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Old 08-22-2005, 01:08 PM   #1
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Bad Cook, wants to have dinner party


My wife and I are both very mediocre cooks. There are 4-5 couples that I'd really like to have over one weekend for dinner but I'm totally lossed on what to prepare.

Do any of you have any ideas on something that tastes fabulous but is easy to make - and something not too common? Chicken is good when it's good but hard to make impressive. None of us eat pork. Fish has always been unimpressive.

I'd be grateful for any ideas. Thanks!

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Old 08-22-2005, 01:34 PM   #2
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Hi, welcome to the group!

How about stuffed corning game hens?
Or a pasta with seafood sauce?
or I have a wonderful recipe for clam chowder. Serve it with a good French
bread and a nice green salad. There are 100's of ideas. I'm sure you'll get
lots more answers.

smiles, Trish
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Old 08-22-2005, 01:37 PM   #3
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Do you have access to a BBQ Smoker? I've got a pork butt going right now. You said you and your guests don't eat pork. How about smoking a turkey?

Maybe you could make it interactive? Host a chili cookoff, and have all your guests bring some chili. They wouldn't have to cook much, either, as everyone is bringing some.
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Old 08-22-2005, 01:49 PM   #4
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Stuffed cornish hens...are those baked? I'm afraid I'd have to make too many for this group.

I do have a smoker and it's sorta hit or miss. Sometimes it turns out great and other times...raw. The other problem with smoking chickens is that I don't think my smoker can hold more than 3-4 small chickens which may or may not be enough for 12+ people?

Seafood pasta sounds good.
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Old 08-22-2005, 01:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jemo
Stuffed cornish hens...are those baked? I'm afraid I'd have to make too many for this group.

I do have a smoker and it's sorta hit or miss. Sometimes it turns out great and other times...raw. The other problem with smoking chickens is that I don't think my smoker can hold more than 3-4 small chickens which may or may not be enough for 12+ people?

Seafood pasta sounds good.
I have a clam pasta recipe. Would you like it??

You're right you'd have to cook a lot of hens. I'll keep thinking.
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Old 08-22-2005, 02:08 PM   #6
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What about beouf bourguignonne? You start it hours before your guests are due to arrive and it is very forgiving and can stand extra long cooking time.
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Old 08-22-2005, 03:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ishbel
What about beouf bourguignonne? You start it hours before your guests are due to arrive and it is very forgiving and can stand extra long cooking time.

YUM! You are so right about it being forgiving. Served over egg noodles with a real nice salad and some good french bread. Maybe some good cheese, too.
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Old 08-22-2005, 03:24 PM   #8
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Do you have a crock pot? I have a crock pot recipe for beef stroganoff that is very easy and forgiving, too. You can make it all ahead and just switch the dial to warm if it's ready before your guests are.

Or how about a pasta bolognese? You could make the sauce ahead of time and just have to cook a big pot of pasta right before serving.

Let me know if you want either of these recipes. And welcome to Discuss Cooking!
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Old 08-22-2005, 03:34 PM   #9
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How about a mexican theme? Enchilada's are great, you can bake a large pan full of them, with whatever stuffings you like, top them with some spicy salsa ( I like Newmans, hot), and then add cheese on top and bake. Serve it with some spicy rice, and refried beans. Anyone know how to make Marjarita's? You could ask some of the couples to be in charge of making the drinks while you do the cooking. Maybe make a nacho platter too as an appetizer.
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Old 08-22-2005, 05:41 PM   #10
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If you're doing the three course thing I would cheat on course one and three. An antipasto plater always goes down well, and you can make some of it and buy some of it. Chicken cacciatore is another of those dishes that once you have done the preparation you can let it do it's thing. It's lovely with polenta which is easy to cook.
Dessert you could do as the French do and buy a great pastry or cake. Or semi freddo (a bit like ice cream but easier to make) is a good dessert with some fresh fruit, and in keeping with a Italian theme. Let me know if you want any receipts (olde English for recipe)
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Old 08-22-2005, 06:15 PM   #11
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Two ideas:

One, how about kabobs, beef or lamb. Can serve with hummus and perhaps falafel.

If you have access to a Middle Eastern food store can poke about and maybe find beef/lamb sausages such as sojuk or other items.

Or:

Second, how about muffaletta sandwiches. Serve with a shrimp boil with a spicy dipping sauce. Have a plate of pickled okra and some other appetizer like plates.

Just an idea, hope this helps.
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Old 08-23-2005, 01:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amber
How about a mexican theme? Enchilada's are great, you can bake a large pan full of them, with whatever stuffings you like, top them with some spicy salsa ( I like Newmans, hot), and then add cheese on top and bake. Serve it with some spicy rice, and refried beans. Anyone know how to make Marjarita's? You could ask some of the couples to be in charge of making the drinks while you do the cooking. Maybe make a nacho platter too as an appetizer.

