eating in food & drink girls' night in occasions

menus for a casual girls’ (or guys’!) night in

28 February 2019 | By Cassell

My best friend, H, is coming over in a few days for a girls’ night in, so what do I make for a fun, simple, but still slightly impressive, meal?!  I love to play hostess and there are few better ways than through food to show the people you love that you care.

All of our friends would agree that I’m something of a feeder, so I truly delight in filling people up on delicious, vegan food!  Small portions and dainty salads are not for me, and certainly not for my guests…

green leaves in a bowl

People might think vegans just eat plain leaves, but it’s not something I’d ever serve!

So with that in mind, planning a meal for H isn’t too tricky as I’ve known her for over half my life!  The only real constraints are that she doesn’t “do” spicy food and is driving, so I can’t go heavy on the booze. Though a regular omnivore, she is very supportive and respectful of my veganism.  I’ve cooked vegan for her many times, but think I need to come up with something a little fresh.  After all we’ve done fajitas and pasta plenty of times…

So here are my ideas for our Friday night in which I will eventually pick from.  I hope they’ll inspire you for your girls’ or guys’ night in too!

(Recipes will be added in due course, but in the meantime there’s Google!)

Welcome nibbles

A simple way to be a thoughtful host is welcoming your guests with a drink and something small to eat as soon as they arrive.  It’s an opportunity to show a little creativity and try something a little different.  The extra attention also make your friends feel special and get the good vibes flowing!

The nibbles themselves don’t have to be huge, over the top or particularly long-winded to make.  However, they should be deeply savoury and packed of flavour, whetting the appetite for the main event!  Pick 2 or 3 from the list.

M&S Plant Kitchen Cauliflower Popcorn

M&S Plant Kitchen Cauliflower Popcorn is seriously moreish

Easy-going

Will cook a little…

  • Toasted Paprika Chickpeas
  • Toasted Herby Nuts
  • Homemade Guacamole and Tortilla Chips
  • Homemade Hummus and Toasted Pitta
2 skewers of satay tofu with peanut sauce on a plate

This skewered satay tofu with peanut sauce at Brighton Loving Hut was delicious; a great chicken-saving recipe to have in the bank

Get out of my kitchen!!!

  • Mini Bruschetta Trio: Classic Tomato, Crushed Broad Bean and Creamy Garlic Mushroom
  • Grilled Satay Tofu Skewers with Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • Homemade Summer Rice Paper Spring Rolls with Sweet Chilli Dip

Any of these should would make a great start to the evening!

Main course

Wondering why there’s no starter? I don’t usually do a full 3 course meal because 1) girls’ nights in are more casual affairs than dinner parties, 2) they demand comforting, moreish food with little hint of calorie counting and 3) I don’t want to spend all day and night cooking!

So for an average Friday or Saturday night, 2 courses with sides, drinks and nibbles should be more than sufficient.

Any of these should satisfy your guests and hoping for another invite!

Waitrose Vegan Cauliflower, Coconut & Chickpea Pie

Waitrose Vegan Cauliflower, Coconut & Chickpea Pie; I’m definitely keen to try this one!

Easy-going

Will cook a little…

  • Aubergine, Courgette and Tomato Stew with Couscous
  • Wahaca Sweet and Smoky Soft Tacos with Tofu and Veggies – (tasty but be warned… I can handle my heat, so you should know this is not “mild” as they claim!)
  • Smoky Vegan Mince and Beans Chilli with Rice – (don’t hold back on the smoked paprika!)
  • Homemade Pizza with Choose Your Own Toppings – (make the dough in advance and provide a range of toppings; your guests can have a bit of fun making their own) 
BOSH! Cookbook open at big bosh! burger page

This burger is a true crowdpleaser! If you haven’t already got a BOSH! cookbook, you can get one here

Get out of my kitchen!!!

  • Homemade Gnocchi with an Aubergine and Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
  • Homemade Lasagna
  • Big Bosh Burgers – (from the BOSH! cookbook; I made this recipe for some meat-loving blokes during the World Cup who loved them!)
  • Oven-Baked Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas



Side dishes

Every great main needs to have a side to set it off.  Even some simple, well cooked vegetables demonstrate a bit of extra thought and effort has gone into your entertaining.

