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Please help me plan a casual dinner menu for 4-6 women for HOT weather

HoggirlHoggirl 1594 replies193 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,787 Senior Member
A high school friend from out of town will be visiting me in a couple of weeks. I am having a few of our other local-to-the-area high school friends over to see her. Dealing with mid-July in Florida, and we are in a small condo, so I would rather NOT crank up the oven. I’d also like to have everything prepared ahead of time so I can best enjoy the gathering. Out-of-town friend arrives around 6:30.

I have one friend who doesn’t eat tree nuts and one who doesn’t eat tomatoes (so gazpacho is out). I was thinking of doing a “salad trio” - maybe pasta salad, chicken salad, fruit salad??? Could do a shrimp salad as another option? Pimiento cheese? Egg salad? I could do little finger sandwiches as well or instead of salads? That seems a bit too lunch-ish to me. Wondering about some sort of crackers, bread, along side the salads. Banana bread?

Thinking white wine, red wine, and Prosecco, but I could do Sangria - white or red or both. I wasn’t sure if that would be fruit overload if I had a fruit salad, though. I could do Aperol Spritzes?

I will probably do my usual go to small appetizer of a frilly toothpick with a cube of manchego cheese, a cube of guava paste, with a leaf of Arugula in between. And some sort of cheesecake in my Instant pot for our dessert - maybe key lime? Maybe chocolate? We will have dinner and then walk over to sunset.

I don’t have a ton of lovely serving pieces at all anymore. Just no room here. Kinda makes me sad that I can’t present things as well as I used to be able to, but it is what it is.

Any ideas? For yummy salads or for going a different direction altogether? Drinks? Dessert?
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Replies to: Please help me plan a casual dinner menu for 4-6 women for HOT weather

  • MarilynMarilyn 3643 replies123 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,766 Senior Member
    How about a chilled melon soup served in a cup to sip? I have some old recipes I could track down but there are a ton online.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6247 replies35 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,282 Senior Member
    I like the salad trio option too.
    Corn and avocado salad is nice this time of year but I usually add tomatoes to mine. Maybe you could leave chopped tomatoes on the side?
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  • houndmomhoundmom 300 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 311 Member
    I love pasta salads as well as egg/tuna/chicken salads. Ina Garten has a good pesto pea pasta salad that holds up to the heat very well.

    If you decide to make Sangria (which I think is festive) you could go all out tapas style. I recently did a version of this for a deck party of six and it went it looked so much fancier than it was. I just got a big board and put sliced choizo and serrano ham, couple cheeses, fruit, veggies, nuts and had a basket of good bread and crackers. You can prepare in advance and no oven required.

    I like the mini pastries from Whole Foods for dessert. They are pretty and you can get a variety to please everyone (leftovers aren't a bad thing, either)
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  • doschicosdoschicos 20461 replies209 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 20,670 Senior Member
    Love aperol spritzes and sangria. Mojitos are also a refreshing drink you could mix up in pitchers.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 20461 replies209 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 20,670 Senior Member
    edited July 4
    @momofsenior1 My riff on corn and avocado salad includes rice and black beans. Easy and people always love it.

    I made this last night as a side dish and it was very pretty and tasty. I used pearl mozzarella and added a little finely diced shallots to the dressing.
    https://www.foodiecrush.com/cantaloupe-and-mozzarella-caprese-salad/
    edited July 4
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  • HoggirlHoggirl 1594 replies193 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,787 Senior Member
    Can someone please share their specific cold noodle sesame salad?
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  • doschicosdoschicos 20461 replies209 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 20,670 Senior Member
    The cold sesame noodles I make are very similar to this. I add veggies though, julienned carrots, red peppers, and sliced green onions. Makes it more healthy and colorful. You can also add shrimp or chicken if you wish. It's a really flexible recipe.

    https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/sesame-noodles/
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  • HoggirlHoggirl 1594 replies193 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,787 Senior Member
    edited July 4
    @doschicos - link to your corn/avocado/black bean/rice salad?? Pretty please?

    This one sounds good:

    https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/fiesta-rice-salad
    edited July 4
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  • doschicosdoschicos 20461 replies209 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 20,670 Senior Member
    I don't really have a recipe but here is what I do:

    Canned black beans (Goya is the best, IMO)

    Cooked white rice (Uncle Ben's Converted Rice holds up better IMO but you can use brown rice or regular long grain rice as well)

    A couple ears of fresh corn, cooked and corn cut off the cob (I find the easiest way is to cook them in the microwave for 5-6 minutes in the husks. Let cool, cut an inch or so off the stem end, husk, and cut the kernels off.

