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cooking for a group of picky eaters


I need some advice.  I am having a girls weekend soon (yeah) and each meal two people take turns in making dinner.  I love to cook and I am partnered with someone who doesn't cook that much so it has been left to me to come up with a menu.  It would be for a dozen people.  However we have people with dairy issues (can use cream ), no pork, no red meat, and no onions.  Yes the killer for me is the no onions.  I ask why she can't just not eat the onions (she isn't allergic just doesn't like them) but no...she only eats these veggies
I like cooked broccoli, cauliflower and carrots
Onions and peppers – ick!
also so no dairy with meat
and no shellfish

Which kinda leaves chicken???
any ideas?

thanks ever so much

JUST WANTED TO ADD:  thanks so much for all your suggestions!  very helpful :)


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 18th, 2014 05:49 pm (UTC)
What about a baked potato bar / Salad theme? You could have several types of salads (and giving the other girl easy instructions on how to put them together so that you dont have to do all the work) and then a make your own baked potato bar so that every one can dress their potato how they like it. Some can put the cheese on, others can leave it off. You can have several types of veggies grilled and steamed for the potatoes. Also, if you wanted to add some marinated grilled chicken in there for people who don't consider a vegetarian meal a meal. ;) You can marinate it in either balsamic or zesty Italian dressing to compliment the baked potato and salads.

Edited at 2014-03-18 05:52 pm (UTC)
Mar. 18th, 2014 05:58 pm (UTC)
Mar. 18th, 2014 06:07 pm (UTC)
What about a taco or burrito bar?

ETA: Sorry meant for the OP

Edited at 2014-03-18 06:08 pm (UTC)
Mar. 18th, 2014 06:29 pm (UTC)
Vegetarian quiche using the aforementioned veggies. Plus a fruit salad. It can be done ahead.
Mar. 18th, 2014 07:11 pm (UTC)
I'd do something that people can construct themselves, like fajitas! Have a pile of tortillas, a bowl of sautéed peppers for the picky one, some cooked chicken, cheese, etc - and some caramelised onions for those that want them!
Mar. 18th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
I do like the idea of you know a good recipe other than me buying a fajitas mix from the store!
Mar. 19th, 2014 08:35 am (UTC)
I do them this way
You could do the same recipe in a pan instead of a slow cooker if you prefer.
Mar. 18th, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC)
How is the weather where you are having your weekend? Is it too early to grill? Grilled pizzas are fun and each person can customize their pizza to whatever they like. Just have the dough divided up ahead of time and have all the prep work done before everyone starts picking out toppings.
Mar. 18th, 2014 10:50 pm (UTC)
it is the end of April in the weather could be is an interesting idea! thanks
Mar. 18th, 2014 08:26 pm (UTC)
That's a tough one! I would ask the non-onion person what she recommends you cook. That's a VERY short list of vegetables. What on earth does she eat at home? No salad, even? Because making a salad bar for a group is fun . . . if she'll eat some raw vegetables.

Anyway, how about baked or fried fish with a side of mashed potatoes (using non-dairy milk, like almond milk -- in fact, you can use almond milk to get around using dairy in a lot of different dishes) or home fries, and a vegetable medley of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots?
Mar. 18th, 2014 10:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah my friend veggie intake has always been very very low! Let me ask my friends (with the diary issues) about almond milk...thanks
Mar. 18th, 2014 10:54 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I wouldn't even try. I would have a potluck and tell everyone to tape an ingredient list to the front of their dishes. Then everyone can mix and match according to their own 'rules'. There is no way you can follow all those restrictions and not have at least half of the people there leave disappointed (at best).
Mar. 19th, 2014 10:53 pm (UTC)
Bingo. A dozen people is way too many to be trying to satisfy everyone's allergies, pickiness, etc.

If for some reason the OP needs to cook and can't do this, I would go with a mix/match option like the fajitas someone mentioned above.
Mar. 19th, 2014 01:16 am (UTC)
Could you use onion powder? If you can then I have a recipe you could use.
Mar. 19th, 2014 07:13 am (UTC)
yes I can
Mar. 19th, 2014 02:32 pm (UTC)
It my mom's sticky chicken recipe. What you need is chicken thighs, ketchup, apricot preserves, and normally we used onion soup mix (but I'm pretty sure you could used onion powder). My mom never really used measurements for this recipe but I'll try to give some estimates.
1. brown the chicken thighs
2. add in 1/4 cup of apricot preserves, 1/2 cup of ketchup, & 1-2 tablespoon onion powder.
3. simmer until thicken.
And we normally served this with rice. A trick my mom did while making it for picky eater was to used vegetable broth instead of water for the rice.
Hopefully this works for you.
Mar. 19th, 2014 02:59 am (UTC)
I'd put together a menu that provides choices. If the no- veggie person has a protein dish and a side that meets her issues, you can make other dishes with onions etc. she can live one weekend without veggies. I don't get the no dairy but can have cream? Are all anti red meat? If not make one chicken dish, and a red meat dish. Why should the majority be held hostage by one or two people's food quirks?

