Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Teacher Appreciation Celebration


The first week of May is national Teacher Appreciation Week, and so many of my close friends are teachers, I decided to make this the theme for my May monthly dinner.  Unlike elementary school teachers, it is fairly rare for us high school teachers to receive appreciation gifts or cards, but it means so much when students do recognize our efforts.  I wanted to recognize my friends because I know they are some of the best teachers out there!


Invite:  I designed the invitation on Photoshop.  The fonts I used were KG Broken Vessels Sketch, Simple Kind of Girl, and High School USA Sans.


Entry Decor:  I made this foam board sign with a quote about teachers opening doors.  I didn't love the quotes I found online, so I just made this one up, but I do believe this is true.  I cut the letters using my Cricut machine. I made an apple out of a balloon and placed it on the table with some school supplies.


Inside Decor:  I made apple balloons for inside as well.  I used heart-shaped red balloons and only blew them up enough so they had a slight indention at the top.  I then cut out a stem and a leaf from scrapbook paper.  Tip: You may want to use typing paper or make your leaf smaller.  I think mine were too heavy as after a while, they started to dip with the weight of the paper on top.


For my table, I used a red tablecloth and made a giant pencil out of wood for the centerpiece.  Check out my tutorial on how to make it, here.


As a table runner, I taped 5 pieces of chipboard cardstock together and drew lines/numbers on it to look like a ruler.


I folded my napkins and used colored paper clips as napkin rings to stick with the school theme.


Check out my DIY place cards!  I have seen books cut into the shape of letters in stores, and  I have always wanted one of these, but they were too expensive for me to justify.  I decided instead, to make them myself as place cards.


I went to the used book store and searched around for hardback books that were two-toned and roughly the same size.  The books I found were $1 or $2 each.  I made a pattern of each letter the size of the book and taped it on the front.  Then, my brother helped me to cut them according to the patterns.  We used a band saw to do the cuts for most of the letters.  Those with an inside hole (like the D or the R) were harder.


All the letters didn't come out perfect, but pretty close! So grateful to my brother for helping me with this project as they were a big hit with the girls.  I now have mine on my desk at work, and I love it!


Another look at the table with all of the books.


I made wine bottle labels to match the design of the invitation, but tried to play with some funny sayings.  If you are a teacher, (especially a high school English teacher like I am), you may know that a glass of wine makes grading those stacks of essays a bit easier!  Hence, the white wine is "your evening teacher's assistant" and red wine is one of the necessary "(after) school supplies"!


For wine charms, I found these cute mini apples in the sticker section of Michaels. I backed each one on cardstock and tied them to the wine glass stems.


Menu: As is typical with my parties, I wanted my food to fit with the theme as well.  I made menu labels for each item to match the invitation again using PhotoShop.  I started with an olive appetizer.  These are super easy.  Just marinated mozzarella cheese balls cut in half, salami folded, kalamata and green olives all on a small skewer. 



Next, I served guests a green salad with feta cheese, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and slivered/toasted almonds.  I served it with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing.


For the main dish, I made a pasta because my guests are "PASTA-tively" wonderful teachers.  This is the first time I have every made this pasta, and it was very tasty.  If you like feta in rich, flavorful sauce, definitely try this one out.

 Fettuccine with Creamy Red Pepper-Feta Sauce 

2 tbl. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
One 16-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 pound whole-wheat fettuccine
Salt & Pepper
2 tbl. chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add roasted red peppers and saute until heated through.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Place mixture in a bowl of a food processor with stock and all but 2 tablespoons of the feta.  Process (or use a hand blender) until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds.  Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.  Toss pasta with sauce, adding pasta water by the tablespoon if needed.  Sauce should cling nicely to pasta.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Divide among bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and remaining feta cheese.


I bought ready-to-bake breadsticks from Ralphs, and they were delicious and easy.  The saying played with some bread stick related words.


For dessert, I made a delicious lemon bundt cake and served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  This cake was very good and definitely something I will make again.

Super Lemon Bundt Cake

                              Cake                                                                            Lemon Glaze
               2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour                                                 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
               2 1/4 tsp baking powder                                                       3-5 tbs lemon juice
               1/2 tsp salt
               4 eggs                                                                                  Lemon Sugar Topping
               2 cups sugar                                                                          1 tbs. lemon zest
               1 tsp vanilla extract                                                               1 tbs. granulated sugar
               2 tbs lemon zest
               2 tbs + 2 tsp lemon juice
               1 1/4 cups whole milk
               10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bundt pan very well making sure to really get into the crevices then lightly flour pan. Set aside.  Lightly whisk flour, baking poweder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.  In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat eggs on low until they are thickened and very pale yellow in color.  Turn mixer to low and slowly add sugar to running mixer and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Stir in vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Slowly pour in dry ingredients on low speed until combined.  In a small saucepan, heat milk until very hot and butter is just melted.  Do not boil and which the mixture to help the butter along.  Pour into the batter and mix until smooth.  Batter will be very thin.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 27-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Once done, remove cake from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes in pan.  Release the sides with a butter knife to ensure it isn't going to stick.  Then turn cake into your desire pan.

While the cake is cooling, prepare lemon sugar and glaze.  For the sugar, mix the lemon zest and sugar together and let it sit for 5 minutes.  For the glaze, which powdered sugar and lemon juice, using more or less lemon juice to get your desired consistency.  Once cake is cooled down slightly, drizzle glaze over warm cake.  Sprinkle with lemon sugar on top.


Favor: As a take home gift, each guest took home their book letter, but I also wanted to send them with something else small. I made these post-it note desk pads out of 4x6 plastic frames I found at the dollar store.  I used the same scrapbook apples that I used for the wine charms as well as some other teacher-related scrapbook stickers.


Thank you to everyone of you that is a teacher out there.  I hope you feel appreciated all year long, and not just during Teacher Appreciation Week.






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