November 22, 2017

Cooking for Large Groups: Recipes for Large Groups

I love an impromptu troop full of “terrible teens” filling our home.
(Terrible teens? I beg to differ…”)
And with that troop came so much beauty and bedlam….
We love to open our home, but it doesn’t happen nearly enough during our busy sports season.
Not a good excuse, but just a reality that needs to change.
For some, the aspect of hospitality is overwhelming. I think one major deterrent from opening one’s home is the whole food dilemma.
“What should we make? How much will I have to spend; this will be expensive.
I just don’t have the time” etc. etc.
We want to create a welcoming home, but in the process, we talk ourselves out of the concept due to an unrealistic pressure to “perform” to some magazine standard.

Since we have now entered the teen years, and will be in the throws of this age group for the next 15 years, we desire our home to be the place they want to gather.
A Welcoming Home/ a Haven of Hospitality is one of those things I passionately pursue, even if it’s not alway a reality.

With this desire comes the realization that teens want food….good food….and LOTS of it.
Since this gathering was thrown together at the last minute, I didn’t have time to go to the store and stock up on special goodies just for this.
Quite frankly, buying on impulse is something I want to avoid since it eats up the $500/month budget quite quickly.
There are a few main staples that I keep on hand for occasions such as this, and it gives me the freedom to know that I always have something to throw together.
I always have bulk amounts of sour cream in stock to make delicious dips on demand.
This was a great dill dip for the veggies.

Along side the soda I placed this bowl of yummy nutrients, and the first thing that came out of one of the girl’s mouth was, “ohh…hmm…healthy snacks?”
I knew I better get it into gear, so I quickly threw together this taco dip.
Yes, I forgot to take a picture until it was almost gone, so just for you I spread the dip around and threw a little bit of cheese back on….hee hee.
Seriously, every single one of my kids (including my five year old) can whip together a mean taco dip and they do it on a regular basis.
This is always a crowd pleaser and served with white corn tortilla chips, it’s the best.

And of course, chocolate soothes even the most picky of souls.
These, along with peanut butter cup brownies topped off the evening.

Deciding on the main meal is always the challenge.
Grilling is always a crowd favorite, but depending on the size of the group, it’s not always a feasible option. Quite often I go for lasagna, chili or…..

I am amazed at how many people shy away from the idea because conjuring up anything with yeast has a scary presupposition.
Trust me…it is not hard to whip up some crust and the price is ALWAYS right.

I can make a large pizza for just a few dollars.
Unfortunately for my guests this week, I was out of pepperoni, and only had a bit of sausage.
So, if cheese pizza is your preference, then the price is really right.

All the moms came up to me the next day and said how the teens were so impressed.
Trust me, this isn’t about impressing anyone.
It’s about feeding the multitudes, and pizza does the trick every time.

If you have a Kitchen Aid sitting on your counter…unused….get it out.

With a dough hook, homemade crust is a reality in minutes.
Even if you have to do it by hand, it’s so fun.
It will just take a bit longer than a few minutes, but only ten…max.

I am in the middle of redesigning my site, and once I do, I will be adding some video tutorials.
Homemade pizza crust will be one of them.

I am completely about making it quick, easy and affordable.
Yes, homemade sauce would be the optimal, but I got this Ragu with my doubled coupons when it was on sale BOGO Free. Yipee…and I know the teens could care less. ๐Ÿ™‚
*One thing I do when I use store bought sauce is to add in a few additional spices to give it that homemade sauce taste such as basic Italian spices – oregano, basil, garlic powder etc.).
I sprinkle them right on top of the sauce and sometimes over the crust.

