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What is your Go To recipe for company if ....

you will be cleaning all day and won't have a whole lot of time to cook? There are no dietary restrictions or anything. I just want something tried and true that you turn to when you want something almost everyone likes and is pretty hard to mess up.

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  1. So, give us a little help; like what's in the pantry; is there time to run to the supermarket; how much time is there to prepare the meal (... "not a whole lot of time to cook" makes a rather blurred picture) and what cooking skills (or other limitations) might there be?

    1. sausage with peppers and onions. cold salads. gazpacho. all made in advance except the sausage.

      1. Anything that I call "heat & eat"--make ahead food that needs no fuss to re-heat. Make-ahead salad ingredients pre-cut & stored along with whatever entree/dessert can be done ahead.

        1. Can you do the cooking a day or two before? So many braises are even better when made a day or two ahead, skimmed of fat, and reheated to serve. Think short ribs, country-style ribs, coq au vin. Or for a standard low-fuss dish my sister and I have been making for about 100 years :) that never fails to please, you could marinate chicken pieces overnight in lemon juice, olive oil, many whole lightly crushed cloves of garlic, and rosemary sprigs in ziplocks together with whole green olives (preferably not the pimento stuffed kind, I really like picholines) and small red potatoes cut in half or quarters depending on size. You want plenty of the marinade and loads of garlic, it mellows with cooking. Tip the whole thing into a roasting pan and bake uncovered at 375 until done, probably about 45 minutes, depends on the size of your chicken pieces. For some reason, this is incredibly forgiving if it stays in too long. My sister adds baby carrots but I think they make it too sweet -- not that I have any trouble eating it at her house, it is a perennial winner. Green salad (or in summer, sliced tomatoes sprinkled with fresh basil) and crusty bread is all you need besides.

          3 Replies
          1. re: GretchenS

            The chicken recipe is making my mouth water. I won't be able to make it today due to the marinating time, but I might make it for Thursday. My company will be here for a week.

            1. re: anniam

              If time just gets away and guests are arriving today, either order out or go out to eat. Why add so much stress on yourself? Or set up a "serve yourself" omlette bar at home. Relax.

            2. I'm going to the market today because my pantry is pretty bare at the moment. I'll have around 3 hrs to cook as long as I can clean while I'm cooking. I had something in mind for today but it fell through which is why I'm here looking for help (-;

              1. Whole roasting chicken - roast breast-side down, so you don't have to baste it.
                Baked sweet potato wedges with spicy seasonings.
                Some kind of green salad with blue cheese dressing to dip the chicken in.
                Good crusty bread.

                Gelato and cookies for dessert.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jmcarthur8


                  A golden-brown roasted chicken is easy, minds itself for most of the time, and a well-done chicken is a classic.

                  I roast mine on a v-rack, with veggies underneath the rack -- they keep the spattering and smoking down, and veggies roasted in chicken drippings are a wonderful thing.

                  Salad and brownies with ice cream. Dinner done.

                2. This is silly.

                  Why not just make what *you* are good at, and what is tried-and-true for *you*.

                  What works for me or someone else may not work for you, esp. if you've only got a one-day turnaround time. 24 hours really isn't enough time to get used to a recipe and to make it a "tried-and-true" go-to recipe for company.

                  1. Since you will have other days to plan and cook something more elaborate, why not keep tonight's dinner simple. Make a great salad, marinate a fast-cooking meat and add a simple starch. Example - bag of salad greens, add sliced peaches or apples, a few almonds or pecans, some goat or blue cheese - 5 minutes tops. Put a flank steak or pork tenderloin in the marinade of your choice (like teriyaki or balsamic something) for an hour or two, and sear in a pan on the stove and finish in the oven (if you can't grill) -- 20 minutes cooking time. Add your favorite potatoes, rice, couscous, etc., and you have a low stress meal.

                    1. Indonesian Ginger Chicken. The prep is all done the night before and you just stick it in the oven to cook.


                      Served with Basmati Rice, or any rice. Sauce from chicken is so good so rice or couscous is just a vehicle for the sauce.


                      Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad. Add some sliced red onion and make the day before.


                      1. Peel and eat shrimp is an incredibly forgiving appetizer when cooked in a foil packet on the grill. The diners do the work!

                        This time of year, marinade some chicken thighs in a garlicky, lemony marinade. Serve them grilled with pita, tabbouleh, hummus, yogurt and feta dip, grilled veggies, and marinated tomatoes. Put it all out on platters and let people help themselves.

