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Jul 11, 2013 09:53 AM

Need Menu Ideas

Will be hosting a small dinner party for a girlfriend who is turning 60 on Saturday. Attending the party is all ladies and we live in the southwest where it is really hot (and humid) right now.

My current thoughts lean towards having some small bites with drinks followed by dinner. I was thinking maybe I would start with a chilled soup using a little low fat yogurt to add the "cream" factor but keeping it light. And then I stumble .. when I was young my mom used to buy the Pepperidge Farm pastry cups, bake them off, and then fill them with a filling of seafood, usually shrimp and scallops, in a light white wine sauce. My sister was talking about these recently - so they are on my mind but not sure they are the right direction for this group. If I made them I would likely just pair them with a very simple green salad. But then I think I would need one other course but not sure what I would add to this menu.

Open to any suggestions!


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  1. For your soup, I highly recommend a green grape gazpacho - it is so refreshing and unusual. Here's a recipe I can vouch for, that I got from a chef in Chicago (it makes a huge restaurant-sized quantity, so adjust as necessary):

    2 lb Green seedless grapes removed from stems
    1 English cucumber peeled and chopped
    1/2 bunch scallions, greens only
    2 oz Cream cheese
    2 1/2 C. Half and Half
    1 1/2 oz. white wine vinegar
    1 1/4 C. plain yogurt
    1 oz olive oil
    1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
    2 tbs. Sugar (may need adjusting depending on grapes)
    Salt and white pepper to taste
    1/2 bunch dill
    3 tbs slivered almonds toasted
    1 tbs chives, chopped

    Puree all ingredients, except dill, almonds and chives. Strain. Adjust seasonings. Garnish with remaining ingredients.

    Or one from Food and Wine:

    As for your main, does the group like seafood? If so, the dish you described sounds nice, lovely and light with a salad. If you want a more substantial main, a cold poached salmon is nice, and makes an impressive presentation if you serve it whole. You could serve it with an orzo salad, rice pilaf, etc., plus a grilled vegetable of some type.

    If you want to bulk things up further, add a cheese course before dessert!

    1 Reply
    1. re: biondanonima

      i make something similar, but use white grape juice instead of the vinegar and do not use dairy. i whiz avocado in there for body.

      love the idea of a side of poached salmon. dead easy too. :)

    2. I think the Pepperridge Farm Pastry cups with a seafood filling is brilliant. I grew up having my mother fill them with a homemade version of chicken a la king. What about a fruit and cheese course after the main course followed by a light dessert - lemon mousse, pavlovas etc.

      1. What about the pastry cups is "not the right direction?" Is it the rich pastry shells? If so, could you sub out something else or just serve on a bed of greens? I love the idea of the pastry shells, not something I'd eat every day, but if you have friends that don't do gluten, grains, etc... I understand).
        Do you want something warm, or could you go with a hearty seafood salad, chilled?
        is there such a thing as a light cheese course? served along side some fruit?
        What are dessert plans? Traditional cake?

        1. I grew up on the Atlantic seaboard and as a result I think about crab at this time of year. Now I live in Austin. I relate to hot and humid. How about crab cakes, sweet corn, and sliced tomatoes? Follow with a simple green salad and fruit and cheese or some nifty sorbet in hollowed orange halves garnished with a little grated rind macerated in white wine.

          Or crab Norfolk and steamed zucchini and crookneck with green onions and grated Romano.

          Or big scallops seared with butter, miso, and lime juice, served on capellini nests with broiled tomatoes, again followed by green salad. Cherry clafoutis.

          Or make a bunch of pulled pork and a pot of black beans and put out a spread of build your own tacos, a big bowl of jicama and cabbage slaw, and an iced tub of beer with lime wedges. Flan for dessert.

          1. Here is a good Snapper Fried Light recipe. You could turn the fried filets into finger sandwiches.