Food timing

elba1April 9, 2012

HI folks, the next event I need to plan for is my daughter's confirmation towards the end of next month. I'm guessing we will have around 30 people - hoping for good weather! She has requested spiral ham, mac & cheese, and caesar salad. I will have rolls, and I'm thinking green beans as well. Typically when I am having guests over, I am home preparing all morning. However, they have a special breakfast for the confirmands & immediate family members before church, then the service, then we will be basically walking in the door with our hungry guests. I can have a couple appetizers that don't need to be heated that I can put out right away, but I would like to serve the main course within an hour. Was wondering how to do that - should I make the mac & cheese on the stove top early that morning and let it sit out with the spiral ham from the fridge so they would be room temp when we get home and put them in the oven then? We will be gone about 21/2 -3 hours, which is breaking the "don't let food sit out for more than 2 hours" rule, but if I made the mac & cheese the day before & left that & the ham in the fridg, I think it would take too long to heat them when we get home? Does the menu sound sufficient (none of our relatives are vegetarians)? Would you figure 5 pounds of pasta? Thanks!

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That ham would spend the whole church time in the oven at just under 200 degrees if I were doing it...In a covered roaster.
I would make the mac and cheese ahead and put into a casserole that will work in the microwave.
Then when I got in from church I would put the mac and cheese in the micro and cook at half power for about 5 minutes to take the chill off...during that time remove the ham and cover the pan with towels to keep warm, crank the oven to 400 and put the casserole in....even before the oven is warm enough.

I think 3 pounds of paste will be lots. If you have questions, cook up a pound of the pasta you will use, measure the total amount of the cooked pasta, then put what you feel will be a serving on a plate, then measure that.

Different shapes of pasta will take more per serving....bow ties sort of stick together, spirals and radiatore stay separate and elbows are somewhere in between.
10 servings to a pound of pasta is a pretty good estimate.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 10:47AM
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Thinking 5 lb of pasta... will make A LOT of mac & cheese!?! One lb of say spaghetti will probably do for 4-5 people... but then it's the MAIN dish. I agree with Lindac... do a test run with ONE lb... kinda eye-ball how many servings you'd get. I'd guess that one lb (once you get everything else mixed in) will make a pretty good size casserole... 10-12 servings as a side??

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 11:19AM
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Thanks a lot for the feedback. I've never left the oven on when I'm not home, but this might be the time to do it. I looked at a spiral ham today & the serving size said 3 oz. That doesn't seem like much; maybe I'll just get the biggest one I see when the time comes. If there are leftovers I can always send the extras home with folks and/or freeze it. When you say "just under 200 degrees" - what temp exactly? I can set my oven to the degree. So I'll do that, thanks.
Regarding the pasta, I just bought 6 boxes lol. We eat pasta about once a week, so it won't go bad. Thought I'd do the pipette - the fat ridged elbow looking one. For a main dish, 1 pound feeds 4 of us, as I have a teenage son :). I'll go with 3 boxes if you all think that will be enough. What would you do with the green beans - just steam them while the mac & cheese is heating up?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 1:55PM
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Could you just plan your meal and party for a little bit later of a time? Walking in the door with my hungry guests after spending hours away and in church would not work for me unless I had friends or family at my home helping me prepare. Sounds like a delicious menu though, I also agree that amount of pasta will make a huge portion of mac and cheese. I would make a little less and add something else like a pineapple stuffing or crudite or some fruit!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Playing off Linda's idea, I'm wondering about leaving the mac and cheese in too, covered with foil, and having the oven on the absolute lowest setting. You would have to have a very loose sauce, because when you make the sauce to a nice consistency on the stovetop and then bake it, it ends up horribly dry and tasteless, and it will be even more prone with the extra time. I would probably do a dry run first- no pun intended. Or maybe have cooked, drained pasta in one covered ovensafe saucepan and the cheese sauce in another, and mix them when ready to eat. That would probably only work if your oven goes really low. The menu sounds good, and you can never have too much mac and cheese.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 2:46PM
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I would put the ham in at 180 degrees,,,,,and get the ham out of the refrig as soon as you pop your head off the pillow in the morning!

