Thursday, June 12, 2014

the grad party

My sister Lisa has a daughter who graduated from high school this spring so a grad party was in order.  In preparing  for the upcoming party Lisa wanted the food choices to be Kaylee's favorite foods.  They selected a color theme early.  Kaylee wanted to have colors other than the school colors so Lisa started amassing a collection of things that she found in the chosen colors of orange and teal.  They spent a good part of the winter trialing macaroni and cheese recipes and hamburger recipes and green bean recipes until they found (or perfected) the ones that would be served.

Lisa did some things that were pretty unique and were very successful and I will try to share them here.

Lisa served the food in her garage.  In addition to the tables on which the food was served she had two long tables and a pub table for guests to sit at in the garage and had overflow seating on the patio that was in the backyard.  For those that might be wondering about serving guests in a garage, it is not that unusual in our Midwestern area  and Lisa's garage is not your ordinary garage.  She has been hard at work remodeling.  She has sheetrocked the walls and installed beadboard topped with a narrow ledge made from layered moldings.  The ledge holds her collection of metal signs.  She has fun light fixtures and a sophisticated paint color scheme. 

Serving in the garage freed up the kitchen for food preparation and provided a place for her kitchen helpers, her two best friends, and assorted family members to refill the trays and provide the freshly cooked food items on her menu.  One of her friends, Trudy, was the designated panini maker.  Another friend, Judy, baked the batches of beans, assembled the macaroni and cheese ingredients in the crock pots, and made the punches.  The rest of us, my girls and I and other helpers that popped in to help, assembled the vegetable shooters, placed the cupcakes in the decorative wrappers  and made trips from the kitchen to the garage replenishing serving dishes that were in need of refilling.

The decorations

Lisa and Kaylee chose orange and teal for their color scheme.  Lisa picked up orange and teal paper plates and plastic flatware.  She chose burlap in varying widths and colors and vases and other containers and silk flowers.  She handed the girls a box and the they were able to choose from her collection to decorate the tables.  In the last minute chaos excitement that goes along with a party I did not take any photos.  I am sharing those taken by others (thank you, Cait).

White tablecloth, wide burlap runner topped with narrow orange chevron striped runner, blue vase and orange flowers
 White tablecloth, wide burlap runner topped with narrow teal runner and orange candle.  Lisa tied orange and teal jute around the salt and pepper shakers that were on the tables.  Kaylee's name and graduation year were cut with the cricut from the excess paper used to make the cupcake wrappers and were scattered on the runners. 

This was the tail end of the serving table.  Orange glazed flower pots hold the flatware.  Placing the flatware at the end of the line allows guests to not have to hold on to the flatware while assembling their plate.  Another narrow burlap runner in blue and orange is on this serving table.  Kaylee's artwork was displayed throughout the room.  The colored pencil drawing in the above photo was drawn by Kaylee from a photo of Kaylee with her camera taken by a friend.  The photo was inspiration for this self-portrait.   The square teal plates in the photo above and below hold coated Oreo cookies.  Lisa purchased molds made for this purpose.  The mold holds a layer of the melted almond bark coating, the cookie is placed in the mold and more coating is placed on top.  Once the coating sets the cookies are popped out of the mold.

 Here is another angle of this serving table.  One of Lisa's teal serving trays holds the cupcakes with their paper wrappers and orange and blue decorated tops.  Kaylee wanted cupcakes instead of a decorated sheet cake and Lisa served a combination of purchased cupcakes and those that she baked and decorated.  These were the purchased cupcakes.  

 These were the some of the cupcakes that Lisa baked and decorated, topped with miniature candies and nuts on their frosting.  I shared a picture of Manny watching the cricut in action as I made the cupcake wrappers here.

The serving table

Lisa used a buffet server that belongs to our mother.  It plugs in and has three covered pans that keep food warm.  My mom purchased two of them several years ago and we used the pans from the second one to swap out with the first ones and it worked great.  Refilling the empty pans was as easy as removing one and replacing it with another.  It was quick and provided little interruption for the people line filling their plates.  She served the beans and the panini sandwiches from the buffet server.  She also used crock pots for the macaroni and cheese, the soup, and the sliders.  

She served relishes in disposable shot glasses that were purchased at the same party place as the paper plates and flatware.  
 She served the fruit salad in clear drink cups.  Having these two food items already dished into individual servings made it simple for guests to grab a cup and go.  Trays held the cups and were easily refilled or swapped out.  Having a limited supply on the table meant we did not have to find a way to keep these dishes chilled over the course of the open house.  New cups were filled with chilled ingredients from her refrigerator as needed.

Lisa had a small chalkboard menu at the beginning of her serving table.  It gave guests a list of what foods they would find as they moved through the line.

Near each item on the serving table was a small chalkboard easel identifying each item.

We were able to purchase a chalk marker in a bright orange to match her color theme. 

The food

Lisa served foods that were Kaylee's favorites.  The hot foods included a wonderful macaroni and cheese that contained both whole kernel and cream style corn.  She roasted fresh green beans in a Tuscan basil infused olive oil and topped them with freshly grated Parmesan cheese which were delicious.  She served terrific small grilled cheese sandwiches that were made on the panini press and served with a San Marzano tomato sauce for dipping.  The other sandwich, also very tasty, was a small hamburger slider, nicknamed hambies, in the same San Marzano sauce.  I contributed a crock pot of a savory butternut squash soup which was served with croutons.  The cold foods were a mixed fruit salad in strawberry yogurt and the veggie shooters.  The sweets were the cupcakes and the Oreo cookies. 

Beverages included coffee and three punches.  Lisa has three glass dispensers with spigots that she used for her punches and each held a different punch.  The dispensers could be carried to the kitchen for refilling leaving the other two in place so there was always  at least two choices available for guests with no waiting and the guest served themselves so there was no need for someone tasked with filling the punch cups as guests moved through the line.  Our party store sells small children's toys to fill gift bags and while moving through that aisle we noticed two sized of mini frisbees in her exact orange color.  We purchased several of both sizes and the larger ones when placed upside down near each food item were used as spoon rests to hold the serving spoon.  The smaller ones were used in a similar fashion to catch drips under the beverage spigots. 

A funny story about the punch

Lisa had three different punch recipes planned and all of the ingredients were stacked together.  At the time of the start of the party the actual recipes were not with the ingredients.  Lisa's friend, Judy, mixed and matched the assembled ingredients in various combinations.  Each batch was different.  All were good but there are no recipes to share. 

A funny story about the green beans

Mom and Dad helped with prepping the fruit, relishes and green beans.  Life goes on even though you have a grad party to pull together. I know that at least some of the beans were prepped while sitting in their vehicle at a baseball game watching Kaylee's brother, Chase, play baseball.

 The menu

Clicking on each item will take you to the recipe.


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