I heart food.
I heart people even more.
The two together…all I can say is wow.
We make food, not only because we like the taste, but because we want to share life with people. Well, most of the time. Let me tell you, there are days… 😉
Food tastes better, smells better, looks better with conversation, stories, and laughter, even with tears.
Recently, Sarah Baughman at Grafted Heart asked me to share some of my meal planning ideas for her Masterfully Crafted series going on at present. I didn’t create a system for her to post. I’m not great at systems, and you’ll find out about my love/hate relationship with meal planning on the post, but I am great with ideas. If you can take any of them to use in your own planning, I’ll be happy! The goal is to get to a place where we want to share grace and affection, with the people we live with and the people that visit us, via our family table. While sometimes this task seems like a never-ending chore, I hope that some of the tips will bring some joy, laughter, and grace into your meal planning process.
Here’s the link to that post:
Intimacy, Sharing Meals, and Planning Tips and Laughs
To encourage you in the process, I also would like to share three of my favorite recipes to have with friends. These are bigger batch recipes, call for a little work, not-slave-in-the-kitchen-all-day-and-collapse-on- your-couch level work, just enough to add pizzazz to the table for guests.
Food pizzazz says, “I love you and I’m glad you’re here.”
Am I right?
Food with Friends Recipe #1 –
Good Friday Baked Potato Soup
We call this Good Friday Baked Potato Soup because once upon a time the Baughman’s were over for Good Friday and we made it together, start to finish, and then we sat back and dipped our bread hunks in the thick, creamy broth and talked way too late. Since then we make it every Good Friday and it connects us to them in a weird and wonderful way that I can’t quite explain. It is also not a pretty soup, but tastes amazing…much like Good Friday.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 gallon of milk
8 medium or large potatoes, baked and cut into small pieces
1 white or yellow onion, minced
1 package of bacon, cut into 1 inch or smaller pieces
2 cups, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, yellow or white
10-12 oz. of sour cream
salt and pepper
In a dutch oven or large pot, cook up your bacon and onion together. Remove cooked bacon from the pot and save for later. Add 1/3-1/2 cup of butter to your pot, depending on the amount of bacon grease left over. Melt over medium heat. Stir in flour to form a roux (Google it if you’ve never done this. It’s a fun term to throw around at parties.) Whisk all of the milk slowly into the roux and let thicken slightly, turning down heat if the bottom sticks terribly. (I always have a crust on the bottom of my pot for this soup, so fear not if you do as well. Just ignore it and instruct your family not to speak of it if they would like to eat dinner.) Add in the potatoes, onion, and bacon to the soup. Add liberal salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer while whisking in cheese and sour cream. If there are sour cream chunks, know that they will taste divine even though they don’t look pretty. Serve with fresh bread and any baked potato garnish for a fun touch- shredded cheese, bacon bits, tiny chopped broccoli bits, more sour cream, etc. If you are serving an extra large crew (8+ adults) add more milk and/or 4 cups of chicken broth to spread it out.
Food with Friends Recipe #2 –
French Bread with Turkey and Spinach
This recipe was invented by my mother-in-law, who can cook like nobody’s business and who also manages to make everything pretty when she makes it. I have learned more from her in the kitchen than probably anyone else in my life and I am grateful! She stuffs the filling into a wreath of frozen bread dough and bakes it with a brush of egg white until golden perfection. I, on the other hand, make the super easy filling in my giant red dutch oven, setting it on the table with slices of french bread and let people slather the bread silly with the garlicy, meaty filling. This saves my sanity and makes me a nicer person.
2-3 lbs of ground turkey or ground beef, whatever is on sale or in your freezer
1 bag of fresh or frozen spinach, if frozen thaw and squeeze dry
2+ cups of mozzarella or other white cheese
1/4-1/2 cup of shredded or grated parmesan cheese (only really necessary if it’s on sale)
1/2-1 tsp. garlic powder (or more, I mean…garlic…yum!)
1/2-1 tsp. onion powder or one white or yellow onion, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 loafs of Italian or French bread
Cook ground meat, spices, and onion until browned, drain excess. Add spinach and stir until beginning to wilt. Stir in cheeses and if you’d like to stretch it further add a can of condensed cream soup or one batch of your own recipe for cream soup. This recipe is pretty top notch dairy and gluten free, by just forgoing the cheese, being generous with the spices, and serving with g-free bread. I make a mini batch like that on the side for myself and allergy concerned guests.
Food with Friends Recipe #3 –
Guatemalan Rice with Black Beans and Peppers
I have a secret. I make this recipe mostly for myself because when the aromas of the peppers and the oil start to sizzle in the pan with the garlic and cumin, I imagine myself in a kitchen in Guatemala with a woman three inches shorter than me and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen, showing me a display of different peppers. Food transports us to memories and I will often purposefully make cultural foods just to remind me of our adventures and the people we love and who have loved us around the world.
This one is a family and guest favorite. I haven’t perfected, nor desire to perfect, making taquitos to go with the rice and beans. I buy a box from the store when it’s on sale. Thank you, Señor Jose.
4-6 cups of cooked rice depending on the size of your crowd
2-4 colorful bell peppers, cut into small pieces (I like one each of red, yellow, and orange, but will go with whatever is on sale in a pinch.)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 can of black beans, drained or 2 cups dried black beans, cooked
1 Tbsp. fresh minced garlic or 1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/2-1 Tbsp. ground cumin depending on your desire for zest and flavor
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes (again with the zest factor)
Cook rice according to package directions and set aside. Sauté peppers and onion in 2-4 Tbsp. oil of your choice over medium heat, in a large pan or dutch oven until sweaty and a little tender. Add black beans and spices. Stir thoroughly. Turn heat to low and add rice, stirring only to warm. Serve with 2-3 taquitos per person with fun bowls of salsa, sour cream, guac, a squeeze of lime, or anything else remotely festive for garnishes.
What are your favorite recipes to share with the people you love and the ones you open your doors to?
Share some ideas with us in the comments!
Food with friends makes life a little bit sweeter, a little bit zestier, and a little bit less lonely any way you dice it.