Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Easy Entertaining

I used to be pretty scared of entertaining people.  Not as in - dancing and singing entertaining, but having people over to my house entertaining.  My house was small.  It was (very) humble.  It wasn't always clean. I didn't have a nice backyard for kids to run around in.  So, I missed out on some good opportunities.  When I did overcome my own inhibitions, I found that others were very gracious and thankful, and they felt right at home.

Since moving I have had a lot more people over.  A little more space does make a difference, and although we haven't increased a ton in square footage, I am closer in proximity to friends now and have no excuse!

I still tend to get a bit overwhelmed when thinking of what to prepare when friends come over.  However, I have come to rely on a few staples that make entertaining very easy and simple.  No matter what time of day you prefer, I hope you find a few helpful tips here!

The Breakfast Hour:
Let's say you want to invite a friend and her kids over at around 10am.  Here are my staples:

-Assorted Teas (Just get water ready to boil)
-Coffee (be sure to have half & half, sugar, or other "fun" creamer available)
-Homemade Banana Bread or a store-bought breakfast bread or pastry item.  (Cut this recipe in half and then cook it in a bundt pan.  Best banana bread recipe I have ever used!)

-Some fruit, but only if I have it on hand.  Cut up apples, grapes, orange slices or bananas sliced in half can look pretty on a nice plate.

That's it!  I find that kids and moms alike seem to enjoy banana bread, and so I put it in the oven one hour before they come over.  The smell of warm banana bread is welcoming and homey.

The Lunch Hour:
If you're having such a great time from your mid-morning affair that you'd like to carry it onto lunch time, OR you want to just invite someone over for lunch, here are a few ideas:

For the kids:
-Mac & Cheese.  Who doesn't love mac & cheese?  You can pick up Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese if you have fancy friends :) (they sell it at Target).

-Applesauce cups
-Sliced carrots
-Juice boxes.  We hardly ever have juice in our house, but I do bring it out when we have company over.  Kids love juice boxes!

For the moms:
It can be difficult knowing what other moms like to eat.  I have had good experience with these:
-Bagged salad mixes: especially the ones with spinach, cranberries, blue cheese and vinaigrette.
-Baguette rolls with turkey breast, swiss cheese, tomato and lettuce.  You can pick up fun sauces at Trader Joe's too, like cranberry sauce, pesto, chipotle mayonnaise, etc.  Even more fun if you toast the bread, turkey and cheese!
-Fruit on the side (again, grapes or cut up apples do fine)
-Iced Tea.  For this, I just boil 6 cups of water, add 4 tea bags and steep, then pour over 8-10 cups of cold water and ice.  Have sugar available for those who like to sweeten it themselves.

The Dinner Hour:

I usually do one of two meal options here:

Option 1 (All American Meal):
-Shredded chicken with BBQ sauce on rolls.
Simply put enough chicken breast in a crockpot with 1/2 jar of BBQ sauce, and simmer on low for 4-6 hours.  Shred chicken before serving and put on rolls.  You can also find amazing recipes for Pulled Pork here, if you prefer that instead.
-Roasted corn.  You can buy pre-roasted corn at Trader Joe's, or just take frozen corn and roast in a skillet.  Roasted corn is SO yummy!
-Salad.  (see bagged salad above).
-Potato or Macaroni Salad, or any other side of your choosing.

Option 2 (Mexican Meal):
- Sour Cream Enchiladas
- Crock Pot Pinto Beans (use this recipe but put them in a crock pot instead for 8-10 hours)
- Spanish Rice
- Salad

- If I'm keeping it simple (which I usually do), I just make brownies and shake powdered sugar on top.  You can make them even more pretty by adding raspberries and mint leaves if you like, or make some fancy brownies by finding a recipe here.

- For something more fancy, I might make a cake.

Okay, now you have no excuses!! :)  I encourage you to have someone over this month.  Have a playdate, or a family over for dinner.  Or just have a friend over for tea.  It will bless and encourage someone so much!

What are your entertaining staples?


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  2. Jaime,
    Thank you so much for this! I have felt this way for awhile. I so appreciate your ideas. I am encouraged to try these out soon. Thanks Jaime!

  3. What great, simple ideas! That is my biggest problem when having friends or family over, I always feel as if I have to go overboard on the cooking and I end up exhausted! Very neat tips! I especially like the healthier mac & cheese idea as well as the fresh banana bread. mmm!

  4. I have always struggled with entertaining...I always wonder what to serve, think my house isn't nice enough, that I don't have nice of enough dishes/cups, that those whom I've invited will judge me...however, when I have done it, I'm always so glad that I did and it is so much fun to bless others. I like to serve tri-tip with those cheese hashbrowns (the recipe you put in that recipe book you gave one Christmas. I absolutely LOVE that recipe book btw. I use the jello recipe in their all the time.)

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