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Food Inspiration?

Jenny in Florida

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We're having another family over tonight for a very casual 4th of July thing. The invitation I issued was something along the lines of, "Hey, if you guys don't already have plans, we're staying home this year and just doing snacks and some fireworks in the driveway and would love to have you join us."


So, my husband and son and I have now done most of the cleaning necessary before we have anyone in the house, and it's time for me to face the question of what to serve.


This is complicated somewhat by the fact that we saw the same family last night at their house for an equally casual get-together. For that, they provided hummus and chips and veggies, and I brought cake and fruit. So, I'd like to do something different tonight.


Just to make this more fun:


1. My son and I are vegans; my husband is a vegetarian.

2. The parents in the other family have an assortment of food restrictions, including allergies to nuts and certain kinds of peppers.

3. The son has multiple severe food allergies, including issues with some things that are staples in our diet (soy, nuts).

4. My son's girlfriend may be joining us, and she has some anxiety challenges that result in a pretty limited range of food likes.


They are not arriving until 7:00-ish, so this isn't "dinner," but I do want there to be some reasonably hearty and healthy options, since they may stay a while.


So . . . go!

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Tortilla chips and various salsas?     And warm queso dip? 




I made a fruit salad for a party the other day; it was a huge hit:  Food 52 mango, melon salad.


Brownie ice cream sundaes.


Yeah, the first place my brain went was to chips and salsa, too, but it's challenging when half the attendees can't eat bell or jalepeno peppers. And when half doesn't/can't eat dairy for either health or ethical reasons, anything cheese based is also out. (Ice cream, too.)


We've been friendly with this family since our boys (now 18 and 19 years old) were preschoolers. So, the food thing is something we navigate several times a year. For some reason -- probably just because I'm tired -- I'm unusually stumped this time.


After a strategy session with my son and husband, I'm feeling a bit better, though.


The fruit salad looks yummy! I will definitely try that another time.

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Chips and guacamole instead of salsa. Make your own so you can control ingredients. Mashed avocado with a little lime and salt works if nothing else can be added. I like a little pico de gallo in it--chopped tomatoes, cilantro, a little sweet onion.



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This rice salad: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/southwest-rice-and-corn-salad-with-lemon-dressing-358511

You could leave out the peppers. It would taste different without them, but still be yummy. You could possibly add seasoned cooked black beans to the salad or have them on the side to add in.


Chips and veggies with guacamole and/or refried bean dip. Both can be made or purchased without peppers.


Roasted chickpeas


Fruit platter--grapes, strawberries, pineapple, watermelon. Keep all separate, rather than mixed like a salad.

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You can never have too much fruit at a summer get-together, even if you had some last night. Just pick different fruits for a colorful fruit platter.

Veggies ditto. Different veggies than last night, different dip. If you already did hummus, maybe a roasted beet dip, or a different flavored hummus, or guacamole.

Roasted veggies, maybe marinaded, antipasto style


roasted potatoe or sweet wedges; can be eaten warm with dip or seasoning

some nice artisan bread


I have sometimes served salads at after-dinner gatherings. Not sure whether you will have plates&utensils or whether everything should be finger foods.

If you decide to use dishes, a cold soup is nice, or some desert in little glasses. A fruit salad, or I make a chilled fruit desert (traditional German)


Fruit desert (Rote Gruetze) I make:

bag of frozen mixed berries, some water, boil until fruit thawed, stir in a box of jello vanilla pudding mix - not instant, the kind that cooks-, keep boiling while stirring until the mixture thickens and becomes translucent. Remove from heat, pour into glass bowl, chill.

If the pudding powder mix has powdered milk, you can subsitute corn starch, but will need to add sugar.





Edited by regentrude
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In Bon Appetit this month they had a lot of really good looking grilled veggie recipes- http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/grilled-vegetable-recipes


For dessert I vote for berries and ice cream of whatever works for everyone, there is coconut milk, soy, cashew nut, dairy. When I've had people over I buy a couple of different things- to hit everyone's interests and allergies.

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Black bean and corn salsa (some people call it cowboy caviar). I make mine with equal parts corn and black beans, a little cilantro, a red pepper (can easily be left out), a drizzle of basalmic vinegar and olive oil. Some people add chopped tomato or avocado but I like to make enough for leftovers and those don't keep as long.

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