Friday, January 14, 2011

Rehearsal Dinner Menu

by Lois Breneman - 2006 - Heart to Heart

Many of you will be having wedding rehearsal dinners for your sons and their new brides.  We chose to prepare the food ourselves for our one son and his bride's rehearsal dinner, where there were about fifty guests.  Maybe some of these ideas will be helpful for you.  Although it was a lot of work, doing it ourselves was a huge savings, and we felt the food was much better than going to a restaurant or having it catered.  So here is our story:
For our one son's rehearsal dinner, the bride and groom requested the rehearsal dinner be held in the fellowship hall of the church, so the tables could be set up and decorated for the reception before and after the dinner, with lots of help available.  We thought about catering, but decided to cook the dinner ourselves. We bought everything except the ice cream and ice at home and the day of the rehearsal dinner, we transported two large coolers in our vehicle two hours away to the wedding location.  This was the rehearsal dinner menu in which I tried to emphasize preferences of the bride and groom, flavor, color, variety, texture, convenience and cost:

Baked Chicken Breasts with Onion Sauce
Ham with Pineapple Tidbits
Baked Potatoes with Butter, Sour Cream and Herbs
Miniature Orange, Red and Yellow Peppers 
Buttered Corn with Pimentos
Green Salad with Spinach, Cauliflower, Carrots, Purple Cabbage, Grape Tomatoes
Several Salad Dressings
Whole Wheat and White Rolls / Soft Butter
Cookies and Cream Ice Cream / Hershey's Chocolate Syrup and Peanuts
Fruit Punch -  Water - Coffee - Herbal Tea
I tried to think of the easiest possible menu, yet still have it be a great meal for the fifty or more guests who came.  A gallon of creamy onion soup to cover the chicken breasts was made at home from a white sauce base including lots of sauteed onions and herbs, to avoid the MSG contained in most soups.

My good husband cut the fat from nine bags of frozen chicken breasts and sliced them into thirds, because they were so large.  He also cut the eyes and spots out of twenty pounds of golden Yukon potatoes that were already washed at home.
Ham, one of the bride's favorite foods, was sliced at home and drained pineapple tidbits were added at the church.  Heating was all that dish required. 

At my request our son picked up a couple packages of wonderful crisp colorful miniature red, yellow and orange peppers at a local store for a great price to be served in a large crystal bowl.  They were about 2 to 3 inches long and an inch in diameter. 

About 6-7 potatoes at a time were placed in a row on aluminum foil, sprayed with canola oil, sprinkled with salt, wrapped up and baked.  We baked 20 pounds of various sizes.
Soft butter was made at home way ahead of time, blending a ratio of 8 to 10 sticks of real butter to 1 cup of olive oil.  I kept this in the refrigerator until the morning of food preparation.  When it was close to room temperature at the church, I spooned it into smaller crystal dishes for each table to be used on the potatoes and rolls.

We bought the rolls on sale the day before - half whole wheat and half white.
For the green tossed salad, I cut the purple cabbage and cauliflower, and grated carrots at home the night before and bagged them separately to transport.  In the church kitchen lots of purple leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce and spinach were washed, spun dry, towel dried, and cut with scissors.  A huge 24-inch salad bowl was supplied by the church.  The colorful bagged vegetables were tossed into the green salad mixture.  Baby carrots were arranged around the edge of the tossed vegetables. For extra garnishes, rings of miniature red, yellow and orange peppers were cut with scissors, and lots of grape tomatoes added more color.
This dinner could not have gone so well without the help of my sister, Nancy, who arrived from out of state just in time to get instructions before we walked over to the church for the rehearsal.  She had the food almost ready when the rehearsal was over.  She did a wonderful job and was a lifesaver!  She has a special talent for feeding large groups, as she has done many times for her church, large family gatherings, missions trips and for missions conventions.  Afterward, Nancy, her husband, Ed, and daughter, Diane, were a tremendous help in cleaning up too. 
You may wonder, "Would we have cooked the dinner ourselves, had we known the end from the beginning, knowing all the detailed planning, work and some flustered moments involved?"  Probably so.  It was a one time occasion, but it would have been a lot easier had it been nearer home.  I think it was a nicer and healthier meal than we would have had at a restaurant and everyone told us how they enjoyed the meal.  Again, the Lord had "gone before us" and we were so thankful for His help!