Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 3 | When Company Comes A-Callin'

We had very dear friends stay with us this weekend.

I know what you're thinking.  "You had COMPANY this weekend and you committed to a 31 day blogging challenge?  You are nuts girly!"  Well, yes I just might be.

Once upon a time I was a newlywed.  I had a kitchen full of brand new gadgets and gizmos, brand new cookbooks, and fairytale dreams of having our friends and family visit to enjoy perfect meals in a perfectly decorated house.  I would be dressed impeccably, of course, with every nail polished and not a hair out of place.  I did mention that this was a fairytale, right?

See, I made the rookie mistake of dreaming of a Barbie's Dream House fantasy instead of focusing on what is really important when loved ones come to visit.


Time is the most precious gift we can give to ourselves and to those we love.  It is free, it cannot be bought, and once it's gone you can never have it back.

My first forays at entertaining involved much planning, much shopping, much cleaning, and much weeping and gnashing of teeth.  I had hostess syndrome bad.  What this meant for me is that I labored hard to have everything perfect and I enjoyed very little.  I over-scheduled, over-estimated, and over-achieved myself into a hot mess.  And can I just say that no one is happy when the hostess isn't happy?

In one such planning frenzy 2 or 3 years down the road, someone offered me the best. advice. ever. 

"Just KISS." 

Keep It Simple Sister.

This is now my motto for all event planning, get-togethers, meals on the go, breakfast, lunch, name it.

So my super special company this weekend?  I still cooked.  I wanted them to feel special and to enjoy some southern hospitality.  I did not go to the grocery store.  I did not purchase random fancy schmancy ingredients to cook up a buffet for an army.  I did clean my house.  And I did have a lovely, lovely time.  Time that was well spent and much enjoyed.

My menu made with ingredients from my pantry included...

Before they went into the oven.  Drooling already.

Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {With help from the bread machine.  Recipe courtesy of my Mama-In-Law.}  I started these the night our guests arrived.  The bread machine did all the work and left me with time to spend with our friends.

1 cup water
2 Tbsp butter; softened
1 egg
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour {I swear by King Arthur}
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp regular active dry yeast

1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter; softened

Place all dough ingredients in the bread pan in the order listed.  Put on dough cycle.  Grease 9x13x2 baking pan {I used a Pyrex dish}.  Mix 1/3 cup sugar and the cinnamon.  Roll out onto lightly floured surface.  Spread butter onto dough with sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Roll up tightly and pinch seam together.  Cut into 1 inch slices.  Place in baking dish and let rise 1 - 1 1/4 hours or until doubled.

This is where I deviated.  I covered my baking dish with plastic wrap and popped it into the fridge overnight instead of waiting an hour for the dough to rise.  The rolls still rose and were happily waiting for me the next morning.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pan and drizzle glaze over warm rolls.

I used Paula Deen's recipe for the glaze which can be found here.  We enjoyed the warmth and goodness of homemade cinnamon rolls minus the hassle of  kneading by hand, waiting for dough to rise, etc.

Thankful for a much needed cool front, I made chili for lunch.  This has been a seasonal favorite in our house since last Fall when Bethany shared it.  I didn't have all the ingredients on hand, so I made some changes to accommodate what we had on hand.

Beef Chili {adapted from Bethany's Turkey Chickpea Chili found here.}

2 Tbsp olive oil {extra virgin if you have it}
1 cup chopped onion
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb ground beef
14 oz can chickpeas, drained {or 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, pre-soaked and ready to go}
14 oz can red beans {or 1/2 cup dried red beans, pre-soaked and ready to go}
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 quart beef broth {I use organic, low sodium}
4 oz can diced green chiles
4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp raw organic sugar {or brown, or white, or honey! They all work.}
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion powder

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, and carrots and saute until carrots are tender and onions are translucent and beginning to brown.  Add ground beef and cook until meat is browned and crumbled.

Add all remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1-2 hours...or all afternoon if you like!  Garnish with lemon or lime wedges if you have them.

This chili is fabulous the first day and only improves every day after that...assuming your leftovers actually last more than 24 hours.

By early afternoon my kitchen looked like this...

Chili simmering, rolls demolished, and baby food in progress {don't think I'm trying to revert to my over-achieving ways, it only takes 3-4 minutes to steam a bag of frozen peas}.

And, for purposes of full disclosure, my sink looked like this...

I'm enjoying that big cup of coffee right now.  That sink full of dishes is all the clean up I have to attend to...and most of that will go into Mr. Dishwasher.

So by "KISS"-ing my weekend I was able to sit back and enjoy time spent with friends and family and share wonderful meals that were a drop in the bucket all around.

Food for thought :: If you had company today, could you come up with something simple and delicious to share from ingredients you already have on hand?  If not, how close are you...could you find suitable substitutes or omit anything?

Check out all the other 31 Dayers here.

1 comment:

  1. Good morning! This post is so inspiring. I used to be much like you, sretching myself thin when company came. It took me awhile to realize that they were there to spend time with me, not with my food! If we had company today, I would likely make those delicious cinnamon rolls. I think I have just enough flour in the pantry to pull them off! ps - I couldn't agree more about King Arthur. ;)