12 Impressive Recipes to Make When Your Mother-in-Law Is in Town

updated Nov 16, 2023
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There’s something about having your parents in town — especially your in-laws — that steps up the need to prepare impressive meals. Maybe it’s the desire to prove that you know what you’re doing in the kitchen. These recipes are destined to wow any dinner guest that sits at your table, and if that just so happens to be your mother-in-law, all the better.

Impressive Recipes

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Pizza at Home

We know you might not immediately think pizza when you think impressive meals, but if you make everything from scratch, we’d be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t wowed by that. If you really want to step it up a notch, play around with inventive topping combinations and don’t forget a great bottle of wine. Impressive and casual — that’s definitely a thing.

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Lamb Bolognese

If you want to update a classic, swap out the traditional ground beef and veal for lamb instead. It adds a more complex flavor to your traditional pasta dish. Warm spices that show off lamb’s richness make this even more special.

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Shrimp Pasta with White Wine Sauce

You don’t need a flashy dish to thrill your dinner guests. Instead, focus on a simple dish, but make it often enough that you make the best version possible. This shrimp pasta with white wine sauce is one of our favorite no-fuss meals that will keep your family talking about it for days.

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Tuscan Bread & Tomato Soup (Ribollita Soup)
An easy, satisfying recipe for Tuscan ribollita soup with white beans, kale, and bread.
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Whole Grilled Branzino

There’s something extraordinary about bringing a whole grilled fish to the table, and the good news is that it’s not actually that difficult to prepare. We love branzino for this recipe, but it will work with any kind of fish — just adjust your cooking time accordingly.

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Cauliflower Cake

Anytime you see the name Yotam Ottolenghi, you know the recipe that follows is going to be a winner. The savory, fluffy, cauliflower filling is satisfying, and the golden top studded with colorful rings of onions will make your guests swoon.

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Southwestern-Spiced Pork Tenderloin

If you need a quick, but still mother-in-law-worthy meal, let us suggest this roast pork tenderloin. It takes just 30 minutes to cook in the oven, which gives you enough time to prepare rice or quinoa and a few veggie side dishes. Who says you can’t make an awesome meal in just 30 minutes?

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Nobu's Miso-Marinated Black Cod Recipe

If you want to show off how well you can plan ahead, make this dish since it requires a three-day lead to start marinating the fish. The deep translucent glaze makes the fish look particularly fancy. It’s all thanks to the salty-sweet miso marinade.

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Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Recipe
This beefy skirt steak cooks quickly and easily in the broiler, and is topped with an herby, garlicky, and tangy chimichurri sauce.
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Salad Niçoise
The traditional French recipe includes lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, tuna, potatoes, and eggs.
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Pork Chops in Port Wine Sauce

Maybe you’re looking for a way to show off your sauce-making skills or maybe you want to prove you make the juiciest chops. We say why not do both? This port wine sauce makes seared, spiced chops feel elegant.

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Homemade Tortellini from Scratch

What’s more impressive than homemade pasta? A homemade stuffed pasta like tortellini. The good news is that it isn’t hard to make, but it will take up a big chunk of time. We recommend making them the day before and storing them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. When they ask how you do it, simply say it’s all in the flick of the wrist.

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