Help me plan my last minute dinner!
June 18, 2012 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Hey, what should I cook for dinner tonight? Okay, I apologize in advance for asking this question. I know questions like it have been asked many, many times before. But I'm suffering from brain freeze brought on by an over abundance of options and lack of time. Specific requirements inside. Thank you for looking at my ridiculous question.

Okay, the details:

It's a dinner party(ish). People coming over for dinner, at least. It should be relatively impressive, or at least not embarrassing. No top ramen.

Four adults and one toddler. It would be nice if the meal incorporated toddler friendly dishes.

We're in St. Louis, and it's crazy hot here. Light would be good.

Everyone is omnivorous, but that doesn't necessarily mean we need to eat meat.

It's a given that it should be easy and quick, right?

Should be able to be prepared at least mostly ahead of time.

Ideas so far: We have a bunch of fresh basil. I could do a tomato, mozzarella, basil salad. But... I am totally blanking on the actual meal part of the meal.

Dessert is already taken care of.

I'm going to make a decision and go to the grocery store within the next hour, so if you answer after that, you'll be answering for future searchers, or a future me.
posted by quietshout to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Gaspacho, grilled marinated chicken and grilled asparagus, followed by strawberry shortcake (buy the biscuits).
posted by semacd at 10:12 AM on June 18, 2012

If you have to ask ... is always the solution.
posted by k5.user at 10:12 AM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

I love pasta with basil, brie and tomatoes - served with very good bread and it is a wonderful summertime meal.
posted by nightwood at 10:13 AM on June 18, 2012 [13 favorites]

Roast a chicken? and serve it cold over a crisp salad? (you can also get the rotissery chickens at the grocery store).

Do you have a grill? you could also do a variety of kabobs. (who doesn't like meat+ veggies on a stick?)
posted by larthegreat at 10:13 AM on June 18, 2012

taco buffet is easy. kids love 'em! (altho the little ones i've seen tend to dump out the taco shell then eat it last.)

cilantro, onions, cabbage soaked in lime juice, lettuce, various salsas and hot sauces, beef, beans of some sort, sour cream, guacamole, shredded cheese.

put it all in little bowls. get soft and hard taco shells and tortilla chips.

it can all be chopped ahead of time and you can buy pretty much of all of it prepared if you don't want to deal with chopping yourself (i like wholly guacamole brand, it's yummy and actually guacamole, not the weird guac dip with sour cream and stuff.) i like cabbage soaked in lime juice for tacos. i learned that from a dude from mexico a few years back and it is much more yummy than plain ol' lettuce.

good luck! have fun!
posted by sio42 at 10:16 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Keep it easy. Do your salad or just a green/ceasar salad, this tomato/basil/goat cheese pasta, garlic bread, maybe some grilled chicken or Italian sausage (pan-fry or roast if you don't have a grill). Cut some fresh veggies and pair with dip/hummus for the table (the toddler should be able to nom on this if nothing else appeals!). Good luck!
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 10:18 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, you guys are the best. That amazing looking pasta from nightwood, a green salad (thanks miss_kitty for reminding me that a simple green salad is a great thing), good bread, plus desert (for the curious: angel food cake, strawberries, fresh whipped cream). Sorted! Feel free to keep the answers coming, though. I have a feeling it's going to be a long summer.
posted by quietshout at 10:25 AM on June 18, 2012

You know, pizza is pretty easy to make and can be wonderful. My husband does a fabulous pizza with smoked oysters/mussels which is just great. You can modify the toddler slices. Accompany with a good Caesar salad with some oomph to it (meat, seafood) and a nice white wine. Finish with a summery dessert like chilled fruit and homemade whipped cream, or a cold clafouti with ice cream.

Also, it is hard to beat planked salmon as centerpiece for a summer meal, and few things are more delicious. Also great: cold salmon.

I also really like Mediterranean dishes that are lentil or bean based as centerpiece for summer meals.
posted by bearwife at 10:35 AM on June 18, 2012

Oh, and a great resource for meals that are quick to make, rustic, and good for serving to others -- Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals. The cookbook is excellent, and a number of his shows demonstrating are on You Tube.
posted by bearwife at 10:36 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

OMG, nightwood, I have every ingredient in my kitchen (leftovers from a party, regular staples) for that basil, brie, tomato pasta. You've solved TWO people's dinner dilemmas!!
posted by xingcat at 10:45 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't worry about the toddler. Most parents who visit me bring food and beverage for the young children, unless the kids will eat most adult food. You can call them and tell them what you're serving, in case it might be an issue. You can always steam some rice or prepare some pasta, plain or with butter.
posted by wryly at 11:06 AM on June 18, 2012

For another night, here's stuff we had once a week in the summer. It's a kosher "milk" meal.

Green Salad

Tuna Salad, made with mayo, relish, green onion, sweet pickle relish.

Buttered Noodles and cottage cheese. Egg noodles, butter, some cottage cheese and fresh cracked pepper. Totally ethnic, but every so often one gets a hankering. Plus, can be warm, not hot, which is the best.

Can be served with Pita or bagels, or other bread, but we just ate it with salad and noodles.

Now I'm super-hungry.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:09 AM on June 18, 2012

What we had for company over last night - all prepared in advance due to Father's Day Brunch taking place elsewhere and earlier all day (slight mods made to recipes to accommodate what we had on hand:

Lemon Orzo Salad with (Greens) and Tomatoes

Italian Parsley and Raw Beet Salad

Crock Pot Pulled Chicken
(on soft taco shells with mango and avocado slices and lettuce spears)

Toffee Cinnamon Banana Bread
for dessert, with a little dulce de leche and a coffee granita

(My kid (8) had no problem eating any of this, because the beet juice makes good lipstick and the could build her own taco - Though she'll always leave out tomatoes because they "squish".)
posted by peagood at 11:18 AM on June 18, 2012

Someone recommended grilled asparagus and I will now go on record as stating that under my totalitarian dictatorship, slobbery frantic consumption grilled asparagus will be REQUIRED BY LAW all summer long. It is quick and delicious and awesome and all things good and right in the world.
posted by elizardbits at 11:25 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

This just showed up in my inbox and I'm going for it when I have folks over later this week!
posted by thinkpiece at 11:29 AM on June 18, 2012

I had a bag of frozen, cooked, deveined shrimp in the freezer. Thawed under running cold water in a colander. Began boiling thin spaghetti. In a skillet, I threw in olive oil and butter to sauté garlic and chopped mushrooms, then threw in the now thawed shrimp, lemon juice, a tiny bit of chicken stock. Last, I threw in several handfuls of fresh spinach, stir stir stir. Drained the spaghetti. Mixed everything together and threw in lots of parmesan cheese. SO SO SO SO SO GOOOOOOOOD. I would serve with a salad and crusty rustic bread. Dinner on the table in under 20 minutes.
posted by HeyAllie at 11:34 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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