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Foodie Mama's Cuisine Reigns Supreme!........ For Now

Our middle child, Rachel, is graduating today (thank you, Lord) and we had an awesome party for her yesterday.  It was great.  The weather all of a sudden changed from cold and rainy mid day to sunny and warm by 4:00 PM when the party started.  We had, just in the nick of time, for the most part, finished the Porch Project and were ready.  Rachel and I prepped most of the food the day before, but we were right down to the wire with getting everything ready for the start of the festivities.  Rachel, Annie, Will and I were all running through the kitchen for the last hour before the party started.   I felt like I was on an episode of 'Chopped'.

So, speaking of Food Network TV Shows, the Anabolic Gourmet, challenged me to a 'Meatball Throwdown'; it was heaps of fun and we had a lot of participation from the guests.  I made my Melt in Your Mouth Meatballs and AG prepped his Best Ever Meatballs .  I ended up winning by only ten votes but I did have the home field advantage.  I expect a rematch maybe, or hopefully another challenge.

The menu was a lot of make-in-advance foods and ended up being the exact amount for the 150+ guests.


Potato Salad (recipe below)
My Mom's Broccoli and Craisin Salad
Hot and Spicy Shrimp Cocktail (recipe below - a BIG hit)
Antipasto Pasta Salad (recipe below)
Ham Rolls (recipe below)
Meat and Cheese Tray (no need for a recipe :)
Bruschetta with Herbed Spread, Marinated Tomatoes and Crostini (recipe below)
Sara's Strawberry Graduation Cake (no recipe, but see photo - lovely)

Easy Potato Salad:
5 Lb Russet Potatoes, peeled
7 Hard cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
Mayonnaise (not even sure how much)
Mustard (about 3 T)

Boil the potatoes until a fork can go through them.  Don't overcook.  Completely drain water and cool for at least 2 hours.
Rough cut potatoes with a paring knife.  Add chopped eggs.  Stir in Mayo until right consistency, alternating with mustard.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with paprika.

Hot and Spicy Shrimp Cocktail:  I tripled it for the party.  This is amazing and I got a lot of compliments.


2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 cups tomato and clam juice cocktail
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
salt to taste
1 ripe avocado - peeled, pitted and chopped


Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Stir garlic, red onion, and cilantro. Mix in tomato and clam juice cocktail, ketchup, lime juice, hot pepper sauce, and horseradish. Season with salt. Gently stir in avocado. Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Serve in one large bowl or ladle into individual bowls.

Ham Rolls:

1/2 lb, nice deli ham
8 oz Softened cream cheese
3 T Sour cream
1 t Dill Weed
1 t garlic salt

In a bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, sour cream, dill and garlic salt.  

Spread the mixture onto the sliced deli ham.  Roll up, cut into 1 inch sections.  Fasten with a toothpick.  Serve as an appetizer.

Antipasto Pasta Salad:  (I doubled this and still had a lot left over - VERY tasty - better the next day)


1 pound seashell pasta
1/4 pound Genoa salami, chopped
1/4 pound pepperoni sausage, chopped
1/2 pound Asiago cheese, diced
1 (6 ounce) can black olives, drained and chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
salt and ground black pepper to taste


Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, and cool under cold water.
In a large bowl, combine the pasta, salami, pepperoni, Asiago cheese, black olives, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and tomatoes. Stir in the envelope of dressing mix. Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
To prepare the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Just before serving, pour dressing over the salad, and mix well.

Bruschetta with Herbed Cream Cheese Spread, Balsamic Tomatoes and Crostini:

1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes (I used the ones with added Garlic, Basil and EVOO)
1/4 C Fresh Basil, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 C Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 C EVOO
8 oz cream cheese
1 t Dried Thyme
1 t Dried Basil
1 t Dried Oregano
1 French Baguette, sliced in 1/4 ' pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Slice baguette, place on baking sheet and put in oven until bread is slightly toasted, about 10 minutes.  Remove and set aside.
While the bread is toasting, combine tomatoes, basil, garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a bowl.
In another bowl, for the herbed cream cheese, combine cream cheese, thyme, basil and oregano.

To serve, spread cream cheese mixture onto baguette pieces and top with a spoonful of the balsamic bruschetta mix.  Enjoy!

The Competitors
The Meatball Throwdown!

The Party Food

Graduation Cake - Every Piece Was Eaten