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Jan 29, 2009 10:21 AM

Please help with my party menu

Hi CHers,

We are having a party next month and I need help planning the menu. Normally, I just have to bring something, but this time, I'm the coordinator. Please help!
Some information:
1) We are expecting around 70 people (all-ages crowd).
2) Desserts are mostly done (and by done, I mean I've ordered them from the bakery), but I could use help with some easy things to make the night before or day of.
3) We're not going to bother serving salad. No one will eat it.
4) Nothing cheese-heavy or otherwise dairy-heavy.
5) Everything needs to be manageable on paper plates.
6) We aren't fancy folks.
7) So far, all we have decided on is pancit, empanadas (both pork and chicken), spring rolls, and chicken wings. I'm not particularly concerned about the other foods "matching" these items. It's a diverse crowd.
8) I would love an idea for a nice non-alcoholic punch for the kids.
9) There won't be any oven space during the time of the party. We do have a couple of slow cookers.
Thanks so much. I will follow up with you once the party is over next month.

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  1. Hi there!
    70 Yikes!

    For a big crowd, I would suggest you make a big ham the day before and serve it with rolls or biscuits, as well as making a big tray of baked ziti (also could be made the day before)
    Also, How about a nice pasta salad.
    My fav. recipe contains rotelli pasta, chicken, black olives, sundried tomatoes and mozzerella, with a good balsamic dressing to coat.
    I have never used a slow cooker before but I bet you could do a search and come up with a couple of fab finds.
    I also think a tray of simple sandwiches would go over well.
    Maybe tuna salad, chicken salad and roast beef sandwiches on white and wheat cut in fourths.

    Any Easy punch for kids could simply be Hawaain Punch with a splash of ginger ale...and some stawberries.

    I hope this helps!
    You have got your hands full !70! Good Luck and don't stess - just have fun!


    1. I had a large party before Christmas. One thing that was great was perogies. Put them in a crock pot or chafing dish to keep warm. Easy to serve - just put out some sour cream. You could slice up some polish sausages and mix in.

      For a punch, I just used raspberry cranberry cocktail and added soda water. If you want to get fancy, float a few frozen raspberries.

      Salmon gravlax was another hit. Might be too 'fancy' for your group but I made it in advance, sliced it that morning on several plates so I could put only a little out at a time and kept most of it properly chilled. Serve with cornbread, creme fraiche and chopped red onions & capers.

      Mini quiches in store bought tart shells. I also made the tart shells with a chile con queso filling.

      For another big party, I made a tray of pastitsio - Greek lasagna.

      I like the idea of simple sandwiches. With really fresh bread, they will be a hit. Serve with pickles and veggie sticks.

      How about some really nice ice cream. Often at conferences I have attended, they have an ice cream social - different flavours of ice cream and a bunch of toppings for a 'make your own'.

      Another 'make your own' idea would be a taco bar.

      1. Punch - my friend mixes pineapple juice with pina colada mix. The kids love it, especially with a slice of pineapple on the rim of the glass.

        Bean salad, pasta salad, a platter of grilled/roasted veggies, cold sesame or peanut noodles, pinwheel wraps, deli roll, mini sanwiches- tuna, chicken, egg salad, tofu

        1. A few other ideas:
          Embutido: The pork rolls can be steamed at the venue if you prefer them hot or the night prior if you prefer your embutido cold.
          Beef stew: A slowly cooked stew of beef in a tomato broth full of gelatinous body thanks to the addition of pork hocks and kicked up by the addition of chilies would be warm and filling.
          Lechon kawali: Who doesn't like deep-fried pork?
          Lengua estofado: Tender meat in a sweet and salty sauce can stay warm all night in a slow cooker.
          Paella: Arroz a la Valenciana might be a daunting dish but even a simple paella of chicken and chorizo will still feed a crowd while wowing guests. For very large parties, I make paella in two roasting pans on double burners.
          Croquetas: Potato croquettes are simple and a great filler for crowds. Add variety by pairing them with interesting dipping sauces.
          Siopao with sweet plum sauce: A wet towel can keep these warm and moist.

