Mother’s Day is upon us once again. I know what you are thinking… No cooking on Mother’s Day!

Oh please! Don’t be so short sighted. What are you going to do? Pack the whole family in the car, argue about where to eat, and thenPanini_ 7040 settle upon an overpriced brunch with subpar food? Well before you start shoveling mini quiche into your mouth, consider this:

There are few better ways to show your family some love than by spending a day in the kitchen with them. It’s an opportunity to get your hands dirty, play with food, create something together, and then sit down and savor the fruits of your labor. Unless you’re my mother who would rather spend the day complaining about my brother and I not calling enough, the price of prescription drugs, a hang nail, the national deficit, and of course reminding us how EVERYTHING was better in Cuba, particularly whatever is on the menu that day. But, I digress….

Most families would relish a day hanging out in the kitchen experimenting and creating. All you need is a theme, some groceries, some willing participants, and a good disposition. Easy enough, right?

There are many easy themes that will work for everyone from the novice cook to the molecular gastronomy buff. A simple pasta party can be lots of fun if you have small kids. Making a big pot of fresh tomato sauce together while tasting and adjusting seasoning can be a lot of fun- of course, we all know that the tomatoes in this country are not like the ones in Cuba, but we’ll make due somehow. All you need are some steaming bowls of fun shaped pasta, a hunk of parmesan, a resident cheese grater (kids love this job), some crusty bread, and maybe a salad. Oh and wine, lots and lots of wine.

And if you’re concerned that the guys in the family won’t enjoy this little mommy fiesta- think again. Cooking together promotes teamwork, and what guy doesn’t like being part of a team?

Oh, and it doesn’t matter how large or small a kitchen is, it is still the heart of the home.  The flavors, sights, and sounds that come from the kitchen impact the senses more than any other room in the house. Well, for the most part ;-). But don’t limit the cooking party to your kitchen; sometimes you don’t even need a stove to cook together.

How about having a “Panini party”? It’s one of the easiest parties to throw – all you need is a good variety of sandwich ingredients, some sides, a Panini maker, and friends and family who are willing to get creative at the grill.

Begin your Panini assembly line with the sandwich foundation: the bread. Select a variety of good quality artisan breads. Make sure it’s pre-sliced to move things along quickly. The meat station should offer some variety too. Include meats like thinly sliced oven roasted turkey, black forest ham, prosciutto, salami, mortadella etc.

The cheese station is my favorite. It’s great if you have vegetarians in the family and it’s a great way to get creative with grilled cheese. Think double crème brie and fig jam between two slices of buttery and crunchy pumpernickel. Yum! Be sure to include everyone’s favorites like provolone, gruyere, cheddar, mozzarella, and goat cheese.

Finally add some goodies to make those sandwiches extra special. Remember the two slices of bread are a blank canvas. Get creative! Things like sundried tomatoes, avocado, roasted peppers, arugula, marinated artichokes, caramelized onions. The possibilities are endless!

No matter what you do this Mother’s Day, even if it is going to that overpriced brunch or sitting around your kitchen counter with a frozen pizza, let mom know how much you love and appreciate her, and most importantly enjoy each other’s company. Oh, and a drizzle of white truffle oil will make that frozen pizza delish!

Happy Mother’s day and Buen Provecho!

 

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