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Casual Dinner for Friends

Cooking a great dinner for friends doesn't have to mean spending hours in the kitchen or going broke buying special ingredients. Most close friends are just happy to get together in these busy times. Here is an outline for a simple, hearty and delicious menu for you to serve that special circle of friends.

To make the table interesting without a lot of work, cover the table with a solid tablecloth and make a centerpiece from fresh vegetables and fruits. Take a wooden or ceramic platter and put an assortment of colorful fruits (oranges, lemons, persimmon, red pears, etc.) and vegetables (asparagus tied with raffia, small squash, zucchini, peppers, etc.) on it, place the platter on a contrasting napkin in the center of the table. Mix and match napkins and plates to continue the casual theme.

This menu is full of great flavors. The bruschetta will keep your friend's appetites at bay while you finish up the main dish. And speaking of that main dish, don't be put off by the French name for what is essentially a sophisticated chicken stew! It is delicious and simple. The potatoes add the perfect crispy contrast. Finish up with the Berry and Pineapple Crumble served with your favorite ice cream. Everybody will be happy, well fed and anxious to dine with you again.

This meal would be perfectly complemented by a nice Merlot. Here on Guam, one of the best wine values is a CK Mondavi Merlot. This wine retails for $7.99 at Cost-U-Less and $8.59 at Pay-Less SuperMarkets. It will not disappoint your wine drinking friends. Beer is a good option for non-wine drinkers and, of course, ice tea is almost always welcome by those who don't drink alcohol.

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