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Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 5/17/2008

Successful graduation party menu requires planning

High school and college graduation parties are well under way. The casual and fun atmosphere of an open house means that guests can come and go as they make the party rounds.

The menu selection is important and should reflect the tastes of the graduate. Also consider the time and cost to prepare it.

If grilling is the plan, think about making sliders, small burgers that can be eaten in a few bites.

If pizza is preferred, cut small pieces to make it easier to eat and to allow for more servings.

Deli trays also are an option. Once again, think of small sizes for ease of eating, and also recognizing that guests may have a number of parties to attend. Guests are more likely to try small items that they can nibble on.

Fresh fruit and vegetable trays are also refreshing. Homemade salads, including potato, gelatin, and fruit, are popular.

And don't forget the punch, ice tea, or homemade lemonade.

Garnish with lemon slices, fresh fruits such as strawberries or pineapple, fresh mint leaves, and plenty of ice cubes.

This Graduation Punch may be tripled easily, but make only one batch at a time.

3 46-ounce cans of Hawaiian Punch

1 cup pineapple juice

1 cup grapefruit juice

1 liter club soda

Ice cubes

Mix juices in a large punch bowl. Just before serving, add club soda and ice cubes. Serve in 4 to 6 ounce punch cups.

Yield: 20 servings

4 medium potatoes,

washed

Pinch of salt

8 slices bacon

1 to 1 1/2 cups "light" mayonnaise

1 package powdered

ranch dressing mix

2 tablespoons cold milk

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

3 to 4 green onions, finely sliced

1/2 cup chopped celery

Place potatoes in a 4-quart stockpot. Fill with water to cover and a pinch of salt. Bring to boiling, and heat to medium cooking 30 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a cake tester, but not soft. While potatoes are cooking, cook bacon slices until crisp. Remove from heat, drain and blot with paper towels. Crumble bacon and set aside. When potatoes are tender, drain them well and set aside. When cool enough to the touch, peel and dice.

In a large serving bowl, mix together mayonnaise, ranch dressing mix and milk; whisk until well combined. Add pepper, onions, and celery, stir with a wood spoon to mix.

Carefully stir in reserved potatoes and bacon. Serve warm or cold.

Yield: 8 servings

Source: Adapted from Idaho Potato Commission

The sixth annual Food and Wine Celebration will be from

4:30 to 9 p.m. July 19 at the Culinary Vegetable Institute at 12304 State Route 13 in Milan, Ohio.

Among the participating chefs at the event are Iron Chef Michael Symon, chef/owner of Lola and Lolita in Cleveland. There will be more than 30 food stations created by national chefs, wine tastings from worldwide vineyards, and food demonstrations by guest chefs. Wine tastings by Trinchero Family Estates will be featured. Three award-winning chefs will compete in the annual Star Chef Cook-Off.

Funds from this event pay for growing kits that are part of the five-week curriculum provided by Veggie U to schools nationwide.

Tickets are $145 per person or $165 after June 1. For tickets, call 419-499-7500.

The 48th National Chicken Cooking Contest sponsored by the National Chicken Council is seeking original recipes using chicken for 4 to 8 servings. Independent judges will select the best recipe from each state; those winners receive $100. Those entries go to the next level of judging, which is the regional level where one winner is selected from each of the nine regions. Each of the nine regional winners will be invited to the National Cooking Contest to be held in San Antonio on May 2, 2009. Each regional winner will receive $1,000 and a chance to compete for the Grand Prize of $50,000. Deadline for entries is Aug. 31. For information and to enter, visit www.eatchicken.com.

When severe weather and flooding occur, USDA has provided information to help minimize food-borne illnesses due to food spoilage from power outages and other problems, notes Gina Nicholson, Kroger's food safety manager. Here are some tips:

•Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and in the freezer in case of a power outage.

•Make sure the freezer is at 0 degrees or below, and that the refrigerator is at 40 degrees or below.

•Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the refrigerator, freezer, or coolers after the power is out.

•Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately.

•After a weather emergency, the refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours if it is unopened. The freezer will hold temperature about 48 hours if it is full, and 24 hours if it is half-full and the door remains closed.

•Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items after four hours without power.

•Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees or below.

•Never taste a food to determine its safety.

•Drink only bottled water if flooding has occurred.

•Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers if there is any chance they have come into contact with flood water.



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