How to Create a Graduation Party Rain Plan


April 26, 2019 | Food Lion
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How to Create a Graduation Party Rain Plan

Graduation from high school or college is a major turning point in a young person's life. And, this occasion definitely calls for a glorious celebration. If spring is in full swing when your young adult is graduating, an outdoor party may be in the cards. However, May and June can still be prime months for rain showing up as an uninvited guest. So, while you may have grand visions that involve plenty of burgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken for your guests, it's safe to plan ahead in case Mother Nature makes an appearance at your gathering. In these cases, one terrific backup option is to provide casseroles and snacks for your guests.

Snacking and Socializing

Casseroles are versatile for many reasons. The biggest advantage is that they're easy to make ahead in large batches to feed all your adoring guests. In most cases, you can make casseroles a day or two in advance and keep them refrigerated. You can also freeze them for up to six months. It's also very easy to include fresh, seasonal vegetables that are good for you and your loved ones.

If rain causes you to abandon your plans for croquet and cornhole, make sure to have plenty to eat for your guests as you turn your focus to interactive indoor fun like charades or reading aloud everyone's best piece of graduation advice. Make sure to have a large graduation cake for everyone to tuck into when toasting the graduate on advancing to the next life stage.

Chicken, Spinach, & Cheddar Casserole

PREP TIME: 20 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes SERVES: 8-12

Casseroles are definitely some of the heartier dinner-table staples, which makes them great when you're looking for a traditional dish or when rain turns your get-together into a cozier indoors affair. But why not glam-up your casserole with some fresh flavors and nutrients for the crowd? One of the main ingredients ― spinach ― is super healthy, and the chicken also keeps things light when it comes to proteins. Plus, you can easily customize this with more of your favorite seasonal veggies — think asparagus, green beans, tomatoes, and artichokes, which are all fresh around graduation time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 10.5-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar
  • Vegetable oil spray

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring a medium pot filled with salted water to a rolling boil on high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add your choice of pasta, such as shells or bowties.
  2. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the water, reserving 1 cup of it, and set it aside.
  3. Add the shredded chicken, cream of chicken soup, and half and half to a large mixing bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the spinach and any other veggies and sauté about five minutes. Season with garlic powder, salt, and black pepper while sautéing.
  5. Drain any excess liquid from the veggies and add them to the chicken mixture.
  6. Add the cheddar cheese, pasta, salt, and black pepper and mix well. If the mixture seems dry, add some pasta water to moisten it.
  7. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Add the chicken casserole to the baking dish and smooth it out evenly using a spatula. Place the casserole in the oven.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes until heated completely through. Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to cool briefly. Cut it into portions and serve hot.

Fresh Tuna Noodle Casserole

PREP TIME: 20 minutes COOK TIME: 40 minutes TOTAL TIME: 1 hour SERVES: 8-12

At one time or another, everyone has had tuna noodle casserole — this nostalgic favorite may have been something you looked forward to when you visited Grandma. Typically, the casserole is made with canned tuna, and there are many fine brands and types available in can and pouch form. However, using fresh Albacore in tuna casserole takes this classic staple to totally new heights. It's a simple dish to make as you're prepping for the party, and it's ideal for serving to larger groups. If there happen to be any leftovers, they make for a great midweek meal.

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces wide egg noodles
  • (2) 6-ounce tuna fillets, preferably wild caught, cooked and shredded
  • (1) 10.5-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3 cups frozen peas and carrots or other frozen mixed vegetables
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar
  • 3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil spray

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring a medium pot filled with salted water to a rolling boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add egg noodles.
  2. Cook the noodles until they're al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the water, reserving 1 cup of it, and set this aside.
  3. Add the shredded tuna, cream of mushroom soup, and heavy cream or half and half to a large mixing bowl. Stir well.
  4. Add the peas and carrots or mixed vegetables, cheddar cheese, noodles, salt and black pepper. Mix well. If the mixture seems dry, add some of the cooking water to moisten it.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Add the tuna noodle casserole to the baking dish and smooth it out evenly using a spatula.
  7. Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs scattered evenly on the top. Place the casserole in the oven.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes until the casserole is heated completely through. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool briefly. Cut it into portions and serve warm.

Meaty & Cheesy Antipasto Salad

Even though it sounds like they shouldn't, there are antipasto salads that have pasta in them ― just not this one. With pasta- and noodle-laden casseroles on the menu, this is a bright departure from those substantial dishes. Often the first course of a traditional meal in Italy, antipasto salads are known for their meat and cheese components along with marinated olives and other vegetables. The balsamic vinaigrette in this one also has enough acidity and brightness to wake up even the sleepiest palates.

PREP TIME: 30 minutes COOK TIME: None TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes SERVES: 8-12

INGREDIENTS

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

  • 1/2 pound pepperoni, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound hard salami, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound roast turkey, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 pound provolone cheese, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 pound mozzarella cheese, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
  • 4 ounces whole pepperoncini
  • 4 ounces large, pimento-stuffed green olives
  • 4 ounces pitted black olives
  • 2 tablespoons diced sundried tomatoes in oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to a small mixing bowl. Mix well.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil slowly into the vinegar mixture, whisking as you do. Combine everything well and set aside.
  3. Add the pepperoni, hard salami, roast turkey, Monterey jack and mozzarella cheeses, artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, green and black olives, and sun-dried tomatoes to a large mixing bowl. Toss well.
  4. Whisk the vinaigrette again and drizzle it slowly onto the antipasto salad. Stir well. Refrigerate any remaining vinaigrette for later use.
  5. Refrigerate the antipasto salad for at least one hour before arranging it on a serving platter.

 

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