I love to entertain and love to cook and always have. But I haven't fully adapted to making room for adapting my menu planning and prep now that I have a 2 year old -- I am now short on time, energy and money, none of which used to be an issue. The second recent challenge is adapting menus to kid guests. Plus I am 6 months pregnant and all around a bit lazy side at the moment. (!) So those are my obstacles. I am having a dinner party on Friday night (a work day for me) for 8 adults, 4 of whom have very high culinary standards, plus myself and I do like to impress plus I am food-obsessed and can't serve anything that doesn't taste GREAT. There will be seven (7) kids between the ages of 2 and 5. I have a draft menu already and am hoping you can help with creative salad ideas that are in line with Chowhound standards and might reflect some of the variety of produce available in CA this time of year, and balance my relatively heavy entree and side. Frankly, I'll take any ideas. The menu so far is:
Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Goat-Cheese Thyme filling (from the Cook's Illustrated Best Make Ahead Cook Book) which, while theoretically a little pedestrian and looks a little like something that was served at my swim team banquets when I was a kid, is REALLY GOOD and highly kid friendly. Another plus - it is a relatively inexpensive way to feed 15 people and I can make them the night before.
Homemade Mac N Cheese (another solid recipe). I wouldn't serve this but for the kids but it really is excellent so I think the adults will enjoy. Also economical.
Roastesd Asparagus? kind of lazy I know but it will be fresh lovely asparagus and you can't go wrong, right? Any other ideas? Maybe I should steam some broccoli with lemon to counter the heavy entree and side so far? I could mix it up with baby bok choy or something?
A colorful salad. Something light -- hoping for chowhound to save me on this one. I am better at winter salads because I like to do candied nuts and the like. Also, I am big on cheese in salads but given the chicken and mac I don't think this salad can call for cheese. Note that I can get really good stuff locally and since I am doing literally everything else ahead I can do this relatively last minute. I don't care if this is kid friendly since most kids won't touch the salad anyway. What do you think?
Dessert: Fresh berries with creme fraiche and (of course for the kids and whomever else) vanilla bean gelato.
As you may have noticed, I haven't sorted appetizers out yet (originally I was going to do empanadas when I had an entirely different menu). I'll do a separate search on this site for some ideas. Thanks in advance for anyone taking the time to read all this and ponder my dilemma.