Dinner for 250

Over the weekend I actually catered a meal for 250 people.   I kind of feel like “Elle Woods” in  Legally Blonde at the end when she squeals “We did it!”
I have alluded to this huge catering project several times over the last several weeks in various posts. This was a really big deal to me, but a challenge I took on.  Two days after it has ended, I can sit back, smile and sigh with relief that it all went well and I didn’t hurt myself or anyone else in the process of getting it together.
  This little project was for the church where we worship;  an event that was referred to as “Celebration Sunday”, where we were celebrating and praising the commitment of our congregation financially to take on a new building project due to start in January.
  I was given preplanned menu suggestions (ones that didn’t involve a meat, two veggies, and dessert) with the budget to work from and set out from that point to make it all happen.
On the Menu?
Baked potato bar w/ white & sweet potatoes
toppings included sour cream, butter, chives, bacon bits, cheese, jalapeños, cinnamon sugar and brown sugar
Chicken Noodle Soup
A lot of cupcakes
Tea, Lemonade, water, and Coffee
Thankfully I didn’t have to fix up decorative buffet tables (we served everything from chaffing pans on simple white tablecloths), and I was so busy on Sunday that I couldn’t hardly think about taking pictures, but here is just a glimpse of how it came together via my Instagram pictures.


After doing all of my prep work (chopping, dicing, organizing, etc…) at home, I actually cooked my soups at the church building where I had more room to work.
And two stoves to speed the process.


Homemade chicken noodle soup & chili simmering away
Baked Potatoes wrapped and ready to cook
Fresh salad just “makes” a meal


I had cupcakes ALL over my kitchen!  I made chocolate and vanilla flavored cake, then iced the with traditional buttercream, chocolate and strawberry icings.


cinnamon-sugar shaker and brown sugar for sweet potatoes 
I seriously could not have pulled this off with out my husband.  From helping keep the kids and house in order over the weekend to helping me run errands and chopping almost all of the onion, Audley totally kept me sane.

He even stressed for me which kept me cool and collected.

Oh yeah, he wrapped ALL of the potatoes for me as well while my daughters washed them!

I also had two wonderful friends who helped with all of the serving and clean up.  They were total lifesavers on Sunday.
Chocolate cupcakes w/ buttercream & strawberry icing


I did display all the cupcakes …. I didn’t want to serve them out of the mismatched assortment of carriers I used to transport them.


Vanilla cupcakes w/ strawberry icing and chocolate cupcakes w/ chocolate buttercream
And more chocolate cupcakes
There wasn’t a single cupcake left.
I had plenty of food prepared for everyone and actually overcooked enough that we sent leftovers to a local soup kitchen.
My hobby has been keeping me occupied the last couple of months.  I enjoy doing this a lot, but I did learn that I prefer the smaller numbers because it does take more than one to make it all happen.  Since I am also doing our daughter’s wedding reception in 12 days, I guess I need to embrace the larger number for now!
We are getting holiday ready here, and I hope you are too!  I have so many things to share in the next couple of weeks so stop on in!

It’s a Wedding Reception!

At last, I have time to sit down and post about my catering adventure last weekend!  Now before I get started, let me say, I am not a professional.  I love to plan and entertain which has led to few things on the side like a class reunion last summer and a few family things here and there (like our daughter’s engagement party).   Who knows if I will ever go big, but it’s nice to have a hobby to keep me busy while the kiddos are in school.

1. Wedding cake from last spring 2. Tobacco basket used for serving fruit & veggies 3. Abundant buffet table
4. Basketball cupcakes for 200

When my friend Karla asked me to do her daughter’s wedding reception I was reluctant at first.  I knew that the reception at her oldest daughter’s wedding had been a total nightmare because of a con artist caterer in Ohio and I was terrified of not living up to her expectations!  But, I accepted the task and immediately set to work to create a (hopefully) memorable reception for all.

This particular wedding reception was to be prepared for seventy people.  After talking with the bride and her mother, and looked at their budget we settled on a menu and decorations that fit the season, and her cake, a Nightmare Before Christmas themed cake.

The reception itself was held in a local hotel, one without a real space for a buffet table, so I needed a table that would be the centerpiece of the space.  I also needed something easy to set up as there was a group that had the space before us, leaving little time for a turnover.

But first, I had to nail down the menu.

The menu was a perfect combinations of filling and casual hors d’oeuvres for a late afternoon event.

On the Menu?

Brie (& other assorted cheese) platter
Chicken salad served with assorted rolls
Sweet N Sour Cocktail Meatballs
Crudite Platter
Shrimp Cocktail
Pita Chips with Peach Salsa
Caprese Skewers
Mixed Fruit Salad

For drinks, we kept it all super easy; coffee, tea, and water.

Working within my budget, for the buffet I used mostly white and a couple of blue pumpkins for accents, then scattered tea lights down the table.  The hotel provided all of the linens and tables for our use.  I elevated some of my platters to create a little character.

Nothing is more boring than a row of flat plates.

