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Need an idea to serve ladies for lunch

I'm at a loss for what to make. I'm having a "doesn't come around often enough" lunch with some great girlfriends. I want to make a really nice, from scratch lunch that will still allow me time to chat and visit. If the dish has to be finished while friends are in the kitchen that is fine too. I was originally thinking Caesar salad with parmesan chicken breast but it's freezing here (as much of the country) and salad just doesn't speak to the season.

The biggest restriction is nothing overtly egg-y (so no quiche, strata, soufflé, etc.)

Just not sure what direction to head. Soup and homemade bread? Pasta? Chicken Paprikash? Any help appreciated!!!

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  1. And it doesn't have to be "dainty"...they all workout and are incredibly fit.

    5 Replies
    1. re: gourmanda

      beef bourguignon or duck confit. both are better made ahead and just need to be reheated for lunch. you can still serve a wintery salad with peppery greens and noodles with the beef or rice with the duck.

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I'm with you on this idea

        Make something hearty that tastes better the next day and serve with good bread and butter and a tasty crunchy salad.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          yes, that's how I'd go hotoy. A wonderful make ahead stew like beef bourguignon, coq au vin, silver palate's chicken and prunes, etc. Serve with great bread or maybe homemade biscuits, a simple green salad, and a warm apple crumble. So many great one pot stews and so satisfying on a winter afternoon.

        2. re: gourmanda

          If you can do bread, you are golden! Do a good chicken or beef and vegetable soup with your bread.

          Make this cake. http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-cranb...
          I just did it for a gathering of friends and it was a HUGE hit! I'll be making it again soon.

          1. re: onrushpam

            I made this cake last night for stocking stuffer gifts for girlfriends (along with brown butter pistachio toffee). I baked them in mini loaf pans and they are really good. I hope my friends like them as much as I did! Thanks for the link. I am going to make these lagain for Christmas morning snacking along with Carole Walter's streusel topped coffee cake. I hadn't planned on making the cake until my SO discovered the toffee and snarfed down half of it before I realized what he had done. Grrr

        3. How about a platter of roasted veggies, drizzled with a nice balsamic? You can roast all the veggies ahead and serve the platter at room temp.

          For a protein, maybe a whole poached or roasted salmon? Once again, you can do it ahead of time and serve room temp, or just warm quickly prior to serving.

          These, plus a great loaf of bread and some bubbly would make a simple, but delicious and elegant lunch.

          4 Replies
          1. re: TorontoJo

            this sounds so summery to me. it's icing and snowing outside right now here so i just made up a pot of braised goat, lol. i do NOT want room temp or cold food. :)

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Ha, fair enough. Then a big old dutch oven of braised short ribs would do the trick for me. :o)

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  I agree -- this one! http://food52.com/recipes/8578-short-...

                  Serve on top of microwave polenta (cook's illustrated method, googleable on Chow) with butter & blue cheese.

            2. Soup and homemade bread sounds very doable to me and practical for the season. Another pretty hands-off suggestion would be a roasted meat (chicken, beef, lamb, etc) with an assemble-and-bake side (potatoes au gratin, roasted red potatoes, gruyere macaroni and cheese), and a quick vegetable sautéed or a salad.

              1. Butternut squash or cream of tomato soup (made the day before and reheated), cheese muffins and a winter salad of cabbage, shredded apple and carrot topped with pomegranate seeds and dressed with a vinaigrette made of white balsamic and fine olive oil.

                Then cheesecake or other rich dessert.

                5 Replies
                1. re: sueatmo

                  I'm really liking that salad idea!

                  1. re: gourmanda

                    http://www.olivetomato.com/%CE%B1-fes...

                    Here's where I found it. I served it several times last winter. It is very good.

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      Ha! When I Googled for a recipe, that's one of two sites I hit on that looked good. Thank you for pasting the link! The other recipe called for lemon and I picked up some Sicilian Lemon White balsamic vinegar the other day. Since you've made the salad, what do you think of that instead of regular balsamic?

                      1. re: gourmanda

                        I have a great fondness for White Balsamic vinegar and that is what I almost always use. I've never seen Sicilian Lemon White balsamic vinegar. Where did you find it?

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          We have a lovely local store here called The Olive Scene...so many different olive oils and vinegars! It's a dangerous place ;)

                2. I like the soup idea. Creamy cauliflower with warm bread would be nice on a cold day. Or French onion-keep warm on the stove and broil right before serving. Both would be with be nice with a salad.

                  Chili bars are fun as are taco bars. Can be done in advance and it's fun to come up with creative toppings.

                  Or how about bring the fun into the kitchen and do make your own individual pizzas? You go creative for toppings-steak and blue cheese; caramelized onions, walnuts and goat cheese; assorted mushrooms with shaved parm.

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: foodieX2

                      Chili and taco bars are a great idea. One that our counter-surfing dog would embrace enthusiastically ;)

                      Onion soup is in the running--thanks for the idea!

                      1. re: gourmanda

                        You can also do chili bar with baked potatoes as the base...