julep Cups (they must be silver, never paper or plastic)

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered pitcher with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight.

Ideally you would make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces Whisky. Then stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. For the sake of convenience I’ll add my bourbon/whiskey and my mint syrup to a beverage DSCN8949container just before the party and let my guests toss a shot of this Julep mix over a cup full of crushed ice (Sonic sells their wonderful ice by the bag, by the way, and it’s PERFECT!!!).  Garnish with mint sprig.

NOTE:  I made a non-alcoholic version of mint julep for a luncheon recently.  I added the minty simple syrup to my large galvanized beverage serving container and then substituted the bourbon for 5 quarts of Lemon Seltzer water.  I chilled it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  I filled each Julep cup with Sonic ice, covered the ice with minty seltzer water mixture, and then garnished each with a lemon slice and sprig of mint.  It wasn’t bad…refreshing actually!

I have looked and looked and looked for inexpensive metal cups for my Juleps for several years, and have been unsuccessful.  At the last minute I ended up buying my little silver disposable (taboo plastic) cups at Party city.  You might have some luck shopping at the Party Source  for yours.


Mix up a big batch of fresh brewed iced tea and/or a huge pitcher of real lemonade and have in a serving container on the drink buffet.  Have a container of the minty simple syrup setting nearby, along with crushed ice and mint sprigs.  Let your guests fill their silver cups with crushed ice, drizzle the desired amount of syrup over the ice, and add their tea or lemonade, then garnish with mint sprigs.

Want more food ideas?  Check out these Top 20 Kentucky Derby Recipes


9. May Luncheon

Rose clip artA Derby Party is also a great theme for a luncheon.  I had the honor recently of hosting an end-of-the-year luncheon for the staff of a local school.  Since the luncheon landed in May, in the middle of the triple crown horse racing season, and since it was getting down to the finish line of school, a Derby theme seemed a perfect choice.  


horse clipart2 Weeks Ahead

Make and send invitations (and remember to mention the CRAZY hat contest)

Order red roses from florist, or purchase silk roses

Play the board game(s) enough to get familiar with how to play them, and how long a game will last.  Make sure race DVD works.

Arrange for helpers.  Need a helper to be the bookie for the DVD races game, and one to explain play of the board games; another at the horse shoe pit.  (You will be busy keeping the food fresh and drinks full).  Need someone to serve snacks, and usher people to their start locations, and someone to take pictures.

Confirm that you have all your serving dishes and pieces, glassware, etc.  If you are throwing a big party, this is the time to make sure you have enough tables and chairs and make arrangements to rent some if needed.

horse clipart1 Week Ahead

Grocery shop for all non-perishable items and stock the bar.

Prep and/or cook any make-ahead items.

Make blue ribbons for the hat awards, and ballots.

horse clipart2 Days before the Party

Clean the house

Do all the decorating and set up the buffet table.

Adorn tables with vases for the red roses and set some decorative horse shoes around.

Set up the jockey cut-out.

Set up the betting booth.

Check to make sure you have all the parts and pieces to all the games and enough plates, cups, napkins for guests.


horse clipartDay before the Party

Get out all serving pieces, fill vases with flowers and place in fridge, chill beverages.

Do all the perishable grocery shopping, beers, and get several bags of ice.

Prepare whatever foods can be made up a day ahead.

Pick up the roses from the florist and keep in the refrigerator until ready to set out.

Make sure the horse shoe pit is ready to play, set up gazebos, and set out a cooler for ice and beers.

Set up the prize table.

Have blue ribbons for the hat awards.

Set up the table for Auction/Door prizes

Arrange for a helper to serve snacks on trays


horse clipartDay of the Party


Prepare last minute foods for party.

Place roses on tables.

Place a sign on front door and/or yard signs.

Set music up in CD player and horse race DVD in DVD player.

Set up the board game(s) on the dining table. 

Place race forms, funny money, betting cards, and pencils near the TV where the DVD races will be shown.

Set up board game(s) at dining room table(s).

horse clipart2-3 hours before guests arrive

Chill out; take a nap, a shower, veg in front of the TV, relax.  Be a guest at your own party.  It will be so much more fun that way.


Make sure the horse shoe pit cooler is filled with ice and beers and have it ready to take out at last minute.

Set out food and drinks on hot plates and in ice buckets, buffet style.

Start music playing in the background for when guests arrive.  Make sure the CD with the trumpet tune is ready to go on a boom box.

Make sure you’re dressed and ready to greet your guests with your full, relaxed, warm, southern hospitality.

horse clipart4PM  PARTY TIME! 

As guests arrive make a big to-do about their hats and take pictures.

Encourage guests to help themselves to drinks and snacks

Collect the horse gifts brought and place on Auction/Door prizes table; inform them of what game they will be starting with and have your helper assist them in locating their seat

Let everyone mingle until all guests have arrived.

Parade of hats (take lots of pictures)!  Encourage guests to take photos of themselves behind the jockey cut-out (silks) between sets of play.

Explain the order of play for the evening.

Ask guests to help themselves to the buffet table to eat, and let them know it will be open all evening.


Hand out Racing forms with the lineup of horses.  Direct guests to the Kentucky Derby website if they want to place any real bets.

Have the television tuned to the station that the race will be broadcast on.  Allow guests to mingle and talk about horses.


Watch the race on TV.

Give guests a few minutes to celebrate and talk about the race.


Begin play at each game station, and the wagering for the first race, at the sound of the trumpet tune (which should be ready to play on CD player).

   …And They’re Off 

Play the video for the first race, and start the other games simultaneously

Repeat wagering and video races at whatever pace will keep things hopping, allowing guests to snack and talk between races.

If the DVD has 12 races, play one every 15 minutes (to go with the board game taking about an hour).  Each group will watch 4 DVD races before moving to the next station.

All players rotate to next game.  Allow time for snacking and drink refills.

***Pass out ballots and have guests vote on the hats.  Collect ballots.


All players rotate to next game.  Allow for more snacking or dessert and coffee.


All sessions wind to a close.

Call guests together and let them use their winnings to bid on the Auction/Door prizes

***Award prize ribbons for “best hats”

What if I have a guest list of night owls who want to party on late into the night?  I want to be prepared with plenty of snacks and if we have to run out for more beverages we will.  We could gather everyone around the TV and play the DVD game, or gather everyone around the table and play the board game, or set up some lights outside for a night game of horseshoes…for as long as everyone is having fun.

Before my guests leave, remember to give door prizes (gifts) as they head off into that good night. 🙂

“I returned and saw … the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all”    Ecclesiastes 9:11

Bunco Party, Entertaining, Feast on This, Fun with Friends

April Fools Bunco

Get your neighbors, coworkers, husband’s coworker’s wives, or your church ladies together and start a monthly Bunco group.  April Fools Bunco would be a great way to kick off the start of any group and here are my ideas for a zany night of fun.

101_4771Let’s start with INVITATIONS

I got some girly little purse invitations at the party store, because I thought they were adorable, and then just wrote in all my party information on the insides.  I added some “Texas” blingy crosses to some of them and got them in the mail about two weeks before my party.  I didn’t give away any information about my party having April Fools pranks.

There are lots of other invitations out there that have dice on them, and perhaps that’s the way you would prefer to go. If you want to give a small preview to your party, you can add a prank to yours…perhaps a paper spider that pops out when you pull the flap open on the invitation, or a funky scent spritzed on the paper.  Or you could encrypt the invitation information into a secret code puzzle that they have to solve in order to find out the details, or cut it into puzzle pieces that they have to put together.