Easy-going

  • M&S Plant Kitchen Vegan Coleslaw – (insanely good)
  • Oven-Cook Chips and Onion Rings – (elevate with a quality ketchup like Stokes Real Tomato Ketchup)
  • Green Salad with a Simple Olive Oil and Lemon Dressing
  • Steamed Broccoli and Peas
homemade herb and garlic baguette

My homemade, herby, garlic baguette…

Will cook a little…

  • Homemade Garlic Bread
  • Silky-Smooth Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
  • Hand-Cut Sweet Potato Wedges
  • Roasted Vegetable Rainbow – (beetroot, carrot, peppers, courgette, aubergine)

Get out of my kitchen!!!

  • Vegan Macaroni Cheese
  • Homemade Potato Rösti – (is the plural rösti or röstis?!)
  • Griddled Courgette and Peppers
  • Caramelized Fennel and Rocket Salad

Pudding

What can be better to enjoy during a good natter with your besties than a warm, gooey, chocolatey pudding?! Whilst I wait for M&S to veganise their very non-vegan Melting Middle Chocolate Puddings, here are some equally delicious, but vegan, alternatives.

Asda Extra Special Vegan Chocolate Torte

Asda Extra Special Vegan Chocolate Torte

Easy-going

Vegan treacle tart with ice cream

I must make and demolish this vegan treacle tart from Lucys Friendly Foods! (image: Lucys Friendly Foods)

Will cook a little…

  • 3 Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Pots(super easy recipe; I’ve got to try this with espresso chocolate as suggested in a comment!)
  • Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies – (found a recipe on my Tasty app, and the video took my breath away!)
  • Vegan Treacle Tart(I’m SO excited to try this recipe; looks simple and tasty)

Get out of my kitchen!!!

Drinks

Ahhh the all important beverages!  For a casual get-together with good friends, keep it simple with a great cocktail or a bottle of wine.  Or both, both is always good!…  Be sure to have just as thoughtful non-alcoholic versions for any drivers or abstainers.

Easy-going

  • Prosecco, wine, beers… The usual!
  • Gin & Tonic – (I have all my gin with Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic Water, it’s so much nicer than plain tonic.  Also, don’t forget there are alcohol-free gins out there!)

Will cook a little…

  • Pimm’s & Lemonade – (with plenty of fruit and cucumber)
  • Tequila/Virgin Sunrise

Get out of my kitchen!!!

I used to adore that classic after-dinner drink, Baileys (it was actually my first proper alcoholic drink). Sadly, until a couple of years ago, it only came full of scary dairy.

Weirdly, my husband doesn’t “get” Baileys, so he wasn’t delirious like me to have their new vegan version. But, if you do “get” the delicious creamy, warm afterburn of Baileys, be sure to get a bottle of Baileys Almande to keep at home, as I like to!

Baileys Almande Dairy Free

Such a pretty bottle!

Of course, on the other hand, if you prefer to round off with a nice cup of tea or coffee, then don’t forget the biscuits!  there’s loads to choose from including Tesco Free From Choc Chip Cookies, Oreos, Lotus Biscoff, Bourbons, (most) Custard Creams, McVities Ginger Nuts and more…

So what shall I make?!

At this stage I know I’m definitely making the cookies, but I’m still to decide on the rest of the dinner.  Honestly, I can’t explain how rare it is for me to choose a pudding before my savoury carbs, so I’m very excited about these cookies!

When I’ve chosen and made my menu I shall report back with a full update and recipes!

Big vegan love,

Cassell x

Update!

Isn’t there a phrase like, “plans make fools of us all” or something?  Well that’s what happened to me on my girls’ night!

I had planned to make: garlic bread, potato gnocchi from scratch with a sauce, a caramelised fennel and rocket salad and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

However, my house demanded a huge clean which meant I had no prep time before H arrived.  Also I had never made gnocchi before, so experimenting took a bit longer than expected.  So in the end, we had veggie straws to snack on, then garlic bread and the gnocchi.  By the time we got to finishing dinner, there was no time for dessert, let alone making one from scratch!

It was pretty delicious by the end, and I learnt a lot about making gnocchi which I will write a post on.  It’s not that hard once you know what you need to achieve.  Though, as a hint, the consistency and temperature of the dough are key!!

 

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