Colorful Campout, Food Edition

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I'm going to be cruel and tease you just a little bit, because I'm going to spend several posts covering the different aspects of this year's birthday bash.

Originally, I was going to put it all together in one main post, but then that post grew to be about a bazillion pages long and so I decided to break things up a bit, to save your scrolling fingers, of course.

You're welcome.

Today's focus is on the party food.  I went easier on myself this year and came up with a theme that would not only mean less prep time in the kitchen, but would also include items that would hold up much better to the heat of the day.

Besides the party standards of chips, salsa, carrot sticks, hummus (which I left sitting on the counter at home!) and onion dip, we offered a make‐your‐own‐trail‐mix bar and some cute s'mores on a stick.

S'mores on a Stick

I'd seen an idea for s'mores on a stick somewhere out there on the Internet, but it involved a marshmallow dipped in chocolate and then rolled in graham cracker crumbs.  That was cute, but I wanted more of an authentic s'mores experience, so here's what my version looked like:

I used Popsicle sticks for these, but that's just because it's what I had already on hand.  If I were to go buy something to use as a stick, I'd probably get lollipop sticks, although the sticks I used really held the treats well, so maybe I'd just stick with the original plan...

I'd initially planned to make my own graham crackers for this project, but then I came to my senses as soon as I realized how many batches that would require and just grabbed a box from the store.  I'd also thought about making my own marshmallows, but a bag of processed white puffy clouds was sitting right next to the crackers on the shelf and so that decision was pretty much made for me, as well.

To make these, start by breaking all your graham crackers apart at the little perforations.  Then cut each marshmallow (not the mini size) in half and then shove the two halves (one on top of the other) onto your stick.  Next, melt some chocolate chips along with a bit of palm shortening (to help keep it from falling apart) and smooth that over one side of each cracker.  Finally, press the chocolate side of a cracker onto each side of your marshmallows (so, two cracker pieces per stick).

To display these, I grabbed a piece of Styrofoam we had laying around from something that had been shipped in the mail.  I wrapped a piece of tissue paper around it to make it look better, and then Papa helped out by jabbing his pocketknife into the foam to make it easier to shove the sticks into:

I'd originally planned to be a little fancier with the signage, but then camping got in the way and construction paper and a Sharpie was as fancy as I was getting!

Make‐Your‐Own‐Trail‐Mix Bar

This idea worked wonderfully.  Not only did the food hold up in the heat (that's what trail mix is supposed to do, after all!), but the prep merely involved gathering enough containers and then pouring all the options into them for display.

I provided brown paper lunch bags for guests to fill with their mix creations:

I had quite an eclectic mix of containers:  flower vases, fine crystal, and a bunch of popcorn bowls.  I covered the red‐and‐white stripes of the popcorn bowls with brown construction paper.  I'd originally planned for this to look classier, but that would have involved sitting still long enough for the deer flies to treat me as a personal buffet and so this very unPinterestific job is what resulted.

I tried to provide a nice variety of sweet/salty/crunchy/squishy foods for this bar.  This is an easy area to go wild with (especially if you add all sorts of nuts and dried fruits), but I tried to keep everything on a frugal budget and so these are the items guests could pick from:
  • Craisins
  • Raisins
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • Cheese‐Its (Yes, I'd thought about making these, too, but the box was hollering my name when it saw me reaching for the graham crackers just down the aisle)
  • Peanuts
  • Cereal
  • Popcorn
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • M&Ms 
From what I heard everyone saying, this food theme was a huge hit.  I'm not sure who had more fun mixing up their creations, either, the kids or the adults! 

What's your favorite party food?  Do you try to stick to a theme, or go with the same party standards every time?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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