Hi, friends! The Sunday dinner I hosted this past month was exactly how I wanted to start off this new year. I invited people who have a serious special place in my heart, I cooked the perfect cozy, winter meal, and I was able to complete everything in a timely manner so I can spend extra time with my guests.
I can make a killer host, but I have noticed that I was spending too much time in the kitchen while my guests could laugh, share stories, and munch on the tasty appetizers. With that said, I decided that this dinner would be different and that I would plan more strategically. I have listed below some helpful tips that could help make your life easier too when you have company (they really help!).
Mastering the time in the kitchen:
- I picked a meal that I have made before. When you are more familiar with how the flow works, the ingredients and the length of time, it will make you stress less and move more quickly.
- I started my day earlier and moved my dinner time later. I have been having dinner at 4pm but I have noticed that I was never done near 4pm at all, and that I would get WAY too excited when guests were late so I decided to make it for 5pm. Also, I started prepping at 1pm so I was able to give myself plenty of time to relax.
- Have a bag in your sink --- total life saver! It is convenient and helps keep your kitchen cleaner. When you are prepping your food, you can throw away all the scraps, wrappers and whatever else that has to be thrown away in that bag. You do not have to worry about a mess being everywhere or walking back and forth to the trash.
- I made sure that I bought all the ingredients that I needed the day before so I didn’t have to make a stop on Sunday.
Let's talk about my "meat pile"
I made the meatloaf that I have cooked before and came out excellent. I was so pumped to share this with my friends because it had cheese and bacon in it! I knew that anyone would love it. The recipe calls for beef chuck. I could not find beef chuck exactly so I looked up what fat percentages it was. I read that it was 80-85% fat. Well, I thought it was such a great idea to buy one 80% and one 85% and mix them. Note: this is not a good idea and just buy one of the percentages when making this meatloaf. When I checked on my meatloaf, about 30 mins in, I noticed that is was not a loaf but instead a pile of meat. The meat had separated! Luckily, a made two meatloafs and one came out a little prettier than the other. The good news is, it still came out so tasty #winning.
There is nothing else in this world that goes better with meatloaf than MASHED POTATOES. My all time favorite mashed potatoes are the ones my grandparents make. I have never tasted anything like them, and I have tried a lot of mashed potatoes (trust me!). They are so different and when I asked my Pop Pop what the secret was, he informed me it was sugar! I knew it tasted a little sweeter, but I have never heard of putting sugar in mashed potatoes. I asked him how he started that and he said that his grandmom used to do it and then his mom too. I thought that was so neat! I was nervous about recreating these potatoes because my Pop Pop had a peculiar way of doing them; needless to say, they tasted as if my grandparents were in my kitchen making them! They came out so good, and as I'm typing this I would really like to eat some now!
What made this dinner extra special, besides the delicious mashed potatoes, were the people who came. Every time I have different people walk in the door, I feel so honored that they chose to spend time with me on their Sunday evening.
Jennifer and Daniel were some of the guests there and they are important to me and Dan. They were the first couple to invite us over when we started a new church. That dinner they had for us was not just a typical meal: They did it up. We walked in and there was a platter of cheeses, Italian meats, crackers…. everything I would ever dream of. Daniel cooked some delicious steaks on the grill and we ate outside on their cute patio. They made us feel comfortable, they fed us incredible food, and they made us feel loved – exactly what "At His Table" is all about.
Sonia was another guest that joined. I have hung around Sonia but never had one-on-one time (yet). I was always attracted to her as a person: She was fun to be around, laughed and made jokes a lot (my perfect friend). But what really drew me close to her was that I did not know her too well, but she would come up to me without hesitation and give me the sweetest hug. Her hugs meant so much and the fact that she showed me so much love without fully knowing me, made my heart so happy. I needed her to come to my dinner, and I was honored to be able to host her with the same love she always gives to me.
My sweet friend Melinda brought homemade bread over; It was AMAZING!! Melinda is a ray of sunshine. She exudes love, joy and kindness. If there is something that she could do to cheer you up, she would do it...that's just how she rolls! Her homemade garlic basil bread was perfect to serve with butter or an olive tapenade (dance party time). Her yummy gift was the perfect accompaniment to our dinner...I mean, bread is LIFE!!
I enjoyed the company so much. I was able to listen to some hilarious stories, see people enjoying the food I made, and watched people have a good time being just who they are! Besides the meat pile, this dinner was perfect and I can’t wait to do it again!