Poultry Dinner for company-- Challenge!

blueiris24December 2, 2012

I need help. I'm planning on hosting my DS's GFs family a few times over the holiday season but I'm struggling with what to prepare. We eat very differently- my family eats mostly vegetarian and seafood, with occasional poultry meals. I like to try new recipes all the time and cook "healthy" and lower calorie meals. We limit processed food.
The other family eats mainly red meat and mostly prepackaged food. They don't like seafood, Indian food, or Mexican food. They tend to like more traditional-style food. They don't like most beans (black, navy, etc)
So I've decided it's chicken-- but how? I'm not a big fan of preparing meat so I'd like to do something with boneless/skinless chicken breasts.
Ideas for main, sides, desserts?... It will be 12 people with kids ages 9+ and adults.
It needs to be lower calorie so I'd like to avoid pasta.
Ideas please?!?!?!.....

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How about one of these:

Chicken Marsala
Chicken Souvlaki (Ann's recipe)
Kung Pao or Cahsew Chicken
French Farmhouse Garlic Chicken
Creamy Tarragon Chicken
Chicken Divan

I'd be happy to post recipes if any of these interest you. A couple of them use a tiny bit of cream, but I think they're still relatively low in fat.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 5:41PM
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The kids might be your toughest customers, and given how their family eats, they may resist anything saucy or with unusual ingredients (to them, maybe mushrooms or capers). My first thought was an easy, yet flavorful baked chicken dish - like homemade chicken tenders. It's easy, healthy and might be familiar enough that the kids will like it.

This is a good recipe; you could healthy it up by using a whole grain cracker (I use whole grain, unsweetened flake cereal) and egg white instead of whole egg, if you don't use yolks. I think there is so little egg that it probably doesn't matter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jamie Oliver's crunchy garlic chicken

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Cooking chicken for 12 is a challenge all on its own. I would probably do a simple Chicken Cattiatore using a mix of breasts and thighs and served with rice or oven roasted potatoes. Broccoli would make a nice side.

Chicken Pot Pie would be a great choice too.

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

8 Chicken breasts or a combo
-of breasts
-and thighs
1 1/2 Tbl Olive Oil
1 1/4 Cup Onions, Chopped
8 Oz Mushrooms, rinsed, drained ,
-and quartered
1 1/2 Tsp Garlic, Minced
1 Tsp Dried Oregano
2 Tbl Parsley, Chopped
2 Cup Tomato Sauce
1/2 Cup chicken broth
1/2 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and
-quartered (optional)

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Pour 1
tbsp oil into a 10-12" nonstick pan over med-high heat. When hot,add
chicken and brown well(work in batches if it won't all fit). As chicken pieces are browned, transfer to a casserole dish (8-9" square).

In the same nonstick pan, add the remaining oil and the onions, mushrooms, garlic,
and parsley. Stir often over med-high heat until vegetables are limp
minutes). Stir in the tomato sauce and chicken broth. Bring to a boil
high heat, stirring often; reduce heat, cover and simmer
about 20 minutes to blend flavors. Add olives to sauce, remove from
heat and
pour over the chicken in the pan. Seal pan with foil and bake, covered,
in a
375f oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

**** for a more traditional dish add 1 green pepper sliced, one carrot sliced, 2 celery stalks sliced

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:23PM
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You are so wonderful to help me out with your ideas! Thank you! Linda, those sound good, I'll search the site and see if I can track those down - I'm not certain what all of them are. Olychick, exactly right, I'm worried about some of the ingredients as well, and will check out the link you posted. Chase, sounds wonderful -- I truly appreciate all your help.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 11:03PM
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I really have had good results with Rachel Ray's Tuscan chicken.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 12:05PM
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How about the classic Coq au Vin? Although I don't have a T&T recipe for it.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 5:50PM
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Listen, I'm a mostly vegetarian who likes to eat healthy, but given this circumstance I would not buy chicken breasts, that can get expensive. I would buy two roasting chickens and roast them. Something for everyone and you don't have to worry about a sauce or anything that might have an ingredient that someone won't like. My Bubbe served roast chicken to my uber picky family every Sunday night and nobody complained! Those were memorable meals. Keep it simple for sides--roasted vegetables (picky eaters can pick out what they don't like), rolls, steamed green beans or corn, and a salad. Or do stuffing instead of rolls. Apple crisp for dessert, with lowfat ice cream for those who want to indulge. If it's a holiday meal and you want something that looks more festive (but is not quite as healthy) go for some pies or a bundt cake. There are great apple, banana, pumpkin, cranberry and carrot versions out there, take your pick. Also buy or make some Christmas cookies and everyone will be happy happy and you'll have it easy, easy!

