The Second-Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Part 2 of 3)

Part 2 of 3 is here! Roll up your sleeves, and loosen your belt loop, because you’re in for a filling ride!

Monday, July 21 – National Junk Food Day

Ah, the day that dreams are made of. “Junk food” is a slang termed, presumably coined by Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in the early 1970s to raise awareness and deter consumption of food that is low in nutritional value, yet high in caloric content. Delicious, right? However, the derogatory term has not had the desired effect, and efforts led by the likes of state and city fairs have been kind enough to raise awareness of the deliciousness that is “junk food” by deep frying anything unhealthy and edible. Oreos, Snickers, Spam, bacon, butter (yes, this is real), ice cream – you name it, they’ll fry it. Enter my brief Author’s Anecdote:

The day was Saturday, March 3, 2012. I was at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo being Texan and minding my own business when I happened upon and decided to try Deep Fried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough for the first time. My apologies to Michael Jacobson, but if you ever come across the opportunity to enjoy it, I cannot recommend it enough. My life changed forever, for the better, that day. Find a fantastic recipe here:

Unfortunately, Deep Fried Cookie Dough is not an option offered at Creative Cuisine (yet!), but we do have an abundance of choices available in other junk food categories to make up for it: Class the day up a bit by serving your junk food in courses. Start with butler-passed Miniature Corn Dogs, Chicken Nuggets, and Fried Mac & Cheese Bites. Allow guests to supplement with a Build Your Own Nachos Station and a display of Toasted Ravioli with Marinara & Ranch Dressing Dips. Seat your guests for a course of Cheeseburger Chowder, followed by Loaded Curly Fries – which are basically a salad because scallions are green, so… I think that’s obvious. Round out the day with a dual entrée of All American Cheeseburgers (with a healthy selection of Hamburger Condiments) and Classic Sausage & Pepperoni French Bread Pizzas complemented by Doritos and Fried Green Tomatoes. Serve a hand-picked dessert trio of Chocolate Milkshake Shooters, Cotton Candy Shooters, and Donut Bites. Finish off the flow of the evening by allowing guests to create their own favors with a Candy Assortment Station as they are rolled out the door in a wheelbarrow because no one could solidly support their own weight after eating like that.

Additional thought: I’m pretty sure I just gained five-pounds simply by typing that. Make sure to invite guests to a supplementary event that I recommend touting as “National Junk Food Recovery Day” in which you and your guests all run 10 miles to make up for it.

Monday, July 28 – National Milk Chocolate Day

With the advent of the oil lamp in the 1860s, Swiss candle-maker Daniel Peter quickly realized his business may be on the steep decline, and, after falling for a chocolatier’s daughter, decided it was time for a career change. Thus, Daniel Peter the chocolatier was born. In an attempt to differentiate his product, Peter experimented with adding milk to his chocolate, but struggled with milk’s natural tendency to spoilage. After seeking the help of neighbor Henry Nestle and his new invention of powdered milk, he was able to combine the two, perfect the recipe, and create the true milk chocolate that we enjoy today! Of course, as always, but most especially, this is honor worthy. I would recommend a Cocoa Cocktail Reception with milk-chocolate centered hors d’oeuvres and a wine and vodka bar with White Russian and Chocolate Martini specialty cocktails. Present displays of German Chocolate Cake Squares, Petite Chocolate Mousse Pies, and Chocolate Dipped Nutter Butters and Rice Krispie Treats to flank the Chocolate Fountain with Chocolate Fountain Accompaniments of strawberries, pineapples, graham crackers, pretzel sticks, and jumbo marshmallows. Butler-pass lighter bites (by comparison) of Mini Chocolate Chip Waffles, Chocolate-Strawberry Hand Pies, and Mini Chocolate Mousse Cones. Provide your guests with a self-serve complement in the form of a White & Chocolate Milk Beverage Station with Champagne Flutes and a Gourmet Coffee Bar with DaVinci Syrups, assorted toppings, and Pirouette Cookies with Irish Coffee Mugs.

Additional Thought: This sounds absolutely amazing. Perfect for a Girls’ or Moms’ Night or a chocolate-loving friend’s birthday.

Tuesday, July 29 – Lasagna Day

According to ‘Lasagna Historians’, the dish can be traced back to Ancient Rome where a similar dish called “lasana” or “lasanum” is documented in the Roman de re coquinaria (on the subject of cooking) book Apicius. The dish is described as layers of a pasta-like food with various fillings intermittent between those layers. One key ingredient missing? Tomatoes. Originating in the South American Andes, tomatoes were not introduced to the Western World until either Columbus, upon his “discovery of the New World” in 1493, or Hernan Cortes, after seizing the Aztec capitol of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) in 1521, brought it back to Spain. Initially used as an ornamental plant in Italy, as population was hesitant to consume them due to some varieties’ toxic and inedible qualities, tomatoes finally made their way into Italian cooking, and have since taken their culinary world by storm – eventually leading to the lasagna we know and love today. Our recommendation: a traditional family-style lasagna feast! Start by offering a aperitivo hour with displays of Arancini with Marinara, Italian Antipasto Skewers, and Roma Tomato Bruschetta with Italian wine pairings. Seat guests to preset Heirloom Caprese Salad and Italian Sausage and Bean Soup. After the antipasto and primo courses, move on to a family-style secondo of lasagna sampling: Eggplant Lasagna, Four-Cheese Chicken Lasagna, Grilled Vegetable Alfredo Lasagna, Zesty Italian Lasagna, and a meaty, more traditional, Italian Lasagna. Pair with a contorno of the Balsamic Grilled Vegetable Platter. Allow guests to round out the experience by helping themselves to a Gelato Bar with Miniature Italian Cannolis and Individual Tiramisu. And of course, don’t forget the Espresso. Now, please – Mangia! Mangia! Celebrate lasagna!

Thursday, July 31 – National Chili Dog Day

Frankfurters, franks, durgers, coneys, weenies, wieners, red hots, and dogs. Call them what you will, but the “hot dog” as it has come to be most widely referenced, is just about as close to a traditional American food as you can get at this point in our history. Sausages date back to at least the days of Homer and the Odyssey, presumable the 7th or 8th century B.C., but the modern day hot dog is believed to have been brought to America through Germany and popularized in the United States, likely starting in 1893, when it became the standard offering at baseball park, with chili soon becoming a popular topping. Enjoy the day the traditional way with an assortment of options: Mini Hot Dog with BLT Topping, Chicago Style Topping, Mustard & Ketchup, and A La Cart, or with a Made to Order Mini Coney Dog Station complete with Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs and an assortment of DIY condiments. Satisfy the sweet tooth with Mini Ice Cream Floats and a Made to Order Mini Ice Cream Cones Station.

Coming up on the next installment of the SMWTotY: National S’mores Day, Cherry Popsicle Day, and more!

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