As for the greenbeans...unless they are very young, they sometimes get hard steaming. I would boil them for about 4 to 5 minutes.....then drain. I would use my pasta pot because you are going to need about 3 pounds of green beans. Then while they are cooking, and the ham is resting and you are dressing the salad and making coffee and pouring drinks and....and...melt some butter in a big fry pan....about 1/4 pound with about 3 or 4 oz slivered almonds, and after draining the greenbeans toss them in the frypan over low heat with the butter and almonds....You can keep them hot that way.

I wouldn't attempt to keep the mac and cheese will absorb a LOT of the will absorb a lot even in the refrig over night so make it extra saucy.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 3:08PM
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I agree that overnight + sitting in the oven wouldn't be good. But if you can make it in the morning (or at least mix the noodles and sauce in the morning) I think it'll be fine.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 6:32PM
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Thanks everyone. Joann - practially all the guests are out of town relatives who will be meeting us at the church for the confirmation, so they would have no where else to go after the service. My mom will be bringing raw veggies & dip, and I'll be sure to include some fruit as well, thanks. Sounds good about the ham Linda, I'll do that. Thanks also for recommending the amount of green beans and the cooking style; I agree they are hard sometimes with steaming. Almondine would be delicious, but my son is allergic to all nuts, and he'll probably eat more veggies than anyone. Jessicavanderhoff, I hear what you & Linda are saying about the mac & the cheese sauce. If I can get absolutely everything possible done the day before, I probably should try to make that dish the morning of. I don't want it to be too mushy or dry.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 8:19PM
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lindac your son allergic to sesame seeds? That works almost as well as almonds

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 6:46PM
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No he's not - good idea, thanks!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 7:41AM
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Do you have a trusted friend or a neighbor who could be there while you're gone to help with some things?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 8:52AM
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I think cynic has the best idea, it would be great if you had someone who could do final last minute prep for you and you could enjoy your guests.

That aside, I made macaroni and cheese in the crockpot for Easter, as I was all out of oven room. Scalloped potatoes were in the 6 quart Nesco Roaster.

The macaroni and cheese was fine, creamy and good and not dry. I made it very "sloppy" that morning and put it in a crockpot on low for 3 hours so it didn't cook, it just heated but you have to have a lot of moisture to do that.

Green beans are easily warmed in the microwave, so I think they're the easiest component of this meal.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:18AM
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On my way to work I remembered I think my aunt who hasn't been here in 14 yrs might have diverticulitis; I'll have to ask my mom, since that would make the sesame seeds a no.
Cynic, that did cross my mind, but I don't think I'd ask anyone to do that; I'm thinking I should be able to make this work. Thanks Annie for that idea - I might try making mac & cheese once a week until May 20th to play around with some of these ideas!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 4:02PM
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Remember, all these folks are coming to celebrate your daughter...not be served some formal dinner. will all work out, especially with all the great advice you've gotten.

We did a similar thing for my oldest son's afternoon graduation. I had the BBQ heating slowing in the oven, cold stuff in the fridge, a couple of fancy platters of mexican dip and chips to put out immediately, and pitchers of tea ready to go. We all arrived at the house at the same time. There were lots of ready hands to help get everything out and set up. It was great!

Keep breathing, keep planning!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 7:12PM
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Thank you happyintexas. My husband is always in charge of getting the drinks going, and I'm sure I will have some extra help from the womenfolk!
I just received a complimentary copy of May's issue of Food & Wine. There is a recipe to saute green beans in butter & garlic, then simmer in chicken broth for a few minutes; might try that this week to see what I think of it.
Also crossed my mind that if my mom's side of the family was hosting this there would be a jello salad; there is always a jello salad :). I don't dislike them, but I never make them myself. I think there will be enough already on folks' plates, but if I feel like I have everything well set, maybe I could think about putting one out with dessert. Younger people don't really seem to make them (I'm in my 40's); they remind me of the old church pot luck suppers when everyone brought something made from scratch.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 8:53AM
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