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Out of town family, HELP....

My DH's Aunt is coming in from PA next week and every time we visit her she's kind enough to make a spread of food for us so I'd like to return the favor....I am, while not Michelin Star caliber in the cooking department a pretty decent cook. What I need to know is what would any other chowhounds suggest for a dinner? She will probably only eat at my house one night as she has other family to visit...and if there is a recipe I haven't made yet I'm not afraid to try it out. I'm not looking so much to impress as I am to "pay it forward" as this is the first time she will be coming to MY house instead. Thank you!!!

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  1. What part of the country do you live in?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pagesinthesun

      I'm in Denver...

    2. I would try to do some sort of regional specialty being that your guests are from so far away. How about a nice chili Colorado with all the proper topping choices...chopped onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, warm tortillas on the side.

      3 Replies
      1. re: jpc8015

        I like the idea...thank you!!!

        1. re: lilpixy

          or if you have a dish that you personally feel you excel at making, serve that.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I'd be with hotoynoodle's suggestion. Go with something you cook well and enjoy eating and you won't go wrong

      2. Does she have any food issues you need to be aware of? I only thought of that because some folks are not spicy food lovers so would want to check before serving chili. (Sorry to say that some foods I've always loved are now ones I have to avoid....sigh)

        3 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          Also depending which part of PA she is from, there are very definite ideas of what is TOO Spicy.

          1. re: melpy

            no kidding. I go TO PA every year and am stunned at what they think is too spicy i.e. "madium queso" dip from a jar.

            1. re: laliz

              Ha! Ha! you NOT kidding! As I posted on another thread, PA is home to chili served with the sugar bowl on the side.

        2. She might also be interested in learning about cooking a mile high. As in, time to boil water, etc.

          1. If i were visiting...or simply invited to your neck of the woods, i would love to have a Colorado Leg of Lamb.......simple sides, like green beans and mashed potatoes. Nothing fussy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: fourunder

              I agree with keeping it local and seasonal. A nice hearty soup or stew (I love green chile pork, but the spice factor may not work) and a crunchy salad and a yummy loaf of bread. As a guest, I love this menu.

            2. It depends. Do you have to make something that can be held or will you be able to eat right away? Is she a foodie or is comfort food de riguer? If I were the aunt I would love lamb but, just cause you live in Denver, doesn't mean you can get things that are considered local. For example, I live on Florida gulf coast and lots of fishing is banned so we can no longer get fish here. The government set the fisher people up with clam farms so that's what we can get for local. So, that being said, if I couldn't get local meat like lamb or elk, I'd make homemade manicotti with Sunday gravy and homemade bread and salad or meatloaf and mashed potatoes, who doesn't like that. Another fave of mine is I make a pork stew thickened with breadcrumbs, a riff on an old recipe from Frugal Gourmet show, everybody loves it and feeds a crowd and is delicious, I named my version disappearing pork cause it does. One time I took it to a covered dish and some guy started yelling "who made this, this is the best meat I ever had."

              1. And if I served my aunt lamb or venison, she would only eat the sides. Isn't if funny how our favorites may be someone else's least?

                1. Bison steaks or burgers.

                  1. She's from Pittsburgh, and yes I did notice that they tend to (IMO) underseason food quite a bit. So I am a bit concerned with that because I have a tendency to make my food very spicy as well as well seasoned. I'm debating wether I want to stick more in her comfort zone or if I want to really "shine' by preparing something she may not have had before. So far all your ideas are great though, thanks everyone!!

                    1. How about a fabulous roast chicken or a make ahead entree like Boeuf Bourguignon or coq au vin. Those have a lot of flavor components but aren't spicy. I like the idea of Boeuf Bourguignon and coq au vin because they taste better on Day 2 and that way you aren't stressing about a lot of cooking while your Aunty is visiting. Enjoy!

                      1. So I have ultimately decided to go with a chicken soup made in the slowcooker, the weather here is just right and I can make it with my eyes closed. Along side that I'll get a loaf of GOOD bread and make a simple salad. Also thought I would buy maybe a cheesecake, I realize the soup will be the ONLY home made component but I think it should work out fine, what do you all think? Any other suggestions?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: lilpixy

                          Sounds wonderful! Although I love any carbohydrate, I was thinking maybe cornbread might compliment the chicken soup even better than a regular loaf of awesome bread. That, and everyone's favorite beverage, will make for a merry and much enjoyed and appreciated evening!

                          1. re: Tehama

                            Hmmm cornbread, that DOES sound like a good idea. Thanks Tehma!!!

                          2. re: lilpixy

                            Total apologies if you answered this up thread, but is your aunt a heavy eater? If she is, I think you could go with a "heavier" dessert, like a cheesecake (esp a seasonal one, if you can). If not, feel free to keep it light. My mom used to have on hand a box or two of the Pepperidge Farm cookie assortment; I don't know if you have PF cookies in CO, but nice cookies (any good Italian bakeries there?) and a hot cup of coffee/tea are always good.