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Take It and Claim It

Gourmet take-home specialists up the ante

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Hosting dinner parties can be a blast—it's a chance to showcase your culinary skills, cork a wine you've been saving and bask in the company of your most awesome friends.

But what if the only skills you have in the kitchen are dirtying dishes and extinguishing the fires your attempts at cooking inevitably result in? Fret not. We may not have yet reached the age of in-house cooking robots, but we've escaped the time when cooking skills were as necessary as vital organs. There are a plethora of places that provide take-n-bake, put-it-in-you-own-dish-and-pass-it-off-as-homemade options, so if you still feel compelled to try to pass entrees off as your own culinary creations, pick up one of these easier-than-pie edibles.

Cucina di Paolo, the love child of Paul and Mary Jean Wegner, is a lasagna haven. The duo has been crafting perfect pastas since 1993 and prepare most everything from scratch, including soups and stocks. The two also slow roast their lasagna sauce for hours. Stop in and sample the Wegner's culinary creations for lunch and choose from a dizzying array of chicken potpie and lasagna to take home. Potpies are $5 for an individual portion and $25 for a family style casserole. Lasagnas range from $14 for an individual pan to $75 for a 24-piece pan. If you've ever tried to make your own, you know it's worth every penny. Visit cucinadipaolo.com.

Want an entire dinner delivered to your door right before your party guests arrive? Tapia's Gourmet on Broadway Avenue offers a slew of weekly dinner options that can be taken out or delivered. Dinner for four runs about $42 and includes entrees worth salivating over, such as pineapple pork empanadas and beef pot roast with mashed potatoes. A dessert option can be added for $25, and tack on a quart of made-from-scratch soup for $9 if you want your diners to think you spent all day in the kitchen. Menus change weekly, so visit tapiafamilycatering.com or call 208-906-8755 for options. If you're dining at the restaurant, plan ahead—you'll have to squabble over one of the four tables. And if you're doing a delivery or take-away thing, also plan ahead—Tapia's suggests a 24-hour minimum on dinner-away options.

Have houseguests? A'Tavola has you covered. This catering business with a storefront in the Linen District offers a home meal program, which means the A'Tavola culinary geniuses will plan, prepare and deliver meals to your door. On A'Tavola Tuesdays, you'll get three nights' worth of dinners ready to freeze or heat up and pass off as your own delivered right to you. Check out atavola-ofthetable.com for more info on how to enroll in the Tuesday program and for the week's menu selections.

And of course, Boise Co-op provides more options for take-n-bake than you can shake a fork at. Head through the front door and make a right, and you'll be entranced by a pastry case you'll want to live in. Back away and take notice of the perfectly packaged pastas delivered daily from local carb purveyor Ferranti Fresh Pasta, which are ready for your oven and conveniently located next to a deli counter offering everything from salads to tamales, with plenty of vegetarian-friendly options and myriad gourmet cheeses. Visit boisecoop.com for more info.

Feel like selecting your entrees online? Westside Drive-In, a Boise staple for 55 years, allows you to take home frozen versions of Chef Lou's creations with the added convenience of shopping for them from your home. Featured products include beef and cheese enchiladas and beef stroganoff, and run about $7.99. Online orders require up to 48 hours processing time, so plan ahead. Visit cheflou.com for more info.

So break out the good china and get ready to gorge. Bon appetit, you sly imposter. •

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