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Old 12-02-2005, 09:01 PM   #1
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Impressive dinner for 6 on a shoestring?

Howdy. My first post here. I'm trying to plan a nice dinner party for some close friends but I'm pretty broke. 6 adults and then 6 kids, but I can whipe up something simple for them. One of my guest is a restuarant owner and I wanted to make something pretty impressive and not something they serve (basic italian, nothing amazing). I also wanted to really thank them as they have done a lot for me.

Any recommendations? I was thinking homeade pasta but this isn't seeming too unexpected. I've been craving latin food lately but I'm a pretty clueless irish gal so... or maybe something with fritters. Thinking not asian and not italian unless it's something real different. All I can think for budget is not a lot of meat... but not sure if I'm on target there.

I know this is probably too vague a question LOL but if anyone has any ideas I'd love to hear them! Been browsing food sites for awhile and nothing is jumping out at me.

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Old 12-02-2005, 09:36 PM   #2
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Hey, sugar peas, welcome to DC! I'm not very good at advising on a menu but most of the other folks here are pros at it. It may be helpful if you can give everyone a rundown on what you like to cook, especially what you're good at. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions! Best wishes!
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Old 12-02-2005, 09:40 PM   #3
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chili can be impressive yet inexpensive. serve with or over a rice pilaf, whole wheat noodles, baked acorn squash or baked potatoes (or boiled purple potatoes) serve with a green and citris salad, a great bread or cornbread. make one with rich spices, medium heat with hot sauce on the side, several kinds of beans, and chicken rather than red meat.
A "mix" called route 66 chili is quite fine and fits above description, but one can go it alone. have fun!
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Old 12-02-2005, 09:55 PM   #4
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Hmm what I like to cook or am good at.
Never thought about that before. I'm pretty versatile and willing to try something involved. I guess I like ethnic food more than american or french type stuff.

Chili is not a bad idea, though I'm not crazy about it myself. I like your menu ideas for that though, dresses it up a little. I like spoon bread I had in the south once, that could be fun.

I found a corn and pumpkin fritter recipe on food network that sounds yummy to me. Trying to think what I could do with that for a main dish? Looks like whole chickens are on sale for $1.09 lb. Would roast chicken go with fritters?
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Old 12-02-2005, 10:20 PM   #5
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roast chickens go with most anything...and do some winter veggies around it...parsnips, carrots, beets etc roast beautifully with meats, or go with onion and fennel with chicken...yum
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Old 12-02-2005, 10:31 PM   #6
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Sugar Peas, roast chicken goes with anything, and is a great bargain. If I were you, I'd do a couple of them, make some kind of potatoes to go with, a green vegie, bread, and a nice dessert.
Since you have the oven on for your chicken, you may as well wrap some potatoes in foil to cook at the same time. What could bd easier than baked potatoes?
Or you could make what I call "Potato Boats"...bake big russets, cut in half, scoop out potato, leaving firm shell, mash and season to taste with butter, cream cheese, sour cream, S&P...fill empty shells, top with grated cheese (bacon bits optional), and bake the next day. Really impressive, and quite delicous. Check with me tomorrow on cooking temps and times.
A good broccoli casserole would be nice with this.
Your corn and pumpkin fritters will go great!
Breadwise, biscuits with honey/butter would be nice with this. Grands are just fine...I particularly like the Flakey Layers
For dessert...how about my apple cake?
I'm pretty sure you can do this meal for less than $30.00.

Of course, drinks would be extra. Don't feel embarrassed to have a BYO party. When HB and I were younger, that's all we could afford.

Don't forget to have a good time!
We get by with a little help from our friends
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Old 12-03-2005, 09:06 AM   #7
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potato pancakes????
Have you had your habanero pepper today????
The hotter the pepper, the better the pepper!!!
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Old 12-03-2005, 11:27 AM   #8
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Anything Wellington. Puff pastry wrapped around beef, chicken or salmon jazzes up a presentation. I would stick with simple roasted potatoes and roasted veggies (asparagus, etc.). Add a salad (antipasti perhaps, if you go Italian), bread and an easy Tiramisu for dessert.

