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Mama Deb
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Help wanted : Menu suggestions

My brother-in-law and family are coming for dinner this coming Sunday. I need something to serve.

I'm looking for something dairy in nature - preferably a casserole for ease of transport downstairs to the sukkah, but I can adapt. The five-year-old is moderately fussy and my sister-in-law doesn't eat. Fish isn't really an option because it's a Sunday and fresh fish (the kind I prefer to serve) is not available. Otherwise, I'd be set with tilapia packages.

I've done lasagna in the past, and they like it, but I don't want to do it again, or something similar. I don't want them thinking I only cook one thing.

I could also do something with meat but only if I have a meat free option as well, as my brother-in-law does not eat meat (neither beef nor chicken.) His family does - the five year old loves turkey. I have turkey in my freezer. If Mtich ate meat, I'd just serve a turkey/bean/sweet potato casserole.
I suppose I could just leave off the turkey and add rice or barley instead.

If I leave off the turkey, I could also leave off the sweet potato and use cheese as well, but I don't know. That somehow seems heavy.

I'd serve a salad and a dessert of some kind, and Mitch is bringing wine.

*ETA: Quiche is out. I'm serving it for lunch on Thursday.*


A quiche of some sort, perhaps?

Quiche is out. I'm serving it for lunch on Thursday, and really don't want to have it again so soon. Also, in my mind, it's just not a dinner dish.

When you say that the child is moderately fussy, what are things that are definitely ok (or definitely not)?

Preliminary thoughts include quiche (which can have less cheese if fat is a concern, or use ricotta; any number of different vegetables, could be made with tuna and dill instead of cheese, etc etc etc), or a vegetarian chili casserole (bean and tomato based chili, then baked with corn bread batter on top, possibly with cheddar cheese).

I'm actually not certain - I just know there are things she won't eat one day and will the next. And she loves turkey.

Quiche is out.

I'm not sure how Jocelyn or Zoe are with spices, but the chili casserole is a definite possibility. Not corn bread, though. Never made it, and it's not the time to experiment.

I was going to say a risotto of some kind, but now that I think about it the tasty cheesy risotto my dad used to make involved chicken broth. But there's no reason it had to, I guess.

Also a possibility - I could make or get a vegetable broth, I suppose. Not that I've made one before. And is it really a main course? I am looking for dinner.

Fondue, maybe? There you've got the cheese sauce which is the only thing that needs to be transported down warm, and you can cut up bread and various vegetables into bite-sized pieces to dip in. The fussy about what she eats girl can pick and choose what she wants to have for dipping then.

And if you give everyone separate cups for their fondue sauce, you can serve the turkey as an optional dipper, but keep it separate for the sake of the person not eating meats.

It was a meal that my mom used quite effectively for our whole family while my siblings and I were going through the picky eater phase. The only thing you have to watch out for is the fondue itself separating, depending on how it's made.

Oh, dear. Not very practical.

To get to my sukkah, I have to go down a flight of stairs, out the front door, down three more steps, and down a narrow alley the length of the house. Carrying a pot of melted cheese would be dangerous for me. (Also, carrying little cups of stuff is kinda awkward, too.)

(And, um. I thought you knew I kept kosher? Turkey is meat, so it doesn't go near cheese.)

Some suggestions:

* Small eggplant, large beefsteak tomatoes, and/or large mushrooms stuffed with cheese, quinoa or barley, and fresh herbs such as basil and rosemary, then baked. (As all the eggplant had to be picked last week because of frost, this is what I've been eating.)

* Vegetarian frittata containing (among other vegetables) peppers, potatoes, and zucchini and served in pita. This has the advantage of probably being familiar to the five-year-old, since it's basically an egg sandwich, and is different enough from quiche to not be a repeat.

* Vegetarian baked beans in the slow cooker, served with crusty bread.

There are practical considerations, of course, so the crockpot is out (too heavy to carry down to the sukkah.)

The rest are possibilities (but the fritatta is rather quichelike.)

The same turkey/bean/sweet potato casserole (sounds yummy; can you post the recipe?) only with TVP instead of turkey?

Stuffed shells? Veggie potpie? A nice veggie biryani? Malai kofta? I can list vegetarian main dishes all day.

