One of my favorite things to do, is to entertain. I love hosting parties. Or family. Or events. Or, in this case, college basketball players. I love everything about it (except for maybe the cleaning up afterwards). I love deciding on a menu, deciding on decor, shopping (for food items and decor), and the cooking! I only wish I could figure out how to have the time to “socialize” a bit more when I’m doing all the work. I really need to let myself hire a kitchen “assistant” more often, but I tend to do that only for larger events. On this evening we hosting and fed a total of 43.
Our daughter is the woman’s tennis coach at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. The men’s basketball coach happened to know that she was from Santa Cruz and mentioned that they’d be in town playing UCSC. My daughter, being the generous girl that she is, offered us to host a dinner for the team(s). After a few quick emails with the coach, dinner for 40+ was on my calendar. Both the mens’s and woman’s Westmont Basketball joined us in early Jan. for a wonderful evening of food and fun!
When the bus arrives, you’d better be ready!
I wish I’d taken a picture, but the coaches must have instructed the team to remove their shoes when the came in. If you could only have seen the pile of 30+ pairs of college basketball player’s shoes!! It’s a good thing I have a fairly large entryway.
I knew I needed to keep the menu easy, but I also know that college students (especially athletes) eat a lot!! Here’s the menu I decided on: chicken parmesan, cheese raviolis, pesto penne pasta, caesar salad, and lots of garlic bread. To drink: iced tea, lemonade, water, milk, chocolate milk, and a coffee/hot chocolate bar. For dessert: dozens of cookies from our local Pacific Cookie Company. Everything, except the raviolis (which I got from Upper Crust Pizza & Pasta) was homemade (including the salad dressing, croutons, and pesto). You can find my caesar recipe here and my croutons here.
The most time consuming was making the chicken parmesan, but it turned out delicious and was worth the effort. I don’t really make this by recipe, but will post a basic “how to” soon.
Cooking for a crowd comes easily to me. I know many of you struggle with the thought of 40+ for dinner, but honestly, if you are organized (and have the space) anyone can do. Organization is truly the key. I prep everything I can in advance. The pesto sauce, salad dressing, croutons, and garlic bread were all prepped the day before. I also set out dishes and had the house ready to go the day before. I made the chicken first thing the morning of the event, then went and picked up the cookies. My husband was on ravioli pick up duty which certainly helped. Shortly before they arrived, I put drinks on ice, filled drink dispensers, and had the pasta ready for last minute cooking. The biggest struggle (even with double ovens) is to time everything so that I have three pans of hot chicken at the same time as lots of hot garlic bread and the pasta is ready at that same time. Fortunately we were able to borrow a “hot box” to keep the raviolis hot until serving. That truly saved me.
Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of all the food. Once it was ready to serve, I quickly had everyone lining up with plates in their hands. I can tell you though, they by the amount they ate that they enjoyed it and no one left hungry.
Here’s a few overall pics of the dinner (I try not to post cell phone pics on my blog, but sometimes it’s all I get time to take).
Prepped and ready:
And during the event: