Beach House Dinners
My boyfriend and I are renting a house in Cape Cod with his parents and sister for a week. I volunteered to do some of the cooking and I am trying come up with some ideas for dinners. I think the best choice would be recipes without tons of ingredients or specialized cookware since we will be staying in someone's home. So far I came up with Pasta with Pesto, Hamburgers, Crab Cake and Sausage with Peppers. Any other good suggestions?
We were joking this weekend that vacation home cooking should be a Top Chef challenge - lousy knives, minimal equipment, electric stoves... Although it sounds like you'll have a smaller group to cook for (we were feeding between 10 and 14), which makes it easier.
Your list already sounds great, but another thing to consider is a really big pot of clam chowder (or corn chowder), or chili. I find that after a few days of "vacation food" you want something a little less rich and filled with veggies. At least I do!
I'd take advantage of the local seafood. It won't be especially cheap, but everyone will really be in the mood for local flavors.
Linguini and clam sauce (preferably white clam sauce)
New England clam chowder
Surf and turf, with shrimp scampi, steak, baked potato and salad
Other non-seafood ideas:
Taco or burrito bar (make your own)
Cuban marinated pork roast (or just tenderloins) with rice and beans
A couple of nice roasted chickens with veggie and pasta salad
For simple and quick: Frozen ravioli, sauce and salad
I live at the beach and I have guests all the time. People seem to like it simple, good and easy, on hot nights. One of the things I do is a variation on burgers. I do turkey burgers, salmon burgers, shrimp burgers and tuna burgers. I make them ahead of time and freeze them in batches. When the time comes I take out a variety and they are thawed in a couple of hours. Serve with pasta salad, quinoa salad, green salad, corn salad. My teens created a pasta salad to do with the burgers that guests rave about. I'm not big on prepared dressings but they are teenagers and they did offer to cook, so who am I to argue? Cooked elbow mac with carrots, chopped vidalias, yellow peppers and bacon bits, tossed with Kraft 3 cheese Ranch dressing. It was devoured.
We spend a week at the beach every summer. Here are some things we make:
fish and shrimp tacos
lobsters, coleslaw and blueberry crostata
chicken and steak fajitas
pulled pork sandwiches - make b4 I leave and freeze
grilled pork tenderloin with balsamic grilled vegetables
We just got back from staying at a lake cabin and were responsible for dinner one night. I struggled with ideas, but eventually made the following. It went over very well, and I would totally make it again if we were in a similar situation.
Make a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, honey mustard, oregano, and pepper. Pour into two bowls. In one bowl, place strips of chicken and leave to marinate. In another bowl, place halved red and yellow peppers, chunks of purple onion, and asparagus, and toss in the marinade. Skewer chicken. Place chicken and peppers on grill, reserving marinade from veggies. When all grilled, chop veggies into smaller pieces, and place in a big bowl with chicken pieces and reserved marinade (You might want to make a little extra marinade and add it if you think it needs more). Add some sliced bocconchini and toss. It is really yummy served warm, while the cheese in melty, but is also excellent cold.
As an appy I topped a wheel of brie with apricot jam, chopped pecans, and a little chopped jalapeno, and threw it in the oven for a few minutes. Served it with some crostini. Again, this went over very well. Almost to well, for being so easy,,,
because you'll be cooking for a group, you might want to plan a few "make it yourself" or "personalize it yourself" type meals, like a taco bar w/ chicken and/or beef and/or bean/veggie fixins with the normal lettuce, cheese, and salsa; or a baked potato bar with a few toppings; panini bar (if you've got a stove, wrap a brick in foil and use to press in a pan). or for breakfast, prep some crepes, then offer various fruits and jams or sauces to go on top.
casserole dishes like enchiladas are easy to prep ahead then bake.
for breakfast perhaps an overnight strata, or overnight french toast casserole that you prep the night before, allow soak, and bake off in the morning.
you could also pre-make at the trip's start one of those 6 week bran muffin recipes and keep the batter in the fridge, and bake them off as you need them daily or whenever.
have a great trip!
When we beach it up in Maine, I usually try to fix 3-4 meals at home, just to be able to avoid having to cook while there and to save money on eating out every night. I always pack steaks frozen. A meat sauce and some pasta. Chicken or pork chops frozen. The place we stay has a grill and fridge so we just pick up some local veggies for salad or corn on the cob and we're good to go. The kids want icecream for dessert or else we pick up a local pie (blueberry :-) You keep it simple and it's stress free for all.
The other nights we can enjoy the local seafood and not feel that we broke the bank.
For something inexpensive and easy, I'd go for a brisket. Toss it in one of those oven bags, cook it for half a day, and you'll have leftovers for sandwiches. It will be minimal labor and allow you to spend time with your relatives. Maybe some store-bought potato salad, etc.........., well, you get the idea.
I'm in kind of the same boat. I am cooking dinner most nights for our family beach trip, and we are a group of 14 - 3 little kids, 4 teens, and the rest adults, so it's kind of a challenge.
I'm having Frogmore stew for one night, and we're grilling chicken and london broil for a make your own taco bar another night - I'll make some good homemade pico de gallo and guac to go with it. For the first night, my mom made up 3 pans of her yummy homemade lasagna - she's packing it frozen, and we're letting it thaw on the way down to the beach. I am throwing in a couple of cryo vac pork loins, for later in the week.
It's also nice to bring some already prepared meals from home that you can put in the freezer, i.e., meat sauce, chili, etc. It can help to know that there's a home-cooked meal available without too much fuss. But I agree with everyone so far: take advantage of local ingredients.
Personally, I would find a good local grocery store, buy some freshly made roasted chicken, salad makings, local corn, and go out for ice cream for dessert. Not a big fan of spending my vacation cooking. Also, unless you are well versed with the quality/availability of the kitchen equipment, you are asking for trouble. If that won't satisfy, I would suggest capitalizing on local ingredients - seafood (lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp), produce (corn, blueberries, tomatoes, etc). The more simple you can structure the meals, the happier you will be. Where will you be traveling from and what method of transportation? Can you bring some cookware/ingredients with you? Our family's favorites at the beach include many variations on seafood salad (Crab Louis, pasta salad, etc) as seafood is a big treat for us in the MidWest. How about your own version of lobster rolls?