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Old 04-29-2007, 09:17 AM   #1
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Graduation party catering questions

Hi everyone. I haven't been here in a while. Life gets too busy. I posted a thread a while back about catering my nephew's graduation party in the US.

In a nutshell, I am having a hard time figuring out how much of each thing to make and more importantly, how much it will cost (I've tried finding things online). I'm hoping you guys can help me. I had a really nice menu planned, but my sister has told me that it would not appeal to the guest so she has given me the dishes that they want, as they are my nephew's favorite foods and less expensive than my orginal suggestions. I've never catered anything before in my life and I'm feeling quite overwhelmed.

Here's the menu she wants:
- Chicken Salad served on Pillsbury crescent rolls
(recipe is tinned chicken, green pepper, onion, mayo, some other stuff)
- BBQ meatballs in a crockpot
(the meatballs, I guess we can get at a warehouse store and store-bought BBQ sauce)
- Parmesan pinwheels
(crescent rolls again, cream cheese, rosemary... think this is a Pampered Chef recipe)
- Nacho station
(this was my idea... tortillas, queso, guac, salsa, etc... assemble it yourself)
- Crabbies
(tinned crab, cheese, on english muffin, baked)
- Veggie tray
- Cheese tray
- Deviled eggs

Ugh, so much processed food ! I hate this. But I'll make whatever they want. They'll have a graduation cake, btw.

I have 5 weeks until party, 3 until I go. I need to have my plan figured out ahead of time. The moment I get there, I need to have it organized and easily executable.

Any advice? I know I can make and freeze the crabbies ahead of time. The chicken salad will need to be made right before. The nacho stuff can mostly be bought ahead of time (although I'm making the queso fresh). The veggies and cheese can be cut and ready to put out a few days ahead of time. Meatballs should be a cinch.

What about the deviled eggs? I've never even made them. I don't like them, but they are my nephew's favorite. How far in advance can I make those? Recipe suggestions?

Any advice would be wonderful. It's an open house from 4 - 7 and it will mostly be young kids and people that do not have a very sophisticated palate. The expected attendance is approximately 100. TIA!

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Old 04-29-2007, 11:14 AM   #2
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You'll have to be very organized. You'll need helpers/teams to keep things stocked and hopefully to help you prepare things the day b4. I catered my brothers wedding last summer for 120 people - being organized and having help is key.

Check out Ellen'skitchen.com for help in quantity cooking, but remember that people will not be eating a full serving of everything and most likely will be attending other graduation parties that day. Therefore 100 servings of every dish will be way too much food. I would not make more then 50 servings of each dish at most.

Another thought, my experience with veggie dishes is that carrots are by far the most popular veggie. I always cut extra carrots and go light on the rest of the veggies.
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Old 04-29-2007, 11:21 AM   #3
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Thank you SOOO much for the advice. I'm off to look at the web site you suggested.

I am so in over my head. :)
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Old 04-29-2007, 01:45 PM   #4
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I just want to address the chicken salad. You mention you are going to use tinned chicken. I have found that buying those rotisserie chickens at the larger food warehouses is SOOOOOOOO much cheaper and MUCH tastier!!!! At $4.99 or $5.99 for basically 3 cups of chicken it is a LOT cheaper than the tins.

Are you wanting a traditional type chicken salad?

That's my 1 1/2 cents - I have 1/2 cent left to give away today
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Old 04-29-2007, 03:35 PM   #5
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After I removed your notes, I could see your menu more clearly:

- Chicken Salad served on Pillsbury crescent rolls
- BBQ meatballs in a crockpot
- Parmesan pinwheels
- Nacho station
- Crabbies

- Veggie tray
- Cheese tray
- Deviled eggs

The meatballs and nacho really don't belong. The nacho's are a party hazard because the guest needs a place to be seated to eat them and a sturdy plate (not paper or styrofoam). Keeping the nacho ingredients at the right temperature for 3 hours is hard. The meatballs just want to curl up with a side dish and there isn't one.

You could probably trade the Nacho Station for deep fried shrimp or coconut shrimp. You will probably keep the favorite bbq meatballs but at least make a potato side dish to go with it.

You can incorporate the cheese and veggie tray into one and serve the deviled eggs on a tray with assorted crackers to make it interesting.

Don't forget to serve some beverages.
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Old 04-29-2007, 04:45 PM   #6
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Kitchen Elf - great idea. I'm trying to accommodate my nephew's wishes as much as possible, but I also have a limit of about $400US as budget. I'm using sis's recipe. I will ask her when I get there about using roti chicken instead. We love roti chicken here!! It's just down the block and often a great last-minute supper for us. Thanks for the idea!

