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Easy Dinner Party Ideas for Five?

I'm crabby. I've been a bit hoodwinked into hosting a dinner party the evening before I am leaving for a 12 day cruise. The long story doesn't matter really, because I will still be crabby and will not want to work too hard. I need to pack - no big deal, BUT will have to clean the kitchen after they leave. I can't possibly leave things soaking for 2 weeks!

Plus, my hubby is not here...so there will be 5 of us.

Do you have any suggestions for a knockout main dish that is easy and can be prepared in advance? I was going to serve Marcella Hazan's lasagna, but won't have time to babysit the sauce. I am thinking of purchasing bolognese from a local restaurant, along with pre-ground parmesan and homemade bechemal...Quick noodles a 'la Cooks Illustrated 'no boil' noodle tips.

I'm feeling guilty. Any suggestions?

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  1. On a similar theme and you can make it (and bake it) a day or two in advance and gently reheat, would be a gourmet mac and cheese using an aged guyere ... then drizzle with truffle oil to serve.

    1. If you've been hoodwinked, I say make it as easy as you can...or is there some reason you need to impress these people with amazing cooking skills? If not, I would go with the best you can find already made and go with it. For dessert, serve banana splits with your favorite vanilla and coffee ice creams, the best chocolate sauce you can find and a great selection of toasted nuts--macadamia, beer nuts and pecans--with large dollops of whipped cream. Why knock yourself out when whatever you do will be forgotten in days and you'll still be annoyed if it made you grumpy on the cruise. (Lately, I've seen women knocking themselves out on elaborate meals for no good reason.)

      1 Reply
      1. re: escondido123

        Good point and exactly right! I WILL be forgotten in days. These are not foodies, but ARE very nice people - hoodwinked or not - and will likely be very appreciative. Or maybe they will bash my food, and decor, when they leave! LOL - Why do we knock ourselves out on elaborate meals? And by 'we', I mean 'I'.

      2. Quiche is very easy to make in advance; any kind of savory tart or pie that doesn't exude a lot of sauce would give you a nice easy clean up. You can buy pre-made crusts and just concentrate on the filling. Side with a nice salad of pre-mixed greens and a bought dessert. Voila.

        1. i would make a simple baked chicken dish like this chow recipe for honey mustard chicken

          http://www.chow.com/recipes/27741-hon...

          with a simple veg side or salad, and a rice pilaf type of starch. keep it simple and cheap&cheerful w not a lot of prep or cleanup. serve a sorbet & fruit dessert, or ask one of your guests to bring a cake, pie or cookies. another guest can bring the wine.

          1. How about a really great stew? I just made one with root veggies and grass fed beef from the farmers market and it seems to be getting better and better the longer it sits around. I think a nice stew with maybe some warm bread would be appealing to guests this winter and will leave you with barely anything to clean
            Enjoy your cruise!
            JeremyEG
            homecooklocavore.com