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℉.

Grad Party – Part 4

Only 21 hours before the party and I think we are set. I finally made it through 18 years of pictures, I had been delinquent for the past 10. But that’s not why you are reading this, today I finished the cole slaw. I did two quintuple batches and ended up with 3 full trays. I didn’t want to have the veggies around for long so my mom and I picked those up this morning: 10 heads of cabbage (9 green and 1 red), 10 bunches of green onions, and 2 lbs. of carrots. When we got home we cleaned them all and peeled the carrots. 

  

Then we went to work on slicing the green onions and shredding the the cabbage and carrots in the food processor. 

I placed each batch in my large bowl and added half of the dressing I made the other day. As always, I seasoned well with salt and pepper. Stirring was a little bit fun, but I managed to keep it all in the bowl. I followed it with the other half of my ingredients and ended up with 3 trays which are now in my MIL’s fridge since I ran out of space. 

  

My mother arrived yesterday to assist and also brought home-made rolls, ~17 dozen. She made them in large batches too and while time-consuming, it is simple to make good bread. The start is active-dry yeast, proofed with a bit of sugar and warm water until it’s frothy. This gets stirred into flour to make a sticky dough, then kneaded with even more flour until smooth. 

        

Then you let it rest to rise for about 1½ hours (still using the same bowl that she used when I was a little girl). 

  

After it’s risen you punch it down, let it rest briefly, shape it into rolls, and then let them rise again before baking them. 

      
I’m so excited to enjoy one of these with a bit of butter. 


I also have signs made, soda chilling, and they put up the tent today. I’ll have one more post tomorrow on the outcome, let’s hope the storms miss us!

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.


Weeknight Meals

Tuesday

When I made my menu this past week, the one thing I wanted on it was burgers; it’s finally gotten cold here in Michigan and neither the grill nor I are fond of it. My husband got me a cast iron grill pan for Christmas so it was time to break it in. I really have been trying to add  more salads to our meals and with burgers in my head my thoughts when to other summer favorites. Asian Cole slaw came to mind; I haven’t had it in years since that little packet of “seasoning” is horrible, all salt and preservatives. I decided that someone must have solved this dilemma and set to finding an alternative.

I’m very thankful for another blog I came across, GimmeSomeOven; she solved it. I only made one intentional change: bagged Cole slaw kits don’t look appetizing to me so I shredded cabbage and carrot. I also made an unintentional change, I forgot to add the edamame in my haste.

Last, I had some leftover mac & cheese, that I modified when I made it. It was a stir and serve type of recipe and I strongly favor baked macaroni and cheese; at least in this house no one complained.

I told the boys I wanted bacon burgers and asked if they had any opinions, I got one, “can we add green onions and pepper jack cheese too?”

I started with the peppered bacon; I bake it to avoid the mess. Lay out in a single layer, place the tray in a cold oven, set the oven to 400, and bake for 12-20 minutes depending on the thickness. 
Then I formed the burgers, after a quick peek in the fridge, I put salt, pepper, garlic powder, chopped green and red onions, and barbecue sauce in them.

I then set to making the slaw, starting with the dressing:


And toasting the noodles and almonds for a nice crunch.
 I tossed it just before we ate. 

and served with a cucumber g&t

 

Wednesday

I’ve started sharing rides with another family for my son’s Wednesday training, and it has given me more time to do more for dinner. When I planned the menu, I came across a recipe for Caramel Chicken, it’s not as sweet as the name implies; the vinegar, garlic, and ginger add a bit of spice and tartness that makes it delicious. Rather than the asparagus I had on my menu I remembered that I still had some extra cauliflower and broccoli in the veggie drawer which I cut up and roasted. Roasting broccoli and/or cauliflower is fairly easy, on a rimmed cookie sheet drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then add you flavor of choice (I squeezed half of a lemon over the veggies). Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes.

Thursday

By far the easiest meal on the day of eating; I made it on Sunday. I definitely recommend making this in advance, the potatoes help to thickest the soup as it rests in the fridge, and the flavor become richer. Mine didn’t have any fat to remove, but as I’ve mentioned before, I trim my beef really well.

 

Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad

Prep 10 mins ∙ Cook 10 mins ∙ Makes About 8 servings ∙ Source Gimmesomeoven.com

INGREDIENTS

Salad Ingredients:

  • ½ cabbage, shredded
  • ½-1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 2 (3-ounce) packages of ramen noodles, crumbled (discard the seasoning packet)
  • 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and julienned (or diced)
  • ½ cup thinly-sliced almonds
  • ½ cup thinly-sliced green onions (scallions)

Asian Vinaigrette Dressing

  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup honey (or agave)
  • ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of salt and black pepper

DIRECTIONS

To Make The Salad:

(Optional first step: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the crumbled ramen noodles and sliced almonds out on a baking sheet, and stir a bit to combine. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the almonds and noodles are slightly toasted and golden. Remove baking sheet, and give the mixture a good stir to toss. Then return it to the oven and toast for an additional 3 minutes. Keep a very close eye on the mixture so that it does not burn. Remove and set aside.)

Add ingredients (including the vinaigrette) together in a large bowl, and toss until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (This salad is much better eaten the first day, as the noodles lose their “crunch” the longer it sits, and the avocado may brown a bit.)

To Make The Vinaigrette:

Whisk all ingredients together until combined.


Green Chile Macaroni & Cheese

Prep 45 mins ∙ Cook 30 min ∙ Makes 4-6 ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Food.com | Roaring Fork Restaurant

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 fresh poblano chiles, 1 chopped
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb. macaroni, cooked
  • 4 cups grated cheese (mexican, cheddar)
  • salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • Panko, for topping (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Char 2 poblano chile directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer to paper bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop chile. Transfer to processor; puree until smooth. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped chile, bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add corn; stir 1 minute.

3. Add cream and chile puree, bring to boil. Add cooked macaroni and grated cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a 9×13″ pan sprayed with nonstick spray and sprinkle with panko. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.

Caramel Chicken

Makes 4 ∙ Source Bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2½-3 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken legs and thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ⅓ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 slices ¼”-thick slices peeled ginger
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Cooked white rice (for serving)

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and, working in 2 batches, cook until golden brown and crisp, 6–8 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Add garlic to pot and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes; transfer to plate with chicken. Pour off fat from pot.

Return pot to medium-high heat and add ½ cup water, scraping up browned bits. Add brown sugar; stir to dissolve, then cook, stirring, until mixture thickens and turns a deep amber color, about 4 minutes. Carefully add vinegar (it may bubble up; sugar will crystallize); stir to dissolve sugar.

Add ginger, broth, and soy sauce, then add chicken, skin side up, and garlic.


 Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, 20–25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Bring cooking liquid to a boil and cook until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Return chicken to pot; turn to coat. Top with scallions and serve with rice.



Irish Beef Stew

Makes 4 to 6 servings ∙ Source Bon Appétit | March 2001

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1¼ pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6-8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup porter beer
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and cut in ½” pieces
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, freshly chopped

  

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.

    
Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. 
Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.Meanwhile, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes.


   Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes.


Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.) Transfer stew to serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.