getting together, in the kitchen
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{Guest Post} Donuts, Dresses and Dirt

Say hello to the fabulous Sheri Silver, her blog donuts, dresses and dirt is one of my favorite one stop spots to learn a little bit about everything from gardening and baking, to some really great finds. She is popping over today to help us (mainly me) tackle a common situation I have been finding myself in a lot lately- how do I accommodate serving my friends kids when I am entertaining? Take it away Sheri!

farro salad

{Strategies for Serving Children}

Hi all! I’m Sheri Silver, and I write the blog donuts, dresses and dirt. I was thrilled when Jen asked me to do a guest post here, as I’m such a fan of her blog (and her!).

Jen was interested in hearing my strategies for serving children at an adult party or gathering. This can be a challenge because entertaining is stressful enough without having to deal with cooking separate meals, or dialing back flavors and spices to suit picky palates.

Over the years I’ve cultivated a few tricks that allow me to please everyone, without creating (and executing) two separate menus:

Engage the parents. This is most important – and can be most helpful too. Are there dietary issues, such as allergies, to be aware of? Are there certain foods that the child prefers? Often parents will simply bring their own food for their children to eat, but it’s nice to have on-hand easy finger foods like rolled-up slices of cheese, grapes, baby carrots and whole grain crackers. And again, while the parent will likely bring something to drink too, extra milk available for refills is always appreciated. So ask away.

De-construct. Try to incorporate one or two dishes whose flavors can be dialed up or down easily. For example – a grain salad like this farro is a lovely side dish for the grown-ups, with a mild enough flavor for most kids. Simply set aside some of the farro before adding the nuts and feta, to keep it simple. {Click Here} to checkout Sheri’s Farro Salad with Butternut Squash recipe.

Do-ahead. A simple caprese pasta (made with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls) can be made the day before your party, and can be served cold or at room temperature. Most kids will enjoy the mild flavors, and leftovers can be turned into a meal with the addition of some grilled chicken.

Serve dessert (but check first). All parents have their own rules regarding snacks and sweets. I tend to be more liberal outside the house, especially if I’m at a mostly grown-up gathering. One day with a few extra cookies is not the end of the world. That said, it’s always nice to ask the parents what kind of special treats might be appreciated (and allowed). It’s the worst to offer a child a treat, only to see the parent waving wildly and mouthing “NO!” as you do.

And finally, though not “food” related:

Keep ‘em busy (and happy). Have a stash of colorful – non-breakable – plates, cups and utensils that are “just for kids”. They will be delighted to have their own place setting and you don’t have to stress about dropped glasses or chipped china. It’s also nice to have a “busy box” – filled with crayons, paper, small games and toys to keep little hands from getting idle. Even if the parents bring their own, there’s something about someone else’s “stuff” that is always more interesting. The box should NOT contain the following: glitter, confetti, play-doh or glue of any kind. You’re welcome.

I hope you find these tips helpful – I’ve been a “new mom” three times now, and am always so grateful to a friend who is accommodating to my children. It can be hard (and expensive) to find a sitter, and it’s a total treat to have someone else do the cooking for a change!

Thanks Sheri! I can’t wait to try your farro salad for the kiddos next time!

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