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Thread: Please help me think of side dishes for grad party!

  1. #1
    Super Member Naturalmama's Avatar
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    Please help me think of side dishes for grad party!

    Ugh. I normally love to cook, but things have been sooooo crazy busy and I have way more to do than time to do it in. My nephew (son of my sister who died 2 years ago) just graduated and is coming in from across the country to see us before he goes into the AF. I was going to have some of our friends over and have a sort of graduation party for him here (yes, even though he doesn't know anyone - he's outgoing and friendly and I want him to at least feel like he's having a grad party since he didn't at home)

    Ok. Please help me think! I was going to have Italian sausage and probably chicken on the grill. And a big salad. What else can I make for side dishes that is super tasty - but not majorly time consuming!? My brain has shut down in the cooking dept - I would really appreciate your ideas! (should be around 17 people if all goes as planned)
    A nature-loving soapmaking older homeschooling mom who grew up sewing over at gram's house.
    wildhavensoap.com

  2. #2
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    Baked beans (can be canned and doctored up), deviled eggs, macaroni/pasta/or potato salad. Love your beautiful, giving heart and all you're doing for your nephew.....I know you are very proud!

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    2 lbs hashbrown potatoes. 1/2 c. melted butter, salt, pepper. 2 T.dry chives or minced onion. 1 can cream chicken soup. 1 pt. sour cream, 2 c. sharp cheddar cheese. Thaw potatoes and put rest into them stir up good. Bake at 350 for 45 or so minutes. A really good hot dish. Feeds 12 easily. [ Put in a greased pirex cake pan.]
    Last edited by barny; 06-11-2012 at 05:26 PM.

  4. #4
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    Since the grill is already on, maybe do up some baked potatoes in foil? How about soaking the corn ears in water and putting them on the grill to cook? For a summer party, I also use my big turkey roasting pan and fill it with watermelon slices and put the top on and have it in the fridge. I bring out the whole pan to the picnic table and you have the top handy to keep bug off it. If it's a fancier party, I do up the fruit bouquets with chunks of fruit on bamboo skewers in weighted containers.

  5. #5
    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    How about corn bread? It's easy and there was a yummy recipe listed on the QB, just recently!
    Neesie


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    Barny again. 3 lbs seedless red grapes. I 8oz. pkg cream cheese. I c. sour cream,1/3 c. sugar, 1/4 c. brn sugar, 2 t. vanilla. Mix everything but grapes, then put them in. chill and serve. Can be made ahead. Makes large bowl.

  7. #7
    Super Member Naturalmama's Avatar
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    Great ideas! and Barny thank you so much for the recipes - they sound great!! I'm writing things down to get it all planned.
    A nature-loving soapmaking older homeschooling mom who grew up sewing over at gram's house.
    wildhavensoap.com

  8. #8
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    Get a ready made fruit or veggie tray. Much easier than chopping everything yourself. I think the time saved
    out weighs the cost.

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    Barny again. Vermicelli[pasta] 16 os pkg cooked. [ 1T. accent, 1T. seasoned salt, 3 T. lemon juice, 4 T cooking oil] chill overnight in a jar or something. ADD 1 small jar diced pimentos drained, 1 small can 2 1/2 oz sliced ripe olives drained, 1 C. chopped bell pepper, 3/4 C green onions, 2 c. chopped celery, 1 c. mayonnaise or Miracle Whip. Dump all into the Pasta and serve cold. It's better made a day or 2 ahead. Serves 15 or 20. Hope this helps!

  10. #10
    Super Member Naturalmama's Avatar
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    Thank you Barny - yep that sure does help!
    A nature-loving soapmaking older homeschooling mom who grew up sewing over at gram's house.
    wildhavensoap.com

  11. #11
    Super Member teacherbailey's Avatar
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    "Kitchen Sink" pasta salad.....cook up a box of any kind of pasta, add a small bag of shredded cheddar, canned olives (drained), any kind of raw veggies in small pieces, a jar of bacon bits and whatever else sounds good, then pour about 2/3 bottle of zesty Italian dressing over it all....make it a day or two ahead and then stir in the last of the dressing at serving time. Different every time but good no matter what you do it it.

