Summer always brings much-anticipated visits from friends and family, but if you don’t plan ahead, you can get overwhelmed and stressed out trying to feed all those extra mouths. I like to plan meals that are mostly made ahead (I don’t want to be in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun!), with lots of built in flexibility so everyone can personalize their plates (especially important when there are a bunch of kids in the mix). With a fridge stocked with plenty of beverages and healthy snacks (yogurt, fresh fruit and veggies), and a good stash of homemade cookies, you’ll be ready to enjoy your visitors!
Panini Night: 2 kinds of good sliced bread, 3 cheeses (I like cheddar, provolone and Havarti), some sliced deli meat, thinly sliced tomato, arugula, maybe a jar of roasted red peppers or some caramelized onions. Set everything out in little bowls and let each person assemble their own sandwich. I don’t have a fancy panini press; I just toast them on the griddle and press them down with a cast iron skillet. Add a salad and some chips!
Pasta Night: Asparagus, goat cheese and lemon pasta (I realize this menu leans heavily on Smitten Kitchen recipes, but they’re always reliable!). Cook extra pasta and leave it plain for the pickier kids who want plain marinara or just butter and cheese. My kids like the goat cheese but pick out the asparagus. Garlic bread (use a big 1-lb. loaf of soft Italian bread to feed a crowd) and a simple tomato salad.
Breakfast ideas: Doughnut Muffins (that’s what my kids call them because I make them in regular muffin tins) and smoothies; Spinach and cheese strata or Baked French Toast and bacon; Overnight Orange Rolls and Velvet Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Herbs.
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