Entertaining for Fifty
Last weekend, Dan and I hosted a get together for fifty of our friends to help us celebrate the shutter wall in Country Living magazine. Besides months of projects and weeks of cleaning, the real party prep work began Thursday while the kids were in school all day. It's aMAZing how much you can get done when you're flying solo. I grabbed my list, jumped in the car and visited at least ten stores, possibly a record for me.
Because I had so many guests rsvp, I decided to play it easy.
Here's the menu: (recipes at bottom of post)
- Costco artichoke jalapeno dip with chips
- fresh bread, sliced cheeses, salami and a bowl of peppercinis
- Chicken tortilla soup (toppings: cilantro, limes, chips)
- Potato Soup (toppings: shredded cheese & cracked pepper)
- Apple Pie (costco)
- Cheese cake (Raley's)
- shortbread and strawberries
I doubled my chicken tortilla soup in each of two slow cookers for a quadrupled amount. I turned them on low about 10:30 am, cooking them both in my garage as I always do so it doesn't permeate my house in o'de onion. I borrowed two slow cookers from a neighbor and used a total of three.
Due to the fact that the Potato Soup is blended after being fully cooked I decided to chop the ingredients as much as possible ahead of time. Onions, carrots, and celery were all processed and put aside in the fridge. I opted to quarter my potatoes later. I've heard bad things happen to potatoes in the fridge...
We placed the drinks in the entry by our living room and dining room on Grandma's table, salvaged from the garage. We served a selection of red and white wine, sparkling water, cucumber water and a keg of Sierra Nevada. I didn't want to have our guests go too far before they had a drink in their hand.
I don't think I've ever partied in my entry way before... I guess if you build it, they will come. I tried to go a 'one size fits all' cup when it came to wine and beer. Next time I think i'll opt for bigger beer cups. No worries though, many of our guests just walked around double fisted.
The bread, salami, cheese and peppercinis were available in the dining room and kitchen area. The bamboo cutting boards were $12 each from Home Goods. The flowers on the table are chamomile from Trader Joes and mixed flowers from costco in vintage bottles. I think only one person actually sat down at the dining table, and to think I was all concerned about not having enough chairs...lol.
I kept the soups warm in crock pots on my counter and on a piece of wood scrap on my stove. I'm tempted to leave the wood there since Dan prefers to place hot things out of the oven right on top of the stove and drop food and crumbs in the hardest spot to clean in the whole house. But no, I'm not complaining....never!
The kitchen counter became full of yummy treats brought by friends and neighbors and gorgeous roses from costco that are bringing me joy to this day. Looking at this picture, it makes me wonder why I bothered cleaning the counter to begin with! Which reminds me, don't bother vacuuming when you're having a big party. No one will notice the ground when there are so many people walking around, and it'll probably get messy again after the first hour. Save your energy for the next day's clean up! And with a keg in the hallway, the next day our house smelled like dorm room and required a bucket and mop....fun stuff.
In previous parties, we've ended up with a giant pile of jackets and bags on our bed or entry way bench. With fifty expected guests I knew I had to find a better location. I asked Dan if we could rig up some sort of hook from the ceiling for a clothing rod. He brilliantly suggested using my photography back drop stand.
I checked a couple stores for descently priced wooden hangers since I've been wanting to replace my plastic ones. Too bad I'm not located closer to Ikea! Anyhow, I really lucked out and found a giant $5 bag of vintage wooden hangers at the Goodwill last week (what are the chances?) Really, people...these hangers are way cool.
Totally forgot to get a nice picture with Dan (as always) but someone did snap a photo of me with my friend Gen who wanted an autograph of the Country Living article. ...had to get a picture of my first "autograph."
Tortilla Soup: (1 recipe worth)
Place in Slow cooker:
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or sliced
- 1-2 chipotle in adobe sauce, minced (I popped it in the food processer with some chicken broth)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2-3 chicken breasts
Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred the chicken and add:
- 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)
- 1 ripe tomato, chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
I let my guests add their own crumbled chips, more cilantro and sliced limes.
- 4 potatos quartered
- 1-2 cups celery
- 1-2 cups carrots
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Put all ingredients in pot and simmer until really soft. Puree with a hand blender until smooth. I then let my guests add their cheese and cracked pepper.
Borrowing a couple slow cookers from a neighbor helped when cooking the soups and for keeping them warm at the party.