Impressive Stuff

I guess I've been cooking for my friends since I learned to cook at 16. I was hosting spaghetti dinners in my mom's living room at ...

I guess I've been cooking for my friends since I learned to cook at 16. I was hosting spaghetti dinners in my mom's living room at 10pm with a ton of my friends over, while my parents were asleep upstairs. I'd make spaghetti with homemade sauce for 10 people, sometimes breadsticks, sometimes brownies for dessert. After going vegan, cooking became a more serious hobby, and my dinner parties became more intricate and more involved. Cooking for my friends and family has always been one of my favorite things to do. I've spent many hours testing out recipes for holidays, making sure what I bring will impressive and delicious, and I always come home for the holidays to spend most of the time I'm there in the kitchen, preparing for a big holiday party or close family gathering. Cooking for people I love is probably my favorite thing to do.

Most Valentines Days, we opt to stay home instead of go out, I make a nice dinner and a nice dessert. I usually incorporate red wine and seitan into my Valentines Day meal for extra fanciness. Last year I made the Red Wine Seitan Sandwiches with Ciabatta from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen, because Alex loves sandwiches, especially seitan sandwiches. It also had caramelized onions on top, so yeah. Pretty fancy sandwiches.

An obvious dessert was the red wine and raspberry chocolate cake from the same book. This cake was amazing with some fresh raspberries and a scoop of So Delicious Cashew Ice Cream. I think it was one of my best Valentines Day dinners yet! It was also Alex's first Valentines day being vegan, so I wanted it to be special and make something I knew was his style.

More Fanciness

The year before that I made Red Wine Seitan and mushrooms, gnocchi and green beans. Red wine just makes stuff fancy, right?

I made a wonderful dinner two Januarys ago for a couple friends who came over to visit. I made meatballs from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen, because they are the best meatballs, pasta, breadsticks and a quinoa caesar salad. It was such a nice meal, and I was very impressed with myself! Unfortunately, I followed the beautiful dinner with countless glasses of wine, and lost track of my brain and then took shots, and then lost my dinner, and everything else I ever ate in my life.  Bit of a spoiled evening. But the dinner was very impressive! 

I've made Ethiopian food for friends before, but only twice. It is so much work to make 7 dishes for one dinner, but it's not the same without all the staples! It's been about two years since I cooked Ethiopian food, but those dinners are always the most impressive! Most of what is pictured below is from Teff Love, but the Butecha is from Vegan Eats World, and I ordered the injera online. 

Impressive dinners for friends don't need to be made by you alone! Some of my favorite impressive meals have been when I spent the day cooking together with a friend. My friend Belinda and I spent a few afternoons cooking Mexican food together, one time making tamales, and another time making empanadas! It is such a blast to cook with a friend. These empanadas are both from Viva Vegan! One is a corn masa dough with red chile seitan, and the other is a whole wheat pastry dough with a zucchini-choclo filling. Rice & beans accompanying for authenticity.

I have such nice memories of cooking with Belinda in my little apartment, making an adorable and impressive Mexican food feast.

If ever you were unsure of what to make for company that would be impressive and comforting, the one true map to your friends' and family's hearts is a giant bowl of Italian food. Spend some time on your sauce -- if you've got a family recipe, now's the time to use it. Prepare everything else while your sauce simmers. Here, I got my sauce going a couple hours early (my father-in-law's recipe, of course), let it simmer and gave it a stir every 10 minutes or so. About 25-30 minutes before I wanted to eat, I made garlicky white beans with spinach, boiled the pasta, and popped some garlic bread in the oven. The result? Extremely satisfying and impressive with relative ease.

Everyone's version of "impressive" is going to be a little different. That's why you've got to do you, know what your company is going to be into, and what you're going to be comfortable cooking for them. But ultimately, it's your friends and family, and they are going to love what you cook for them no matter what. These are just a few of many favorites in my repertoire, acquired over many years of cooking for my loved ones. 

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  1. Very impressive dinners! The seitan sandwich looks amazing! And your gnocchi remind me that I still need to try making them sometime! :)

  2. Impressive is definitely the word! I especially love the Ethiopian feast.

  3. I would say these are VERY impressive. Any dumpling/thing wrapped in dough is always pretty impressive, since it is very time consuming. I am not a huge Italian food fan, but your dishes are making me drool