The Family That Eats Together Stays Together

 

Or Forcing Your Family to Mingle

One difficult part of a family reunion or party can be getting your family to mingle during meal time.  We usually have each family group sitting together- the Maddox family, the Wynnes and the Stewarts all sitting in their own little group.  It’s not that we don’t like each other or don’t get along-we just gravitate to our  own family group.

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Here’s a fun way to mix things up.  Put a pieces of colored tape or ribbon on each chair or seating space (if you’re dealing with picnic benches)  When everyone has begun eating announce that everyone sitting on a yellow space must switch places with another yellow.  A few minutes later have pinks switch and so on.

DO NOT make it too complicated!  If you have green switch with pink and yellow with red, nothing will happen- everyone will remain in their original seat.  If you’re family is compliant and seems to enjoy the mixing up you could try switching two colors at a time but for the most part it’s best  to focus on one color at a time.  You don’t have to mix people up all in one meal- keep the colors on during your entire reunion and only do a couple of swaps per meal.

Towards the end of the meal you can announce “Rainbow Mixup” and everyone has to switch places.

HINT:  Choose a meal that doesn’t have a lot of plates and silverware etc. to be moved.

Crescent Roll Pizzas for Family Game Night

 

At our house, Friday night, is pizza and game night.  On Friday night, all the kids and grandkids that are available come to our house for homemade pizza and fun.  The truth be known I get a little tired of pizza every Friday so I’m always on the look out for non-traditional ways to prepare pizza and was excited about this super simple but yummy pizza variation.

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You’ll only need four ingredients:

Pillsbury crescent rolls
Pizza sauce
Pepperoni or favorite pizza toppings
Cheese sticks

Preheat oven by the directions on the crescent’s

  • unroll the crescents
  • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of pizza sauce (more if you don’t mind the mess)
  • Place pepperoni or other topping on top of the sauce at the wide end of the crescent
  • Put your cheese on the wide end of the crescent
  • Roll beginning at the  wide end of the crescent
  • Bake for about 8-10 mins.
  • Let cool and enjoy!

Quick and Easy Dutch Oven Cookies

I usually mix up a batch of cookie dough to bake in our Dutch oven when we go camping, but on a whim I threw in a package of cookie mix for our last camping trip and it was a hit!

Case of Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (12 total)

Using the mix the cookies were quick and easy to stir together and I didn’t have to worry about keeping the dough cold.

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If using a 12″ Dutch oven, you can bake about 8 cookies at one time. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until light brown. Use 6 coals on bottom, 22 on top.

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The mixes don’t make a huge batch and as good as fresh baked cookies taste when you’re camping you might want to toss in an extra package of mix.

How Much Do I Need to Feed 100?

Feeding 100 or more family or friends?  Here’s what you’ll need.

Basic guidelines-adjust as needed

Feeding 100:

Applesauce
2 gallons

Baked beans
5 gallons

Bread
10 loaves

Butter
3 pounds

Cakes
8-10

Chicken
40 pounds

Cold Meats
25 lbs. 4 oz per serving

Cheese Slices
20 lbs. 3 oz per serving

Casseroles or equivalent
10-12 – 9×13

Coffee (for 100 cups)
1 to 1½ pounds

Ham
40 pounds

Hamburger
30 pounds

Hot Dogs
25 pounds

Ice Cream
4 gallons

Jello (3 1/2 oz packets)
17 packages

Milk
6 Gallons

Pancake mix
13 lbs. to serve 100

Pies
18

Potatoes
35 pounds

Salad dressing
3 quarts

Soup
5 gallons

Potato Salad
12 quarts

Potato chips
6 lb.

String beans
3 gallons

Turkey
70 pounds

Tortilla chips
8 lb..

Vegetable salad
20 qt.

A wonderful website that will help you convert your recipes is

http://www.fruitfromwashington.com/Recipes/scale/recipeconversions.php

Just enter your ingredients and the amount of people you want to serve. It makes adapting old family favorites much easier.

Meatball Hoagies

400 small, frozen meatballs
100 sub sandwich rolls
3 C. olive oil
9 large onions, peeled and sliced thin
3 green bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped, optional
3 lb. mushrooms, sliced, optional
7 jars (each about 32 oz.) chunky-style spaghetti sauce
3 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat the meatballs according to pack age directions. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven. Sauté green peppers, onions, mushrooms until just tender. In a separate pan, heat spaghetti sauce.

Put 4 meatballs in each roll, then drizzle with spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

Makes 100 sandwiches.

Ham Salad Sandwiches

4 lb. Fully cooked ham or ring bologna, coarsely ground
3 C. Chopped sweet pickles
2 C. Mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 jar (2 oz.) Diced pimentos, drained
100 slices Bread
Lettuce leaves, optional

Combine ham, pickles, mayonnaise and pimentos; mix well. Spoon 1/4 cup onto 50 slices of bread; top with lettuce if desired and remaining bread.

