Last week I mentioned I spent Labor Day weekend planning two parties: one is my dad's retirement party in two weeks and the other was a surprise engagement party for my twin brother. I'll preface this story with the fact that my brother Casey is the calmest person I know. He's very even keeled- he rarely gets overly excited or overly upset about anything. These are the qualities that make him a great firefighter; these are also the qualities that make him not so great of throwing together a dinner party for 45 people in 6 days. You know, he's the kind of guy that rolls in 25 minutes before the party calm as can be. Must be nice- apparently my mom only passed her neurotic tendencies to me.
Naturally, my mom & I (obsessive compulsive list makers) were the ones to worry about the details. We ended up deciding to do all the cooking ourselves, which sounds difficult but thanks to the right recipes was manageable:
Slow Cooked Mash Potatoes
Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Pecans & Blue Cheese
Slow Roasted Brown Sugar Beans
Salty Ice Cream Pretzel Bites.
The two keys to cooking for more than 20 people: one, pick dishes that are done before the party and two, keep it simple.
As far as precooked elements go, the tri-tip is cooked three hours prior to serving, wrapped in foil to rest and carved just prior to serving. The mashed potatoes are slow cooked in a crockpot for six hours. And the beans are done hours prior and thrown in the oven to reheat just before serving. The only tasks you have to do immediately prior to the party is toast the bread & dress the salad. Oh and for dessert? Salty Ice Cream Pretzel Bites. Yes, they are just as good as they sound and are done up to 1 day prior to the party.
The second key is to keep it simple. This is harder than it sounds for me. When I am planning for a dinner party I've always got 3-4 side dishes, tons of homemade sauces and at least 2 main dishes. With 45 people you just have to be okay with a simpler menu.
Check out some of the photos below:
My little brother not only cooked the tri-tip but tied all the square knots for the vases!