Getting away to a beach, river or mountain retreat with the family this time of year? For 24 years now lDd and I have vacationed together with our growing families at Sunset Beach. While very charming, our vacation haven is not known for its culinary options. Since our combined number has swelled to 10 (sometimes more with assorted friends in tow) we cook a lot, sharing the cooking and shopping duties. Below are dishes we have vetted that should make your life as Chief Food Officer a little easier. With a little planning you can spread the cooking, prep and clean-up responsibilities so you get some vacation time, too.
Make Ahead Dishes
Making dishes ahead of time to bring to your vacation retreat means you have to plan ahead just a bit and allow for room in your coolers to pack them. Your reward will be enjoying the meals as much as everyone else with the shopping, prep and clean-up only a memory. I find having dishes on hand for the first day especially allows me to get my bearings in the rental before having to sprint to the grocery store for provisions.
Bacon Breakfast Cupcakes. The beauty of the cupcake is the individual serving portion in its own container. Leftovers (haha) can be frozen and used on demand.
Sassy Sausage Grits Casserole. This yummy breakfast casserole will please even the fiercest anti-grit in your crowd.
Chicken Tortellini Salad. Alison’s go-to doubles as a dinner entree. A superior yummy dish, it transports easily in any container.
Smoked Turkey Breast. HHD smokes two Butterball turkey breasts on his beloved Egg at home.
They don’t last long, though, with this hungry crowd, but we are grateful for every nutritious smokey turkey sandwich we can get out of them. If you do one thing ahead of time, do this one!
Bourbon BBQ Pork Tenderloin. This slow-cooked low-fat entree is a tried and true winner. Plus, it travels in a cooler right in its aluminum cooking packet (place in a gallon zip bag just in case the aluminum rips), taking up minimal space without a dish.
Make and freeze ahead and you’re good to go when you arrive.
Remoulade Sauce. Just add boiled shrimp or crab cakes. Our week at the beach wouldn’t be the same without it. Definitely make it ahead to avoid the long ingredient list from your pantry and save yourself some vacation chopping. It’s much easier to bring the jar of remoulade than all the items that go into it.
Befores and Afters
By far one of my favorite techniques for spreading around responsibilities is getting young, old, male and female alike to declare themselves to be either Befores or Afters for a meal (the groaning you hear in the background is from my children). Alma Abernathy, of Alma’s Famous Cheese Straws, originated this method to divvy up the chores of feeding the crowd that gathered at her house at Lake Lanier. We didn’t dare NOT PLAY Befores and Afters when the imperious Alma requested it. Befores and Afters will simplify your life and spread esprit de corps amongst your troops, much as they might grumble a little.
Here’s how to do it: Before beginning the dinner prep, declare it’s time for Befores and Afters. Look each person in the eye to show them you mean business and secure their commitment, and you’ll be the happiest hostess in the land. Don’t forget you have the power ~ you control the food!
Alison and I have no doubt the Posse has recipes and tips to share to make cooking for the crowd in the vacation rental or your own holiday home less of a burden on the CFO. We’d love to benefit from your experience. Do share!
July 28, 2015