Category Archives: for a crowd

Cheesecake Squares

In June we had a wedding reception at our church to celebrate the start of Michael and Rebecca’s adventure together. These cheese cake squares were the dessert of my choice to bring as they are bit-size, so people can try more than just one dessert and they are easy to decorate at any season. I chose raspberries and small lemon balm leaves this time.


For the crust

  • 3 cups (400g)  graham cracker crumbs
  • a bit less than 1/2 cup softened butter
For the topping
  • 3 blocks cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • sugar
  • vanilla
For the decoration
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • raspberries
  • small lemon balm leaves


Knead the crumbs and the butter together and press into a 12×12 inch pan lined with parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients for the topping and pour over top. Bake at 350˚F for 30 min. Open the oven a bit and let the squares sit in there to cool off slowly. Chill for at least two hours before decorating.



Filed under dessert, easy, for a crowd, for guests

My Ordinary Chili and Its Extra-Ordinary Variation

Usually the chili I cook is based on beef ground meat and contains green pepper, red kidney beans, tomatoes and corn. Recently I tried a variation with chicken thighs and white kidney beans and added some cumin. I loved this change. It inspired me to explore even more. So watch out for more chili variations to come or add your favourite one in a comment.

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 1 lb medium ground meat                         (1-2 lbs chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil                                        (olive oil)
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 garlic glove, minced                                 (3 garlic gloves)
  • 1 large green pepper, cubed
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (or more)
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. oregano                                                 (2 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. cumin)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 can red kidney beans (with liquids)    (1 can of white kidney beans)
  • 1 big can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 can corn (with liquids).


Heat the oil and brown the meat. Add onion, garlic and pepper, saute for 5-10 minutes. (For the chicken variant: saute onion, garlic and pepper first, then add the chicken and saute until it is no longer pink on the outside.) Stir in tomato paste, salt and pepper and the wine. Cook until the liquid is evaporated. Add the remaining ingredients except for the corn and simmer for about 40 min. When the rice is done add the corn and heat it up.

Leave a comment

Filed under easy, for a crowd, inexpensive, soup/ stew

Beef Barley Soup

The recipe for this winter stew is from my dear friend Tina Bornman. We had it for dinner on Monday. It can easily be transformed into a vegetarian variant with lentils.

Once we served it for a crowd of 90 for lunch at church preparing three batches. Surprisingly each batch turned out very different from the other depending on the taste buds of the chef. Amounts for 30 servings are included in brackets.


  • 1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)                                      (6 lb, 3kg)
  • 1 cup chopped onions                                                                            (7-8 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic                                                                  (7-8 tbsps)
  • 6 cups of beef or chicken broth                                                         (11.5 litres)
  • ½ cup pearl barley                                                                                  (3.5-4 cups)
  • ½ cup diced turnip                                                                                  (3.5-4 cups)
  • ½ cup diced carrot                                                                                  (3.5-4 cups)
  • ½ cup diced, peeled potato                                                                  (3.5-4 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste                                                                       (1/3 cup)
  • ½ teaspoon thyme (and/or bay leaf,  marjoram, oregano)     (4 teaspoons)
  • black pepper


In a large pot, sauté ground beef, onions and garlic over medium heat until meat is cooked and onions are soft. Drain any fat. Then add beef brooth and pearl barley. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add vegetables and potatoes, tomato paste and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tina comments:

This is the basic recipe. Some things I’ve tried are:

  • Use different vegetables
  • Omit meat and add ½ cup green lentils with the barley.
  • Use 3 cups tomato juice and 3 cups broth, and omit the tomato paste.
  • If you rinse the barley in cold water several times before adding, the soup stays more clear-looking, and is not as thick.
    My family likes the thicker soup so I always just throw it in.

Thanks for sharing, Tina.

Leave a comment

Filed under easy, for a crowd, soup/ stew, winter

Tirami Su

This is a recipe from my Swiss friend Michaela Gruetter. I have prepared it frequently to bring along to a more stylish potluck party, and lots of my friends have asked me for the recipe. I especially like the combination of orange and cocoa powder. Sometimes I experiment with the mascarpone cream, replacing the heavy mascarpone cheese by a mix of light cream cheese and vanilla yogurt or something similar. I go the extra mile to make sure the eggs I use are very fresh.

Ingredients (makes 12 or more servings)

  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 lb mascarpone cheese
  • ½ lemon rind
  • ½ orange rind
  • 1 c. + 1/4c. strong, sweetened coffee (cooled)
  • 2 tbsp. brandy
  • 300g lady fingers
  • cocao for dusting.


Beat the egg whites. Beat egg yolks with sugar until creamy. Add orange and lemon rind, and the mascarpone cheese. Fold in the egg white. Layer half of the lady fingers in a glass dish and soak with half of the coffee (one tablespoon per cookie). Cover with mascarpone cream. Add another layer of ladyfingers with coffee and cream over top. Let sit in the fridge for at least four hours or over night. Before serving dust with cacao powder.

Leave a comment

Filed under dessert, for a crowd, for guests

Meat Lasagna

This recipe has been a family favourite for years.  I make the sauce Bolognaise ahead and just prepare the Béchamel sauce before the lasagna goes in the oven. By this the preparation time can be reduced to twenty minutes. The baking takes about one hour, so allow enough time before serving.



In a greased casserole dish layer sauce Bolognaise, Bechamel sauce and pasta, about 3 layers. Top layer with both sauces. Bake at 200˚C for 40 min. Top with cheese and bake for 10 min. Let sit for at least 10 min. before serving.

Leave a comment

Filed under casserole, easy, for a crowd, for guests, takes time