Now let’s think about our TABLE SNACKS101_4756

I made two snacks for each of the three tables: “puppy chow” served in dog bowls, purchased from the dollar store (and totally sterilized in the 101_4752dishwasher), and multicolored Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers, served in actual fish bowls that I picked up at Wal-Mart in the aquarium department (and also sterilized in the dishwasher).

The recipe for the “puppy chow” (Chex® Muddy Buddies®) is usually featured somewhere on the box of Corn or Rice Chex cereal boxes.  I hope it is okay for me to share it here with you.


Now, moving on to SWAG BAGS

101_4776I filled little brown paper bags with inexpensive gag gifts (bubba teeth, stick-on mustaches, packets of Doughnut Seeds, which were cheerios – the flavored kind.  It was an idea I saw in a Family Fun magazine I believe click here for instructions).  I gave these bags as prizes after each round of play, so that my guests would act up and be silly if they wanted to while we nibbled on refreshments (featured below).  I hoped that by the end of the evening everyone would win something even if they didn’t win a Bunco money prize.


Here is the SET-UP for an April Fool’s Bunco

Set up the three tables as usual, but make 101_4691table #3  a “loser” loser table, if you know what I mean – L-sign to the forehead, L-O-S-E-R  table!  Find a table that wobbles (taping a small stack of washers to a leg of the table will do the trick).  Set 4 mismatched chairs around it (like an ottoman, a bar stool, an office chair, and a bean bag chair).  Place a whoopee cushion under the seat pillows of one chair.  101_4683Give them 3 different size dice, a big toddler pencil or a teeny tiny pencil or a crayon to keep score with, a random stack of scrap papers stapled together for a score pad, and even nasty tasting snacks like wasabi peas, or anything bland and tasteless from the health food store, and serve in ugly bowls, chipped bowls, or just a paper plate.

You could replace the bell on table-one with a squeaking rubber duck toy, or a train whistle, or a bicycle horn, or one of those cans of air, just to be weird and obnoxious.


I usually like to have some kind of music going in the background of all my parties to put everyone in the “party” mood as they walk through the door.  So…what kind of music shouts “April Fools” to you?  This is probably going to totally BUST my “Christian” image to admit that I own one, but I thought a Bob Rivers CD would be the perfect touch (to lend that sort of “Jack Ass” element to the party).  Oh dear.  Yeah, Bob’s CDs are undeniably the anti-type to Philippians 4:8.  (Feel free to substitute your own music selection here if that is just too embarrassing for you.  It actually might be too embarrassing for me too with certain of my friends ).  At any rate Bob’s songs are ones that you think you know.  They sound just like the originals of hits from the 80’s/90’s.  His songs, however, if you are not familiar, are parodies, spoofs of the songs from a couple decades ago, with twisted (altered) lyrics – “fool” you music that is super funny in a tacky, crude, gross, ill-mannered, irreverent, vulgar, unashamed sort of way.  I have, dare I admit, his Twisted Tunes Volume 1 and 2.  I wonder if I turn the volume way down if anyone will notice the lyrics???   You know what might make a great alternative is Anita Renfroe (Christian comedian), except that all of her awesome parody songs are in video format and scattered between several DVDs.  Oh Anita, you need to do something about that!

What about PARTY FOODS?

I’m so glad you asked. Here was the line up for my party… but there are a million great ideas out there!  (Pinterest)

101_4761April Fools Bundt Cake (actually a calzone)

For this use a tube of Pillsbury Pizza dough, lay it in the bottom of a non-stick Bundt pan and press a channel into the center of it all the way around so that the dough is spread up the sides.  Use a jar of pizza pizza sauce, pepperoni, cooked sausage, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc. and carefully spoon this sauce in the valley of the dough that you placed in the pan.  Carefully layer another tube of pizza dough on top and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven as directed on dough package, until a toothpick inserted in the bread part comes out clean.  Remove from oven and invert onto a pretty cake plate.  Use the finest quality Mozzarella cheese slices you can buy and arrange them on top of the “cake” in a thick layer.  Return cake to oven just long enough to melt the cheese to look like icing.  As you can see, I let mine melt a little too much and I didn’t have any extra cheese to fix it.  Don’t do this. Lol! Remove from oven and serve warm.

101_4747Meatloaf “Shepherd’s Pie” Cupcakes

Do you have a good meatball or meatloaf recipe? Mix your ingredients together and use a large ice cream scoop to shape your meatballs about the size of a poolball.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place a large meatball into each of the paper-lined cups of a muffin pan.  Bake about 20 to 25 minutes until meat is brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan (internal temp 165*F).  Invert onto a paper towel lined rack to absorb grease.  In the meantime set up a new muffin pan with foil cupcake wrappers.  Transfer each meatball into a foil cupcake wrapper in the new pan and set aside.

Make enough instant potatoes for 8 servings, following directions on the box of instant butter flavored potatoes, substituting the water for beet juice.  Use the juice of 2 cans of beets (not pickled beets), being sure to add enough water to the juice to equal the amount called for.  The more beet juice, the stronger the color your potatoes will be.  If you want them to look really red, use only the juice of the beets and no water.  Transfer the mashed potatoes into a frosting piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the potato “frosting” onto the meat cakes.  These can be kept warm in the oven until ready to serve (up to 30 minutes).  Sprinkle with a grind or two of peppercorn mélange just before serving.  You could also sprinkle some grated Parmesan, chopped chives, and bacon crumbles on top.

Ham & Cheese “cinnamon” Rollsdscn7700

Unroll a tube of Pillsbury Pizza dough and roll it with a rolling pin to thin it just slightly.  Spread with a thin smear of honey mustard (or dijon, as you prefer), and then lay slices of thin sliced ham over the entire top, and then a layer of thin sliced baby swiss over the ham.  Roll up, jelly-roll style and slice as you would cinnamon rolls.  Lay on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden on top.

101_4750Spaghetti Casserole Cake

Use a box of any favorite Duncan Hines cake mix (or your favorite homemade) and bake in a non see-thru 2 X 9″ pan as directed on the box.  Cool on rack.  Refrigerate several hours.  Place one can of cream cheese frosting in a piping bag fitted with the small hole tip.  Pipe the frosting back and forth all over the top of the cake until it is covered in what looks like spaghetti noodles.  This will take forever, but it is worth the effort.  You may need to use another can of frosting to achieve the effect and completely cover the cake.  Place about 12 Ferrero Rocher chocolates randomly on top of the frosting.  Warm a jar of plum or strawberry jam in the microwave for about 15 seconds, stir and then drizzle over the “meatballs” and slightly onto the frosting.  Cake may be kept in the refrigerator the remainder of the day until ready to serve.


101_4703PRANKS (hahahahaha)

Place a jar of nuts-in-a-tin on the kitchen counter or serving table (the kind with a spring-snake inside), so that when a guest opens it to get a snack the snake will pop out.

Make a beverage or set out some kind of candy that will stain everyone’s mouth blue (or whatever color) for the evening.  Or make sweet and unsweet tea and switch the labels.101_4740

Place a roll of some kind of gag toilet paper in the bathroom.  (Mine was printed with “Oh Crap!” all over it)

Put a fake spider in the bathroom sink, or beside the toilet, and several other places.

A Little pre-party prank…

Before my guests arrived I turned off all the lights in the house except for one lamp near the front door.  I had on a pair of pajamas, smeared a green mud mask on my face, and put some pink hair rollers in my hair.  When my guests arrived I answered the door reluctantly, like I had no idea who could be at my house, and stood there for a moment before them with a befuddled look on my face.  After a moment I opened my eyes wide, as if I’d just had an epiphany and said, “OMGosh, is that TONIGHT?”  As my guests hemmed and hawed about what to do, I broke out with a smile and blurted, “April Fools!”

