Cooking for a birthday party

by Shakira
(British Columbia, Canada)

Hi Mama,

I am originally from Kentucky and now live in Canada. My husband's 40th birthday is coming up next week and I want to cook our family and friends a true southern meal. The trouble is, it's for 22 people.

Do you have recipes (and a meal plan idea) that could accommodate this many people? I was already thinking of making fried chicken, mashed potatoes, greens, biscuits and gravy (I have some apple butter my sister made for the biscuits), some other vegetable, and a chocolate cake for the birthday cake as that is his favorite. I could do a cobbler if the cake won't feed enough people.

I thought maybe somehow making all of these things into appetizers somehow. Your thoughts?

I appreciate your help!



Hey there Shakira!

What a wonderful Birthday gift and the menu sounds delicious!!

Now, I’m assuming that when you say “appetizers”, that you are wanting finger foods. You could turn the fried chicken into appetizers easily by using either chicken tenders or boneless, skinless chicken breasts that you can cut into strips, bread them and then fry them. Fried okra (Southern popcorn) could also be served as a finger food. Mashed potatoes could be done using small all purpose potatoes. You could “bake” them in the microwave, hollow them out, use that to make your mashed potatoes and then refill the hollowed out potato skins. Greens would be pretty much impossible to make into a finger food unless you made it into a dip

Another option would be to serve your meal buffet style where everyone can help themselves. If you decide to do that, here is a wonderful recipe for Freezable mashed potatoes that you could make ahead of time, serves 25 people

Freezable mashed potatoes

12 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

1 tablespoon oil added to cooking water to reduce foaming

24 ounces cream cheese

4 cups buttermilk

salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until fork tender. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Mash the potatoes until the desired consistency. Cut the blocks of cream cheese into 8 pieces each. Add to the hot potatoes. Stir until melted. Stir in the buttermilk, salt and pepper.

Cool the potatoes to room temperature. Divide the potatoes into 2 (9x13") oven safe casserole dishes that hav been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cover with foil and freeze.

These can be heated frozen or you can thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. To heat them in the oven, reheat them covered at 375 degrees, 40 minutes for thawed potatoes, 90 minutes if they are straight out of the freezer.

As for the amounts of food:

1 pound of raw bone-in chicken will serve approx. 2 people
1 pound of raw boneless, skinless chicken will serve approx. 3 people.

1 pound of fresh greens makes only about 1 cup of cooked, so you’ll need about 8 pounds of fresh greens.

You will need 1 pound of okra for 4 people.

Chicken Gravy:
You’ll need about 1/3 cup per person so for 22 you’ll need about 2 quarts of gravy. To make this you will need to make a roux using ½ cup of fat that you cooked the chicken in or you can use butter and ¾ cup of flour. Cook for a few minutes to cook out the flour taste and add 2 quarts of chicken broth. For a stronger chicken flavor, add a couple of teaspoons of chicken base.

If you are looking for a wonderful chocolate cake recipe that is easy and pretty much foolproof, I would recommend the chocolate mayonnaise cake. I have received lots of emails from readers who have told me that it is the best chocolate cake they have ever had and it is now the only recipe for chocolate cake that they use. You will probably need more than 1 cake for 22 people so I would recommend the southern peach cobbler…another great recipe that is very easy.

I hope this helps. If there is anything else I can help you with, don't hesitate to ask!

I'd love to hear how everything turns out!

Warm Dishes,

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