*Hash-brown potatoes (These were made from the wonderful freeze-dried potatoes I get at Costco.)
*Diced sausage (I had originally wanted to serve chorizo sausage to fit in with the Mexican/Spanish theme, but Costco didn't carry that type and the only brand available at King Soopers was quite expensive, so I used smoked, fully-cooked beef sausage that was on sale there and just diced it and heated it up in the oven. The use of all-beef sausage meant that people in the Chorale who don't eat pork were able to eat this.)
*Scrambled eggs (I wanted to cook these at the last minute, as they'd have a tendency to dry out if done ahead of time. I used my big electric skillet and the help of two doughty Chorale women who cracked, whisked, and cooked 4 1/2 dozen eggs as the hordes came pouring in. I had them add some half-and-half and salt to the eggs. We ran out of eggs rather quickly; I should have bought and cooked one more of the 1 1/2-dozen-egg cartons at Costco. I was truly amazed at how fast those eggs disappeared.)
*Grated Cheddar cheese
It was of course easy for vegetarians to assemble a burrito without the sausage; I also noticed a woman I know to be vegan putting together a tortilla, potatoes, and salsa, so there was that possibility too.
We also had:
*A huge fruit salad put together by two Chorale members
*Wonderful bagels picked up that morning from a bakery up in Lakewood by yet another Chorale member (I had lots of help.)
*Cream cheese--the big tub of the soft kind from Costco
*Hard-boiled eggs prepared by yet another long-time helper
*Coffee, tea, fruit juice
So there was a good variety of food.
The above menu would work very well for almost any crowd; everything can be prepared ahead of time except for the eggs. People can pick and choose, and there should be something for everyone.
What was needed for several items on this menu, as is often the case, is a way to keep them hot. So below I discuss some tools I have and find to be very useful:
First, an electric warming tray. I've had mine for years, as you can probably tell from the marks of wear around the edges. You'll spend around $100 today if you buy one, which is kind of expensive, but if you can get a deal, perhaps on a used one, you'll find that it comes in very handy.
Chafing dishes can seem a little intimidating what with the weird fuel and the need to light it and having to manipulate the large water pan, but they're not that bad. I've learned not to put too much water in the bottom pan, no more than an inch deep, or the food pan ends up actually floating on the water. Also, I finally figured out the best way to use disposable foil pans with it. The use of disposables is very helpful when you have a big event and the last thing in the world you want is to cart home big encrusted pans that need scrubbing. But the flimsy pans have a tendency to sag if you try to use them on their own over the water pan. So from now on I plan to put the disposables inside the regular large pan (see below) and that should take care of the problem. Note the huge stack of disposables that I have on hand: they're from (where else?) Costco, and cost $6.00 for 30, so that's only $.20 apiece. (That seems awfully low, but that's how it comes out when I calculate it.) Disposable pans at the grocery store are very expensive, so I wouldn't at all recommend using them.