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Need ideas for an easy (but special) 70th birthday dinner

I need some menu suggestions for a 70th birthday dinner for my father in law (7 people are coming) on Saturday night. The problem is my week is totally slammed. I have a few hours on Friday night that I can dedicate and that's about it. I'd prefer not to be in the kitchen frantically cooking when everyone is here Saturday afternoon and evening. Any great ideas? I'm already exhausted and just can't come up with any great ideas. (Going out to eat isn't really an option or I would go that route). HELP!

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  1. I think the best birthday would be one based on the birthday "boy's" favorite foods. do you know or can you ask?

    1. Speaking as a recently-arrived septuagenarian, I'm a whole lot easier to please than I was at forty! Not sure how universal that is, but any effort that shows thoughtfulness and a desire to please me will invariably please me. If Mrs. O had taken me out for pizza I'd have been delighted …

      Seems to me that escondido123's suggestion is about as good as it gets. We geezers tend to be fondest of our childhood favorites, so I seriously doubt you'll need to spend hours in the kitchen.

      1. I would do a braise. Takes a while but it is fairly unsupervised cooking time. A few braises are Chicken cacciatore, Pot Roast, Short Ribs or a brisket.

        If you want something quick, you could cook my bbqed pork tenderloins and some smoked sausages, Bush's grillin beans, Get some potato salad from the store and add some hard boiled egg to it. My store uses too much sauce so I usually add some potato in too.

        You could cook steaks and baked potatoes... the ultimate fast food.

        1. If you're feeling like throwing some money at the project, and a fun one it is, there's a method for roasting a Prime Rib that calls for no supervision. In fact it's better if you're not there, to avoid the temptation of looking into the oven. It turns out an ideal mid-rare roast every time if you adhere strictly to the directions. You could make a gratin ahead of time, maybe potato-leek or chive with a smattering of garlic; and you could pre-wash and bag salad greens with a paper towel or two, prepping any garnishes like nuts or croutons ahead of time - so back at home you'd just need to bake the gratin and toss the salad. W. Cake and ice cream, there's dinner.
          If you'd like the method I'd be happy to post it; let me know.
          I'll reiterate as well that basically everyone loves roasted chicken. You could brine and season them on Friday evening, and they would only need time in the oven and a rest on Saturday; no furious activity involved. You could make a risotto, cooking it to just under al dente, and finish it on the stove on Saturday; literally only 10 minutes' work, and a nice side. W/ salad, dinner again.
          Enjoy; Happy Birthday to your FIL!

          1. I 2nd the idea of braising, maybe short ribs? I made some that were served on gorgonzola polenta from an epicurious or bon appetit recipe not long ago and they were outstanding. Super easy--they were seasoned the night before and then browned in the morning and simmered away most of the afternoon with red wine. I can find the recipe if you're interested.

            If you're for something more casual, a good antipasto platter (buy everything and just plate) and then a really good "Italian" (i.e. authentic) lasagna. Good wine, some cheese and fruit and maybe gelato or tiramisu for dessert...nothing to do at the last minute, and nothing that has you slaving for hours.

            1. You can do a beef wellington early and bake it when you want:


              1. chicken marbella is mostly done ahead and is barely any work but usually loved.

                1. Well, last night my husband says to me that his dad really likes shrimp and grits and doesn't get them very often living in MD/VA. So that is what I am going to attempt for the first time. It looks like it comes together pretty quickly. I am toying with the idea of making the 'gravy" the night before and then re-heating and throwing the shrimp in at the last minute. If not, I will just have everything chopped and ready to go. And I'll serve it with maybe some blanched green beans tossed with pecans and shallots??? Any appetizer suggestions? Maybe southern themed relish tray?

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: JennyHunter

                    I'm not familar with "gravy" with s&g. Here's a Bobby Flay recipe (never tried it) that seems representative:


                    I've also done a baked, creamy polenta and served grilled shrimp over that, ala shrimp and grits.

                    Since I assume that s&g will be served in a bowl (yes?) would a side salad work better than beans?

                    1. re: JennyHunter

                      The shrimp and grits I am familiar with is in a cajun type sauce, so the night before would be fine if that is what you are thinking. I'd want a salad with it, personally, green beans in a salad?
                      I love the relish tray idea.

                      1. re: JennyHunter

                        Where is your FIL from? If I'm not mistaken, shrimp and grits means different things to people from different parts of the country. I lived in NC for a while, and this recipe is pretty representative of what I grew to expect shrimp and grits to taste like there: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/shrim...

                        If that is indeed what your FIL thinks of as shrimp and grits, I think the green beans with pecans sound like a great side dish. Does he have a favorite southern dessert?

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          I would say the most important question to be answered is whether your FIL eats hominy grits or regular grits---different taste and texture.

                          1. re: escondido123

                            I'm a Southerner but I thought all grits were made from ground corn. So hominy grits would be redundant IMO. I use whole hominy for things like menudo and posole.

                            But back to OP, it seems like these are just pan sauces which come together in mere minutes so it wouldn't save you any time.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Hominy is treated with an alkali and has a different flavor from regular corn meal. I have both in the frig and then difference is noticeable--I like corn meal grits and do not like hominy grits. I'm not a Southerner.

                              1. re: escondido123

                                I know how hominy is treated but haven't noticed different ones. But I live in NoCal now so probably the grocery shelves aren't collapsing under the weight of different types of grits :)

                              2. re: c oliver

                                I've been looking at recipes and most of them do seem to be more or less a pan sauce - so I am just going to assemble that evening. I'll have the shrimp peeled, the chopping done, etc... ahead of time. I am going to see what my options are for grits - if any at all. Apparently Harris Teeter chain has more "southern" staples than other stores in the area. Hoping they also might have some tasso ham, but not holding my breath!

                                1. re: JennyHunter

                                  Suggest you cook your Stone Ground grits in shrimp stock from the peelings...Head on shrimp stock would be a bonus ~~ Or in a pinch cook them in a light chicken stock.
                                  ...Don't be seduced by recipes calling for "Cheese" ~~ Cheese Grits have their place but IMO not in S&G...The dish needs to be about the Shrimp, in a complimentary sauce/gravy, served over simple grits ~~~ Have Fun!

                          2. re: JennyHunter

                            How about some sort of soup for an appetizer? That would fit in nicely with your plans to do as much as possible the night before.

                            1. re: masha

                              I think all I am going to do beforehand is an old fashioned southern relish tray that we can munch on before dinner with drinks. Pickles veggies, maybe cream cheese with pepper jelly and if I have the time deviled eggs! It will be totally unexpected for sure.

                              1. re: JennyHunter

                                That sounds perfect! If you don't have time to do deviled eggs the day of, you could do pickled eggs - I remember them being very popular down there. My mother (who is not from the south) makes hers with beet juice - gives them a gorgeous purple color and a nice sweet tang!

                                1. re: JennyHunter

                                  relish tray would be perfect!
                                  I use the lee bros recipec for shrimp and grits...yum