ISO Brazilian crowd pleasers - Help!
I would strongly suggest looking at Bobo de Camarao for the seafood, it is a yucca broth with coconut milk and cilantro which goes over well (it is one of several dishes we made for a wedding). (I think its easier to serve than a moqueca.)
For chicken, frango com quiabo served with angu (cut up whole chicken, stewed with okra and served with polenta) requires a bit more technique but is quite doable.
Alternately you could roast a chicken with brazilian spices. Because of the risks with stuffing, just make a farofa to go with it. If your crowd would be into it, you could go as far as farofa de muidos (made with gizzards, liver, chicken hearts), or just a sausage or carrot farofa. As noted above a fresh ham is quite common and excellent if slowly roasted.
White rice made with garlic is a necessity and either red or black beans, depending on preference. If doing the roast chicken, tutu de feijao would go nicely.
Although they are not as good cold, smaller party size brazilian salgadinhos are often served at parties. Usually you can buy a 100 bite-sized salgados for under $45 and should assume that each person is going to eat at least 5. They can be warmed slightly in the oven.
Or if you are into making snacks, I would suggest an empadao de frango -- a large chicken pie with a brazilian filling as you just need to make the filling and the two crusts. The goya or la fe empanada wrappers both fry well and are fairly similar to brazilian pastel dough, so again if you make fillings -- ground beef with garlic and paprika, a cured brazilian cheese, chicken as above with tomato, onion, etec. If you have a brazilian market nearby, you should be able to buy frozen pao de queijo.
You could make a salad with hearts of palm or fry some collard greens with garlic.
Will she eat Bahian food? My first thought would be a shrimp moqueca, it's easy to do for a crowd, you can make it spicy or not, and it would make a good counterpoint to the usual Thanksgiving food.
Many of the popular Brazilian snacks are deep-fried and really don't work unless you have the Brazilian secret weapon....a kitchen staff to keep the batches coming all night.
Do you have access to an outdoor grill? Most of the parties I attended were feasts of sausage and beef with rice and big bowls of vinegareta (I'm sure that's spelled wrong).
To keep the Brazilian theme you can serve caipirinhas and caipiroskas. In addition to the regular ones with lime, many people liked them with different fruits (strawberry, mango) whizzed in the blender.
What about something Italian or Japanese, maybe a big bowl of yakisoba?
I have some Brazilian cookbooks if you need ideas.