A baked potato bar is a simple way to feed a large crowd at your family reunion or party. It is also makes for a delicious meal where individual tastes and special diets can be accommodated. Everyone puts on their potato or tortilla their favorite toppings while leaving the things they don’t like for someone else. “Bars” or “Buffets” are an economical way to feed your family reunion crowd. And don’t soup, salad and pasta bars. Plan on providing the basics from you family reunion budget and assign out the toppings.
For a potato bar, baking potatoes are pre-cooked and kept warm until serving time. When it is time to eat, guests line up to split open their own potato and top as desired. For a taco bar try using a variety of tortillas and shells- corn, flour, crispy or home-style.
You can keep baked potatoes warm by placing them in coolers. While your potatoes are baking, fill the coolers with hot (not boiling) water and replace the covers. When you are about to take your potatoes out of the oven, empty the hot water and quickly dry out the coolers. Immediately load the potatoes into the preheated coolers. Place the lid on and LEAVE COVERED TIGHTLY. Potatoes will remain hot for several hours and may even continue to cook.
Popular potato bar toppings are:
Salsa, hot or mild
Salt and pepper
When planning a taco bar or buffet provide at least two types of meat such as ground or shredded beef, pork or turkey along with vegetables, salsa, guacamole and cheese so guests can build their ultimate taco. They sell tortillas warmers in kitchen supply stores that are great for keeping tortillas warm. Another way to keep tortillas warm is to place them onto a plate and cover them with a warm, damp towel. You can also wrap the tortillas in foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. The tortillas come out hot and soft.
Popular taco bar toppings are:
Peppers, green or red
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Soft and hard taco shells (enough for 3-4 per person)
A dessert “bar” or “buffet” can be a chocolate bar, cake bar, cookie bar, ice cream or just an assortment of favorite desserts. A fruit bar is a fun and delicious way to serve dessert. Provide chocolate and caramel sauces, fountains or fondues and assign out seasonal fruit trays.
A dessert bar is really just a more interesting title for “potluck”. Potlucks are great because you’re guaranteed to have a wonderful variety of foods and it ends up being a community effort. A potluck can save you a lot of money when feeding a crowd.
I once attended a function that had a “Cake Bar”. The hostess made a few specialty cakes that were displayed beautifully on raised cake plates and other cakes were displayed between them. It was a delicious looking display.
You can also have “Chocolate Bar” or “Anything but Chocolate Bar”. Try a “Sundae Bar” or “Banana Split Bar”. Provide ice cream, chocolate, caramel and strawberry toppings and ask family members to bring their favorite ice cream toppings- sprinkles, chopped nuts, maraschino cherries, chopped fruit etc.
Master List of “Bar” and “Buffet” Toppings
avocado slices or chunks
fresh or frozen peas
sweet bell pepper
jalapenos Sauces and Dressings
flavored sour creams,
such as chipotle, truffle, Ranch dressing
sour cream dips
nacho cheese or chili con queso Meats
grilled or creamed chicken
shredded or crumbled ground beef
stroganoff or beef tips
shredded Parmesan cheese
chopped fresh herbs
stir fried baby vegetables
roasted red peppers
mixed grilled vegetables
sliced toasted almonds
chopped water chestnut
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” —-Virginia Woolf