Italian Dinner Menu


This week’s menu is a family friendly meal
filled with colorful delicious dishes with fresh Italian flair. If you’re having friends
over for dinner anytime soon, I really recommend trying this menu out. It’s really
easy to throw together you’re not going to spend hours and hours in the kitchen
and I promise you it will be a big hit with all your guests. Nothing sets the
mood at a dinner party like a delicious cocktail, right? So we’re kicking things off
with one of my go to favorites, vodka and sparkling Italian soda with a splash of
grapefruit and a sprig of mint. For our first course I’ll show you how to make antipasto
skewers, a yummy meat, cheese and veggie combo that’s fun to eat and can
be thrown together in no time at all. Next up is the main course, a mouthwatering
parmesan breaded chicken with tomato basil garlic topping. For the side
dishes, I’m whipping up a light lemon feta orzo, a simple dish that definitely packs
a flavorful punch. And a colorful array of roasted rosemary veggies that practically
cook themselves. For a delicious finish, it’s cool creamy espresso floats, topped with
chocolate covered espresso beans and dark chocolate shavings. It’s like coffee
and dessert in one. I have two kids and over the last couple years we’ve taken
a bunch of really fun family trips with some of our best friends. We do a winter trip
to the snow and a summer trip to the beach. We get a big rental house and we
all pile in there together and its loud and hectic and so much fun and we always joke
that what we do more than anything else on those trips is eat. We spend
a lot of time eating. Every night we put on some music and make cocktails and us
moms make a big dinner for the group. We usually trade off nights so one
person doesn’t have to do all the cooking all the time and this is a meal that
I’ve made many times on my night. I love this meal because you can make one meal
for everybody for the parents and the kids. In some of my earlier dinner
parties I’ve found that I’ve tried to whip up something fancy for the parents and then
I would make separate kid food and it’s just double the work and double the stress.
I don’t want to be running around worrying about whipping up some mac and cheese
and hot dogs when I’m in the middle of my fancier meal. So these are really
easy dishes to put together and each one of them can be tweaked slightly so
that the kids love it. And if you don’t have any kids don’t worry don’t tweak anything.
This is still an amazing meal to make that all your friends will love, I promise.
So sit back and relax because I’m going to show you how to make this delicious
six course Italian themed meal that’s prefect for your next dinner party.

Before we even get into the food at all you
always want to have a great cocktail for your guests to enjoy when they come over
for a dinner party. I love this one because it’s really light and refreshing,
it’s got some fizz and bubbles, it’s got that sweetness from the fresh fruit juice. Both
men and women really enjoy it. It’s just a really nice way to kick off this meal. So
here’s how you make it. The first thing you’re going to do is get a glass, fill it
with your ice and then you’re going to pour some vodka in. You can go really light on
the vodka or a little heavier on the vodka, it depends on how you like your vodka.
I usually fill up the first third of the glass. Next you’re going to pour basically
the rest of your glass up with Pellegrino. Pellegrino is a sparkling Italian
soda that’s really light and fizzy and delicious it’s flavorless and colorless and
it doesn’t have a lot of those artificial sugars and sweeteners so not only are you
going to save yourself some calories but you are definitely going to save yourself
a headache the next day. Next you’re going to add in a splash of grapefruit juice.
Now if you don’t have fresh grapefruits you can use store bought grapefruit
juice but the fresh stuff is always better. And you just want to put a splash
in at the top if you add too much in it’s basically like a vodka and grapefruit which
is a greyhound and we’re not making a greyhound this is vodka soda with a splash
of grapefruit not a big cup of juice. And for the grapefruit juice you can either
add a little bit in to each drink individually if you’re just making a few or
you can juice a bunch of grapefruits into a pitcher so you can set that out if you want
to make a drink bar before your guests come over. Finally you want to add
in some fresh mint leaves for garnish. Nothing brings a drink to life like fresh
mint. Plus it’s really nice to put fresh herbs in your cocktails it just takes your drinks
up to another level and it impresses your guests. Now for the kids it’s simple just
leave out the vodka of course. You can give them Pellegrino by itself or the Pellegrino
with the grapefruit juice in it if they like grapefruit. My kids go nuts for Pellegrino
they’re always asking me “Mommy can we have some fuzzy water, can we have
some fuzzy water?” Kids love sparkling water so you can leave it by itself
or throw the splash of grapefruit in there either way it’s a fun drink and the
kids will feel kind of special that they get to enjoy a fancy drink with the parents. And
that’s it! That’s how you make my grapefruit vodka fizz. Set them out so everyone
can enjoy their cocktail while they’re mingling and munching on appetizers
and definitely grab one for yourself while you prepare the rest of this great meal.