I like amber's idea of having Mexican food. It is easy and usually a great hit with everyone. I have a great recipe for a layered bean dip for an appetizer. Depending on how fancy you want to get having a taco bar is great fun. Just put out all the ingredients for tacos and have everyone make their own. At the bar you could have: onions, cheese, 2-3 kinds of salsa, olives, sour cream, guacamole, green chilies, corn and flour tortillas, etc. Serve with refried beans and rice as amber suggested.
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Old 08-23-2005, 02:05 AM   #13
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The simplest thing in the world to make, and very "fancy" tasting is what my family calls drunk chicken. You simply marinate chicken (whole chickens or parts--also Cornish game hens work) in sherry (not cooking sherry--too salty). Then put in baking dish, sprinkle with parsley, cover and bake (baking time will depend on if you use whole chickens, Cornish game hens, or chicken parts). Remove cover (I usually use foil) for last 15 minutes or so to allow it to brown.

Serve with sour cream and chive mashed potatoes (instead of using milk and butter, mash with sour cream and chives--or the green part of green onions, chopped fine). After mashing, put into a casserole dish sprayed with PAM. Bake, uncovered, about 20 minutes until heated through.

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Old 08-23-2005, 02:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jemo
... and something not too common? Chicken is good when it's good but hard to make impressive. None of us eat pork. Fish has always been unimpressive....
Well - not knowing WHERE in the USA you live it's hard to guess what might be "common" where you live - or even what ingredients might be commonly available.

Are you looking for a casual menu or something a little more formal?

A fish fry with fried catfish, hush puppies and coleslaw is one idea .... a big pot of shrimp gumbo, crawfish etoufee or jambalaya served over rice with a side of cornbread is another .... you've taken a couse in Asian cooking ... put those lessons to use and make a meal of hot-n-sour or egg-drop soup and sweet-n-sour chicken?

I like auntdot's idea ... lamb kabobs - served with saffron rice, pita bread and plenty of hummus or baba ganoush. You can grill the kabobs just shy of being done ... park them on a baking sheet in the oven to keep them warm.

Of course, some chunked up chuck roasts, red wine, onions and garlic .... simmered for a couple of hours ... finished off with some butter and sour cream and sauteed mushroom ... served over egg noodles is tasty, too.

What you can prepare is only limited by your imagination, equipment, and budget.
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Old 08-23-2005, 04:51 AM   #15
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It doesn't have to be fancy to be good!

I vote for grilling steaks or salmon; both are virtually impossible to screw up. Or chicken breasts... or whatever! Make some salads with exotic greens and dress them up with yummy extras from your local farmer's market. Cut up fruit!! Peaches, necturines, grapes, apples, kiwis, figs, berries, and whatever else smells sweet at the store. Bake some brownies! Splurge on some great cheese and a couple boxes of crackers. Spike a watermelon with some decadent vodka. Heap up a bowl of chips and serve it with some homemade pico de gallo! Bake some potatoes and let everyone garnish as they please.

Save tricky for your next party or two, when you feel more comfortable. =)


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Old 08-24-2005, 12:36 PM   #16
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Sorry for taking so long to reply (work is such a nuisance).

Thanks everyone. Lots of good ideas. Michael, I'm in the Dallas, TX area like yourself so Mexican food probably wouldn't be too much of a hit, although it is easy to make and tastes good. I like the idea of some sort of cajun dishes like etouffee or gumbo. I think those would taste great and it might be hard to mess up. Some sort of fish with a creamy, rich sauce with more minced fish or crab would sound great too. Do any of you have any recipes in this category? What kind of fish do you suggest?

About the clam chowder recipe - please send for another occassion!

Thanks again.
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Old 08-24-2005, 01:39 PM   #17
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Hey Jemo,

One mediocre cook to another, my "simple salmon" hasn't missed yet. For a party your size it might be a little pricey, but it's easy and always well liked.

-Get yourself enough steak sized salmon fillets for everyone.
-Slice up some lemons (one half lemon per fillet)
-Place each fillet on a sheet of foil.
-Put a little less than a tablespoon of dill (the fine stuff) on each fillet then place the lemon slices over top.
-Wrap the foils around the fillets and dump 'em all on the BBQ.
-Check them periodically but you'll know they're done when they've changed to a more pastel pink-orange. Jab a fork in and twist and if it "flakes" you're done.

For the side, chop up some mushrooms and steam them with some rice. I've always found mushroom flavor compliments salmon nicely.

I'd go with fish because with that # of people innevitably there are one or two with a food taboo or allergy which usually revolves around red or unkocher meats.
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:11 PM   #18
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Jemo,
Loads of good ideas here. Etouffe and gumbo will involve making a roux - are you up to that? And lots of slicing and dicing of veggies - want to do that?

Easier and faster would be to buy some good quality jarred Alfredo sauce, heat it up with some nice crabmeat or shrimp, maybe add some chopped greeen onions, and pour that over egg noodles.

Quiches are easy too.
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Old 08-24-2005, 03:41 PM   #19
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Etoufee and gumbo are pretty easy to screw up, actually.

Jambalaya is easier.
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Old 08-24-2005, 06:47 PM   #20
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there are lots of simple and nice recipes out there...you'll find some here and some at foodtv and others at other recipe sites. But If you are not comfortable in the kitchen, and really don't want to try something new with guests coming over, make no appologies for your cooking. Do something you are comfortable...if that is spaghetti with ground beef and jarred red sauce...great. If it's tuna noodle helper from a box...great. The important thing is that you are sharing a meal with friends. Your hospitality makes it an occasion.

most important things: have enough , make sure all can eat it (know your guests needs), and have a good time. I have friends who ALWAYS order out 3 or 4 kinds of pizza, or make a chinese buffet at home for that very reason.
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