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Dinner for 40

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#31 tammylc

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 05:23 AM

Instant oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly, applesauce, cheese - I'm not sure what else, since I'm not a picky eater.

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#32 Malawry

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 07:17 AM

Basically the same stuff left out on bakers' racks for the girls in my sorority...it's supposed to be snackage and breakfast food but some of them eat it at dinnertime if they're nervous about what's on the menu. (Fortunately, most of them trust me and at least try my food.)

#33 arjay

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Posted 20 March 2004 - 03:59 PM

I really appreciate this thread. I cook for 30-40 Senior Citizens at my church monthly. Rachel and FG have given me some great ideas. My budget is also limited and its a challenge for me, because cooking is my hobby.

Tammy, please keep it going.
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#34 tammylc

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Posted 21 March 2004 - 05:58 AM

I really appreciate this thread. I cook for 30-40 Senior Citizens at my church monthly. Rachel and FG have given me some great ideas. My budget is also limited and its a challenge for me, because cooking is my hobby.

Tammy, please keep it going.

Nice to know someone's reading...

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#35 tammylc

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 07:45 PM

People were slow to sign up for the meal I posted for Wednesday, so I was thinking that I would have a very big group to cook for. But I was mistaken. I have 21 meat eaters, 15 vegetarians, 4 big kids (7-12) and 7 little kids (0-7). 36 adults, 11 children. Yowza.

The menu is pretty ambitious. Not because the individual items are especially complicated, but just because there's a bunch of them. I have a strong feeling I'm going to regret this...

Main Course
Falafel (for the vegetarians)
Marinated Chicken Breat (for the meat eaters)

Side dishes
Hummus
Tabouli
Yogurt & Cucumber Salad
Pita bread

I'm allocating 3 falafels per vegetarian and 1/4 lb of chicken per meat eater. For the side dishes, I'm making the amount that Moosewood Cooks for a Crowd says will feed 24 people, since there are three side dishes. And two pieces of pita bread per person. I'm hoping to find someplace to buy a bunch of baklava for dessert, without spending a mint. Does this sound like enough food? Too much?

Thinking out loud... I really should have been soaking chick peas tonight, so I could cook them tomorrow night. I might end up biting the bullet and buying canned, just to save the time - my schedule is busy this week. The tabouli will take the longest to make - while the bulghur soaks, I'll get my assistants to work on chopping the veggies and juicing the lemons for it. Meanwhile, I'll do hummus - cause that's going to be pretty easy, but will need lots of tasting to get the ratios right. Yogurt and cucumber salad after the tabouli is done. I'll start marinating the chicken tomorrow night. That and the falafel will need to go in the ovens about 5:30, which gives them a half hour to cook, and 15 minutes for us to get them plated.

Anybody have any thoughts to share?

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#36 Dana

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 12:29 AM

Only that I wish I could drop by for supper!!!

How are you cooking your chix breasts? Breasts are hard to keep moist if making ahead, and 20 plus breasts sounds (to me) like quite a few unless you've got several pans going. Maybe you're baking them?
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#37 paul o' vendange

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 03:33 AM

Only that I wish I could drop by for supper!!!

How are you cooking your chix breasts? Breasts are hard to keep moist if making ahead...

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#38 tammylc

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 06:18 AM

I'm not intending a full breast per person - gotta keep costs down, and there's plenty of other food! So I'll probably buy 6 or 7 lbs of chicken breasts (whatever that turns out to be). My current plan is marinade them overnight in yogurt and garlic and cumin and lemon, then bake them shortly before service. Let them stand to reabsorb the juices, and then slice them so people can use the slices in pita sandwiches if they want.

My other thought was to cut up the chicken into cubes and make kabobs, and marinade and then bake those off. The advantage there is that it will be clear to the meat eaters that a serving is one kabob per person. The disadvantage is that I have to do a lot more prepwork... We'll see how my night goes...

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#39 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 07:33 AM

Your portions of felafel sound really small to me. Are you making the baked ones in the mini-muffin tins? I would prepare at least 4 per person. The chicken sounds a little skimpy too -- you may want to get some thighs as well. They're cheaper and some people like them just as well or more than breasts.