          10 Replies
          1. re: JungMann

            Hey JungMann - Can I be invited to your next party????

            your food suggestions sound AMAZING!!

            1. re: JungMann

              JungMann, your ideas suggest that you know exactly what the make-up of this party is going to look like (lots of Filipinos, some Chinese relatives, and my "Canadian" family). How could I have forgotten the lechon? There will also be adobo, of course. Perhaps I will ask my mother in law to make siopao for me, and recruit some of the aunties to help with some other dishes.
              I am taking some tips from the other posts that will be pleasing to my family as well as to the kids - it hadn't occurred to me to put out a sandwich tray, for instance, which I think the small kids will like (familiar foods). Keep them coming!

              1. re: foodiemommy

                Another kid friendly idea is chicken finger with dippers. Put out a lazy susan with little bowls of dipping sauces. You could do honey mustard, bbq, ranch dressing, italian dressing, wing sauce, peanut sauce, teriyaki...

                1. re: foodiemommy

                  I remember the same buffets from my own childhood and the crowds of people afraid of venturing too far from what they know. How can a people who eat oxtails in peanut butter and pig's tripe in blood be afraid of ANYTHING?

                  The pasta salads mentioned earlier might be a good idea. My childhood buffets always featured macaroni and beet salads (not to mention every kid's favorite: kare-kare). If you're looking for a large-scale dessert, fruit salad (the kind with condensed milk and baby coconuts) tends to be well-received and can be made in a punch bowl. Another easy crowd-pleaser might be a large ham. If you want to get crazy, maybe a rellenong turkey.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    The fruit salad is a mainstay and goes over well with everyone. Come to think of it, anything with condensed milk goes over well. Rellenong turkey would blow people away, esp. if I made it rather than asking one of the aunties. Any tips?

                    1. re: foodiemommy

                      Rellenong turkey might be easier than chicken as the bones are so much larger and easier to remove through the cavity. Reynaldo Alejandro has a great recipe for the filling, but given that turkey is such a bland bird, I might specify country or Chinese ham and trade the traditional chorizos bilbao for spicy longanisa with bird's eye chilies or a very thick pepperoni. Rub the outside with seasoned salt, pimenton, garlic, achiote powder, pepper and a touch of tarragon to keep the beast aromatic as well.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        wow this sounds so delicious...I'm sure a recipe is in here as I scroll and read the thread..

                  2. re: foodiemommy

                    Your own thoughts ("pancit, empanadas (both pork and chicken), spring rolls, and chicken wings.") suggested filipino. I would do: pancit (room temp or warm), sinigang na kanduli (hot), fresh lumpia (cold), embutido (cold), chicken pork adobo (hot) or JungMann's beef stew (hot) or lechon kawali (warm), and either pinakbet (hot) or kare kare (kahit alam ko ayo kayo ang maga gulay). Kanin (hot) syempri.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Lumpia and pancit are always gobbled up at my gatherings. I have had the kare kare, and it too is delcious/ but looks hard to make. But it is sure good stuff.

                  3. re: JungMann

                    I second the paella. The economy of scale makes this a very inexpensive dish for a large group. And its pretty fuss-free and cooks quickly

                  4. I like skewers, marinated chicken beef seaffod or lamb. I make a couple simple quick dips, grill 1 hr before and can easily be served at room temperature or semi warm. 1-2 bites per small skewer. Absolutely great and easy.

                    I also like stuffed grape tomatoes with goat cheese and pancetta, not fancy either but easy and finger food. I like to make a turkey or a ham or a roast prime rib. thin sliced with some great rolls, a nice may aioli or horshradish sauce or a pesto. They are easy dishes.

                    I make a few dips which I love. A garlickly red pepper hummus (not like store bought) with fresh pita for those who are health concious.

                    I still like salad wraps. I wrap shrimp salad or a salmon and asian salad in small lettuc leaves. Meatballs, sounds like that is your groud, I have also small ...

                    Apple sausage bites (found right at the regular store apple sausage) made with a semi spicy citrus BBQ sauce in the crock pot, 4 hours and low and serve in a bowl. Nice and simple.