Knock yourself out with some fancy bisque or appetizers if you want to do more. But if you put out a bunch of grapes, cheese and crackers and buy canned or boxed squash soup no one will know the difference or care! It makes no sense to go all out with fru fru stuff for folks who are not foodies. Stick with basic, good tried and true. This is a lesson I learned the hard way with my family! :)

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 6:15PM
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lpinkmountain, that was actually my first thought, too. They may eat a lot of rotisserie chicken, like lots of families do these days, so maybe brine whole chickens so they are salty enough and just roast them. One of the best tricks I learned for roasting chicken was to stuff them tight with curly parsley. It must be the moisture or ?? but it sure makes a great roasted chicken.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 6:48PM
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How about a turkey breast or a pork loin I know you said chicken both are easy to make not high in fat and should pass any picky eaters.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 7:07PM
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Whatever you do you should feel confident making it. It sounds like you will just be getting to know the family better? Make something you won't worry about so your entertaining will be more fun for you. The GF's mom is more interested in than she is your cooking - just my opinion.

You say the family has consumed a lot of prepared foods and beef - you did not say how the beef was prepared but I'm thinking grilled because it's easy.

You might be surprised at their reaction to your home cooked meal if it is outside of the parameters you describe. My only other question would be....where did the food likes/dislikes come from? Your son's GF? Maybe she is the picky eater and they are not so picky? Just a thought.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 7:38PM
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With all due respect, are you serious? From the abbreviations I'm guessing your son's girlfriend's family is coming for dinner and the only foods they eat are ones that clog their arteries and raise their blood pressure. I can understand how that might be disconcerting but I'm pretty sure that you might find a way to be a genial host without risking a trip to the ER for emergency bypass surgery.

How about making a couple of entrees and sides? You could, for example, cook up a Perdue Oven Stuffer Roaster AND a nice piece of wild salmon. While the chicken it resting, there is plenty of time under the broiler for the salmon. Perhaps a tasty quinoa pilaf and a box of Betty Crocker Au Gratin potatoes. The later, with it's butter and milk, could finish with the chicken. Round it off with a nice salad and broccoli, green beans, and/or peas. All of those are a pretty safe bets.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 12:38AM
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Kevin and I eat mostly like your do Iris, and so I may not be much help. I do agree that a couple of roasted chickens would be an easy solution, and you could bake some potatoes in the oven (or grill) at the same time. A Caesar salad might be nice also.

If you want to have rice instead of potatoes, I have a method of cooking rice and broccoli together to simplify the process. The advantage is that the broccoli stays hot, and you use one pan instead of two. I tend to use brown basmati rice, and so I don't know whether you have that one hand. Anyway, I wash the rice, drain it, return it to the pan. Then I add twice the amount of water plus finely chopped broccoli stems and bring this to a boil and simmer covered for 25 minutes. You can now add salt and pepper, but I use vegetable soup base (usually mushroom flavor) and chili sauce and a bit of butter and/or olive oil and the add the broccoli florets on top and simmer that for 20 more minutes. Then I turn off the heat and let it rest for about 10 minutes before stirring everything together and fluffing the rice. I often add minced onion with the garlic stems, and I sometimes add fresh or dried mushrooms. If I use dried mushrooms, I soak them first and use the soaking water for cooking the rice.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 1:53AM
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I was going with the roast chicken dinner too. In England, we serve it with chipolatas, stuffing, bread sauce, gravy, roast potatoes (must be super-crispy!), one or two green veggies and perhaps carrots or roasted parsnips.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 2:29AM
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Chicken Marbella is a fabulous dish to serve company. Plus, it is mostly do-ahead. I have made it with boneless chicken breasts before instead of whole chickens. The recipe makes tons and it is very tasty. If you think someone will balk at prunes, substitute apricots. However, the prunes are much tastier and they cook away to almost nothing - just small unidentifiable dark brown bits.

I serve The Silver Palate's Chicken Marbella with lemon rice and oven-roasted something-green (broccoli, green beans, whatever).

Chicken Marbella
Silver Palate
Yield: 10 or more

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 head garlic , peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), quartered
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro , finely chopped
1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic,
oregano and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the
bowl and refrigerate overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large,
shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces
with the brown sugar and pour the white wine around them. Bake, basting frequently
with the pan juices, until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when
pricked with a fork, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
3. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving
platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the
parsley or cilantro. Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.
To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in the cooking juices before
transferring the pieces to a serving platter. If the chicken has been covered and refrigerated,
reheat it in the juices, then allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of
the reserved juice over the chicken.

