Side dishes big group- room temp or cold

blueiris24October 7, 2012

Im looking for ideas for sides to serve with grilled hot dogs to large group,of teenagers. The meal will be served outdoors in unpredictable fall weather. It needs to be ok kept at room temperature or can be kept cold in cooler prior to meal.

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Electricity for crock pots?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 10:58PM
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No electricity ;(

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 11:20PM
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Well there's always those good old standbys, coleslaw and potato salad.
If you thought they'd eat kraut could you heat some (maybe in a pan) on the grill?
Par-cook potatoes, split and finish cooking on the grill, corn on the grill etc?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 11:30PM
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A cooler is also a "hotter".....and you can keep things hot for several hours in one with the addition of newspaper wrapped hot bricks.
I am thinking baked beans in a cast iron Dutch oven placed into a cooler heavily lined with newspaper and a towel would taste would a pasta a baked ziti.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 12:03AM
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Linda, that's interesting. I did it with dollar store metal water bottles filled with boiling water once, and it worked well, but the bottoms of the bottles warped, so they wouldn't sit flat after that. How do you heat up the bricks?

Something healthy-ish might be good with hot dogs. If the kids are adventurous eaters, pumpkin/squash roasted with garlic and herbs should be good at room temperature. I also like crunchy green beans with sesame oil and sesame seeds at room temp. But pasta salad and potatoes are always good too. I like the vinaigrette or Italian dressing type of pasta salad, and I like roasted potatoes with rosemary better than the mayonnaise type. You could also just go simple with cut up fruit. Rainbow fruit skewers are pretty, but they might be kind of labor intensive for the big group.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 1:16AM
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My guess is that they will grab a drink in one hand,
and a dog in the other, and wander around amongst
themselves. Sides will be ignored.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:41AM
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Dessert will never be ignored. ;-)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 10:15AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Baked potatoes wrapped in foil will keep for several hours in a towel wrapped cooler.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 12:26PM
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Be careful that those baked potatoes wrapped in foil at kept hot enough, a couple of cases of botulism have been reported from people eating foil wrapped potatoes in restaurants which were left sitting. The foil creates that perfect anerobic environment for botulism spores to grow.

I also think something hot would be good, though, given the weather. Baked beans came immediately to mind, I agree with LindaC.

Jessica, I simply put foil wrapped clean bricks into the oven (to make sure no "dust" or residue is on them), then put down a heavy layer of newspaper, the layer of bricks, then more newspaper. I know you can also buy "hot packs" for coolers, but the bricks give a nice level surface to set things on.

You could also use cast iron dutch ovens just set on a bed of coals or a charcoal grill until shortly before serving time, then removed to cool just a bit, the cast iron retains heat very well.

I just made this salad using brown rice and peanuts in place of the very expensive pine nuts, and it was very good at room temperature if you don't want to go to the trouble of keeping something hot. My mother asked me to make it, she got it from a Taste of Home magazine she picked up in the pharmacy while waiting in line. She bought the magazine, just for this recipe, LOL, so how could I say no?

I'm assuming teenagers will like it since Bud and Makayla ate it and Ashley and Amanda both really liked it, and Ashley and Makayla are picky!

Roasted Butternut and Rice Salad

3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 medium butternut squash (2-1/2 to 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
2 large sweet red peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup pine nuts, toasted
6 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, oil and salt. Add squash; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased, foil-lined 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 425� for 25-30 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, cook rice according to package directions. Remove from the heat; cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the red peppers, pine nuts, green onions, dill, parsley, squash and rice. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Serve at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12 servings

(3/4 cup each).


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 1:33PM
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Pasta Salad is always a hit with my teens.
Basic Recipe
1 pound Tri-Color Tortellini
1 cup cubed Salami
1 cup cubed Provolone
1/2 cup chopped Roasted Red Peppers
1/2 cup chopped Black Olives
1/2 cup Shredded Carrots
1/2 cup Italian Salad Dressing

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 3:35PM
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We won't have a grill, it will just be this warmer thing for hot dogs, very primitive....

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:27PM
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The tortellini salad might work, thank you. Thanks for the info on heating up the bricks, Annie - we usually just put towels over but that would definitely keep it hot longer - know Lindac has mentioned this before but never asked how she did it. This group are big eaters so they will definitely want their sides, but I would say are more of the white bread-type of palates with a few exceptions. We are doing baked potatoes next week - thanks for the heads up Annie, hadn't heard that and will pass it along. Other ideas to fill up teenagers?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:31PM
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A hot pot or dish of something will keep for an amazingly long time in a good cooler....even without a hot brick or 2
You really want to please the kids....make a pot of extra thick chili to put on top of the hot dogs...
or make a casserole of that awful cheesy potatoes that kids seem to love.
Actually that recipe isn't too's the one with the cheese whiz that I really object to!

Here is a link that might be useful: cheesy potatoes

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:45PM
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blueiris, that's why I mentioned dutch ovens and charcoal. I camp in some very "primitive" places, no facilities at all.

I sometimes dig a small space, fill the bottom of that with charcoal and then set a dutch oven on top. That can be used for cooking or for heating, depending on the number of coals and no grill needed. The coals get buried when we're done.

LindaC is right, though, the cheesy potatoes are something that nearly every teenager I know loves and a big pan of those could stay warm in a cooler for quite a long time.

Make sure the bricks aren't so hot they melt your cooler, though!


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 5:07PM
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I did a big hotdog/hamburger picnic for college kids for several years. Too bad no electricity because chili is always popular. Also baked beans and pasta salad. And for something room temp, that seven layer dip with tortillas--always a hit. Something else that is surprisingly popular is fruit salads or just fruit slices of various kinds in season. Hot mulled cider I make and take in those insulated thingies they sell for coffee, or just a thermos jug I guess. (I broke down and bought one of those coffee server things at a restaurant supply store, I use it all the time, for parties too!) And the kids won't mind some cut up veggies with dip in a relish tray either. They can pick and choose what they like. KISS!
I never did cheesy potatoes or any type of au gratin kind of thing for a cookout, but it's always popular when I make it for a dinner party. I have an insulated carrier for my crockpot which I use to carry it with all kinds of things in it. The crock heats up like a brick would. But a cast iron pot would do the same thing. Just keep away from directly putting a hot pan on plastic.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:21PM
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Caesar salad appeals to a lot of people and is simple to assemble.

Potatoes Fontecchio (Silver Palate) is simple to make, surprisingly good and keeps and serves at room temp.

5 1/2 pounds red new potatoes

8 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 1/2 cups best quality olive oil

1 large or 2 small bunches fresh mint, stems removed, leaves finely chopped

2 tablespoons coarse (kosher) salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Scrub the potatoes and prick each one about 6 times with a fork (this may take longer than you think!). Place in a shallow roasting pan and roast for 2 hours. Cut each potato in half.

Toss the potatoes with the garlic, oil, mint, salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 (at least!)


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:21PM
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For teenagers? I'd keep it uber-simple and do chips, cut up veggies, and a few dips. Then cookies, brownies, bars or that sort of thing for dessert. You can keep the dips cold by floating the bowls in a larger container of ice.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:47AM
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Nothing will keep food cold or hot in a plastic beer cooler for too long. Not boiling water or hot bricks. If you check the "specify heat" of how much BTUs general materials have. A foam cooler can maintain temperature longer. A beer cooler may be double walled but not insulated.

You may want to give this a try:

Find out when is trash collecting day in your town or a near by city. Drive around and you may find foam coolers with gel packs in them that people discard. Those are containers for shipping lobsters, or medicines. The gel packs can be heated or frozen. Because of "Phase Change" latent heat, they can hold lots more BTUs. That why they are used to keep things cool for days in hot weather.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 3:16PM
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I don't know exactly what is meant by "beer cooler" but I've got a story about a cooler that I use for beer i.e., a regular, large, Coleman cooler. Something like this:

Several years ago my generation started the slow process or taking over Thanksgiving from the older generation. I offered to bring sides of maple-glazed carrots and some green bean recipe. It was for a sizable group and I knew my cousin's kitchen was limited, so I thought about ways to keep food warm and came up with the idea of foil-covered bricks. I heated a few (I think three) in a 400 deg oven, then put them on top of a plank of wood (so the bottom of the cooler wouldn't melt), wrapped it all in a towel, then placed it in the cooler.

