Three Easy Recipes You Can Cook for a Crowd

Ahh, does the start of summer make anyone else want to invite all of your friends and family over and throw some burgers on the grill? Sitting on the deck, enjoying a glass of wine and fun conversation is one of my favorite ways to transition to the new season. While it sounds lovely, I’ve learned it’s not always realistic in this season of life. Usually mid-chew of my burger while trying to have a conversation, one of my kids starts crying or doesn’t quite make it to the bathroom in time!

I learned early on in my journey of motherhood that hosting dinner parties and backyard BBQs can be stressful with two toddlers under my feet. I found it difficult to enjoy the company I so wanted to see, while my husband stood guard at the grill and I prepped food while the kids ran wild.

That’s when I tried a new approach: make simple delicious food that’s ready to go when people arrive. Then my husband and I have way more of a chance to actually have conversations and enjoy ourselves, keeping an eye on the kids and not worrying about what’s burning on the grill. And don’t be shy about asking your friends and family to bring something to help round out your menu and make your life easier!

Here are three summer menus that are kid-friendly, easy, affordable and always a crowd-pleaser! Cheers to the season for outdoor entertaining.

Mock White Castle Hamburgers

Serve with canned baked beans, chips and salad

Makes 12-15 burgers (adults will eat 3-4 burgers)
1 lb ground beef (I used 80-85% lean)
1 egg
⅓ cup bread crumbs or crushed corn flakes
1 pkg onion soup mix
1 tsp pepper
Sara Lee dinner rolls or slider rolls
Dill pickle chips

Mix hamburger, egg, bread crumbs, soup mix and pepper together. Spread into 9×13 cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Use a utensil or your clean finger to make several holes in the meat. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. The meat will shrink up quite a bit. Once done, use a paper towel to soak up some of the grease. Cut into squares to match the size of your rolls, add a pickle chip and enjoy.

These can be served at room temperature. Since so many people are cutting back on bread, I’d recommend doubling up the meat, or leave some without meat. I always end up with leftover bread. Ketchup and mustard on the side are good too. {These are also a great option for when you sign up for your next meal train.}

Grilled Sausage Sandwiches with Grilled Peppers and Onions

Serve with baked Ziti, garlic bread and salad

Italian sausage or chicken sausage – 1-2 per adult
Bell peppers – 1 for every 2 people
Hoagie rolls
Jar of marinara sauce

This is a way to have the taste of the grill, but knock it out before people arrive. Throw your favorite Italian sausage or chicken sausage on the grill. Slice bell peppers and onions, toss with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and also grill. Once done, keep warm in a crock pot. Heat up a side of marinara for people to pour over the sandwiches.

For the baked ziti, use whatever pasta your kids are willing to eat! I follow this recipe.

Crock Pot Carnita Nacho or Taco Bar

Idea for sides: tortillas, chips, salsa, shredded cheese, cheese sauce, guacamole, sour cream, rice, beans, lime, cilantro, chopped tomato and onion

Pork roast- cook with fat side up
Jar of your favorite salsa
1 diced onion
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garlic
2 tsp salt and pepper

Put all of the ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove meat, let rest and shred. Mix with some of the liquid from the crock pot to keep moist. Remove the rest of the liquid and put the pork back inside the crock pot to stay warm.

Line up the rest of your nacho/taco bar fixings and dig in!

Do you have a favorite recipe to entertain a crowd?

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