Okay, April Fools, no I didn’t.  I would have, but I didn’t think about it until I was writing this blog post.  I just answered the door like it was any other party.  But please, if you are a courageous cuckoo, will you please do it for me?  It’s be fun!!!!



At the end of each set of six rounds I gave out SWAG BAGS to the Highest Score, 2nd Place, Most Buncos, Last Bunco, and Booby.  Then we took a snack break.   We finished the evening giving out the money prizes and then gathered around my table, laughing, telling stories, and staying up way past our bed times.


In preparation for any themed or un-themed BUNCO party you will need:

101_468312 party invitations (plus, be prepared to make phone calls to make sure guests will be attending and find subs if not)

Appetizers, snacks, dessert


3 tables with four chairs for each101_4676

3 dice for each table (total of 9 dice)

Personal Score cards and Vis-a-Vie markers (12 total cards, 2 markers per table – 6 total markers)

Score pads and pencils for each table (3 total pads, and 3 total pencils)

101_46995 Envelopes for prize monies:

Mark one envelope “High Score”

Mark one envelope “2nd High Score”

Mark one envelope “Most Buncos”

Mark one envelope “Last Bunco”

Mark one envelope “Booby”

Bell:  You can have a bell, like those at a motel that you tap the knob on top of and it rings, or you can have a clangy old school teacher’s bell.  If you purchase a Bunco game it will have some sort of bell included 101_4686in it.  Or as I mentioned before you could have a squeaky rubber duck, a huge baby rattle, a whistle, a train whistle, or a bicycle horn, or basically anything that makes an obnoxious noise.

Bunco Buddy
(this can be anything from a little bean bag toy, to a special crazy hat, to a lei, or even a big fuzzy die).  I had a flying monkey toy that screams when you shoot him.



Here’s how to set up your three tables:

Table One 101_4688


Bunco Buddy

Score pad and pencil

Vis-a-Vie markers


Snack bowls


Table Two

Score pad and pencil

Vis-a-Vie markers


Snack bowls




Table Three (Remember, if this is an April Fools theme, make this the “loser,” loser table.  If you missed the suggestion above, make the table rickety, by using two TV tables and taping a stack of washers to the bottom of one leg to make it wobble, or use a heavy piece of cardboard balanced on an exercize ball for a table, with mismatched dice, an oversized pencil or crayon for keeping score, torn pieces of paper to keep score on, mismatched chairs – a rocking chair, a bean bag chair, a bar stool, and an office chair, for example, and make the snack for that table something not very yummy – unflavored rice cakes, vegan veggie crisps, wasabi peas, swedish fish, you know, that sort of thing. And for added fun, put that table in a part of the house where players can hear the bell ring, but where there’s maybe not a lot of room, or it’s a little cold, or a little hot, maybe the laundry room with piles of clothes everywhere and the cat litter box where they have to step over, or maybe you have a loud and obnoxious clock that you can hang hear that table, or next to a kid’s room who is playing drums or basketball, or…you get the idea.)

Score pad and pencil

Vis-a-Vie markers


Snack bowls



Once all of your guests have arrived and each has paid their $5 to the prize fund ($5 X 12 players = $60), separate the monies into the envelopes as follows:

High Score –  $20

2nd High Score –  $15

Most Buncos –  $10

Last Bunco –  $10

Booby (lowest score) –  $5

• Announce to the guests which table is Table One, Table Two, and Table Three (if they couldn’t already distinguish them).

• Players can snack and play and visit during the first set, then take an appetizer break between sets – use the restroom, take a smoke break, check cell phones, etc.



101_4674You will find the instructions for how to play the basic game on any boxed Bunco game found at any game store (Wal-mart, Toys-R-Us, K-Mart, Target, etc.).

If you do not want to buy a pre-packaged game,  you can use the templates I have pictured (and detailed) in this post, plus you will need nine dice, a bell of some kind, a Bunco Buddy, and pencils and scratch pads to keep score during play at the tables.

Variations to the Boxed Game

I’ve discovered that people play Bunco differently from group to group and state to state.  In Wyoming all the groups I played with basically played the game as instructed in the box, but as a gambling game just did their payouts a little differently.

Here in Texas they do everything different.  This is the crazy Texas version I’ve been introduced to:

TEXAS BUNCO:  It is the same in that there are two teams at each table who work together to beat the other team at the table, and whenever the winners or losers move they can’t have the same partners at the next table.  BUT…they don’t work their way through the numbers (1,2,3,4,5,6) as in the boxed game, but rather ALWAYS only roll for 6’s every set, every round, every game.  If you roll three sixes that is a “Texas Bunco,” and whenever a TEXAS BUNCO is rolled, anyone at the table may grab the dice to steal the points.  Since Buncos can be stolen, you can imagine how this results in a pretty physical game and riotous behavior. Dice and people often times end up on the floor in a wresting match.  As you can imagine it is too wild for snacks to be on the tables. There might even need to be some ground rules about how long a woman’s fingernails can be (as they could be a lethal weapon – hahaha). 

If you get only one or two sixes when you roll, they count as one point each, but you get to keep rolling.  You must roll at least one six to keep rolling, otherwise you pass the dice.  If you happen to roll three ones that is called “snake eyes” and your team loses all your points acumulated during that roll.  If you roll three of any other number, it counts as five points total and you get to keep rolling.  If no scoring dice are rolled, play passes.  The first team to reach 21 is the winner of that round.  You can play six rounds and then take a snack break, and then come back and play another six rounds.  You can play as many rounds as you want, as long as it is decided ahead of time so that nobody feels cheated out of the prize monies at the end.

Winners move up a table (unless they are already at table one), and losers move down a table (unless they are already at table 3).  My neighbor’s group plays with men and women and everybody pays $5 to play.  They give prizes for MOST WINS, MOST BUNCOES, and MOST LOSSES.  They play with at least 12 people, but the more the merrier (multiples of 4).  Her group usually does a carry-in pot luck supper, which is served in courses between rounds – six rounds played, then they serve appetizers or salads, six rounds played, then they serve the main course, six rounds played, then they serve dessert, and during dessert and coffee the prize monies are distributed.  

The church ladies I played with in Wyoming paid their money to the host, who passed it on to whoever was hosting next.  That next host used it to buy prizes to give in place of money prizes at her party.  We always played at the church, but each took turns bringing the snacks.  After a while we all just started bringing a wrapped, $5 gift instead of money.  Another thing your church group may enjoy doing is to increase the price per person to play, and have each person choose a charity in your church or community that each can play for.  You could have several written on pieces of paper and let everyone draw one out, or let everyone choose their own (favorite charity), such as the church nursery, the food pantry, a women’s ministry, a missionary couple, a local private Christian school, a crisis pregnancy center, a pet rescue, a child advocacy ministry, etc.  Upon arrival, have everyone that is playing pay their money and then put down on a sign-up sheet who they are and the charity they are playing for.  At the end of the night only the big winner gets the money, and the host will be responsible for delivering it to the designated charity that week.

The way Karen’s group played Bunco: We all paid $5 as we arrived.  The money ($5 X 12 people = $60) was divvied up into prize envelopes:  First Place ($20), Second Place ($15), Most Buncos ($10), Last Bunco ($10), and Boobie ($5).

101_4675We had 12 laminated personal score cards labeled Table 1, 2, or 3 and Team 1 or 2 also labeled on them, which we drew upon arrival so we would know what table and team we were starting from.  We used Vis-a-vie markers to mark our cards after each round with our wins and losses, and at the end of the night, after all prizes had been awarded, we washed them off and they were ready for the next time.  At the end of this chapter are some Bunco cards that you can copy/print and cut apart.  If you would like, you can laminate them and use Vis-a-Vie markers just like us to mark wins and Buncos, and tally totals on for your party.  At the end of your evening these cards can simply be washed off and reused as long as they were laminated in a laminator machine and cut apart having a 1/2″ frame of laminate around them.

