Tag Archives: candy

Serve It Up Sassy: 2015 Graduation Gathering!


chevron canvasIt was just a few years ago on a bright sunny morning, you held the hand of your six -year old  as a big yellow school bus pulled up in front of your mailbox. It was time to board the bus for their first day of school. Your little darling could hardly reach the first step on the bus but with a gentle nudge from you, the climb to board was easy. As you held back the tears, the excitement and joy in your child’s eyes melted your heart, and a new page in this chapter of life had just been turned. As the pages of time turned year after year, it is now 2015 and graduation day is on the horizon.

It is time to plan a graduation gathering; an after-the-ceremony reception for your graduate. A bright summer color-palette like hot pink, orange, and lime green sets the color scheme for this reception. This ‘graduation gathering’ focuses on her, but colors can be changed to focus on him, such as navy, light blue, and forest green or choose school colors.

Another inspirational idea is a painted wall canvas. This colorful chevron wall canvas provides the perfect back drop for the dessert table and is part of the graduate’s gift, something she will take with her for the college dorm or apartment. For step-by-step instructions on creating a wall canvas in the chevron pattern please go to my blog, www.lizbushong.com.

In keeping with the color scheme, hot pink, orange and lime, large daisy flower heads are arranged in rows by color in a clear acrylic tray. A piece of glass was cut to fit the acrylic tray to serve festive lemonade’s that color-coordinate with the Gerber Daisies.

Graduation candy caps made of miniature peanut butter cups and chocolate covered grahams are served up sassy with a lime green butter cream frosting tassel.

spot on cake loaf with slicesThe spot-on cake* was baked in an 18- inch loaf pan, then covered with a delicious butter cream fondant and decorated with three fresh Gerber Daisies, one of each themed color. Baked inside the cake are three large pre-baked cake balls that carry the same hot pink, orange and lime color scheme for the spot-on look. For instructions and recipe, visit www.lizbushong.com.

Other food on the menu includes easy pick-up fare that can be served so the graduate and guests can visit while eating. Mini pimento cheese sandwiches, chicken salad croissants, small vegetables with jalapeno ranch dressing, assorted chips, chocolate dipped pretzel rods and trail mix with personalized orange M & M’s are small bites you can create the day before the event. You can order personalized M & M’s at www.mymms.com for an extra surprise in the trail mix.

A separate skirted side table should be set up for gifts. Suggested graduation gifts for the college-bound graduate include a camera, an alarm clock, a desk organizer with coordinated desk supplies, monogrammed or personalized notepads and stationary, and gift cards. Of course, cash is golden for all graduates. The Instax Mini 8 camera prints out photos immediately, so creating a scrapbook or photos for a dorm room is quick and easy. This little camera creates 2 x 3- inch photos and comes in several fun colors for teens. After the reception, the graduate could send thank you notes to all the guests for their gifts and include a photo of the graduate using or holding the much appreciated gift.

It’s been a journey to get to this day.  As you reminisce the years gone by, you are entering another new chapter in this book-of -life with your ‘little darling.’ It is graduation day, a time to celebrate a momentous achievement with the anticipation of a bright new future ahead. Look -out graduate, your future is so bright you are going to need shades!!!

graduation candy capsGraduation “Candy” Caps

20 Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups®
20 Keebler Deluxe Grahams®-fudge covered
½ cup Buttercream frosting- divided- chocolate, color of choice for tassel

Unwrap all peanut butter cups and place upside down on a baking sheet. Cut each rectangular graham cracker into a square shape if desired or use as is. Place ¼ cup chocolate frosting in piping bag with small tip and pipe small dot on top of bottom of peanut butter cup. Attach graham cracker on top of frosting to create the graduation cap. Using the remaining ¼ cup of frosting in the school color of choice, place frosting in a piping bag with tip #5.  Create a tassel on one side of the cap. Store in a sealed container until serving.  Can be made one day ahead.

graduation gathering dessert table

Triple Lemonade

3 (12 ounce) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed but cold
2 cups water
2 cups sprite or ginger ale-chilled
1 (12 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed but cold
1(16 ounce) jar stemmed maraschino cherries with juice

In a large pitcher, mix lemonade concentrate and cold water. Stir to combine. Divide 2 cups of lemonade into three pitchers evenly. Add to one pitcher, thawed orange juice and set aside. To another pitcher, add cherry juice and to the last pitcher, add 2 cups of ginger ale. Each pitcher should be a different color to go with color scheme. If needed, add a few drops of food coloring to make the intensity of the color desired. Or, if you want to make a large punch, combine all ingredients and serve in a punch bowl.
Garnish:  Slice orange wedges for the orange lemonade, lime wedge with stemmed maraschino cherry for the Cherry lemonade, and a lemon twist for the plain lemonade. Serve in champagne glasses.