    Easy Cobbler....in a 9 x 13 pan, spread two cans of cobbler fruit filling. Sprinkle a box of dry cake mix over it all, breaking up large lumps with your fingers. Slice two sticks of butter over it all and arrange evenly. Bake at 350 for about 45-50 minutes or until browned and all cake mix is moistened. Use the cake/fruit flavors that you like.....ours are butter cake with blueberry, apple or peach with spice cake and cherry with devil's food cake. I usually make two or three of these at a time for parties, in different flavors.
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  12. #12
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    Salsa (buy different flavors, different levels of heat) and tortilla chips. Good old potato chips and onion dip. Go easy on sides with mayo, especially if food will be unrefrigerated for over 1 hour, you can get sick (I know, we all survived...). Make it easy on yourself, chips now come in different flavors, buy a variety. Veggie chips/sticks are very good, too. You can make easy nachos by spreading tortilla chips on a baking dish, cover with refried beans (canned), sliced olives, shredded cheddar cheese. Bake until cheese melts (happens very quickly). Top with sour cream (or put on side), chopped fresh tomatoes and chopped cilantro. (Kids really like these). If you feel ambitious, you can also use "taco" flavored meat in addition to or instead of the beans. Hope these tips help. Enjoy the party! Oh, one more thing....use plastic ware and then toss them out when used - who wants to clean-up???
    Last edited by ILoveToQuilt; 06-12-2012 at 04:22 AM.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Helenq's Avatar
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    Just had a Graduation Party on Sunday for one from College and two from High School'ers=so we had allot of people. Approx. 150 people. The hit with everyone was the crock pot Mac & Cheese-- I lined all the crock pots (borrowed from everyone)pre made pulled pork & baked beans (in Crock pots) then also had party trays of panni's, wraps and hoieges. The guys grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and kielbasa.

    Here is the Crock Mac & Cheese recipe (boiled the macaroni the day before and just put in crock the morning of party).

    http://whiskandaprayer.blogspot.com/...baked-mac.html

    Have Fun and Good luck,
    Helen

  14. #14
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    My daughter just had a college grad party. The biggest hit was the taco salad. I put the taco meat in a crockpot and everything else in bowls. Lots of chips and salsa. The kids chose to leave out the lettuce and were calling at nachos. No meat left over but lots of lettuce left over.lol Also ate lots of fruit and vegies but the cupcakes didn't get eaten like I thought they would. She also elected to grill the hotdogs and hamburgers ahead of time and put them in a crockpot. That way no one has to be slave to the grill while everyone else is having fun and no accidents with a hot grill. We had some small children there too.
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    had two partys in May:
    Black bean/mango/corn salad...lots of recipes look them up
    three bean salad = one can each, green beans (not french cut), yellow wax beans, chick peas or kidney beans, blanch carrots, celery and onion briefly. rinse beans, drain veggies toss together with italian dressing....easy peasy

  16. #16
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    I don't know what you are serving, but as a "standby side dish", get bread, cut w cookie cutters, put pimento cheese, tuna or egg salad on them.or all three, can decorate them too. and no cooking!! um except boiling the eggs. and don't know how many people you will have.

    make a fruit bowl, cut the fruit up , place in a bowl and go on with it.

    veggie bowl, the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots,cut them up, then have a dip along with that.

    chips & dip would work, even salsa.