Bunco score cardStarting with any set of numbers we marked a circle around the games we won and an X through the games we lost (as shown in the diagram here to the right).  Notice there are three sets of numbers, a set for each game.

Notice the score card here shows Table 1 Team at the top?   If you drew this card you would start playing at Table 1 and you would be on Team 1.  The starting position is no longer relevant after play has begun.

Table Tally SheetChoose who will be the scorekeeper.  There is one person at each table who will keep score.  This person will have the Table Tally Sheet (shown here to the left) and pencil, and will keep track of points for both teams at the table.  The scorekeeper will draw a vertical line down the center of the Table Tally Sheet and label the first column “US” and the other column “THEM.”

At the sound of the bell (Table One rings the bell) someone at each table should pick up the dice and begin rolling.  If the roller rolls a ONE they get to keep rolling.  If no ONEs are rolled the player’s turn ends, and they pass the dice to the player on their left.  Each ONE rolled counts as one point.  Three ONEs rolled at once is a Bunco (if you are on round one), at which time the person rolling will shout BUNCO! And earn a score of 21 added to whatever they earned up to that point, they should now take posession of the Bunco Buddy and need to mark the Bunco on their score card, and then continue rolling until no more ONEs are rolled.  Three of a kind of any other number  besides a ONE when you are on round one scores as 5 points, and the player gets to continue rolling.

Whomever is holding the Bunco Buddy is responsible for passing it along to the new Bunco roller when they yell, and need to tell them which Bunco they rolled (1st, 7th, 10th, etc.).  So if you roll a Bunco, and yell, the person who tosses the Bunco Buddy at you will tell you which Bunco number you rolled (it will be the next number after the one they rolled), and you’ll mark that on your scorecard.

Keeping score… let’s say it is round ONE; the roller rolls a ONE with her first roll, everyone at the table would say “one” and the scorekeeper, if she was on the same team would make a tally under US, then if the roller rolled another ONE with the second roll, everyone would say “two” and the scorekeeper would mark another tally under US, and if she rolled another ONE with the third roll, all the players at that table would say “three” and the scorekeeper would mark another tally, then if she rolled 3 fives, everyone would say “eight” (3+5) and the scorekeeper would mark the five more tallies, then if she rolled three ONES, that would be a BUNCO, and everyone would say “29” (8+21) and the scorekeeper would mark the tallies), the roller would catch the Bunco Buddy as it sailed through the air toward her, mark on her scorecard which Bunco she got, and pick up the dice and roll again.  But if this time she rolled a 2, 4, and 5, with her dice her turn would be over. Her total score would be 29, as recorded by the scorekeeper, and she’d pass the dice to the player on her left, which is a player on the opposing team.

Now, if she was sitting at Table ONE, someone at that table would ring the bell marking that round ONE is over, because whenever a score of 25 is reached at Table ONE the round is over for everyone.  If she was sitting at Table Two or Three and Table ONE has not rung the bell yet, play would continue until the bell has sounded.

A night of Bunco consists of three sets of play (notice the three sets of numbers 1-6 on the personal score cards).  Each set consists of 6 rounds.  The first round everyone rolls ONEs… the second TWOs… the third THREEs… etc., and you can only get a Bunco is your roll three of the number of the round that you are on.  If your team ends the round with a higher score than the other team at the table, you both get to draw a circle around that number (if you were rolling for 3’s, you would circle the 3) on your scorecard for that set, the other team would mark an X on 3’s, and the two who circled get to move up a table (unless you are at Table ONE already, in which case you get to STAY at Table ONE).  If you were the losing team you must draw an X over that number on the set you were playing, and you stay at your current table (unless you were at Table ONE, and in that case you must move all the way down to Table THREE), and if you were already at Table 3, you just stay there.

When you stay or move to your next Table the two of you must also change partners, so you will have a new teammate for the next round.  And it will continue to change from table to table all night.

Please consult the rules of play in your purchased Bunco Box, if mine seem confusing.  

At the end of the third set all players add up their circled games, plus their total of Buncos for a TOTAL SCORE, which they will write in the bottom space on their score cards.  The score cards can then be lined up on Table ONE from highest score to lowest.  In case of a tie for high score those players will roll off to determine who should take the prize.  If the player that wins the roll off is also a winner of either first or last Bunco they forfeit that secondary prize and the person who rolled the second or next to last Bunco wins the prize instead.

Once all prizes are awarded, dessert is served.


Some Bunco groups that I have belonged to have served alcoholic beverages during play, and others, for various reasons did not.  Use your best judgment in serving wine, frozen Margaritas, Sangria, or designer Martini’s considering that most of your guests are likely driving, and some may be addicts trying to stay sober.  Italian sodas, Iced tea (straight up or flavored, hot or cold), fruity lemonades, and designer coffees (flavored, regular or decaf, hot or cold) are good alternatives.


Would you like to start a monthly Bunco group with your neighbors, or just have a Bunco Party now and then?  There’s no better time than the present to get started hosting one and see where it ends up.


now that you’ve gotten the ball…or…umm…dice rolling. 🙂

Red Hat Ladies Bunco

Pajama Party Bunco

Come as you are Bunco:

Make your calls to your guests to see if they can all make it, do it at a time when you think they may be wearing something they wouldn’t want anyone to see them wearing, without makeup maybe, or dressed up super fancy.  Maybe early Saturday morning, or at night just before bedtime.  Maybe when you know they are gardening, or painting the back bedroom.  Inform them that your Bunco party is a COME AS YOU ARE party and they must come exactly as they were at that moment.

Halloween Masquerade Bunco:

All players come in complete disguise.  Spend the evening trying to keep your identity under wraps (by altering your voice to a Mickey Mouse voice, using a heavy made up accent, or whispering, etc.).  See how long everyone can stay in character.  At the end of round one give each person a number to wear around their neck, and give each player a sheet with the numbers 1-12 listed.  While everyone is endulging in snacks, have each person write next to each number who they think that person is.  At the end of round two do the big reveal.  Then round three you can all relax and just play.

Strip Bunco (It’s actually a pool party – or hot tub party, but you can keep that a secret to the end if you wish):

Oooo, racy!  Invite your fun girlfriends to this one, the playful ones with a sense of humor.   Don’t tell your guests anything except the theme and that they will lose clothing for every loss.  Let them think the worst (hopefully you have a group with a fun sense of humor).

All you are going to tell your guests is that they better wear lots of clothes, and just to be safe, that they should wear their swimming suits underneath.  If someone loses all their clothes down to their bathing suit that’s all the farther they will have to go.  No one loses past their swim suit.  You can choose to tell everyone up front, or once they arrive at your house, or make them sweat to the end of the game, and spill the beans only when someone is having a panic attack.

The night should be a lot of laughs, but here’s the really fun part: Dessert will be served in the hot tub.   Whatever you are wearing at the end of Bunco is what you’ll be wearing in the hot tub.  Some people who thought themselves pretty sassy for not losing very much will think differently whilst they sit in a hot tub with 6 shirts, 3 pairs of socks, and 2 hats on their head. Ha!  Okay, I’m not really that mean.  They can shuck their duds to join us.

Monthly Holiday Theme’s:

SEPTEMBER-Grandparent’s Day- everyone brings photos, either of their grandkids or grandparents.  These can be shown around and bragged about, or put on a bulletin board for everyone to guess whose people belong to whom.


