It's not just potluck anymore…

Posts tagged ‘turkey’

Thanksgiving Dinner and Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

Happy Thanksgiving from the Wednesday meal team! We hope you enjoyed our turkey and that you will enjoy some family time next week. See you back in the church dining room on Nov. 28th.

Well, another great turnout for dinner, education and worship at Calvary Lutheran Church last night.  We served 600 meals of turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and cupcakes in four flavors.  What goes into preparing a Thanksgiving feast for 600 people?  Here’s a short synopsis:

On Monday morning the Sysco order arrives on the delivery truck and the cooking begins.  120 pounds of sweet potatoes are washed, baked, peeled and mashed.  These go into the refrigerator to await becoming a casserole on Wednesday.  Also on Monday, chicken breasts are cooked and shredded for the dressing and the broth is saved for making gravy.

On Tuesday morning, a volunteer group of 10 show up at 9:30 ready to cook.  By 1:00 they have prepared 14 large pans of homemade cornbread, 74 dozen cupcakes, rinsed and brined all the turkeys, and  set up the serving tables in the dining room.


20 boneless turkey breasts and 12 whole turkeys are ready to spend the night in the refrigerator in buckets and pans of seasoned brine on Tuesday morning.

Lemon, vanilla, chocolate and pumpkin cupcakes are baked on Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning at 7am, the smoker gets fired up with wood and charcoal by Kim Balay, and the turkeys get seasoned and buttered and go into the smoker for about 7 hours.  Thanks to Dan Ferber for manning the smoker from 8am to noon.  At 1:00, more volunteers arrive and the many recipes are divided up.  The dressing is mixed up by hand and put into the oven to bake for an hour and a half, the sweet potato casserole is whipped up in the mixer and it goes into the oven too.  The gravy is made and put into roasters to keep warm.

Cornbread dressing ingredients lined up and ready to be mixed.

The frosting is made and the cupcake extravaganza begins…

888 cupcakes frosted in under an hour!

A fine team of turkey carvers made short work of all that turkey just before dinnertime on Wednesday…

A little break from turkey carving before dinner starts

The cupcakes are ready to go


At 4:15, Connie has the water boiling and she begins cooking 96 pounds of green beans.  The potato pearls are mixed with hot water, cream cheese and sour cream and put into the insulated warmers.  And then dinner is served:

Recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole for 6 servings:

Sweet Potato Casserole:  6 servings

3 cups baked, peeled and mashed sweet potatoes (about 1 ½#)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup melted butter



1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)


Combine first 6 ingredients.  Pour into a buttered 2 qt. casserole dish.  Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until hot and browned.



Sweet Potato Casserole for a Crowd:

Sweet Potato Casserole  300 servings

12 half size disposable pans, ½ cup per serving, approx 24 servings per pan


140 cups mashed sweet potatoes (120# sweet potatoes, baked and peeled)

15 cups brown sugar  (5#, lightly packed)

80 eggs lightly beaten (6 dozen plus 8)

15 TBSP vanilla

12 1/2 cups whole milk (or more if needed)

5#  melted butter


Divide into 5 batches to combine in mixer.  Beat until smooth.

28 cups sweet potatoes

3 cups brown sugar

16 eggs, lightly beaten

3 TBSP vanilla

2 ½ cups whole milk

1# melted butter


Pour into a buttered  pans.  Bake at 325 for 45 min until hot.   Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle over top.  Bake an additional 30 minutes to brown.

Topping:  (Add after 45 min of cooking so top doesn’t burn)

8 cups brown sugar (5 1/3# lightly packed)

4 cup flour

1 1/2# melted butter

Thanksgiving in February

Last night’s church service included a celebration of Communion for the 5th Grade class.  Our sign in table for dinner honors our 5th graders and their families for their “Milestone” celebration. Ten tables of 10 were reserved for these families to eat together at dinner.

Everyone eats a lot of turkey during the holidays, so at Calvary we like to have our turkey dinner in the middle of winter.   The kitchen crew sliced and warmed up 228 pounds of smoked turkey breast, and made 18 pans of  mashed potatoes and 8 gallons of turkey gravy.

As an alternative to the mashed potatoes, we also baked up 300 sweet potatoes in a 400 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until soft.  Some were so huge we had to cut them into thirds to serve.  The leftover sweet potatoes were peeled, mashed and frozen for future use in a sweet potato casserole.

For a green vegetable side dish, we served 55 pounds of asparagus, which was rinsed, had the ends snapped off, and then steamed for 5 minutes.  On the side we served a ready-to-eat lemony Hollandaise sauce made by Knorr.  The sauce comes frozen and just requires warming before serving.  Towards the end of our serving time, we ran out of asparagus and then cooked up some green beans that we had on hand from the freezer.  We’ll make more asparagus next time!

For dinner rolls, we used Sister Shubert’s yeast rolls which are available at Sam’s Club.  These are very popular rolls:  we went through 24 bags of 30 rolls/bag!  They come parbaked, so you just have to put them in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes, and they come out warm, golden brown and have that delicious yeasty bread smell.

On Tuesday morning, we made 17 pumpkin spice cakes with cream cheese frosting, baked in half size sheet pans. We also defrosted the extra cookies from the freezer that we made 2 weeks ago.

470 people signed in at dinner last night!  Thanks for coming and we’ll see you next week.  Visitors are always welcome, so bring your friends along.

Next week is Ash Wednesday, so there will be no education classes, just dinner at the usual time, 4:45-6:15 pm, followed by a special Ash Wednesday service in the sanctuary.

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