Having a party Saturday afternoon-having trouble figuring out which of the 5 items left to make can be done successfully tonight or Friday...?

The menu is what my 25 yr old daughter and friends have requested that I make for her casual pool/birthday party. Most everything is completely home made and from scratch. I have made my baked ziti (lasagna style), hot 7 layer taco dip, salsa, spinach dip, shrimp platter and have my london broils marinating in fridge. I still have to chop veggies for a crudite platter (dips made), bread and fry chicken cutlets for chicken parmigiana, make 3 batches of brownies (boxed but altered cake-like brownies-2 plain/1 with peanut butter swirl), chop fruit for fruit salad (watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, grapes and pineapple). Bake a 7 layer cake (cake is boxed) but filling and frosting are from scratch. and lastly-make, bake, fill and dip chocolate covered cream puffs. I am trying to figure out which 1 or 2 of those things left to do I can do without compromising the end result as a result of it now being around 40 hrs before party begins. Google search says cut veggies will last 1 day; I know that cut fruit salad gets mushy and watery if left for more than 16 hours in fridge. I am also concerned with the humidity and heat (raining and humid now) with extreme heat tomorrow-causing the brownies to change and my husband insists that for great chicken cutlet parmigiana-the cutlets should be topped with sauce and cheese while the chicken cutlets are freshly fried (not refrigerated before topping and serving). What has anyone successfully prepared within 24-32 hours before serving and if so-what can I do to make sure I am not compromising the taste of. I'm thinking cake is the only thing I can do tonight or early tomorrow morning but was hoping for 1 more item to scratch off my list so I am not stressed out saturday morning. Any suggestions?

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8 Comments

Nancy July 1, 2018
Happy birthday to your daughter!
Hope you were able to complete your menu and still enjoy the guests.
Please let us know how it all went...:)
 
Liz D. June 29, 2018
The cream puff shells can be made ahead. Just make sure they get completely baked & pierce them to let out any steam. In an airtight container they should keep fine overnight.
 
Nancy June 29, 2018
Another 2c worth.
I remember learning a rule *piece of advice?) Not to have more than one dish requiring last minute attention in any meal.
I find it especially helpful for big and/or holiday meals.
Too late for this one, as you've promised-planned both the cream puffs and fried chicken.
But something to tuck in your back pocket for futures.
And yes, it sounds like a wonderful party!
 
creamtea June 29, 2018
My 2c: be less of a perfectionist. Do whatever you can ahead of time (including the brownies and the cutlets). I guarantee they won't be ruined. I make my brownies the day before ALWAYs (I worry like you, but they always work out). And don't run your plans by your family (they should appreciate all the trouble you're going to)! You are being generous. (I still think cream puffs can be dropped from the menu and no one will notice but you have to be the one firmly in charge here. Just tell the family you'll make a batch of your amazing cream puffs just for the family on another day). professional caterers don't do things at the last minute either. You deserve to enjoy this gathering too.
 
BerryBaby June 29, 2018
I agree with Alyssa. Additional tips...cover vegetables with damp paper towels this will help keep them crisp.
Using a plastic knife to cut brownies is magic. They cut cleanly and don't stick to the knife.
Fill the cream puffs last (you probably knew this).
What a great mom you are....I'm sure it's going to turn out wonderfully!
 

Voted the Best Reply!

western A. June 29, 2018
My two cents: Prep the veggies the night before and refrigerate them. Also on Friday, cut up the rest of the fruit but refrigerate each kind in a separate container to help preserve the flavors. Bake the brownies and cake base layers Friday evening when it's (hopefully) cooler. Even if the brownies get slightly melty the next day, they'll still be tasty. Especially with an emergency scoop of ice cream. On Saturday, cut the grapes and mix all the prepped fruit in a bowl to serve. You can also make the filling, frosting, assemble the cake, and fry the chicken the day-of. Not sure about the cream puffs — any way to skip them? They seem quite fancy for a "casual" pool party :-) Good luck! Your daughter is very lucky!
 
Christine V. June 29, 2018
Just what I thought- I tried to omit the cream puffs-that went over like a lead balloon, LOL I like the idea of cutting fruit but not combining it-I think that may be the culprit in it not standing any test of time beyond a few hours in the past. Thanks for the reassurance and suggestions. For the record-Best 2 cents I ever spent. Thanks.
 
western A. June 29, 2018
Happy to help, Christine! And since the cream puffs sound like a family favorite (those lucky ducks), could you ask a family member to help you prepare them tomorrow? In the process you'll be showing your "sous chef" exactly how they're made. Then even if the cream puffs aren't perfect, you're still sharing all that wonderful baking knowledge.
 
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