DECEMBER-Christmas-white-elephant &/OR ornament exchange

JANUARY-I-Have-A-Dream  (everyone shares a crazy dream they recently had, or something they are passionate about, from having a fast food restaurant that serves only fresh fruit and veggies, to making it mandatory that all kids learn to write with both hands in school, to health insurance for pets, or whatever they’d like to change about our world)

FEBRUARY-Valentines, Mardi-Gras, Super-Bowl-tailgate, Academy Awards

MARCH-Saint-Patty’s-Day, Easter Egg Hunt

APRIL Fools (encourage light-hearted pranks and Bubba Teeth silliness)

MAY-Mother’s-Day-garden-party or Memorial Day (honor Mom, or a military member)

JUNE-Father’s Day BBQ

4th-of-JULY picnic, fireworks, and party poppers

AUGUST-Beach party, or Back-to-School

Football Theme

High School or College Alma Mater Theme

60’s Theme

Beehive (hairdo) theme

Punk or Goth theme


You can decide if your group wants to do appetizers and dessert or a full meal, and who will bring what.

Usually the HOST provides beverages and table snacks (usually a bowl or two of something – something sweet and something salty, like chips, pretzels, cheese doodles, Chex mix, Cheez-its, flavored popcorns, mixed nuts, etc. and M&Ms, Hershey kisses, Nibs, jelly beans, Halloween candy, and such).

Or, if doing a meal the HOST provides beverages and the main dish and everyone else brings sides.

Usually the GUESTS take turns providing carry in appetizers (ie. cheese and crackers, veggie tray, fruit platter, stuffed mushrooms, bruschetta, cream cheese veggie pizza, etc.) and/or desserts (cake, pie, cookies, etc.).

Or, if doing a meal the GUESTS bring in the sides (salads, veggie sides, starchy sides, bread, and desserts).


Good luck with your party.  If you think about it, would you please come back here and tell me how yours went?  I’d love to hear.  God bless you.

Some of the kooks that showed up to my Shindig! :)
Some of the kooks that showed up to my April Fools Shindig! 🙂

Here are the PRINTABLES:


“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God…'” Psalm 14:1

Entertaining, Feast on This, Holidays, Saint Patrick's Day

Irish for a Day – Saint Patty’s Supper Recipes


Now, a girl with the name COLLEEN simply must, absolutely recognize Saint Patty’s Day with a dainty feast fit for a leprechaun, don’tcha think?  Yes, she simply must!

And this Colleen (Irish Gaelic for “girl”) is a BIG fan of corned beef and cabbage, even though I met an Irish laddy once who said he’d never heard of it until he came to America. Apparently it isn’t an Irish dish at all. Well, I guess my family has been here too long and we’ve forgotten. Anyway, I don’t care.  I must have it at least for St. Patty’s Day. And the leftovers make for a right amazing Reuben sandwich (dark rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, 1,000 Island dressing, Swiss cheese, and then grilled like a Panini) – YUM, …or… Reuben Cream Cheese Dip on little rye melba toasts.

And this is how I make my Corned Beef…


2 large corned beef, (will shrink in size when cooked)

2 Tbsp Pickling Spices

2 small bags of baby red or yellow Potatoes

2 sticks of butter

1 large green cabbage chopped into bite-size pieces

Seasoned Salt (or Creole Seasoning)

Preheat oven to 325*F. Rinse corned beef well and pat dry with paper towels. Place fat side up in a large crock pot, early in the day. Add clean, cool water until meat is almost totally covered.  Sprinkle the fatty tops with the pickling spices that came with the roast, and also an extra Tbsp of pickling spices per portion of meat. Cover with lid and let cook on high setting all day (at least six hours or more).  Check for doneness at the sixth hour and if meat falls apart easily it is done. If not, cover and allow to continue cooking another hour. Check and repeat as necessary.  When meat is tender, turn the temp to warm and proceed making the rest of the meal. DSCN9266

Place potatoes (whole and unpeeled) in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil (you can use the broth from the meat if you desire, but if you do, then do NOT add salt).  Boil gently for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, as the potatoes are nearing done, in a large frying pan, melt a stick of butter until it has separated and clarified. With the heat on medium high, place chopped cabbage in the butter and stir fry it until just tender and slightly translucent — just a minute or two.  Turn heat down to low, add another stick of butter, and the cooked potatoes (cutting them in quarters as you add them).  Toss both together until completely coated in melted butter.  Taste to see if it needs salt and add Creole Seasoning as necessary.

Remove meat from crock pot to a serving dish, slice the meat with a sharp knife, and drizzle with reserve liquid (make sure pickling spices have been filtered out).  You can whip up a quick batch of horseradish sauce for those who desire it (my husband must have it).  To make this sauce I add about a teaspoon of prepared horseradish to about half a cup of dairy sour cream and stir.

TO SERVE: Pile slices of meat on plates and spoon cabbage and potatoes on the side. Serve while piping hot, with a little prepared horseradish sauce dalloped on top of the meat, if desired.


4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round ball and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. HINT: To give a real authentic look, before baking any Irish bread recipe use a knife to cut a cross in the top of the loaf. According to old Irish folklore, the cross will ward off the devil.  The Irish are a quirky superstitious people!  Don’t you love us?

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.
This Irish bread recipe makes 1 (1 1/2 pound) loaf, 15 servings.


Ingredients: (may want to double or triple for a large crowd)
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 bay leaves
2 pounds beef stew meat cut in 2 inch cubes
1 large white onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, whole
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (mixed with a little cold water)
2 14-oz cans beef stock
1/2 cup Guinness® stout
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 pound carrots, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a 6-quart Dutch oven. Add the oil and the bay leaves. Cook the bay leaves for a moment, toss the meat in flour and then add to pot. Brown the meat on both sides on high heat. Add the sliced onion and cook for a few minutes until it is clear. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic, thyme, rosemary and flour, and stir well until smooth. Add the beef stock and stout; simmer, stirring, until the stew thickens a bit. Add the remaining ingredients and cover. (No potatoes? This must have been a recipe from the potato famine era – you may add a couple large Yukon gold potatoes if you wish).

Place the pot in a 275° F oven for about 2 hours, stirring a couple of times. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving. Serves 4.  Delicious served with a big GREEN SALAD with GREEN GODDESS dressing!!!

And for Dessert…
1 yellow cake mix
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/3 cup Irish whiskey
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1 stick butter
1/4 cup water
1-1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 to 1 cup Irish whiskey (to your taste)
Strawberries and whipped cream

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Grease and flour a Bundt or tube pan. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan.  Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool; invert onto plate. Prick holes in cake with wooded kabob skewer. Melt butter in saucepan. Add water and sugar. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; slowly stir in whiskey. Drizzle over top and sides of cake, allowing it to be absorbed into cakecake. Continue until all glaze is used. Serve with fresh sliced strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream on top.

HINT: The secret to success with this Irish dessert recipe is that it tastes best when it has been made the day before serving.  And, what’s really special is to find fresh, ripe strawberries growing on your strawberry plants for a garnish!!!


• Heat up a stemmed whiskey goblet, or coffee mug.
• Pour in one shot of Irish whiskey.
• Drop in three white sugar cubes.
• Fill nearly to the top of the goblet with strong black coffee (stop about an inch from the rim).
• Stir gently.
• Pouring it over the back of a spoon, gently add heavy cream to fill the goblet, floating it on top of the coffee.
• Do not stir – the full flavor as intended is achieved by sipping this drink through the cream.

Hint: If at all possible, use fresh cream with no additives for the best effect. Most heavy cream for sale in stores in the United States contains additives, which can actually make it difficult to float the cream on the coffee. If you find that you’re having this trouble, try beating the cream only until thickened, not fully whipped and carefully sliding a dollop on top.

