Hospitality for a Crowd - Part V--Lunches and Transportation

I had some great questions regarding transporation on my last posting, so I thought I would address transporation as well as lunches in this posting.

This day, after lunch and hiking, dessert was a stop at our favorite ice cream shop.  Mmm!  Can you imagine what the employees must've thought when 28 people walked in all at once?
Regarding transportation: Each family (5 of them) had their own rental car.  We had one bridesmaid who traveled mostly with our family.  But everyone switched cars a lot, because they all knew each other and wanted to socialize.  Even the adults switched around fun!  We have a driveway with a good size parking area, so putting that many cars there was not a problem.  No damage to parking surfaces, fortunately.

We traveled caravan-style wherever we went.  Difficult with six cars, but not impossible.  We put my in-laws large truck at the back of the caravan (easy to spot) and all those neutral-colored minivans in between my in-laws and our lead car.

Toll booths were challenging with six cars.  It's easiest to go to the lanes that are cash AND EZ-Pass.  Then we would go in first (with our Fast Pass) and then stop just past the booth and slowly inch forward as each car behind us paid, or we pulled off to the side and just waited.

We packed lunches for 27 people (one of our party being under a year old and too little to enjoy a sandwich) every morning but one. (The exception was when we walked the Freedom Trail in Boston. I just couldn't imagine 27 people toting little brown sandwich bags through the streets of Boston...silly. Plus, the opportunity to delve into the food court that is Quincy Market, with its 40+ vendors was just too tempting!) Three of us made the sandwiches each morning.

Sandwiches do not have to be boring! Sandwiches can be fabulous!

It's really great to vary the bread you use to keep the sandwiches tasty. I really love Costco's cibatta rolls for sandwiches. (The rolls freeze well too, so you can buy the rolls in advance and thaw when needed.) Some days we had sandwiches on multi-grain wheat bread. Another day we had wraps. Foccacia bread makes fabulous sandwiches, and it's so easy to make. You could make the foccacia bread weeks in advance, cut it into sandwich portions, and freeze. Bagel sandwiches could be another option.

I used deli-sliced meat and cheese bought pre-packaged at Costco. To make 27 sandwiches, we went through about 1 1/2 packages of meat per lunch. Costco definitely had the best price, and the meats and cheeses were excellent.

In addition to your breads, meats, and cheeses, the following items help to make really tasty sandwiches:

--red onion (thinly sliced)
--mustards (spicy brown, Dijon, cranberry--great on turkey)
--pesto (can be made months in advance and frozen; goes great with turkey or chicken)
--hummus (mix with a bit of mayo so the sandwich isn't too dry)
--cream cheese

Here are four sandwich combinations we really like:

#1 - Turkey and provolone on cibatta with mayo., pesto, and lettuce
#2 - Ham and swiss on wheat bread with maple-mustard, lettuce, tomato, and red onion
#3 - Roast beef and meunster cheese on cibatta with garlic-herb cream cheese, lettuce and tomato
#4 - Turkey and provolone on wheat bread with mayo., cranberry mustard, and lettuce

If you're having a smaller crowd, chicken salad sandwiches on croissants with lettuce are wonderful! I would only serve this to a crowd, if I had time to make it the day before any guests arrived, otherwise it doesn't pass my test for being quick and easy enough to make with guests in the house. Here's my favorite chicken salad recipe:

New England Maple Chicken Salad

3 1/2 c. cubed chicken breasts (poached, cubed, frozen until needed)
1 c. chopped celery
2 T. chopped red onion
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 c. chopped walnuts, toasted

3/4 c. mayonnaise
6 T. real maple syrup
6 t. honey Dijon mustard

In a large bowl combine: chicken, celery, onion, dried cranberries, parsley, and walnuts.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Pour dressing over the chicken and toss to coat thoroughly.
Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hrs. before serving.

Serves 6

As a side note: sandwich flavors will meld really wonderfully, if you wrap the sandwiches in plastic wrap and let them sit, keeping cool, for a few hours before eating. This works perfectly for making sandwiches in the morning, packing them in a cooler, and traveling to a destination. Tailgate party when you get there!

Beside the sandwich, we served some of the following with lunches (but never all at once): string cheese, Cape Cod chips, baby carrots, dips, individually packaged cheese squares, and more. Water bottles were available for beverages.

For desserts, Colette made cookies, brownies, and 7-layer bars, all of which were made ahead of time, frozen, and thawed. Mmmm.

Tomorrow - dinner! The best meal of the day!

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