Recipes, Solutions

Hostess with the McMostess: feeding friends

So, my post on Tuesday started out as menu planner for hosting a weekend of grown-up friends and Stephen’s House Peru. My husband serves on the board of this organization and we were honored to host these friends for a weekend away from their normal routines, taking care of kids, and just a moment of respite. My goal was to plan ahead and create a fuss free menu for grown ups full of comfort foods and treats that they didn’t have to make for themselves!

We have had several weekends with friends this fall and I thought it would be fun to share my weekend menus to take the fuss out of hosting your own weekend of friends. (this is the first of 3 weekends get ready, I tried to cover all the bases!)

So, what’s on the menu?

Friday Evening – snack night:

  • Chicken Enchilada Pinwheels – I used canned chicken just to make things easier. Other options would be rotisserie chicken, fresh or frozen chicken cooked in the crockpot or baked. Recipe says it spreads on 8 tortillas, mine stretched to 12.
  • Zippy Crackers – there are lots of versions of “firecrackers” out there, but my favorite and the easiest for me is 1 box of Club crackers, 1 C canola/vegetable/olive oil, 1 pkg dry spicy ranch dressing mix, 1 pkg Italian dressing seasoning mix. Take crackers out of all packaging and place in a gallon size Ziploc
    bag. In a bowl, mix oil, dry ranch dressing mix and dry Italian dressing
    mix. Stir together with a fork until all powder is dissolved in to oil.
    Pour over crackers. Push air out of bag and zip closed. Toss and turn
    crackers until completely coated. Give yourself at least 12 hours for
    the oil and seasonings to completely soak in to the crackers. 
  • Fall Snack Mix – Ingredients: caramel popcorn, candy corn, dry roasted peanuts, Reese’s pieces, Muddy Buddy Chex Mix, small twisted pretzels. Mix together all items in a large bowl. Keep stored in an airtight container.
  • Chocolate Chip CookiesThe Quest Cookie – that’s all I have to say! Just make them and keep them scooped and ready in your freezer. 
  • random snacks from the store – Keep it semi homemade where you can. I picked up a couple treats that were seasonally specific from Target (sometimes you just need a little Archer Farms on the table). Just little Monster cookie crunch bites, salted caramel pretzel sweets, and apple cinnamon bites. Serve them in matching bowls, but store in Ziploc bags and keep pulling out all weekend. 
  • assorted sodas, crystal light, and tea

Saturday breakfast:

  • French Toast Bake – this one never fails!
  • bacon – we baked it on a cookie rack on top of a jelly roll pan with sides. This just keeps you from standing over a fry pan and filling the kitchen with grease. But, the quickest way to get your guests out of the bed is to start cooking bacon!
  • fruit – bananas, oranges, strawberries and grapes
  • coffee, milk and juice

Saturday lunch:

  • Glorified Ham Sandwiches – my own recipe off the Arkansas Women Bloggers site. My Arkadelphia ladies introduced me to these and frankly its the only way to survive in a college town. The hubs doesn’t request much, but asked for these, so I agreed!
  • chips and dip – you can do whatever you want, but I’m obsessed with caramelized onions and this Caramelized Onion Dip from the Barefoot Contessa you will want to smear on every. single. thing. in your path!
  • hummus and carrots – buy it at the grocery store and get a bag of baby carrots
  • cookies – leftovers from last night (if there are any!)
  • assorted sodas, crystal light, and tea

Saturday dinner:

  • chicken tacos and fixins – keep it easy and let the crock pot do the work. Plus if you are going to be inside together, it keeps you from getting your house hot while you continue to spend time together. So, how? After you clean up lunch, throw these things in the crockpot – 1 bag frozen chicken breasts, 1 packet taco seasoning, 3 cans tomatoes with green chilies.  (offer chopped salad for your healthy eaters who don’t want to use tortillas)
  • queso and tortilla chips – pick your pleasure.  We tried a new white queso recipe, but any version will work!
  • sopapilla cheesecake – I’m not even sure how to tell you about this other than you will want to lick the bottom and eat the rest for breakfast tomorrow!
  • assorted sodas, crystal light, and tea

Sunday breakfast:

