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First date/First home cooked meal

I have invited a new romantic intrest and her daughters(9 & 11) to dinner at my home.

Initially I suggested that she and her daughters should pick the menu. This came up in conversation that we both love to cook. Now however, I'm thinkingmmaybe I should continue with my bold approach, and set the menu myself.

My quandary here is thus, while I desire some romantic aspects, I definitely want to prevent the daughters from feeling less than included. As a parent myself, if the kiddos don't cluck too, it's probably not going to work. I consider myself to be of above average in reference to my skills in the kitchen, and would like a meal that can show off a bit of that talent, without it looking luke I'm trying too hard.

The only culinary intel I have at the moment is; they like "everything", the really love Thai food and there are no food allergies to contend with. Now I have never cooked anything Thai, and honestly, have only eaten it maybe twice. And I wasn't particularly impressed. So I'm hesitant to go that route. I may only get one chance and I really want to impress all three of them.

I know I want to use my cookies (chocolate chip, or some variant, as my "ace in the hole", but that leaves an entire meal to plan.

Ladies (and gents) I could use some suggestions as, this is my first attempt at "woo-ing" with a home cooked meal.

Thanks Rebel_Son

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  1. I've dated single mothers and and I can tell you when a new man enters the lives of their kids....the women are not the ones to ask. Women want the kids to like the new guy and vice versa for the guy to like their kids.... in the beginning they want you to believe it's all easy ...but the kids will always still love their Dad.

    Cooking something elaborate will not always be appreciated because the kids will think of it as weird. Once I made a four cheese Mac n' Cheese with toasted fresh bread crumbs atop the dish for similar aged kids you indicated. The younger kid ate it willfully and enjoyed it, but the older kid would not saying that's not the way they like it and wouldn't touch it.

    I suggest you go the simpler along the comfort route with something like Roast Chicken with mashed potatoes...Or Spaghetti and Meatballs with some nice Italian or French Bread on the table..

    Concentrate on a dessert they would like.

    I've won the kids over more by allowing them to watch the TV shows they like and engaging them in conversation about their day...rather than the food I cooked for them I had ready when they came home.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Being a dad of four, I absolutely know that the kids need to know that they are included, not just tolerated. This is precisely why I have invited her to include them from the earliest possible time. I want them (mom and the daughters) to know that I understand they are a package deal. I won't let a new girlfriend take time from my kids and I will not ask her to do so either.

      1. re: fourunder

        I am utterly enjoying the image of a child eating mac and cheese 'wilfully'. Heh.

      2. Perfectly balanced Thai red curry sauce with minimal work. I've entertained with this recipe and have used seared butterflied prawns, and/or scallops in place of the salmon. You can really play up the presentation.


        1. On a first date? That's a big move.The daughter, already is dreading this.Cook at her house or get take out there.It will be more comfortable for everyone.

          1 Reply
          1. re: emglow101

            Since this entire date (read interview) is based on our shared passion for cooking, take out is definitely our of the question, and as I have offered to cook, it will be to my benefit to cook in my kitchen, where I know where everything is and I will be more at ease in my familiar space. Making it less stressful and more conducive to easy conversation.

          2. Maybe pizzas, with homemade or storebought dough. I suggest that because it would allow the girls to participate, both in preparing the toppings and selecting combinations of their choosing. Pizza is a safe choice for almost all kids, and I think the most important thing you can do, in terms of making a favorable impression on their mother, is to demonstrate that you want to establish a comfortable relationship with her daughters. You can prepare sauce and cheese ahead of time, but the girls could slice mushrooms on a hard-boiled egg slicer, tear up greens and slice cukes and tomatoes for side salads, etc. They could help portion and bake the cookie dough, too. Or you could make that the interactive part of the meal. Make a basic oatmeal or brown sugar cookie dough, divide it into different bowls, and allow the kids to add various dried fruits, baking chips, and nuts. Stores like Trader Joe's have freeze-dried banana chips and berries that could also be used as add-ins. Use cupcake papers in a muffin tin to hold the add-in "buffet".

            2 Replies
            1. re: greygarious

              I like this pizza idea. I think your main issue is bonding with the kids and that'll be through interaction and not fancy food.

              1. re: greygarious

                Super idea. Much easier to bond with kids over an activity versus a forced conversation. And everyone loves pizza.

