Dinner For a Crowd

Sunday night was one of those perfect nights including good food and great company. I love to cook for my small family or myself, but cooking for a crowd makes me slightly anxious. I planned out a menu that ended up being ready on the table all at the same time without stress or hours slaved away in the kitchen. A gourmet fruit salad, veggie side dish and my favorite chicken recipe is my perfect 'Dinner for a Crowd" meal.

Watermelon Feta Salad:
serves 8-10

1 medium watermelon
6 oz or about 1 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
large handful of fresh basil, chopped
balsamic vinaigrette
salt and pepper

Dice your watermelon into 1 inch cubes. Sprinkle in feta and basil. Dress with dressing, season with salt and pepper and toss together. 

Sautéed Yellow Squash:
serves 8-10

4 yellow squash, sliced
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
salt, pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Slice your squash. Once the oil is heated begin to sauté your squash, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and let it melt over the squash. Continue to sauté for about 3 minutes. 

Parmesan Baked Chicken with Arugula Salad
serves 8-10

4-6 large chicken breast sliced in half length wise
1 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
2/3 cups parmesan cheese
juice of 2 lemons
2 Tbsps. olive oil
salt and pepper
olive oil spray

Arugula Salad:
4 cups or one large bag/container of arugula
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of two lemons
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a large pan in the oven to get hot. Combine bread crumbs and cheese in one dish or bowl and the lemon juice, olive oil and pepper in another. Slice your chicken in half and pound out thin. Season the chicken with salt and pepper then dredge the chicken into the lemon/oil mixture, then the bread crumb/cheese mixture. 

Take your hot pan out of the oven and spray with cooking spray. Place your chicken on the pan then spray the chicken with cooking spray (this will help brown the bread crumbs). Bake the chicken, flipping once halfway through for 15-20 minutes or until browned and crispy. 

While your chicken is baking whisk or shake together all the ingredients for your lemon vinaigrette. Toss the arugula with the dressing. Remove chicken from the oven and top with arugula salad. 

**see tips below

**Minute by minute tips for a low stress meal

During the afternoon or at least an hour before your guests arrive:
-Cut your watermelon and leave in the fridge.
-Make the vinaigrette for the arugula salad.
-Slice your squash and leave in the fridge until it's time to sauté.
-Set the table.

30 minutes before:
-Preheat your oven and prep your chicken. 

15 Minutes before:
-Begin to sauté your squash.
-Add the feta, chopped basil and dressing to the watermelon.
-Toss the arugula with the dressing.
-Bake your chicken.

Once your guests arrive:
-Your squash should be tender, your chicken should be finishing up and the watermelon salad is ready to go!

Paper plates, plastic silverware and Styrofoam cups, just keepin' it real. 

"People who love to eat are always the best kind of people." - Julia Childs

Cheers to you people!