I made four large pizzas that all went quickly. If it was for our family, I would have made 3 of them a veggie supreme, but considering how they initially responded to the raw brocolli, I stuck with 2 1/2 cheese. But guess what, the brocolli and carrots were gone by the end of the night. ๐Ÿ™‚This is another thing I make in bulk. If you are going to make dough, why not triple the recipe? You may freeze the raw dough, or make the pizzas and freeze them before baking.
This recipe will make one large pizza.
Recipes for yeast items scare me….they make it seem SO much more difficult than it is.
I have typed up the real recipe, but I will highlight the reality of just how simple it is.

And yes, I got myself into trouble by telling my friend that she needs to learn how to do this. Now she corralled me into teaching a Keeper’s Club girls group how to make it this week.
9-13 year old girls are each going to make one.
If they can, you can.

Crusty Pizza Dough

1 package active dry yeast
I buy this in bulk at Sam’s/Cosco…1 tb=1 package
1 cup warm water (105 degrees F to 115 degrees)
I have never ever taken the water’s temperature.
Stick your finger in the water. If it burns you, it’s too hot. Think NC summer day hot.

1/2 tsp salt
I love to use garlic salt for a little extra umph.
1 tsp. olive oil (or any oil)
2 1/3 cups – 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
(I actually have a grain grinder and can do my own ww flour)

Dissolved yeast in warm water in warmed bowl.
Nope, don’t do that either…who has time to warm a bowl.
Add salt, olive oil, and 2 1/2 cups flour.
Attach dough hook, and mix for 1 minute.

Continuing on low speed, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl. Kneed on low speed for 2 minutes.
This is where a video may come in handy. Cleaning the side of the bowl means the dough will begin to pull away and lump together in a nice kind of ball.

Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Cover, let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk…about 1 hour.
Punch down.
In theory, this all sounds ideal, but when you have a room full of teenagers wondering when their food is coming, I am not about to tell them they have to wait for the dough to rise.
For the first two pizzas, I literally skipped this step. Isn’t that awesome to know?
Once I mixed the dough, I just rolled it right out.
While the first two pizzas were cooking, I did “force” a rise with the remaining dough by giving it that extra time to rise a little before punching it down, but not necessary.

Brush 14 inch pizza pan with oil; sprinkle with cornmeal (nope, didn’t do that either).
Press dough across bottom of pan forming a collar around edge to hold filling.
Top with desired fillings.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

And look at all these happy campers.
Even though the dough didn’t rise, I think they were quite content.

And now Morgan, Katie, and Lindsey…you are all blog stars….hee hee.
Yes, I found out that one of these sweet girls actually reads my blogs….yikes.
Now I can’t say anything I want about my kids anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted at Smockity Frocks


  1. cityfarmer says:





  2. sounds like a fun evening! thank you so much for sharing the pizza crust recipe and all the truths to how you make it! i really want to make my own crust but am one of those people scared to do it because it seems really hard. however you made it seem quite possible to do! thanks for being HONEST!!!


  3. mommy4life says:

    Not a good idea to read this post before bed. It gave me the munchies! I think I might have dreams about pizza, taco dip and don’t forget the chocolate!!!


  4. Thanks for this post, I have a great pizza dough recipe that just involves stirring and waiting for 10 minutes…quick for those moments you need it to be… but I really need a homemade pizza sauce recipe… do you have one. I have tried some, they just don’t cut it and you cannot buy it here.


  5. Ladues of the North says:

    Looks like it was a lot of fun. I too want to make our home a nice comforting hospitable place for the kids and their friends too, and not just them but anyone who wants to come!!! Are you going to put up the recipe for the nacho dip?? it looks delicious and we are nacho crazy in my house!! Take care and God Bless


  6. The pizza looks yummy! It seems like everyone had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing your recipe!


