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Old 09-07-2007, 12:45 PM   #1
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What's an easy menu to entertain with?

In a few weeks I'll be having some company and I want to make a nice dinner but I also do not want to have to be in the kitchen the whole time. What are some good ideas for things that are either quick and easy or can be prepared ahead of time? The only thing I can think of at the moment is lasagna - to prepare it in advance and then just put it in the fridge until it needs to go in the oven. But I just wanted to see if there were some other ideas to entertain without being in the kitchen too much.

Thanks.

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Old 09-07-2007, 12:50 PM   #2
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I'm big on roasting either chicken or beef for company. You just toss everything into the roaster and the only real work is just at serving time.
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:06 PM   #3
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Crankin...Will this be a formal dinner... linens. china, stemware etc? Or a more casual dinner? Or maybe even a patio dinner?
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:16 PM   #4
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You could go Mexican and make everything in advance. I have a recipe for chicken enchiladas that includes onions and peppers, so meat and veggies are all in one dish; serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Then you could serve Mexican rice as a side. Both the enchiladas and rice can be made ahead, then bake them both to heat up. For an appetizer, serve two or three types of salsa with those organic blue corn chips.

Or go Greek and make moussakka, Greek salad, and Greek potatoes. About the only thing you would need to finish before eating would be to crisp up the Greek potatoes and mix in fresh garlic, lemon zest, and oregano. For an appetizer, make tzatziki sauce and pita chips (cut pita bread into triangles and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes).

Let me know if you want recipes for any of these.
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:25 PM   #5
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Pasta with a white sauce. You can add chicken, shrimp or sausage....rosted red peppers, olives, artichokes. Looks elegant but not like a standing rib roast with the little booties. ;)

The veggies, pasta and meat can be cooked ahead of time. Just toss together with the sauce and pasta to reheat.

Don't forget the toast.
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:45 PM   #6
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Crankin...Will this be a formal dinner... linens. china, stemware etc? Or a more casual dinner? Or maybe even a patio dinner?
It is casual, nothing too fancy. It's just that when company's over I want to be able to spend time with them not the kitchen.
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Old 09-07-2007, 02:30 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by crankin
It is casual, nothing too fancy. It's just that when company's over I want to be able to spend time with them not the kitchen.
Totally agree and understand. Have you given any thought to just having alot of appetizers, some cold, some warm, cocktails, wine etc. Almost all of it could be made ahead! Hey if they are friends, invite them in the kitchen to help with any last minute things. Maybe serve cake and coffee later in the evening. Oh well, just a thought. Like you said, the whole point is to,,

Have Fun & Enjoy!!
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Old 09-07-2007, 03:49 PM   #8
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you'll get wonderful suggestions from the good folks on here.
I'll read them after I put my thoughts down, my mind works quickly, but then as quickly it forgets.

There is a dump dinner. I have the recipe at home, but I'm in Boston so not for a couple of days can I post. What I remember from having it, serving it shortly after and fondly posting it in my mother's churches hand made recipe collection is, that you take a huge amount of chicken or turkey, white pieces, so a rotisserie chicken or 3 would do you well [depending on how many you want to feed]. That goes in a covered chaffing dish for the purpose of keeping it warm and all other ingreds line up in order of how you're supposed to assemble your dinner plate. The starch is rice, white or brown, but could as easily be mashed pots. There is gravy, vegetables, and toppings for the end result, about 13 bowls are set out with the fixins and it's not only fun but so very good. If you've got some chaffing dishes to keep a few of the things warmed, that helps a lot.

I always tend to go waaaaaaaaaay overboard and think more is best. How many people are we talking about here? Rachel Ray just did a jambalaya pasta concoction for a crowd that looked like it would be good. She also did a clam bake style thingie for a crowd. < Everything in either case, went into a huge stock pot.

How large is your crock pot? Assuming you have one and do you have a couple? I'd do a large pot of chili con carne, a large crock of beef stew and a large crock of chicken/turkey sweet and sour meatballs with a huge pot of rice and garlic bread on the side for dipping into each. Just a thought, and the piesta resistance could be another super reason to use the crockpot, Triple Chocolate Mess AKA To Die For that makes molten chocolate lava cake in the crock and you scoop it out and douse with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Please do get back to us and let us know what you choose, we're always excited to hear the end results.
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Old 09-07-2007, 04:00 PM   #9
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I agree with Uncle Bob and just do a bunch of canapes. You can do them ahead of time and you can give your guests a good variety. You can do things like shrimp cocktail, crab salad with Louis dressing in endive, tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese with a balsamic reduction, etc. A cheese, bread, and cold cut platter is also good and easy to make.
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Old 09-07-2007, 04:03 PM   #10
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I agree with Uncle Bob and just do a bunch of canapes. You can do them ahead of time and you can give your guests a good variety. You can do things like shrimp cocktail, crab salad with Louis dressing in endive, etc. A cheese, bread, and cold cut platter is also good and easy to make.
IC, if you were hosting a small, casual dinner for friends and wanted to maximize the time spent with your guests, what would you prepare?
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