The appetizer for this menu is one that I
always like to make because it’s only one dish to put together but it really gives
people a lot of different variety. There’s different colors and textures and flavors.
It’s a really good one. Antipasto means before the meal and it’s a traditional first
course in Italy. Traditionally antipasto platters have cured meats and olives and pickled
veggies and different cheeses. I love it because you can really get creative
and use whatever you like. Plus skewers are just fun. You have your own little
individual portion that you can walk around with and eat and kids love food on
a stick. So here’s how you make them. You want to get skewers, shish kabob sticks,
those bamboo sticks, you can get them at any grocery store. I like to start
out with a green olive, then a folded up slice of salami, a nice big chunk of fresh
cantaloupe, then a mozzarella ball. You can use the marinated mozzarella balls or
the regular. You could also use pepper jack if you wanted if you want some spice
or provolone, any kind of cheese you love, then a marinated artichoke heart, you
could also use cherry tomato or you could use hearts of plan for other veggie
options, and finally a nice big folded slice of prosciutto. I love prosciutto it’s
a really thinly sliced piece of Italian ham, it’s very lean and has a really good salty
kick. You could put all of these in the same order or you could switch it up and do
a different order on each stick just have fun with it. It’s however you want to
make them there’s no right or wrong way. And now for the kids they make like all
the ingredients on there but chances are they’re probably not big on a few of them
so just make a couple that are only for the kids. You could use just the cheese
and salami or cantaloupe and olives or cantaloupe and cheese just whatever you
think they’re going to like that’s what you put on theirs. Place your skewers on a
big platter and then this is not necessarily traditional but I like to serve
mine with some sliced baguette and then a couple of different sauces some oil and
balsamic vinegar, some spicy mustard and maybe some pepper tapenade. That way people
can just eat their skewer exactly like it is or they can take the pieces
off and put some salami on a piece of baguette and dip it in some mustard and pop
an olive in their mouth and they can just get creative and have fun with it and
combine the flavors however they want. The really nice thing about these skewers
is that they can be assembled the day before and then just be kept in the fridge.
That way right before your party all you have to do is take them out pop them on the
platter with the bread and the sauces and you’re good to go. One tip I would
definitely give is that don’t make too many of these. Bread and meat and cheese
is kind of a heavy combination. So you want everybody to have one or two but
you don’t want to fill them up before they even get to eat the rest of this
delicious meal. And that’s it! Antipasto skewers a really fun appetizer that’s so easy
to put together and is a perfect way to jump into this Italian themed meal.

Now it’s time for the main course. You’ve
probably had bruschetta at many Italian restaurants it’s that really popular appetizer
that’s crunchy little pieces of bread like crostini topped with that fresh delicious
tomato basil garlic topping. I always order that in restaurants I’ve loved it forever.
So I thought why not take that delicious topping and put it on chicken. You
could absolutely grill this chicken if you want which is actually probably the healthier
option but I just love to put it on my breaded parmesan chicken. It’s just crunchy
and delicious and it just goes so well with that fresh vibrant topping and everybody
always goes nuts for it. The first thing you’re going to do is make the
topping it couldn’t be easier. Take your tomatoes you could use roma tomatoes cheery
tomatoes heirloom tomatoes would be really delicious and even more colorful.

Slice up your fresh basil and fresh peeled
garlic.

Then add in some olive oil a splash of balsamic vinegar salt and pepper to taste
mix that all together and that’s it!

