Monday, June 10, 2013

Graduation Party Menu

This year, we tried something new for our graduation party -- a Thai-themed meal in part because Ryan is going to Thailand next year.  Below is the Menu with links to the recipes.  Many commented on how good the sauces were, how nice it was to have fresh vegetables, how interesting and different the selection was.  I think I'm a pretty good cook, but when I come up with something really yummy, I'm as excited about my food as anyone else.  The sauces I "invented" after researching the internet for some ideas.

Ryan's Graduation Menu
* follow the links for the recipes
Thai Tacos
     Diced Chicken with pineapple/peanut sauce
     Large Romaine leaves
     Jasmine Rice
     Lentils & Quinoa with pineapple/peanut sauce
     Crushed pineapple
     Chopped peanuts
     Chopped green onions
     Chopped red, yellow, orange, green peppers
     Shredded carrots
     Pineapple- Ginger Sauce
     Peanut Sauce
Snack Mixes
     Scrabble (Chex Mix)
     Goldfish Mix
     Puppy Chow
     Chocolate Chip Cookies
     Mini-cheesecakes with blueberry and strawberry sauces
     Mineral Water
     October Ale (grape juice made with ginger ale)

Snack Mixes for the Graduation

*Is a recipe even needed for this??
Mix to your own satisfaction:
M & M's


Goldfish Party Mix
2 bags fish crackers, cheddar and Parmesan
1 #  bag oyster crackers
4 qt. popped corn
1 c. melted margarine
1 pkg dry Ranch Dressing

Mix the goldfish crackers, oyster crackers, and popped corn in a large roasting pan.  Pour melted margarine and dressing mixture over the cracker mixture and mix well.  (It helps to pour a little at a time and mix in between.)  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 - 15 minutes.


Puppy Chow
9          cups Rice Chex®, Corn Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
1          cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2       cup peanut butter
1/4       cup butter or margarine
1          teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2    cups powdered sugar 

·         Into a large bowl, measure cereal; set aside. 
·         In a 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter uncovered on High for 1 minute; stir.  Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth.  Stir in vanilla. 
·         Pour mixture over the cereal, stiffing until evenly coated.  Pour into a 2-gallon resealable food storage plastic bag.
·         Add powdered sugar.  Seal bag; shake until well coated.  Spread on waxed paper to cool.  Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Sauce Recipes for the Graduation Party

Pineapple-Ginger-Peanut Sauce for Chicken & Lentils
6 cups pineapple juice
3 T. grated fresh ginger
3 T. tamari sauce
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 T. chili sauce (I used spicy thai chili sauce)
3 t. salt
3/4 cup vinegar
3/4 lime juice
1 T. dried onion
1 T. garlic
2 cups cold water
1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 - 1 cup peanut butter.

Mix the ingredients above the line and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes to reduce liquid.  Mix the cold pineapple juice with the cornstarch.  Warm the peanut butter to soften it.  Add the pineapple juice/cornstarch mixture to the pan.  Add some of the pineapple juice to the softened peanut butter, then add back into the pan.  Heat the pan until the mixture bubbles and thickens.

Mix the sauce with meat.  Serve with lettuce leaves, rice, or noodles.


Pineapple-Ginger Sauce
2 cups pineapple juice
1.5 T. grated fresh ginger
1 T. tamari sauce
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 t. chili sauce (I used spicy thai chili sauce)
1 t. salt
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 lime juice
2 t. dried onion
2 t. garlic
2/3 cups cold water
3 T. cornstarch

Mix the ingredients above the line and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes to reduce liquid.  Mix the cold pineapple juice with the cornstarch. Add the pineapple juice/cornstarch mixture to the pan.  Bring the pan back to a boil and cook until it thickens.

Serve with lettuce leaves, rice, vegetables, or noodles.


Thai Peanut Sauce
3 T soy sauce
1 T. ginger
1 cup peanut butter
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 T. vinegar
1 can coconut milk
1 T. lime juice
1 t. chili sauce
3 T. cold water
3 T. cornstarch

Mix the ingredients above the line in a pan and bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat stirring constantly so that it doesn't scorch.  Mix the cold water with the cornstarch and add to the hot peanut mixture.  Continue to head until the pan bubbles and thickens.

