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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Recipe Requests - General / Need Dinner Party Ideas .....
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    Need Dinner Party Ideas .....

    Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:17 pm Groupie
    I'm having about 6-8 people over for dinner on Saturday night, but just found out I have to work and will be home maybe just an hour before they show up. Add to that I have maybe 2-3 hours the night before to prepare anything.

    The only thing I'm doing so far that definite is I'll have some hummus and toasted pita to put out.

    Other than that, I can really use some ideas that will impress (but not the same old, same old), but won't take very long to prepare, can be made the night before and just thrown into the oven (or on the stove), and or assembled the night before. If it takes longer than an hour to bake, that's okay, I just want to be able to put it up, get myself all ready, not be harried when my guests show up and be able to spend time with them.

    It would be a plus to be able to serve it all family style.

    I can use starters, main dishes, sides and desserts, and perhaps a very simple but great salad.

    The dietary limits are no red meat or pork (but things like turkey sausage is okay), and nothing with alcohol.

    Thanks in advance!

    PS: Not overly expensive either. I want everything, don't I? LOL
    Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:11 am Groupie
    I'll throw out a few ideas; then if you want the recipes, just let me know. All these can be made prepared ahead and simply baked and reheated in the microwave. Easy Peasy. You can even prep the salads or veggies ahead.

    Orange glazed cornish hens, pecan rice stuffing, spinach salad with orange; and sauteed green beans or asparagus.

    Cornish hen halves, baked. Marinade ahead, just bake, glaze 2x (glaze made ahead) and serve with a stuffing, also easy and made ahead.
    Chicken rolls with feta, spinach, and sun dried tomatoes; served with a pesto cream sauce; served over pasta; classic caesar dressing, but added artichokes, olives and tomatoes; grilled garlic bread

    Thin pounded chicken stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, spinach and feta. Baked NOT pan fried. And prepared the night before I serve it with a simple reduction of cream and pesto sauce. Nothing hard. Served over pasta (made ahead). Salad dressing made ahead, just toss and serve. Garlic bread, make ahead, just bake and serve.
    Beef Roulade is easy, and a variety of fillings, can be prepped the night before; serve with horseradish spuds, also made ahead.

    A vegetable casserole with broccoli and cauliflower is also great to make ahead and then just bake.

    And you said serving hummus, nice choice; make it look extra special, by adding a drizzle of olive oil, some fresh scallions, and maybe some red pepper flakes. Makes it look fancy with no extra work.

    Try to prep your garnishes, herbs, onions, etc the night before; they stay fine in plastic bags and save you time the night of the party.

    Rolls, whether homemade or store bought can be cut and spread with a herb butter and topped with pepper or parmesan to make them extra special.
    Chicagoland Chef du Jour
    Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:29 am Groupie
    This dish is amazing. You throw it together the night before and add wine before baking. You can sub apple juice instead.

    Mediterranean Chicken With Dried Apricots & Prunes

    I have sides & salad ideas in the intro.
    Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:42 pm Groupie
    Nice Dish Chicago; I got that saved. On my list to try, I'd hadn't seen that before. Yummy!
    Chicagoland Chef du Jour
    Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:30 pm Groupie
    Thanks SC. It's as beautiful as it is tasty. Super EZ too! Definitely, company worthy.
    Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:04 pm
    Forum Host
    This recipe has always impressed guests I've had, Raspberry Balsamic Chicken You can pair it with a salad, green beans and rice or some other starch.
    Wed May 01, 2013 12:18 pm Groupie
    This is my fav for parties:

    Rock Bottom Brewery's Beer Bread and Asiago Dip

    Beer Bread

    2 tsps salt
    3 tsps baking powder
    1 1/4 lbs flour
    6 tbsps cheddar cheese (grated)
    6 tbsps granulated sugar
    1/4 cup green onion (chopped)
    2 cups beer

    Preheat oven to 300 degree F. Combine all dry ingredients.

    Mix in cheese, peppers, and onions. Add 1 1/2 C beer; mix well. Add remaining 1/2 C beer. Combine thoroughly. Pour into a greased loaf pan.
    Bake for 1 hour. 1 - 1 1/2 loaves

    Asiago Cheese Dip

    Yield: 3 to 4 cups of dip

    1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dried, not in oil)
    hot water for soaking
    1 1/2 cups Asiago cheese, shredded
    1 cup mayonnaise (low fat is fine)
    1 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)
    1/2 cup green onions, chopped
    1/3 cup chopped fresh mushrooms

    Soften sun-dried tomatoes in hot water, drain and chop. ombine tomatoes with remaining ingredients and mix well.
    Place in a serving dish and carefully warm through in a microwave oven for about 30 seconds (or until mixture is about 140°F.) Stir.

    Serve with pita bread or beer bread, sliced and toasted, or tortilla chips.

