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Cooking For Company

When I cook for company, I like to have a casserole prepared in the freezer that I can pop in the oven.

If I don’t have a casserole already prepared, the second best option is to make a casserole or Crock Pot meal early in the day.

The worst way, in my opinion, to cook for company, and I am speaking from experience here, is to have a complicated meal that takes a lot of prep time that must be done immediately prior to serving.

I have made this same mistake twice when cooking for company. I guess I’m a slow learner, but I won’t be repeating it.

Our family loves to have fried chicken, mashed potatoes with homemade country gravy, and homemade biscuits, and I love to cook this meal.  That’s why I thought it would be the perfect meal for company, but I was wrong.

This meal requires lots of hands on attention, flouring the chicken, frying it, whisking the gravy, cutting the biscuits, all that has to be done immediately prior to serving.

Whenever I have made this meal for company, it has been well received, BUT I have been in the kitchen working away for a good half hour before the meal is ready to be served, all while the guests wait.

A better option, I believe, would be to have a meal in the oven or Crock Pot when the guests arrive so there will be time to relax a little and visit before the meal is served. A labor intensive meal is not the best option for company.

What about you? Do you have a go to meal for company? What do you like to serve?

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Comments

  1. For us it really depends on who the company is. We have friends (a couple) that come over quite often. He loves to cook as do I so normally we will prepare something together while everyone is chatting away and having a good time. We live in quite a small home and our eat-in kitchen is wide open to the living room…so this works very well! We never feel like anyone is in the way, nor are we kept out of the fun. It is a great way for us to get together and have a great time, share a wonderful meal that everyone has contributed to, and do some snacking along the way :).

    For more “formal” get-togethers, I try to pick dishes that can be mostly prepped ahead of time and then finished up when they arrive or do like you–crockpot or pre-made casserole :). The fewer dishes the better in our house also. It is quite obvious if there are many dirty dishes in the sink since our floor plan is so open…and since we don’t have a dishwasher, we try to limit the amount of dirty cooking dishes.

  2. I used to think hospitality meant putting out the absolute best, all the time. For years, I would spend the best part of my entertaining time in the kitchen, doing complicated things to food and making it beautiful. The past couple of years have been easier. Even though my favorite foods are, for the most part, very elaborate and hands on, I’ve given up trying to feed them to guests. It’s just not worth it to have a grand meal and miss my company. I try to keep things as simple as possible now. There are plenty of wonderful, simple foods I can present to guests. They really don’t need the show.

  3. It is a rare meal of mine that isn’t cooked in the crock-pot. Ocassionally, I’ll make spaghetti for company (they bring the salad and bread). Even then, I have the meat and sauce cooking in the crock-pot and only have to make the noodles, and honestly, my oldest daughter does that. :D

  4. Definately a crock pot meal! I have collected some great recipes for the crock pot, so it’s not just beans or stew when company comes. My favorite is the chicken enchiladas in the crockpot. It’s been well received!

  5. Wanda Styrsky says:

    I almost always do a casserole when company is coming. We love King Ranch Chicken and it can be prepared in the crock pot as well.

  6. My favorite company meal is a taco bar. I keep the taco meat warm in one crockpot, refried beans in another crockpot. We offer hard shells and flour tortillas and bowls for anyone who prefers taco salad. With a half dozen toppings and a salsa bar it is always a hit.

  7. I definitely do stuff in advance – I even do a lot of freezing in advance for “just”our family.

    I think I used to be more concerned with entertainment (back in the days before 7 kids) but now I finally realize Romans 12 tells us to practice hospitality – not show off how well we cook or how perfect we can make things look! It’s taken me years too. :) Thanks for the Smockity reminder!

  8. It took me a lot longer than twice making this mistake.

    We like to do a lasagna that’s been previously frozen and bread sticks or dinner rolls also previously frozen.

    Spaghetti is pretty fast if you have canned, bottled, or frozen sauce.

    I’d love some of your freezer casserole recipes. I’ll follow you forever if you share!!

  9. We aren’t the formal dining kind of family, so we often just grill burgers and/or hot dogs and/or chicken… with some easy prepared-ahead-of-time sides, or we do some “gourmet” pizzas :-)

  10. I may use our crock pot twice a month, but those times are for a meal at church. And we’re not big casserole eaters, either. So, I probably shouldn’t even be replying to this. :0)
    Our kitchen and dinning room are the “open concept” idea, so when we are in the kitchen, we can see and talk to those in the dinning room and living room. We don’t have a certain kind-of food we serve to company, it’s just usually what we have around.
    And, to be honest, I cheat. I have a secret weapon: my husband is a Chef. We also have our own catering business with the commercial kitchen attached to our house. So, my husband usually does most of the cooking. While I do the setting up and cleaning up.

  11. I personally try to keep the kitchen a social place, at least for the women and often for the men as well, and I would hate to live in a house that walls off the kitchen from the living and dining areas, in all my homes as both child and adult there has been a breakfast bar, and otherwise open plan kitchen that allows me to be social while working in there.

    I don’t like super complex meals for guests, but I enjoy cooking when people are around, even having them in and helping. In my age group of young adults, Andrew and I being the first of all our friends to marry, cooking is not a skill that was taught to many of us, and I find myself teaching as I cook at times! But also, most of us in my age group have fond memories of attempting to cook for each other from a young age, usually failing miserably, but we have seen the kitchen as a social tool since our childhoods.

    However this would vary on the company, that idea works for my young friends, but if I were, say, having my pastor over for dinner, or guests who are not close friends, I would look for the simpler meal as they may not be so open to the idea of the kitchen as a social tool, or may find helping to cook the meal a chore or unhospitable idea rather than fun and enjoyable.

    My inlaws however, enjoy their cooking and enjoy their food. You’ll never see them serve a simple crock pot meal to guests, in fact they have been known to, on more than one occasion, host a 4 course resteraunt style dinner party! Or a lasagne, complete with homemade pasta.

    It depends not only on the hostess, but the type of company and the personalities of the people.

  12. We love to do a Shredded Roast Burrito or Carnitas Bar. The meat cooks away and stays warm in the crock pot…and all the fixings are diced, shredded, and sliced ahead of time. Then, when it’s time to eat, everyone chooses exactly what they want. It’s so mch fun and always a huge hit. We’ve also done Fajitas for a large crowd. I grill and slice all the meat ahead of time and keep it wrapped in foil in the oven.

  13. Like many others, I have an open concept kitchen, so I’m never separated from my guests. Still, I like making lasagna or baked ziti for company which can be made in advance and just heated in the oven. Better yet, I like serving appetizers like oven-fried chicken wings or cheese sticks, that sort of thing. My hubby’s family tend to be finicky eaters, so anything that all or most like is on the menu! Also, living in South Florida, barbeque is a staple. Everyone can be out on the patio while the food is cooking, enjoying the outdoors (and eating on paper plates, which cuts down on cleanup!).

    I love your blog! Such fun and interesting posts. Have a blessed weekend.

  14. I made the same mistake last week and cooked chicken fried steak, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans, and biscuits from scratch on the night we were having company. I was in the kitchen FOREVER and my loving husband had to wash dishes for 45 minutes after the company left (we do not have a dish washer and my wonderful husband has commited to wash the dishes for me after supper each evening). I think we will have lasagna or homemade pizza next time!!

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