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Feeding families at my church--need ideas

My church is hosting three families in transition (they've lost their homes and jobs) and I have signed up to cook for them this week. I will be feeding about 15 people in all, so not a huge crowd. I'm looking for recipes that will please non-foodie types (we have back-up Bell and Evans chicken nuggets for any picky kiddos), but are a little more interesting than run of the mill church casserole dinners, which is what most of the other cooks will be serving on their nights. I am expecting to receive several pounds of excellent tomatoes from our CSA, so would love to incorporate those. Also, our church has no A/C, so would prefer not to stand over a hot stove stirring for hours. Pizza--my specialty--is out because two other families are already doing this later in the week.

Thanks so much for any ideas you can provide!

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  1. I know this is going to have you stirring over a stove a bit, but how about a basic marinara sauce kicked up with red/green/yellow peppers, more onion, sliced olives, sliced mushrooms and chunks of chicken? Its a nice spin on the usual spaghetti. Add a nice tossed salad and some garlic bread and you are done.

    1. I would do at least 2 braises like a beef stew and a swiss steak or a chicken cacciatore. You could do the braises in crockpots to minimize the heat.

      I would do meatloaf one night. Spaghetti and meatballs.

      I love Ham Hocks and beans with corn bread but I might be tempted to call it ham and bean soup assuming your north of the Mason-Dickson line.

      Pulled pork sandwiches might be a change of pace.

      All these dishes are fairly inexpensive and have a lot of bang for the buck taste wise.

      1. I don't know what the logistics are for you, but chicken parmesan, baked in the oven, served with tomato sauce, might be an idea. I usually serve it with mashed potatoes but baking a lot of potatoes might be a lot easier; spinach is a good side veg for it too.

        1. faux-paella is good, made with chicken and some smoked sausage, yellow rice, red bell peppers, onions. you could add skinned tomato chunks for flavor and color.

          i like the chicken cacciatore idea.

          1 Reply
          1. re: alkapal

            A good "not to the minute menu" is a roasted pork loin, bone in is a better value, mashed potatoes, with gravy from the roast, sauteed summer squash, or whatever else is plentiful, apple sauce, a big lettuce and tomato salad with croutons. All of this can be prepared and allowed to rest, (hold), and there is a minimum of stove top heat !!!

          2. I like this spicy oven "fried" chicken from epicurious. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
            I just use chicken thighs because I don't like to mess with the difference of timing of a bunch of different parts. And of course you can make it as spicy (or not) as you deem appropriate.

            As for the tomatoes, to me it's hard to beat a sliced tomato this time of year, so I wouldn't do anything but slice em and put em on a platter. And I'd probably blanch a bunch of green beans and make those into a salad. Hunk of bread optional.

            Oh, if you're up for more cutting, I find kids (and many veg-averse adults) will go through lots of carrots, zucc, etc if there's a good dip around.

            Good luck and let us know how it goes!