Thursday, March 26, 2015

Casual Spring Buffet Ideas, Recipes

Any meal for a crowd takes planning and hard work. I prefer my plan to be time-saving, organized and served buffet style, in order to enjoy the maximum time together with my company. I'm sharing one of my spring family soirees I hosted (Easter) - from tablescapes to main meal to dessert - that outlines my go-to, casual approach. Our home easily accommodates a crowd, and a casual approach always wins the day. Perhaps you'll find some inspiration in some of these ideas, whatever your spring meal celebration is.
Grocery tulips in Blenko vase, vintage items including ceramic Peter Rabbit basket with Cadbury chocolates, fork as easel for antique postcard, eggcups with marble eggs, metal rabbit.
One of the easiest things to do to make the atmosphere festive is to purchase grocery store flowers. I then shop the house for vintage decor to create various vignettes around the flowers.
Asiatic lilies brighten the space, alongside robin's eggs in upcycled mason jar lid nest
An easy, two-for-one idea that I like to take advantage of is purchasing potted perennial flowers that will bloom with my event, and then later plant in the yard afterward.
Asiatic lilies in galvanized bucket sit alongside other vintage items on bench at back of sunroom.
Asiatic lilies are my favorite plants to purchase and place around the sunroom in spring time, then later plant en masse in the garden. It's always a nice surprise when the perennials return in subsequent years.
Casual Easter table #1: in the great room - utensils, napkins at the ready for guests. Blenko basket with glass & marble eggs, grocery tulips in Blenko vase, vintage rabbit.
I set my tables in the sunroom and breakfast area with casual, vintage duck cloth napkins edged with various pastel stripes, and move the vintage decor pieces around until the look pleases me.
Casual Easter table #2: in the sunroom - utensils, napkins at the ready for guests. Grocery floral arrangement of tulips, daisies
Plates, additional utensils, and glassware are stacked and placed on nearby counter spaces where the buffet will be served. Doing this well in advance allows easy, self-serve access, keeps the layout organized to ensure all dishes and beverages will fit and have a good flow, and saves time with last minute multi-tasking.
Organizing wet bar prior to dessert service
For the meal itself, the following is a relatively easy buffet lineup I've used, with time-saving advantages built in. Most of these items can be prepared ahead of time and/or left heating while numerous preparations are in progress. This lineup also allows choices for the various picky eaters preferences of guests. Links, recipes and other relative information are provided with the outline of the meal in three sections: appetizers, main meal, desserts.

Appetizers: 
  • Fresh fruit tray with Marzetti's cream cheese dip (available in refrigerator section). I prefer to select and prepare my own fruits, but you can purchase a ready-made tray.
  • Veggie 'shooters' (with a Peter Rabbit theme for Easter). I purchased clay pots from the Dollar Tree, lined them with plastic shot glasses from the grocery. I placed a teaspoon or so of Marzetti's ranch vegetable dip in the base, and 'planted' cucumber, carrot, and celery sticks inside. My Mariposa wheelbarrow holds additional veggies.
Veggie 'shooters' and wheelbarrow, fruit tray, seven layer salad
Main Meal Selections:
  • Seven-Layer Salad - I generally follow the recipe from Cooks.com.
  • Crockpot Ham - carefree recipe from AllRecipes.com.  This was so easy! However, I reduced the cook time to 4 hrs on low (warmed for 2 hrs thereafter). I coated the inside of the crockpot with vegetable spray (Pam) first, and covered the ham with a teepee of aluminum foil so moisture would not escape. Mine was a spiral ham, about 9 lbs, so I turned it on its side to fit in my 6 qt crockpot.
  • Scalloped Potatoes - my sister's recipe, found at bottom of post
  • Sweet Potato Casserole - family recipe, found at bottom of post
  • Dinner Rolls - I loved Rhodes brand yeast rolls (freezer section)
  • Green Beans, Southern style, seasoned with bacon grease and pepper 
  • Corn
  • Devilled Eggs
Meal Buffet: Beverage Service at far back counter, dinner plates and meal on island. Fruit is moved to end as dessert choice

Dessert Bar:
Dessert choices, clockwise: Pina Colada icebox pie, Cadbury's eggs, Sugar cookie fruit cups, lemon flower tarts


The buffet meal outlined here certainly proved a winner for my crowd, and could easily be a repeat performer. I prepared this meal entirely by myself, but it is certainly conducive to being delegated among other family members who would like to contribute to the preparation. Just point them to the links or recipes within this post.

I hope you'll find some time-saving, inspirational ideas in setting a casual buffet from this post. It's my go-to approach for hosting a crowd. With my family, it's always a crowd!

Do you have a go-to approach when you're hosting a gathering?

Thanks for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply