Column: Ideas for graduation party season


Commentary by Mark LaFay

It is high school graduation season. If you have a student graduating, congratulations! I was never one for pomp and circumstance, so I opted to get my diploma by mail and skip my high school and university graduation ceremonies.

If you are one for celebrating the major milestones, then you may be having an open house or similar graduation celebration in your home. Here are some food ideas that require little attention and will keep well for the duration of your special celebrations.

Meatballs in sauce


  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 16 grams sea salt
  • 6 grams toasted fennel
  • 3 grams red pepper flakes
  • 3 grams garlic powder
  • 2 grams onion powder
  • 36 grams ice water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese


  • 2 28-oz. cans of whole tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • Salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients by hand.
  3. Use an ice cream disher to portion the meat mixture. Hand roll and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake for 18 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
  5. Mix sauce ingredients together, warm on the stovetop.
  6. Place sauce in a crockpot or chafing dish, add meatballs, and serve.

. Caprese skewers with balsamic glaze


  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegine)
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Wooden skewers


  1. Thread a cherry tomato, a fresh basil leaf (folded if large), and a mozzarella ball onto a skewer. Repeat until the skewer is filled.
  2. Arrange the skewers on a platter.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Spinach and artichoke dip


  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, minced garlic, basil, and garlic salt. Stir in chopped artichokes and spinach.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a small baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.
  5. Serve warm with crackers, tortilla chips, or sliced baguette.