You can actually make this the night before and then just store it in the fridge until
your dinner party the next night. It’s actually even better that way because the
longer it sits the flavors all blend together and the juice from the tomatoes kind of
mellows out that raw garlic. Once you have your topping it’s time to work on your
chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breast can actually be kind of expensive I
know but don’t worry because you’re going to cut these in two so if you’re having
eight people you only need to buy four or if you’re having four people you only
need to buy two. You only need to buy half the amount. So cut your chicken in
half down the center.
Then you’re going to lay them out on some wax paper or parchment paper, cover
them, and start pounding. Use your meat mallet and then start pounding away.
You want them to be nice and thin so that they cook quickly and you also want to
make sure that they’re all the same thickness so that they all have the same
cooking time.

Once your chicken is pounded out, you can lay out all of your breading
ingredients which are white flour, eggs, and bread crumbs. I like to use a mixture
of Italian seasoned bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs. Panko bread crumbs
are Japanese bread crumbs they’re just much crispier and crunchier and they
give your chicken amazing texture. This is also when you add in your grated
parmesan you mix it right into the breadcrumbs and it gives it extra flavor this
nutty, cheesy, deliciousness. That’s what makes it parmesan breaded chicken.
So once you have your thinly pounded chicken breasts you can add a little salt to
them and then they are ready to be dipped into the breading. So place them in
the white flour that’s what’s going to make the egg stick.

Then dip it in the eggs that’s what’s going
to make the breadcrumbs stick.

And finally roll it around in the breadcrumbs so it’s perfectly coated.

Then take your chicken and place it in your
skillet with olive oil and just leave it there. Don’t mess with it and pick it up and
roll it around and turn it over that’s totally going to screw up your brown crunchy
coating. Just leave it there and let it cook for a few minutes. You’re going to see
that the chicken is going to start turning white that it’s clearly cooked on
the other side and you’ll notice that the bottom’s all brown and crispy that’s when
it’s ready to flip. Then turn it over let it
go for a couple minutes on that side as well and give it a squeeze of fresh lemon
over the top that just brings out this citrus flavor and really makes your chicken
come alive. Once your chicken is done you’re going to take it out and place it on
a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

At this point you can set aside some chicken for the kids if you don’t think they’re
going to want to eat it with the tomato topping. Hopefully they will but if not every
kid loves delicious breaded chicken they’ll definitely go nuts for it by itself. Then
you’re going to take your chicken breasts place them on your pretty platter and
top each one with a big scoop of that tomato basil garlic topping.

Then you’re going to shave some parmesan
oregano right over the top and garnish with just a little more fresh basil
and that’s it! How easy was that? That’s how you make breaded parmesan chicken with
tomato basil garlic topping. It’s a hearty main course with fresh colorful flavors
I promise you everybody’s going to want seconds.

Okay so to go along with the chicken I’m
going to show you how to make two delicious side dishes. The first one is my
lemon feta orzo. If you’re not familiar with what orzo is it’s basically pasta in
the shape of rice so it’s great on its own or
you can add all sorts of different things into it to jazz it up a little. This dish
is really light and simple there’s not too
many ingredients in it but I promise you it’s bursting with tangy citrus flavor and the
lemon goes so well with that tomato basil garlic topping on your chicken it’s just
a lot of good stuff happening at once. Here’s how you make it. First you want to
take your orzo and toast it so you’re just going to pour it in a pan with some olive
oil and stir it around until it starts to get toasty brown now watch it because it will
just kind of sit there for a minute and you feel like nothing’s happening then all
of a sudden it starts to toast and once it starts it happens quickly and it will burn
so make sure you keep an eye on it. Once it’s toasty brown you’re going to
dump it in the boiling water and just let it
cook for eight to nine minutes until it’s perfectly al dente pour it into a strainer
and drain all the excess water. At this point
you can set some plain orzo aside for the kids. Hopefully they’ll like lemon and feta
cheese but if they don’t that way you’ll have a separate little stash for the kids
to that you can add in some butter and parmesan or a little olive oil and parmesan
whatever the kids like. And now you can add in the fresh ingredients. You’re
going to start by drizzling in your olive oil
then you want to add the juice of two to three lemons stir that around and now
you’re going to crumble in your feta. Feta is cool and creamy with a salty kick and
when you mix it in with the warm orzo it’s going to start to kind of melt and get all
oozy and delicious oh it’s so good. Now you’re going to add some salt and
pepper to taste you don’t need too much salt because remember feta is a salty
cheese so just add a little bit and finally you’re going to sprinkle some fresh
Italian parsley all over the top for some color and garnish and then I like to add a
big chunk of lemon wedge on the top just to kind of show people that dish has
lemon in it. It kind of gives them a preview of what they’re about to eat. And that’s
it! That’s how you make the first side dish it’s light and lemony and it’s a perfect
complement to the chicken. I strongly recommend you add this into your side
dish rotation in general. It’s a great one to have in your back pocket.