Now wIrishhat about the table? 

I like to scatter my table with little paper shamrocks (I’ve written little Irish blessings on all of mine and laminated them so I can use them year after year), and gold foil chocolate coins.

Now we can’t just have supper all by itself.  That would be boring.  It has to also SOUND Irish while we are eating and so while you are out shopping for groceries, grab yourself a CD of Irish music and have it playing while you make your supper, and also while your guests arrive to help you eat it.  One of my favorite CD’s is Celtic Tribute Players, Tribute to Flogging Molly.  It is just instrumental.  But you can look for another Celtic CD selection at Wal-mart.  There is always something Irish in their line up of mood music, usually near the candle section.

Here’s a fun song from The Celtic Tribute Players tribute to Flogging Molly

And after supper, cuddle everybody up on the couch and watch a movie.  I happen to like Far and Away, because even though my family did not come across an ocean or build the railroad tracks that brought them there, my beloved family did come all the way across the country to do the Oklahoma Land run, featured in this movie.  And even more than that, the cannon used to signal the start of the race (in the movie) was borrowed from old Fort Casper (or was it Old Fort Laramie?) in Wyoming.  So, it is a wonderful little tradition to watch it every Saint Patrick’s Day.  🙂

I’ll leave you with some of my most favorite Irish Blessings…

May the blessing of the five loaves and the two fishes which God divided among the five thousand be ours; and may the King who made the division put luck in our food and in our portion.

Bless, O Lord, this food we are about to eat; and we pray You, O God, that it may be good for our body and soul; and if there be any poor creature hungry or thirsty walking along the road, send them into us that we can share the food with them, just as You share your gifts with us.

May this food restore our strength, giving new energy to tired limbs, new thoughts to weary minds. May this drink restore our souls, giving new vision to dry spirits, new warmth to cold hearts. And once refreshed, may we give new pleasure to You, who gives us all.

The grace of God and the favor of St. Patrick on all that we see and all that we do. The blessing that God put on the five loaves and the two fishes, may He put on this food.


From the orchards of Armagh
to the fields of Wicklow,
May God bless the farmer’s work
and help his crops to grow.
And St. Swithin intercede for him
that weather rain or shine
his labors are rewarded
this coming harvest time.

Like the gold of the sun, like the light of the day, may the luck of the Irish shine bright on your way. Like the glow of a star, and the lilt of a song may these be your joys all your life long.

Bless the house
and bless the hearth,
bless the work
and bless all here.

May your faith be strong
May your heart be true
and the devil n’er
make a liar of you.

May you be blessed with
warmth in your home,
love in your heart,
peace in your soul
and joy in your life.

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you,
A moonbeam to charm you,
A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light.
May good luck pursue you each morning and night.

May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

May your blessings outnumber
The Shamrocks that grow.
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

May your troubles be less,
And your blessing be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.

He who loses money, loses much;
He who loses a friend, loses more;
He who loses faith, loses all.


May you live as long as you want,
and never want as long as you live.

May the grass grow long
on the road to hell for want of use.

As you slide down the banisters of life
may the splinters never point the wrong way.

May your troubles be as few and as far apart
as my Grandmothers teeth.

May the roof above us never fall in,
and may we friends gathered below never fall out.

May the Lord keep you in His hand
and never close His fist too tight.

May your neighbors respect you,
Trouble neglect you, The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you.

May I see you grey and combing your children’s hair.

May your doctor never earn a dollar out of you
and may your heart never give out.
May the ten toes of your feet steer you clear
of all misfortune, and before you’re much older,
may you hear much better toasts than this.

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been,
the foresight to know where you’re going
and the insight to know when you’re going too far.

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings,
slow to make enemies, quick to make friends.
But rich or poor, quick or slow,
may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

May the frost never afflict your spuds.
May the outside leaves of your cabbage
always be free from worms.
May the crow never pick your haystack,
and may your donkey always be in foal.

Here’s to you and yours, and to mine and ours.
And if mine and ours ever come across to you and yours,
I hope you and yours will do as much for mine and ours,
As mine and ours have done for you and yours!

May you live to be a hundred years,
With one extra year to repent!

May those who love us love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.

“So he brought him into his house and gave fodder to the donkeys. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank.”  Judges 19:21

*This entry taken from the book Come for Supper? the memoirs of a reluctant hostess, by Colleen Hill Hoffman.  If you enjoyed it you might also enjoy my Asian Hot Pot party, Polynesian luau supper, Cajun crab boil for a crowd, or Brazilian steak house home feast.  Look for my book at, Barnes &, and  or search for it in Google Books.  Thanks for reading and God bless you.  🙂

Entertaining, Feast on This, Fun with Friends, Murder Mystery Party

How to Host a Murder®


Τhe air was crisp on that November evening, in our desolate little town.  Howling winds raged in the darkness and barren cottonwoods swayed in the furor.  A cluster of fallen leaves straggled across the street like a gang of miscreants, and a dog barked in the distance to the rhythmic sounds of footsteps crunching across the newly fallen snow.

Out of the blustery umbra a bristly figure appeared in the moonlight, undaunted by the fierce weather around him.  He approached the old house, mounted the rickety front porch steps, and lumbered towards the entrance, making the windows of the dwelling shudder with each quaking stride.  An abandoned cob web snagged against his cumbersome wool coat as he reached to open the door.  Grasping the tarnished brass knob in his strong clutches and turning it slowly, the heavy, weatherbeaten door screeched open on its hinges.  A tiny mouse squeaked and scurried beneath his feet as he stepped across the threshold into the darkened room.

A mysterious, persistent smell invaded his nostrils and wafted in the air eventhough an eerie silence hinted the old house was empty.  Gloom hung thick in the room.  Lurking silhouettes hunched as ominous obstacles throughout the quarters making it hard for him to set a course.  Beyond the menacing shadows he glimpsed a faint light from an outside street lamp peeping through a kitchen window, illuminating a meager corridor into the next room.

Pursuing the glow, the stalwart man drew near to the entrance of the kitchen, where the narrow rays of soft yellow light exposed a dreadfully macabre scene and what appeared to be a bloody knife left precariously behind on the countertop.

Was he too late?  Had someone beat him there?

His heart throbbed in his chest.  He reached for a weapon.  His mind raced for what to do next.  All-at-once the looming silence was broken by a shrill screech from a far-off room, and then a startling crash.

The man lunged in the direction of the racket, adrenaline pulsating in his veins.  Goaded by masculine fortitude, he felt his way along the walls as he slithered surreptitiously down the staircase.  His eyes were pinned open as he scanned the darkness for any slight movement.  Struggling to control his erratic breathing he bravely decended to the bottom step where suddenly, out of the obscurity, a boney, emaciated figure crashed into him and groaned.  The man gasped in surprise…


Did I have you going?  Did I?  Wringing my hands and cackling a wicked little laugh.  Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee.  Oh, how fun. Alright, here’s the reality behind this teaser.  The intruder was actually my husband coming in from work.  The house was dark because, well, it’s November, and I’d been on the computer most the afternoon since putting supper in the crock pot earlier in the day and hadn’t noticed that the sun had gone down, so none of the lights were on in the house upstairs, and unfortunately for husband I had rearranged all the furniture that morning as well, so that’s why the room was hard for him to walk through.

When I heard his footsteps upstairs it was right about at the same moment I had just discovered the perfect idea for my mystery-loving Mom’s birthday party, which sent me bolting to my feet and squealing with delight.  In the chaos my chair fell backwards to the floor with a deafening crash.  I just left it lay and hurried to greet my loving man.  That’s when our bodies collided at the bottom of the stairs.  And there you have the inspiration for my little attempt at fictional writing.  How did I do?  Meh…don’t quit my day job, right?  🙂

How to Host a Murder is a long-running series of boxed murder mystery games published by Decipher, Inc. Players take on the roles of suspects after a murder has occurred, all attempting to expose which one of them is the murderer.