*Cake was inspired by Surprise-Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion–with a Little Something Extra Inside by Amada Rettke.

Make a Statement, Make it Sassy, Make it Yours! ®
Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For more information about Liz and Serve it up Sassy go to Liz’s blog www.lizbushong.com and website, www.serveitupsassy.com like and share www.facebook.com/lizbushong, and pin www.pinterest.com/lizbushong.

Homemade Alternatives to Halloween Candy

Processed, sugar-packed candies are collected door-to-door every year at Halloween. This year, try a different angle with homemade sweet treats that parents can make with their kids for Halloween.

Chef Claire Menck from The Art Institute of Wisconsin loves making ghostly “gorp” wrapped in white parchment paper with her two children.

“Gorp is basically granola mixed with your child’s favorite treats like chocolate candies, peanut butter chips, pretzels, gummy bears, etc.,” she says. To make the granola, take oatmeal and toss with your choice of spices, honey and oil. Lay oatmeal on a sheet tray and toast on the lowest heat possible (usually 150 or 200 F). You can add sugar to the granola, but be careful to not add too much sugar as it can make it hard. Parents can also choose to substitute the sugar with agave or maple syrup. Mix the granola with the tasty treats. Take white parchment paper and draw two eyes. Place a scoop of the gorp into the opposite side of the paper and tie up top for spooky gorp.

Another of Chef Menck’s favorite treats is dried fruit roll-ups wrapped to look like candy. She recommends using local, seasonal fruit. “We always go apple-picking in the fall and come back with more than we need; and so we create dried apple treats.” Cut and peel the apples or your choice of fruit beforehand in half-inch slices. Then mix the slices with spices of your choosing such as cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, etc.

“Make it a tactile experience for your kids and allow them to mix all the ingredients together, maybe even with their hands,” she says. Lay the apples on an oiled cookie sheet, turn your oven on to the lowest setting and slow bake until dehydrated (about 45 to 90 minutes, depending on preference). Take colorful tissue paper or Halloween-themed paper and place under parchment paper. Once the fruit is dehydrated, place a small amount of the fruit on a 4-by-4-inch parchment paper. Then roll and twist the ends to look like a candy wrapper and tie the ends. You can also use dehydrated berries like cranberries for the fruit roll-up candy.

“Chocolate! Can’t have Halloween without the chocolate, chocolate spiders with pretzel legs that is,” says Chef Amy Carter, baking and pastry instructor at The Art Institutes International Minnesota. Begin by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spray with cooking spray. Melt chocolate chips of your choosing in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl, and stir every so often to make sure chocolate melts evenly. Add rice cereal or bran twigs, or your favorite crunchy grain and then add to the melted chocolate. Stir the mixture until well combined. Take half of a palm-size of the mixture and place on the baking sheet. Add stick pretzels for legs. Add two marshmallows or white chocolate chips for eyes.

“For a creepier spin on your Halloween treats, I recommend truffle eyeballs to liven up a kids’ party,” Chef Carter says. All you need is 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Heat the cream, pour over the chocolate, and whisk in the butter until nice and smooth. Pour the mixture in a pan and chill for 2 hours, or -overnight – just long enough to firm it. You can flavor with anything like vanilla, peanut butter or fruit puree. Then take an ice cream scoop or have the kids help by rolling the mixture into small balls with their hands and then roll the balls in powdered sugar. Top off with a chocolate candy and then take red, edible writing gel to make squiggly lines.

These creative, make-it-at-home-tips are just some fun ideas you can create with your kids as a Halloween project, and then tackle carving the pumpkin.