              2. I agree with the idea previous to have an interactive aspect to the meal, and to serve a very casual comfort food (that your romantic interest could imagine having on a regular wednesday night)
                A special touch like a serving them milk in a wineglass with dinner or having a sparkling apple cider in a champagne flute would be fun.
                For the menu make what you know and consider a signature recipe and serve family style so the girls can try as much or as little as they want. But with awesome choco chip cookies you're already golden :)

                1. Awesome! This is extremely helpful. Now I'm thinking I need more intel. At the very least, I should find out if the girls would even appreciate helping make dinner.
                  And pizza is sounding better the more I ponder it. Most kids of any age like pizza and, it is definitely something that can shocase several of my culinary talents. Plus it provides opportunity to get everyone involved (if they want) and to "personalize" each entrée without requiring an excessive level of attention. Leaving plenty of time for conversation among all four of us. Oooh, and it's not too "heavy". To be sure there is room left for my amazing cookies.

                  I think this could be the perfect solution. Allowing us to enjoy a board game or even a movie while we sample and share "custom" good eats. While staying safely within my culinary knowledge base. I can do a more challenging meal once I know all of them a little better.

                  Thank you all so much. I have never been so uncertain in attempting to impress a woman, much less three at the same time.
                  I'll update this thread after the meal, and thanks again.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: rebel_son

                    While I thought the pizza idea was good one at one time....from an actual experience, I can tell you it was not in the end.

                    First, be prepared for the clean-up at the end. It's not pretty.

                    Second, with all the best intentions for a fun time.....the end result was not good. Even for adults, stretching dough can be problematic. Think of how much more difficult it end up being for young kids. It's not easy for a kid on his own to stretch and maintain a thin dough. As a result, the pie crust becomes very thick and hard...or not cooked enough. The kids didn't finish their pizzas and it ended up being a disappointment for them. Consider that before you ultimately decide on your final course of action.

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Definitely agree with this. All of my first pizza attempts have been very frustrating.

                      I now simply sauce and top pita bread.

                      1. re: jaykayen

                        I've actually used the pita bread trick with my own kids when they were younger. But they got totally excited when I taught them how to toss the dough. Most kids are quite fascinated by learning "cool" things like this.

                      2. re: fourunder

                        Great observations. However, I worked as a pizza cook for a small but busy independent pizza shop in college (almost 5 years), and among other duties, I trained new cooks. Including how to quickly and properly stretch fresh made dough (that I also made). This will actually showcase some of my "fun" skills. And if you are cooking (with or without kids involved), and not making a mess...well you're just not having fun doing it. LOL This could be perfect.

                        1. re: rebel_son

                          GREAT attitude and solution. Perhaps experiment with a Thai chicken saytay prepped as a pizza topping for a pressed into the pan rice "crust" -- just to show you listened?

                          1. re: MidwesternerTT

                            Now that is a very unique idea. It would appear that the time has come for me to expand my culinary knowledge into Thailand.

                            1. re: rebel_son

                              Kids that age should definitely love pizza. And enjoy picking and helping with toppings if not learning to toss the dough (though that should be fun too, but I suggest preparing more dough than necessary in case of accidents).

                              On that note, I feel compelled to say that I love my baking steel for making pizzas at home. :)

                              1. re: Sirrith

                                Absolutely, I always make extra dough when cooking with the kids. It's cheap.
                                As for the actual baking process, I have to say I'm more old school. Gotta have my pizza stone. Mine is actually a custom made terracotta tile (21" wide x 17" deep x 1-3/4" thick) that I keep in the oven at all times. Besides being a pain to store otherwise, it helps keep my oven temps more even.
                                I haven't seen baking steel. I used to work with a guy who's brother made artisanal tile, and he swore he would never make another stone like that. Apparently the thickness was a big problem for him. I couldn't imagine making homemade pizza without it though. It's just the best way (in my opinion) to get that perfect crust. Crispy and chewy.

                                1. re: rebel_son

                                  Baking steel is a new thing... and makes a lot more sense than stone.

                                  You could try Thai chicken pizza, one of the classic dishes at California Pizza Kitchen.

                              2. re: rebel_son

                                Let them introduce you to it if there's a follow-up to this dinner.

                                1. re: sr44

                                  I do like the idea of letting them be my guide into Thai cusine.

                                  1. re: rebel_son

                                    yeah I love the stuff, but if unused to the cuisine I'd leave Thai for down the road. definitely keep it on your radar, but not for an 'opening night' it's not all THAT difficult, but I dunno MY nerves would be on edge enough.

                                    the pizza idea is a good and interactive one. let's make dinner a game.

