When it comes to hosting parties, I believe in providing options for my guests.
With a picky eater husband, I am keenly aware that, be it legit dietary restrictions or just differences in tastes, it is best to hedge bets and offer a variety when it comes to the menu for a larger gathering.
Add some kiddos to the guest list and it goes from being “good idea” to being pretty well mandatory in my mind.
I like to start with one base that everyone uses and then give options to build from there.
Nachos, Tacos, Chili, Baked Potatoes, Personal Pizzas, Big Salad….. they have all seen some action at my informal gatherings.
This year for Jr’s birthday I confess I was stumped. It was a lunch-time shin-dig, and of late even Jr has been dipping his toe into the “toddler picky eater” waters. What would HE eat?
Everything I thought of, I kept postscripting in my mind with “and I will make mac and cheese for the kids.”
HELLO!!! Not AND – Mac and Cheese was the answer!
The Top Your Own Maccaroni and Cheese Bar came into being.
Perfect for all ages – simple for kiddos, with some more adventurous offerings for the grown ups who wanted to branch out.
I started (of course) with my favorite recipe for maccaroni and cheese from Ina Garten, using half medium cheddar and half sharp, and made two big pans of it (too much = always better than not enough when it comes to party food,) which I made the day before and heated up as guests started arriving.
But the fun part is the toppings!! Here is what I had, along with some other ideas
Cherry (or diced) Tomatoes
Different Cheese shreds/crumbles – I had Blue Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Feta, and a shredded casserole mix
Seasoned Bread Crumbs (Good old Stove Top works GREAT for this)
Hot dog slices or Hot dog “Octopuses”
Grilled Chicken chunks or strips (seasoned however you like)
Fresh chopped herbs
Let’s be honest, that list can go on FOREVER and only get better and better, but writing it is making me crave a big plate of Mac and Cheese, and it is only 9:30 here. (Breakfast mac, anyone?)
I digress (as usual.)
It was a hit – I felt like a GENIUS – everyone loved it and even the pickiest of people ::::cough cough::: My Husband :::cough::: came away full and happy.
We all know that “full and happy” equals success to Keri.
Happy Birthday Jr -now let’s get you in the kitchen and make some delicious messes together.