We are planning a family reunion for the next two weeks so I am sending our menus out early (I will be at the beach and in the kitchen for the next two weeks and enjoying every minute of it!).
Our family loves to cook - everyone enjoys the time in the kitchen: the men like to do the 'chop-chop' of preparing the meats and vegetables; the kids fix the salads, do a lot of stirring, and set the table; and the moms fill in the gaps plus do the planning. We set out munchies and beverages for everyone so we are happy campers!
We have been doing this for years so we all work well together. My sister and I have been in the kitchen with generations of our family beginning in our grandmother's kitchen when we were little girls; some of our fondest memories are in the kitchen! My husband's mother didn't let the fact that she had two boys stop her from passing on her wonderful cooking techniques.
Since preparing the meal is a much fun as eating it for us, we will be doing a lot of cooking ourselves with some time out to enjoy local cuisine. We also have designated meals where one family is responsible for the meal (we do take some time for ourselves!).
We will be arriving during the afternoon and early evening of Sunday, July 13 and leaving the weekend of July 25. The families are my sister with husband, two daughters with husbands and three children; my brother with significant other and single daughter; me with husband, single daughter, and son with wife. We make quite a group. Lots of good times! Lots of good eats!
Breakfast is usually on-your-own with fruit, breads & pastries, cereals, and yogurt on hand. We will make a few special breakfasts including a breakfast casserole, sausage balls (family gathering must-have), eggs Benedict, French toast with fruit topper, several omelets and frittatas with local fare, and a brunch with shrimp & grits over the course of the two weeks.
Lunch is a combination of eating out on day trips, etc. or sandwiches and salads - pretty much grab and go. Some favorite sandwiches are tuna or chicken salad in pitas; Buffalo chicken tenders in wraps; BLTs on toasted whole wheat bread; club sandwiches on sourdough bread; PB&J, grilled cheese, and hot dogs for the kids; and Kentucky hot browns which are great to use up leftovers toward the end of the visit.
Here is our plan (and yes, the menu will go on the refrigerator door just like at home!). Over the course of the two weeks, the menus will be changed, marked out, and added to because, while it is good to have a plan, it is best if it remains flexible for spur-of-the-moment events and food finds. We will add local foods as we find them. Shopping in local markets is great fun!
We generally gather at the end of the day for appetizers and to talk about the experiences of the day. Our appetizers will be a simple mix-and-match of family favorites such as Brie, 5-layer Gloucester, Swiss, smokey Gouda, and cheddar cheeses; smoked salmon, boiled shrimp, and lump crab; slices of leftover ham, chicken, turkey, and steak; 3-layer cheese loaf, 7-layer mexican dip, guacomole, dried beef dip, and spinach-artichoke dip; with assorted vegetables, salsas, crackers, and breads.
Sunday (arrival day):
Seafood Bouillabaisse (seafood and veggies from local market)
Artisan Bread, Butter
Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches (cookies brought from home)
Monday (my turn for dinner prep):
Grilled Turkey Breast (brought from home cooked, grilled to warm)
Grilled Potato Wedges (sprinkle grated cheese on top of warm wedges)
Corn and Black Bean Salsa
Coconut Macaroons (coconut meringes with chocolate morsel in center; save some for next week's dessert)
Shrimp Boil (buy extra for Friday)
Boiled New Potatoes
Corn on the Cob (fresh herb rub such as basil or cilantro)
Tomatoes Wedges, Spicey Mayo and Fresh Herbs
Banana Cream Pies (whipped cream, bananas, vanilla extract, cinnamon in a graham cracker crust)
Chicken Cobb Salad (turkey from Monday, fresh veggies from local market)
No-Bake Cheesecake with Fresh Berries (cheesecake mix)
Mixed Grill (burgers, hot dogs & brats, chicken)
Pasta Salad (pasta, fresh local veggies, Italian dressing and herbs)
Brocolli Salad (brocolli, red onion, bacon, shredded cheese, sun flower seeds, seasoned mayo)
Hot Rolls, Butter
S'mores (graham crackers, marshmellows, chocolate bars)
Western Salad (bagged lettuce, tomatos, avocado, red onion, monteray jack cheese, grilled shrimp, vinigrette)
Corn Chips and Assorted Crackers, Butter
Chocolate Torte (pound cake cut length-wise into thirds, chocolate icing and raspberry jam between layers and covered with chocolate frosting)
Fish Chowder (cream of potato soup with fresh fish from local market, celery, tomatoes, onions)
Spinich, egg, and bacon salad with blue cheese vinagrette
Ice Cream Parfait (with fresh berries)