If someone is kosher check out how kosher, some can't eat off dishes that have had non- kosher food on them. A good friend followed a strict kosher life, she always brought her own food and dishes. I respect that she didn't expect me to be put to a lot of bother.
Mar. 19th, 2014 04:57 am (UTC)
I recently saw an article about doing a grilled cheese bar and it looked so fun! You have anyone with a panini press bring it (or use a couple of skillets and a weight on the stove). Then you set out cheeses, fruits, veggies, sauces, condiments, and have folks build their own grilled cheeses. You could make a big pot of tomato soup or chili to serve alongside.
Mar. 19th, 2014 05:05 am (UTC)
When I was an au pair, the kids I looked after were very anti onion. As pretty much every recipe I know involves onions, I just blended them into a puree, they never knew! A word of warning though, blending onion makes the taste a lot stronger, use approx half what you usually would.

Or else try spring onions?

Finally my wife has recently found she is dairy intolerant. Lacto free branded stuff is amazing. You can get lacto free cream and cheese and it tastes just like its lactose containing counterparts. Things like soya cheese etc are a very aquired taste though. I would steer clear of those.
Mar. 19th, 2014 03:40 pm (UTC)
If you can use alcohol (didn't see it on the list of no-no's) then maybe you can make a version of "beer in the rear chicken". I make an excellent one with lemon pepper and mike's hard lemonade (used instead of beer-be sure to either buy the mike's in a can-which is really difficult to find where I live-or bring a washed out soda can. I used the soda can and it did fine). I took the thawed chicken, rubbed it down with a mixture of real butter and brown sugar under the skin, added some sliced lemon pieces on top of that under the skin, then rubbed the skin itself down with olive oil and lemon pepper. I also injected the chicken with some citrus juice (a mix of 1/4 cup lemon, 1/4 cup lime, and 1/2 cup orange juice-didn't use it all, but that's the ratio). Bake as directed for beer in the rear chicken.

Also, making a lime and soy seasoned steamed veggie dish would be great for the picky eater who only liked broccoli, cauliflour, and carrots.

Both dishes take very little time to prep-the steamed veggies can be made int he crockpot, and the chicken spends most of its time in the oven, so you could also do a nice dessert dish.

I'd make the veggies beforehand and have the person who doesn't cook much prep the chicken-it doesn't take talent to prep the chicken!

If you wanted to make an ice cream bar, a brownie bar, etc. for dessert, that would be fun and is definitely something you could delegate to the non-cooker as well!
Mar. 20th, 2014 01:17 am (UTC)
I do a chicken and rice recipe that's pretty simple and feeds a bunch. Brown a can of chunk chicken, then add two cans of condensed cream of chicken soup and a can and half to two cans of water. Add half a box of minute maid rice, then let cook till the rice is done. The above recipe feeds 3-4, especially if you add some sides such as some kinda veggie. My mom does the same recipe, but with cream of mushroom, which is just as good.
Mar. 20th, 2014 10:07 am (UTC) mother used to make that for us when I was growing up all the time and she used the cream of mushroom soup as well..I forgot about that one!
Mar. 20th, 2014 02:06 am (UTC)
My step daughter doesn't eat onions unless I don't tell her they're there, then she doesn't notice them. And if she catches me cooking and sees onions she'll ask me to segregate her food, then complain that it tastes wrong. *eyeroll*

I second the bar idea. Salad bar. Potato bar. Fajita bar. Pasta bar. Some way for the picky people to be picky without tying your hands too tightly. I'd probably do a fajita bar with the ability to make it a salad.
Mar. 22nd, 2014 05:53 pm (UTC)
All of those requirements sound like my fiance!! He will only eat a few veggies (luckily his list has more than 3 things on it... but it DOESN'T include cauliflower or carrots which really bums me out! I love them both!) and also hates things like garlic and onions.

I'm still fighting the veggie battle with him, but I've learned to just NOT tell him when I'm cooking with garlic. He can usually only tell when I make something extra garlicky. (I LOVE the stuff!) And as far as onions go, I've settled with using onion powder instead of real onions. I also don't like raw onion or onions that aren't cooked until soft... so that's not as much of a fight.

As for meat... what about using turkey for something?
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )


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