Friday, January 27, 2012

Foodie Friday: Feeding a crowd!

We've had a busy week over here at my house. Feeding groups of 8-10 can be exhausting and stressful trying to figure out what to make. I get sick of the normal pizza, burgers, and hotdog routines. So this week and the next I've got some menu's for a crowd that are simple and tasty. The trick: slow cooker, or making ahead of time. This week's menu takes on a flare for fresh tex mex and the ultimate dessert! Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, rice-free
(easily corn-free w/out corn and tortillas)
Serves 10-12
Cook time 2-7 hours (you pick what fits best for you)

For this recipe I usually slow roast a small chicken or two the day before. Then I can divide up the meat for casseroles, salad or soups and use the rest to make chicken stock. You can also use a whole package of taco seasoning instead of all the spices below. And if you prefer not to fry up some soft tortillas for the topping, you could just crush up some tortilla chips for texture. This soup is so easy to make, if you don’t have all day to put it in the slow cooker, you could make a quick version on the stoup and serve right away. I usually make this the night before right in the slow cooker pot. Then I plug it in the next morning and by noon it’s all ready to go. Enjoy!

                  1 onion, chopped
                  1 15 oz can kidney beans (undrained)
                  1 15 oz can black beans (undrained)
                  1 15 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
                  1 8 oz can tomato sauce
                  2 12 fluid oz cans or bottles gluten-free beer (Rebridge, Bard’s or Greens)
                  2 10 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
                  2 tsp ground Cumin
                  2 tsp ground Chili powder
                  1 tsp dried Oregano
                  1 Tbsp Garlic powder
                  1 tsp (or more) salt
                  3-4 cups of shredded chicken (from a whole bird or from a can)
                  1 cup fresh chopped cilantro (divided in half) (optional)
                  shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
                  sour cream (optional)
                  soft corn tortillas (optional)

Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, chicken and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add spices, and stir to blend. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5-7 hours or on high heat for 2-4 hours.

When nearing the time to serve, add ½ cup of the chopped cilantro to the soup. Take a stack of soft corn tortillas and cut into strips. Heat about an inch of oil in a saucepan on med high heat. When the oil is heated, drop in the tortilla strips until the oil is filled with them. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, and cilantro if desired.


Since there is so much in our main entree and I've planned a heavy dessert, I only add to this the ultimate black bean and corn salsa. It has rich flavor of the beans, the sweetness of corn, the zest of lime, cilantro and avocado and actually very nutritious. The key to making your tortilla chips more gourmet is buying the super thin ones and heating them on low in your oven just before your guests come.

Black bean and corn salsa

Black Bean and Corn Salsa
naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, rice-free
(easily made corn-free w/out corn and tortillas)
Serves 10-15
Chill time 1 hour

You could easily make this salsa the night before. Just remember to add the avocado’s before serving the dish to keep them looking fresh and not turning brown.

        1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
        1 can whole kernel corn, drained
        2 t minced fresh jalpaeno pepper
        2 avocados, chopped
        4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
        1 red bell pepper, chopped
        1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
        1/4 c. diced red onion
        1/4 c. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes, squeezed)
        1 t. salt
         tortilla chips for dipping (the thin ones are the best)

Combine all ingredients except avocado and chips. Cover and chill for at least one hour. Add avocado just before serving. To keep avocado lasting for days splash with extra lime juice as you add it to the salsa.Warm a bowl of tortilla chips in a 300-degree oven just before serving. Serve with the chips.


And the finally of this menu is my all time favorite dessert. I order it often at restaurants, and so happy it is naturally gluten-free, however lots of eggs and dairy. It's sweet on top and has a perfect balance of richness and creaminess on the inside. Your guests can each have a ramekin all to themselves and will be wowed by your mad kitchen skills, because this dessert is super easy!

Easy Vanilla  Crème Brulee

Crème Brulee

naturally gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, rice-free and corn-free
serves 10-12 (depending on the size of ramekins used)
cook time 1 1/2 - 2 hours
chill time 2 hours - overnight
It can be teadious to crack a dozen eggs and separate the yolks, I actually enjoy the process and I save my whites for omelets. But you can pick up pre-separated yolks at some grocery stores. Look for them in the egg section. I also make this custard ahead of time and pour into ramekins and refridgerate overnight. Then about an hour before my guests come I create the carmelized sugar topping and place back into the fridge until guests come. Oh ps. If you don’t have a double boiler (I don’t) just put a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water being careful that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.

        12 egg yolks
        12 tablespoons white sugar, divided
        1 teaspoon vanilla extract (about ½ a teaspoon more if you want your vanilla flavor to be strong)
        5 cups heavy cream
        handful of blackberries and mint leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (150 degrees C).

Beat egg yolks, 8 tablespoons sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl until thick and creamy.

Pour cream into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it almost comes to boil. Remove the cream from heat immediately. Stir cream into the egg yolk mixture; beat until combined.

Pour cream mixture into the top of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon; about 3 minutes. Remove mixture from heat immediately and pour into a shallow heat-proof dish. Only fill up half to ¾ of the bowl.

For baking place the ramekins in a oven proof casserole dish (I use a big lasagna pan and a big casserole dish) that is lined with a kitchen towel. Boil some water in a sauce pan and pour it around the ramekins, do not get any water into your ramekins. The water should come up to almost the top of the side of your ramekins.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 ½ hours to 2 hours, until the custard looks set (not jiggling all over, just a little in the middle). Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight.

Preheat oven to broil. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the crème in each ramekin. Place as many ramekins as you can fit on your top oven rack just under the broiler, stay there and watch until you reached the desired brownness on the top of your crème. The broiler is carmelizing the sugar through this process and creating a crispy crust on the top of your crème. It should look golden brown to medium brown. Don’t let it burn.

Do this until each ramekin has been carmelized and put in the fridge to cool and set. Garnish with blackberries and mint leaves. Serve. 

Thanks for joining me for Foodie Friday! Please let me know if you have any thoughts, ideas or questions. Enjoy.

all recipes and photos copyright Julie Luse

1 comment:

lauren said...

you are a kitchen master.. can i be you when i grow up?? :) or maybe just eat at your house more?? ;) amazing.

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