Top Tips and Recipes for Feeding a Crowd

Yesterday, my friend Karen Morgan and I were the food chairs for a dinner and program at church.  We  planned and prepared dinner for 300 women!  This is not the first time I have done this – you are probably wondering why I didn’t learn my lesson the first time and say no this time?!  Well – to tell you the truth I actually enjoy it!  It gives me the opportunity to get to know women at church that I wouldn’t otherwise.  Each time I do it I make so many new friends!   I also learn a few new tips and techniques along the way.  So – just in case you ever need to cook dinner for 300 I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned as well as the recipes for what we served last night.

Now the original recipes I have are actually for 200 servings so I divided the quantities down for you but if any of you think you may need to feed 200 or more email me and I’ll send you the original recipe. (leighannew31@comcast.net)

Tips for Feeding a Crowd:

1.  Get yourself some GOOD help!  One of the reasons I said yes to this assignment was I knew that there would be a wonderful group of women who would be willing to help me – ‘many hands make light work’.  About 8 women joined me Friday afternoon and in 2 hours we assembled enough Apricot Chicken wrapped in Puff Pastry to feed 300.  Three friends helped by preparing and cooking 30 pounds of vegetables each and another group of women made 3 batches each of a delicious Swedish Creme.  I think I had another 10 women who helped  bake all the chicken in their ovens at home.  We couldn’t have done it without all the help!

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2.  Use dishes that taste good at room temperature.  Because we don’t have cooking facilities at our church (a kitchen but no operating ovens) everything needed to be baked at individual homes and transported to the church.  There is just no way you can feed 300 people hot food when you have to do that.  Even if we could have baked it at the church it would have been difficult.  Our main dish, Apricot Chicken in Puff Pastry actually tastes better at room temperature, the individual flavors of the chicken, onions and roasted red peppers are more flavorful.

3.  Experiment – try out recipes first.  Karen had fun experimenting with different dessert recipes before we decided on the final choice.  We nicknamed her the Dessert Fairy because she would show up at our door with samples of the different desserts she was trying out!  We will miss those visits:(  It is not a good idea to use a new recipe you have never tried before when cooking for 300!

4.  Have Friends with Good Recipes.  Three of the recipes we used came from my friend Patrice, who is an amazing cook and does catering on the side. Thanks Patrice for answering my many questions via email and phone! Karen got the dessert recipe from her friend Elaine.  Friends are wonderful!

4.  Get MORE good help.  Thanks to a group of wonderful helpers in the kitchen we were able to set up an assembly line for serving and get the food out to everyone in a decent amount of time.

LA Note – I used 4 oz. chicken breasts from Cash & Carry.  They are the perfect size.  The Costco chicken breasts are a little too thick.  I also bought 5 inch square sheets of puff pastry from Cash & Carry but you have to buy it in quantities of 100 so you can also just buy full sheets from the grocery store and cut it.

Top Tips and Recipes for Feeding a Crowd

Ingredients

  • Puff Pastry - 5 inch square per serving
  • 12 chicken breasts, 4 oz.
  • 1 onion
  • 1-2 red peppers
  • olive oil/butter
  • 1 pkg. of cream cheese, set out first thing in the morning so it is really soft
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 4 oz. apricot jam
  • 1 egg
  • water

Instructions

  • Trim and slice onions.
  • Caramelize in mixture of 4 parts olive oil to 1 part butter.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • Do the same with the peppers.
  • Mix cream cheese, soy sauce and jam.
  • Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • You want it creamy but not airy like whipped cream.
  • It is better for it to have a few lumps than to be whipped creamy.
  • Mix egg with 1 Tbsp. water until well mixed (used for an egg wash)
  • Roll out the puff pastry squares to half again their size.
  • Drop a generous tablespoon of cream cheese mixture on the first one third of the puff pastry.
  • Top the mixture with caramelized onion and a couple strips of pepper.
  • Top that with the chicken.
  • Pull the short end of the puff pastry back over the chicken, pull each side in and then brush all the edges with the egg mixture.
  • Continue the wrap and seal with fingers - a little pinch will do, but they need to be sealed.
  • If you are storing in the fridge cover in wax paper and then plastic wrap and return to the fridge/freezer.
  • When ready to cook, brush the surface with egg mixture and cook at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Peach Chutney - Serve over Apricot Chicken in Puff Pastry

Top Tips and Recipes for Feeding a Crowd

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs. frozen or fresh peaches sliced or chunked
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. mace
  • 10-12 cloves tied in cheese cloth
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks

Instructions

  • Dump it all in the pan at the same time.
  • Bring to a low boil and reduce the heat and simmer on low for an hour or so.
  • Pull out the cinnamon sticks and cloves.
  • Cool and serve.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks if covered tightly.
  • Better the 2nd day.

Roasted Winter Vegetables

This was a bit of an adventure as we had to cook large amounts so we did it in roaster ovens.  It is really meant to be cooked in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the oven.  There were a few prayers said over these potatoes!

Top Tips and Recipes for Feeding a Crowd

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs. red potatoes, gold yukon potatoes, carrots, and onions
  • cauliflower, broccoli, snap peas, green beans--optional
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbps. paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh chopped chives for garnish

Instructions

  • This recipe is for 5 lbs. of vegetables (we used red potatoes, gold yukon potatoes, carrots and onions). You can also add cauliflower, broccoli, snap peas, green beans but these veggies will need to be added half way through the cooking process as they cook faster.
  • Mix together all the ingredients for marinade
  • Put potatoes, onion and carrot on the baking sheet, toss with marinade ( I use my hands) and stick them in the oven at 425 for about 40 minutes.
  • Ovens may vary so keep checking them.
  • When they are 1/2 to 2/3 done add in the other quicker cooking vegetables if you are using them. Toss the whole thing to make sure all veges are coated.
  • Cook for another 20-30 minutes or until all are tender.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped chives

Lemon Vinaigrette

Top Tips and Recipes for Feeding a Crowd

Ingredients

  • Mixed Greens
  • Toasted Almonds
  • Crasinets
  • Gorgonzola Cheese
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice - yes I did use fresh lemons, fortunately my neighbor has an electric juicer!
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1/8 cup fresh chives finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Mix together and enjoy!

Swedish  Creme

Top Tips and Recipes for Feeding a Crowd

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 package knox gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla.
  • 3 cups sour cream

Instructions

  • Combine in heavy pan; sugar, gelatin
  • Add; heavy cream, vanilla
  • Heat the above 4 ingredients until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.
  • Do not boil.
  • Remove form heat.
  • Add and mix until smooth: sour cream
  • Pour into 10 small cups and refrigerate overnight.
  • Top with your choice of fruit.

Raspberry Topping;

Top Tips and Recipes for Feeding a Crowd

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Instructions

  • Boil: sugar, water
  • Add: raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Remove from heat when mixture achieves a full boil.
  • Cool.
  • Use as topping for Swedish Creme.
  • Add topping right before serving.

Happy Cooking!

What’s the largest number of people you have ever cooked for at one time?  Leave a comment in the box below and let me know!

Comments

  1. says

    This is very helpful! The tips are so specific and that is exactly what I find most useful (which stores carry which items). I can calculate out the amounts to have on hand per serving, fairly easily. However, estimating how many volunteers per task often baffles me. Wonderful post!

  2. Afton Alder says

    I once did a dinner for 200 missionaries.
    The dinner was absolutely great!
    I appreciate having the recipes and
    want to thank you for your efforts.
    Afton

  3. Katy Adams says

    This was such a wonderful dinner. It was fun to watch you in action. You really have a talent for organizing and serving a large group. Thank you for sharing the recipes and tips.

  4. Ariana Duke says

    I was on your dessert crew for the stake RS talent show last year…what a blast! I used your recipe for asian chicken salad (thanks for faxing it!) at an enrichment several months ago, and I am STILL getting requests for the recipe. :) You are famous.

    I am doing all the food for a wedding reception in a few weeks — my biggest event so far. We are planning for 250-300 people. I am like you — I think it’s fun to be the food lady. People think I’m nuts, but I love it!

  5. Kay Wilder says

    I need a Baked Spaghetti reciepe for 200 I need something simple – (sauce out of a jar)
    how much tea should I make and how much salad – my daughter volunteered me and I have to have this ready on Monday – Help

  6. Tamara Reber says

    Thanks for sharing all these wonderful ideas. Glad you all survived and helped all of us too!