Decipher Games may be out of business now, but their games live on and are available at, eBay, and several online game stores like Funagain Games.  I have also found them at garage sales and thrift shops.  If you Google the titles (I’ve listed most of them below), several buying options should come up.  The games first came out in the early/mid eighties, and most have been revised and updated.  Definitely look for the newer versions. They are just so much better written, and the very newest ones will include a CD instead of a cassette.

Your game box should include:

A cassette tape (or CD)

A host guide with instructions

A sheet of secret clues

8 Guest invitations and envelopes

8 Name tags

8 player manuals, containing secret information

A diagram of the crime scene

Optional dinner and costume suggestions

This is how your party will basically play out:

You choose your guests (you’ll need seven of them plus yourself makes eight), send out the invitations (included) at least a couple weeks in advance, and provide the meal and beverages.  Each guest’s invitation includes a leaflet about the character that they will be playing.  Your guests will be searching second hand stores, vintage clothing shops, Salvation Army, and costume stores for the perfect outfit to wear, and they will be studying up on their character so they can get their part just right for the night of the party.  Participants are to come to the party in costume and in character.  Give your guests suggestions for where to find costumes, and give them time to round them up.

As the host you also will have your character to play, and therefore will need the same preparation.  In addition, you will be serving a suggested three course meal (usually fairly easy), which you will need to prepare ahead of time.  You might choose to decorate as well, and have some sort of music to lend atmosphere while guests are reading their scripts and eating.  The cassette or CD will also include some background music, and it will have all the narrative to explain the game to the guests.  All you do is press the play button.

The game comes with booklets for each character, which you hand out at the start of your party.  They resemble play scripts.  You will gather your guests around and play the cassette/CD at the beginning of your party.  It will explain everything, instruct everyone on what they are to do, and set the scene. You and your guests will play the game in three acts (each act being made up of one part: reading scripts, so everyone knows what their character did and did not do, and then the second part: aggressively interrogating the other guests, and being aggressively interrogated, in an effort to piece together the mystery).  A course of supper will be served at each intermission.

I chose:

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE GUILTY, because it takes place in the little Wyoming Territorial town of Roadkill (on July 2, 1881). In response to a warm invitation from His Honor, Judge Waylon Payne, I invited my guests to be gathered in his home beside the courthouse, in the heart of town, for a sumptuous dinner. Dinner was to be followed by the hanging of the infamous, formerly elusive Malevolent Seven – a villainous gang of criminals rumored to have secretly victimized our fair territory for many years. Although no one knew the identity of the Malevolent Seven, my guests and I spent the evening figuring it out. Assuming the role of an Old West Character we solved the murder that occured just before the festivities, by using the clues provided, the crime scene diagram, etc., and in the process exposed the many secrets of Roadkill, Wyoming.

I set the scene of my party by decorating the living room and dining room with western theme decorations I found at our local party store.  They had a swinging saloon door that I hung in the doorway to the kitchen, and another in the doorway to the bathroom.  I decorated my table with gunny sack material covered with a clear plastic table cloth, and used bandanas for napkins, and piled the center of the table with a couple of old revolvers, some spent bullet casings, and a vase of roses.  I threw some saddle blankets over the couches and draped a lasso off the back rest.  I also found a great CD of old west wagon train music that I had playing when guests arrived.

3. Good Bad Ugly

The Characters:

Legendary Butch Chastity is the first lady of outlaws. Her all-woman gang are the Amazons of the American West. There’s nothing coy or dainty about Butch. She can drink her fellow outlaws under the table; she can hold her own in a game of poker; she can rob a stagecoach in record time; and she can kill a man just as soon as look at him-and often does. In her secret hide-out, a place called the Hole in the Mud, Butch plans the most daring of heists, including her many famed train robberies. It has been rumored that Butch has gotten away with more gold than any outlaw alive. Costume Suggestion: Dungarees or jeans, boots, suspenders, gun belt, pistol, holster, bandanna and cowboy hat.

When a mysterious lone gunslinger rides into some dusty western town, it’s usually P’elvis Swagarin. Solemn, poker-faced, bowlegged-he’s a cowboy’s cowboy. Born Peter Elvis Swagarin, he’s P’elvis to those who know him. He’s a man with no belongings but the shirt on his back, his gun and his saddle….a man who sleeps beneath the icy stars, a horse his only companion. P’elvis appeared out of the prairie heat just two days ago, and ever since he arrived, the whole town of Roadkill has been whispering in hushed tones, wondering who he is and what he wants…  Costume Suggestion: Dungarees or jeans, chaps, boots and spurs, suspenders, gun belt, pistol, holster, bandanna and cowboy hat.

5. Good Bad Ugly

Matriarch of the Handcart clan, Helena is the mother of the Handcart boys: all thirteen of them. Billy-Bob, Bobby-Rae, Little Ricky, Martin and Lewis, Harpo, Groucho, Sleepy, Sneezy, Manny, Moe and Jack. Oh-and, of course, the Beav. Unfortunately, she had to bury all thirteen of her sons after they were tragically killed in a shoot-out at a dairy farm. The now infamous gunfight at the Parkkay Corral left her with nothing but memories. A strong woman, she has been able to survive, although most of the time she remains secluded on the sprawling Handcart Ranch, managing the family cattle business. Helena owns half the territory and never lets anyone forget it.  Costume Suggestion: Long black skirt with matching blouse, brooch, gloves, bonnet.

Chief Breaking Wind is the distinguished leader of the Cowpai tribe-an honorary position these days, since the entire Cowpai tribe fell victim to a mysterious disease several years ago and perished. Still, the stoic chief keeps his traditions alive, trusting that, with his help, the Cowpai will rise again. Unwillingly relieved of his tribal responsibilities, the chief has since opened a successful barber shop in town and, ignorant historical references notwithstanding, hasn’t scalped a soul. Still, no one ever angers the chief.   Costume Suggestion: War paint and a breechclout for the truly adventurous; loose-fitting trousers, tunic with embroidered or painted symbols, native-design blanket, moccasins or soft, slouchy boots, black braids, feather headdress. (I also brought along a woopie cushion).

4. Good Bad Ugly

Elvira-Lynn is the consummate soiled dove and makes no bones about it, so to speak. She’s known throughout the territory, and there’s even that famous saloon song written about her- My Heart Burns for You, and Other Places, Too. She’s the proud madam of the Pigeon Ranch, the best little you-know-what in Roadkill. Since Judge Waylon Payne is one of her steadiest clients, the law does a good job of looking the other way. To look at her now, you’d never guess she was born in the gutter and suffered a sickly childhood, battling everything from consumption to bubonic plague. But now she spreads, among other things, sunshine wherever she goes.  Costume Suggestion: Low-cut blouse, corset, garters and patterned hose, be-ribboned bloomers, fancy hat with feather plumes, cigarette holder.

Wyatt Hertz is by far the most famous lawman in the West. He kept the wild frontier town of Roadkill under tight control, keeping the locals in line with an iron fist of fear. That is, until a shotgun blast caught him in the tender parts. Legend has it that Wyatt was ambushed by the vicious Partridge Family gang, and he didn’t stand a chance. That was a year ago. Since then, he’s retired, letting Judge Waylon Payne reign as both sheriff and justice of the peace. Now Wyatt runs a lucrative rent-a-horse business. He never lost a gunfight, and some folks believe he could take out a whole gunslingin’ gang with a single round from his six-shooter.  Costume Suggestion: Dungarees or trousers, full-cut white shirt with black scarf or bolo, brocade vest.