The next side dish is literally one of the
easiest things you could ever make I think it’s really important when you’re
making a five or six course meal to have at least one of those courses practically cook
itself and this is it once you get your veggies prepped you literally just toss them
in the oven and let them go for an hour and that way you have free time to do
everything else for the meal. What I love about this is that it’s like the antipasto
skewers you can use whatever veggies you love get creative go to the Farmer’s
Market see what’s fresh see what’s in season see what has really nice
color that will go along with the rest of your meal pick whatever veggies you love so
I like to use broccoli and I cut that into small little florets.

Then I take cauliflower and cut that into
small little florets as well. I couldn’t find
purple cauliflower today because it’s not in season but I will give you a tip and
that is when purple cauliflower is in season use it. It tastes exactly the same as
regular cauliflower but it’s such a pretty vibrant purple color and there’s
something that looks really elegant and fancy about it. It definitely elevates some
simple veggies to a whole different level. Then I like to use some fresh carrots
don’t buy the little mini carrots in the bag those aren’t very fancy at all get some
beautiful carrots with stems on the end cut the stems off cut the carrots into nice
long slices and throw those in there. Cut up some purple onion it adds really nice
color contrast with the green and orange and white just cut those in big chunks
not little pieces like big quarters and throw them right in with the rest of the
veggies. I also like to add in some brussel sprouts. Brussel sprouts are
something that a lot of people might not like and that’s because they had them
boiled or steamed growing up as a kid. Brussel sprouts have really good texture
and when they’re roasted that get kind of brown and crunchy and I promise you
they’re delicious both my husband and my father despised brussel sprouts and
when I started serving to them like this it’s like they’re favorite thing and finally
I like to take big garlic cloves and toss those
right in you don’t even need to cut them up when they roast they’re going to
kind of open up a little bit and release that garlic flavor. Roasted garlic is to die
for. So once your veggies are prepped you’re going to drizzle olive oil all over
the top.

Add in your fresh rosemary just break it right off the stem and toss it in with your
veggies then you’re going to add salt and pepper to taste you can be liberal with
the salt. The salt really brings out the flavor of the veggies as they roast. This
part could actually be done ahead of time you could prep all your veggies the
morning of the party and then stick them in the fridge covered that way all you
have to do later is take them out of the fridge and pop them in the oven. Once
they’re ready to go you’re going to pop them in a four hundred degree oven they
take about forty five minutes to an hour to cook it depends on the strength of your
oven. I usually leave mine in there for about an hour because I really like them to
be extra especially brown and roasted and golden. Once they’re roasted pour
them in a big bowl or serving tray and garnish with a big rosemary sprig that way
people know there’s rosemary in there. Now when it comes to the kids maybe
they like all the vegetables you’ve chosen but maybe not most kids tend to like
broccoli or carrots or both so all you have to do is take some out for them. And
that’s it! Warm roasted veggies that practically cook themselves. What’s better
than that? You should really try this side dish out it goes great with so many
things.

So now it’s time for the very best part of all, dessert! Most Italian meals are
finished off with some kind of creamy delicious dessert and a very strong
espresso this dessert combines both. It’s like coffee and dessert in one. Here’s
my very favorite thing about this recipe I do not bake I cannot stand baking. Love
to cook, hate to bake. So this is one of my secret weapon recipes that always
impresses people but there’s no baking involved. The first thing you want to do is
prepare your whipped cream which couldn’t be easier. Whipped cream is one of
those things which I never ever buy at the store anymore because the
homemade version is so simple and so quick I kind of don’t have the excuse to
buy it. All you have to do is take heavy cream add in a little bit of sugar and a
dash of vanilla and start whipping you want to whip until you see peaks form and
it’s light and fluffy. Definitely don’t overwhip then it gets kind of a curled
consistency. The whipped cream is actually something that can be prepared
ahead of time the day before that way it’s all ready to go when it’s time to
assemble your sundaes after dinner. Now for the star of this dessert the
espresso. If you’re one of the lucky few that has a fancy espresso maker great
definitely use that but if you don’t have one of those no problem you can buy
instant espresso. It’s usually used for baking you probably don’t drink it very
often especially if you are a coffee connoisseur
but for this dessert it works perfectly well especially because you are going to add
cream to it anyways. You’re gong to take a tablespoon of the instant espresso
powder and add it to a half a cup of boiling water.

