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Jul 7, 2010 10:31 PM

Need inspiration for a group dinner

Each week I'm part of a group that plays role playing games. We take turns cooking and it's once again my turn. The other group members do ok, but aren't that in to cooking and/or don't have much time so we seem to have the same stuff over and over. I'm usually pretty good at coming up with something to cook but money is tight and the weather is HOT here in W. Washington (especially since we were having record low temps until this week) and our lack of air conditioning precludes turning on my oven. I don't have access to a grill.

If I have to eat spaghetti, burritos, chicken and rice casserole, or bad imitations of stir-fry one more time I'll cry. I've also recently made chili, thai fried rice, jambalaya, and a sort of faux stroganoff.

We have someone who can't eat dairy, someone who is allergic to eggs, and someone who won't eat fish or seafood of any kind. All the other members of the group are guys with guy sized appetites meaning my summer diet of salad is probably not going to work. People will eat meat, and they don't mind spice.

Am I just not having a great idea or is this really as complicated as it seems? Help!

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  1. How about cassoulet? It can be done completely on the stovetop with the exception of the toasting/browning of the breadcrumbs at the last second. The broiler will only be on for a few minutes. I was also going to suggest paella, but that might be too close to the chicken and rice casserole you mentioned. I

    1. What about build-your-own shawerma or falafel wraps? Set out a buffet of lavash bread, chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, shredded cabbage, falafel balls, shawerma-seasoned chicken and/or lamb, tahini sauce, hummus, hot sauce, and whatever else you like in your wraps.

      1. How about "stuff your own" tacos? You could do fish for the lighter eaters....and chicken/steak for the guys.

        1 Reply
        1. re: perk

          That's what I was thinking. What could be easier? Shrimp and/or chicken tacos. (I do mine on the stove top.) Serve with lime/cilantro slaw and chipotle cream. Offer corn and flour tortillas and a corn salad on the side.

        2. Sounds like a good time for crockpot pulled pork BBQ sandwiches. I did this last weekend and a 4-lb half picnic (or pork butt) yielded about 7 cups of shredded meat, or about 12-15 sandwiches, depending on how heavy you pile it on. Plus, you can do the meat the day or two ahead and re-heat for serving.

          get a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo, whiz those and the sauce with 1/2 cup balsamic vinegary and 1/2 cup white vinegar. Get a yellow or white onion about the size of your fist and slice thinly. put in the crockpot. Take your pork and sear on all sides and add it to the crockpot. Set on low and cook until meat shreds easily (you may want to turn it over once during cooking). remove from crockpot and use a couple of forks to shred completely for serving.

          Serve on burger buns with coleslaw, pickle chips (dill or sour), optional tomato slices. Have some hot sauce to add to it, if you want. Sides are doctored-up baked beans and a green salad or potato salad.

          1 Reply
          1. If you don't want to turn on the oven, do you want to turn on the stove? I find that just as hot as using the oven. If you don't mind cooking in the oven at night, when it's a little cooler, you could make chicken marbella w/ thighs and drumsticks and then serve cold. Add a side salad and some bread and you're finished.

            You can make salmon cakes on the stove and serve them as sandwiches. Use canned salmon if you're on a budget.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chowser

              How about Red Beans and rice with smoked sausage links, or you could do a Thai red or green curry dish with any kind of meat.v ery spicy and great for big groups.