Grad Party – Success

It took a lot of work and our parents were amazing, it was a lot of fun and a great success. Our graduate is incredibly appreciative of both the party and the generosity of our guests. 

The cooking went as expected without a hitch and I had plenty of food. I would probably make a recommendation for those considering ribs for a large party to think about the type of ribs they have when calculating how many to make. All of my reading lead me to account for 3 ribs per person when serving other proteins. A typical baby back rib weighs 1½-2½ lbs., the ones I had were 3½-4½ lbs, I would have come closer to what I needed if I had done my calculation with the thought of 2½ ribs per person. 

On the day of the party, I started by getting the ribs and mac and cheese out so that they could come to room temperature for more even cooking. Everyone in the house chipped in; this included both boys, my mom, and my in-laws. Once everything was set, excluding the food, I sent my team on missions, boys to get the fried chicken, moms to get the cake, and men to get the beer. 

    
I set about to cooking and put the mac and cheese in the oven and started on the ribs. 

  

I took each pan of ribs out to my grill, and brushed one side with my glaze, and once they were on the grill I glazed the other side. 

  
I moved them through from one side of the grill to the other and ultimately transferred them to a cutting rack for my dad to cut them into single and double ribs and put them in the trays covered with foil to stay warm. 


Just before the party we set everything out and started the slide show. 


The recipes are as follows and can obviously be scaled as needed. I hope that you enjoy! Please ask questions if you have any regarding the recipes.

Thank you to everyone who helped!

Cole Slaw

Salads, Summer, Tested and Approved!

Makes Serves 10-12 ∙ Difficulty Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp canola oil
  • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
Shred cabbage. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over cabbage. Salt and pepper.

NOTES
Add red cabbage and carrots, or use other vinegars for altering flavors and adding color.
Sticky Balsamic Ribs

Entrées, Grilling, Pork

Makes Makes 8 Servings ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Gourmet | July 2009

INGREDIENTS
For ribs:

  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 8-12 pounds baby back pork ribs, (8 racks; see cooks’ note below)
  • 1 cup water

For glaze:

  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

DIRECTIONS
Marinate and roast ribs:

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir together with rosemary, brown sugar, vinegar, cayenne, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub evenly all over ribs and transfer to roasting pans. Marinate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Pour 1/2 cup water into each roasting pan and tightly cover pans with foil. Roast ribs, switching position of pans halfway through, until meat is very tender, about 1 3/4 hours. Remove pans from oven and transfer ribs to a platter.

Make glaze and grill ribs:

Add 1 cup hot water to each roasting pan and scrape up brown bits. Skim off and discard fat, then transfer liquid to a 10-inch skillet. Add vinegar and brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil until reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas).

Brush some of glaze onto both sides of racks of ribs. Grill, turning occasionally, until ribs are hot and grill marks appear, about 6 minutes.

NOTES
If you can only get larger ribs (4 racks), you will need more glaze; use 12 large garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary, 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.

Ribs can be roasted and glaze can be made ahead and chilled separately (covered once cool). Bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before glazing and grilling. 
Sally’s Mac & Cheese

Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Cook 30-40 minutes ∙ Makes 8-10 servings ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Aunt Sally

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 eggs beaten, large
  • 24 ounces cottage cheese
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 4 cups cheddar, shredded
  • 4 cups macaroni, cook as directed in salted water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Mix the ingredients in order and salt and pepper to taste. Optionally, top with panko or crushed saltines.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

NOTES

Can be mixed in an oven proof bowl and baked directly or for more crispness on the top, bake in a 9 x 13 pan. Also scales well for large groups.

I have played with this recipe successfully including substituting Picolini for the elbows, dropping the cottage cheese down to 16 oz. and replacing with feta, and replacing half the cheddar with other cheeses such as smoked Gouda.

To make this as Bacon Mac & Cheese, use 3 eggs, and reduce cheddar to ~1 cup, and add 1 block of shredded sharp white cheddar, 1 block of shredded Boar’s Head 3-pepper co-jack, and ~1 pound chopped cooked bacon.
Sweet Rolls

Breads, Tested and Approved!

Difficulty Hard ∙ Source Grandma

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups milk, lukewarm (less amount of water used to dissolve yeast)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 envelopes yeast
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, soft
  • 7 – 7 1/2 cups flour

Icing

  • butter, soft
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla
  • cream or half and half

DIRECTIONS

Dissolve yeast in a small amount of warm water. Mix milk, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and heat to ~105℉. When the milk is warm pour into a large bowl and mix in the yeast. Stir in the eggs and butter. 

Start mixing in the flour, stirring until thick and then kneading until soft and elastic. 

