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Cooking for a Crowd

Maple-Bacon Monkey Bread
Cooking for a crowd doesn’t mean a mad dash to the kitchen. With a little prep and planning you’ll be prepared to feed the masses.
By Alyssa Vance

In my book, nothing’s better than breaking bread with friends and family. I’ve been hosting meals for both ever since I moved out of my college dorm. (It’s hard to entertain when there’s one oven for more than 50 girls.) 
Not all of these were executed perfectly. Many of them were poorly done, for that matter. I once hosted an Italian family-style dinner for six as a sophomore in college. The outcome was a sad plate of chicken Parmesan, with servings that were rare in the middle and burnt outside. We ended that meal with a little wine to forget about the mishap. When I was 22, I opted to take over hosting duties for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Stressed to the nines, I spent hours creating a spreadsheet to time out all 10 dishes … and fell asleep shortly after dinner, from sheer exhaustion. 
There’s a balance in cooking for crowds: Execute wisely, don’t take it too seriously. Here are five tips for entertaining eloquently, and an easy brunch menu that would feed 15 hungry guests.

Tips

  • Have a snack your guests can munch on as soon as they walk in the door. This Hot Buttered Yum Chex Mix only takes 15 minutes to make.
  • Choose one-dish recipes that are simple and can be prepared beforehand. Double the recipe for the Monte Cristo Rollwich, bake on one pan, and you’ll easily feed a dozen guests. 
  • Map out cooking requirements for your chosen recipes in advance. Choosing two breakfast bakes that cook at 300 degrees and 400 degrees will not bode well. 
  • Try to minimize recipes you’ve never tackled before. With familiar ones, your mind can be simultaneously in the kitchen and engaged in conversation with your guests. 
  • Stock your kitchen with to-go containers, like this 10-piece storage set.

Brunch Menu 

Make two loaves of Maple-Bacon Monkey Bread, which covers both sweet and salty.

Maple-Bacon Monkey Bread

Your guests will be wowed by these flaky Layered Salted Caramel Bars. It’s the crowd-worthy version of the classic caramel roll.

Layered Salted Caramel Bars

Make two loaves of this Goat Cheese and Kale Egg Bake for a tangy, savory dish.

Goat Cheese Kale Egg Bake

Anything that doesn’t require silverware is a good choice for parties. Case in point: these Mini Bacon Cheese Cups, which take less than an hour to prep and bake.

Mini Bacon Cheese Cups

Here’s a dish you might need to triple (because who can say “no” to multiple servings of bacon). This Peppered Brown Sugar Bacon will be a guaranteed hit.

Peppered Brown Sugar Bacon


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