  7. We love homemade pizza! And it really is so very easy and frugal. I whip some up for the family every Friday night – it’s a tradition. ๐Ÿ˜€


  8. Kitty Scraps says:

    Wow! A whole house full of teenagers, you’re Wonder Woman! I know what you mean about wanting to be a haven of hospitality especially during the teenage years. Our home was the hang out house but lucky for us my son hung out with only a few kids at a time, friends with many but we were never over ran with mulitudes, just 4 or 5 at a time. To this day those kids still will call or come by to see us, whether to visit or ask advice, which really is rewarding to know we’ve made such a positive impact in their lives. And it’s funny to see our son’s reaction when he discovers they stopped by to see us and not him! *smiles* Your pizza and dip look yummy. Would you share your taco dip recipe?


  9. It’s Friday and I was thinking about just ordering pizza for dinner tonight.
    Now I think I’ll make some homemade.
    Great post!


  10. Jean – you are awesome, and I'm sure much appreciated by your children & their friends.

    Although we are quite a few years away yet, we desire for our home to be the "hangout" as well. Trying to plant those seeds now!


  11. Ruby Red Slippers says:

    Love your ideas-You cooked the perfect meal for teens!
    I also read your Tuesday post-how sad, but what an impact you can have on others now because of it…


  12. Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality says:

    Hi, friend! Oh we love homemade pizza, but I just use a premade crust & add lots of good veggies. You are such a good mom, having all those teens over to eat.


  13. An Accomplished Woman says:

    Where were you when I had teenagers? You are such a wonderful mom, I know the kids will love to hang at your house. I still have 20 somethings come by that hung out here as teenagers

    You are an inspiration and such a good role model for those teens. Love to see their happy shining faces.



  14. Treasure Hunter says:

    OK, so I’m excited about my .40 pillsbury pizza crusts this past week now! I’m thinking I’ll see if I can bake then freeze them too. Keep these little treasures coming girl!


  15. great idea for cooking in bulk, for teens no less! that is always a challenge.


  16. It sounds like everythingw as a success! It made my stomach growl at 9:45am! ๐Ÿ™‚


  17. Trinity Mommy says:

    Everything looks so yummy!

    I know that most people are scared to death about the teen years but Caleb and I are actually looking forward to those beautiful years ahead!


  18. Melanie Dorsey says:

    I’ll be watching for your tutorials.
    Great story of feeding the multitudes!


  19. Pretty Organizer says:

    My sister… I too am a Pizza lady. Love it! We do the homemade, fresh ground whole wheat dough…mmm.

    Yes, of course you can steal my post… I’ll even email you the html if you want…save time… well, that is IF email html even works. Let me know. Shouldn’t everyone be enlightened on better laundry routines. I WISH blogging were around when I started out. I may have less homemaking battle wounds if it were.

    We should plan a painting pizza party for our 11 children and 2 husbands. Chaos? But do we know anything different?

    Take care my East Coast sister..
    Pretty Organizer


  20. Saver Queen says:

    What a fantastic post. I love your ideas for the pizzas. I make homemade pizzas all the time, but I *gulp* buy the crust ready made. I think I should take the plunge and just make the dough myself. I think you’ve got the right strategy – things don’t have to be perfect to be fun!


  21. Gotta love that Pampered Chef stuff! Sounds like a great time, Jen! Happy Weekend!


  22. We love teenagers over here too – what a great way to spend Valentines day! Hey, printing the coupons from your sidebar is working great now – thanks!


  23. I love homemade pizza. I tried making some the other night but my kids just won’t eat it. So, I will resort to Little Caesars. Oh well, thanks for letting me peek at your blog. I came over from Blessed Nest.


  24. The Graves' House says:

    thanks for sharing your recipe! sounds like a fun time was had by all…


  25. I love your photos, Jen…they are always filled with such genuine warmth and family happiness…I wish I had a big, close family! ๐Ÿ™‚ Your kids will cherish all of these memories. And I think you are so right. Even when we like the idea of opening our homes to guests, it CAN definitely be overwhelming to entertain. Your pizza party for all of the teens looks like it was a blast, and a huge success! And I’m going to try your pizza recipe for sure. Count me in the group of those intimidated by baking with yeast! ๐Ÿ™‚


  26. Martha (aka Yvette) says:

    love the pictures and I just started making my own pizza dough, I’m working on the kitchenaid would so love one. Oooo and I use those same PIZZA stones they look like PAMPERED CHEF!!