Stir - the nacho station (as I envisioned it) is this:

Tortilla chips
Guacamole, frequently replenished
salsa (which can keep forever at room temp)
tinned black olives
pickled chiles
a queso that is in a crock pot

This cannot be kept for 3 hours? When I talked to sis and BK (my nephew), the fell in love with the idea. Much better than doing a teenager favorite like pizza.

I'm more worried about the chicken salad (mayonnaise) and deviled eggs (miracle whip is in the recipe... an old family favorite that sounds boring to me, but is my nephew's favorite).

Off to bed... thanks to everyone for helping out. You're right... this isn't a one-man (woman) operation. I'm going to need you all.
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Old 04-29-2007, 04:56 PM   #7
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Velo, if you are worried about keeping the chicken salad chilled, you can put the bowl of chicken salad on a very large tray that is lined with a bunch of those freeze-paks that are used in coolers and lunch boxes. Cover with a lot of lettuce or a pretty towel and put the bowl of chicken salad on top. You won't have to worry about ice melting all over the place and the salad will stay chilled. Be sure to have several spare paks to replace those that might defrost during the event.
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Old 04-29-2007, 05:04 PM   #8
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Good idea Katie E - or the bowl within a bowl works too - the outer bowl being filled with ice and the inner bowl being nestled into it.

One of the worst cases of food poisoning I have ever had was from salsa that was left in the hot sun! lol NOT pretty.

I do not see it at the moment, but are these things going to be kept inside or outside?
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Old 04-30-2007, 09:01 AM   #9
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velochic, as far as food staying for any long periods of time on a buffet - please, think about smaller bowls and refilling or replacing often. One large bowl = a messy look, plus with everyone dipping in it, very unsanitary. Have two bowls that you can trade when one is getting low.

hard cooked eggs can be prepped up to three days ahead, shell and separate the yolk/whites the day ahead - you can also blend your yolk filliing the day ahead, but don't fill until the morning of. If you can buy a large pastry bag and tip, it will make filling the whites much easier and faster.

The easiest filling for them is to mix the yolks, mayo (or miracle whip), little Dijon mustard, pickle juice, salt & pepper. (additional flavors that could be added: finely grated cheddar cheese, cayenne, crab, salmon, bacon - the list is endless!) I would not use a processor to mix the yolks, it's too easy to over mix and you end up with glue! Put the yolks in a sieve and push thru, this will give you a wonderfull texture.

Chicken Salad served on Pillsbury crescent rolls - are you planning to have these assembled ahead of time? They will become soggy if done ahead of time - you might want to think of having the rolls split and in a basket with the filling next to it in a bow and let guests fill their own.

BBQ meatballs in a crockpot - for this many guests, I would rent a chafer to serve the meatballs in, a crockpot is just too small. Costco (or similar) has very nice pre-made meatballs for use. Check out the pkgs. early and look on the back, there are some very tasty and easy sauce ideas on them.

Parmesan pinwheels - not sure what these are, refrigerated rolls spread with Parm and baked?? Just a big basket?

- Crabbies (tinned crab, cheese, on english muffin, baked) - I would rent another chafing dish (a full-size rectangular one for this) to keep the 'crabbies' warm on the buffet.

Your nacho station could very easily turn into something a little too labor intensive - may I suggest an alternative to this, but with all the flavors you're looking for? It's called a walking tostada -

WALKING TOSTADO

On a large plate or platter -- layer the following, indenting each layer approximately 1/2 inch:
(keep in mind the amounts listed are arbitrary - depends on how large a platter you can find!)

1 can Spicey refried beans -- (16 oz.) (mixing with a little salsa will make the beans easier to spread on platter.)
1 container avocado dip -- (8 1/2 oz.) (or guacamole)
1 small can diced Ortega green chiles
1 small can sliced black olives
1 tomatoes -- diced (1 to 2)
1/4 lb. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 a medium onion -- diced (red is best to use)

Stick corn chips around the edge of platter and serve with additional chips.

---

You certainly have your work cut out for you, but with some help, you'll do fine!! I hope some of the above will help you.



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Old 04-30-2007, 09:33 AM   #10
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cjs, the idea of serving the crescent rolls on the side with a bowl of chicken salad is a great one. Another thought, when I do finger sandwiches I always spread butter on the bread as sort of a barrier to delay the filling from soaking through.

I always serve my meatballs in crockpots as well. They hold for a long time at a safe temp.
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