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Jan 14, 2014 10:23 AM

Dinner for 6 - drawing blanks - need help menu planning

I'm having some older relative-types over for dinner (one in their 70's, two in their early 80's) and I'm completely blanking on what to serve. The weather has been pretty warm, and it's throwing me. I know one is not a big red meat eater. Spicy is ok. I'm not sure what food preferences the others like. Curries are ok (thai, indian, etc). Chicken for sure is ok. Fish would likely be ok.

I was considering doing Indian take out and plating/serving, but I wasn't crazy about the expense of it all (would run about $75).

I can churn out a decent chicken pot pie, and was thinking about that route (I like the make-ahead aspect). I would make two, 9-inch pies, and perhaps serve a green salad as a starter, and then dessert. Very budget friendly. However, it's fairly warm right now (80's for highs/50's for low), and chicken pot pie doesn't exactly match the current weather!

I thought about a lasagna, but I think it may be too much dairy for one of the guests.

Those are all my ideas for now. I'm open to any and all ideas! TIA!

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  1. Hm, fairly open parameters here. Do you have outdoor cooking space? Any issues with wanting/needing softer, easy-to-chew foods?

    2 Replies
    1. re: biondanonima

      Softer/easy to chew foods aren't a concern...

      I don't have access to outdoor cooking (e.g. a grill) at this time.

      1. re: The Oracle

        Hm. Well, I agree that chicken pot pie doesn't seem terribly seasonal in 80-degree weather. I am a big fan of Indian food - if you want to save yourself some work, you could always order a variety of samosas/pakoras and maybe some naan from your favorite Indian takeout place, and then make rice, a chicken dish and a dal yourself. Indian food reheats well, IMO, so you could make the meat dish and dal a day ahead and just reheat before serving, that way all you'd have to do the day of is make rice.

        If you'd rather do something more casserole-like, you could go with a sauteed/grilled fish or chicken prep and then serve a vegetable gratin alongside, using whatever is in season where you are.

    2. I feel like a broken record since I recommend this all the time but it is really good and so easy. I make it for friends, family, and it's always a hit.

      Indonesian Ginger Chicken

      The Basmati rice that Ina pairs it with is good but even plain white rice or basmati rice is good. It's all about the sauce on any rice that's good.

      In warmer months, I like to make a cucumber salad to go with it...specifically this one -- sweet & sour cucumbers with dill. I like to add red onion to it.

      1 Reply
      1. How about that chicken adobo recipe from NYT with coconut milk---but crisp up the chicken under the broiler at the end?

        Serve with steamed rice and maybe a salad w/ peanut dressing? You could do dumplings, lumpia, edamame, etc. to start. A dessert with tropical fruit to finish.

        1. Another idea: make jerk chicken (I love Cook's Country's recipe and am happy to paraphrase), yellow rice, and a cooling slaw and serve ready-made Jamaican patties (like empanadas) as your starter. Coconut pana cotta for dessert.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChristinaMason

            Great idea - would love the paraphrase!

            1. re: The Oracle

              Here ya go.

              Cook's Country Jerk Chicken, paraphrased:

              1 bunch scallions, chopped
              3 cloves garlic, peeled
              2 teaspoons ground allspice
              1 tablespoon dried thyme
              2 teaspoons table salt
              2 tablespoons molasses
              2 habanero chiles, stemmed
              1/4 cup oil
              3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
              1 lime, cut into wedges

              In the food processor, puree everything but the chicken and lime until almost a smooth paste. Wearing gloves or using a spoon (carefully!), rub 1 Tbsp. paste under the skin of each piece of chicken and seal in a Ziploc bag. Marinate 4 hrs. or up to 36 hrs. Broil, bake, or grill until crispy and the chicken juices run clear. Serve with lime wedges. This is a little on the salty side, so if you are sensitive to salt, you may want to cut back just slightly.

          2. What about some sort of chicken tagine, served with rice? Serve it with a Mediterranean style salad

            5 Replies
            1. re: Dave MP

              I've never attempted a tagine... but, something along those lines sounds perfect. Do you have any pointers for me?

              1. re: The Oracle

                Here is a nice basic one, can also add prunes for some sweetness

                I would not make this in warm weather but I guess they do in Morocco. Serve with an orange and red onion salad.

                1. re: The Oracle

                  I like the Claudia Roden recipe for chicken tagine w/ preserved lemons and green olives.