Then you’re going to add in a tablespoon
of cream as well and then just stir it around and it’s ready to go! You can serve
these sundaes in bowls but I like to serve them in little coffee cups it’s just
kind of whimsical and goes along with the coffee and dessert theme. So pour some of
your espresso into the bottom of the cup, just a little bit, not too much. Then
you’re going to take a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and add that right on top. You don’t
want to pour the espresso after you put the ice cream in because it will instantly
just melt your ice cream and pretty much make it go away. Take some of
that homemade whipped cream that you made and put a big dollop right on top.
Then you’re going to take some dark chocolate and shave some of that right on
top of the whipped cream. It looks really pretty and that dark chocolate is such
a delicious complement to the espresso and the ice cream. Then take a couple
of chocolate flavored espresso beans and drop those right on the top they’re
so yummy and it’s just an extra shot of espresso flavor and it has a nice
crunch. Now for the kids. They’re obviously not going to eat espresso sundaes
but this one’s a no brainer. They certainly will eat chocolate sundaes so all
you have to do is take the vanilla ice cream drizzle a little chocolate sauce on
it for the kids. You can still give them the whipped cream and the chocolate shavings and
they’ll be happy campers. So that’s it! It’s dessert, it’s after
dinner coffee, it’s both, you can’t beat that! You
really should give this dessert a try, everybody loves it, there’s no baking involved
and it really is the perfect way to cap off this Italian themed dinner party.

So if you want to try this menu out at your
next dinner party, here’s the game plan. The day before the party, assemble your
antipasto skewers, cover them with plastic, and keep them in the fridge.
You can also make your homemade whipped cream and refrigerate that as well.
The morning of the party, prep all your fresh veggies and place those covered
in the fridge. Make the tomato basil and garlic topping for your chicken, cover
and refrigerate. Toast the orzo in a pan and set it aside until later. And finally
cook your breaded chicken breasts and place them covered in the fridge until later
as well. That way you can get your kitchen all cleaned up and sanitize everything
and you’re not going to have a big messy kitchen and raw chicken everywhere right
before guests arrive. Fifteen minutes before your guests arrive, set up
the drinks station so guests can pour themselves one of your fizzy grapefruit cocktails
when they get there. Then assemble the antipasto platter and place that
out so they have something to munch on while they sip their cocktails. Take
the chicken and veggies out of the fridge and place them on the counter to come
to room temperature. Then go out and have some fun with your guests before
it’s time to head back to the kitchen. One hour before you want to serve dinner,
pop your vegetables in a preheated oven, they take a little while to cook. Then
about a half hour before you eat, put your orzo water on to boil and pop your chicken
in the oven on the lowest setting. It’s already cooked, you just want to get
it all warm and crispy again. When your water’s boiling, pour your orzo in and let
it go for about nine minutes. Now dinner’s getting close at this point, so
you may want to make sure your guests refresh their glasses and start making their
way to the table. When your orzo is done, you’re going to drain it and then
add in all the other ingredients. Then take the chicken out of the oven, put it on a tray,
and top each piece with a big scoop of the tomato basil mixture. Pour your veggies
into a bowl, and you’re ready to enjoy a delicious dinner with your friends.
About ten minutes before dessert, excuse yourself from the table to go in the
kitchen and make the instant espresso. When that’s done, you’re just
going to quickly assemble the sundaes and that’s it! Mission accomplished! So
I really hope I’ve inspired you to try this meal out. If you’re having friends over
for a dinner party anytime soon with their kids, you can see that each one of these courses
is really easy to tweak just slightly so that both the kids and the parents
will love it. You don’t have to make two separate meals anymore. And if you don’t
have kids, no problem! Don’t tweak a thing. Just spend the night sipping
cocktails and enjoying this Italian themed meal. I promise you it’s going to
be a big success.