About six hours later, after an extended drive and an extended cocktail hour, dinner was ready to be served. I went to my truck, opened up the cooler and was hit in the face with a blast of steam. The veggies were completely overcooked and I guess my reputation as a bad cook was sealed because since then I've never been asked to contribute anything other than beer.

Moral of the story - don't underestimate how hot a cooler can be kept with hot bricks, and for how long.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 4:06PM
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And some coolers stay cold for a long time. We have a cooler on the boat dedicated for fishing that is guaranteed to hold a bag of ice for five days. I've never tried using it for anything hot but I'm sure it would work well using the bricks.

FOAS, that's funny about your veggies. I'm sure I wouldn't have given that possibility a thought either! I will now though if the need ever arises.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 4:54PM
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FOAS, That cooler happens to be an insulated cooler. I am not surprised that it can be effective.

Keeping in mind that the OP is serving a large group of non-family members of unknown health conditions. One should at least be sure that the food served will meet minimum temperature safe zone requirements, hot enough for hot food, and cold enough for cold food for the entire period.

BTW, a common brick heated to 400F can hold only about 340 BTUs.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 5:17PM
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I am not suggesting that a hot brick be used to cook any foods, but a large mass of hot stuff ( bricks and food) will remain hot for a very long time in a cooler. The cooler I usually use to keep stuff hot is a stryofoam cooler. I line it with lots of newspaper to keep the hot pots and dishes from melting the plastic, place a towel on top, put the pot inside, and cover with more paper and the lid. I have kept a pot of soup hot for easily 6 hours by that method.
And...please tell me what kind of cooler is not insulated???

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 6:18PM
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A Styro Foam cooler is very good for keeping hot or cold food.

Many beer coolers have no insulation, just double wall construction with an air space. That will not maintain temperature very well.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 6:27PM
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Uninsulated cooler? Sounds like a glorified storage bin to me!

340 BTU in three bricks equals 1020 BTU. It takes what, roughly .2 BTU to heat a cubic foot of air 1 deg F IIRC. (I know, myriad factors involved.) My veggies went in the cooler hot - no wonder they were cooked to death six hours later!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 6:35PM
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Where's grainlady? She cooks in all sorts of unusual containers. I think she cooks dry beans in a Thermos?


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 6:52PM
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Grainlady cooks things like beans and pasta and grains in a thermos bottle...yes a thermos bottle, which is a glass or steel liner with dead airspace between the liner and the plastic or steel exterior.
I have what was known as an airpot, keeps a pot of coffee hot all insulation but a vacuum.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 10:45AM
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A thermos bottle is extremely good for keeping cold or hot.

1. Glass is a good insulator, Thermos bottle uses double wall glass construction, not glass and steel.

2. It is not air space between the walls, it is vacuum. 100 % Vacuum is an 100% insulator.

3. Heat can escape thru vacuum by IR radiation (Black Body Theory). A thermos bottle has reflective mirrored surfaces to minimize IR radiation loss.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 11:14AM
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I also have one of those coolers guaranteed to keep ice for 5 days. It works well when it's 80F or lower, but I can only get 2 or 3 days out of it when it's over 80F. Still, that's a pretty long time.

I also use a styrofoam cooler that some of that online Omaha Steaks beef was sent to me in. The cooler is great, the beef was very underwhelming.

So, I think either would work. My suggestion was baked beans, not something that could be easily overcooked, IMO.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 12:13PM
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Most teens seem to like what DD used to call Loaded Potato Salad - served cold; not hot. Boiled and cooled redskin potatoes cut into chunks and tossed with a dressing of 1/2 sour cream, 1/4 mayo and 1/4 buttermilk, s & p, chopped chives or green onions, crumbled bacon and grated sharp cheddar cheese.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Thanks for the responses re: brick warming. Annie, that seems like a strange gift for someone to send you.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 3:44PM
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yeah....those coolers are great! Steaks long gone and forgotten but I have 3 coolers!! One wearing out....might have to order more steaks to get another cooler!!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 5:00PM
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That's why I have Pyrex Totes. I never have a problem taking something hot or cold to a brunch/lunch/dinner.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 8:31PM
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