P.S. I do not use the amount of brown sugar called for. I simply sprinkle a little bit onto each piece of chicken.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 6:58AM
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In defense Mike, if you're like me who cooks mostly vegetarian and very little meat, roasting a whole chicken can seem intimidating. Actually that's when I first joined CF, when my family was coming to my house for Christmas dinner for the first time and I had to do a turkey! I found out it is actually easy but since I had never done it before and had tasted some disasters, I was nervous! I also have a hard time making up menus for my family--brother has food sensitivities, dad likes only artery clogging things, and mom has a sweet tooth. Usually when they come to visit they bring their "regular" foods because they know the food at my house is "strange" lol! I tried a lot of ways to sneak in healthy foods for them but they are on to me. So I have learned how to make the basics which are not too loaded with sat. fat. and then let them guild the lily with whatever extras they want to add. Brother actually eats his salad with just salt and pepper due to being allergic to almost everything in salad dressing, (soy and vinegar for example). Dad has to have bread and butter with every meal, and mom brings her treats to sneak. My dad can smell any dried fruit I try to sneak into anything a mile away, and the folks are always suspicious of hidden tofu, lol!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 9:48AM
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Doucanoe, I'd love to have the recipes for Kung Pao/ Cashew Chicken, French Farmhouse Garlic Chicken and Creamy Tarragon Chicken...if you don't mind. I've loved every recipe from you that I've tried!!

Thx, Ci

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 4:08PM
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I would suggest a roast chicken dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy would be good but, maybe, not necessary and green beans. Simple and accepted by most American families including kids. For dessert, keep it simple - have an ice cream sundae bar and let everybody fix their own. Maybe, a plate of cookies on the side.

I understand you are not comfortable handling the raw poultry but it really is easy to make a very good roast chicken without handling it much. (It's NOT recommended to rinse out the bird before roasting so no need to worry about that part.) Stuff half an onion, couple garlic cloves, a handful of parsley, and half a lemon in the cavity. Rub some olive oil over the chicken...salt & pepper and in the oven. If you have problems with putting the aromatics in the bird it will still be delicious just seasoned on the outside.

I really think the KISS principle is applicable here. I also don't think it's up to you to change their eating habits so go with something everybody will eat. If you just can't handle raw poultry then order out for several pizzas and make a party! It doesn't have to be a fancy, formal meal and they will probably be more comfortable if it isn't.

Also, a roast chicken dinner is low in calories if you don't eat the gravy and don't use lots of butter, cream, etc. in the mashed potatoes.

Best of luck!


    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 4:25PM
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Stuffing things into the turkey kinda grosses me out too, so I deal with it by rolling peeled apple chunks in spices and stuffing them in the cavity with tongs. Would work for lemons too. That's a great way to make roast chicken, stuff it with garlic, lemon, some parsley and an onion, it will be great.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Thanks for your suggestions - pinkmountain it sounds like we are on the same page. Mike I don't understand why you think my request was ridiculous? I'd like to make the other family feel at home and offer them a nice meal but I also have several special dietary considerations to think about in this group, not to mention the many dislikes. No, the GF is actually the least picky eater. We've been out to eat a couple times and and we've discussed the various likes/dislikes. I don't mean to come across as insulting this family - everyone's lives are different - and ours are very different so I just want to welcome them in my home in a way we are both comfortable. Thanks everyone else for the suggestions, they have been a great help.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 7:50PM
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Here you go, Ci_lantro. I am glad you like some of the recipes I've posted and I'm happy to share these as well.

The Kung Pao is somewhat spicy so if spicy is an issue for your guests, the Cashew Chicken would be a better choice.

Kung Pao Chicken
Adapted from a recipe found in Cooking Light

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
4 cups broccoli florets
1 red pepper, cut in strips
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 T ground ginger (or shredded fresh ginger)
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli to pan; saut� 1 minute, add pepper strips and water. Cover; cook 2 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Remove vegetables from pan; keep warm.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in pan; add crushed red pepper, and chicken. Cook 4 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Combine broth and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl, and stir with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan; cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Return broccoli mixture to pan; toss to coat. Sprinkle with peanuts, serve over rice.
Yield: 4 servings

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Cashew Chicken   
Inspired by recipe from Weight Watchers 

10 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed   
1\-1/2 tsp cornstarch   
1 T dry sherry   
1\-1/2 tsp soy sauce   
1 T vegetable oil   
1/2 c sliced onion   
1/4 c sliced celery   
1/4 c red pepper strips   
1/4 c sliced fresh mushrooms   
1 small garlic clove, minced   
1 4oz can sliced water chestnuts   
1 oz shelled cashews, toasted   
2T hoisin sauce   
1/4 c sliced scallion   
3 cups cooked rice 

Place chicken in a medium bowl, and sprinkle with cornstarch. Toss to coat. Add sherry and soy sauce, stir to combine and let marinate 15 minutes. 

