Monday, November 9, 2015

Entertaining Made Easy: 6 Easy Entrees

I love people; I love food. So naturally you would think I would love entertaining. You would be right, but I sometimes have a little entertaining anxiety. Will the food turn out okay? Do I have all the ingredients? Will my guests like the food? Did I make enough food for everyone? How can I make sure the food will be ready in time or at the same time? AHHHH?!?!?

Sorry for the mini freak out. Most people are at least a little concerned about entertaining. The most fear usually stems from the dreaded entree - the center of the meal. Here are some of my favorite ideas to take the fear out of entrees. Hopefully with this Entertaining Made Easy series, your fears will be eased, and you will become a better host or hostess.

1) Casseroles
I love a casserole! You throw several things together in one pan, bake, and serve! They usually have a grain, meat, and cheese or sauce component. Who doesn't love cheese? Who doesn't love a sauce? Or a cheesy sauce!?! Casseroles are also  a great way to entertain because they stretch the protein or meat component of the meal, which tends to be one of the more expensive food items. So, casseroles are quick, easy, inexpensive and most importantly delicious!
Try: Mexican Casserole, Lasagna, Baked Ziti. . .

2) Build Your Own Salad
I love this idea! Maybe it's the dietitian in me, but if you are worried about entertaining, this is a great solution! Offer your guests choices. Try 2 types of lettuces, 2-3 vegetables or fruits, 1-2 crunchy things (like nuts or baked tortilla strips), 1-2 proteins (meat, beans, etc), and 2 types of cheeses, and 2-3 types of salad dressing. Your guests get to pick and choose what they like, and they assemble the entree themselves. I like the idea of having a couple "recipe cards" to help guests pair ingredients to make fantastic salads. Stay tuned for 5 fantastic salads.

3) Fajita or Taco Bar
This is another easy entree. Grill some chicken and steak or brown some ground beef or turkey. Assemble some toppings. And you are ready to have a party. Your grocery list would look something like this:
Fajita Bar: Corn and flour tortillas, meat for grilling, onions, bell peppers, sour cream, and cheese
Taco Bar: Soft tacos, hard tacos, ground meat, lettuce, tomato, onions, salsa, sour cream, and cheese
You have a party for under 10 ingredients!

4) Breakfast Bar
I love breakfast. I love breakfast in the morning, as a mid-morning brunch, or in the evening as "brinner." Sauce some bacon or sausage, have a few sides (think biscuits, scones, fruit, jam/jelly), and you are ready to start your day . . . or a party!

5) Baked Potato Bar
This bar is as simple as it sounds. Bake some potatoes a few hours before the party. Set out toppings - BBQ meat, sour cream, cheese, chives, broccoli, and chili. This is great for your friends who are gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian. You can pick-and-choose toppings to fit personal diet preferences. *RDtip: watch for gluten in some BBQ sauce and chilli's.

6) Soups
Soups hold really well. You can keep them warm through a party in a Dutch oven or slow cooker on low for <4 hours; always remember food safety! 
One of my sweet friends that I've known since middle school came to visit me recently. She brought frozen gumbo with her. That was the sweetest idea! I made rice and cornbread to accompany her delicious gumbo. I love the idea of bringing something with you as a house guest as a way to say thank you. So, thank you sweet Mal for your thoughtfulness. May Mal inspire you to celebrate the holidays and remember to be thankful for those around you.

So, those are some ideas for easy entertaining with easy entrees. We will go into more specifics in this series to give you even more entertaining ideas. I would love to see how you are entertaining, so tag your entertaining pictures with #EasyEntree and #EasyEntertaining. And tag me @RDtipoftheday, so I can see what you do and maybe even feature you on the blog or Instagram.

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