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College student dinner party

My friends and I are graduating in a couple weeks, so I wanted to make dinner for them one last time before finals and graduation ceremonies kick in. I've made dinner for them many times before , but this time I want to have a more special spread. Of course, the limitation is that I will be somewhat limited on time (given the upcoming finals), and I am working with both a small kitchen and small budget.

Things I'm thinking about making are roasted asparagus, rosemary flatbread, some sort of chicken, strawberry shortcake for dessert...

I'll be cooking for about 8-9 people, one vegetarian in the group, and one girl who has the taste buds of a 6-year-old boy (ie she's scared of most green things, thinks chicken fingers are a food group, and likes food as "basic" as possible). We are all big potato lovers. The food doesn't have to be terribly impressive, given that most of us eat things like Trader Joe's tamales or ramen half of the nights of the week.

Any ideas and recipes would be very much appreciated!

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  1. How about a oven fried chicken kiev? Take boneless chicken breast halves, butterfly & pound thin and coat interior with a heavily herbed butter and folded/rolled (this can be done well ahead and held in the fridge). When ready to cook, let chicken sit out for a bit to get some of the chill off, roll in a little flour, dip in beaten egg, roll in crushed corn flakes, then bake in a medium-hot oven (375 or so) in a lightly greased dish large enough the individual portions aren't touching one another.

    1. "one girl who has the taste buds of a 6-year-old boy (ie she's scared of most green things, thinks chicken fingers are a food group, and likes food as "basic" as possible)."
      ~~~~~~~~
      apparently you know my sister ;) seriously, though, i think it's a touching and generous gesture to do this for your friends. good for you!

      i was going to suggest polenta with mushroom ragu as a side, which is filling, relatively inexpensive, and would satisfy your veg friend while everyone else eats the chicken (or whatever protein you end up serving)...but then i saw your potato comment. you should consider this potato gratin...

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/22/hea...

      it's always a hit, it's easy to make, it's hearty & satisfying, and i think it would be a great complement to the rosemary flat bread, asparagus & a chicken dish. if you want to, you can substitute Swiss, Emmentaler, or a combo of Fontina & Parmigiano for the Gruyère...and if you don't like cumin (or you're concerned that "my sister" might have an issue with it) substitute a teaspoon of minced fresh thyme or rosemary and some freshly grated nutmeg.

      1. What about scalloped potatoes? They are so yummy, a treat I rarely have time for, and I really love this recipe:

        http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

        If you don't want to use fennel, just increase the number of potatoes.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Full tummy

          so funny- I was planning on making scalloped potatoes to go with a ham steak tomorrow, but am going out of town the next day and was also trying to figure out what to do with some fennel I unexpectedly had left over. Perfect!

          1. re: DGresh

            I really enjoy the fennel in the recipe, and it makes it healthy... well, I like to think so, hahahaha.

        2. I think a baked potato bar might be a lot of fun. Have butter, herbed butter and sour cream, plus bowls of add-ins. Off the top of my head, bacon, cheese, sauteed mushrooms, chives, steamed broccoli. Serve with a tray of roasted vegetables.

          2 Replies
            1. re: smtucker

              This is a nice idea but I think the cost of something like this as well as the time to put it together is a little more than the OP wanted when they said "limited on time." You have a bunch of additions that you need to prep and cook (cook bacon, chop chives, steamed broccoli, put them all in bowls with spoons) and then not everyone will eat everything, AND you have to deal with leftovers, AND you have to cook 8 or 9 potatoes... it's just not worth the time and effort.

              On the other hand, I think scalloped potatoes is a great idea. It's easy, it's all made in one dish, and you can save, even freeze any leftovers.

            2. Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I like them all.

              Re: baked potato bar -- the same thought had occurred to me! The one problem is that I'm not personally very fond of baked potatoes. Still, it's definitely an option as I'm sure my friends would enjoy it thoroughly

              3 Replies
              1. re: betterbeheaven

                oh, then one small tenderloin for you. Potatoes for everyone else!

                1. re: betterbeheaven

                  Change it to a mashed potato bar. I've seen this done with over-sized martini glasses, but in your case you'd probably want bowls! In addition to smtucker's add-ins, maybe a big bowl of roasted garlic thinned with OO so guests can drizzle it on, chili (either red or white), gravy, buttery sauteed cabbage (kind of like an exploded pierogi), caramelized onions.

                  1. re: betterbeheaven

                    Double baked potato bar! Then the potatoes are more creamy to begin with!