Easy Food for a Crowd – New Years 2017

First off Happy official New Year!

Luke and I got to ring in 2017 AND celebrate a friend’s birthday at a gorgeous cabin “up north” (aka Northern Minnesota).

We spent our weekend eating, drinking, exploring, and overall celebrating all while in comfy clothes next to a fire.  It was perfect!

I agreed to make a couple of meals, and knowing that refrigerator space would be at a premium (got to have room for beer right?!) and that we would likely be either hungover or consuming adult beverages, I wanted to keep the prep work to a minimum.

For breakfast I decided to make these yummy ham, cheese, and spinach puffs from eatwell101.com.  I made these little suckers in advance the week before and froze them.  Then to add a little more protein, I also cracked an egg over half of them.  I thawed them overnight, so all I had to do that morning was heat them up at 350 degrees and bake for roughly 20 minutes.  They were a great use of leftover Christmas ham and went over well!  Without the egg they would also make a good appetizer 🙂

Tip: layer tinfoil on the pan if you crack the egg and spray well as it can get quite sticky).

I completed the spread with a run to Costco – fruit, bagels, and muffins.  Easy to grab and low maintenance!


For Dinner I decided to make Roxie’s famous lasagna (my mother-in-law).  We needed something hearty to prepare for New Years Eve and I wanted to feed 14 people without breaking the bank so lasagna worked-out perfect.  Plus per my advance prep theme I could make it in advance and freeze it.  The nice thing also about Minnesota is that we could keep the lasagna outside then set it out the morning-of to defrost….there are some perks to this tundra!

I made two different kinds – Traditional beef marinara and Turkey Pesto.  I served it with two loaves of Costco asiago bread and a salad bar (Arugala mixture, goat cheese, bleu cheese, cheery tomatoes, diced peppers, green onion, etc.).

I will say the salad bar was raised-up a notch thanks to my sister’s AMAZING balsamic dressing recipe.  People who don’t even like salad were eating it thanks to this dressing.  For those who don’t know, my sister is a true chef – she just combines things and it works, whereas I need recipes.  I texted her for this recipe and she was like oh just combine a few ingredients and voilà…needless to say I made her breakdown portion sizes for me 😉


Credit: Roxie Fox

For the meat sauce:

– 1 1/2 lb lean hamburger
– 1/2 lb italian sausage
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp ground pepper
– 1 tsp oregano
– 1 tsp parsley
– 1 Tbl basil
– 2 cans (14 1/2 oz) whole tomatoes (do not drain)
– 2 cans (6 oz) tomato paste

For the cheese layer:

– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1/2 tsp pepper
– 2 Tbl parsley
– 1/2 Cup parmesan cheese
– 1 lb (divided in half) mozzarella cheese
– 24 oz ricotta or cottage cheese
– 12-14 lasagna noodles


– Cook hamburger, onion, sausage & garlic until meat is browned over medium heat, drain
– add salt, pepper, oregano, basil, tomatoes, & tomato paste – stir until mixed well, cover & simmer for 1 hour
– cook lasagna noodles, drain, & set aside
– spray 9×13 inch pan and preheat oven to 375 degrees
– combine cottage cheese/ricotta cheese, eggs, pepper,  parmesan cheese, & 1/2 lb. of mozzarella cheese
– in a pan layer noodles, meat sauce, & cheese mixture.  Repeat layer.
– top with 1 layer of noodles and sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella
– cover and bake at 375 degrees for 40-60 minutes

Modification options:

– I rolled the lasagna noodles so each noodle made one roll-up – this makes the lasagna easier to serve.  To make two batches (24 pieces of lasagna) it took a double recipe of the meat sauce and a triple recipe of the filling.

– I ran out of ricotta cheese, so I used greek yogurt in one batch to keep it creamy.  It still tasted fine!

– To make a ground turkey pesto version, I subbed the meat with ground turkey, and replaced the tomato paste and one can of the tomatoes with Kirkland (Costco) pesto.  It was SUPER flavorful!  I also added a bit of pesto to the cheese mixture for added flavor as well.

Balsamic Dressing


– balsamic vinegar
– olive oil
– dijon mustard
– garlic, oregano, basil to taste

Combine 1 part balsamic vinegar to 1 part olive oil (slightly more olive oil) and add Dijon mustard to taste.

I used 1/4 cup balsamic to 1/3 cup olive oil with 1 Tbl Dijon mustard and tweaked from there.

Add garlic, pepper, oregano, etc. per your preference

As a side note – we ate those champagne jello shots I posted and they were awful (I mean strong, but tasted terrible!).  I am going to make it my mission to find a better recipe for you guys!

But overall it was a great weekend – I loved catching-up with my friend from growing-up, Greta, and enjoying the Minnesota winter for a change.

Cheers to 2017!




2 thoughts on “Easy Food for a Crowd – New Years 2017

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