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Feb 19, 2009 04:59 AM

I need suggestions for keeping baked appetizers hot...

I discovered that the club house that we're renting for our daughters Sweet 16 party doesn't have an oven. There's a little microwave which will be useless to me. She's expecting around 100 people and wanted casual appetizers instead of a sit down dinner. (She's more interested in dancing than having dinner.) Since I'm catering the party myself, I was trying to make my life a bit easier and came up with a couple of items that could be made ahead of time, stored in the freezer, then baked to reheat right before serving. I had planned on making mini pizza bites and mini ham and cheese rolls that all of the kids love.

I know that a cooler lined with foil and layers of newspaper will keep grilled or smoked meats warm for hours, but I'm afraid both items above will become soggy if I bake them at home and try to keep them warm in a cooler. I've never tried keeping baked items hot in a chaffing dish, would they get soggy or stick in one of those? I have access to a very large electric roaster, but I'm not sure if that will work either. I may just have to go to Plan B and come up with other recipes to make instead.

So far these are the items she's requested:

Swedish meatballs
Lil smokies in a sweet/spicy sauce
Asian wings
Sausage Queso dip w/ chips (all of the above will be kept warm in large crock pots)
Veggie tray
Fruit tray
Cheese and cracker tray
Tortilla roll-ups
Ham roll-ups
BLT finger sandwiches
Chicken salad finger sandwiches
Assorted chips and dips
Chocolate fountain w/ assorted items to dip

I welcome suggestions on keeping the baked items hot, or even other suggestions of things to replace the pizza bites and ham and cheese rolls with.

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  1. ask around for friends to help out and bring a portable countertop oven.
    i don't think the roaster will brown, just heat, but maybe that is ok? also, doesn't it really retain moisture, which would cause sogginess?

    1. You can find a company that rents ovens for events. Look for a restaurant supply place in your area. There are hot boxes also, but they don't keep things crisp. Good luck.

      1. How about a toaster oven?

        1. Use chafing dishes for the meatballs and asian wings (assuming they are in sauce). The rest can be at room temperature or warmed in a toaster oven. Just keep in mind the 4 hour food safety rule and remember that chafing dishes hold food below safe temperatures.

          You might want to add whole boiled shrimp and dip since these tend to very popular (for 100 people, you'll need at least 25-30 lbs). Are you planning on serving yourself or do you have help? From the proposed menu, you'll need at least 2 people to keep the food fresh and replenished as well as clean-up through the party. This assumes the food is all pre-preped and just needs to be plated. And a dedicated bartender. More ideal would be someone heating and preping the food and arranging the plates, one for service, one bartender, and someone who can move among all three.

          Good luck.

          7 Replies
          1. re: alwayscooking

            Not a good idea to have a bartender at a sweet 16 party :) If you figure out how to bake them, I have used a large metal tray (pizza shaped) that I got at Party America for cheap and placed it on top of an indoor grill set on low heat to keep baked items warm

            1. re: ChrisKC

              Opps! missed the '16' part of the party! Guess you can dismiss the bartender then! (But you will need some help given the number of people)

              1. re: ChrisKC

                A bartendar simply serves drinks...the type of drink served is up to the host....

                1. re: yummyinmytummy

                  Yep - but lemonade is a tad faster than martinis and may not need dedicated service. Unless they're lemon martinis!

              2. re: alwayscooking

                30 pounds of shrimp? that's very expensive -- and has to be kept chilled.
                second, it is not a plated service; i assume that it is a buffet-type thing. helpers are all well and good, though!

                the real crux of kree8tif's question: how to deal with the mini pizza bites and mini ham and cheese rolls that the kiddies love......
                or what to substitute.

                kree8tif, i'd say you've got enough variety in the menu without them if keeping them warm and crispy is a pain.....

                1. re: alkapal

                  The shrimp can be on a buffet if served over ice (I like to add greens or something to cover the ice, keeping the shrimp from the moisture) and replenished from a cooler/refrigerator. Shrimp are often on sale and big-box stores can be reasonably priced. People think shrimp are a very special food and so can have big impact.

                  At about 25/lb, 4 lbs are required for everyone to have one. People seem to have around 5 - so that's 20lbs. Plan on 25 lbs for those who don't move from the bowl and 30 so that the shrimp won't run out. You could get by with 3 per person - about 12-15 lbs.

                  1. re: alwayscooking

                    Since we're talking about teenagers, I think I'm going to to skip the shrimp. To me it's unecessary, as most of them would rather have wings, meatballs, and other "junk food". If it was a party for adults, I would be more concerned about more upscale tastes. I even offered to make spring rolls and ended up with a "you've got to me kidding me" look from her and she loves spring rolls! As I said in my original post, she's more into wanting to dance and have a blast with her friends than what's served. I'll probably end up doing small batches of the baked items in a line up of toaster ovens as suggested or just skip those items and come up with something else that can be served at room temp.

                    I knew you missed the Sweet 16 part when you suggested the bartender. :) I'm more concerned with guarding the punch bowl so it won't be spiked by some smart alec teenager! I'll have plenty of help since I've recruited at least a dozen adults to chapperone. :)

                    Thanks to all for the suggestions!

              3. Mini calzones are like pizza bites. They hold well wrapped in foil. Not pretty that way but it works well. I have sent pockets at 9am in a helicopter to a glacier and they were eaten hot at 1 pm heli ski break...sam's and costco both sell patty paper and foil sheets. ( waxed paper would work too, then outer layer is foil(could use pretty colored foil) I used a cambro to hold and transport - which is just a really good cooler/warmer. The paper idea is good but 1st fill cooler with hot water and so its hot.(then drain/dry).... In the bottom take 2 of the hard container gel packs that you normally freeze.... soak those in almost boiling water. Then a layer of something like foil....stuff will hold nice and hot. Don't allow more than one layer. Its the stacking and squishing that really makes for soggy. Fill with pizza stuff , your ham and cheese stuff or another good one - philly steak pockets. I think you have a good variety of apps picked out for a young group - my only suggestion might be a fresh roll. Something lighter but fun and somewhat elegant....nice and cheap and if cut into rounds instead of bias , provide good yield. My teen eats them - when she would go rt by the veggie tray. Have a great time.