Desserts for Graduation Party

Italian Cream Cheese and Ricotta Cheesecake
*Gluten-free mini cheesecake version

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (16 ounce) container ricotta cheese  (I use my home-made ricotta cheese)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pint sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Fill muffin tins with parchment paper muffin liners.
  2. Mix the cream cheese and ricotta cheese together in a mixing bowl until well combined. Mix until light and smooth.  Stir in the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, and cornstarch. Add the sour cream last and stir. Pour about 1/3 cup in each compartment.  The cups can be full.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven 40 minutes.  Turn the oven off and let it sit for 10 more minutes.

Berry Sauce
2 cups fresh or frozen berries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons conrstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the ingredients above the line in a pan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer until the fruit softens.  Add the cornstarch/water mixture and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens.

Tis the Season for Graduation Parties!

A friend who grew up in New York, said that she didn't realize that graduation parties were such a "big deal" here in the Midwest.  When I was growing up in Iowa, we had simple cake, mints, dollar bun sandwiches, and potato salad receptions.  Everyone had their little parties right after the graduation ceremony and people made the rounds.  Graduates rarely attended the parties of their classmates because they were playing hosts for their own parties.

I don't know what the rest of Minnesota, or even Northfield, does, but the Prichard family has had fairly large parties.  Our oldest children homeschooled, and the party was an opportunity to celebrate their achievements. Family, church friends, other homeschoolers, and friends in the community filled our yard and our house.  

In all honesty, I love throwing parties.  I like getting the house cleaned and set up; I like planning and executing an interesting menu; I like decorating; and, most importantly, I love having people in my home.  The more the merrier!!   We've had a variety of menus, color themes, and decorations.  For one, we made, individual, layered green, orange, and yellow jello to match the plates, bowls, and napkins.  For another, we had a full table of unusual appetizers, hors d'oeuvres, and desserts.  One daughter worked at a daycare, so we rented an inflatable castle for the day.  

This year's party was just as fun, and the menu was just as tasty!  We thought it might rain; in fact, the weather report forecasted rain showers for the very hours of our party.  We set up a couple of canopies, complete with rows of Christmas lights, but the rain held off until the middle of the night.  Our driveway, garage, yard, and kitchen were buzzing with conversations and laughter.  I loved it.

One of my favorite parts of our graduation celebration is the poster board that I make for my graduating senior.  A wonderful trip down memory lane, I sort through envelopes and shoeboxes of photos looking for representative snapshots of my child's life.  Often, the whole family gathers around the kitchen table, sharing the fun stories behind the pictures.  This year, we also displayed some of my son's art work.

The menu was so good that I've had a number of requests for the recipes.  I'll post the menu and the recipes in the next post.

Tis the Season for Graduations!

It the end of the school year, and for some it's the end of a high school career.  I remember my high school graduation -- I was excited and apprehensive at the same time.  My high school days were, in a sense, my "glory days."  I was a cheerleader and involved in all kinds of extra-curricular organizations; I had lots of friends, good grades, and a bright future at a good college.  Little did I know how quickly the "glory" of teenage days fades.  It's a good thing because I'd hate to think that those years were the best it gets.

This year my son graduated, and it was a particularly significant one.  Of all my children, he is the first to graduate from a public school.  My other five graduated from our home school.  My son's school career has been a bit varied.  He homeschooled for grades K, 1, 6, 7, and 8.  For the other grades, he attended two different charter schools, Prairie Creek Community School and Arcadia Charter School (previously ARTech).  Arcadia has a thoughtful graduation ceremony.  For each student. a staff person gives a short tribute, pointing out unique traits and characteristics.  A wonderful quality of this school is how well they know and relate to their students.  The graduation is always touching and heartfelt.  Having Ryan there was a good choice.  We're grateful for Arcadia!