Friday, June 8, 2012

A Party for 200: Part 1 Appetizers & Cold Food

Last weekend we cooked for almost 200 people at the 50th Anniversary party for my husband's parents. They have three sons, all married, and each family was responsible for a different part of the party.  Buying and cooking the food was our responsibility. My husband managed a restaurant before moving to Grand Rapids almost 25 years ago, and since then I've helped him cook food for three weddings and a retirement party, plus many small gatherings over the years. We only do this for family, and we keep the costs down as much as possible to save everyone money.  

I decided this would be a great experience to share on the blog. I'll be dividing the tips and recipes into at least two posts, possibly three.  Today I'm covering the appetizers and cold food. I've listed what we served, and below that in the notes I've gone over the amounts, recipes and tips.

Cold Food
10 pound container prepared coleslaw
10 pound container prepared potato salad
Fruit salad, homemade-recipe below

We actually bought two containers each of the coleslaw and potato salad, but only used one. Fortunately, we are having an open house for our son who just graduated from high school, and will be able to use it in June.

Cheese Tray
2 vegetable trays with Ranch Dip
1 large relish tray
Baked Mushrooms

Salads: We actually bought two containers each of the coleslaw and potato salad, but only used one. Fortunately, we are having an open house for our son who just graduated from high school, and will be able to use it. We worried that we should have had a third salad, but decided to go with the fruit salad instead of a pasta salad. I'm going to give you an approximate recipe for the fruit salad below, but my husband changes it a little bit each time, so it's never exact. In the notes below the recipe I'll go over what doesn't work and what does.

Cheese: We bought three 2 pound blocks of cheese: Cheddar, Colby Jack and Hot Pepper. We cut each block into cubes, rather than buy it already cubed. It was MUCH cheaper. The picture below shows the tray we made with the cheese.

Vegetable Trays: We bought way too much on these, but brought them home to eat. With 2 teen boys and friends over we didn't waste too much. I'm going to list what we actually used, not what we bought.

2 pounds baby carrots
4-5 green peppers, cut into strips
1 head broccoli, cut into pieces
3-4 cucumbers
2 stalks celery
1 pound radishes
2 pounds Ranch style dip

This made two vegetable trays. We were surprised we didn't have to refill these at least two more times. The way the room had to be set up, a table was placed away from the buffet line for the cold appetizers. In the past they were placed next to or in the same row of tables as the buffet, and we used far more vegetables.

Relish Tray: We had one large relish tray with olives, dill pickle spears, bread and butter pickle slices, and pepperoncini. We only ended up needing the one tray. 


1 cantaloupe, cubed
1 mango *see note
8 kiwis, quartered and sliced
1 quart fresh strawberries
1 pound bag frozen mixed berries
3 pound bag Fuji apples
1 pound bag frozen blueberries
3 medium cans mandarin oranges, juice reserved
3 medium cans pineapple chunks, juice reserved
1 pound bag shredded coconut

6 eight ounce containers Yoplait Orange Cream Yogurt
2 eight ounce blocks cream cheese, room temperature

Core and dice the apples into a large bowl. Add the juice ONLY from the oranges and pineapple chunks into the bowl with the apples. Allow this to sit and soak while cutting up the other fruit. It's important to drain all the fruit, fresh, canned and frozen using a colander. Drain off the apples after everything else is finished draining, discarding the juices. Place all the fruit in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the yogurt and the room temperature cream cheese. Using a mixer, beat until smooth. Add to the fruit in the bowl, stirring gently until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This made two deep foil roaster pans-- they were about 7x11 inches or so.

Notes: The mango was a huge mistake- we wouldn't use it again. My husband has been making variations of this type of fruit salad for years. Bananas, no matter how firm or fresh, never seem to work well either. Seedless fresh grapes, watermelon or cherries have all been wonderful. Substitute any of those for something in the recipe, with the same amount and it should be fine. In the picture you'll see more than one mango, but we only used one, but as mentioned they didn't do well.


1 box Herb Flavored Stuffing Mix
4 pounds regular sized mushrooms
1 stick butter
12 ounce bag finely shredded Cheddar Cheese

Prepare the stuffing as per the instructions on the package. Wipe off the mushrooms. Scoop out the mushrooms, putting aside the stems. Set the scooped mushroom tops in a 9x13 pan or a pan large enough to hold them all. Chop the mushroom stems and add to the prepared stuffing mix, stirring well. Carefully stuff each mushroom, brush the tops with melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-30 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Notes: I kept wanting to add more to this recipe--herbs, spices etc. but my husband shooed me away. He was right, because these were gone VERY quickly. We could have easily doubled the recipe. People loved the mushrooms. My husband did say to mention that he sometimes adds sauteed, chopped onion and celery.

Next, I will go over the hot food we served.  

On OFL we have an article on figuring out seating for parties: