By: Christina Stanley-Salerno @ TakeBackYourTable.com
As a busy mama of two very active boys, I know firsthand about the struggles of meal preparation and all that it entails. Let’s face it, keeping everyone happy can sometimes be a challenge, especially in the food department. I’m not big on preparing a bunch of different meals because I don’t really have the time, energy or money to be a short-order cook. Still, the family meal is super important to me so I’m always on the lookout for ways to make mealtime tasty, fun and stress-free for all.
One of my favorite ways to make dinner more exciting is to serve it “Tapas style”. If you’re not familiar with the term, “Tapas” refers to a wide variety of warm or cold appetizers or snacks in Spanish cuisine. Tapas dinner is always a hit in our house because it’s fun and everyone loves casually nibbling on different bites rather than one main course with a side or two. Tapas are a great way to mix it up in the dinner department, and the kids just go wild over the mini plates and nibbles. It’s easy to put together and affordable. And the best thing is, having a few different noshes means there’s something for everyone. I find that this is also a great way to get picky eaters to try something new because it’s exciting and fun!
TIPS FOR A TAPAS STYLE DINNER
-Set the scene- put out a cute tablecloth and napkins and serve each nosh on different fun plates—think colorful
and fun! It doesn’t have to cost anything; you can even use some of the kids’ plastic plates and bowls. Instead of traditional utensils, put out cocktail picks for everyone to use. If you really want to make it authentic, download some Flamenco music and make it a Tapas dance party.
-Map it out- give the family a little background about Tapas and its origins in Spain. Have the kids help you locate Spain on the map. This is a great opportunity to give the family a taste of regional cuisine and a little history lesson to boot! The coolest part is, food becomes your passport to another place without ever having to leave your home.
-Keep it low maintenance- by mixing up store bought bites with ones you prepare at home. You can even utilize any leftovers you might have in the fridge. The food doesn’t all have to be Spanish. Have leftover fried rice? Warm it up and use that too!
- Frittata (known as Tortilla Espanola in Spain) cut into small cubes. Serve warm or at room temp.
-Baguette, sliced, toasted and rubbed with a ripe cut tomato and garlic and seasoned with salt. In Spain they call this bread Pan con Tomate or “Tomato Bread” and it’s delicious!
-Slices of deli meat (if you can’t find Spanish Jamon Ibericao, Salami, Prosciutto or even turkey or ham would be great. Use whatever your family likes best.).
-Wash It Down- Mix up a fun and festive mock-tail to go along with the meal. One of my family’s favorite beverages is a Fruity Virgin Sangria—Dice up one apple, one orange and one lime and place into the bottom of a large pitcher. Top with 4 cups cranberry juice, the juice of one orange and top with 1 cup of seltzer. Serve in a pretty glass, complete with a bendy straw. For the adults, feel free to add in a splash (or two) of red wine to your glass.
-Enjoy Every Moment-The best part about a family meal is the company and the memories you make. Enjoy the food but most of all each other.
View Christina’s other post at TakeBackYourTable.com