Bah! I am having trouble, ladies and gents.

I have spent a good hour of my life trying to come up with a dinner menu for my parents, who are coming over Sunday. They are my parents, so I automatically want to impress them, however, they are also mid-renovations on their home. They’ve ripped up flooring, replaced glass, relaid tile, and done an impressive fall cleaning. Their visit to our home represents a miniature vacation to see my husband and I, whose lives are very quiet and less full of jackhammers. I want this to be very relaxing for them.

I also want to blast their palates with something truly amazing. Obviously, cooking is my hobby. I wouldn’t blog about it semi-regularly if it wasn’t. It is also true that I take a great deal of self-validation from people’s appreciation of my food, especially those people with refined palates! Also, in addition to my own selfish goals, my parents have been eating nothing but takeout due a kitchen that is out of commission. They have had fat grams coming out their ears, and I want something refreshing. It either needs to be light, or be intensely flavorful. Both preferable.

Thus, I have spent considerable time and effort planning this menu, but it’s difficult. What do I create? Most foods I would consider “normal” the average non-foodie would find “gourmet” – when you do a search for fancy food and you come up with a list of meals that are on your regular rotation (or involve raw cactus or duck liver), well, I guess you should feel proud. I mean, it means anything I make would appear “refined.” (HAH! If only I could plate…)

But that’s not good enough. I want to create something that I personally know took a little extra effort. Even if it seems just as fancy as chicken Francaise or a spinach fettuccine with veloute, (which are only fancy because the words aren’t English!) there is some self-pride in creating something for these people I love that I know was quite different from our norm.

Therefore, a set of menus. None of these recipes are by any means difficult – some are even simpler than our normal fare – however, they are less common around here and thus seem “special.” Also, their ease can assure me that I won’t mess up, but I won’t be making my standard kitchen walk, or using my most honed and mindless skills. I will have to think about what I am doing, and that cognitive process will feel more like love to me.


  • Garlic Wontons (An (uncommon) favorite)
  • Sesame Chicken
  • Pear, Walnut, and Ginger Salad
  • Chocolate Wontons

American Classic

  • Roast Spiced Potatoes
  • Steak
  • Caesar Salad
  • Creme Brulee

American Modern (Thanksgiving updated)

  • Acorn Squash with Walnuts and Brown Sugar
  • Cranberry Chicken Salad (possibly just cranberry chicken)
  • Fresh Bread with Rosemary
  • Ginger Snap Sticks with Dip


  • Chorizo and Spanish Cheeses
  • Shrimp Sauteed in Garlic Butter
  • Crusty Bread and Garlic Aioli
  • Truffles
  • Honeyed Pear Bites

I’ll keep you updated on our choice, and also will provide recipes! I’m leaning away from the American Classic, as it seems heavy, if indulgent. Modern American is fun, but I don’t know. Asian and Tapas are my two favorites.