Menu ideas for different eaters for the holiday weekend coming up?

Family will be visiting us over the holiday weekend with a range of food preferences including 2 people on a high protein Atkins-like diet; 1 who dislikes most veggies except potatoes and broccoli; 3 kids ranging from 3 - 7 years old who are not happy with food outside of chicken nuggies, hot dogs, burgers, pasta and pizza. Oh, and I'm mostly vegetarian. I generally have been making 2-3 different dinners when they visit and wondering what ideas this creative community might have?? Maybe some things that could be made ahead on Friday?



mrslarkin May 23, 2011
How about a build-your-own taco bar? With lots of fixings ranging from beef, chicken and shrimp, to cheese, to veggies, so everybody's happy. Lots of different salsas, guac, sour cream, soft tacos, hard tacos, etc. And margaritas for the grown ups, of course.

I love the shrimp boil idea and being on the west coast, all shrimp has been flash frozen. I buy it bagged too, so I'm with you there. Paired with some corn and potatoes with butter, or the above potato salad ideas, and yes to the cornbread idea, how can you go wrong! I can't tell you how excited I am about all these ideas. What I don't use this weekend will be used later in the summer where this family group will be joined by 4 more family members including 2 more kids to visit us for a week!
Sam1148 May 23, 2011
One thing about shrimp: Unless you live near a coast where you can get fresh shrimp or have a good fish monger that flies it in....most shrimp sold is flash frozen often on the boat then packaged for shipping.

The shrimp your see at most supermarkets on ice in the display cases is frozen shrimp defrosted on the ice---it could have been languishing there for a couple of days.
You're better off getting the bagged frozen stuff..or ask them to go in the back and get a bag of the flash frozen stuff they put on ice for display. Which in some cases is the same sold in the frozen seafood section.

Summer O. May 23, 2011
Ah yes - the Frogmore stew as it is known as in Mt.Pleasant. Sam1148 is on to something. Turn a blind eye to that sausage and maybe the addition of some cornbread for those not on Atkins.
Ophelia May 23, 2011
Do try to remember that a big part of atkins-type diets isn't so much super high protein, but a reliance on fat to provide enough calories to get through the day without the extra calories provided by starchy foods.
Cheese sauces made from just heavy cream and cheddar cheese are super good and can be put on just about anything. I'd cook up a variety of veggies, potatoes, some meat and rice or noodles and let people put together their own cheesy bowls.
Sam1148 May 23, 2011
Another big hit at outdoor parties is a shrimp boil. With purchased 'crab boil' bag (the dry stuff, zatarains is a good brand)..kielbasa sausage cut in thick 'coins', corn on the cob (sliced in thirds), red potatoes, Shrimp (shell on).
Put a beer or two in the stock pot, and a couple of lemons cut in half, salt, water to fill.
Let it simmer to extract flavoring then start adding stuff (sausage first, wait, potatoes, wait, corn, wait, and finally shrimp when the potatoes are tender).
Drain and dump out on a table with newspaper. With more lemon wedges, cocktail sauce and butter for the corn and potatoes. The news paper on the picnic table (or a big salad bowl lined with news paper) looks great and every one can choose something they like. (well, except those that might object to meat/shrimp boiled with their veggies).
Man oh man, you guys are the best! Thanks for all the great ideas and the kind comments!!! I really appreciate it. Ideas that my husband also liked (yes, he gets a vote) were the build your own stuff ranging from pizzas one night, skewers another night and lettuce wraps (and have tortillas handy too). Pizza is out for the Atkins folks, but the salad Nicoise would go great with that and the kids could just pull from the salad to make their own salads. Thank you thank you thank you!!
latoscana May 23, 2011
What about setting out lots of bite-sized ingredients (proteins, veggies) and everyone builds their own skewers to grill? They can even choose different rubs or sauces, depending on heat and sweetness preferences. Have a variety of dipping sauces and wraps, such as lettuce, tortillas, spring roll wraps. Everyone gets their own personal happy meal.
Helen's A. May 23, 2011
This is a great make ahead & everyone always seems to love it:

Voted the Best Reply!