#40 tammylc

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 07:44 AM

Thanks for the portioning tips. I was waiting until I checked out the yields on the falafel mix to make a decision re. the number of falafel per person, but I've had a couple people suggest 4/person, so I'll aim for that plus a few extras.

With all of the side dishes, I was thinking of the meat as more of an accent than the center of the meal. But I'll check out the pricing and see what looks good. The more I think about it, the more I think kabobs are the right way to go in terms of the chicken.

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#41 tammylc

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 07:45 AM

How many regular cans is equivalent to a #10 can? I've decided to use canned instead of dried chickpeas to save some time, but I can't get organic beans in a #10 can...

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#42 Cusina

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 08:57 AM

Tammy, thanks for writing this up, I'm enjoying following your progress. You are very thoughtful and ambitious. They are lucky to have you!
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#43 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 09:23 AM

Aren't #10 cans, 10 pounds? How many ounces in the cans you're buying? I'm sure you can do the math. Besides, it can't hurt to buy extra, chickpeas are a good pantry item to have on hand -- they can always be added as is to a salad, whirred into some hummus, etc.

Remember to make some tahini sauce for the falafel. There's a good recipe on RecipeGullet (linked above i think), also you should read the Dried Bean thread. I'll bet a couple of pots of chickpeas could be put in a very low oven all day while you're at work (without soaking) and would be ready for processing when you got home.

#44 tammylc

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 01:23 PM

Aren't #10 cans, 10 pounds? How many ounces in the cans you're buying? I'm sure you can do the math.

You'd think so, wouldn't you? But it's not all that easy...

I did finally find a webpage with some substitution guidelines. Looks like a #10 can is approximately 6-7 lbs (depends on what's in it, of course). A standard size can is probably a #303. Judging from their substitution guidelines, looks like 7-8 cans is about the right number.

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#45 tammylc

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Posted 31 March 2004 - 06:30 PM

Well, that was certainly a success! Got lots of kudos on this dinner. I had two very competent and experienced assistant cooks, which made everything go very smoothly. And thanks of course to you eGulleteers for all the advice and ideas.

My advance planning made things relaxed and non-rushed in the kitchen. Even so, I'm utterly exhausted - doing this intensity of physical work while 8 months pregnant is a real challenge for me. I have two more meals to cook before I go on maternity leave from community work, and I'm going to a) plan simpler menus and b) keep my condition in mind when I'm working out the distribution of duties so that I spend less time standing and cooking and more time sitting and chopping vegetables or doing other seated tasks.

This was a much more complex meal than my last one, and the costs reflect that. And the fact that this meal had meat in it raised the price - the chicken alone came in at around $30. Total budget was $118.65, and I fed 37 adults and 11 kids.

Quantities
Falafel
3.17 lbs falafel mix
Bulk from Whole Foods - there was no yield indication anywhere, so I had to guess. This ended up being pretty much exactly 8 cups of mix, which made 144 mini-muffin sized falafels. I had enough mini-muffin pans to cook 48 at at time, so did three batches. We played around with time and temperature, but there wasn't any real substantive difference between the batches that we cooked at 350 for 15 minutes versus 400 for 11 minutes. The bigger difference in crisping came from the muffin pans, with the non-stick ones performing better on crisping than the non-non-stick. People really liked that the falafel were baked. Thanks Rachel, for this great idea!

Chicken Kabobs
~6 lbs of Amish chicken, cubed
500 ml whole milk yogurt (organic)
2 lemons, juiced (organic)
Cumin
Pre-chopped garlic (from the pantry)
We prepped and marinated the chicken skewers the night before, so all we had to do today was throw them in the oven.