                        You can do something similar with tacos. Corn and flour tortillas, a few salsas, guacamole, sour cream, sliced red onion, maybe some pineapple pieces, and then grill and slice any combo of chicken, fish, shrimp, steak.

                        1. A roasted pork shoulder is easy. Either go the pulled-pork route with cole slaw and rolls, or use beef stock for an easy gravy, along with steamed or roasted veg.

                          But I agree that lemon chicken sounds excellent. Maybe more summery, too.

                          1. Spaghetti with garlic and oil. If you lack time, get a rotisserie chicken (or two), make a great salad, and roast some potatoes/root veggies. Don't sweat it! And no one doesn't love ice cream and Pepperidge farm cookies.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: pinehurst

                              You know, the rotisserie chicken, salad out of a bag with some fruit as Terrie H suggested, and baked or mashed potatoes or rice is absolutely the easiest solution and would make practically anyone happy. And pinehurst is right about dessert too!

                              1. re: GretchenS

                                +1! It's help me in a few jams. I just never think of it until I'm in a mess.

                            2. Hah! Like you, I invite friends over for dinner and then end up in a mad cleaning/tidying frenzy before they arrive – every time!

                              So, in the cooler weather, I make a triple batch of Bolognese (Hazan’s) and freeze it in servings for 4 so that I can quick defrost it and throw together an easy meal of spinach tagliatelle with Bolognese and a big salad. Friends start asking in September, when the Bolognese will be on the menu at my house.

                              In the warmer weather, these are my favorite dinner company dishes - Lidia’s Shrimp alla Buzara is a stovetop dish that is quick, easy and full of flavor. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/2111444...
                              Be sure to double the sauce to use it on the spaghetti or linguine. Or dip bread in. Or just spoon in to you mouth. You’ll thank me later for that advice:-


                              And this recipe for halibut with prosciutto is also easy, quick and delicious. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ty...
                              I skip the capers and wrap the fillets in whole slices of prosciutto. And always double the sauce. You can serve it over some quick sautéed spinach with boiled new potatoes, or linguine.

                              1. I ALWAYS have some sort of sausages in the freezer & ALWAYS have enough high-quality dry pastas in the pantry to put an Italian to shame - lol!!! Not to mention a plethora of good-quality pasta sauces, diced tomatoes, beans, etc. etc. I can throw together an impromptu Italian feast quicker than you can say "Italian" - lol!!

                                1. Chicken Marsala ... but it is still a drag to clean all day and then cook anything.

                                  There are easier dishes but most aren't fancy at all. Chicken Marsala can be done in 30 minutes.

                                  Pre-cutting the mushrooms and making the chicken cutlets ahead of time really helps.

                                  Serve a salad and french or garlic bread with it. That helps a lot.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                                    Yeah, but that's assuming you have mushrooms & Marsala on hand. Not everyone's "pantry essentials".

                                    1. re: Bacardi1

                                      I can't save someone from a trip to the store a couple of days before they have guests.

                                      However. once they have chicken marsala, they will keep marsala wine in the pantry.

                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                        Okay - I agree with you as far as the Marsala, since I always have that in the pantry. But I do NOT always have fresh mushrooms on hand. And Chicken (or Turkey) Marsala without mushrooms simply isn't right.

                                        1. re: Bacardi1

                                          I never made chicken marsala but always have the wine and dried mushrooms in the pantry. Could dried wild mushrooms be used in the recipe? Is there a recipe online you can point me too?

                                          1. re: herby

                                            I would love to have a great Chicken Marsala recipe too, please.

                                          2. re: Bacardi1

                                            I may be spoiled. I live around the corner from my primary grocery store. I have a tendency to go to the store just before I cook.

                                          3. re: Hank Hanover

                                            I just knew I wouldn't get away without posting a recipe. Here you go.

                                            Chicken Marsala - HH

                                            Yield: Makes 5 servings
                                            Active Time: 50 min
                                            Total Time: 50 min


                                            5 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
                                            2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
                                            5 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                            4 oz prosciutto
                                            10 oz mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
                                            1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
                                            1/4 teaspoon salt
                                            1/8 teaspoon black pepper
                                            1 cup all-purpose flour
                                            2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                                            1 cup sweet Marsala wine
                                            ½ cup heavy cream
                                            1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
                                            3 Tbls flour in slurry
                                            2 cups chicken stock


                                            Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 200°F.

                                            Pound chicken to 1/4 inch thick. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge with flour.

