The Graduation Dinner Menu


The original plan was to take the graduates out for dinner, but I developed a major toothache (cracked tooth) right before they graduated and I had to wait to get into a dentist for over a week.   Then the dentist filled the wrong tooth 😦  Shortly after graduation, Olivia and Sean caught colds right before they were scheduled to go away for the weekend.  After several attempts to confirm a date, I decided I’d like to cook a dinner for them myself.  On Sunday morning I raced from store to store to gather what I needed to make what I hoped would be a nice dinner.   Halibut is in season now and I cannot tell you how fresh the fish I picked up from Central Market was.  They did charge more than a few other places I called, but I didn’t want to risk buying fish that tasted “fishy”, so I went ahead and spent the $19.99 a pound.   I justified the cost by telling myself one pound of fish cost less than what the restaurants charge for one entree.  Of course, I hadn’t seen the price of the macadamia nuts yet!  I am so grateful to live near a Trader Joe’s market–they carry macadamia nuts and they always have the best prices for quality foods.  I bought two bags of macadamia nuts and they were more than enough.   With money tight and a little creativity, I threw together a menu and I believe it turned out almost as good as some restaurants and better than most. 

I also decided to mix it up a bit and brought a table into the den, added lots of roses, candles, and jazz music.  I liked the idea of having a view of the patio and garden while we ate.  The light was brighter and the room large enough to move around better.  I think I’ll do this again when I have an Oscar Party  🙂



First Course:

Panzanella Salad

Second Course:

Panko Fried Alaskan Shrimp w/ Paula Deen’s Orange Marmalade Dipping Sauce

Third Course:

Macadamia Encrusted Halibut w/ Orange Cream Sauce

Twice Baked Potatoes

Fresh Green Beans


Fourth Course:

Assorted French Pastries from L’ Artisan French Bakery



Drinks : Sangria and Pink Lemonade

The one thing I found most challenging was keeping the shrimp crisp while finishing off the twice baked potatoes and prepping the halibut fillets.  I found that placing the shrimp on a baking rack and placing it in the center of my warming oven, set on low, kept them nice and crisp.

I knew I wouldn’t have time to prepare my own dessert, so the French bakery pastries made finishing off the meal easier and gave us time to sit and visit with the family.

Step-Dad Dennis claimed this was the best Halibut he had ever eaten, and he made it very clear that as a native Alaskan,  a compliment like his was not to be taken lightly.  I was honored 🙂 

All in all the meal seemed to go over well.  Sean didn’t care for the Sangria recipe I used because it called for Ginger Ale.  I thought it tasted better the day after because all of the fruit soaked in.  Maybe because it lose the fizzy too.

Congratualtions to the graduates! 

Recipes and links to recipes here:

Panzanella Salad:

1 day old rustic loaf dense bread (preferably Italian)

1 tsp minced fresh garlic

6 basil leaves, chopped chiffonade style

1/2 lg thinly sliced red onion

artichoke hearts

kalamata olives, pits removed

1 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half

6-8 large leaves of romaine or wild lettuce

fresh mozzarella balls (I used the very tiny ones)


1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp balsamico (optional)

salt and fresh ground pepper

Tear up bread into bite size pieces.  Pour balsamic into a small bowl and whisk in olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.

In large bowl place, sliced onions, basil,  and minced garlic.  Pour some of the dressing over top and allow to marinate a bit.  When almost ready to serve, add bread, tomatoes, artichoke, olives, and torn lettuce.  Mix until incorporated.  If additional dressing is needed add it now.  Serve on individual plates.  Before serving spoon over the mini balls of fresh mozzarella.

NOTE: The bread shouldn’t be soaked with dressing–just dressed.  Also, this can sit at room temperature for a bit before you add the mozzarella. 

Panko Fried Alaskan Shrimp

1 lb large shrimp (32-40 per lb.) preferaly fresh or flash frozen and thawed

panko for breading

egg beaten + 1 Tbsp water

oil for frying

Prepare and Devein Your Shrimp–nobody wants to see that intestinal vein in their food eww.

Dip shrimp in egg and water mixture and then roll it in the panko.

Heat skillet add oil and when it is hot enough, add your breaded shrimp and cook about 2 minutes on each side.  Be sure you do not overcook or shrimp will be tough.  Drain on rack with paper towels underneath.  sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. 

Dipping Sauce:

 1/2 cup orange marmalade (I used Smuckers)

1/2 tsp or more crushed red pepper flakes

4 tsp rice wine vinegar.

Heat ingredients in pan for about 10 minutes and keep stirring until combined.  Set out in small dipping bowls.


Macadamia Nut Encrusted Halibut with Orange Cream Sauce

I used this recipe, but I used 2 1/2 lbs of fresh Halibut filets, 1 -15 ounce bag of roasted and salted macadamia nuts chopped in blender.

I believe next time I will only add 1/2 cup whipping cream to sauce.


Twice Baked Potatoes


I used this Sangria Recipe, but I added some white wine to try and rev t up a bit.  It was certainly better the next day, and Sean votes to eliminate the ginger ale.  If you do, you will have to add more sugar.


Pastries from L’Artisan French Bakery Included:

Snow White

Mixed Fruits

Lemon Meringue Tart


Chocolate Creme Puffs


9 thoughts on “The Graduation Dinner Menu

  1. Everything looks very yummy! That’s a great compliment he gave you about the fish. It’s nice when people appreciate your food. 🙂

  2. Patricia Thank you 🙂 I picked out the blue walls to match a favorite restaurant in Seattle. I have rather eclectic taste, so each room in my house is a bit different.

    Let me know if you try any recipes. I always like to hear what people enjoy eating.

  3. well.. I checked your blog before grocery shopping today.. good thing! The recipes all look and sound fabulous.. of course 😉 I am going to try the twice baked potatoes tonight!

    the salad.. I will have to have a luncheon with my sister. She and I both love everything in that!!! sounds so good. yum.

    gingerale. I drink a lot of it. .. but I only drink one kind. Vernors. If you ever see it… try it. It’s not as sweet as say… canada dry… and they also make a fantastic diet gingerale.. very ginger-y

    (I am not a sweet eater much!).. but your pastries look great.

    thanks for posting all this!

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