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Would you please help with buffet side dishes?

Would you please help with buffet side dishes?

Each year my husband and I have hosted the family Christmas Eve dinner. Well, over the years, the "dinner" has evolved into an "open house" scenario, as we continue to invite new friends, as well as old friends and the family. My problem is that the original family still expects a sit down dinner, while the open house is more of a "hit and run, if you have more shopping or stops to make" or a "hit and stay for as long as you like" Therefore, I manage to put together two types of a party - the sit down for the fam and a buffet for the people stopping in. Overall around 50 people. This year, I found a leg of lamb at a ridiculously low price (ShopRite in Belmar), but only the buffet people like lamb. The sit down family likes their turkey. So, how can I combine side dishes, suitable for sit down and buffet, that will go well with both the lamb and turkey? We also have a killer White Baked Ziti (must have doctors permission to eat, cause you will die for it!!!) that is traditional for us. Mostly, in the past it's been a repeat of Thanksgiving, and I'm trying to get away from it, except for the family preference,,,and honestly, not everyone likes lamb. (probably just never had it cooked the proper way) I decided that turkey breasts would be the better way to go for that part, and can make enough to transfer over for the later arrivals, So what goes well with both?

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  1. When you say sides, do you mean veg? You could do some oven roasted chunks of potatoes (both white and sweet), pumpkin, etc that could be arranged on wooden skewers for the standups and just dished out on the buffet.

    Things like mozarella, basil, and tomato skewers would probably go as well.

    Spinach goes well with both turkey and lamb, so you could do a baked spinach dish that is creamy and could be served in pastry shells for the stand up guests or dished out on the buffet. Or you could make some baby spinach-filo triangles for the open house guests and serve it in a chafing dish for the sit down crowd. Not sure anyone would notice the filling being the same.

    I often make a raw veggie tray for both sit down and stand up guests--as boring as it sounds, everyone seems to love it if the dip is good.

    Oysters might be a possibility if you're looking for more proteins--they can be served in the shell.

    Button mushrooms in wine can be speared from a chafing dish or ladled onto a plate.

    I guess I would say that there are tons of possibilities!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Transplant_DK

      Thank you for thinking of spinach...can do many things!
      Good call! Have a nice holiday!

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        haha...it kind of all runs together, but father in law the impatient type. arrives and wants to eat. so family dinner first, but people may be coming in while we are sitting down. it just moves from one to the other, seamlessly, for the past seven years. Don't know how, and don't want to risk knowing, it just does. Thank you!
        Thank you for your info.
        have a great holiday!

        1. re: devfan

          Interesting. Me--I'd hate to be sitting down eating when guests arrive, or vice versa (would seem weird to me as a guest to arrive while others are eating). Glad it works for you tho!

          1. re: devfan

            I'd love to hear more about how this works actually. Is the open house food on a sideboard and the family food in the middle the table? Do open housers sit down and eat with the family or do they grab a plate and eat on a couch? Rosemary roasted potatoes would go perfectly with both lamb and turkey. Couscous cooked with stock with pine nuts and dried fruit would also work well. A salad would be great. This time of year a mesclun salad with roasted beets and goat cheese in a balsamic vinaigrette might be good to contrast with the richness of the other dishes.

            1. re: devfan

              I'd tell them to get their food off the buffet and go sit at the table. Wa-la. Sit down dinner ;-)

          2. I'd say a great Caesar salad or spinach salad, and a room temp potato salad or orzo salad; fruit salad, crudites, and may a hot gratin potato dish for the sit-downers. You're a gem for handling all these folks coming and going!

            2 Replies
            1. re: berkleybabe

              Roasted veggies are always a hit. I like to do broccoli, mushrooms, red bell pepper, onions and garlic. If you want to stretch it, toss it with some quinoa.

              1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                You could also do roasted veggie kebabs for the buffet people. I love the idea of the spinach phylo triangles. Could you do some kind of polenta triangles/squares with a dipping sauce? How about sausage balls? They are meaty, but could be a side dish easily. I wonder if there is a recipe for some kind of baked stuffing squares out there that could be hand held? Stuffed mushrooms are also a nice hand held thing that could be a side dish type item.

            2. A medley of fresh vegetables....3 or more of the following

              Cauliflower
              Broccoli
              Green String Beans/Haricot Vert
              Wax Beans
              Carrots
              Yellow Squash
              Zucchinni
              Snow Pea Pods
              Sugar Snap Peas

              You can prepare early by blanching the vegetables and heat them up as needed in a pot of hot water......or by pan saute

              1. devfan, you will be delighted with this grouip and their wonderful knowledge and advice. Would you please share your recipe for your "killer White Baked Ziti," please.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Wtg2Retire

                  Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions and great ideas. The family is always the first to arrive, and as I said, my father in law is the type that wants to eat as soon as he walks in the door. I've really never had a conflict with regular "open housers" coming in during dinner....everyone is like family, so if they do,they grab a plate and join the table. I do serve everything buffet style and once the actual sit down dinner is done, I modify the food on the buffet to make it more "cocktail style" friendly. Of course, people sit down at the table and eat, or they eat on the couch, Hor D'ourves are plentiful and all over the house - living room, dining room, family room, and kitchen. Our tree is put up weeks ahead, but I forbid ornaments being put on the tree until Christmas Eve. Everyone that comes helps to decorate our tree, A minimum of three ornaments must be placed by each attendee, so that on Christmas morning, it is so nice to sit back and look at an ornament packed tree - a testament to how many people were there. (some stay over and are still there!!) While it sounds like a lot of work, I have much help and so worth it. A great time is usually had by all - what a wonderful way to enjoy the holiday. It has grown proportionally with new friends being made and word of mouth. This year I do expect over 50 people to be in and out. The most important thing that I stress to the people I invite is that the evening is usually very busy for everyone, and that they are under no obligation to stay for a required length of time, but if they are out doing last minute shopping, or had to work late, etc., they can stop and have something to eat and be on their way. I've had people go no further than my porch,(oh, hor d'ourves there, too) just to stop and say Merry Christmas. Isn't that nice?

                  1. re: devfan

                    I have to say, that sounds like a really wonderful Christmas party and like a very nice way to celebrate. I love the tree tradition you have. How nice!!!

                    1. re: devfan

                      What a great atmosphere you create for real holiday joy. I'm sure your gathering is a real oasis of merriment in a normally crazy holiday season. BRAVO!

                  2. Now....the killer white baked ziti:
                    (i don't measure things....I do a pinch of this and some of that method, so you may need to just work on it, but I'll give you all of the ingredients)

                    Ziti - al dente
                    Alfredo Sauce
                    Ricotta Cheese
                    Sour Cream
                    Parmesan/Romano grated cheese
                    Ground Beef - browned
                    Ground Sausage - browned
                    Bacon - cooked and cut into bite size bits
                    Herbs (oregano, basil, etc.)
                    Mozzarella Cheese (inside and on top)

                    Throw it all together in a really big pan, cover it with a ton of mozzarella cheese, bake on a very low oven - no more than 300 degrees, for as long as it takes to heat it up. For a party this size, I will use 4-5 boxes of ziti, 2 jars of alfredo, 1 lb each of the meats and season to taste. Tasting the sauce before you add the ziti is crucial...you have to modify it to make it taste right, and you will know it as soon as you hit it. Good luck and enjoy. It's been a labor of love through the years ( and most holidays) My niece got married, and while the reception hall provided the meal, it was specifically requested that we bring enough of the ziti to feed 200 people! The reception hall people were very accommodating, and the chef wanted the recipe before the end of the night! How great is THAT?

                    1 Reply