                                            Heat 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté half of chicken, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer cooked chicken to a large heatproof platter, and then to oven.

                                            Turn down heat and sweat shallot in 3 tablespoons butter, stirring, until shallot begins to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add prosciutto and allow it to render some fat.

                                            Add mushrooms, 1 teaspoon sage, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

                                            Add 1 cup wine to skillet and boil over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, about 30 seconds. Add stock, cream, and flour slurry then simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon sage.

                                            Serve chicken with sauce over pasta. I use bow tie pasta.

                                            I would think you use 1.5 ounces of dried mushrooms. You could even rehydrate them in chicken broth.

                                            I have a confession to make. You may be shocked. I usually cook this dish in a 15 inch rectangular electric skillet and then take the whole thing over to the table in the skillet.

                                            You can use more marsala if you wish. Trust me the sauce will get eaten if your guests have to sop it up with bread. I use fresh mushrooms but I nuke them in the microwave for 3.5 to 4 minutes to get rid of a lot of the moisture. It ensures they brown during the sweating process. You could strain the juice and add it to the sauce, later.

                                      2. Spam sandwiches
                                        BLTs made with homegrown tomatoes and the cheapest white bread you can find
                                        Baked potatoes
                                        Baked sweet potatoes
                                        Broiled asparagus with olive oil and salt
                                        Broiled broccoli with olive oil and salt
                                        Mashed carrots with butter

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                          Oooh... I have been known to serve turkey, avocado BLT's on a croissant before. That is quick. Most people consider them a real treat.

                                        2. Oh yeah, and bruschetta.

                                          I would have just edited my post above, but this antiquated forum won't let me do that.

                                          1. i agree with the rotisserie chicken suggestion

                                            or pasta noodles (decent ones) with some decent pesto (i happen to like Trader joe's) and fancy Parm Regg cheese --- fresh good salad, some good bread, etc etc.

                                            1. Wow!! I'm printing these posts out and keeping them in a notebook along with recipes so that I'm not in such a frenzy when company comes. Thank you for the great recipes and ideas. I'm impressed with how some of you can just throw simple things together and come up with something company worthy.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: anniam

                                                One thing to add - so many people mentioned rotisserie chicken that I remembered this thread when reading the Washington Post food section today with its spicy noodle salad with citrus hoisin chicken, made with rotisserie: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/re...

                                              2. Popeye's Fried Chicken....or Rotisserie Chicken for take-out

                                                but if I have to cook......then it would be something roasted in the oven when it's cool out....or something on the grill when it's hot out...served with a salad, starch and vegetables.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                  The closest Popeye's to me is at a rest stop on the Maine Turnpike!! In the summer, fried chicken (cold or hot) was a favorite of my mom's.

                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                    Sad to hear.....about Popeye's that is.

                                                2. Grilled shrimp with mago salad


                                                  The shrimp can be pan sauted if need be. I serve it with Texmati rice and it makes a pretty complete meal.

                                                  1. You could start crock pot pulled pork early in the morning or even precook it a day or two before. Serve it on hamburger buns. Have some sweet onion rings and relish to put on the sandwich. If you really want to be lazy, serve some bbq potato chips or some potato salad (store bought...of course).

                                                    Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
                                                    3 1/2 - 4 lb. Package pork carnitas (chunks of Boston butt roast)
                                                    16 ounce jar of barbecue sauce
                                                    12 ounce bottle of beer
                                                    8 ounce can of pineapple juice
                                                    pork rub consisting of onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, and black ground black pepper
                                                    1 large or 2 medium onions rough chopped
                                                    Put onions in bottom of slow cooker. Rub pork rub onto chunks of pork and put in crockpot.
                                                    Add barbecue sauce, dear, and pineapple juice to crockpot. Put the lid on and set too low for eight hours.
                                                    Remove pork to separate plate to cool. I'll pork is cooling. Strain and defat 4 cups of braising liquid. Put this liquid in a saucepan on medium heat and reduced to 2 – 3 cups. Be sure to bring liquid to boil to kill any lingering bacteria. Adjust sauce to taste. It may be necessary to add vinegar if the sauce is too sweet. It may need liquid smoke. You may want to add more barbecue sauce to thicken it. If you don't wish to use more barbecue sauce you could thicken the sauce with a teaspoon of cornstarch in a slurry.
                                                    Use two forks to shred pork. Discard excess fat. Add some of the braising liquid to the pork and mix. Serve on hamburger buns with a ring of sweet onion and some relish.