Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We interrupt our regular programming to bring you today's guest blogger, Brook Noel:

Tuesday Tips from Brook Noel, Make Today Matter, LLC.

Taming the Dinner Hour: 9 Ideas for Theme Dinners
One of the best techniques I've found to simplify supper is to simply assign each night a "theme." Now, some of you may be organized enough that this isn't necessary, but for those of us who have found all-too-much comfort in the cardboard of a takeout box, this is a winning strategy. Simply take a weekly calendar and next to each day of the week, write down a theme for the evening. Below you'll find examples from my own cooking closet. For example:

Finger Foods: This could be appetizer trays of fruit, vegetables, cheese and crackers, mini-sandwiches, hot dogs on sticks--anything that can be tackled by hand... literally!

Breakfast for Dinner: If your family is at all like mine, a leisurely breakfast of omelets, pancakes, sausage and accompaniments only occurs when you are traveling and hit the Sunday brunch buffet. Try doing a breakfast for dinner. Eggs and pancakes are quick and easy to prepare and by doing them in the evening everyone can enjoy them before racing off to their appointed destinations.

Pasta Presto: You pick the type and the night for Pasta Presto. Perhaps it's spaghetti, fettuccini, macaroni, lasagna--just pick a sauce and pasta and check a weeknight off your list.

Meat and Potatoes: Unless you are a vegetarian, it's best to designate at least one night for the good 'ol American standby.

Some Assembly Required: Whether it's pizza, tacos or baked potatoes, this night features a main course that each family member can customize to their liking.

Kid's Cook (or spouse cooks, or mailman cooks): You get the picture--someone other than Mom gets to man the kitchen (and the dishes) for this night.

Soup & Sandwich: There is a reason almost every restaurant offers a soup and sandwich special--it's a hearty, healthy and wholesome combo!

Make It and Bake It: When in a rush there is nothing like the beloved casserole. Choose your favorite, throw it together, and toss it in the oven for a 30-minute-bake. Don't forget to double your recipe and reserve one for freezing.

Lasso Your Leftovers: I dedicate this theme to my mother. For years, my mother insists on saving food--never wasting a biteful. While I find this quality admirable, I find it interesting how much food is wrapped carefully in plastic so tightly it could be donated to NASA, only to sit in my refrigerator for longer than George Burns was alive. This night is dedicated for anyone else who hoards their leftovers--now is the time to bring 'em out and bring 'em on--potluck style.

Deal With It Dinner: I must confess, this is one of my favorite themes. It basically involves letting someone else deal with the cooking or letting the family forge for their own findings in the fridge.

So, do you have a favorite "theme night" dinner that your family loves? I need all the help I can get in the kitchen! Leave me a comment with your favorite theme night dinner- or one you'd like to try.

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