Making dinners that my whole family will eat has always been challenging – so many preferences! So, yes, I have always had picky eaters and, yes, I have often made more than one meal. Don’t judge. Now, with a newly minted vegetarian in the family, I have been hard-pressed to come up with creative, not-so-very-time consuming meals that pack the necessary nutritional punch.
For lunches, I make grain bowls with quinoa and brown rice as a base and add pretty much anything – roasted chickpeas, roasted peppers, hummus, tabouli and baked tofu. Add crunchy chickpeas or sesame seeds on top for a bit of crunch. Drizzle with tahini dressing. Still in search of the perfect recipe so chime in if you have one!
Inspiration provided by Whole Heart Provisions (our new favorite vegetarian/vegan go to place) and recipes from The Boston Globe’s Kara Baskin here.
While we occasionally entertain, I am not as calm a hostess for large scale gatherings (my ability to time when the various foods will be done needs, um, work) as I would like to be, but I’ve learned some coping mechanisms, and I’m willing to share.
First, outsource what you can. I put my husband on beer, and my sister (who is a lovely and knowledgeable wine broker – her company info here), on, well, wine. We did end up having some things catered (I made salads because even I can time those).
There are terrific local resources that can help you pull it off, too. I had not one but two family gatherings in the past month, and was beyond happy with the results. For amazing cakes, baked goods and, for our casual family gathering, sandwiches and salads, I went to one of my favorites, L’Aroma Cafe. Go here for more information – everything is delicious and the gluten free cake was a huge hit, and they are fantastic at accommodating dietary restrictions (there were quite a few).
Now, having said all this, I’m not usually one to cater things (born and raised to be frugal), but sometimes I want a little something special, and this vegetable arrangement from Crudite Creations is exactly my speed. It’s a local (Newton) based company that delivers stunning centerpiece worthy arrangements of vegetables and way more attractively presented than my knife skills would allow. It is gorgeous, delicious, local and fun.
Also, fear not, the arrangement comes in a sturdy cooler bag with an ice pack if you’re not home. I missed the delivery by about 10 minutes and what a lovely surprise to find on my doorstep! I had run out of events to host (phew), so I brought this to a neighbor’s garden party. Wow, was I ever popular!
The owner of Crudite Creations, Lauren Brooks, is an artist who makes arrangements that are almost too pretty to eat. The arrangement came with two delicious dips, a white bean dip was light (and was virtually inhaled), and a lovely, creamy hummus. I was asked repeatedly if I made it, and managed to tell the truth every time (despite being a desperate Martha Stewart wannabe and this would have given me total cred. But lying is wrong, just wrong).