2. Good Bad Ugly

She is known as just Adela to her friends. Adela is a Mexican beauty with the most pious of spirits but is plagued by bad luck. She’s been thrice-widowed-each time as a newlywed. Her first husband, a local politician, died shamefully during one of his secret outings to the Pigeon Ranch. Her second husband, the town pastor, died while preaching, and her third husband, the town undertaker, keeled over from exhaustion while planting the thirteen Handcart boys. Now poor Adela is left to deliver Sunday sermons and forced to become town undertaker. Still, she knows that she will rise above her misfortune. Until then, she’ll continue to wear her black mourning veil.  Costume Suggestion: Black blouse and long skirt, black gloves, large hat heavily draped with black net or tulle.

Young Elias is an up-and-coming heart-throb gunfighter. He can dazzle spectators with his quick draw and a spin from his guns, and when he’s not showing off his slinging skills, he’s demonstrating his pugilistic prowess. He’s known as the best brawler west of the Mississippi and comes out of every fight with nary a scratch. Orphaned as a boy, Elias was raised under the firm, wise hand of Judge Waylon Payne. After a patriotic stint with the U.S. Cavalry, Elias returned home to Roadkill and to the women who adore him.  Costume Suggestion: Tight dungarees or jeans, half-unbuttoned plaid shirt showing genuine or applied chest hair, sideburns, mustache, bandanna tied at neck, gun belt, pistol, holster, boots and cowboy hat.

1. Good Bad Ugly cover

Not knowing what we were doing at first, we started out a little slow and timid, but in the end had a total blast!!!!  The weather was the worst it could have possibly been outside with heavy snow and burly winds, but all my guests showed up, dressed charmingly, in character, and all were excited to play.  If I’d have given out awards, Karen would have won the Emmy for her character performance of the saloon girl.  She was a riot.  This particular title suggested that the host make a roast chicken for supper (super easy – most grocery stores have these available in the deli), but having played the game I would suggest that you make a nice beef stew instead, and that is easily accomplished in a crock pot.  I won’t tell you why the stew.  You’ll have to just trust me.

I would also like to make this little warning.  These games are a little racy.  Especially the saloon girl’s part, and Wyatt and Butch’s parts as well (in this version we played).  It’s not X-rated or anything like that, I wouldn’t say even R-rated really, and there is no explicit language that I remember, but the subject matter is maybe a little PG-13.  The box warns that you need a sense of humor and a light-hearted attitude toward deceit, larceny, sex, and murder.  But, the box also says, How to Host a Murder is so much fun, it’s almost criminal, and it really is.

If you or your guests would be offended at some of the “adult” themes, there are some teen mysteries you could try instead. Decipher has created three teen versions.

Some titles in Decipher’s How to Host a Murder (Adult) line-up are:

The Watersdown Affair (…finds you at the Watersdown Mansion, a 1930s English mansion and the elegant home of Sir Roger Watersdown. This colorful narrative includes characters such as Dr. Malcom K. T. Praktiss, the personal physician, the actress Miranda T. Shetes, the mystery author, the attorney, the socialite and more! Theres no shortage of suspects, glamour or scandal in this winding tale of murder, sex and deceit! This boxed game even includes invitations, a CD with period music, menu suggestions and more! Bring the game to life with costumes, props and theatrical flair for a party everyones dying to attend!

Powar and Greede (in this title players are guests of the producer W. Anton Powar. At a gala, guests find out that 1936 is curtains for a mutual friend).

The Grapes of Frath (set in June 1925, aboard a yacht in the Mediterranean.  The Fraths have invited several “friends” for a cruise. In a secluded bay of a Mediterranean island, murder is discovered and the passengers must decide who amongst them has committed the crime).

The Last Train From Paris (Players role-play their parts, to figure out the murderer while dining in a train car during World War II).

Archaeologically Speaking, It’s The Pits (Arthur E. Faxe, the eccentric entrepreneur and amateur archaeologist, sails this month for ancient Mesopotamia in search of human fossils and in the hope of proving the Darwinian Theory of Evolution. Faxe has chosen a region of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley known since ancient times as Vages for the site of his expedition. This area is distinguished by an immense and prominent boulder that can be seen for miles and is known locally as the Rock of Vages. A small cleft, or opening, at the base of the rock is the site of an unusual collection of fossils. The cleft, discovered in 1854 by French archaeologist, Henri Formie, is described in scientific literature as Rock of Vages, Cleft Formie. By arrangement with the local government, Faxe and his entourage will establish an extensive camp in an abandoned military fort near the archaeological site and overlooking the Tigris River.)

Hoo Hung Wu (I have heard that this is a hard one.  Some loved it; some hated it.  The setting: The Autumn Moon Festival in eighth-century China, celebrated between two families).

♥ The Chicago Caper (This is a fun one that my crew has also played.  Loved the costumes for this one!!!  It is September 1928 in Chicago.  Guests receive an invitation to S.P. Keasys place, a private club near the headquarters of notorious gangster Hal Cappone. Upon arriving, Hal is discovered murdered).

6. Chicago Caper scrapbook pages 7. Chicago Caper scrapbook pages 2

The Class of ’54 (Join the Roley High class of 1954 as they celebrate their fifth reunion with a performance by their most illustrious graduate, Rock N. Roley. You and your guests can enjoy burgers, fries and a cherry coke or malt (ambitious hosts can stick with the suggested menu of brandied pot roast) while you investigate the murder of a beloved rock star. The cassette tape, features a malt shop atmosphere and Sargent Joe Flighty’s tough-cop narrative, goes a long way toward setting the mood.   Solve the murder of Rock N. Roley and expose the truth about the tragic death of Becky Sue Lamour on that fateful Homecoming night.  A four-hour mystery dinner party for eight people).

The Duke’s Descent (You are invited to Airesborne Castle, family seat of the Dukes of Airesborne. Assume the role of one of the potential heirs to the title. Imagine your home is an English castle as you and your dinner guests enjoy hours of suspense and intrigue).

Tragical Mystery Tour (The Tragical Mystery Tour finds you among the tuned-in and turned on, off on a cross-country road trip to Beefstock with one of the hippest rock singers of all time. While you’re hanging out at her love pad, an explosion rocks the house. The psychedelic bus has been turned to dust with someone on board.  This one got lots of good ratings on Amazon).

Maiming of the Shrew (It is the Twelfth Night of Christmas, and you’ve been invited by renowned playwright William Sheepsheare and his beloved Lady Katheter deVane to dine like kings and queens at the Glib Theatre. But, when you arrive, there are blood stains upon the stage).

Roman Ruins (Roman Ruins blends history and mystery for a hilarious and captivating evening of devilish delight! Having mentioned your name in his Roman epic, the renowned poet, Flabbius Corpus, invites you to a banquet for the premier recitation of his historical work. When you arrive, you discover theres been a murder in the garden and a priceless statue is missing).

An Affair to Dismember (One of the newer releases.  Set in the Castle Von Morgue in Deadbolt, Transylvania on All Hallows Eve. Written by award winning author Neil Shusterman, the guest list includes: The Mummy of King Aldrinktotat, a Rogers and Hammerstein monster, a kosher cannibal, a deadly dentist, a flamboyant clairvoyant, a wicked witch and more! You assume the role of one of these ghoulish characters and solve the murder mystery on a dark and stormy night).

(There may be others)

So get you a box and a fun group and a good meal and a rockin’ costume and go have a blast!!!!

“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints… is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Ephesians 1:26-28