in over my head - need advice for dinner for 50+

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seashanty

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i agreed to cater a graduation party this coming saturday for a nice elderly lady's granddaughter. there is illness in the family and the lady is a friend. she gave me the money to buy the food ... she wants me to make lasagna and chili and have a fruit salad, punch, garden salad, a meat/cheese tray, chips, finger rolls and desserts. coffee/tea Someone is providing a cake and sodas. i think that's everything. she'll pay me a bit for doing it, but not a lot ... it's more a favor than anything else.
another woman had said she would help, but has bailed on me due to personal problems.
i guess it will be okay ... but i'm starting to feel anxious. i've bought what i could of the ingredients but will have to get all the perishables probably friday after work.
any advice from you-all? it's been a while since i've cooked for a crowd. and never this big. i'll do the cooking in the commercial kitchen of the hall saturday morning. maybe thursday night i could make brownies and cookies.
i have a really cute idea for favors.
 

Madeleine

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I would probably start cooking now. Make the lasagne & chili ahead of time (it always tastes better reheated anyway). Then you can make the salads on Saturday while the other stuff warms up. Ask the woman whose party it is to recommend a friend who is not attending the graduation who can help you set up tables & chairs at the hall.
 

gillumhouse

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Finger rolls - I assume you are referring to a bread. Make the Gillum House Roll recipe and bake the rolls in mini-muffin pans. A walnut size ball of dough per mini cup. I make these for funeral lunches hosted at our church and one of the guys at the funeral home has been known to ask "will there be funeral rolls?" They bake in 15 min. Use butter instead of the applesauce for "normal" people and you can make them the night before and put in gallon zip-loc bags. The dough can be make a couple days in advance and kept in the fridge w/DAMP tea towel over the wax paper over the bowl.
 

Breakfast Diva

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Make the chili and lasagna and the desserts (a dessert bar of some sort?) ahead of time. those items get more flavorful when they sit. You can also make salad dressings ahead of time too. If you make them, they're a lot cheaper than bottled and better too. Cole slaw is pretty cheap to make and you can make it the day before if you want to do a green salad and cole slaw so there's a choice.
Best of luck! I think the planning part can make or break you (and your back and feet). You are a wonderful friend!
 

seashanty

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thank you for your advice. i can't cook until friday night when i can access the kitchen and can't use the fridge to store ahead of time. so .. may cook up a storm in the very early morning saturday. i guess the lasagnas and chili and then reheat later. how would i reheat without drying it out? i bought three of the foil lasagna pans ... i assume that will be enough (i hope) ... foil over them and reheat on low heat?
great suggestion to make lists and a time table .... instead of trying to keep it in my head.
kathleen, i don't know if i can bake the bread/rolls myself with so much to do. i think i'll have to try out that recipe on family before i plan on it for a party like this. i don't trust my bread baking skills.
 

Breakfast Diva

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For the lasagna, put them together and then bake them just before you need them. Bake in the oven at 350 with the foil on top (spray the foil so it doesn't stick to the cheese), then after about an hour, remove the foil and let the top brown. The chili can be cooked and kept warm for hours in crock pots on low if you can get a a hold of a few.
 
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