Yield: 50 servings. Double for 100.

Wagon Wheel Spaghetti

1 qt. onions, diced or 1/4 cup dried onions
9 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
1 gal plus 2 quarts canned diced tomatoes
2 tsp. dried oregano leaf
2 tsp. dried thyme leaf
2 tbsp. dried basil leaf
1 tbsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. granulated garlic
5 1/4 lbs. wagon wheel pasta
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Sauté onions and turkey until no signs of pink remain. Drain fat and return to heat.

Add diced tomatoes, oregano, thyme, basil, salt, pepper and garlic to turkey mixture and simmer, covered, for one hour over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Cook pasta in boiling water until tender-firm, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Add drained, cooked pasta and parmesan to turkey mixture and blend. Heat to 165°F. Portion using a No. 6 scoop, (2/3 cup).

Yield: 100 servings

Lemonade Salad or Dessert

20 pkg. (3 ounces each) lemon gelatin
24 c. boiling water
4 cans (12 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate
4 cartons (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed.

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water; stir in lemonade until dissolved. Chill until partially set. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into 4 13-in. x 9-in. pan (2) Chill until firm.

Serves 100

Macaroni Salad for 100

6 lb. fully cooked ham, cubed
6 lb. macaroni, cooked & drained and rinsed under cold water and drained
3 lb. shredded cheddar cheese
2 bags, frozen peas, thawed, 20 ounces each
2 bunches celery, chopped (12 cups)
2 lg. onions, chopped (2 1/2 cups)
2 cans pitted sliced ripe olives, drained

Dressing

2 qt. mayonnaise
1 bottle western or french salad dressing
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup light cream
1 1/2 tsp. onion salt
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Combine first 7 ingredients. Combine all dressing ingredients; pour over the ham mixture and toss well to coat. Refrigerate.

Potato Salad for 100

30 lbs. potatoes
4 c. chopped onions
7 1/2 c. chopped celery
30 hard boiled eggs

Dressing:

6 tbsp. salt or to taste
2 tbsp. pepper
2 qts. mayonnaise
2 qts. Miracle Whip

Cook potatoes until tender. Cool. Peel and cut up. Add onions, celery, and eggs. Mix dressing ingredients together and stir into potato mixture.

Refrigerate overnight to let flavors blend.

Coleslaw for 100

6 heads of cabbage
5 cups shredded carrots
1 head purple cabbage – chopped

Shred cabbage and carrots and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Add purple cabbage when you add the dressing.

Dressing:

1 gallon mayonnaise
2 packages ranch dressing mix
1/4 cup vinegar
Sugar and salt to taste

Mix together, put on cabbage just before serving.

If dressing is too thick add just a little milk.

You can also add green peppers finely chopped if you like.

Marshmallow Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

4-1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted, cooled to room temperature

9 packages devils food cake mix
6-3/4 cups creamy peanut butter, warm
2-1/4 lbs. large marshmallows, quartered

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine butter and dry cake mixes in a bowl until crumbly. Reserve 7 lbs. of mixture. Pat remaining crumb mixture into 9 ungreased 9×13 inch pans or equivalent. Combine peanut butter and marshmallows in a bowl. Spread evenly over crumb mixture in the pans.

(If space and bowls are a problem, you can mix each cake mix separately)

Crumble reserved cake mixture over top and bake 20 minutes.

Let cool before cutting into bars.

Glow in the Dark Party

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If it glows in the dark I’m probably going to love it!  In fact, this year at our family reunion we’re having a glow in the dark 5K race- it’ going to be so cool!

For my oldest son’s birthday this year we had a glow-in-the-dark party and we tried  a lot of fun, new ideas. 

Black Lights

Black lights will really help your party glow. You can rent black lights for about $10.00 a day but we found black light strips at Walmart for under $20.00 which included the light bulb and stand. We only needed two lights to light up our party.

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We put black lights everywhere for the ultimate glow!

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  • Glow In the Dark Jello

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  • I decided to try my hand at glow in the dark jello.  The secret ingredient is “Tonic Water”.  Tonic Water is found on the soda isle of your grocery store.  HINT:  Don’t use diet Tonic water.  HINT:  Tonic water taste nasty!  Use as little as possible.  The recipe below calls for 1 cup of Tonic water- I cut that in half and it worked great!
  • 2 8 serving boxes of Jell-O- I used blue.
  • 1 cup of Tonic Water- I used 1/2 cup
  • 1 1/2 cups of Water- if reducing Tonic water increase this to 2 cups
  • Bring the Tonic Water and the water to a boil
  • Stir in the Jell-O mix and allow it to completely dissolve
  • Pour into clear cups and refrigerate until set. 
  • To serve put on table with black lights and let the glow begin.

