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Help with Chili menu

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We are having a party (that has grown to be quite large-140). It is advertised as munchies, dessert and drinks. We are planning on serving chili, cornbread, pumpkin whoopie pies, caramel apples, apple pie and some kind of decadent brownies.

80 of the guests are children who will be watching a movie on a Drive in movie screen. We were going to serve them popcorn, fruit kabobs and chocolate bars and cider.

The question I have is what to serve as appetizers to go with the chili? Recipes welcome- the more that can be done in advance the better. Thank You Thank you

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  1. What about roasted shrimp and some cocktail sauce I have done this before and it was really nice and easy to do ahead. ceviche w/ avacado would be nice but probably to much last minute work. Rachel Ray has a Lucky 7 layer dip that could be done ahead.

    1. Serving chili and cornbread is not really a munchy menu. Are you handing out 60 bowls of it?? Do you have 7 crockpots full of it? Sounds a little daunting to me!

      And the kids don't get any protein? I assume this is not at a meal time, and they will already have been fed?

      I'm not coming up with any apps to go with chili - and I like my chili with fixins, are you doing that as well?? My suggestion, if you are set on the chili route, would be to pick up 4 mini muffin pans, if you don't have them already, and make mini corn bread muffins, that you can top or stuff with the chili, and maybe, top with some grated cheddar. You will need about 3-4 per person, tho, but you can make the cornbread ahead and refrigerate or freeze until the day of, then thaw out on the counter.

      Or, I just thought of this, how about potato skins with the chili? You can bake a few dozen potatoes, and make the skins ahead, freeze. Then thaw & top with chili & reheat in a hot oven. Or just top them with cheese and broil to serve along side. But then I would skip the mini cornbread muffins, and just make loaves and slice them. To make the skins, hollow out the baked potatoes halves, depending on how large the potatoes are, halve or quarter them, brush with oil, put back in a 400 degree oven to crisp up for a few minutes, then cool them to room temp & freeze. Good luck!!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Phurstluv

        It is not very well thought out. It is at 6:30. I was thinking of having sheets of pizza for the kids or organic hotdogs. I like the topping idea. I do have giant commercial pots and have rented large serving trays, bowls et cetera. all ideas are welcome- including the starting over ones!

        1. re: upland

          Well, at least you sound prepared with the equipment!! I know, we all have done parties like this, and not always well thought out or planned, and sometimes the best ones are the ones that are more spontaneous! It just sounded like a lot of work, but it will be just due to the large amount of people!!

          I think the pizza is a good & easy idea for the kids; hot dogs are great except, you've got to boil/grill them all, get buns, condiments, etc. Sounds like more work to me, and you should be able to enjoy your own party!

          I know dips & Guac are big hits, I love them too, they just get a little yucky, (for lack of a better adjective) looking, after several people have dipped & double dipped into them!

          Here's another thought, why not make like a chili casserole ( or 4 - 5 of them), that's baked with cornbread on top? Like a tamale pie, they are relatively easy to make, one dish, and can be made ahead, and baked at the last minute. You can even do a couple with the cornbread topping, and a couple with a mashed potato topping (one of my fave meals, a mexican shepherd's pie!). They bake in like 20 minutes, and you can set out condiments for guests to top their own with sour cream, avocado, guac, salsa, cheese, chopped onions, jalapenos, etc. That would cover a lot of bases right there and be relatively less hassle. Just make a few giant pots of your favorite chili, then, mound a few pyrex dishes with it, add the cornbread batter or mashed potatoes (leftover works just fine), and bake at 375, until you see the chili bubbling around the edges. Maybe that will work better for you. If you need a more detailed recipe I will be happy to type it out. Best of luck, and it really sounds like a great party!

          1. re: Phurstluv

            I went to a party where the guac dip was served on a big rectangular tray squeezed through a very fat tube into several parallel lines (a very thick dip, to be sure). Instead of the carnage of dipping into a bowl, you'd sort of scoop off the end of a guac line. By the end, still pretty messy, but didn't look as "fingered" as the dip bowls did.

            1. re: weezycom

              GREAT idea!

      2. I love chiliI How about some guacomole and tortilla chips. You could scoop them into paper cups. Would salsa be overkill with the chili? If you check out the website for Rotel you could make their famous cheese dip and serve it with celery.
        http://www.texmex.net/Rotel/cheesdip.htm

        1. For easy apps, how about gazpacho served a bit thin and drunk from a short plastic cup? You can make it the day before and just pour from pitchers to serve. Pass some plain tortilla chips to go with.

          1. Jalapeno Poppers

            Cucumber and Jicama Spears
            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            Spinach Dip with Hearts of Palm -- i have the recipe if you're interested

            fried green tomatoes for the adults

            could do mac'n'cheese baked balls... make your fave batch of mac'n'cheese let cool in fridge then cut into mini-squares, dip in egg and bread crumbs, then bake til golden

            agree with recs for baked potato skins and guac dip (tho this is a little out of sync with the chili)

            1. 1. Go to Costco or the equivalent and find flats of small bags of Fritos, bags of shredded cheese (something in a mild cheddar or a colby-jack mix), and a box of plastic sporks.

              2. Cut Fritos bag along long side.

              3. Add one ladleful of chili and a handful of cheese.

              4. Hand to guest with a spork. Have additional toppings (chopped onions, pickled jalapeno slices, etc.) available for them who want, but personally, I'm a Frito pie purist.

              4 Replies
              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                now this is great!

                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  I was going to suggest Frito Pie as well. (Trust us, until you've tried you Can. Not. Mock. It.)

                  1. re: shanagain

                    It's a classic camping food, too, would work well outdoors at your party ;)

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      Thank you, your ideas are all great. No one can deny loving fritos.