Chicken is an easy way to go and so many ways to prepare it. I was looking at a recipe for Chicken w 40 cloves of garlic that was made all in one dish with potatoes and veggies. Another chicken idea - Orange chicken served over wild rice, surrounded by mandarin oranges around he platter and garnished with slivered almonds. Add a green veggie, salad, dessert & coffee. An easy appy could be stuffed mushrooms, etc.

I'll keep thinking. Hope your party is a big success.
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Old 12-03-2005, 01:27 PM   #9
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I vote for the roasted chicken also. I stuff mine with celery stalks, carrots, onion and S & P. I then rub the chicken down in butter or EVOO, rosemary and S & P. I roast it for about 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. I start checking on it after an hour and 10 minutes. When you gently pull the leg away from the thigh and the juices run clear then its done. Or you can insert a cooking thermometer to see what the the internal temp is. Be sure to stick it in the thick portion of meat and not next to a bone. If I were you I'd practice roasting one on your own first so it doesn't put you under any pressure on the day of your dinner.
Roasted winter veggies are wonderful also.......drizzled with EVOO, S & P. I don't add chopped garlic as that seems to brown too much....but I do add a little garlic salt or powder and toss the chunks of veggies around to evenly coat. You can sprinkle on rosemary also if you want to.
Check out the potato thread.........most everyone loves potatoes and there are some wonderful ideas there.
I'd keep the dessert simple and buy some berries and sprinkle them with sugar and let them masserate in their own juices..........buy a pound cake and cute into bite size cubes. Put a few berries in a clear pretty glass or dish.....add a layer of berries then a layer of cool whip then more berries. You can stop there or keep on with the layers. But since your on a budget I'd keep it simple and use either clear glasses or small decorative clear bowls. You can garnich with a pretty sprig of mint if you like.
If you have a local thrift store around you can pick up some really cheap clear glassware usually.
Serve warm rolls with a honey butter. I'd posted a recipe before for how I make mine.....you should be able to find that in a search.
Don't fret over the meal though...........just turn on some music and have fun while your preparing it and then sit back and enjoy the time with your friends when they arrive.
Se non supporta il calore, vattene dalla cucina!
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Old 12-03-2005, 05:46 PM   #10
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First of all, what exactly is your budget? A dish that doesn't have to be pricey but can be impressive is paella. You can put in chicken, chorizo, mussels, shrimp. Since it's a one pot deal, that could be your main course. For your first course, you could do a bruschetta but keeping within the Spanish theme. Grill/toast some type of ciabatta-like bread, then top it with a salad of grilled/roasted fresh sweet corn, tomatoes, lentils, mint, scallions, roasted piquillo peppers, sherry vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. That will be like a salad/appetizer combo.
"Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
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Old 12-03-2005, 10:26 PM   #11
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I have twelve people in my family, so spaghetti with french bread and a salad is pretty easy. Tacos, and Burritos are easy too (if you make soft tacos). Anything else I can help with?

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Old 12-04-2005, 09:57 PM   #12
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Sweet and sour meatballs are always a favorite here. The sweet and sour mixture is very easy. 1:1:1

1 part sugar
1 part water
1 part vinegar

I put some grape jelly in it once....wow... it was incredible. Cheap as **** too. You can searve this wish egg noodles.
I love to cook with wine... sometimes it even gets in the food

Michael Schaap
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Old 12-29-2005, 06:28 PM   #13
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I don't know if you're still looking in to see what was posted, but someone may be. I love the boeuf bourgongion and roasted chicken suggestions. With the latter, I "stuff" the chicken with a half lemon and entire head of garlic (broken up, but don't bother to peel) before cooking. I serve traditional sides if my guests are timid, if they aren't I make up some couscous (very easy and cheap; buy Near East brand in any flavor and follow instructions) and a cucumber/yogurt salad.

I have two chili recipes I use for larger parties, and neither is anything 99% of the world would expect. One is a New Mexico Green Chili recipe (and I always have to call my cousin's widow when I make it, since it is her recipe, so we sit down to a long chat) that I make for my summer party, and Cincinatti chili (also known as Greek spaghetti sauce in some parts of the country) for my holiday party. People who don't like chili are amazed. I always warn novices to "suspend" their preconcieved notions of chili and have a bowl.
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