  7. says

    Leigh Ann,
    This menu sounds de;icious. I would love to try it in September when we do the dinner/ Relief Society Broadcast. What was the budget to pull it off? I just spent so much on our Womens Conference that I need to watch it.

    I do love those chicken breasts from Cash and Carry–great uniform size.

    I love all that you are doing. You are an inspiration. My calling as Stake Relief Society president has presented new challanges. Your ideas are very helpful. Thanks

    Gayle Dethman

    • says

      Gayle,

      To be honest I don’t remember what the exact budget was. It may have been around $800-900? but I don’t really remember. Have fun with your calling!!! I am the 2nd counselor in the Stake RS and really enjoy it!!

  8. Ann says

    I noticed someone mentioned a recipe for an Asian Chicken Salad. Is this on your blog somewhere? I’d love to have it, if possible.

  9. Debbie Morris says

    My daughters wedding is coming up fast and I need help on how much food to buy for 300 people. Our menu is: Smoked Beef Brisket & Pork Loin, baked beans, chips, buns, pickle spears and will be serving tea and lemonade with a cash bar.

  10. Sabrina Thorn says

    Hi Leigh Anne,

    I was reading over your blog about your church dinner. Our church is doing a Christmas dinner for 150-200 and your recipes sound delicious! You said in your blog that you would be willing to send the recipes for 200. I would surely appreciate that. Tried to email you but the address didn’t work.

    Thank you so much.
    Sabrina

      • says

        Here you go:

        200 5 x 5 puff pastry squares
        flour for rolling out the squares

        200 4 oz. chicken breasts
        15 lbs. onions
        8 lbs. red peppers
        olive oil/butter
        6 lbs. cream cheese, set out for 12-24 hours to be very soft
        1 cup soy sauce
        3-4 lbs. apricot jam
        24 eggs
        2/3 c water

        Follow directions on the blog.

  11. says

    Hi,
    I am going to be cooking for my church, about 300 guests!! I have never cooked for this many and I have some good meal ideas but not a clue for desert..we barley have a budget. Do you have any very inexpensive ideas??

  12. Jocelyn says

    Im getting married in July and am having a appetizer and deserts reception in the evening at 7pm or so and have no idea how much of each to have for 250 people??

    • says

      There are a lot of variables that will go into it – what all you are serving, how many different varieties etc. I found that people do like to try a little bit of everything!

  13. Dani says

    Great post!
    getting married in September, where we are expecting around 300 guests. I was wondering if the apricot chicken froze well, and if not, how far in advance do you think it could be made?
    thank you so much!

    • says

      I have not frozen them but made them the day before and refrigerated them. You do get a little leakage out of them if they aren’t sealed up tight. But it worked fine.

  14. Cheryl says

    It all sounds wonderful, do you have any pictures of the finished product? Also I would love it if you would share the recipes that feed a larger number. I am head cook for a girls camp and we serve about 220 to 250 girls and leaders, 3 meals a day for 5 days. I’m looking for something new to add to the menu.

    • says

      I am sorry but I don’t have a photo of the finished product – there was just too much going on that night. Let me look through my files and find the large crowd version!

    • says

      Here you go:
      200 5 x 5 puff pastry squares
      flour for rolling out the squares

      200 4 oz. chicken breasts
      15 lbs. onions
      8 lbs. red peppers
      olive oil/butter
      6 lbs. cream cheese, set out for 12-24 hours to be very soft
      1 cup soy sauce
      3-4 lbs. apricot jam
      24 eggs
      2/3 c water

      Follow directions on the blog.

  15. Peggy says

    Hey maybe you could help me….I am cooking for a wedding for about 275 to 300 people, I just need to make potato salad, coleslaw and broccolli salad… just wondering how much of each I would need? Also if anyone has any good special recipes for coleslaw that would be great, we are also serving pulled pork sandwiches and broasted chicken….Thanks

    • says

      I will be posting my favorite cole slaw recipe in a week or so. As far as quantities, just decide on a serving size – maybe 1/3 C or 1/2 C per person and figure it from there.

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