Barefoot In The Kitchen Series: Cooking for Crowds

Guessing you all thought I’d dropped off the map but the truth is, we had mad amounts of company for an entire week! Entertaining and hosting is tough work, feeding a crowd is even tougher and WAY more expensive!

Feeding 9 to 13 people, every single meal, snacks, drinks, desserts for 6 days is both time and financially challenging, especially when you’re retired and on a fixed income so you have to find as many shortcuts for both as possible.

Ordinarily, I’m a completely from scratch type of cook.  This is the AWE factor in small gathering dinner parties and often, the most frugal option as well but when feeding the masses….unless you want to literally live in the kitchen the entire time, you need adjustments.

For small gatherings, I pull out the pretty dishes, each meal beautifully plated.   For huge gatherings it’s paper plates, plastic cups and served buffet style!  Secondly, substituting ready made or convenience ingredients can cut food preparation in half. Thirdly, if you don’t have an outside griddle, buy an indoor electric one ASAP.  You’ll be able to cook large amounts very quickly and serve everyone a hot meal, at the same time.

Mid- morning breakfast on the day of guest arrival was simple fare, breakfast pastries.  A quick grab-n-go meal for heading straight outside for fun on the lake.  Lunch:  Self serve sandwiche buffet with chips and snack cakes.  Dinner:  Taco Bar.

Day 2.                                                                           Breakfast:  French Toast                                           With a minimal amount of eggs, cream, dash of salt, vanilla and a couple of day-old sliced loaves of french bread from the clearance rack at the grocery, you’ve got breakfast!

Bonus to cooking extra portions of french toast and pancakes….with all the kids running around, they make for great snacks.  Place ham and cheese between french toast slices and pop in the microwave for a few seconds for a quick monte cristo sandwich and make peanut butter and jelly or banana sandwiches with pancakes.

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Lunch was sandwich bar and taco leftovers.

Dinner:  Spaghetti Dinner with garlic bread and tossed salad.                                                       Spaghetti pasta is relatively cheap.  Brown a couple packages of hot itailian sausage.  Add a couple large jars of pasta sauce, couple of Lg cans of diced tomatoes and tomato puree’.  Season with fresh garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes,  parmesan and a cup of red wine.  Spread butter between slices of day old french loaves and sprinkle with garlic powder. Wrap loaves in foil and place in a hot oven (350°) for 15 – 20 min.  The day old loaf will transform into soft, hot, buttery garlic bread. Serve with a tossed salad.

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Day 3,                                                             Pancake breakfast. Leftover spaghetti for lunch. ( I Cook extra portions at dinner to provide 2 meals. Cook once, 2 meals, to save time and extra cleanups. )                                      Dinner: Chicken fried rice and eggrolls.  I steamed pots of Jasmine Rice ahead of time while my husband, Clay cooked chicken breasts and whipped eggs on his outside griddle.  For eggrolls: saute’ diced onion, carrot and minced garlic in scant amount of olive oil and butter until just tender then add finely diced cooked chicken to heat through. Add bagged shredded cabbage and cook until barely starting to get tender and season with soy sauce.  This will finish cooking while the eggroll fries and keep it from becoming mushy.  Roll in eggroll wrappers and fry in hot oil until golden brown.                                            Meanwhile, in a wok or large pot, heat butter and olive oil.  Saute’ diced onion, carrots and garlic.  Add diced chicken, small peas and finely chopped scrambled eggs.  Add rice, mixing thoroughly and seasoning with soy sauce.  Dinner is served.

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Day 4.                                                                            Breakfast:  spinach, tomato quiche with hash brown crust, blueberry muffins and chilled orange wedges.

I thawed a frozen bag of hashbrowns overnight. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray disposable tin baking pans with cooking spray.  Press potatoes into the bottom  of prepared pans then place in the oven.  Slice grape tomatoes in halves, rough chop spinach and finely dice onion. Saute with minced garlic in a hot skillet until spinach is barely tender.          When hashbrowns begin to turn golden brown, remove from oven, top with spinach mixture.  Whip a dozen eggs with cream, salt, pepper. Mix in 2 cups preferred cheese and pour over the spinach.  Place back into the oven for 30 min or until golden brown.                20180707_104815-01

I prepared a box of blueberry muffin mix with crumb topping. In prepared muffin tins, I placed half the batter followed by a dollop of blueberry pie filling then topped with the rest of the batter and crumb topping

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Lunch consisted of left over fried rice.                Dinner:  Clay smoked 2 pork butts for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw and chips.

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Day 5. Guest departure brunch.                             Breakfast quesadillas with guacamole,  pico de gallo and salsa.                                                          For the pico, dice tomato, onion, jalapeno and cilantro.  Mix together with lime juice and set aside.

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For the guacamole: Mash 4 – 5 ripe avocados with a fork. Add dices onion, tomato, jalapeno and cilantro. Mix with lime juice, salt and pepper.

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For quesadillas,  brown breakfast sausage with diced onion and jalapeno. In a seperate bowl, whip eggs with cream, salt and pepper.  Add sausage mixture.  In a hot omelet pan, pour enough egg mixture to cover the bottom, cover and cook til set.  Assemble quesadillas by topping a flour totilla with cheese, then egg, cheese then another tortilla. Place quesadillas on a hot buttered griddle or skillet until browned then flip.  Cut into wedges and serve with toppings.

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26 comments

    • Awww…thank you! Would you believe that while I love entertaining that I actually have huge anxiety? It ranges between social anxiety and OCD. I feel a huge amount of personal pressure to make everything perfect and It begins weeks in advance. I finally throw my hands up and “quit” when I’ve reached the point where I catch myself considering cleaning cracks with a Q-tip! Everything must be fresh, clean, smell nice with wax burners, freshly laundered towels tied with ribbon in their room, sometimes fresh flowers….I keep a huge box of sample sized shampoos, lotions etc for guests. I plan the menu of every meal, in the weeks before. It’s crazy! Lol

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Laura, you are a domestic GODDESS! This is such a tantalizing spread for your guests over the days they stayed but also so sensibly thought out and you sound mighty relaxed as a hostess as a result. Chapeau, as we say in France …. I’m stealing several (lets, be honest – all) of these ideas!

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    • Thank you so much, Osyth! 💕 I must admit there’s always nerves involved for me as I spend the weeks prior in meticulous planning from cleaning, freshening linens, menu planning, shopping etc. But the challenge for the hostesses is to never let them see you sweat. Lol Feeling madly inside but exhibiting only grace. 😊 so happy to share tips and tricks! Hope they work for you wonderfully!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think everyone realizes that it’s summer and most of us have busy schedules and/or don’t want to be stuck inside on the computer lol. Fabulous job of meal planning and preparing for a crowd!!! Everything looks so tasty 😋

    Liked by 1 person

    • Angela, let me tell you, there was no PC, blogging etc the whole time. I will be writing a 2 blog posts. 1. Hosting and hospitality. 2. How to be a good house quest.
      Here’s why: the entire time….no one washed a dish, except me…offered to pitch in to feed their families, offered to help cook, cleaned up after themselves or their children or took care of their children. I was the maid, the cook, dishwasher, babysitter etc. Our kids who came later were amazing but the extended family members took full advantage and this will not happen again like that. Lol
      Now, I wont want it to be a rant but a clear and informative piece. If you have a hosting tip or quest pet peeve, I’d love your imput

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow!!! That sounds like it would be a major challenge to remain civil and I applaud your fortitude in the face of such adversity lol I will put my thinking cap on and come up with a tip or peeve to add. Thank you for asking, Laura 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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