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Ask any parent who has kids in school, and they will tell you that May is the busiest month of the year. There are so many final games, recitals and concerts, not to mention prom and graduation.

Last May, our family celebrated both our son’s graduation from high school and our oldest daughter’s from college. This year our youngest will be “graduating” from elementary to middle school. Her school is hosting a special ceremony with caps and gowns, refreshments and a slide show. We’ll also host a party of our own for her with her friends and you can bet she has lots of special food requests.

At the very top of my daughter’s list of items to serve at her party are graduation cap and gown candies. I have made these in the past for her older siblings and I like to color coordinate the small M & M “button” on top and candy tassel to their school colors. The “cap” itself is actually a miniature Reese cup. If you have guests with peanut allergies, small brownie bite muffins are a great substitute. The tassel is cut from an Airhead Extreme candy. Chocolate icing is a great “glue” that holds all the pieces together. These graduation candy hats work well alone or as a topper to a cupcake iced in school colors.

Another way to put a graduation spin on party favorites is to serve wraps filled with yummy ingredients that resemble diplomas. A long string of green onion tied around the wrap makes this a great themed party food. If I am making these I don’t put in as much filling as I would in a typical wrap so they are thinner and look like real diplomas.

It may come as no surprise that the wrap sandwich was derived from the Mexican burrito. The burrito was invented in Northern Mexico as a way for cowboys to pack a lunch. Americans adopted this habit of eating burritos with tasty Mexican ingredients such as beans, rice, corn, salsa and guacamole. The more “sandwich oriented” wrap is attributed by many to have originated in California and rose to popularity in the 1990s. Fillings can include anything from fried chicken tenders to salad ingredients. The wrap’s American popularity is undeniable – even McDonalds has a couple different options on their menu.

Wraps are the perfect food to take to the beach or pool. They travel well, don’t get soggy and provide a much more sophisticated meal than a cold cut sandwich. Those counting carbs will love that wraps average 34 grams versus 46 for two slices of whole grain bread. A wrap can handle more ingredients than a sandwich. The fact that wraps are rolled together tightly allows them to be a great food on the go with less mess or chance of ingredients falling out. These handheld all-in-ones are the perfect totable meal.

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The top tip for filling a wrap is to make sure your wraps or tortillas are large enough. A circumference of at least 10 or 12 inches works best. If you have taken the tortilla out of the refrigerator, allow it to come to room temperature before using or heat briefly in the microwave to get the chill off. This will enable the wrap to be more moldable. Always place the fillings in the middle of the tortilla. Fold the left and right edges towards the center then bring the bottom of the tortilla up towards the center. Tuck the filling as you roll up the contents. Slice in the center, cutting on a diagonal line, as this helps keep the contents from spilling out.

My favorite wrap is one I call the “Big Fat Greek Wrap” named after the wedding movie. This is Mediterranean inspired and includes yummy chicken, feta cheese and kalamata olives. Left over rotisserie chicken makes this easy to put together and it goes to work or the pool easily. This will be the wrap that will be packed the most often for my family as we head out this summer.

For those who love vegetarian or vegan foods, the spicy chickpea wrap is an easy way to have an easy upscale lunch. If you are vegan, substitute vegan mayonnaise for regular mayonnaise. This is a simple recipe that tastes like it took a lot more work to put together.

The buffalo chicken wrap reminds me of the dip that is a favorite in our house. Franks Red Hot Sauce with ranch and blue cheese dressing make this wrap an unexpected but welcome addition to a packed lunch. The combination of these ingredients makes for a wonderful flavor blast in every bite.

Besides wraps, the last ingredient in our graduation celebrations is always a candy buffet in school colors. We enjoyed pulling together a blue and yellow candy themed buffet for my son last year as he was heading to West Virginia University. There are surprisingly a lot of fun size candy bars that are blue and yellow. It was easy to swap out the yellow candy for white as my daughter’s University of Kentucky celebration was held the same weekend. The candy buffet was a huge hit last year. It was neat to see how excited those high school and college kids were to fill the little cellophane bags with candy as their parting gift. And the adults that attended loved them just as much as the kids.

I hope you enjoy the month of May and the celebrations of your own. While it is sad to say “That’s a Wrap” to the school year, summer is calling.

Sarah Long is the author of the cookbook “College Cooking 101: Fast Food Without a Kitchen.” You can contact her at and follow her on social media on facebook @SarahHLongAuthor, Instagram @CollegeCooking101, and Twitter @SarahHLong1.


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