Hummus
8 15-oz cans chick peas (organic)
2 c tahini
1 1/2 c lemon juice (some organic, some not - I realized last night that I hadn't bought enough organic lemons and just picked some conventional ones up at a produce market today)
Pre-chopped garlic, salt, olive oil (from the pantry)

Tabouli
2.25 lbs bulgar, soaked the night before so it could chill overnight ("natural")
Dried mint
4 bunches parsley (organic)
3 bunches green onions (organic)
2 cucumbers (not organic - organic cucumbers cost $3.49/lb!!!)
2.43 lbs roma tomatoes (organic)
2 c lemon juice (some organic, some not, as above)
Salt, black pepper, and olive oil (from the pantry)

Cucumber and Yogurt Salad
8 cucumbers (not organic, see above)
2 500 ml containers whole milk yogurt (organic)
Cumin
Pre-chopped garlic, salt (from the pantry)

Other things I bought:
10 packages of pita bread from the Middle Eastern store at 95 cents/package
2 trays of baklava for dessert, at $10/tray

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#46 Jake

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Posted 31 March 2004 - 06:46 PM

Sounds great Tammy! You deserve to sit down and put your feet up now -- at least someone else does the dishes. :biggrin:

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#47 tammylc

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Posted 31 March 2004 - 06:49 PM

Sounds great Tammy! You deserve to sit down and put your feet up now -- at least someone else does the dishes. :biggrin:

Thanks! Lying down with feet up right now.

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#48 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 08:07 AM

I'm so glad that the falafels worked out. I'm surprised that the non-non-stick pans yielded less crunchy falafel than the non-stick pans. You used plenty of olive oil, right? I hadn't realized you were so pregnant. When do you get to do your pre-prep the day before? After dinner cleanup? How was the texture of the chicken? I thought you weren't supposed to yogurt-marinate meat that long because would become mushy.

#49 tammylc

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 08:48 AM

I did use plenty of olive oil. I don't know why the non-stick pans worked better, but it's not the first time I've had that effect - I think the regular pans suck up some of the oil, somehow, where with the non-stick ones it beads up and has more of a deepfry effect.

I did the night before pre-prep at my house, because the cleaners were still busy cleaning and I didn't want to mess up the kitchen. Plus I love my own kitchen and never get to cook there any more!

Chicken texture was fine - I didn't know there was such a rule about yogurt marinades... They were perhaps a little overcooked - when I checked them at 15 minutes they were still really pink, so I gave them 10 more minutes when 5 probably would have been enough. Lessons learned for next time (although if I do this menu again, I'll probably do some sort of meat kebab, just for variation).

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#50 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 08:50 AM

(although if I do this menu again, I'll probably do some sort of meat kebab, just for variation)

lamb or pork souvlaki

#51 tammylc

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 09:02 AM

Yep, or something with ground meat. It'll be at least 4 months before I have to decide, though...

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#52 Jake

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 09:06 AM

And you'll want something quick and easy as you'll be busy with the new little one. :wink:

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#53 tammylc

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Posted 05 April 2004 - 07:47 AM

Trying to get all my cooking committments done before I have a baby, so I'm on deck again this Tuesday. Having decided simpler is better, and because asparagus has come into season, I'm making one of my favorite dishes - a pasta with portabello mushrooms, asparagus and Boursin sauce from Food and Wine's Quick from Scratch Pasta book.

It's a recipe I've made many times and it's fast and easy, so this should be an low key cooking night. One of my assistant cooks is taking charge of dessert, so I don't even need to think about that. I need to hit Zingerman's bakehouse tonight or tomorrow for bread.

So the only thing I need help on this time is the salad. Last time I made a variation of one of my standard house salads - spinach with goat cheese, pecans and dried cherries, with balsalmic vinaigrette. In honor of spring, I was planning to use a nice spring mesclun mix, but I'm trying to decide what else to do with it. I could just do a green salad, but since it's a vegetarian dinner, some cheese or nuts for the extra protein seems advisable. I often make the spinach salad with fresh strawberries, which my husband adores, but I don't want to do goat cheese again. What do y'all think of mesclun/feta/strawberries? Any other ideas?

Thanks!

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#54 robyn

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Posted 05 April 2004 - 03:54 PM

Trying to get all my cooking committments done before I have a baby, so I'm on deck again this Tuesday.  Having decided simpler is better, and because asparagus has come into season, I'm making one of my favorite dishes - a pasta with portabello mushrooms, asparagus and Boursin sauce from Food and Wine's Quick from Scratch Pasta book.

It's a recipe I've made many times and it's fast and easy, so this should be an low key cooking night.  One of my assistant cooks is taking charge of dessert, so I don't even need to think about that.  I need to hit Zingerman's bakehouse tonight or tomorrow for bread. 

