Entertaining Large Crowds

I love to cook and entertain for my family and friends, planning the menu though can be harrowing for others. This past Christmas I actually cooked the old standby's: My Italian sausage with white wine, mashed potatoes, corn casserole and some other basic stuff one puts out to make a nice appealing holiday dinner.

Women everywhere that don't love to cook, most likely will cater from somewhere and call it a night. I don't! To entertain a crowd, I love my casseroles and also sometimes will try a new recipe on family. It's simply a matter of organizing and budgeting, if you need to.

I've never followed any particular plan or menu, but instead just gave myself some mental and written notes to follow when entertaining. I use to like sending out invitations or e-mails with a Thanksgiving or Fall picture, it just seemed more festive; the plus side of this is that everyone called to say yea or nay to be able to make it. I finally had the count and knew to double a couple recipes or cut back on others.

When I made my Italian sausage I would make sure there were two per person plus a few extra; for a party of 12 I'd buy 30 instead of 24. My recipe included the peppers and onions and I would drizzle dry vermouth or white wine over it and add about 1/2 cup of water before throwing it in the oven. {The day before I would julienne the peppers and slice the onions so that I would not have to take the time to do it the day of}.

My husband comes from a large family, so I will also make a list of side options, many in casserole dishes, like an extended 9 x 13. There's always leftover's to go home with someone if it does not all get eaten. Jello molds are a must for me and is very pretty when in a glass baking dish or bowl. I will always pre-cut my molds when in the 9 x 13 so that no one makes a mess of them and you can have plenty to go around then also.

When it came to the desserts, oh my, everyone would bring cookies, brownies or cheese cake so I decided to try something different. Trifles are my thing, love being able to make something look luscious not just taste really good too!! Combining and layering the ingredients in my decorative glass bowl (which was deep and had straight sides), made this dessert so pretty and it went fast because everyone loved it and there was enough to go around for seconds.


PRETZEL JELLO MOLD

Preheat @375

Crust: 2-2/3 C crushed pretzels, 3 Tblsp sugar, 3/4 C + 2 Tblsp marg/butter melted

Middle layer: 1 (8oz) cream cheese, 1 (8oz) cool whip, 1 C sugar

Top layer: 2 pkgs (3 oz) Strawberry jello, 3 (10 oz) frozen strawberries

Press crust into greased 9x13 glass dish and bake for 10 minutes and let cool when finished. Add cream cheese and sugar in bowl, then mix together folding in cool whip and add the crust. Mix together the pkgs of jello and dissolve in 2C hot water only - Not Boiling. Add the partly thawed strawberries to jello blending together gently and pour over the cream cheese layer.

Refrigerate mold overnight. With sharp knife, cut into 2-inch squares for easier serving.

Other options to this mold are to use raspberry jello with the strawberries or vice verse and I have also made the mold with peaches, which is really good!

Enjoy!







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