Cooking for a Crowd

May 28, 2011 at 9:15 am 5 comments

This is a spectacular weekend. The sun is shining: summer is officially here! You know who else is here? My whole family! My grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin hopped in their van on Thursday and made their 2-day drive north for a long overdue visit. It is so much fun when all 9 of us get together! There is always a lot of food, wine, coffee, and dinner conversations that solve the problems of the world (if only it were all that simple). I am still enjoying my role as family cook, so I made a huge, healthy dinner to welcome everyone! Before I started blogging, I only followed recipes on occasion and rarely paid attention to how much spice I added to things. I am slightly more aware of it now so that I can share my recipes with you all, but sometimes old habits die hard! This post will not contain recipes at the end, but instead I will walk you through my thought process and ingredient list for how the meal came together. Hopefully you will find some new flavor combo to try out!

As munchies, I set out the leftover Roasted Chickpeas from my mom’s game night. I rewarmed them in the oven, because they are best crispy and had gone kind of flat with all of the humid weather we have had lately. I also made some Kale Crisps, mostly to use up the rest of the gigantic head of kale my mom bought. The kale crisps were a huge hit! My aunt would like it noted that even my cousin ate kale, a big deal!


As appetizers, we had littleneck clams steamed in beer and whole artichokes. The clams pick up a little of the beer flavor and taste great with a little butter sauce, and my family ate them up! I tried one, but still don’t like the texture enough to have more than a taste. The artichokes were my personal favorite. I followed Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide – excellent and pretty easy! Snipping each leaf tip to prepare the choke is a little tedious, but the flavor is well worth the effort. WARNING: do not eat the whole leaf! Use your teeth to pull the soft part out, and discard the pointy rest of the leaf. (My grandpa missed this warning, but learned quickly after getting a few throat scratches.)




Dinner consisted of grilled salmon, Balsamic Brussels sprouts, and a gigantic salad. The salmon was rubbed with a mix of chili powder, paprika, mustard seed and garlic powder, as well as the juice of 1/2 large orange and a little orange zest. This was inspired by my mom’s favorite seafood rub, which I decided to mimic to cut down on the salt content. It was a very different flavor, but the citrus rang through stronger and I liked it even better! We grilled the salmon on a cedar plank, which gives it a great smoky flavor. (We get cedar planks cheaply at Costco, but I have seen them at Williams & Sonoma as well.) The Brussels sprouts were halved and mixed with Balsamic vinegar, a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper, and then thrown on a grill tray. They taste like roasted Brussels sprouts, but picked up a hint of the smoky cedar flavor. Plus, you don’t have to heat up the whole house this way and still get the awesome roasted texture! The salad was mixed greens, baby spinach, a yellow bell pepper, a tomato, cucumber and some sliced carrots. My mom taught me to put salads together visually: the more colors it has, the better it looks and the more likely people are to eat it! Plus, eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies ensures that you are getting the vitamins and minerals you need.


Still have room for dessert? Barely. Fruit is the perfect ending to our healthy feast! I mixed together some watermelon and canteloupe (I prefer to call it canta-melon… makes so much more sense, right?!) with some fresh mint, agave nectar, and a bit of water. The fruit soaked up the mint and was absolutely perfect! Isn’t that the biggest watermelon you have ever seen?


We finished off the night around a beautiful backyard campfire – looking forward to a whole weekend filled with more talking, eating, and relaxing with my family.

Question: What are your Memorial Day Weekend plans?


Entry filed under: Recipes. Tags: , , , , , .

If med school doesn’t work out, you can always be a caterer! One Smart Blondie

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Scavenging the Interweb  |  May 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Wow! I felt like I was watching one of those Food Network shows…Seriously, you’re pro. My plans? Packingggg and enjoying the sunshine!!!

    • 2. jenlenew  |  May 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      Haha thanks! I enjoyed so much sunshine today too! About time, right?!

  • 3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide  |  May 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    That whole meal looks wonderful from start to finish. That salad is so colorful. And I just love salmon. I’m glad the artichokes worked so well, sorry about grandma though!

    • 4. jenlenew  |  May 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm

      Thanks! I am definitely making those artichokes again :)

  • 5. A Return to Normalcy « homemadeadventure  |  June 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    […] is a rare occasion that we are all together, and we truly do have a lot of fun together! We made a lot, lot, lot, lot of delicious meals together this week, drank a lot of coffee, and had a lot of […]


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