  • biscuits – we have learned that Grands frozen biscuits cook up like homemade…just do it!
  • Southwest Breakfast Egg Bake – yes, the one I’ve made every weekend in September
  • fruit – whatever is left from yesterday
  • coffee, milk and juice

Sunday lunch:

  • Crockpot pork loin – put this in the crockpot when you get up and start making breakfast. We buy the “mesquite seasoned” pork sirloin, but a tenderloin would be the same process.  Depending on how many adults you are feeding, plan for at least 2 tenderloins.  If you are really feeling hospitable, get up at 3am and put it on low.  Your lunch guests will thank you.  But, 4 hours on high will cook it. 3am will fall apart when you put it on your plate!
  • mashed potatoes – you can do instant or this is the one thing to actually make in the moment. I’m also a fan of cooking with the skins on. Wash potatoes thoroughly and just mash the skins in. I add cheese, milk and sour cream to make them “loaded”.
  • green beans – Margaret Holmes has figured it out. Just trust me. Pour them out of the can and warm them up.
  • Sister Shubert rolls – they should show up at every dinner party!
  • goodies from the weekend  – put out a smorgasbord of dessert leftovers. You’ve eaten heavy this weekend let your friends help you get back on the bandwagon this week and finish them off before they leave!
  • assorted sodas, crystal light, and tea

Thursday night, I spent time getting lots of elements ready to make the weekend easier. There is nothing worse than being the hostess and having to spend all your time in the kitchen away from all the laughs and not making any memories with your guests. I am a “Martha” by nature. I’m striving to be better at managing myself and learning how to be present and in the moment! 

Thursday, things to prep ahead and make your weekend easier:

  • Pinwheels – make insides and go ahead and spread on your tortillas and roll up. Wrap each tortilla in plastic wrap individually and make a little pyramid in the fridge. All you will have to do on Friday night is slice them cross ways and lay them out on a platter.
  • Spicy Crackers – mix together and toss in bag.
  • Fall Snack Mix – mix together and store in air tight container. Eat a handful while you keep working…there is bound to be some that doesn’t fit in a bowl
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies – make dough ahead. My famous recipe requires 24 hours in the fridge. Go ahead and use a scoop and have the dough balls ready to cook as your guests arrive tomorrow night. 
  • Ham Sandwiches – prep bread, meat and cheese and cover with foil. In a microwave safe bowl, place 2 sticks of butter and remaining ingredients for sauce. Before lunch all you have to do is preheat oven, melt sauce, and pour over sandwiches to bake.
  • Dip – whatever dip you are going to serve, go ahead and mix it. It will taste better after having time to season and you just take the lid off and put a spoon in it for lunch.
  • Sopapilla Cheesecake – mix together filling and store in fridge. Stir together cinnamon and sugar and set aside in a covered bowl or zipper bag, ready to pour over the top. Set out filling 20-30 minutes before you plan to make dessert for Saturday night.
  • egg bake – saute onions, add in thawed chopped spinach. Cook together until tender. Stir in sausage crumbles. Let cook and store in a bowl or zipper bag. Then, all you have to do is put in the bottom of a 9×13, pour over Egg Beaters, and sprinkle with cheese to make for breakfast.
  • Pork Loin – stir together sauce and store in covered bowl in refrigerator until Sunday morning for crockpot.
  • set out bowls and serving pieces for Friday night and think through which pieces you will use throughout the weekend.
  • Get your spouse or roommate on your team. Let them know your plan for the weekend and where they can help you. My husband is my teammate and when he knows what I’m planning to do, he will be all hands on deck!
  • Don’t wait until Thursday to clean your house too! Do that on Tuesday or Wednesday and leave Thursday to food prep and putting your feet up on the couch. You will be busy over the weekend, so keep yourself fresh to host your guests.And get some sleep!

My heart was so full after our friends had been here. Its easy to host folks! This same menu would work when our family gets together at a cabin in the woods the weekend before Thanksgiving or when I’m at my parent’s over the holidays. A simple menu you can rinse and repeat and I PROMISE that everyone will have full bellies and you will get to spend time with them playing games or whatever is on your agenda instead of bellied up to a cook pot on the stove. 

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