Friday, October 19, 2012

Feeding An Army & Crock Pot Chicken Chalupas

I mentioned yesterday how much I loved my trip to Lake Powell. I also mentioned that we had 40 people that I planned food for. Many people think that feeding a large group means immediately resulting to frozen pasta dishes and pizza, with lots of potato chips and packaged cookies. I get that those are easy options, and sometimes in big groups the easy option wins out. However, maybe the following tips can help you think in quantity AND quality.

1. Include a fruit tray or a veggie platter at EVERY meal. Even if your "veggie platter" is nothing more than a big bag of baby carrots and some hummus. If you don't want to cut up your veggies yourself, purchasing a tray at Costco or your local grocery store is really easy to do. We had a fruit tray or a veggies out for every single meal in Powell and they ALWAYS were scarfed up!

2. Use a crock pot. It is easier to cook for a crowd when you don't have to be a slave to the kitchen all day. One of the recipes that I make every year in the crock pot are chicken chalupas. This recipe makes a lot, but I doubled it. People then have the option to put this chicken over chips, in a tortilla, over salad, or on its own. It is SO tasty!

Crock Pot Chicken Chalupas

4 lbs. cooked cut up chicken
2 large onions diced
3-4 cloves of garlic
3 - 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2 – 7 ounce cans diced green chilies
3 - 151/2 ounce cans pinto beans
2 cans black beans
1 1/2 Tablespoons oregano flakes
1 tablespoon cumin
Cook chicken in crock pot, add remaining ingredients (mix tomatoes, garlic and onions in food processer )
Mix together and cook in oven at 325 degrees in a large roster for 2-3 hours, or crock pot for 3-4 hours. Squeeze lime juice in before serving

I also served this with diced tomatoes, avocado, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, black bean salsa, and any other toppings you may want.  This stuff is SO GOOD, and it keeps really well too. 

3. Give "create your own" options. One of the hardest parts of feeding a large group is attempting to please everyone's tastes. For lunches I always have several different kinds of lunch meats, cheeses, wraps, bread, toppings, and even lettuce for lettuce wraps. It is amazing to me that people really do usually go for the healthier options. Even with the chalupas, people have the option to make salads if they wish to avoid all of the extra chips and tortillas. 

For one of the dinners I had everyone assemble their own pita pizzas. These are so easy, healthy, and portioned perfectly. These are great for kids as well because they love to get involved on making them! When kids are involved in the cooking and creating process they are far more likely to eat their food! 

4. Have a good mix of healthy and not so healthy snacks and treats. You may want to eat perfectly healthy, but that doesn't always mean everyone else does as well. Moderation is a good thing, and having a good mix of healthy treats with some others sweets is OK. Once again, if you provide the healthy options, you may be surprised at how people devour them. Along with whatever treats you may have, include nuts, pieces of fruit, fruit leathers, jerky, etc. Not all snacks on vacation need to be covered in sugar and processed to the nines.

Feeding a group can be healthy, and may just require a little creativity. Include as many fruits and vegetables as you can! Keep it simple, keep it healthy, and you will have a happy crowd!

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