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Author Topic: Casual Meals for Company?  (Read 3961 times)

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Harriet Jones

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Casual Meals for Company?
« on: February 09, 2008, 10:22:48 AM »
I have a couple of meals I usually do when we have overnight guests, but some people have visited enough that maybe I should find some new options.   ;)

Any suggestions? I don't really want anything complicated or super fancy, just something a step above a 'regular' family dinner.

Thanks for your help!

amanda_tlg

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2008, 11:41:59 AM »
I'm probably not going to be a big help. I love having friends over for casual dinners, but we haven't had an overnight guest in a long time. My favorites are the old fall backs: chili & cornbread, lasagne or stuffed shells with salad & garlic bread, oven-fried chicken & garlic mashed potatoes, crock pot beef stroganoff (mmmmmm). If the guests are really casual friends or family, I like to do a taco bar or build-your-own chef salad.

What meals are in your usual repertoire?

Harriet Jones

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2008, 11:52:45 AM »
My go to meals are lasagna, chicken fajitas, beef stroganoff, and teriyaki flank steak.

 

amanda_tlg

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2008, 11:54:09 AM »
Well darn, between your list and mine you've covered all of my "nice but not overdone" list.  :P

nrb80

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2008, 12:17:14 PM »
For some reason people stop by my house all the time, and it's not too unusual that they get invited for dinner.  Here are a couple of my "CRUD MONKEYS! I need dinner on the table fast!" strategies, that hopefully look nice.

1) I always keep aseptically packaged soups from Trader Joe's on hand.  Apparently by adding a soup course you up the ante on the meal.

2) Frozen fish, from Costco and Trader Joes.  I always have Tilapia, Halibut, Tuna steaks, and shrimp on hand.  Often salmon as well.  Costco has Tilapia filets that can be cooked from frozen.  It's pretty basic and boring, but somehow a lot of people seem to think fish = company food.  I'll grill or bake just about anything, add lemon butter, frozen veggies, and rice.

BBQ Tilapia.
- Heat oven to 425
- Lay filets in foil-lined pan
- Spread BBQ sauce on filets
- Bake 35 minutes

Serve with
a) frozen veggies
b) roasted potatoes.  Quarter boiling potatoes, parboil 15-20 minutes.  Toss in pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper, bake with the tilapia for 30 minutes

3)  Variations on pot and shepards pie.  I usually do mine vegetarian - I totally make sure no one is looking, then take some nice, chunky soups or stews, often from a can, reduce the liquid, toss in a cassarole dish, top with mashed potatoes or some pastry.  Serve with a salad and bread.  People seem to think I labored for hours.

4)  Add a pasta course.  Often done when I don't actually have enough food to feed everyone, and someone's stopped by around the dinner hour.  I break out my wedding china, and serve soup (from a package) or salad / other first course, then a small pasta course - often gnocchi (dried, again trader joe's!) in bottled sauce.  Then I serve whatever I was planning to serve for dinner to my family - it stretches that way!

6)  Any sort of shrimp pasta.  It's easy, and shrimp somehow makes it nicer.

7)  Homemade pizza.  I keep a bag of cheese frozen, and some bottled or made-by-me then frozen pizza sauce on hand, and the dough takes very little time to make.  Top with some goodies - artichoke hearts, anchovies, olives, whatever, and it feels very fancy.

8)  Mezze - a lot of it bought, some of it made.  I love making pita, and it's quite fast since it's on the stove top, but you can buy and toast it as well.  Actually this is my go-to large party thing.  Hummus, baba ghanouj, tzaziki, dolmas, some feta, salad, tabboleh, spanikopita - all from the grocery.  Warm some pita pieces in the oven.  I add lamb grilled in the oven on skewers to this - it's all I have to cook, and the meal goes over really well.

jais

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2008, 12:52:07 PM »
I still like tossed green salad with spaghetti and garlic bread.  And don't forget the wine!  ;)

Summrs

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2008, 02:34:15 PM »
Pot roast.  Easy to do, family meal, not really "ordinary" when you add merlot or burgundy to it. 
Tacos.  Fun and easy.  Make your own salsa if you want it more special.  Add flan for dessert.
Broccoli beef.  Simple stir fry recipe and rice cooks itself.  Serve with chopsticks.

Ant V

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2008, 02:35:42 PM »
I usually have seasoned cooked and crumbled hamburger in the freezer.  A couple whacks on the counter and it breaks up in to crumbles or pop it in the microwave.   For drama I use a spring form pan.   Spray the pan with Pam then layer tortillas the size of your spring form pan with enchilada sauce, tortilla, cheese, crumbled hamburger, broken pitted olives, ending with  cheese.  Bake in 350 oven until hot and bubbly and golden on top.  Pop off ring and serve wedges with a salad.   If it's a big crowd, I use a 9x13 pan and just make more, sort of a enchilada lasagna.  The frozen cooked and seasoned hamburger makes it easy to do lots of quick recipes.
My Aunt Helen would start making her home made noodles the minute we drove in her yard.  Yummy.  We all stood around watching her.  They were wonderful and I'm happy she never changed to something else. 

GlindaBunny

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2008, 09:21:10 PM »
Here are some of our family's casual favorites:

corn chowder with rustic bread for dipping
chicken and dumplings or chicken pot pie
beef stew in the crock pot
seared pork loin (finished off in the oven) served with wilted spinach
meat loaf, mashed potatoes and peas
cauliflower and cheese soup
leek and golden potato soup
red beans and rice
shrimp etouffee
shepherd's pie (or cottage pie if there's no good ground lamb)
macaroni and cheese with barilla plus noodles (they have extra fiber and protein and taste wonderfully nutty)



let me know if you'd like any of the recipes...

