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For dessert, pumpkin bread/cake loaf with cream cheese filling on the inside. The bread freeze beautifully, and the cream cheese on the inside means that you don't need to add any frosting and it'll not smear on the cling wrap during freezing.
Pegeen is a trusted home cook.
Do you want more cozy/simple? Chili with sour cream and cheddar fixings, cornbread and a great salad. Or pot roast in a crock pot with potatoes, carrots, onions, with a salad and nice crunchy bread for mopping up the gravy. Lasagna or shepherd's pie with salad and bread.
For appetizers I would keep it simple and not spicy. If people have been eating airport food, they may have upset stomachs. You could keep it simple with cheese and crackers, fresh fruit and crudites... all of that can be plated ahead of time. Maybe a nice dip too.
For desert, you could make a simple free-form galette with apples or pears and ice cream. You can assemble it all ahead of time and bake it during dinner.
Appetizer, a good cheese plate with a selection of two or three cheeses and gourmet crackers as the appetizer, with some nice wine it is a lovely way to unwind and relax, catch up and chat.
Dinner, maybe a beef goulash (or nearing Halloween ghoulash?) with egg noodles, or mashed potatoes if you don't want to have to watch them too much. Or chili with baked potatoes.
Dessert, baked apples with ice cream, plain ice cream with lace cookies, or cider donuts.
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