I did absolutely nothing exciting this weekend, so I thought I'd share with you how LAST weekend went for us. It was a blast, and I have a few helpful entertaining-on-the-cheap tips for you...
Last Sunday we had 4 couples (+5 kids) over for dinner. It was a ton of fun...but that's a lot of mouths to feed! I decided to do it on the cheap, here's how:
Baked Potato Bar - great for feeding a crowd
I did my shopping on Saturday to make sure I had everything I needed. I decided on my recipes, then made a list of every ingredient needed for the recipes. I crossed off everything I already had, then headed to the store for the rest.
Before shopping, though, I went to dealstomeals.com and checked to see if any of the ingredients I needed were on sale. They were! (more details on how I shop HERE)
I bought a bag of HUGE baking potatoes from Costco for around $7.99 I believe. The potatoes were seriously ginormous, I probably could've gone with smaller ones but I'm a bit OCD about not having enough food for my guests. Oh well.
Even though we weren't having people over until 5:30, I woke up Sunday morning and started dinner prep right away so I could get most of it done and relax the rest of the day.
I washed the potatoes, then laid them in my drying rack to get nice and dry.
I laid out everything I would need for my dinner so all I had to do was toss it all in the crock pot when the time came to cook it all.
I even chopped up my potato toppings and put them in individual containers in the fridge so all I had to do was pull them out when company came. These are actually Walmart brand baby food containers. I love them and use them for EVERYTHING!
I decided to make Chili and Broccoli Cheese Soup to go along with my potato bar. I cooked the Broccoli soup in the morning, let it cool, then stuck it in the fridge so it was done.
Once the potatoes were dry, I wrapped them in foil, stabbed them with a fork a few times,
then put them in the ol' crock pot! Put them on low for 8-10 hours or on high 3-6 hours, and there you go! For huge potatoes like mine you will definitely need them to be in there for a while, so just plan on it taking the full 10 hours on low.
I put my chili ingredients into my other crock pot, put it on low, and left it for a few hours also. I was able to go about my day, go to church, clean my house, and dinner was cooking all by itself without me. It was great!
(Note: For detailed instructions on baking potatoes in a crock pot, see bottom of post)
Good think I have like, a thousand crock pots, right??
I didn't realize my potatoes would take so long, so I put them on low for about 6 hours, then put them in a 350 degree oven for about an hour before company came to finish them off and keep them warm. They were perfect.
Right before company got to my house I made a quick batch of my awesome 5-minute corn bread. It's so easy, I wanted it hot and fresh so I didn't make it ahead of time. I'm glad I didn't.
I put my two soups in my trusty 3-crock pot server. It was my Christmas present from two years ago...I'm OBSESSED with this thing!
Each of the 3 crock pots cook individually, so you can cook and serve them right from that one server. Unfortunately I already started cooking my soups in my individual crock pots before thinking of using this, I was mad at myself for dirtying unnecessary dishes. I also cut up my corn bread and put it in the middle crock pot and put on "warm" so the bread would be nice and toasty when it was time to eat.
Seriously, I love this thing. I recommend it to anyone who entertains even a fraction as much as I do!
Anyway...I put out plates AND bowls for my guests. Some people had soup on the side, some people put the soup ON their potato, and some people smashed up 1/2 a potato in the bottom of a bowl, poured soup on top of it, then covered the soup with the potato toppings. All were delish!
I got out all my trusty already prepared potato toppings:
- Bacon bits
- Green onion
- Sour cream
- Parmesan cheese
- Ranch dressing
- Diced tomatoes
- and Salt & Pepper
I had our friends bring a salad, side, and a dessert. It was delish, and we had a great time!
There was tons of food to go around, and it was one of the cheapest meals I've served in a long time. Once we were enjoyed brownies and ice cream, and a nice jam session :)
It was a ton of fun.
As for how to bake the potatoes, I found more eloquent instructions HERE for you all:
How to bake potatoes in the crock pot:
- 10 -12 small baking potatoes
- aluminum foil
Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/baked-potatoes-from-the-crock-pot-53182#ixzz1stHgL0dD
- 1Stab potatoes with fork.
- 2Wrap each in foil.
- 3Fill crock pot with potatoes.
- 4Cover and cook on High 2 1/2- 4 hours.
- 5Do not add water.
- 6Cooking time depends on how big your potatoes are.
- 7Use your best judgement.
- 8It doesn't hurt to cook them for the 4 hours.
- 9For large potatoes, I have cooked five to six on Low for 8 to 10 hours and they turn out perfectly.
So that was my weekend! How was yours??