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Graduation party suggestions

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Told my neighbor that I would bring some type of dish for her daughter's college graduation party. This is not a fancy party, very casual. I was thinking of something in the crockpot; but it doesn't have to be that type of dish. The party starts at 2, but the daughter's friends are coming in the evening. I don't plan on spending more than a few hours there, so I am not worried about making enough for what looks to be almost 2 parties- one for the adults, one for the kids! Any great ideas, that are not too expensive, and would feed 25 or so?
Could be some type of appetizer or side dish. Could even be something served cold or room temperature. TIA

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  1. My friend always makes chile con queso in her crock pot and brings to parties. It is always a hit. I think she makes it with velveeta! She adds a tub of really good salsa and brings a few bags of chips and a nice basket with a cloth. It is so easy but terribly tasty.

    Other room temp options are hummus, baba ghanoush dips with really good pita. Chicken salad with nuts and sliced grapes served on endive spears. Any kind of salad will do-I've done it with crab and shrimp too.

    I also like to make a bruschetta dip using finely chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil and a litlle olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I add a tub of the very small mozzarells balls, Trader Joes has them. Serve with a plate of french or ciabatta bread sliced thinly on the diagonal. Place the bruschetta in the middle. Sometimes I will toast the bread in the oven drizzled with olive oil, herbs and grated asiago cheese. The bread slices are crunchy and full of flavor and will last all day/night without going stale. I do them the night before and store in plastic bags.

    1. hmmmm...Bonnie's Buffalo Chicken Dip might work...this can be served hot or warm...here's the link in case you'd like it:

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/297517

      1. how about cocktail meatballs?

        1. Layered Mexican dip. It's not fancy, but there were 4 different kinds at a graduation party we attended a couple of weeks ago and there wasn't a morsel left.

          1. Thanks for those suggestions. That Buffalo chicken dip sounds good. Also like the idea about the crockpot of queso. That would keep all day, if it lasted that long. And, I like the idea about the mini mozzarella balls. I make good roasted red peppers and I could serve them with the cheese balls for an appetizer that could be served room temperature.
            I did think about the meat balls, but that seemed a bit time consuming making them myself. I love those sweet and sour meatballs that people sometimes have at parties. I think the sauce is made with grape jelly and jalapeno jelly maybe??

            2 Replies
            1. re: mschow

              Here the meatball sauce is made with grape jelly and chili sauce. Nostalgic fun. Get frozen meatballs at Costco or Sams and you'll be good to go.

              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                I am always shocked by how fast those meatballs in mystery/grape jelly sauce go at any party where I see them. Though I must admit, I am totally subject to their charms even though I try to avoid their siren song.

            2. The hottest dish at a recent graduation party I attended was just steak and a dipping sauce. Grill or broil a London Broil, slice thin on the diagonal and make a dipping sauce with 45% dijon mustard, 45% apricot jam and 10% horseradish.
              It went like wildfire and would be very simple to make. The beef is served room temp or cold so you could make it all ahead of time.