Cooking For Crowds For Dummies book cover

Cooking For Crowds For Dummies

Authors:
Dawn Simmons ,
Curt Simmons
Published: June 10, 2005

Overview

Over 100 recipes, plus time-saving planning tips and sanity-saving suggestions

Serve terrific food confidently and calmly, and wow your crowd!

Panicky about cooking for a casual church dinner, a posh graduation party, or a holiday feast for 50? With terrific recipes plus tips for everything from planning menus to preparation and presentation, you can serve a hungry crowd without getting all steamed up about it. You'll quickly grasp the basics you need to know to cook like an experienced pro.

Discover how to

  • Serve great dishes, from appetizers through desserts
  • Determine food quantities when cooking for groups
  • Handle food safely
  • Add ambience with easy decorations

Over 100 recipes, plus time-saving planning tips and sanity-saving suggestions

Serve terrific food confidently and calmly, and wow your crowd!

Panicky about cooking for a casual church dinner, a posh graduation party, or a holiday feast for 50? With terrific recipes plus tips for everything from planning menus to preparation and presentation, you can

serve a hungry crowd without getting all steamed up about it. You'll quickly grasp the basics you need to know to cook like an experienced pro.

Discover how to

  • Serve great dishes, from appetizers through desserts
  • Determine food quantities when cooking for groups
  • Handle food safely
  • Add ambience with easy decorations
Cooking For Crowds For Dummies Cheat Sheet

You've committed to having a large group of friends and family over for a meal — but now what? The hardest part about cooking for a crowd is figuring out how much to cook. The quantity you make depends on how many people you're serving, of course, and whether appetizers are pre-meal goodies or the main attraction. Fortunately, experienced, crowd-pleasing cooks have figured out the quantity thing and are willing to share it with you.

Articles From The Book

17 results

Parties & Celebrations Articles

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

This very rich and very creamy dessert is perfect for a crowd event. Cheesecake itself symbolizes holiday fun, but this recipe is great year-round. Because they're bite size, they're easy to serve — a big plus!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes

Chill time: 1 to 24 hours

Yield: 24 servings

1-1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies

1/4 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup, 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

24 chocolate kisses

4 8-ounce packages (32 ounces) cream cheese, softened

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chunky peanut butter

2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 teaspoons shortening

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 24 2-1/2-inch muffin cups (in pans) with foil liners.

2. In a small bowl, combine the crushed wafers, butter, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar.

3. Divide the mixture evenly among the 24 lined cups. Press it into the bottom of the cups, creating the crusts.

4. In each cup, place a chocolate kiss with the point facing up.

5. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and remaining 2/3 cup of sugar until smooth.

6. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, just until blended.

7. Beat in the peanut butter.

8. Gently spoon about 1/4 cup of the cream cheese mixture over the kiss in each cup. The cup should be full.

9. Bake for 25 minutes or until the filling is set. Remove the pans from the oven and cool them on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

10. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave on high power until smooth.

11. Remove the cheesecakes from the foil liners and place them on a cookie sheet. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cheesecakes.

12. Cover the cookie sheet tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 to 24 hours.

Whenever you cook any kind of cheesecake, always use a water bath. A water bath is simply a pan of water that you place on the rack underneath your cheesecake. (The cheesecake doesn't actually sit in this water bath.) The water bath creates humidity in the oven and helps prevent the cheesecake from cracking on top. When you're cooking with a water bath, you may need to slightly extend the cooking time due to the added moisture.

Parties & Celebrations Articles

Simple Side Dish: Scalloped Potatoes for a Crowd

Scalloped potatoes are standard side-dish fare, and we don't reinvent the wheel here, because the traditional dish is very tasty. However, this recipe yields enough for a crowd. (In case you're wondering, scalloped means to bake in a casserole with milk or a sauce and often topped with breadcrumbs.)

Scalloped Potatoes for a Crowd

Preparation time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Yield: 24 servings

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup flour

6 cups milk

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

3 2-ounce jars (6 ounces) diced pimentos, drained

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded provolone cheese

6 green onions, chopped

2-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

12 medium baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cup breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat, and whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

2. Gradually whisk in the milk; cook over medium heat until the sauce has thickened and is bubbly. Make sure that you whisk constantly to ensure a smooth sauce.

3. Stir in the green bell pepper, pimentos, provolone cheese, green onions, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, and then remove from heat.

4. Grease three 13-x-9-x-2-inch baking dishes.

5. Divide the flour mixture, the bell pepper mixture, and the remaining ingredients — except the breadcrumbs — among the three baking dishes.

6. Cover the dishes and bake them for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

7. Uncover the dishes and top them with breadcrumbs. Bake them for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Parties & Celebrations Articles

Planning Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd can be expensive, so it’s important that you start out with a firm look at your budget. If you’re the one making Thanksgiving dinner, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much can you spend? You may be thinking goose or duck, when your budget calls for turkey.

  • What are the age group and gender of the guests you’ll be cooking for? Teenagers, both girls and boys, can eat, eat, and eat some more. However, tots aren’t going to eat as much.

  • What items can you borrow? Borrowing items can save you a lot of money. For example, if you’re hosting an upscale buffet served on china, you’ll certainly save money if you can borrow the dishes rather than rent them.

  • What are you responsible for cooking? Are you cooking the appetizers, dessert, and everything in between? Or are you cooking only the main course?

  • What can you borrow? You may need extra plates, tables, chairs, glasses, cooking tools, and such items. Borrow them. Don’t waste your budget on items that you’ll rarely use and can borrow from friends and family. Nothing is wrong with getting some help and borrowing things you need instead of buying them.

Planning a budget doesn’t have an exact formula, because a number of factors come into play. Remember that your budget should be a relatively firm guideline for how much money you spend — not necessarily 100 percent set in stone. The idea is to come up with a budget that helps you have a great event without maxing out your credit cards. Keep these issues in mind:

  • Before you start planning anything, think about your bottom line. Don’t start with what you’d ideally prefer and then see what happens with your budget — you won’t like the results. Rather, start with a reasonable budget and work backwards.

  • Plan the event according to your budget, not the other way around. You want something really elegant, but your budget won’t allow you to prepare everything you want. Instead of overspending, find ways to compromise. You may spend more on the entree and try to find a few less expensive side dishes and appetizers to make up the difference. Remember, you can cook great food without breaking the bank, so think about how you can find a win-win resolution with what you want and what your budget will allow.

  • Watch out for budget creep. As you plan, think about everything you need to buy so that your needs and budget are accurate.

  • Be reasonable and flexible. You may try to tackle the world with the best crowd meal ever, but be reasonable about what you can spend and what you can prepare.