So the only thing I need help on this time is the salad.  Last time I made a variation of one of my standard house salads - spinach with goat cheese, pecans and dried cherries, with balsalmic vinaigrette.  In honor of spring, I was planning to use a nice spring mesclun mix, but I'm trying to decide what else to do with it.  I could just do a green salad, but since it's a vegetarian dinner, some cheese or nuts for the extra protein seems advisable.  I often make the spinach salad with fresh strawberries, which my husband adores, but I don't want to do goat cheese again.  What do y'all think of mesclun/feta/strawberries?  Any other ideas?

Thanks!

I like spring mix with red grapefruit sections and toasted nuts (I use pine nuts, pecans or walnuts - although pine nuts are my favorite). Top with a sweet vinaigrette (I use Brianna's Blush Wine Vinaigrette - but if that doesn't fit into your budget - I suspect you can whip up a reasonable facsimile). I recommend Costco for nuts in bulk (the nuts are good - and they're relatively cheap). Robyn

#55 tammylc

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Posted 31 October 2004 - 05:47 AM

Long time no posting! But the baby has been keeping me from visiting eGullet as much as I might like. But I just got a PM from someone who'd been missing this thread, so here's the latest installment, from a meal I cooked a couple of weeks ago...

Back to the kitchen for my first head cook shift post-Liam. I paid one of the neighbor kids to play with him in the common house while I cooked, and that worked really well. She's still too young to babysit on her own, but the "mother's helper" thing worked great and was $7 well spent.

The menu was ham for the meat eaters, stuffed squash for the vegetarians, and scalloped potatoes, carrots, salad and pie for everybody. All told I think I spent around $150 dollars on food, for 44 adults/teens and 16 or so kids. I had my assistant go shopping at the farmer's market yesterday morning, and we saved a bunch of money that way, not to mention getting nice fresh local produce. Here's what it takes to cook dinner for 60:

1 8-lb ham
1 gallon apple cider
15 acorn squash
2 loaves Zingerman's bread
6 onions
2 celery hearts
1 lb walnuts
1/2 lb pecans
2 pkgs Craisins
veggie stock from bouillon paste
15 lbs potatoes
6 leeks
1 1/2 gallons milk
1 lb butter
7 lbs carrots
1 bag of mixed greens
2 heads of lettuce (leftover from last night's meal)
7 tomatoes (leftover)
1 cucumber (leftover)
5 cheap storebought pies

The timing was tricky, but in the end it all came out perfectly. I cooked the squash and cubed the bread last night. Started cooking around 3:30 today, cleaning and slicing potatoes in the food processor. When my assistant cooks came at 4 pm we finished the potatoes, sliced up the leeks, and set to layering the potatoes in 8 bakers. Got them in the oven by 4:30, four to an oven. Brought the ham over to my house to heat up in the apple cider - not enough oven space in the common house. Took a break to nurse Liam while my assistants sliced the onions and celery and sauteed them. Mixed up the rest of the stuffing - bread, nuts, craisins, poultry seasoning, pepper. Added the cooked veggies and mixed it all up with veggie stock to moisten. Stuffed 30 squash halves. An hour had elapsed in the cooking of the potatoes. Took off the lids and consolidated all the potatoes in one oven, raising the temperature to make sure they'd be done in time. Loaded the squash halves into the other oven. Put together the salad. Set the tables. Sliced and plated the ham. Plated the squash. Took the scalloped potatoes out of the oven. Plated the carrots. Sliced the pies. Took some excess liquid off the potatoes. Got them to the tables, and called for a kid to ring the bell and let the hordes descend at 6:15 on the button.

It was fun. And tasty! The ham was still a little cold in the middle, but it was pre-cooked, so no biggie there. The scalloped potatoes had too much liquid and too much black pepper - easy things to fix if I do it again- but were done (my biggest worry - they were in the oven for about 90 minutes all told) and tasty. The squash came out great and was a big hit. Carrots were perfectly done and wonderfully sweet - that's what fresh from the market will get you!

