Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Party with the Presidents!

I was in a panic last week as I was racing to finish grading all my student's essays before I had to turn in semester grades.  I took a one second breather when finished and then realized...I have a monthly dinner on Monday, and I haven't even come up with my theme!!  So on Friday, I finally decided on a theme and set to work to create a President's Day party theme. For a rush job, I love how it turned out...

Decor:  I set my table with a red tablecloth and some patriotic napkins/mini runners that I borrowed from my mom. Using my kids' toys, I crafted a fort out of Lincoln Logs to tie in Abraham Lincoln.  M&M's were on sale, so I bought some Valentine peanut M&Ms (because they are larger and you don't have to buy as many) to fill some small vases I already owned with the red and white ones.  The blue M&Ms I got from a regular bag of peanut M&Ms.  As added decor, I drew a giant cherry tree on butcher paper and taped it to my wall.

At each place setting, I used Photoshop to create Mount Rushmore place cards replacing one of the President's faces with the face of my guest.  These were hilarious! I stacked Lincoln Logs to use as holding stands.

Here's a shot of another vase with the M&M's and flags.  I wrapped the napkins in patriotic ribbon with the Seal of the President. 

Menu: To craft my menu, I printed off a list of all the U.S. Presidents and tried to find ways to incorporate their names/variations of their names into each menu item.  Some are quite a stretch, but they got the idea across.

For an appetizer, I served Van DeCamps brand fish sticks and tarter sauce.  I created menu tags with the President and the menu variation of the President's name so guest's could see the correlation.  Jimmy Carter and Martin Van Buren were the inspiration behind this appetizer.

Along with wine, I also served Kool-Aid inspired by President Calvin Coolidge.

I served a regular green salad with two choices of dressing -- Ulysses S. "Ranch" (Grant) and Roquefort (Rutherford) B. Hayes. (If you don't know, roquefort is a type of blue cheese.)

For my main course, I served Dripping Roast Beef Sandwiches with Melted Provolone.  These I termed, Franklin D "Roast-a-Melts"!  They were very easy and very yummy.

1 (10.5 ounce) can Campbell's Condensed French Onion Soup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef
4 Hoagie rolls
4 slices diced provolone cheese, cut in half
1/4 cup drained mild pickled banana pepper rings

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the soup and Worcestershire sauce over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil.  Add the beef and heat through, stirring occasionally.  Divide the beef evening among the rolls and top with cheese slices.  Then place onto a baking sheet.  Bake for 3 minutes or until the sandwiches are toasted and the cheese is melted. Then spoon a little of the soup mixture onto the sandwiches and top each sandwich with 1 tablespoon pepper rings.

I also served Bush's Baked Beans. I suppose you could use any brand of beans, but the fact that there is a real brand "Bush's" is what led me to come up with this menu item.

I love this "Barack-oli" in honor of President Obama.  It was a perfect play on his name.

Even though the menu didn't need another starch, I couldn't help adding some tater tots inspired by President Taft.

For dessert, I made a Chocolate Strawberry Lincoln Log.  It was pretty easy to make and very tasty.  To make the lines on the tree, I just used the tines of a fork.  I added my husband's ax for the photo, but didn't really cut with it!

Chocolate Cherry Lincoln Log
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Confectioners' sugar
1 quarter strawberry or cherry ice cream, softened
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
1-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk.

Line a greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan with waxed paper; grease the paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, beat eggs for 3 minutes.  Gradually add sugar; beat for 2 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored.  Stir in water and vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; fold into egg mixture (batter will be thin).
Spread evenly into prepared pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-13 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.  Cool for 5 minutes. Invert onto a kitchen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar.  Gently peel off waxed paper.  Roll up cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with the short side.  Cool completely on wire rack.
For frosting, in microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth.  Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar and enough milk to achieve desired consistency.
Unroll cake; spread ice cream evenly over cake to within 1/2 inch of edges.  Roll up again. Place seam side down on a serving platter.  Spread with frosting.  Cover and freeze overnight.  Yield: 14 servings.

Favor:  Although I already had dessert for my guest's, I wanted to tie in George Washington since he (and Lincoln) are the two holidays we celebrate in February.  I made these mini cherry pies in my cupcake/muffin pan.  I followed the recipe on Adventuress Heart although I used canned cherry pie filling since cherries are not in season.  I made the tag and these favors were waiting on each guest's plate when they arrived.

If you are looking to host a last minute gathering for President's Day weekend, this was really an easy dinner overall.  The pies took the most time, but the remainder of the meal was very easy.  If you would like the menu tags, favor tags, or napkin ring image, just comment below with your email address.  They were all created in Microsoft Word.

Those of you who are teachers like me...enjoy your day/days off this month!  To all of you...hope you enjoyed this post.  Please comment and let me know your thoughts!


Cheryl Crippen said...

Amazing creativity--love the theme! I have to share this with my father, who is the ultimate lover of all things presidential!

Amatullah said...

I love it! Thank you for visiting my site and glad you enjoyed the pies.

Anonymous said...

This is such a great idea! I was wondering if you could send me the template for the menu tags please. devinne816@yahoo.com

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Just the inspiration I needed to do something besides another Valentine's day party as a February Fundraiser. Please send me the menu tag template - such a creative idea!

Kathyfromca said...

You are awesome! I have hosted several parties using your themes for my sorority alumnae dinners. I am doing the Presidents Party next month.

I would love the template for the menu tag and napkin holder. That would help a lot !

My email address is dkkms@windstream.net.

Thank you so much!, Kathy

Kathyfromca said...

You are amazing. Love all of your creative ideas. I have used several of your themes for my sorority alumnae dinners. I will be hosting Party with the Presidents next month.

I would love your template for the menu tags and the napkin holder.

My email address is dkkms@windstream.net.

Thank you so much,