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Cooking for a LARGE Group - aka "The Soccerteam Dinner"

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Cooking for a LARGE Group - aka "The Soccerteam Dinner"

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cooking for a LARGE Group - aka "The Soccerteam Dinner"

After offering all this time to help, I was finally asked to cook a meal for our exchange student's soccer team. I immediately said yes, then panicked about it immediately afterwards. While I was racking my brain, I could not think of an instance where I cooked for more than 10 people...and these were big strapping boys....over 20 of them. Am I nuts? What was I going to make that would be easy, filling, smell good and would be easy to transport? Be sure to hang onto these two recipes. I ended up making the first one - to rave reviews. The second recipe would've worked out as well I think. I always make the second one when making a meal for someone homebound and unable to cook. It also works fantastic for a leftover.

I knew I wasn't going to be home all day, so that threw out the chicken and rice recipe. That one you have to start almost three hours ahead of time. It's mostly baking time, but still, if you're not home, it's obviously not going to work. Where's my crockpot? Where's my other crockpot? I ended up doubling the Southern Pulled Pork Recipe into two crockpots. I knew that other crockpot would come in handy someday. The beauty of this recipe is that it only requires a little advance planning and almost no prep time. You throw the ingredients in there in the morning, the house fills up with the smell of good cooking, and it's just a matter of bringing however many dozen buns and serving utensils with you when you grab the crockpots and go. This is the ultimate home cooked food that smells heavenly and stays HOT for the trip to wherever you have to go.
Crockpot Southern Pulled Pork On Buns

1 TBS minced dried onions
1/2 TBS minced dried garlic
1/4 TBS chili powder
1 bottle tomato based chili sauce (find this next to the BBQ sauces in grocery store)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke (also next to the BBQ sauces)
1 boneless pork shoulder (2-3 lbs)
4-10 hamburger buns

Place roast in crockpot. Add all ingredients (except buns) and cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 6 hours til falling apart. Shred meat with two forks and mix up well before serving. Serve with the hamburger buns.

So that was one idea. The other idea I actually had first, but in light of having to start it three hours before it's ready, it wasn't going to work with me not being home this time. Once you get it in the oven, it is low maintenance though. Bake it in one of those disposable tin baking pans and make clean up even easier. You can keep the dish on warm in the oven for awhile if you need to (just add a little more water), but for the most part, the bacon keeps it very moist. Wrap the tray (or trays in this case) with heavy bathtowels, and you are ready to grab and go. I had planned on tripling this (three pans) for the boys.

Chicken and Bacon Rice Bake
6-10 frozen chicken tenderloins
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1-3/4 cup water
1/2 to 1 lb bacon
2 boxes long grain and wild rice
1 seasoning packet from rice

Bake bacon on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees F and save the grease (my husband uses some of the bacon grease to doctor up canned cream soup). Or cook bacon in the microwave on paper towels, pouring some of the grease in your 9x13 baking dish. Put dry rice on top. Put frozen chicken on top. Mix soup with 1-3/4 cup water and pour over chicken. Sprinkle with rice seasoning packet. Cover with foil. Bake about 1-1/2 hour at 400deg. When dish is done, it will look a little runny. Let sit before serving. While it's sitting, I like to take a big serving spoon, cut all the chicken pieces into chunks, and then mix everything up.

The other two moms provided a bagged salad with some prepared dressing and croutons and a hashbrown cheese casserole that the mom swears is easy to make as well. We followed up the meal with pre-packaged cookies from the supermarket bakery, and the boys were happy as clams. Even my two little ones joined into the feast. As I drove home, I was already mentally making notes of what else I could make, should I get called again...hmmm, lasagna or maybe a pasta dish with chicken? I guess the possibilities are limitless. What meals have you made for a big crowd? What travels well and makes large quantities with minimum fuss? Please do share your ideas!



Blogger tootie said...

Kudos to you for cooking for an entire army (pardon the pun) of boys! I'll have to remember those recipes when I'm brave enough to cook for more than just my husband :)

January 25, 2008 at 2:55 AM  
Anonymous suze said...

ooohhhh, your article came just in time. I am supposed to be planning a church dinner for 50. These are perfect. Thank you so much.

January 25, 2008 at 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That pulled pork sounds delish. I think my picky kids would eat that!

January 25, 2008 at 4:35 PM  

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