Ideas For Buffet Style Party Food

I would appreciate some suggestions for food to serve for a party (buffet style) that does not need to be kept cold. I am looking for more hearty things, not chips and salsa, or fruit. Also, does anyone know how long you can leave out things like a meat and cheese tray or deviled eggs? Other ideas for ways to keep things cold in a clever way would be much appreciated. This is such a smart group! Thanks in advance for your help!


Mary from Redmond, WA

September 10, 20080 found this helpful

I've hosted many parties at my home and this has been a concern for me also. I've come up with several solutions. To be on the safe side, I don't have food set out for more than an hour especially meat and eggs. You can use trays larger than your serving trays to hold a layer of ice under your food. In this case I usually garnish the ice and not so pretty trays with produce greens like parsley or collard. To keep things hot I have picked up cheap electric warming trays at thrift stores - everyone gets rid of them. And my last alternative is to have small portions set out and the rest of your food in other serving pieces in your fridge that you keep replenishing as the food goes. So you keep new food and dishes coming out, I wouldn't just keep refilling the dishes without washing them first though. Hope this helps.

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Anonymous Flag
September 10, 20080 found this helpful

Did a lot of searching to find the easiest answers for you. Follow these rules for safety and you should have no problems :-) If you have more questions, feel free to contact me because I have a few family members in the food service business. This link is from Virginia state but it's standard practice:

PS ... I am in Richland, Washington and my sis lives in Redmond ;-)

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September 11, 20080 found this helpful

Just a suggestion for keeping things cold at a buffet. Use a child's wading pool or blow up pool. Pour bags of ice on the bottom and place covered bowls of chilled food on the ice. Then add more ice to fill around the bowls. If you want a fancier, presentation, place produce greens around each bowl. Your food will stay cold for hours. This is also fun to do for bottled and canned beverages at a reunion. During clean-up ,remove the food bowls and scoop out any ice or water with plastic pitchers. This set-up is especially useful for picnics since you can simply dump the ice and water on the ground.

For a different twist on canned salsa, try a heartier fresh black bean/Mexicorn/fresh tomato salsa. The recipe was recently posted on this website.

Check out Sam's club for olive tapenade or Italian capponata which can be served at room temperature.

Both of these are good served on sliced French baguette bread, You could line the bread basket with a checkered cloth and set out the toppers in little crocks or wire baled canning jars.

Our local grocery store bakes foccaccia breads with various toppings such as sun dried tomatoes, peppers and onions, even a deluxe with roasted Italian vegetables and all are baked with Parmesan cheese. They are in the bakery at room temperature. You could slice some into squares on platters for a hearty appetizer.

Sam's Club also sells Greek Spanikopita in the frozen food section. These is a savory phyllo pastry and spinach appetizers that are baked and could be served at room temperature. Check the package instructions to verify serving it at room temperature.

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September 12, 20080 found this helpful

We do a build your own burrito or taco salad buffet. DH cooks up some chicken and beef on the grill and we slice or shread ahead of time. Then eiter keep warm or re heat in the oven in foil. I make rice and a couple different types of beans. Have home made or store bought salsa, guac, shredded lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. Some times I also cook up some onions and peppers as well.

The only item you have to watch closely to keep cool is the sour cream. Some store bought guac might have mayo in it but I make my own with only avacado, onion, garlic, lime juice and cilantro so it's not an issue. If it's am indoor event, I just pull the cold things out of the fridge at the last minute. If it's an outdoor thing, I put them in small dishes inside slightly larger dishes of ice.

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September 12, 20080 found this helpful

I have a couple ideas for you.

#1: Tortilla Roll-Ups. Take an 8 oz pkg of cream cheese, and let soften to room temperature. When it's spreadable, add 1/4 - 1/3 cup of medium salsa, or more to make it easy to spread. Mix well.

Take a spoonful or two, spread on one flour torilla, to within 1/2" of the edge. Roll up as tightly as possible. Some mixture may squeeze out during the rolling process. Save and use on another tortilla. Make the roll-ups until you're out of the mixture.

Cut each roll into 1" pieces. Refrigerate until firm, or time to serve. Recipe makes a lot of roll-ups. I have taken these to all sorts of parties, pot-lucks, etc, and always take home an empty pan.

#2: Cherry Tomato Bites. Get a container or two of cherry tomatoes, rinse them, and scoop out the centers, leaving just the tomato shell. Refill with purchased or your recipe of chicken or tuna salad. Garnish with parsley. These looks pretty when placed on a bed of lettuce leaves.

#3: Meat & Cheese Rolls: Buy 2-3 kinds of your favorite meat at the deli or grocery store, sliced thinly. Also, purchase a chunk of 2-3 types of your favorite cheeses.

Take the cheese hunks and cut finger lengths of the cheeses. Take one piece of the sliced meat and roll a piece of cheese up in it. Secure them with an hors de oeuvres style toothpick. You can vary the meats and cheeses - mix and match the flavors.

I place these on a large platter, circling the edge with the meat/cheese sticks. I put small containers of condiments in the center, for dipping.

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September 12, 20080 found this helpful

Bagles sliced and cream cheese with different flavor cream cheeses like salmon slice (lox) for lox or egg salad spread on half bagels. You could buy the mini lender bagels they are great party food. Just set toppings, egg salad, cream cheeses, etc. next to each other and let them make their own!

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September 13, 20080 found this helpful

When serving finger sandwiches take a plastic bag ,the approximate size if a bread basket, fill it with water, and lay it flat on a shelf in your freezer. Prepare your sandwiches as usual, put a terrycloth handtowel or washrag in the bottum of the basket, place the ice on top of the terrycloth, cover the ice with an attractive napkin, and add your sandwiches.The terrycloth will absorb the moisture condensation from the bag of ice and the ice will keep the sandwiches fresh. This creates an attractive and safe way to serve any type of sandwich.

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