Glow in the Dark Kick Ball

The best part of our party was glow in the dark kick ball.  Glow in the dark anything is really hard to photograph but here’s a picture of a kick ball my daughter ordered online.  It is available from flybynightsports.com/ for less than $20.00.  You just add 4 glow sticks to the ball and it glows.  These glow balls are called “volleyballs” but we were afraid the glow sticks would make the ball uncontrollable so we choose to play kickball with them.  We’ve used the ball three times and kicked it to death but it seems unaffected by all the abuse.  You can find glow in the dark volleyball instructions at familyreunionhelper.com/.

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Mark bases with glow necklaces and sticks and make sure all the players are decked out in their glow finest.

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Glow in the Dark Whiffle Ball

Another glow in the dark favorite at our family gatherings is glow in the dark whiffle ball.  Wiffle Ball is a fun game that is played like baseball but the balls and bats are made out of plastic. We were always sad when the sun went down and we had to go inside but no more- now you can play Glow in the Dark Wiffle Ball and the darker the better.

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No matter what glow in the dark activity you choose you can find many great glow products in the family reunion helper store.

April Fools Pizza Cake

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Bake your cakes according to the package directions. Don’t fill your pan any fuller then 1/3 full. You don’t want the cake to go up over the edge of the pan. You’re looking for a large round flat cake.

Frost cake with red frosting.  If you are using canned frosting heat for a few seconds in the microwave to make it spread easier.

Grate white chocolate and sprinkle the shredded white chocolate on top of frosting.

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Cut circles out of red fruit roll ups for the pepperoni, use a small bottle cap to get the round shape. It’s easier if you cut the fruit roll ups before you remove them from their backing. After you cut your pepperoni, remove the backing and stick them on the pizza.

Make banana peppers by slicing a thin strip of a yellow fruit roll up. Stick the ends of the strip together to make a loop.

To make onions, pineapple and green peppers roll gum drops or gummy candy until flat and cut into small bits.

Make black olives with black gum drips and use a paper punch to make a hole in the middle.

Serve your “pizza” on a pizza pan or a pizza box.

Dutch Oven Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dutch oven chocolate chip cookies for your family reunion.

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If you want to be the post popular person at your family reunion, mix up a batch of these Dutch oven chocolate chip cookies.  You may even be able to pull S’more cookers away from the campfire to eat one of these delicious warm cookies.

Cookies baked in a Dutch oven seem to be moister than those cooked in a regular oven.  The less air space in a Dutch oven keeps them moist throughout the cooking process. The amount of heat used might need to be adjusted depending on your elevation. Be sure to rotate the oven clockwise and the lid counterclockwise a quarter turn every few minutes to avoid hot spots.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shortening or margarine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Preparation:

Cream together shortening, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beat well. Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Gently stir in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls into a Dutch oven.  If using a 12" Dutch oven, about 8 cookies will fit at one time. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until light brown. Use 6 coals on bottom, 22 on top. As the coals burn down just add more cooking time or light some more coals part way through. Servings: 3 dozen

Banana Boats

Is your family tired of S’mores and other traditional campfire treats?  Tired of S’mores- no never.  Well maybe you’re ready for a change?  Try some yummy “Banana Boats” cooked over the fire. 

Just like S’mores, everyone makes their own.  Just set out toppings such as chocolate chips, peanut or butterscotch chips,  coconut, chocolate sauce, peanut butter, mini marshmallows, honey, Nutella, and jam.  You will also need a banana for everyone and a piece of tin foil.  You eat this gooey treat with a spoon.  If you have a freezer available top off your banana with a scoop of ice cream for a real banana split.

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Instructions:

  1. Cut a lengthwise slit in a peeled banana and place it on a sheet of aluminum foil.

  2. Add toppings and stuff into the slit.image

  3. Wrap the sheet of foil around the banana and place it in the fire or on a grill for 5- 10 minutes.

Planning for Food Allergies at Your Family Reunion

Ten ideas for “accommodating” those with food allergies at your family reunion or party
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Allergies to gluten, eggs, milk, seeds, nuts, peanuts, and more make it impossible to eat "normal" family reunion food. In our family we deal with life threatening food allergies every time we get together for a family reunion or party.  Below is a list of things we have found make a difference when planning family reunion food around food allergies:

