Eats Are On The Way

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If you’ve hosted a party, shower or other gathering you know how difficult it can be to pull yourself away from the festivities in order to prepare the refreshments.  This simple game is the perfect solution! 

Just give your guests a copy of the game below and a pencil.  Tell them to solve the puzzle by answering the questions correctly.  As they get to work on the puzzle you sneak into the kitchen to prepare the refreshments.

The simple solution to the puzzle is, “eats are on the way”.  It doesn’t take much time to solve but it does distract for a few minutes and when they read the answer to the puzzle they’ll be content to wait until you return with the  “eats”.

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Cookies to Feed a Crowd

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My husband has a favorite cookie recipe that he remembers from his youth.  These cookies are great for family reunions because they make about 120 large cookies and they keep really well- oh, and they have chocolate chips in them.

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It’s been awhile since we made them and my husband got the urge to mix up a batch last week.  Unfortunately we couldn’t find the recipe.  I searched online thinking- no big deal you can find any recipe on the web- wrong.  This recipe is not there!  (Well, now it is.)  Eventually we found the recipe and my husband made this huge batch of delicious cookies.

I’m including the recipe in this blog just in case you want to whip a batch of cookies for your family reunion or gathering.  I’m not sure how many generations of Stewarts have made this cookies but there are some oddities with  the recipe that I will  try and clarify.  Actually, there are no instructions for mixing these cookies- I just use the traditional- cream sugar and shortening and eggs etc. method.  Here’s how we do it:

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Sour Cream Cookies

Ingredients

1 pound brown sugar (1/2 of a 2 pound bag)
1 1/2 cups shortening
2 cups sour cream
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 heaping tsp. soda
1 heaping tsp. baking powder  
6 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts
1 large bag coconut
1 jumbo (2 regular bags) sized package chocolate chips

HEAT oven to 350°F.

BEAT shortening and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sour cream, eggs and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips, coconut and nuts.

DROP tablespoonfuls of dough into 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon and roll until lightly coated.  Put dough, 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheets.

BAKE 12 to 15 min.- do not over bake.

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Cooking With Pie Irons

 

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No, we’re not talking about the loved ones that will be attending your family reunion- we’re talking about Pie Irons! Pie Irons are known by many different names, Pudgie Pies, Pioneer Pies, Fire Pies, Toasties and Jaffles, but each name is referring to ingredient-filled "pockets" of bread toasted over a campfire. Cooking with pie irons is a long time tradition at our family reunions.

The Basics of  Cooking With Pie Irons

Camp cooking doesn’t have to be just hot dogs and roasted marshmallows. Our family reunions wouldn’t be complete without a delicious raspberry pie cooked over the campfire and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. With a pie iron, you can cook anything from a simple grilled-cheese and ham sandwich to a delicious berry pie for dessert.

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In its most basic function, a pie iron is a way to cook grilled cheese sandwiches and fruit pies over an open fire. This is done by placing the food inside the pie iron and then locking the two sides closed with a metal hook. Metal rods with wood handles extend from the castings so the user can easily maneuver the pie iron over a campfire. A few minute over the heat, usually 4 to 6 minutes, and you will have perfectly toasted sandwich or pie.

Pie Irons are available in both cast iron & aluminum. Our family prefers cast iron. They come in several different shapes; round, square, oblong and double. For our family reunions, we only use square irons. Aunt Lynn doesn’t think she’s had breakfast unless she has had a piece of toast so we’ve even used our pie irons for toast.

To make the most simple of pies, just take two slices of bread (buttered on the outsides), fill with jam, cheese, meat or pie filling- you don’t need much, then place inside the pie iron and lock it closed. Hold it over your campfire for a few minutes on each side and you’ll soon be eating a grilled cheese sandwich or a scrumptious apple pie.

At our family reunions, we like to make fruit pies in the evening while we are sitting around the campfire visiting, singing or playing games. About ten years ago, at a family reunion, cousin Mindy suggested that we sprinkle our freshly baked pies with sugar and cinnamon when we dump it out of the pie iron. Yummy! Some of our favorite flavors of fruit pies are lemon and raspberry.

Pie Iron Fruit Pies

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Instructions

 Step 1

Build a campfire. Pie Iron pies do best over a hot bed of coals. Try to start your campfire an hour early to let it burn down.

 Step 2

Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice, butter side down, in one half of the pie iron.

 Step 3

Put a spoonful of pie filling in the center of the bread slice. Keep the filling away from the edges, as it may leak while the pie is cooking.

 Step 4

Place the second slice of bread, buttered side up, on top of the pie filling.

 Step 5

Place the second half of the pie iron on the bottom half, squeezing the bread and filling together. Latch the two halves of the iron together, to keep it from opening up while the pie is cooking.

 Step 6

Place the pie iron over the campfire, and let it cook for several minutes (4-6 minutes). Turn the pie over, and check for doneness. The pie is done when both sides are golden brown and toasted.

 Step 7

Put the pie on a plate. If you have crispy edges you may want to carefully trim them. Be careful, as the filling is HOT! Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and enjoy!

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