                      3. My BF and his brothers have relied on chicken parmigiana for years of wooing. When I babysat my little cousins for a week, they love Italian and luckily that is my main style. I made a lasagna: ragu bolognese, bechemel, the works. They still ask their mom if I can babysit them even though they can take care of themselves now.

                        I would simply make something that you make all the time, is easy and stress free. Prep anything possible in the days before. Not much in the world sexier than a man who knows what he is doing. I would not expect the kids or their mother to help cook. If she really loves cooking there will be plenty of opportunities later where you can cook together. If she wants to help, ask her to make a cocktail or open a bottle of wine.

                        Thai food is great. If you have never made it before I would not suggest trying it. If they love Thai food, honestly I can't imagine that your first attempt is going to live up to their standard.

                        1 Reply
                        1. Assuming the kids would like to get involved with cooking dinner/dessert : individual pizzas or calzones. homemade shumai (chinese dumplings), homemade ice cream, homemade sugar cookies where they help decorate ( along with your killer choc chip cookies), homemade pretzels, etc..

                          after dinner: Play board games with prizes: taboo, uno, blokus, etc.

                          Do a scavenger hunt within your house --eg "tick tock, I am a clock (hint: living room)" , telling them they have to find all the clues because the end clue will tell them where your dessert, appetizer, or whatever is hiding.

                          Maybe do individual haunted houses with house shaped cookies, frosting and halloween colored candies (a variation of the christmas candy houses which I have always done with my kids and friends to great success).

                          All the above suggestions are ways (hopefully) to get the two daughters ( esp the 11 year old one) to come out
                          of their shell and warm up to you . . .which, of course, is what you and your date want them to do to nuture a potential rlationship..
                          The 11 year old is almost a teenager, dont be surprised if she doesn't want to get involved with anything you do or suggest.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: cookinglisa

                            Cookinglisa- my oldest daughter just turned 18 in August. Every little girl is different, but I think I've got the (basic) skills to gently bring her out of any shell she may be hiding in. ;-)
                            But, wish me luck anyway.

                          2. What about a taco bar? It's a bit interactive, everyone can make their own, and you could make Thai inspired tacos. Chocolate chip cookies and sundaes for dessert and you'd win me over :)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Hobbert

                              I've got a pretty mean taco meat but, something Thai inspired could work quite well. This will definitely be in my cookbook. But I think it's going to require some experimenting before I serve it up to a new lady friend. Bubble belly is certainly not conducive to the evenings I hope to plan for/with her. ;-)

                              But a thank you is definitely in order for the Thai taco suggestion.

                            2. I think you can't go wrong with the classics. A dish like homemade lasagna or a roast chicken is both comforting and familiar. You can dress it up with some scratch garlic bread or scratch stuffing to show off your skills.

                              You won't be standing in the kitchen fussing with dinner beforehand so everyone can relax and get to know each other. Keep it simple and stress free!

                              My husband and I were both single parents when we met and my baked chicken sealed the deal!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: bugablue13

                                I have been craving a home made lasagna lately.

                                You all have been sooo helpful. I really wasn't sure what to expect from joining this site last night. Today however, it has made it's way on to my very short list of favorite websites.

                                Thanks again everyone.

                                1. re: rebel_son

                                  Please know that we expect a full report on how the date went! Food details, especially. Enjoy.

                                  1. re: tcamp

                                    Absolutely! Full menu and individual reviews are a foregone understanding. What happens after dinner...well that may have to be uumm, alluded to rather than actually described.

                              2. A roast chicken is usually appreciated by about everyone. The kids are at the age that they would like a really good mac and cheese.

                                1. I love the interactive dinner ideas and would try to go with one of those.

                                  Really, I'm writing to say I want your "amazing" cookie recipe, please.

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: hippiechickinsing

                                    Alas, someone always wants the cookie recipe. Mine is sacred. Neither of my wives even got that one. Oh, I would let them help when I was baking, and they both tried to duplicate my cookies, with sometimes disastrous results.

                                    I can't give you my secret recipe but, a friend of mine has a very good one that is close to mine. I'm sure you know Alton Brown. Popular from the Food Network shows Good Eats and more recently the host of Iron Chef America. We've know each other since jr. high. And he's been trying to make my cookies since then. His are as close as anyone has come.

                                    Search for "the chewy" in his recipes on the Food Network site.