  27. I love your tips for feeding teens. I have a few years to go, but the time will come soon enough! You mentioned a Keeper Girl club. Is this associated with the Secret Keeper Girl books? My daughter just got some for Christmas and loved them. I’d love to know more about the club. Thanks!


  28. I have tried homemade pizza a few times. After the last attempt I decided it was my last try.

    However, after reading your recipe for the dough, I may just give it one more try to see if I can get it to finally work.

    Thanks for posting this!


    Sherri Reply:

    @Donnetta, I also was ready to give up on pizza crust, my new secret is adding corn meal(just sprinkle) on the pan before I put the crust on, it really helps makes the crust crispy. Now we prefer the homemade crust.


  29. one tablespoon equals one package of yeast or one teaspoon? Finding the big packages of yeast at Sam’s was a huge saver for me when baking bread. I have yet to make pizza though. I stock up when the frozen ones go on sale… but I know home made would be so much better.


  30. new every morning says:

    Your house is one big party! What a fun household, FULL!

    What a blessing to be able to provide a fun, safe, and yummy place for the kiddos to hang out!


  31. Hey, I’m over from I am Blissfully Domestic! Great ideas!


  32. Our really empty nest says:

    You are just a girl after my own heart! My friends tell me I should write a book on saving $$ but I am an ammature compared to you, I enjoy your blog alot! Sue


  33. Kayren, Pink Daisy Girl says:

    I don’t have a Kitchen Aid mixer, but I do have four free people to labor for me at home still…I guess that would work just about as well. I am one of those that has always shied away from homemade pizza crust, but you may have convinced me it’s time to try it.


  34. Jen,

    What a great ministry to high school kids – having them over on Valentine’s Day! Also, I wanted to ask you about your pizza sauce, what brand do you like the best? I noticed you added extra spices, etc. The reason I ask, I make homemade pizza and hope to post about it soon, but I haven’t found a sauce that has the “wow” factor.


  35. Kim @ Forever Wherever says:

    What a great food post!!! I’m going to try making my own dough. Someone we both know made pizzas on Friday and they were delicious! I’ve always been afraid of anything that needs yeast! Taco dip is a wonderful idea for last minute crowds. I need to think ahead and have some stuff around like this! One of my aunts always has frozen blueberries (from their farm) in the freezer for cobbler at the drop of a hat! Love that kind of stuff!
    Thanks for joining us this week!


  36. That is a great post, I really have to try this recipe! My daughter doesn’t like pizzas though, but I will do it for me and hubby. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    thanks for sharing!


  37. Jen–

    Just found your blog through frugal hacks. Love the beauty in this post. I think you commented to me on my blog a while back and I probably didn’t respond. We’ve had a challenging year…more on that later. Anyway, I saw your picture and remembered you from P31She Speaks conference. And then, I had remembered that you had written me through my blog and I just had to say “Hi!” I’m not blogging much lately due to the family stresses we’re in, but I will stop in regularly to visit you and to browse! Lovely family.
    Joni from Indiana


  38. Jen- so yummy! I made pizza for dinner guests tonight, and they LOVED it. I topped the pizzas with dried oregano. Thanks for the recipe!


  39. Thanks for participating in our link up! I love all the photos, but the smiling faces are THE BEST!


  40. Thanks Jen. I’d never thought about freezing the dough, great tip.

    We do homemade pizza a lot, but I’m wondering if you have a double oven. We make 4 pizzas for our family, but I can only cook two at a time in our oven, so wonder how that would work with a larger crowd? Thanks!


  41. That’s great! I love to make homemade pizza for our fam as well. And I LOVE the thought of my home being open to friends when our kids are teens.



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