    Whatever your favorite salsa is

    Lime juice

    Chopped cilantro

    Avocado

    Salt, cumin, cayenne


    Rinse the black beans in a colander and shake out the excess water. Combine the black beans, cooked rice, and corn. Add salsa and lime juice to your liking. Salt, and a little cumin and cayenne can be added to taste or just left out depending on if you want more of a kick than just the flavor from the salsa. Chill until ready to serve. I dice the avocado and gently stir that in along with the cilantro before serving.



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  • doschicosdoschicos 20461 replies209 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 20,670 Senior Member
    Just realized salsa has tomatoes in it of course but all the people I know who don't like tomatoes readily eat things like salsa and pasta sauce and other tomato based foods. They just don't like raw tomatoes.
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  • HoggirlHoggirl 1594 replies193 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,787 Senior Member
    @doschicos - yes, this is how my friend is. She isn’t THAT opposed to tomatoes. Eats salsa, pasta sauce, even sun-dried tomatoes. But, she’ll share her fresh tomatoes in her salad with me :)

    So, are these flavors going to be weird together? If I do the black bean salad, the sesame noodle salad, and some sort of mayo-based chicken salad? Are those flavors too different?
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  • doschicosdoschicos 20461 replies209 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 20,670 Senior Member
    I personally like having a variety of flavors to experience so I'm probably not the best judge. That's why I like tapas/small plates dining. People can take more or less depending on what appeals to them.
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  • rjm2018rjm2018 165 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 169 Junior Member
    edited July 4
    @Hoggirl, we did a pretty big family party for those that weren’t involved in the wedding rehearsal and post-rehearsal dinner a year ago and I had a Mexican theme. I made up dark meat (for moisture and flavor) and white meat chix ahead of time and fork shredded it together then added Mexican spices to it. Since you don’t have as many to serve, use one or two (depending on size) rotisserie chix from the store to make it easy. You could either keep the meat warm in a small crock pot or heat it up on the stove top right before serving and have a myriad of toppings already cut up ahead of time and ready to put out. Add chix stock as needed to keep the meat from drying out.

    I also made quacamole and a rice side dish with scallions, pine nuts and a little lime zest/juice in it. They could either put the meat and fixings on top of tortilla chips or briefly heat up a small tortilla shell in the microwave as needed. I also put hard taco shells in the oven, but you wouldn’t need to do that, especially since it’ll be hot and you don’t want to use your oven.

    Since tequila gives me a headache, I created my own version of a Tequila Sunrise using Absolut Vodka, Simply Juice Orange w/ Pineapple, Grenadine and a little dash of the maraschino cherry juice too, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a cherry with orange and lime wedges for garnish. You could have the orange and lime wedges cut up ahead of time. I had a drink station where people had fun making their own beautiful sunrises. 🌅
    edited July 4
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  • MomCat2MomCat2 934 replies36 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 970 Member
    edited July 4
    Cook's Illustrated's sesame noodles recipe is very good. Here is the version with chicken: http://www.nikchick.com/recipes/sesame.html
    And here is the version with sweet peppers and cucumbers: https://nonordinaryreality.com/recipes/recipebox/noodles-cooks.pdf
    edited July 4
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  • MaryBarbara58MaryBarbara58 127 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 129 Junior Member
    Here's mine (we're all allergic to nuts and tree nuts, so this one is definitely "safe"):

    SESAME NOODLES
    6 cloves garlic, minced
    2 T. fresh ginger, grated
    2 T. sesame oil
    6 T. vegetable oil
    6 T. light rice vinegar
    8 T. soy sauce
    1 T. chili oil or hot oil
    3 T. white sugar
    1 lb. vermicelli, cooked
    6 scallions

    Saute first four ingredients for a minute or two (don't burn the garlic!). Add next four ingredients and boil for a few seconds. Pour the sauce over the cooked vermicelli. Refrigerate overnight. Toss noodles and garnish with chopped scallions. Serve cold or at room temperature.
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  • kiddiekiddie 3288 replies210 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,498 Senior Member
    I love the idea of a few salads. I just made today something my family calls Italian Potato salad. Very simple - boil cut potatoes until soft, add a can of drained cut green beans, dress with salt, dry parsley, virgin olive oil, and red wine vinegar. It is always a big hit when I bring it places. Can be made ahead and served warm or room temperature.
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  • MassmommMassmomm 3843 replies79 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,922 Senior Member
    If she will eat sun-dried tomatoes, you may want to try this: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/orzo-with-everything-5608
    It's very forgiving and you can do it with rice instead of orzo if you want. I also use less oil because I found the original amount a bit too greasy. If you can grill, grill some chicken or shrimp and you have a meal.
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