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Need buffet menu ideas for party!

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I'm planning my daughter's birthday party and I could use some help. I'll have about 15-20 adults and I'd rather not serve them pizza and hot dogs. Last year I did pulled pork, which worked well, but I'd like something different this year. We don't have a lot of table seating, so I need something that is easy to eat (i.e. no major cutting required). It is getting cooler and it will likely be raining, so the BBQ is out. I'd like something that is easy to serve buffet style. I have a large capacity electric skillet and several crockpots. All I can think of is lasagna, but I'm not really feeling it right now.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

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  1. Well I think I figured it out myself.

    Baked mac & cheese, spiral sliced ham, and a salad of some sort.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mrs.corgi

      dont forget some little rolls or biscuits for your ham!

    2. the mac & cheese and ham sound good. Can I suggest you add a soup or 2 in your crockpots? Cool & rainy weather is great soup weather, and you can serve in bowls or mugs, no cutting required. I often make a pot of taco soup (beef, tomato, beans, seasonings) & put out various toppings for people to use as they like (shredded cheese, crisped tortilla strips, sour cream, etc). Chili, bean soup, or even just a basic vegetable soup would be great on a cool day, and they are all easy to throw together in a crockpot & simmer all day.

      1. If you want something along the lines of lasagna but different, I've done moussaka and/or pastitsio or shepard's pie for parties w/ adults and kids. In a crockpot, try chili or chicken and dumplings/a la king over rice or biscuits.

        1. A make your own taco bar is nice, too. Pulled chicken and carne asadas, refried beans, some kind of spanish rice, and all the fixings. Works for vegetarians, no-carb folks, etc. Something for everyone.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jeanmarieok

            yes taco bar was going to be my rec too. yours sounds good too, but i'd just suggest that given your mains... heavy dairy, and heavy meat, i'd make your salad pretty basic in case people don't eat pork or dairy... maybe this isn't an issue for your circle of invitees, so discard if so. i'd also consider adding something like roasted vegetables of some sort or a lentil/rice/barley salad... happy birthday!

            1. re: Emme

              yea, i'm thinking the taco bar is a good idea too. You could also add fish tacos.....

          2. Is budget an issue?

            1. I thought of a baked potato bar; with all the trimmings i.e. sour cream, butter, bacon, chopped green onions, cheese sauce, gravy, salsa etc.

              I'd add a tray of sandwich triangles; some tuna salad, some cheese w/ lettuce & tomato, some cucumber and finally a good substantial green salad with several dressings such as blue cheese, oil and vinegar, and a honey mustard. I'd have peanuts, croutons, grated cheese, bacon bits as add-ons for that too.

              1. What about soup and panini bar? You can use an oven for panini if you don't have a machine. Soup and sandwiches are great comfort food.

                1. Nothing to add to the good suggestion here but I do love your screen name (see my avatar for why).

                  1. Couple kinds of chili in a crock pots would be easy and fun and make ahead...beans and meat, white chili, veggie chili...then lots of toppings, avocado, onion, cheese, corn chips, jalapenos, sour cream, etc., etc. Hot sauce, salsas on the side..A couple pans of corn bread and a big thing of cole slaw and you're good to go.

                    1. Ina Garten's Panzanella (salad), is fabulous and hearty for your menu. Sounds like a great b'day buffet. Have fun :)

                      1. Soup/stew buffet, with 3-4 choices. Have a choice of toppings like croutons, grated cheese, sour cream, chives. Cheese straws, breadsticks, already-buttered finger rolls. Perhaps some carrot and celery sticks. Give people a choice of mugs and bowls in a few sizes. Get a bunch of the rectangular plastic containers used for restaurant takeout. People can put their bowl/mug and accompaniments into that and be able to confidently carry it. The only utensils needed will be ladles and spoons.