Summer O. May 23, 2011
Last summer we had a house full of kids with a range of tastes. One thing I made that was a huge hit with the kids (and adults) was lettuce wraps. I marinaded a flank steak, chopped a ton of veggies and herbs (carrots, spring onion, red peppers, basil, mint, etc.) and also put out some rice and the lettuce leaves. Everyone can tailor this sort of meal to their own tastes and it's minimal work, minus the chopping. And obviously a fish, chicken or tofu would work in conjunction. But I also agree, a good old fashioned BBQ with lots of veggie sides would be successful.
nogaga May 23, 2011
I love these type of mathematical conundrums! My best suggestion for a veggie-leaning group of Atkins fans plus some fried-food loving kids is to make a big joyful pan of shakshuka and some roasted or fried potatoes on the side. Here are teo Food52 references: and I normally make it in a big cast iron skillet on the stovetop-- I saute some garlic and tiny chopped freshed chopped chilli pepper, then add the freshly chopped or grated tomatoes almost to fill the pan, salt and pepper, and add up to a dozen room-temp eggs to poach slowly and gently in the tomato juices. It is a versatile and cheerful dish. Good luck!
SKK May 23, 2011
You are an amazing chef with recipes that are a gift to those of us who make them and those who are privileged to taste them.

The kids, the person who doesn't like veggies and the Atkins people could all eat the same thing and it would be easy to prep the night before; for example pigs in a blanket, using beef tenderloin. Chicken nuggest are easy to make ahead of time. You could make pasta sauce ahead. And a salad can be made a day early and tossed with dressing at the last minute for you.

Your family is coming to be with you and each other. The food will be great and that is not what people will remember when they look back. They (we) remember the love and respect and celebration of family which is the source of your question.

Wow! thanks for a ton of great ideas everyone. I'm going to sift thru them in detail and start to plan my menus. I'll let you know how it goes!
ellenl May 22, 2011
HealthierKitchen's springiest potato salad ever on this site is really, really good, easy, and healthy. I've made it a few times and people have liked it alot.
mcd2 May 22, 2011
how about veg meatlof as above with a regular meatloaf for the meat eaters will your kids eat one of the kinds of meatloaf too?. that would simplify & then you are at least eating similar looking items to plan the rest of the menu around. can be made ahead. and leftovers for lunch the next day. for the meat eaters bacon and egg salad or egg salad with a side of bacon? eggs can be boiled ahead. for the vegan, grains and veg salad. again sort of a coordinated menu. depending on how strictly the atkins diet people are-or where they are in the plan, fruit may be an option to supplement their meat choices. or if they are in an early version of atkins, they will want vegs and meat, no fruit or pasta, pizza, potato etc. what about a crustless quiche for one meal (eggs are a protein source that doesn't involve a cut of meat). again, make ahead possible. another type of quiche for the other faction or a pizza for the vegans & the kids. tuna as a meat choice too is a possibility. salad nicoise kind of offering. with hot dogs for the kids that meal if they won't eat tuna. hope that helps.
lorigoldsby May 22, 2011
Second the potato salad idea. Gingerroot had a good one in the legacy contest, it's similar to the one I make which has a quasi-aioli dressing.
LucyS May 22, 2011
A good potato salad could be great. I make it with potatoes, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, celery, apples, raisins, almonds, chives, etc. - pretty much whatever you like. If I have access to a grill, that's usually my solution because everyone can grill what they want. But I also like the quinoa idea above. If the atkins people will eat legumes, you could also try pizza crust made with chickpea flour! I found it here -
drbabs May 22, 2011
Check out the recipes at this foodpickle question:
and this link (which didn't work in the question),
and I think you'll get some great ideas.
Sam1148 May 22, 2011
Cauliflower couscous. Pulse the Florettes in a processor until they resemble couscous.
Lightly sautee with oil and a veggi stock, a touch of cumin. Don't over cook it!! Just or it might get stinky--just lightly heated to take off the rawness.

Use as a base for a tagine---done two ways, One with lamb stew, preserved lemons, one with just veggies with the same base. (Even veggie haters don't mind the couscous, as it does taste like pasta couscous). The stew portion can be made ahead.
But make a baked potato or two for the picky eater.

Add: Stuffed grape leaves.(Humm, you could use some of the veggie couscous for the atkins folks).

For the kids: Get some Boboli Pizza crust and sauce packs..chop up some toppings and let them create their own pizzas.

Greek nacho's would good too...but use regular corn chips for gluten free people. (IMHO, I think they're better on those chips instead of pita bread). The lamb from the couscous could be ground finely to do double duty.

For make ahead for high protein folks: A quinqua tabouli salad (subing the quinqua for bulgar wheat). Again the same pre-prep; chopping tomatoes, cucumber, green onion, and feta cheese can serve double with the greek nachos.

boulangere May 22, 2011
Wow, a lot to take on. Take a look at kitchenbutterfly's lovely pizza creation: It could satisfy the pizza and low vegetable content people happy.

As for the high-protein people, scroll through the current contest submissions. There are lots of good fish ideas. These aren't all make-ahead-able, but are certainly quick, especially if you enlist lots of idle guests' hands.

Have fun with your company and all your foods!
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