    *If preferred, the mixture may also be warmed in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes, until desired temperature.

    Maggiano's Little Italy Chop Salad

    8 ounces chopped iceberg lettuce, in 1/2-inch dice
    2 ounces diced plum tomatoes, in 1/2-inch dice
    1 poached chicken breast, (3 ounces) diced
    1 ounce sliced scallion, in 1/8-inch slivers
    2 ounces crumbled Danish blue cheese
    1/2 ounce crispy prosciutto, pan fried and chopped
    3 ounces dressing (recipe follows)

    1/4 avocado
    1 teaspoon crispy prosciutto

    1 ounce Coleman's dry mustard
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    3/4 cup water
    1 ounce garlic, finely chopped
    1/4 cup red vinegar
    1 cup white vinegar
    Salt, to taste
    1 quart corn oil or canola oil
    1 cup virgin olive oil
    2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
    2 teaspoons whole black pepper, fresh ground
    1 teaspoon fresh oregano

    Combine mustard, sugar, water, garlic, red and white vinegar and salt in food processor. Mix until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the oils, continue to blend. Add remaining ingredients and stir with wire whisk. Store in sealed containers in refrigerator. This makes 2 quarts of dressing.

    Place lettuce in large mixing bowl Add all the ingredients except garnish and mix well. Add dressing and mix well.

    Carmela's Chicken Rigatoni (Copycat Romano's Macaroni Grill)

    6 ozs butter (oil)
    8 ozs mushrooms
    12 ozs chicken (grilled)
    2 tsps basil
    6 ozs onion (caramelized)
    6 ozs cooking wine
    20 ozs heavy cream
    24 ozs rigatoni pasta
    2 ozs parmesan cheese

    In a hot sauté pan add butter flavored oil, mushrooms, chicken, basil, caramelized onions, salt and pepper and sauté for approximately 60 to 90 seconds.

    Add the wine and sauté for 60 seconds. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil over high heat. Dip pre-cooked pasta in boiling water for 10 seconds, drain thoroughly.

    Put pasta in sauté pan and sauté until well incorporated. Toss briefly over fire, add parmesan cheese and continue to toss until cheese is completely incorporated.

    Transfer to plate, garnish with parsley.

    TSR's Version of Romano's Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica
    Makes 4 servings

    Menu Description: "Shrimp, grilled chicken & smoked prosciutto and Parmesan baked in a creamy cheese sauce."

    Romano's top-requested item is so popular they've even trademarked the name. Grilled chicken, shrimp, prosciutto, and penne pasta bathed in a creamy gratinata sauce is topped with cheese and paprika, and baked until the top is a crispy brown. there's a distinct smoky flavor that comes from the smoked prosciutto used by the chain, and you might have a hard time finding such a unique item at your deli. No big deal. Just use regular prosciutto, and have the deli cut it pretty thick - 1/8-inch will do. The dish will still work since you'll get smoky hints from the grilled chicken and shrimp. The chain serves up the entree in a wide, shallow baking dish that comes to you straight from the salamander overhead oven/broiler. If you don't have any baking dishes like that, try using 9-inch glass pie dishes. These make for a great presentation, especially when served hot right to the table, garnished with a sprig of rosemary and a few sliced pimentos on top. Be sure to get the sliced pimentos, not diced. You want long pieces just like those they use at the restaurant.

    Gratinata Sauce
    3 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons minced garlic
    3 tablespoons marsala wine
    2 cups heavy cream
    1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1/2 cup milk
    1/2 cup chicken broth
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    1 tablespoon Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
    2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
    1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

    1 pound penne rigate pasta, cooked
    12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    2 skinless chicken breast fillets
    1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) thick-sliced smoked prosciutto, chopped

    3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

    12 sliced pimentos
    4 sprigs rosemary

    Preheat barbecue grill to high.

    Prepare gratinata sauce by melting 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat. Add garlic and sweat it for about 5 minutes. Be sure the garlic doesn't brown. Add the marsala wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients for the sauce and whisk well until smooth. Bring mixture to a simmer and keep it there for 10 minutes or until it's thick. Cover sauce and remove it from the heat.

    Cook pasta following directions on the package (7 to 9 minutes in boiling water). You want the pasta tender, but not mushy (al dente). Strain pasta and set it aside when it's done.

    Pound the thick end of your chicken breasts a bit with a kitchen mallet to make them a uniform thickness. Rub chicken with olive oil, then sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper. Spear the shrimp on skewers (6 per skewer should work fine), then rub them with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    Grill chicken for 5 to 6 minutes per side. Grill shrimp for 2 minutes per side. When chicken is done, slice each breast into strips.

    Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Build each dish in a large, shallow baking dish. Or you can use a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Load 3 cups of pasta into each baking dish. Add one-quarter of the chicken, 3 shrimp and 2 tablespoons of prosciutto onto each serving. Spoon 3/4 of a cup of gratinata sauce on each serving and toss to coat. Combine 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese with 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, then sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of this mixture over the top of each serving. Bake the dishes for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tops begin to brown. Arrange three pimentos on the top of each serving, then jab a sprig of rosemary into the center and serve.

    Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread

    1 cup warm water (110-120 degrees F)
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 tablespoon yeast
    1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    2 1/2 cups flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons rosemary


    Mix water, sugar and yeast. Stir until yeast dissolves. Let sit 5 minutes, or until foamy.

    In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and half of rosemary. Stir flour mixture with a wire whisk.

    After yeast mixture becomes foamy, add the oil. Add 1 cup of flour to yeast mixture and stir until mixed. Keep adding flour about 1/2 cup at a time until it becomes dough.

    Knead for 10 minutes, adding flour if necessary. Set dough in an oiled bowl, brush dough with oil, cover bowl with a cloth, and let dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

    Punch down dough and let sit for 5 minutes. Then, split dough into two pieces. Form into ovals and place on a greased baking pan. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

    After dough rises, brush melted butter on top of each oval. Bake at 450 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.

    After 10 minutes in the oven brush more butter on top of bread and sprinkle each oval with the remaining rosemary.

    * served with plates of EVOO, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

    Last, but not least:

    Tiramisu by Steven Ullman .. I ONLY use THIS RECIPE
    LOOKS complicated, but, it really isn't!

    *Rich, so serve in small portions

    2 eggs*
    2 egg yolks*
    12 tablespoons sugar
    500 grams mascarpone (1 large tub)
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    Pinch of salt
    10 tablespoons Marsala
    2 cups espresso, plus more if needed
    1 large package Lady Fingers (4 sleeves of 12 biscuits)
    1 whole cup chopped semisweet chocolate

    Place the 2 eggs and 2 whole egg yolks in an electric mixer bowl and add approximately 8 tablespoons of sugar. With whisk attachment beat until the mixture forms a good ribbon (should nearly have soft peaks). Once the correct consistency is achieved, whisk in the Mascarpone cheese. In a separate bowl, whip the cream along with 2 tablespoons sugar and a pinch of salt.

    Once hard peaks form, add the whipped cream to the egg/Mascarpone mixture and beat until smooth, adding approximately 2 tablespoons Marsala.

    In a separate bowl, pour the hot espresso and add 2 tablespoons sugar and 8 tablespoons Marsala.

    Assembly: One at a time, quickly dip each biscuit in the espresso mixture and then place on the bottom of a 9 by 13 glass baking pan. Continue until you have an entire layer of biscuits on the bottom of the pan. (Note of Caution: Dip quickly or biscuits will become soggy.)

    Using a spatula spread half of the mascarpone cream over the biscuits. Repeat the process above to make a second layer. This should fill the pan.

    Finish: Refrigerate 8 to 10 hours or overnight. Grate the chocolate over the top.

    * Raw Egg Warning

    Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.

    pinky kookie
    Wed May 01, 2013 11:37 pm Groupie

    Here are some of my favorites for having a great party to impress friends. There is nothing better than a refreshing and healthy salad with fruits or vegetables or as a dessert.

    These simple and great salads have a beautiful presentation and can be made in advance putting together and left in the fridge the night before with no cooking required, just as you want it:

    By Lainey6605 - 11 reviews
    Photo by DuChick

    By ratherbeswimmin' - 43 reviews
    Photo by Pam-I-Am

    By ~SarahBeth~ 4 reviews
    Photo by Sharon123

    pinky kookie - 1 review -
    Photo by CIndytc

    pinky kookie - no reviews and no photos -

    And for the main dish you can make this good shredded chicken for sandwiches. You can omit the hot peppers for a non spicy chicken meat.

    By Denver Chef - 31 reviews -
    Photo by Caroline Cooks -

    Thu May 02, 2013 9:57 am Groupie
    [quote="pinky kookie"][b]
    Here are some of my favorites for having a great party to impress friends. There is nothing better than a refreshing and healthy salad with fruits or vegetables or as a dessert.

    These simple and great salads have a beautiful presentation and can be made in advance putting together and left in the fridge the night before with no cooking required, just as you want it:

    By Lainey6605 - 11 reviews
    Photo by DuChick

    By ratherbeswimmin' - 43 reviews
    Photo by Pam-I-Am

    By ~SarahBeth~ 4 reviews
    Photo by Sharon123

    the salads look amazing! i never thought to do anything like that when it's sweltering outside!


    pinky kookie
    Thu May 02, 2013 1:18 pm Groupie

    U R welcome Amber, and thanks for responding. I appreciate it. icon_biggrin.gif

    And yes, these good salads are very attractive for their nice presentation and always a hit in any party.
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