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Comments

  1. I made the Parmesan Breaded Chicken and Lemon Feta Orzo tonight and I must say it was wonderful! My husband also loved it 🙂 I really appreciate these videos, it adds some spice into my cooking skills! lol

  2. Made this menu for friends, it was fabulous! The orzo and veggies were my favorites – thinking about making these to share at work. Thanks!
    X

  3. Haha the brushetta chicken could be the red in tomorrows red white and blue event! Boy do I love the 4th of july!

  4. I know that sounds weird but we aren't having a big bbq just the immediate family and I think this brushetta chicken will be perfect

  5. there's a hair in the tomato at 7:42… ask me how I booked that. I have no idea. Everything looks awesome thought 🙂

  6. I always can't finnish my desert dinner . . . already feeling full and can't eat anything else because the main course always in a big portion . . .

  7. this meal looks very interesting! btw instead of frying the chicken, you can bake it in the oven, it's much healthier

  8. the lemon feta orzo sounds more like a greek dish, rather than an italian one
    I think it'd be more suitable to call the theme of this party "meditarrenean" rather than "italian"

  9. hello kelly,, am interested with your reciepe for the fresh drink,, so rorry i cannot follw ,, what the name for the green bottle? im hoping can hear you soon..

  10. Thank you.  I am trying this for the first time tonight for the neighbours coming over!!!  I hope it all works out!!!

  11. In Austria the Parmesan Breaded Chicken is called "Wienerschnitzel (with cheese)" 😀 we really love it..:) i didn't know the recipe whit the Tomato, Basil Topping, but next week i'll give it a try..;D

  12. I'd put a note card saying Please just est one save room for more dinner fun then they won't eat them all

  13. I really like all ur dishes, more than anything you are concerned about kids in all dishes that you prepare. Here you have a tubms up..

  14. I wonder if it was worthwhile explaining the concept of 'half' so thoroughly for the chicken breasts when you finally say that everyone will want seconds.

  15. Thanks for thinking of the kids 🙂 not a lot of chefs do that. Looks so good! I’m looking for recipes for a dinner party. This might be the one!

  16. I love the instructional breakdown in this video. This is great for someone who is easily overwhelmed planning for dinner parties not know where to start in prepping.

  17. Melanzane alla Parmigiana
    I believe we are doing mankind a favour by killing the myth of "Chicken Parmigiana" being an actual Italian dish. Here are the ingredients for 6 people:
    – 3 aubergines (eggplant) – 500 gr of tomato sauce (1 garlic clove and 1 onion + 4 tbs olive oil) – 100 gr of chopped up fresh basil – 3 mozzarella cheese – 150 gr of parmigiano reggiano Enjoy!
    Once and for all: chicken parmigiana is NOT an Italian traditional recipe!!!!! IT DON'T EXIST IN ITALY!!! NO ONE EAT IT!! NO ONE PREPARE IT FOR SATURDAY LUNCH!! Please, stop defile our gastronomic heritage! The only parmigiana is made with eggplants!!

  18. record scratch feta… nope! Seems like a really lovely meal. But i think ricotta salata here would have worked best to keep it "Italian" . But it still looks amazing.

  19. This showed up as a recommended video for me. It looks wonderful. I will use it as a menu for family who are flying in shortly. THX!

  20. Orzo is pasta but traditionally it is not cooked like spaghetti or rice. Anyway, if you want to give it some taste, you should cook it in chicken or beef or vegetable stock, otherwise it's really dull .

  21. So off topic but her neck scares me. My mom has thyroid issues and my sister had thyroid cancer and that’s what it looked like.

  22. What a genius so if you're having a dinner party and you can't find a sitter and you have to bring your kids how convenient to tweak the recipe just a little bit

  23. Thank you for sharing this! It would also be nice to add a soup here. Maybe something like an Italian wedding soup that can be easily made a day before. I would probably skip the chicken fry because that stuff tastes best when freshly made and it would stress me out big time to make while my guests are there!

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