  1. As the family reunion chairman make sure you know about any food allergies or other food restrictions. 
  2. As a family member with allergies be specific when you let the reunion food committee know about your allergies.  Don’t just say “gluten-free crackers,” but suggest a brand and where to purchase it.  No one is going to be as concerned about food allergies as you are. They may not consider some things that you feel are obvious so speak up.
  3. If you are planning a potluck meal for your family reunion make a note of food allergies in your family.  For instance you could add,  “Please remember, no nuts” (Be specific) on your invitation.
  4. Some meal ideas that make dealing with food allergies at your family reunion a little easier is salad, taco or potato bars.  Family members with allergies can take only those foods that are safe for them.  See Aunt Mo’s blog on “Belly Up To The Bar” for more food bar ideas.  However if the food allergy is life threatening you must be aware of cross-contact when eating at buffets or food bars.
  5. If you have food allergies, it is often safest to bring your own food.  Instead of planning meals around the entire family consider doing some meals “on your own”. 
  6. Offer to bring safe food so that you know there will be something there that you can eat. 
  7. If you’re on the food committee consider keeping the original boxes and packages for food you’ve used so that parents can read the packages for themselves.  Even though you may think you’ve taken all the precautions only those with experience will know for sure.
  8. If  you are on the food committee for your family reunion don’t let those with allergies feel like a burden or annoyance. Let them know that you are want them to be safe and enjoy the reunion food just like everyone else.

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My sister-in-law, Lisa, has a couple of children with food allergies.  Over the years she has developed her own ways of coping with food allergies at family reunions and parties.  Lisa added her own suggestions to the list I made:

  1. Often food is given as prizes and treats at family reunions. Lisa suggests bringing your own bag of treats.  Make sure the treats for those with allergies are “cool” treats like Pop Rocks or fruit snacks.
  2. Lisa also carries fast to fix food for her children like cereal, instant oatmeal, Cup of Noodles and instant mashed potatoes for when surprise situations arise. 

Lisa says, “It’s nice when people make an acceptation for my kids but I don’t plan on it or expect it.”  When talking about her daughter’s sensitivity to dairy she says, “It’s my job to take care of it and I plan ahead for unforeseen situations.”

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One of my nieces, McKell,  is a vegetarian and we accommodate that at our family reunions by reserving a serving of Dutch oven potatoes before we add the bacon etc.  She loves vegies and we always make sure there are several choices for her.  McKell’s uncles like to tease her about her food choices but in the end they all respect her and work to make sure she can eat with the family.

When it come to food allergies any food allergy can be life-threatening. As the Aunt to several children with food allergies, I try to be a meticulous label- reader and remove all nut- containing foods when I’m in charge of the food at a family reunion or party but honestly, I’m never going to be as good at identifying problem foods as Lisa or her children. Lisa has taught her children to accept some responsibility for the food they eat.  They have learned to ask questions before they eat foods that may be  a problem for them.

Sometimes those with food allergies have apologized for being a problem and for the extra work it takes to accommodate them.  Honestly, ensuring safety for family members is not being "accommodating", it is being responsible and loving- and that’s what families do!

Potatoes-in-a-Bag

A Delicious Idea From My Nephew, Brayden, for Your Family Reunion

Sometimes I get in a rut- I forget that some people don’t pack up and head for the mountains when they plan a family reunion or family gathering- instead they head for the BEACH!  And it was to the beach we went for a fun family party with my brother and his family. 

We packed up the surf boards, sunscreen and mashed potatoes- yes, MASHED POTATOES!  “Potatoes in a bag” is a fun and easy tradition Uncle Brett and Aunt Lisa have implemented in their family and would be a yummy idea for your family reunion no matter what location  you choose.

Most of the prep for “Potatoes in a bag”  was done at home.  Everyone measured 1/2 cup potato flakes in a plastic baggie and added their favorite “mix-ins” to give their bag of potatoes their own special flavor.

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At the beach, Uncle Brett heated up the water in his portable heater.  When the water was hot we added 1 cup to our bag of potatoes and squished it up in the bag until it was well mixed and creamy.  The potatoes were delish!  The beach was chilly  and wet, and the hot potatoes were a welcome treat.

Directions: Mix 1/2 cup of potato flakes with 1 cup boiling water.  Stir until blended. Add your favorite mix-ins: salt, dry ranch Salad dressing, dry onion soup mix, Butter Buds, dried parsley flakes, beef jerky pieces, diced cheese stick and a beef stick. For thinner potatoes, add more water; for thicker, add more flakes.

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If you’ve done eggs in a bag at your family reunion I think you’ll have fun with this idea.  Set out all the ingredients and mix-ins and let your family create their own delicious mashed potatoes.  Your bigger eaters may want to use 1 cup of potato flakes with 2 cups of water.

Thanks, Brayden, for a delicious family reunion idea!

Aunt MO

NOTE: Whenever you add boiling water to your baggie, always use heavy-duty or freezer zip lock bags. Although there have been no claims of injury or illness, Ziploc® states their baggies are not intended to be used at high temperatures, so use at your own risk.