I don't know about you, but I love having people over for dinner. There's something about sitting around a table sharing a meal together that grows friendships in a special kind of way.
I come from a family where food is a big deal. The men are hard workers with hearty appetites, and the women sure know how to work a pot roast.
At every get together they bust out quite a feast and we all sit together, (well, "grown-ups" inside, cousins outside on the back porch wrapped in our pool-soaked towels) talking and laughing and just being family.
That feeling of togetherness is something that I could never get tired of. And food, among other things of course, has always been something that brings family and friends together in my life, which is why I love inviting people into our home to share a meal. To me, it's like being family in a way.
Every once in a while, I find the time to make a special, elaborate meal when friends come over, but, if I'm being completely honest, that doesn't happen very often. Life happens, ya know? We also tend to make plans fairly short-notice. Oh the joys of being young marrieds!
When this happens, there's not very much time to plan or prepare, but that's OK! You should never let that get in the way of building relationships with people you love.
Anyway, over the past several years I've collected a few recipes that are my back-up plans for "situations" just like this, so I thought I'd share them with you! They never fail, they're incredibly easy (seriously, most of them don't even need an actual recipe!), plus they are husband and picky-eater approved! Does it get any better than that?!
OK, here we go!
Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
This is one of the easiest crock pot recipes EVER. Great for lunch after church on Sunday, or a weeknight when you don't have time to cook something up. And it's so delicious! I always have friends asking me for the recipe.
3-6 large chicken breasts
1-2 jars of salsa
1-2 packets of taco seasoning (or make your own like I do)
Desired toppings (we like guacamole, sour cream, tomatoes, and green onions)
Directions: Add chicken, salsa, and seasonings to the crock pot and stir. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until chicken is done. 30 minutes before serving, shred the chicken so it can soak up all the juicy salsa goodness. Serve on tortillas with rice, beans, and any other desired toppings.
Tips: Throw any leftovers of the meat mixture in the freezer (not literally of course, that would be messy). Get it out on a chilly day and make it into chicken tortilla soup by mixing together 2-3 cups meat, 4 cups of chicken broth, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1 small can of green chilies. Heat it up on the stove and garnish with cheese, sour cream or avocado, cilantro, and tortilla chips.
Does anyone not love spaghetti? There's absolutely no cooking talent required, and it's always a crowd-pleaser. You can't possibly go wrong.
1-2 packages of spaghetti noodles (depending on the size of your crowd)
1-2 jars of spaghetti sauce
Directions: Cook spaghetti noodles according to package instructions. Heat up Spaghetti sauce. Garnish with parmesean cheese if desired.
Tips: Add 1 lb cooked ground beef to the sauce to make it a little more hearty (this earns some serious points in a man's book). Goes great with salad, steamed veggies, and maybe a slice or two of sourdough bread.
Tacos / Taco Salad
This is one of my all-time favorites. I love to create a build-your-own tacos or taco salad bar on the kitchen counter, that way everyone gets exactly what they want.
Cooked ground beef or turkey
1 medium sized onion
Assorted beans (We like pinto, black, and kidney)
Avocado / Guacamole
Directions: Cook ground meat and onion. Season as desired. Chop veggies. Serve as tacos or taco salad with desired toppings.
Tips: There is a lot of chopping involved in this meal, so it really helps to prep ahead of time. Cut up all your veggies, grate the cheese, open the beans, and put everything into small bowls or Tupperware and set them in the fridge. That way, all you'll have to do right before your company arrives is cook the meat and set out all the toppings.
Drumsticks with Potatoes
This is SO easy to make, and it can make a lot if you want it to. Plus, you can use any leftover chicken on a salad the next day.
Large package of chicken drumsticks
4-10 potatoes of choice (I like to mix white potatoes with sweet potatoes)
Salt, pepper, and garlic salt (to taste)
Directions: Place drumsticks in a 9 x 13 pan. Season with salt and pepper (or any other seasonings that sound yummy!). Bake at 375 for 1 hour or until chicken is done. Chop up (and peel, if desired) potatoes and place on a baking sheet. Toss in olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes or until the edges get crispy. Serve with a green salad.
Tips: I have been saving my veggie scraps in the freezer to make bone broth when I have leftover chicken bones from a meal. This recipe works great for that!
This recipe is straight from my mom's kitchen. My siblings and I lived for pizza night when we were kids! You will not be disappointed.
3 cups water (90-100 degrees)
8 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 TBS yeast
1/2 cup oil
Directions: Knead in Kitchen Aid mixer for 15 minutes. Let rise 10 minutes. Roll out into 4 full sized crusts or 16 personal crusts. Prick crusts all over with a fork to prevent air bubbles. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Let cool and freeze, or top with desired toppings. Bake topped pizza until cheese is melted (about 8 minutes).
Tips: Making the pizza dough is quite a process, so I normally don't make it the day we are expecting company. Instead, on a day when I have some extra time, I'll make the dough, bake it the first time, and put it in the freezer. It makes the perfect last-minute meal because all you have to do is take the crust(s) out of the freezer, let them thaw, top with your desired toppings, and bake for a few minutes.
So there you have it! 5 of my favorite, go-to recipes that I love to make when friends come for dinner. Comment below and let me know if you have tried any of these meals, or if you have a few favorites of your own that you like to fix! I'm always looking for new ideas.