    pop corn!!! use garlic salt instead of regular salt
    chex mix, rice mix, pretzels, mix with nuts, pour in a bowl and you got it.
    Last edited by Psychomomquilter; 06-12-2012 at 05:58 AM. Reason: wanted to add more
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    Quote Originally Posted by barny View Post
    Barny again. 3 lbs seedless red grapes. I 8oz. pkg cream cheese. I c. sour cream,1/3 c. sugar, 1/4 c. brn sugar, 2 t. vanilla. Mix everything but grapes, then put them in. chill and serve. Can be made ahead. Makes large bowl.
    This is our favorite --- but I use almond extract instead of vanilla
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  18. #18
    Super Member Naturalmama's Avatar
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    Oh you guys - thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to post all these great ideas! Normally I would love planning all this, but I am so overloaded (and besides cleaning, cooking, working, swim practice for ds, errands, I have to pack to leave for a week right after all this) so this helps tremendously!!!
    I was thinking of having Italian sausage and chicken on the grill, but that was a good idea to cook ahead of time and put in the crock pot.... if we have time. Pulled pork sounds good too though. Will have to see if we can get some on sale tonight - that would be easier. I can still do some sausage easy enough, but chicken always seems to get dry, so pork would be a good idea. I'm making him a cake so I don't need to worry about dessert (just getting the cake done! lol!) I totally forgot about chips and dip (duh - see how bad I am!) There will only be about 20 or so here, so not too bad. I feel a little bit of pressure though - I've built up a reputation for serving really good food (it's not me - it's just the good recipes!) and I'm just feeling so blank - so if you were all here you'd be getting hugs!
    A nature-loving soapmaking older homeschooling mom who grew up sewing over at gram's house.
    wildhavensoap.com

  19. #19
    Super Member SouthPStitches's Avatar
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    Ridiculously simple, but a pot of salt potatoes seems to go over well. Couple of years ago, I brought out a "Watergate" salad that was popular in the 70's. Lots of time has passed and many people never had it and just loved it (pistachio pudding, cook whip, drained pineapple, etc.) Those that did remember, enjoyed the retro dish once again.

  20. #20
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    Broccoli salad - chop up some broc, rinse and place it in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bacon bits, (and raisins optional). Mix 1 cup of mayo, 1/2 cup sugar and sprinkle with red wine vinegar (about 1/4 cup), mix it up and put in frig until ready to serve. then pour over broc and eat. yummy.
    Pam Riggs

  21. #21
    Senior Member kathyd's Avatar
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    I'd go for a cold fruity dish of some sort. The Watergate salad or the orange jell-o salad that was mentioned on another thread.
    A salad I make alot I call Dad's Fruit Salad (cuz he liked it)
    1 lg. can fruit cocktail w/juice
    1 can mandarin oranges, drained
    1 sm can pineapple tidbits, drain but save the juice (if salad seems to thick)
    1 sm. box vanilla instant pudding
    1/2 box lemon instant pudding.
    Mix all together and refrigerate.
    Can be made the day before and the best part is that it thickens up and doesn't run around on the plate (popular with kids

  22. #22
    Senior Member Sew N Tune's Avatar
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    Seafood Salad - cook up about 2 cups of the mini seashell macaroni until al dente. Drain, and rinse with cold water. Let cool. Meanwhile, cut up 1-2 stalks of celery (fine), one small onion, and a few radishes for color. Cut up one package of the imitation crab meat. Salt and pepper to taste, add about 2 tsp. of Old Bay Seasoning, mix in mayo until all is combined and enjoy with some club crackers.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Bonnie's Avatar
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    Brocolli salad would be good.

  24. #24
    Super Member QandE2010's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sew N Tune View Post
    Seafood Salad - cook up about 2 cups of the mini seashell macaroni until al dente. Drain, and rinse with cold water. Let cool. Meanwhile, cut up 1-2 stalks of celery (fine), one small onion, and a few radishes for color. Cut up one package of the imitation crab meat. Salt and pepper to taste, add about 2 tsp. of Old Bay Seasoning, mix in mayo until all is combined and enjoy with some club crackers.
    This sounds really good, however a few years ago I developed a severe allergy from seafood. So, please, if you're going to serve this, put a sign up listing the ingredients. A sign saved my life, as no one realized the salad had seafood in it. Just saying.
    Alma
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  25. #25
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    I didn't see this suggestion ... because of his age, and that this new grad is of the male variety .... I bet he'd be most appreciative of his Auntie if she were to include in the menu plans .... a keg of beer!!!!!
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