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Dinner crisis - Too tired to go out, didn't go shopping, having company, help!

We've got some out of town close family coming tonight and we were planning to go out for dinner, but I am just exhausted. There are very few options for take out / delivery in our area (except pizza) so that's pretty much out.

I was thinking of cooking something easy, probably a pasta dish since I don't have any meat/fish/etc. I do remember seeing an eggplant and some other veggies in the fridge.

Any suggestions? Our guests will be very forgiving, I have a good reason for being tired and I know they won't be upset with something simple, but they love my cooking and I have to feed them so I'd like it to be something appealing at least. To add to it, they are coming right when I get home from work so I don't have time to go to the grocery store, and I need something easy to prepare so that I'm not stuck over the stove.

Help me hounds!

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  1. You could bread the eggplant and pan fry it and serve it with some pasta and sauce. Or stuff the eggplant with whatever stuffing ingredients you have (bread, veggies, etc) and serve that with some pasta.

    1. If you have ricotta cheese, you can make an eggplant rolette.


      I made them last night but didn't follow the directions exactly--used some pumpkin ricotta leftover from making ravioli. Serve with pasta. I had made the zuni chicken and added whole garlic cloves so I poured the juices over the pasta and added parmesan cheese. But, I think it would have been fine over pasta w/ garlic and olive oil.

      1. I don't know if this will help, but I have a funny story. I once worked for a magazine well-known for its food section. Our food editor, a local celebrity back home, was holidaying in a condo in Hawaii. Her companion had broken his foot and they had kind of lost momentum, were lazing around and ordering in. That was when she got a call from a BIG (in all ways...) food critic from back home that she had, in a moment of far-off weakness, invited for dinner should he ever be in Hawaii when she was.

        Mr Critic left a message saying he was taking her up on her invite RIGHT NOW. She looked in the cupboard...nothing but some spaghetti noodles left by the last tenant, one bottle of curry powder of uncertain age and the bag of frozen (and thawed) peas that her guy had been using on his foot. Oh and a LOT of vodka...

        Long story short, on her return she read the critic's newspaper column of the "fabulous" meal she had served- linguini with vodka/curry sauce and "fresh new peas"-he was marvelling at the resourcefulness of a a foodie who could find fresh baby peas in Hawaii-little did he know!!!

        1 Reply
        1. First - Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Repeat a few times. It really does help.

          How about curried vegetables with rice?
          Could you not leave work just a bit early so you can swing by the grocery store? Or call the fam and let them know you'll be just a little late, so you can stop at the grocery store? My family wouldn't hold it against me if they had to wait on the porch or in their car for a little while, especially if I let them know.
          Where would you have gone out to eat? Perhaps they might be willing to prepare a to-go order for you? I don't know how much of your tale you're willing to tell, nor how regular a customer you are, but I don't think it hurts to ask them.
          And, if all that doesn't pan out, I say what's wrong with pizza?
          Or, if you're exhausted, and they understand, maybe *they* could pick something up or run to the grocery store for you?

          1. Dependant on what you have in your cupoards really. if you have tomatoes (tin or fresh) then a veggie pasta dish is easy. You could always layer the eggplant, cooked pasta & tomato sauce in a dish & oven bake - cover top with cheese & bread crumbs. (i have used crisps & pretzels crackers once!)

            Leaving you time with your guests while its in the oven & not too much effort.

            My emergency dessert is:
            Put fruit, jam or syrup in greased bowl. (2pint)
            Mix together 4oz self raising flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, 4oz butter, 4oz sugar (1/2 cups in USA i think) , 2 eggs & pinch salt.
            Pace on top of fruit , jam etc
            Cover & microwave for about 5 mins till done
            serve with cream, ice cream, or custard ....

            What ever you do, I am sure they will just be happy to see you!

            Have a lovely evening :o)

            1. I used to make a very delicious tomato sauce for spaghetti with eggplant in it, back before I had children who wouldn't eat eggplant. I diced the eggplant and sauteed it with some onion and garlic -- mushroms would be a good additions, but in those days I didn't have the money to put both eggplant AND mushrooms into a sauce-- then added canned tomatoes, some tomato paste, oregano, lemon juice, red wine. Very yummy and kind of fancy, with a nice salad with a vinegrette. And also fairly quick.

              1. After long being a zuccini detractor I've recently come around.

                Here's something someone showed me the other day -- a very basic eggplant casserole. Not sexy but very eatable.

                Saute onions, zuccini, eggplant. Stir in chickpeas. Pour into casserole dish. Fold in a large can of tomatos. Top with feta cheese (or could substitute parmesan or whatever) and oregano (or whatever else goes best with the type of cheese you're using).

                1. Do you have cream, cheese and any frozen peas? Great easy pasta dish, just add a salad, great bread and wine.

                  1. Got stuff for breakfast? Make a fritatta or omelettes and some biscuits with chopped herbs. Or even a quiche, if you feel up to messing with a pie crust.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Andiereid

                      or a strata if you have day old bread and you can incorporate the veggies in the fridge

                      If you have a can of anchovies somewhere and garlic you can make a quick pasta sauce with olive oil, grill the eggplant and incorporate into a simple pasta.

                    2. If you have a can of tuna, some pasta, some lemon (or just juice) and some garlic and onion, along with some other vegetable, you can make this dish.

                      Put salted water on to boil. Add the pasta.
                      Saute the onions and garlic (chopped into small pieces) until browned. If the veggies take a while to cook, add them in too right from the beginning, otherwise add them once the onions and garlic are browned.

                      Once the veggies are tender and the pasta is done, drain the pasta and set aside. Add the tuna to the veggie mixture and saute until parts of the tuna are browned. Add the pasta to the pan and mix everything well. Add lemon juice, lots of black pepper and, at the very end, some olive oil to make sure the dish is moist enough.

                      It is simple but satisfying dish. I am sure it can be improved with some additional ingredients (olives, capers, perhaps) but as is, it is ok.

                      1. Thanks everyone. I love the story and also the advice to breathe. I think the finished product will be some combination of all of the above!

                        Thanks again!

                        1. My guess: she's going with pizza delivery!