Sunday, September 19, 2010

Menu Planning for a Crowd - Egg Salad

Hosting a party, dinner, bbq, or coffee hour at church, as I did today, can be daunting unless you have a plan of attack. It took a few years for me to perfect my strategy and avoid working into the wee hours of the night the day before to finish everything on time. Creating a menu and shopping list is the first step to having a successful and stress free event. Choosing some dishes that can be made ahead of time helps immensely. Today's menu contains items that can be served at a brunch-type meal, appeal to children as well as adults, travel well, and are easy to serve. Here is the menu:
Lentil Soup
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Spinach Dip
Apple Danish
Banana Bread
Pumpkin Bread
Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Soup is always a hit at our church. I have taken this lentil soup in the past and people absolutely love it. Today is a little crisp outside, so I knew this soup would go over well. I made two large pots, served them in medium-sized cups and they were gone instantly! Soup is also a good choice since it is best made a day ahead and reheated. The flavors get a chance to meld and develop. Plus it can be transferred to crock pots and kept warm throughout the event.
  • Egg Salad is good choice since the eggs can be boiled days ahead. I boiled mine two days ahead. The day before I peeled them, the night before I added the rest of the ingredients, and I assembled right before serving. These sandwiches are quick and easy to assemble since most of the flavor is already mixed into the filling. You can make these even fancier by serving them on mini croissants or trimming the crust off and slicing them into finger sandwiches.
  • Apple Danish or any fruit pie can be assembled ahead of time, stored in the freezer, and baked the night before or the morning of the event. I made the danish 4 days early and froze it. I popped it in the oven the night before and it turned out just as beautifully as ever.
  • Bundt cakes and breads can be made weeks ahead and frozen. Simply pull them out the day before and leave on the counter to defrost. They taste as fresh as the day you baked them. Sometimes I even pop them in a warm oven for a few minutes and you have fresh, warm bread to serve. Delicious!
  • Dips are also good choices because they also benefit from an overnight rest in the fridge. Spinach dip needs at least 4-6 hours to allow the vegetable soup mix to soften and the flavors to incorporate.
Egg Salad for a Crowd
This is an easy and economical choice when serving a crowd. Tuna and chicken salad are also easy options for a large crowd.
60 eggs
2 1/2 cups mayonnaise
3 T dijon mustard
2 T yellow mustard
2 cups green onions, sliced thinly
Juice of 1 lemon
Bring eggs up to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes and then turn off the burner and leave eggs in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Peel right away if needed or store in the fridge for a few days before the event.
Peel eggs and chop into 1/2 inch cubes. In a separate bowl combine all remaining ingredients. Fold into egg mixture. Adjust seasoning to taste. I added a little extra mustard and salt to mine. Serve on rye bread, croissants, or your favorite bread with a little arugula or lettuce if desired.

To make a smaller portion adjust amounts to:
6 eggs
1/4 c mayo
1 t dijon mustard
1 t mustard
1 t lemon juice
1/4 cup green onions

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