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Dinner for 40


#56 tammylc

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Posted 01 November 2004 - 11:26 AM

Well, if anyone's still reading this thread, I'm looking for advice. I've put Jambalaya on the menu for Sunday dinner, and I'm looking for thoughts on methods.

I need to make both veggie and meat eater versions. I can't use shrimp or shellfish of any kind due to allergies, so I'm planning chicken and sausage for the meat Jambalaya, and probably tofu and some sort of fake sausage for the veggies.

Most recipes I've seen for Jambalaya have you cook the rice in the liquid in a pot on the stove. That seems like it wouldn't work well in quantity. So my current thought is this: Cook the sausage, then brown the chicken (thighs and legs on the bone, I'm thinking) in the sausage fat. Saute the veggies in the same pan. Add my liquid, bring it up to a boil. Distribute chicken and sausage and rice in casserole pans (we serve family style, so there will several small casseroles), top with liquid/veggie mixture, put in the oven and bake.

Do you think that would work? It's sorta like baked chicken and rice, just with extra stuff... How long do you think it would need to bake? Any other ideas or suggestions?

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40


#57 snowangel

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Posted 01 November 2004 - 11:50 AM

I am still reading this thread!

I've never made jambalaya, but your baking it idea sounds much easier. How big will the pans be?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#58 Suzanne F

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Posted 01 November 2004 - 12:12 PM

Hey, I'm here, too. :wink:

Even though you might lose some flavor, I'd cook the rice with the vegetables all together, and the meats/tofu separately, only adding them just before serving, or maybe even keeping them entirely separate, so that you don't run into a problem with having the right proportions of each.

As for baking: a recipe I have for 50 portions (4 ounces each) of pilaf that uses 1 cup of olive oil, 2 cups minced onion, 3 cups slivered almonds, 3.5 pounds of converted rice, and a gallon of stock. Cook the onions and almonds in the oil until tender; add the rice and stir to coat. Transfer rice mixture to a 12 by 20 by 4-inch pan. Add the stock; bring to a boil on the stove top, cover. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 25 minutes, "or until liquid is absorbed." Fluff before serving.

Then you could serve it from several smaller casseroles with the meats and/or tofu. How does that sound?

#59 tammylc

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 07:48 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. I just did some looking, and there are a bunch of baked Jambalaya recipes out there, so I'm not the first person to think of it.

I'll report back on how it turns out!

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Dinner for 40


#60 tammylc

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Posted 20 November 2004 - 07:21 AM

Here's how you make Jambalaya for 40 (28 meat eaters, 8 vegetarians, and a bunch of assorted kids).

Spent $110 on...
3 lbs onions
2 celery hearts
4 red pepper
4 green peppers
1 bunch parsley
2 qts chicken stock
1 qt veggie stock
5 lg cans diced tomatoes
2 lbs andouille sausage
34 chicken thighs
6 lbs rice
4 pkgs tempeh
1 bottle liquid smoke
4 heads lettuce
3 pkgs grape tomatoes
1 pkg frozen peas
2 lg cheesecakes
1 jar sour cherry preserves

In addition to the above ingredients, I used some garlic and spices that were already in the kitchen and a bunch of thyme from the common house herb garden.

Trader Joe's rocks. Got most of my ingredients there really cheap, not to mention the cheesecakes, which everyone raved over. I can't *make* a 3 1/2 pound cheesecake for $8 - I'll be buying that for common meal dessert again for sure.

Dinner was good. The liquid smoke definitely helped make the vegetarian version have more of the spirit of the meaty version. I shouldn't have put back the extra package of chicken that I had in my cart - I know there were people who wanted more than one chicken thigh per person, and I was worried about budget - didn't realize how little I'd spent until I checked out. And I should have bought more lettuce - even throwing in the extra package I had at home, they were still pretty skimpy salads.

I decided not to go the baked route, and for the meat version I instead cooked the rice separately and combined it at the last minute. Worked really well, and we didn't have to worry about it taking too long to cook, or getting burnt on the bottom, etc. For the veggie version, we just cooked it on the stove, since we were only cooking it for 8 people. It burnt a little on the bottom, but that was okay.

Cheap and pretty easy. We weren't stressed for time at all. I think this'll go into my regular repetoire.

Tammy's Tastings

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Dinner for 40






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