Heat half the oil in a wok, add chicken cubes and stir fry until browned. Remove and keep warm. 

Add remaining oil to wok, and stir fry onions, and celery until tender. Add peppers, mushrooms and garlic, stir fry one minute. Return chicken to wok, add water chestnuts and cashews. Any remaining marinade and hoisin sauce. Stir, cover and cook until chicken is cooked thru (approximately 1\-2 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve over rice.   

Don't let the amount of garlic intimidate you, it mellows very nicely and does not overpower the dish.

French Farmhouse Garlic Chicken

4 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 T cooking oil
40 small cloves unpeeled garlic
1/2 c dry white wine (or chicken broth)
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
4 T all purpose flour
2 T dry white wine (or chicken broth)

Rinse chicken, pat dry. Season with salt & pepper. In 10 inch skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and garlic cloves. Cook chicken 2-3 minutes on each sideor until golden, turning once. Slowly add 1/2 c wine, then the second 1/2 cup wine, lemon juice,basil and oregano. Cover and simmer 6-8 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and garlic to warm serving platter; keep warm.

In small bowl, stir together flour and 2T wine. Stir into pan juices. Bring to a boil, cook and stir 1 minute more. Spoon over chicken, serve with mashed potatoes or rice.
Makes 4 servings.

This is my personal favorite.I always double the sauce, it is so good! I got this when a few of us visited Annie a few years back. They were sampling recipes at Fresh Market and I loved it so took the recipe home. I've made it often since. 

<img class="cursor-magnify js-enlarge" data-imgurl="" data-pin-no-hover="true" src="http://pic100.picturetrail.com/VOL671/4578521/9688658/284684957.jpg"  />

Creamy Tarragon Chicken   
From Fresh Market\-Grand Rapids, MI 

4 boneless, chicken breast halves   
Salt &amp; pepper to taste   
3T all purpose flour   
2T olive oil   
1T onion, finely chopped   
1/4 c white Bordeaux wine (you could use any white wine)   
1T fresh tarragon, chopped   
1/4 c chicken broth   
3T butter   
1/4 c heavy cream 

Season the chicken breasts with salt &amp; pepper, dredge in flour. Set aside chicken and remaining flour. 

In large saut� pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the chicken 2\-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Set aside and keep warm. 

Add onion to pan and cook 1 minute. Pour wine into pan and increase heat to high. Deglaze pan by cooking until almost all the liquid has evaporated, stirring to loosen browned bits on bottom of pan. Reduce heat to medium low and add reserved flour, stirring to form a thick roux. Stir in tarragon and broth. Return chicken to pan and cook until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear, about 10 minutes. 

Remove chicken to plates, add butter and cream to pan and heat through. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve. 

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 8:54PM
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There's no reason to be intimidated by roast anything. The fundamental problem is that the overwhelming majority of recipes tell you to cook by time. X minutes for a beef roast, Y minutes for pork, etc. Instead of using time, use temperature. Invest $25 or so in a decent probe thermometer. When the roast, bird, etc. reaches the desired internal temperature, take it out of the oven. Time only becomes an approximate for planning the meal. The roast today will be perfect, as will the one next week, next month, and next year.

As for cooking a turkey, I can understand why it is intimidating for most people - they only cook turkey one once per year. I would highly recommend watching Alton Brown's Good Eats episode on cooking turkey. It's usually on numerous times during the holiday season (and probably on YouTube as well). Alton is a bit quirky and he uses some hokey props but the information is spot on.

The reason I suggested something like a roast chicken is that they require very little prep time. Pull it out of the bag, rinse it off, pat it dry, and season. Salt and pepper is sufficient but other traditional herbs and spices are fine too. Put it on a rack and put it in the oven at 350 and wait until the little gizmo pops. Technically the breast meat will be overdone but since that's what most people do when they cook these kind of birds, nobody is going to know the difference. It's easy, simple, and will be familiar to your guests.

If you prefer treat your guests to a bit more than freeze dried potatoes and powered cheese, Jacques Pepin has a great recipe for potato gratin. Bake up some ordinary Russet potatoes; you can do this in advance. Remove the skin and slice about 1/4" thick. Put them in a shallow ovenproof dish, seasoning with salt, pepper, and quick grate of nutmeg. Add some heavy cream, a few small pats of butter, and Gruyere cheese. You'll want to adjust the pan size for the number of potatoes so you have a few layers. Top with more cheese and toss in a 375-400 oven and bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 11:51PM
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