You can see the backdrop I was working in… rather boring (& I wasn’t allowed to clear the counters per Hampton Inn),  so the table had to be the decoration.

And finally here is my “Nightmare before Christmas Cake” for the bride and groom.

The happy couple

{I will cover more details on the cake in another post.}  

This was the first time I have ever felt confident in executing something this big.  While it was not Colin Cowie fancy (I don’t get paid the BIG bucks he does either!), I managed my time well for getting everything accomplished without being rushed, PLUS I had a mother-of-the-bride who couldn’t quit raving over it all and a bride who took one look at her cake (she didn’t know what it was going to look like …. LONG story) and kept saying “holy moly” with tears in her eyes, over and over.

In the process of this event I have secured a luncheon for 250 people in December and have the boost of confidence that I needed to pull off my daughter’s wedding reception as well!

It’s November which means Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are upon us, and our Samantha’s wedding.  Hopefully I’ll have several things to inspire you for your own celebrations in the coming days!

Linking up with Tablescape Thursday, Inspiration Friday, and Foodie Friday today.

Summer Days ~ Red, White & Blue

After an extended spring that was much enjoyed, summer arrived last week with a vengeance!  We usually have hot temperatures in the south during summer months, but when the forecasted highs are 106, 104, 108 for the next three days, I feel like we have suddenly moved to the desert!  When it’s this hot, I usually hide out in the house and have no desire to do anything, but, days are busy so it’s time to hydrate with lots of water and get out!
Despite the heat, summertime still brings out the BBQ and picnic bug in all of us.  And with Independence Day just days away, I couldn’t help but celebrate the season in the dessert I was asked to bring to a recent get-together by going all red, white and blue.
Inspired from I Am Baker, I decided to create my own patriotic confection.


For her detailed instructions (video) click here.

I just used “I AM Baker’s” picture and went my own direction with the recipe and icing because I am a rebel that way.*****

For the cake, I used 1 1/2 recipes of my favorite White Velvet cake.  I love this recipe because it is so easy to alter buy changing the flavor or color to my desire.Each layer of the cake is also red, white and blue.
In an 8-inch cake pan, I used 2 1/4 cups of colored cake batter and baked at 350.*****
I used a basic buttercream recipe for my icing.
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 stick Crisco
2 1/2 tablespoons clear vanilla extract
8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup water
Cream together the butter & Crisco.  Mix in the vanilla.  Gradually add in the sugar a cup at a time mixing on a medium speed.  If the mixture gets too thick, add a tablespoon or two of the water.  You should have a spreadable icing that can also stand when piped.
{I’m not the best in the world at explaining this, so checking out the video link above will definitely offer more help!}

When coloring the icing (and cake) I used Wilton Gel Christmas red and royal blue.  To color the white I used AmeriColor Bright white.  It’s important to color you icing white when it calls for it or you will discover what looked white in the bowl is actually cream colored.

I used a Kaiser 11mm tip (38-1) to make my rosettes.

I had to work fast while icing the cake as my kitchen was quite warm from the oven.  At one point the kids cleaned out a space in the freezer and I popped the half-iced cake right in to chill a few minutes.  While buttercream tastes delicious, it can be hard to get along with if conditions are less than favorable.

Despite the heat challenges, I was tickled with how cute the finished cake looked.  And based on how many ate cake at the cook-out (and carried seconds home), I must have tasted pretty good as well!

{I was very well behaved & didn’t eat any!}

I also managed to book a wedding cake while at the cook-out so it screams success for me!

I’m linking up with Foodie Friday this week.

Stop back by next week for more Independence Day inspiration and a little more on our mission trip to Jamaica!

{Another} Happy Birthday

My sweet, baby boy turned 12 over the weekend. 


I still see him as my baby, but in reality he is well on his way to becoming a man.  Such bittersweet moments for me.  Bradley is such a good kid and I’m not saying it because I’m his mom.  He has a thirst for knowledge that is never ending; a heart that is bigger than his ego, and a need to be himself, no matter what his peers want him to be.


He fights with his sisters, but would destroy anyone else who might mess with them, he tries to fill Audley’s shoes when he is out of town for work.  Bradley is not afraid to lead singing at church and would give the shirt off of his back to anyone he thought might need it.  He loves to laugh and make us laugh with his silly antics.
He loves to learn from the older boys, but tries to be the same kind of friend to boys younger than him.
He makes his parents very proud.  So, when Bradley asked me to make a special cake for his birthday, I was not going to tell him no.  I was expecting something crazy, maybe a character (which I’m not very good at making), but no.
Bradley asked for a double chocolate cake, with chocolate buttercream, topped with ganache, chocolate dipped strawberries and whipped cream.
{Can we say sugar coma?!}
So I fixed exactly what he wanted.
Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate with chocolate strawberries and whipped cream.


It made him extremely happy. 
 It’s Wednesday, and he is still extremely happy as he has carried a piece in his lunch every day this week.
His teachers ….. probably not so happy.