By Jolene Adams, coordinator, LLCC Culinary Institute
Graduation season is here. Time for families to celebrate this wonderful milestone in life and recognize the graduate’s accomplishments! As with other milestone celebrations, cake is often on the menu. But don’t neglect planning the rest of the food for the party too. Here are a few tasty recipes to feed a crowd and please not the only the young graduate and their friends, but guests of all ages will enjoy. This menu also works well for any summer gathering. Its emphasis on fresh fruits and veggies, enough dip to feed a crowd and chicken wings make for a perfect summer gathering. Round it out with a fruity cocktail and you’ve got a party!
Enjoy as a snack with baked tortilla chips or serve this sweet and savory salsa with roast chicken, sautéed fish or grilled pork tenderloin.
Yield: 1 quart
4 cup finely chopped strawberries
1 cup finely chopped avocado
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; toss gently. Serve immediately.
This dip is like a melty version of the popular seven layer dip
Serves 15-20 people
1 pound lean ground beef
2 fresh minced garlic cloves
1 large onion, small diced
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 ounce) can refried beans
2 (4 ounce) cans green chilies, drained and chopped
3⁄4 pound Monterey jack cheese
3⁄4 cup taco sauce
1 large avocados
1 1⁄4 cups sour cream
3/4 cup chopped green onion
3⁄4 cup black olives, sliced
Brown the ground beef with onion and garlic in a skillet; drain, season with salt and pepper, set aside. Lightly grease a shallow 3-quart oven-proof dish and layer it in the following order:
Spread the refried beans into the bottom of the dish. Next the green chilies over beans. Then the cooked beef over beans. Top with shredded cheese and finish off by drizzling taco sauce over all.
At this point you can cover and refrigerate to bake later.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and spread the mashed avocado over baked mixture. Then top with sour cream.Sprinkle/garnish with chopped green onions and olives. Serve with tortilla chips.
Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad
1⁄2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 cantaloupe, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped of fresh mint
1⁄3 cup sliced almonds
In a large serving bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lime juice and honey.
Add the cantaloupe, cucumbers, celery and mint to the dressing; toss to combine.
Sprinkle with the almonds and serve
Caramelized Chicken Wings
Some of the best chicken wings are made with the simplest sauces. This is one of my favorites.
3 pounds chicken wings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 cup honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
In a large bowl, mix the oil, soy sauce, ketchup, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat. Place chicken in a single layer on baking sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for one hour or until sauce is caramelized.
Watermelon Mint Lemonad
½ cup granulated sugar
10 cups seedless watermelon, cubed in 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ cup loosely packed mint leaves
lemon slices, for serving
fresh mint sprigs, for serving
Make a simple syrup by combining ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water in a small pan over medium high heat. Heat the liquid just until the sugar is complete dissolved, 5-6 minutes. Set the simple syrup aside to cool.
Pulse the watermelon in a blender until smooth. (You may need to do this in 2 batches.) Add the lemon juice and mint and blend until the mint is very finely chopped. Transfer the Watermelon Mint Lemonade to a juice pitcher. Add the simple syrup to the lemonade.
Chill until serving. Serve over ice, with lemon slices and fresh mint as a garnish.