Feed my family!
November 8, 2010 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Going to a family gathering at a mountain cabin - it does have all of the modern cooking conveniences - this weekend. I am charged with making dinner Friday night for 5 adults and six kids (kids aged 4-14). What could I make that is a) fairly easy - I can cook but don't want to spend all day prepping it and b) fun and maybe a little different - but kids can be finicky so not something that would turn them off. We are driving about four hours to the cabin, so I can bring most things with me. Any ideas?
posted by joyride to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would make something at home to bring with you so you can enjoy your vacation time. Trays of lasagna or ziti can be made ahead and frozen. Then you can just pop them in the oven with some garlic bread and toss a salad and you are done! Maybe for picky kids make a non-meat tray. Leftovers are always good for lunch the next day.
posted by maxg94 at 5:53 AM on November 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I like the idea of doing a lot ahead. If you don't want lasagna or a frozen dish, you can make a simple stew or soup. Prep all the ingredients at home and just pop them into a pot when you get there. That way you can have delicious soup simmering on the stovetop to make the whole place smell cozy and homey. Bring a nice crusty bread, and definitely a salad.
posted by purpletangerine at 6:05 AM on November 8, 2010

How about "Make Your Own" something? Pizzas and tex-mex come to mind immediately. You can make the dough rounds ahead of time and freeze them before they're baked, and you can prep all the ingredients at home before you leave. Then, when it's time, just have everyone decide what they want on their pies and have at it! With that many people, I'd start the kids' pizzas first and have them eating while the adults are prepping theirs.

Same goes for tex-mex. You could make a couple trays of enchiladas for the adults and freeze them before you leave home, and maybe prep taco stuff for the kids. Or, heck, make tacos for everyone. The adults could go more traditional with white corn tortillas, chopped steak, cilantro and onions while the kids could have ground beef and hard yellow corn shells. You could do refried beans, rice, sauteed veg; anything, really.
posted by cooker girl at 6:05 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Build-Your-Own Quesadilla Bar: two or three different kinds of tortillas. Several different kinds of pre-shredded cheese. Cans of beans, pre-shredded meats, pre-diced veggies, spices, other fun stuff. The kids can have plain cheese ones (even Wee Thumbscrew, who subsists on air, will eat these); the grown-ups can have, say, pepper jack cheese, buffalo chicken, and black beans on a sundried tomato tortilla. Or Swiss cheese, diced ham and honey mustard on a whole wheat tortilla. The possibilities are endless, and each customized quesadilla will take all of five minutes to slap together and fire up.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:53 AM on November 8, 2010

On preview: exactly what cooker girl said! :-)
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:54 AM on November 8, 2010

spaghetti was always my go to "try to please everyone" meal. even finicky kids will eat buttered noodles, right?
posted by lemniskate at 7:05 AM on November 8, 2010

If you don't mind cooking more than one thing, how about preparing a few things, that should cover the finicky kids (and adults!). You can still keep it simple, and you can make some ahead; for example, you can make a chili, meatballs (frozen meatballs, mixed with a jar of grape jelly, jar of chili sauce), pasta salad (cooked pasta, mixed with a jar of salsa sauce, red/green peppers, garlic), and any type of leaf salad you wish. Simple, easy ingredients, sure to please all.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 7:15 AM on November 8, 2010

spaghetti was always my go to "try to please everyone" meal. even finicky kids will eat buttered noodles, right?
posted by lemniskate at 10:05 AM on November 8

I was just going to suggest this. Spaghettti, offered with a small variety of sauces and toppings (marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, cheese, meatballs, chicken, etc.), some salad, some Italian bread, et volila! Supper!

Alternately, you could go with a potato bar. Get a bunch of baking potatoes, prick them with a fork, oil them, wrap them in tin foil, and stick them in a slow cooker on the low setting. Ten hours later, get the potatoes out and offer them with a variety of toppings: shredded cheeses of different sorts, shredded meat (turkey, ham, chicken, beef), chili, sour cream, butter, steamed broccoli, bacon bits, salsa, sauteed mushrooms, anything you think would go good on top of potatoes. Most of the suggested toppings can be purchased at the store with no problem (cheese, meats, salsa, canned chili) and the rest take very little effort to prepare (sauteed mushrooms, steam broccoli, bacon bits).
posted by magstheaxe at 7:25 AM on November 8, 2010

Spanish omelet. Easy and tasty to even the most finicky tastebuds.

You need:
Several pieces of bacon.
Several small, new potatoes or fingerlings.
Chopped Garlic
Sausage or meat of some kind. (We like chorizo or irish bangers)
Good cheese. (Jarlsberg is nice. We like goat cheese as well.
Cream or half/half.

Basically, cook up the bacon and then put aside for later.

Throw in chopped potatoes, meat, onions and mushrooms. Saute in bacon fat till nearly done.

In a bowl, lightly mix 8-12 eggs and a 3/4 cream or 1/2-1/2. Mix in 3/4 of your cheese as well. Little salt, little pepper. We also like to add basil, oregano and paprika. Your spice taste will vary, do whatever ... there isn't a wrong way.

Dump the egg mixture on top of the sauteed stuff and let set for a bit to cook.

Take your bacon and chop it up finely along with the rest of the cheese. When everything has cooked a bit and started to firm up, sprinkle the bacon/cheese mix on the top. You then have a choice ... either cover the pan and let cook for another 5-7 minutes till done or put it in a hot oven around 400 (we do this) for around 10 minutes and then turn the broiler on for 30 seconds or so to crisp up the top.

Yummy. Sounds like a ton of work but isn't. It's a 15 minute dish and is delicious. Even better is that it's great cold as a snack the next day.
posted by damiano99 at 7:49 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mountain cabin usually equals cold cabin when you arrive. Chili or stew is a great way to warm up. Add garlic bread, a green salad, and s'mores for dessert. Or, make chili ahead, partially precook bacon, and arrive ready to make custom grilled cheese sandwiches, with choice of breads, cheeses, bacon, avocado, tomato, etc.

Bonus: leftover chili is delish on baked potatoes or spaghetti for lunch the next day.

In my family, finicky kids get toast, which they are expected to make for themselves.
posted by theora55 at 8:09 AM on November 8, 2010

Pot roast? Minimal prep, and it pretty much makes itself once you get it in the oven. On the plate, it's meat, potatoes, carrots, and celery with gravy. Nobody doesn't like that.
posted by Gilbert at 8:30 AM on November 8, 2010

We do this every year with some very picky family, and make your own is a great way to go: pasta, pizza, baked potato, whatever. Lasagna also works well.

The biggest hit, though, was when we did fondue-cheese and chocolate, big variety of dippers. Folks love it, every body gets what they want, and it's lots of fun and seems very appropriate for winter mountain cabin trips.
posted by purenitrous at 8:51 AM on November 8, 2010

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