                                    1. re: rebel_son

                                      If I may offer my very humble suggestion, have you considered just grilling burgers or something on the grill? Outside, if possible? I'm single, no kiddies yet, but my friends' kids go absolutely wild for anything on the grill - burgers, chicken etc. And if you can do the cooking outside - or part of the cooking- you save time on cleanup and no cooking smells need linger inside.

                                      You can do an All American with the usual potato salad etc, or international. You said they like Thai? Maybe addsome Thai peanut noodes ascacside, or green papaya salad instead of cole slaw. Thai iced tea, maybe mango sorbet. And your cookies. As far as I'm concerned, you can serve chocoate chip cookies for the entire meal. :)

                                      Good luck!

                                      1. re: Miri1

                                        I do love to grill and she definitely strikes me as one that will appreciate a nicely done steak. I really want to show that I'm at home in the kitchen. Most men can grill... And with our passion for cooking being our initial connection I have a strong desire to "put my money where my mouth is", most women grow tired of men who boast of this skill or that. I aim to prove that it ain't bragging if it's true.

                                      2. re: rebel_son

                                        I do hope you pass it onto someone, eventually.

                                        1. re: youareabunny

                                          I have always hoped to pass my culinary secrets to on of my children (I have 4) but, none seem interested in cooking. I do however, have a niece (she's 14) that never misses a chance to cook with me. I have already started her on some of the tricks I know, and she thoroughly loves cooking.
                                          Saturday I showed her how to make a can of Wolf Brand chili taste like homemade. She didn't believe me, until she tried it.
                                          My beloved niece will most likely be the one I pass my cookie recipe to. I'm thinking maybe when she gets engaged. That will be my engagement gift. My wedding gift will probably be teaching her to make my prime rib. Gotta make sure she can feed her man right. But for now, when my brother is too busy, I'm the one chasing boys off with a nice big stick.

                                          1. re: rebel_son

                                            I always tried to get my son to learn about cooking when he was growing up, but he wasn't interested.

                                            First semester at college, he sang a different tune. He realized fast that the only way he was going to consistently get good food was by making it himself.

                                            He has become an amazingly adventuresome cook. He bakes, he smokes, he cures...you name it.

                                            Moral of the story: There is hope!

                                        2. re: rebel_son

                                          Sorry, rebel - "sacred" recipes are hugely destructive to relationships or even friendships. DO NOT make these then refuse to give the full and accurate recipe to the woman you're seeking to woo. Whether anyone else can replicate it is not the point. Trust and sharing of joy is.

                                          Make something else for dessert.

                                          1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                            I agree. Secret recipes are stupid. I mean, really, what is the point? Whatever the motive to keep a recipe secret, it can't be good...

                                            1. re: sandylc

                                              Disagree - a professional baker asked me for a recipe I'd created, because he wanted to make and sell the cookies.
                                              I might have sold the recipe had he made an offer, but he expected me to provide it gratis. I saw no reason to divulge it under those circumstances.

                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                I would file that under special circumstances.

                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                  That's the idea. By only passing my recipe to someone that will always give due credit is important to me. I've had recipes "stolen" before and it sucks. To have someone that can only follow a detailed set of instructions claim to have "created" your hard work and talent, is simply frustrating. I did the work, and I want the credit.
                                                  I will make any of my private recipes anytime, for anyone. But I will not let someone else take credit for MY creation.
                                                  I trust my niece to understand the "code of the kitchen", and in turn, find the next worthy soul. I still have recipes passed down my family tree just this way. The family knows that I'm the only one that Pawpaw taught them to. I honor his memory and his wishes to keep them secret.

                                                  Don't get mad because YOU don't have a secret recipe. Go create something! Or develop a close relationship with that family member who has the recipes.


                                                  Cooking is as much science as it is art. Just like a magician, to preserve them both we must protect them from the decievers.

                                                  That is a quote I read somewhere years ago.
                                                  I cook with the same passion as I put into my music (I play the drums) and the same passion I bring to the bedroom. You see all three of these seemingly unrelated activities are very special to me. I take none of them lightly! If I can't give it my all, I won't do it.

                                                  Wow! I think we have slipped a little off topic here.

                                        3. My advice is to avoid Thai, and I don't think that the idea of letting them lead YOU into Thai will work, because the ingredient set is too specific, and you're bound to lack something. Make a casserole or lasagna.

                                          About getting kids involved: if you have the basic skills, go get a proper hardware store blow torch and let them finish a creme brulee dessert. You could also involve them in appetizers and early stuff. Buy several melons, and ask them to smell which one smells best, and then put them to work with melon ballers.