                    Marinated olives in vodka are fun and simple

                    Croissants stuffed with pesto or an olive tapenade and some cheese. Just store bought pillsbury rolls. Before you rolls add the pesto or the olive mix and a little cheese and roll. Bake and serve, cut in half. Simple.

                    Take a large crimini mushroom and pull the stem out. Stuff with herbed cheese (boursin or allouette) in your grocery store and fill the mushroom cap. Now, buy regular Pillsbury dinner rolls. Push a shot glass in the center of each roll and put the mushroom in the roll. Now bake according to directions. Just baked rolls with stuffed mushrooms. I is alot of fun.

                    Baguettes, I top with Hummos garlic (even store bought if you want) sun dried tomatoes and arugula.

                    Smoked salmon, arugula and herbed cheese makes a quick easy recipe.

                    Have hundred other others. Goat cheese, olive tapenade, carmelized onions

                    Roasted turkey, cranberry, brie and walnuts.

                    Sometimes a sliders bar. I like to make 3-4 different kinds with a bar of toppings. I make a regular beef, a spicy turkey, a shrimp and crab and a lamb just to be different. I offer tomatoes, lettuce, a spicy sour cream and dill and lemon sauce for the lemon, Chipolte mayo for the turkey, tomatoes, lettuce and onions. Everything made ahead. 5 minutes to grill all and serve. No cheese, I make it easy. It is alot of fun. Just buy small rolls from the grocer and good to go.

                    Also, my grilled stuffed bread. If interested email or let me know and I can post. I've wrote enough. I stuff with sausage, veggies, mushrooms, pestos, and grill. It is a large baguette which can be sliced and make a great side bread. I also stuff with shrimp like a scampi or lots of herbs and cheese. You pick.

                    As I said. Just let me know and I can post.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      kchurchill, thank you for your post and excellent ideas. I'm actually starting to look forward to this party rather than dreading the day!

                      1. re: foodiemommy

                        Lots in advance. Don't worry too much about food being hot, crock pots are great, keep things warm in the oven back rolls with mushrooms ahead. just warm up for 10 minutes in the oven.

                        I make a standard cream cheese dip, add some roasted red pepper a little onion powder and some chopped bacon ..... even if out of time, use the pre cooked bacon (found next to the reg bacon). It may not be perfect but better than nothing. I mix the cream cheese, red pepper, garlic, salt and pepper and stuff in celery sticks. A great simple updated version. Also great in mushrooms caps. Another thing. Also add some diced fresh tomato and green pepper to this and roll in lettuce leaves. All easy and quick, made ahead.

                        Meatballs pre cooked the day or two before stuck on a skewer then a sweet cherry tomato and 2 thin slices of fresh mozzarella on it size. I like to heat the meatballs up just a bit in the micro and then skewer them. Then put on a grill pan or in the oven for just a few minutes and the cheese melts and gets perfect and goey.

                        Skewers of fruit are great for kids. A couple melons, strawberries and bananas. 3-4 pieces per small skewer. Lots of fun, even toothpick size. Make a simple vanilla yogurt, teaspoon of honey, nutmeg, just a dash and honey. Simple great dip. Kids and adults love it. Make a chocolate fondu. Will stay hot for 30 minutes or so. Bring it out at the end. A little orange liquor which burns off the alcohol, creamy chocolate and fresh fruit, pound cake or whatever you like.

                        I use a non alcoholic sparkling wine for the kids punch, use cranberry, gingerale and a white grape juice. I make a ice cube from a ice cube tray. Find either fun plastic toys to freeze in each (depending on age) or freeze fruit in them. 1 blue berry or straberry or raspberry per cube. Makes it fun when they melt. Kiwis are fun too.

                        Fruit bites are also fun. This is a no bake easy quick desert and kids ... ok the big ones too like. A traditional simple not very home made but great desert.

                        Mix some cream cheese with powdered sugar and honey and top a sugar cookie. Top with a kiwi slice, a banana slice and strawberry. Or a couple of blueberries and bananas. Any combo Then some chopped fine pecans. Quick a no brainer and how easy can you get and healthy ... FRUIT and nuts!