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August 15, 2009

Graduation Party Recap

Wow -- I can hardly believe that this time last week I was scurrying around with all the last minute details for Amy's graduation party. It was a great day -- tons of fun, lots of food, even more laughs and a great celebration with family and friends!

In all of the preparations I rediscovered my love of party planning -- and cooking! I'm not a crazy gourmet cook but I think we pulled together a pretty good shindig, if I do say so myself! I really struggled with figuring out what to make -- so I hope you don't mind, I'm going to dedicate this post to a party recap, just on the outside chance that you're looking for some party inspiration!

The menu for the day included:

A 6-foot sub from Three Men & a Bagel in Trexlertown. It was 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Turkey and I have to say -- it was fabulous. I didn't make a lot of dips and appetizers for the party, so the sub was perfect -- and what a presentation! We had it out right from the beginning so people took whole and half pieces to hold them over while the hot food was being warmed up. Each slice was loaded with cold cuts...and they sent along all the fixings on the side (mayo, oil & vinegar, pickles, a huge container of potato salad!).

If you're a Lehigh Valley local and you're not familiar with Three Men, you have to check them out. Absolutely the best bagel sandwiches going. Boar's Head meats, homemade bagels, everything made fresh for you! YUMMY. (Sorry about that diversion, but my mouth is watering just thinking about it).

Like I said, we kept snack foods pretty simple. I made a couple dips (Absolutely Onion, Dill, and Roasted Red Pepper) -- served with fresh veggies (celery, carrots, and fresh peppers from the garden) pretzels and potato chips. Friends filled in with Spinach Dip as well as a hot Tex-Mex Queso. Yum.

One of the great tips I picked up with all the party-hopping this summer was to use a small inflatable kiddie pool as an ice bath for the dips and "cold" foods. That worked like a charm. I also heard of someone using one of those under-the-bed plastic storage bins to do the same. People are so creative~ I was just happy to be able to borrow the idea (and the kiddie pool....thanks Lisa!!).

The main dishes were pretty simple. The hardest thing for me when I'm planning a party is to figure out how much food to make, so I'm including reference to how much I made, as well as how much was leftover. Hopefully this gauge will help someone down the road -- and if anyone has advice for portion planning, please share in the comments below. I figured on about 75 people (adults & kids) -- and I think that is about how many people were there through the course of the day.

We had:
  • Italian Meatballs in sauce (15 lbs of beef yielded 240 meatballs, we ate about half)

  • Roasted Turkey BBQ (like a pulled turkey in gravy) (I had about 20 lbs of turkey breast only, so very little waste vs. a whole turkey. There were about 5 servings left)

  • Stuffed Shells (4 boxes of shells made -- only a half a pan leftover)

  • Gram's Baked Macaroni & Cheese (5 lbs...only 1 pan leftover)

  • Caesar Salad (one huge bag of romaine lettuce -- zero leftover)
...and lots and lots of rolls. I went WAY overboard on the rolls (10 dozen), thinking that everyone would have at least one, maybe two. Needless to say, we did a lot of creative things with sandwich rolls this week (stay tuned for "100 ways to use a brat roll." Just kidding).
For dessert we had the cake to top all cakes. It was, truly, the largest cake I had ever seen at a home party-- and positively delicious! It was 1/2 chocolate and 1/2 vanilla (with a slight almond flavor)...double layer with icing that was was light as air.
I wish I could direct my Lehigh Valley readers to the bakery that made it -- but the truth is it was made by a local teacher who does cakes as an occasional side business. Feel free to email me if you're in need of a cake, and I'll be happy to see if she can accommodate. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Friends and family rounded out the "dessert table" with a fresh fruit salad, brownies, heavenly chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, ...and a huge bowl of M&Ms.
For drinks we kept it simple -- beer, wine, Mike's Hard Lemonade, soda...and LOTS of water to combat the summer heat.
As for the highlights of the day --Amy's photo boards capturing 13 years of school and fun were AWESOME. She did a great job (especially considering my photos are in such disarray!). There were horseshoes going all day, as well as wiffle ball, kickball -- and the graduation party favorite -- ladder ball.

You can see one of the two photoboards in the background. Amy found photos of her with almost everyone who was coming. Hopefully two who didn't "make the boards" will be happy to know they "made the blog!!"

Thanks to all the family and friends who made the celebration so special!

Do you have entertaining tips you'd like to share? Post them here in the comments, or submit your best ideas at and you may just find your ideas in a future post on 'Round the Kitchen Table!

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