                                          My assumption, as a male, is that any woman bringing her two kids to dinner with you is not foremost concerned with romance. Have a good time! Other kinds of good times are for another occasion.

                                          19 Replies
                                          1. re: Bada Bing

                                            Thank you for finding the original topic in all this mess.

                                            I do like your suggestions and the idea of letting them guide me into Thai food was meant for down the road.

                                            Definitely agree that romance is not likely to be a priority for her at this occasion. But I was a Boy Scout for years and in active service with the Navy for 12 years, the one thing they both stress is....be prepared. ;-)

                                            1. re: rebel_son

                                              Be prepared to listen! The rest will follow. She already likes you a LOT if she's bringing kids. (I speak as a man, but that's my assessment.)

                                              This may seem oddly specific, but last year I bought a microwave popcorn maker for the microwave. It works great, and the kids could work it with modest supervision. Movie night!

                                              This type, though I think I got mine at Target and the brand (but not the structure) might be different:


                                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                                I like your line of thought. I was thinking of suggesting she pick up a movie for all of us or, at her discretion, one for the girls to watch in the den and one for us to watch in my room. But I hesitate with such a risqué suggestion. It might be taken the wrong way, or the right way, depending on your motives. Or I could suggest a movie for the girls so she and I could relax and chat out on the patio by the pool. It's already too chilly to suggest a night swim.
                                                I am quite ready for most of what a relationship entails, but for the first time in my life, I feel hesitant to rush into bed. This thoroughly confuses this dyed in the wool Scorpio. We never hesitate. Or have I just finally "grown up"?

                                                1. re: rebel_son

                                                  First date with the whole family? Yes to letting the kids watch tv while you have a drink by the pool. No to putting the girls in the den with a movie while you two retire to the bedroom for whatever reason. That can wait a bit I think.

                                                  1. re: miss_belle

                                                    As a single mom who has two kids 9 and 12 and is actively dating, I would definitely concur. It would be uncomfortable for everyone involved. Best to keep those moments totally separate from the kids if and when they do happen.

                                                    I think the pizza idea sounds great, as well as having a movie for them to watch. Enjoy!

                                                    1. re: mebby

                                                      Best to keep those moments totally separate from the kids if and when they do happen.

                                                      there's a joke to had somewhere in there....

                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                        Agreed. I can't (and won't) speak for all women, but to my mind, it's unlikely that a mom with kids in tow would be thinking of any serious canoodling on a first date...no matter how good the company or the food.

                                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                                          This is OT, but this has been bugging me since I started reading this thread yesterday and I need to get this out: I'm a single mom to a 10 year old and, for the life of me, can't understand how/why another single mother would bring her kids along on a first date. Call me old fashioned, but I believe the time to introduce the man in my life to my child is once the relationship is established, and I know the guy is going to be around for awhile.

                                                          1. re: HeyImBack

                                                            Completely agree. I've read the original post a couple times and I can't figure out if it's the first date or just the first time meeting the kids. If it's the former, that's a questionable plan.

                                                            1. re: HeyImBack

                                                              Or the OP could have just used the word date to emphasis the importance of the meal and to imply that he wants to impress the woman and her daughters. It's just a word.

                                                              1. re: viperlush

                                                                I don't think it's the "date" part that anyone's confused about. It's that he said its a "first date". If he meant he wanted to impress this woman and her kids, he could've just said that.

                                                                1. re: Hobbert

                                                                  Just to clear this one up a bit. This will be a first date. I have chosen to suggest bringing her daughters because, as a single dad, I know that the kids have alot more sway than they are given credit for most of the time.
                                                                  I found myself in a position where I could choose to "hide" from the kids and just spend time with her. Leaving the possibility that the kids put me out down the road. Or I could include them from the beginning. This route very clearly demonstrates that I understand this is a package deal and that I am looking/hoping long term, not just for a hook-up.

                                                                  Kids have a way of seeing things mom/dad don't, because they are distracted by other issues. Impress the kids and I'm ahead of the curve. I would like to see this blossom into something grand.
                                                                  I know she is not looking for a daddy gor her girls (their father is very involved with them) but, it is still very important that her daughters and I get along to some degree, as they will likely be included in most of our time together.
                                                                  I come from a broken home and I remember how my parents approach to dating and relationships often made my brothers and I feel unimportant and unconsidered. We seem to share the idea that our children ARE very important and need to be considered in just about anything we do, regardless of relationship status.
                                                                  My approach is certainly unconventional but, so is my life. I drum for a moderately successful rock band and she is a waitress at one of our new venues. We met on a busy Saturday night during a break between sets. It was chaos at best. So rather than a flashy night out on the town, I opted for a quiet night in and invited the girls. Her nights off are during the week and she usually spends most of that down time with her daughters. My proposition is win, win, win for both of us. I get to cook, and for a beautiful and charming lady and I don't have to eat alone. For her, she doesn't have to find a sitter, she doesn't have to cook, she doesn't lose out on time with her girls and it's not get dressed up and go out partying all night.
                                                                  It's different but I think it is the optimal situation.