Allow to rise for 2 hours (until doubled) then punch down. Butter pans (allowing dough to rest) then make the rolls. Allow to rise until light. 

Bake at 400℉ for 15 minutes.

NOTES

Use light colored metal pans to bake the rolls, dark and glass pans can tend to over bake the bottom.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Breads, Tested and Approved!

Prep 2-2½ hours ∙ Cook 30 minutes ∙ Makes 3 loaves ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Mom

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 envelopes yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 – 5 1/2 cups flour

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, salt, and yeast. 

In a pan, heat water, milk, honey, and oil until warm. Pour liquid over flour mixture and mix for two minutes with a mixer. 

Add white flour until smooth and elastic; knead for 5 minutes. Raise for 60-90 minutes (until doubled). Punch down and shape into loaves. 

Let raise for 45-60 minutes. Bake 30 minutes at 400℉.

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Grad Party – Part 3

Today I made the glaze for the ribs after removing the last of the fat from my collected drippings. 

To my concentrated drippings I added the rest of my cheap balsamic vinegar (yes, cheap, only suitable as a marinade and for concentrating). And an equal part of water with 2 cups of dark brown sugar and proceeded to further concentrate the glaze.

    

After a couple of hours I had a thick vinegary sauce.


I also whipped up the dressing for my cole slaw that I’m planning to make on Saturday morning, since it is always better if you make it a day in advance. The dressing is very simple; I prefer a vinegar base to a creamy sauce. Sugar, vinegars (white wine, red wine, apple cider, and raspberry because I ran out of the red), and oil go into the blender.

        
This will keep in the fridge easily.

We’ve also been trying to minimize other food in the fridge, so have been keeping dinners simple this week: M-pizza, T-brats, W-sushi, and my hubby suggested cold cuts for dinner and my grad has friends over so I whipped up my version of Italian subs. It is fresh baguette, olive oil, olive tapenade, Prosciutto, hot capicola, peppered salami, fresh mozzarella, and basil.


Grad Party – Part 2

Between yesterday and today I have finished up the ribs. After each batch has cooked, I have collected the drippings in my stock pot. Tomorrow I’ll be making the glaze with it, but in the meantime I’ve been reducing it so that it all fits in the stock pot. I’ve also been skimming off the fat from the top, which is easiest to do after it’s been chilling in the fridge. This image is just after my final addition.  


With that done, I’m onto the mac and cheese. I’m made this before with the mention that it scales well. I’ll be making four triple batches for this party and it’s quite the pile of ingredients (just ignore the beer). 

My first task was to spray my pans; a loss of mac and cheese to the side of a pans is tragic! After that on to mixing the eggs, cheeses, and sour cream with a healthy dose of salt and pepper. I used my scale to weigh the pasta and cheddar that I purchased in bulk (with the tare set at 1 lb.). 

           
I rinsed the pasta with cold water before stirring it in, since these are going in the fridge rather than the oven. 

  

And then I topped each pan with panko and covered them so that they would be all set. 

I had a little bit left, so it looks like I’ll have 13 ½-trays at the end. 


Only 3 batches more to go and more to come tomorrow. 

Grad Party – Part 1

My oldest is graduating from high school this year, so we have decided to have a grad party, as many families do. I considered having it catered or at least purchasing the food already made. As I reviewed the expense, I elected to make most of the food myself. I am buying chicken, because who wants to spend the day over a fryer and because I have a local market that uses all amish chicken to make their fried chicken. The biggest savings is from making my own ribs. 

I have built up a large amount vacation days so I decided to take the week off to do the ribs. By pre-cooking them in the oven, they will only take 6 minutes on the grill on the day of the party. I’m starting with my rosemary in my new food processor (I decided using the broken one was going to waste too much time. 


After chopping it, I added in the remaining ingredients for the wet rub. You can see I took some liberties for the bulk prep (I can’t even imagine the amount of time it would have taken to peel enough garlic cloves for 2 cups minced!)

    

The resulting sauce is thick and beautiful, my graduate decided the smell alone was amazing. 

The next part is prepping the ribs for the rub; you must remove the membrane/silver skin from the back of the ribs to ensure they are tender. 

  

And then 3 to a pan; I’ll be doing about 12 of these. 

    
To cook them, ½ cup of water goes into each pan and they are tightly sealed with foil and roasted at 425°F for 1¾ hours. 


Once cooked they are very tender. I’ll be keeping them cold in giant ziploc bags until the morning of the party. I’m reserving juice from the bottom of the pan for a glaze and I’ll have BBQ sauce too. 


More to come this week as I progress.