Elle

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2008, 12:09:58 AM »
Sea food chowder. Get a pound of bay scallops (the teeny ones) and a pound of raw shrimps. Also get a package of andouille sausage, and a can of corn. Throw all the seafood and sliced sausage and corn in with two cans of Campbells Chunky Clam Chowder. Spice it up with a little cayenne and black pepper. When the shrimp are pink and the scallops are firm serve. Elegant (especially when paired with a hearty bread) and easy.

Lady Vavasour

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2008, 06:03:23 PM »
Make your own gnocchi. Really easy to make, and not as time consuming as you think. The dough freezes really well too.

kkl123

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2008, 10:47:53 PM »
Ropa vieja: shredded stewed beef in a tomato/green pepper/garlic sauce over rice (the Columbia Restaurant Cookbook recipe is superb, but do it with any cheap cut of long-fibered beef).  Freezes well -- just cook the rice and reheat.  Add a green salad and some good bread.

Medianoches: pressed Cuban sandwiches with slices of roast pork, ham, swiss cheese and dill pickle.  Put them in hoagie buns if you don't have access to Cuban bread (similar to French bread) and smoosh the sandwiches
between two hot cast iron skillets.  Salad and dessert.

Swiss steak and mashed potatoes.   The sort you pound flour into a round steak and then stew with vegetables.

Chicken and noodles and mashed potatoes.  The carb-lovers feast.  It's my family's German heritage coming out, I guess -- homemade egg noodles, stewed chicken, and poured over mashed potatoes.  I usually get strange looks from people when I put the bowls out, but after a few bites, they want the recipe (there really isn't one, except for the noodles).  This is also the dish I show up with when sick friends aren't feeling like eating much -- it'll withstand
multiple reheatings and always seems to "sit well".   I usually do glazed carrots with this, or pickled beets.

Runzas.  It's a Nebraska/Kansas thing, I guess.  Think of hamburger cooked loose with cabbage and onion that have been cooked till they're just smoosh -- some folks put a little caraway in, others use a mixture of beef and pork.   Put it on a good soft hoagie-shaped roll and add ketchup, pickle and mustard.   Or roll in dough and bake till the dough is done, sort of like a pasty.

Mezza.  Falafel and hummus and tabouli and baba ganouj and stuffed grape leaves and moussaka and tomatos and cheese and whatever else sounds good.  Pull it all out of the refrigerator, reheat a couple of things and some pita bread, and enjoy.  Nothing like a whole meal of appetizers! <g>

Really casual lunch after a cold weather workout, like cooperative snow shoveling: chop up some bacon fairly fine, and some onion -- maybe 2-3 strips of bacon to half a small onion.  Saute for a bit to render out most of the bacon fat.  Drain and replace in the pan.  Add about 6 eggs, scrambled, and cook rather like a giant fritatta.  Place the cooked eggs between bread and serve with a bowl of soup.

Fritattas are good, too... especially for drop in guests.

Hot weather supper: chilled sour cherry soup followed by a salad and a nice dessert -- typically lemon cake for me.
Sour cherry soup is one of those things you sort of need to warn your guests about -- it's peptobismol pink, opaque, and utterly delicious.

NOTE: Someone asked privately for the cherry soup, so it's over in the recipe folder.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2008, 08:17:09 PM by kkl123 »

RainhaDoTexugo

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2008, 02:51:09 AM »
Here are some of our family's casual favorites:

cauliflower and cheese soup

let me know if you'd like any of the recipes...

I'd love this one, if you don't mind.  I love cauliflower, BF hates it, and I'm always looking for ways to convince him to eat it ;)

GlindaBunny

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2008, 11:54:22 AM »
1 medium head of cauliflower
2 c  chicken stock
1/4 c  butter
1/2  onion, finely chopped
1/4 c flour
2 c milk
1 c  grated cheese, cheddar or other
Salt and pepper, to taste
 
Cook cauliflower in chicken stock until tender.  Cool slightly, then pour cauliflower and chicken broth into a blender and blend until smooth.  Melt butter in saucepan.  Add onion and sweat until limp; don't brown.  Whisk in flour.  Once flour mixture bubbles, whisk in milk.  Cook until bubbly and thickened, then pour in cauliflower mixture.  Stir in cheese until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
   
   

magdalena

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Re: Casual Meals for Company?
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2008, 12:29:32 PM »
My casual meals for overnight or drop-in dinner guests (when I don't want too much hassle) are

- chicken tikka (either with my own mixture of spices or with a store-bought paste, depending on the time and energy I have) with rice, store-bought naan I've always got in the freezer, salad and some chutneys

- pasta with artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes and sherry - fresh parmesan and black pepper out of the mill at the table. Salad and garlic bread.

- spaghetti bolognese (I almost always have browned hamburger meat and home made pasta sauce in the freezer). Again: fresh parmesan and black pepper out of the mill at the table. Salad and garlic bread.

- beef stroganoff or beef burgundy with potatoes and a vegetable of my choise

- home made pizza

- soups (all kinds) with fresh bread and a salad bar

- tacos

- pasta casserole (elbow pasta, spirellis, all kinds of relatively small pasta, whowheat or regular work for this, with tomatoes, bell peppers, ham or browned hamburger, shredded cheese, a dash of white wine, garlic, onions and lots of spices to taste)

- lasagna

- baked potatoes with home made salsa and tsatziki (and sometimes other toppings) with salad and maybe bread

- bbq meat (chicken breast, pork, beef or sausages) with pasta salad, a mixed green salad and potato salad

those are a few that I like to make for situations like that :)