                                                                  1. re: rebel_son

                                                                    Well then, hopefully she agrees.

                                                                    I for one would never involve my child in the early stages of a relationship. IME, there is way too much at stake. My child is extremely important, honestly more important than some man I met on a busy Saturday night. If I met someone as you described the two of you meet I would be more comfortable meeting for coffee mid day, get a chance to talk "in the bright of day". I would not want flashy night out on the town, partying all night at all as a first date no matter how we met! But I would never bring my child to virtual strangers home either.

                                                                    Dinner with the kids would be something I would build towards. How do I make my child feel comfortable and safe if I know nothing of this man? How do I answer his questions?

                                                                    Save dinner for the family for later. If you want casual and low key go ahead and do that, out in public.

                                                                    Maybe I am old fashioned.

                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                      Ok, I'm stealing your response :)

                                                                    2. re: rebel_son

                                                                      That's fine. I think it a bit odd on her part but rather nice on yours. Hope dinner goes well.

                                                      2. re: rebel_son

                                                        One movie. For everyone. Not "us" and "them"
                                                        On your next date together you can giggle over the cheesey movie, talk about how her girls loved/hated the meal, and have an entire evening of shared experience. She will appreciate that a lot.

                                                2. Folks, this thread got weirdly testy in a few places, and we've removed a fair number of posts from it that were personal attacks back and forth and also some that were telling other people how they should and shouldn't post.

                                                  We don't want to lock the thread, but we do ask that everyone keep things focused on food -- if your post isn't strongly focused on what rebel_son should make for this date, it's probably off-topic. Even well-meant advice on whether his date idea is or isn't appropriate is really off-topic here.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                    I appreciate and respect that.
                                                    I was fairly sure that this site had some sort of "hall monitors", and you would step in sooner or later.
                                                    Thank you.

                                                    -I mean no disrespect with the hall monitor label. I am new to this and am unsure of the proper title.

                                                  2. it seemed best to stay out of the fray yesterday.

                                                    i'd skip cooking thai if you're not well-versed in it and just pick whatever you make that can be mostly made ahead and that always knocks everybody's socks off. nothing too starchy or cheesy so nobody needs a nap after dinner.

                                                    spaghetti or any kind of twirly pasta can be messy to eat and a guest might feel embarrassed if they stain their date blouse.

                                                    braises are both homey and special-seeming since they do take a long time, but are perfect for entertaining since you can do them several days in advance and then just gently reheat before serving-- something like beef bourguignon or osso bucco. these sorts of dishes always taste better a day or two later anyway! the latter pairs well with polenta, which can also be made ahead.

                                                    getting the kids involved in the kitchen can be a good idea, but you don't know if they are used to it and could end up being cyclones in there, leaving you with nothing very edible and a giant mess at the end of things.

                                                    instead, maybe plan a "make-your-own" sundae set-up for dessert, including those precious cookies of yours. set out little dishes of all sorts of toppings and make fresh whipped cream.

                                                    good luck!

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                      Originally I suggested that she and her daughters choose the menu. Concearn that they may choose something I'm not so good at preparing (ie: fried chicken or well anything breaded/battered and fried) or otherwise beyond my skills. I wanted a menu B and possibly C to jump in and suggest. This is how I landed here on Chowhound.

                                                      At this point I'm pretty settled on my homemade lasagna or the build your own pizza for my alternative suggestions.
                                                      The cookies are a definite dessert. Though I'll try to fish for some idea of which flavor/chip variant will surprise and impress them most.

                                                      1. re: rebel_son

                                                        i'd go with lasagne. :) it's made ahead and better the next day.

                                                        maybe build your own bruschetta then as a side or starter?

                                                        1. re: rebel_son

                                                          oh god fried chicken? had that been their choice, I'd have flat-out vetoed it or in asking ideas said "anything but..." I'm good at it, but oy such a mess.

                                                      2. Interested in what you ended up making?