Recipe? Who uses a recipe?

Two cups of cooked beans (or two cans.) Any kind, but I'd avoid black beans just for color purposes. I think pinto would be best.

One chopped onion, saute'd.
Two sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed.
1/2 cup pearl barley.
(Diced cooked turkey)
Salt, pepper, dash of vinegar or wine, water or broth to cover.

Put all in a casserole and bake for two hours, until barley is cooked and there's a crust on top.

I may make that and take out a generous serving for Mitch,and then add the turkey.

This would have the added benefit of not being time-sensitive - a factor wiht Mitchell.

I really do want to use my turkey up. :)

And I really don't want to do anything fussy.

What about build your own wraps? Have deli for the meat eaters and a baked salmon fillet (buy it frozen) for the veggie...

Or tacos... have both chopped meat/chicken/turkey and mock-meat....

Also a possibility. I'm not sure. I'm just looking for easy.

My favorite pareve option (not what you asked for, I realized, but it's vegetarian, obviously) is sesame or peanut noodles.

In either case, cook up a pound or two of whole wheat spaghetti or soba noodles.

For sesame noodles: whisk together tahini, sesame oil, some rice wine vinegar and some soy sauce. We sometimes add ginger paste or grated ginger, and also sometimes add chili-garlic sauce. Toss the noodles to coat, and top with chopped scallions and a white or black sesame seeds.

For peanut noodles: combine in a saucepan peanut butter, peanut oil, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. (You'll have to stir or whisk a bunch, because the vinegar and the peanut butter don't initially want to combine.) Ginger and chili-garlic pastes optional. Toss the noodles to coat; top wth chopped scallions.

You can also add sliced cucumber or carrot, and diced purple onion, to either one.

Sorry these measurements aren't precise at all. Both of these sauces tend to be something I taste as I go along, and add more of various things until they taste like what I want. :-)

I do a variation on the peanut noodles, because I dislike peanuts, but do like spicy stuff: almond or cashew or soy nut butter, thinned with a bit of hot water, then mixed with Szechuan spicy sauce (SanJ brand).

What about cheese enchiladas? You can make them with just cheese, with a mixture of beans or chickpeas and/or rice and/or cheese and/or salsa. I have a recipe where you create the enchiladas with mostly chickpeas and salsa and a little cheese then put the whole thing into a lasagna size pan with a little salsa and cheese on the top and bake until everything bubbles.

Another option is to buy tortillas or taco shells, have a few small bowls filled with things that people can add themselves, plus a casserole dish of veggie chili for them as well. I've always found that kids love it when they can put their own food together. And that way it doesn't matter if someone wants only veggies and cheese or someone else only wants veggie chili.

All of our most recent simchas include two big casserole dishes of my mom's homemade Ziti. Both disappear. The recipe is so simple to make, I bring it to any pitch-ins to which I am invited, and people always ask for the recipe. Although called "ziti", we actually use the grooved (ridged) rigatoni noodles. The recipe is as follows, however, you will probably want to double it, if you use it.

Mom's Ziti:

1 box ridged Rigatoni noodles
1 Jar Spagetti sauce (I prefer with mushrooms)
1 16 ounce container of ricotta cheese
1 package (large block) of Mozzarella, cut in cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook noodles, per directions. Drain. Put noodles in large Casserole Dish. Toss Noodles with sauce. Stir in cubes of mozzarella. Drop in spoonfuls of ricotta until container is empty, inserting glops of ricotta throughout the casserolle dish (I don't just mix it in, because the ricotta gets spread thin. I like to find "pockets" of ricotta in my Ziti). season to taste with salt and pepper. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the mozzarella is melted.

My mother also makes a "blintz casserolle", but this should really be categorized as dessert.

Thanks! This sound yummy and easy enough for me to make. I'm cooking challenged. So this recipe is going into the kitchen three-ring binder where there are a few other recipes from this LJ as well.

My mother makes a delicious milchig eggplant/rice casserole - I would be happy to give you the recipe. Can also be made with zuccini. Or the old standby, tuna noodle casserole?

I'd really love the eggplant and rice casserole, if you have time to type it in. (I currently have CSA white eggplants lurking in my fridge, grimly threatening to go bad if I don't think of something entertaining to do with them.)