Friday, January 9, 2009

Friends Are Coming for Dinner...A Challenge!

Our wonderful friends are coming to dinner tomorrow night. I am so excited as we are also expecting several inches of snow as well, so it surely will be a magical night. I do have a dilemma, though: Being that I did not plan to have guests (additional 5 people) back when I did the grocery shopping this week, I did not purchase extra supplies for the big dinner. So I have decided that even though I am not completely prepared, I will challenge myself to come up with a tasty and fun meal for 9 people without grocery shopping.

“Why”, you may ask, “aren’t you going to the store to buy good food for these wonderful friends for dinner?” Well, all I can say is that in the recent past, I have been known to grocery shop, with or without a list, with every intention to ‘just get a few things’ for situations just like this and end up spending $80. Easily. And I could go back and do it again the next day. Whenever I had the whim of something tickling my gastronomical fancy, I would hop to the store and purchase much more than I ever needed. My pattern has cost me an exorbitant amount of money over the years, more than I ever budgeted for. It was the ‘sneaky’ money that crept away from my pocket without much thought. And at the end of the week, it accounted for much wasted, slimy foodstuffs.

So what if I play a little game and assume I have everything I need in the pantry to make a wonderful dinner for 9? My husband and I did this on Christmas when we discovered that we needed to bring a dish to the family meal. Instead of going to the store on Christmas Eve, battling the crowds and getting more frustrated, we chose to root around and create a dish with what we had on hand. We ended up with beautiful stuffed peppers, filled with chipotle sauced beans and rice. We had just received several red, green and yellow peppers from our organic delivery service, Boston Organics, and I could prepare the entire dish completely without having to shop at all. Lovely.

What will I make? Looks like mushroom and cheese pizza for the kids, and black bean fejoida with brown rice for the adults. Fejoida is a Brazilian dish, typically full of sausage and other meats. The one I make has black beans simmered for hours in sage and other great spices. Being that my husband is a vegetarian, I leave the meat out. It comes to the table accompanied by mandarin oranges (which I do not have, but I do have blood oranges), onions (which I have a zillion of) and cheese (good there). Since I have so many onions, another thought is to make onion soup for the adults. I have a box of gluten free cake mix (yuck, a box – but actually I find the boxed gluten free mixes to be a bit better than what I could do from scratch), and I think I have ice cream. I have popcorn for a snack/appetizer which I can pop and mix with curry powder and butter for a treat.

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