Hospitality at our house (Part 2)

Posted by  | Thursday, August 18, 2011  at 6:30 AM  
In my previous post, I explained how my family began a weekly routine of having others to dinner each week. Today I thought I would share a couple tips for preparing dinner for a crowd (with 3 littles running around) and some of our guests' favorite recipes.

-- Without a doubt, my biggest piece of advice is to do as much as possible ahead of time! If I have to spend an hour fixing dinner right before our company comes, my sweet little ones will inevitably choose that hour to make a big mess, get in an argument, and/or have a random accident and require Mommy's attention. It never fails. So I almost always choose meals that I can prepare ahead of time. And most of the time, I have prepped the meat a couple of weeks ago and can just pull it from the freezer. I usually get around 6 pounds of ground beef at the Farmer's market at one time. The next day I brown it all at once and season it according to my monthly meal plan. I usually make around 2 pounds of taco meat, 2 pounds of sloppy joe meat, and 2 pounds of seasoned ground beef all ready to use in my recipes. Last week we had taco night for our company and all I had to do was warm up the meat and tortillas! So easy! Our guests had offered to bring the toppings and we ended up with a fun and delicious meal that was not the least bit stressful for me.

-- Don't be afraid to ask guests to bring something. It helps with the cost of having people over each week and usually our friends truly want to do something to help. I often end up with favorite new recipes as well! Last week my friend Mandie made this awesome black bean salsa that I can't wait incorporate into our regular meal plan. Even the single college guys that I cook for often pick up things at the store that we need like buns for sloppy joes or sour cream for tacos.

My favorite recipes for feeding a crowd:

Lime Chicken Tacos -- this is hands down my favorite recipe that never fails to please! I think it originally came from this blog, but I've changed it slightly. The recipe is very forgiving and I just add more beans, corn, salsa, etc to feed more people.

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup chunky salsa (we love mango salsa the best!)
1 can diced pineapples, drained
1 can black beans
12 flour tortillas, warmed
sour cream, lettuce, shredded cheese, avocado, cilantro and any other toppings you like

Place the chicken in a 3-qt. slow cooker. Combine lime juice and chili powder; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until chicken is tender.

Remove chicken; cool slightly. Shred and return to the slow cooker. Stir in corn, beans, pineapple tidbits, and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Serve in tortillas with toppings

The Best Sloppy Joes Ever -- This recipe comes from my friend Beth. Each time I make these I get rave reviews and people ask what is different about them... the cinnamon totally kicks it up a notch!

1 lb ground beef
2 T. chopped onion
2 T. green pepper
2 T. celery
¼ tsp. garlic salt
½ cup ketchup
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2-3 T. lemon juice
1 T. vinegar
2-3 T. Italian dressing
2-3 T. brown sugar
sprinkled cinnamon

Directions: In a medium skillet, combine beef, onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic salt; Cook and stir until meat is brown and veggies are tender. Drain fat. Stir together rest of ingredients – Spread over meat and cook until heated through.

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos -- the sauce on these taquitos is utterly delicious and the mixture can easily be made the day before! I often double the sauce because I love i t so much and pair them with this quinoa and black beans recipe.

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup green salsa
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice from half a lime)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp sliced green onions
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Mexican flavored cheese
small flour or corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Once combined, stir in the cilantro and green onions. Add the chicken and cheese; mix thoroughly.

(If you decided to prep this in advance, refrigerate the mixture at this point until ready to continue.)

Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat them in the microwave between two paper towels until they are soft enough to roll (about 20 – 30 seconds).

Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can.

Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone. Make sure the taquitos are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.

**To freeze: Before baking, chill the taquitos on the baking sheet in the fridge. Once completely cooled, wrap each taquito individually with plastic wrap. Place in a labeled freezer bag and freeze. To bake a frozen taquito (no need to thaw first): Preheat oven to 425˚F and bake for 20 minutes.

Easy Cheddar Potato Chowder -- my favorite delicious but frugal meal for the fall!

2 cups diced potatoes

½ to 1 cup diced carrots

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped onion

1 ½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

¼ cup margarine

¼ cup flour
2 cups milk

2 cups cheddar cheese

½ lb. Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions: Boil two cups of water; add to potatoes, celery, carrots, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Do not drain.Make a white sauce using margarine, flour, and milk. Cook until thickened. Add grated cheddar. Stir until smooth. Add bacon and the undrained vegetables. Simmer (do not boil) until heated through.

Breakfast for dinner! The college guys I cook for always get so excited when I make this egg sausage casserole and french toast casserole.

What do you like to make for company? I'd love to have your favorite recipes!


Leah F said...

Great thoughts and tips, Meg! And of course your recipes are wonderful. I LOVE the chicken taquitos. I recently made a double batch, and 'sneaked' one into the oven for me to eat for lunch while the kids ate something else. Yummy! Question--do you buy your ground beef at the WaFo Farmer's Market, or do you go to a different one? I want to look into doing that.

Meg said...

Thanks, Leah! Yes, I buy it at the WaFo Market. My favorite is Turtle Mist Farm; it is the least expensive per pound and the couple that run it are just ever so nice. But you have to get there early to be able to buy their meat and before they run out, which is hard for me to do with my 3 little ones :)

Jason and Emilee Munafo said...

Thanks for the recipes! Question for sloppy joes.. is the Italian dressing the dry mix or literally italian dressing? Thanks again!

Meg said...

Good question :) The sloppy joe recipe calls for the bottled Italian dressing, although I often make my own healthier version with my own herbs and a little olive oil.

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