What to Make if…

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The only part of cooking that I really dislike is figuring out what to make when I’m hosting other people. Between picky eaters and food allergies, it seems like I can never please everyone’s palates or stomachs. After a lot of experimenting with different recipes and combinations of food, I have finally come up with a few dishes that have proven to be crowd pleasers. Try out some of the recipes below that are not only quick to whip up but are also simple to make!

Date Night: Salmon with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Sautéed Spinach
So your significant other is coming over and you want to make something that is different than your typical weekday meal. Instead of giving up and succumbing to Thai takeout (again), try this easy salmon recipe.

• Preheat the oven to 350° and coat two salmon fillets with a olive oil and a mixture of 1/3 parts honey and 2/3 parts soy sauce (quantities can be changed based on preference) plus 2 tablespoons of crushed ginger. Bake for 15 minutes on a oil coated, foil covered tray or until fish starts to flake.
• Boil 2 sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into small chucks) until fork tender. Add 4-5 tablespoons of butter and mash until creamy.
• In a pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat and add 5 cups of fresh spinach to the pan. Stir until wilted.

Girls Night: Fusilli Pasta with Shrimp, Zucchini and Broccoli (serves 4)
I love getting together with a bunch of friends and catching up while eating something delicious. This pasta dish is easy to make (and eat!) so you and your friends can have plenty of time to talk!

• Boil half a bag of whole wheat fusilli and set aside.
• In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add chopped white onions until brown, then add cubed zucchini and chopped broccoli and cook until tender.
• Add one pound of defrosted and rinsed jumbo shrimp to the vegetable mixture and cook until heated through. Add about a quarter- half cup of balsamic vinegar and cook until reduced. Combine pasta and veggie/shrimp mixture and drizzle olive oil on top.

Keeping it Vegan: Tofu with Brown Rice, Sautéed Tomatoes and Kale
Cooking for vegans is difficult for me. I don’t want to lose flavor just because I have limited ingredients to choose from, but also don’t want to create a mess of flavors that don’t pair well together. This simple tofu recipe is sure to please any vegan and who knows, your non- vegan friends might enjoy it too!

• Prepare 2 cups of brown rice and add sesame seeds and sautéed red onions to the rice.
• In a pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add kale and halved grape tomatoes until the kale has wilted and becomes a vibrant green color. Mix kale and tomato mixture with soy sauce and ginger.
• Cube a block of extra firm tofu (after removing some of the moisture with paper towels) and place in a steamer for about five minutes. If you don’t have a stovetop steamer, place the cubed tofu on a microwave safe plate and put a damp paper towel over it. Microwave for about 2 minutes. Combine a mixture of chopped basil and red onion and place over the tofu. Sprinkle black sesame seeds on top and lightly drizzle with olive oil.

These meals are super easy to make and can be altered to cater to different preferences, so even if you’re cooking for someone who isn’t mentioned, you still have some great jumping off points. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the ingredients and create each dish as your own- you never know, you may even find that you have a secret love of tofu!

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