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"Ode to College" theme dinner party

Ok, this isnt supposed to be as trashy as it might sound... lol i know some of you might have repressed memories from your dark dining days of college cooking but maybe you can reimience for a moment to help me out! I want to host a dinner party with several friends (we all graduated in the last 1-3 years) which the courses feature several familiar college "survival" foods but more upscale, for example, i was thinking something of the following:

perhaps a chicken wings app to start off (there are tons of good recipes out there!)
An upscale mac and cheese
Some kind of gourmet ramen (if thats possible)...i was thinking maybe some seared tuna sprinkled with peas atop a bed of ramen for a twist on "tuna noodle cassarole"
sorority salad--lol it can be any kind, i just liked the name
brats simmered in beer or beer can chicken (ok, i know i am an anolomy, but i didnt drink hardly at all in college and i dont really have an affinity for the taste of beer or alcohol for that matter...i know some of my guests do not like the taste of beer either, but i kinda want to do a beer "something" because typically most people have fond memories of living off of such sustanence...does the alcohol flavor burn off in the chicken and the brats--this totally negates the whole reason to use beer, but i'm looking for a recipe that incorporates beer for more the "spirit of" rather than the taste).
and then dessert, i am totally clueless. i thought maybe like a soft serve ice cream bar or gourmet popcorn or a coffee dessert?
and for drinks, red bull, soda and coffee maybe?

i realize that this menu is very carb heavy...but i cant really think of anything else. i need some more ideas so i thought i might tap into the wisdom of those out there...
i am open to any suggestions for any course! thanks!

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  1. Don't forget the dining hall specialty -- Mystery Meat! Turned many students into vegetarians.

    1. I got a kick out of the title of your thread! You used the word "survival" and I was reminded of the Campus Survival Cookbook that I was given as a gift by my older sister. If you could find that, you'd be in business! One of my favorite recipes from that book was called "TrainWreck" which was something like ground beef, onions, tomatoes, peppers etc. done in a skillet and at the end covered with slices of American cheese. Anything with Tuna helper would be typical . . . Do they still make that?

      1. The most importnat aspect of the dessert would be the "build-your-own"- actually, that might apply to every course!
        Ah, fond memories of snagging 20 pounds of chocolate chips from the Icecream bar!
        Make anything you can out of breakfast cereal- crusting Fish or chicken, making "miracle bars"- brownies...
        There was a great ramen discussion not too long ago-
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/337183

        I've actually proposed to throw a similar party for years- i just don't get the cooperation I want! I would suggest encouraging all of the guests to brin along albums and artists they "discovered" in college to nail the nostalgic feel.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lunchbox

          lol well since non of us have been out for very long (i graduated in december), i have a feeling that the nostalgia wont go very far back...in fact we could probably just turn on the radio and they would still be playing those same songs.

        2. Beer can chicken and beer brats do not retain a beer flavor. It just adds moisture. They will be tasty.

          How about hot dogs? Spaghetti and jarred sauce? Carrots and celery with ranch dressing?

          For dessert - Pop Tars, graham crackers and Jello shots? S'mores?

          1. Yes definitely soft serve ice cream or frozen yogurt along w/ toppings, esp different cereals... captain crunch :-) or if you want to do a cake to go along with it, pre-slice into squares, place on individual plates and cover with saran.

            I only ate at the dining hall for one year, but our *constants* were the salad bar, the *grill* and fries, chicken breast/stir fry locale, and the cereal bar.

            Gourmet tuna casserole sounds cute too.

            Pizza w/ more gourmet toppings is very college. Also, what about made-to-order pasta?

            Instead of beer, you could offer root beer for teh bottle effect.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Emme

              How could I forget pizza? You could make pita pizzas with various toppings. Or english muffin pizzas. Or bagels, etc.

              1. re: mojoeater

                I say upscale Tacos - we always had a taco night!

                1. re: mojoeater

                  how could i forget pizza?!? i think i will def. do gormet pizza bites (carmelized onion and bacon with gouda maybe?)

                  1. re: asiansensation007

                    a few ideas on more lavish pizza combos...
                    carmelized pears, onions, walnuts, and gorgonzola
                    pesto, sundried tomatoes, eggplant, onions, feta or goat cheese or mozzarella/parm, basil
                    cook the dough w/ a little soy/balsamic glaze, then top after w/ raw diced tuna and cucumbers
                    Pesto w/ rilled garlic shrimp, onions, green onions or scallions, and tomatoes with mozzarella
                    Grilled chicken, artichoke hearts and roasted garlic with Mozzarella on Alfredo sauce
                    Walnut pesto, wild mushrooms (shiitake, cremini, portabello, and white), parsley

                2. re: Emme

                  I was just going to say ice cream with Cocoa Puffs.

                  For pre-dinner munchies, I would make gourmet popcorn. Topped with olive oil, garlic and parmesan; sesame oil and gomasio; brown butter and sage; or chili oil and cumin.

                  We ate a lot of burritos, eggs and "over rice" dishes - all of these are easily dressed up for company.

                3. How about a make-your-own ice cream sundae bar for dessert? Our dorm cafeteria always did one of those during finals week.

                  1. Tater Tots? I don't know if it was just my alma mater, but tater tots were a veritable OBSESSION around '05.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: amandine

                      i really like the tator tot idea...i forgot about those completely! hmm perhaps some kind of tator tot hash (green onions, mushrooms, cheese,with a spicy homemade ketchup)

                    2. I know I am showing my age, but how about the old stand by, toasted cheese sandwiches prepared with buttered bread and American cheese enclosed in an aluminum foil envelope, and "toasted" on each side with a hot iron. The predecessor to the panini grill...

                      1. One year we lived on 1) cheese crips: tortillas, with melted cheese...with a dash of tabasco and sour cream 2) homemade potato salad 3) frozen bread dough that we let raise overnight in our chilly house and baked in the morning...ate with butter and honey. Those were the days.

                        1. I love the concept of upscale college staples, especially the seared tuna on a bed of ramen. If you drink these days you can make jello shots, but do good ones like gin and tonic or margarita flavors. Otherwise, the only dessert I remember consistently from college was sharing a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: thinks too much

                            we used to make jello shots w/sambuka, worked foer the breath..

                            1. re: rozz01

                              Did you call it the black jellybean?

                          2. seeing as i'm still in college i would LOVE to offer a few ideas.

                            I tend to live off of baked potatoes, salads, tuna fish, soups, and oatmeal (although i doubt you want to serve oatmeal at a dinner party)

                            pudding is ALWAYS available in the dining hall. Jello shots were mentioned and I think they're a great fun idea too. And I don't know if it's just my school but there is a serious abundance of pound cake around here!