[bl]C[/bl]ooking dinner for company can be intimidating. It’s no small task! No wonder most people order pizza when gathering in larger groups. We do it too, and it’s a great way to have an evening of fellowship without all the mess and clean up. But sometimes, I want to create a meal for another family. I want to serve them and provide for them something delicious, a little extra special. Because there’s just something about a thoughtful, delicious meal that creates a mood and environment for intimacy.
After packing and moving and trying to settle in, we were long ready for an intentional evening of friends and food. So we invited a sweet family over last weekend. These are friends who enjoy genuine conversation, real food and family. The best kind of people to have over! I decided we would grill kabobs. Grilling is a great way to entertain in the summer. It’s less preparation and mess.
I want to share this meal with you because it turned out yummy and everyone is always in need of fresh ideas for summer cooking.
My mother gave me a recipe for a marinade that Mark and I tweaked to our liking. We’re rule breakers, even with recipes!
Wisk together the following ingredients:
½ cup key lime juice
1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
3 T Olive oil
5 cloves chopped garlic (the Pampered Chef chopper is a must have for chopping garlic)
1 jalapeno Pepper seeds removed, chopped (also with the chopper)
1 T brown sugar
For 8 skewers that feed about 4 people total:
2 pounds of boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 each of green, red and yellow sweet peppers (or orange), cut into 2 inch pieces
1 large purple onion, cut into 2 inch pieces
Place chicken pieces in a dish and pour marinade over the top
The chicken should marinate at least 2 hours and can sit in room temperature should you only marinate for this minimum amount of time. However, this is something that can be done first thing in the morning and set aside in the refrigerator. I like having things that can be done early, which leaves me more time for the parts of the meal that have to be done last minute. Cutting the peppers and onion can also be done early that day and placed in a zip lock bag all together. Which means the main course of the meal can be prepped far in advance which is always helpful.
I put together the skewers about 1 hour before our company was due to arrive. I put three pieces of chicken, 1 pepper chunk, 1 onion chunk, and 1 pepper chunk of a different color — and I repeated it.
You can design your skewers as you like. I was feeding four adults and eight children with a double recipe and only 13 skewers, so I squeezed as much chicken on each skewer as possible. We learned when we did this meal a second time, that we prefer smaller pieces of chicken stacked together in 2-3 groups, rather than three larger pieces of chicken on one skewer. It allowed us to cook the skewers in less time and then the chicken was bite size, rather than needing to be cut.
We light the grill and have it hot and ready, but don’t begin grilling until after company arrives.
Mark seared the kabos for a minute each side, then put the lid on the grill and finished cooking for about 10 minutes. It’s so easy to over cook chicken on the grill. (In fact, truth be told, on this particular night, we overcooked them a tad.)
I served the kabobs with roasted red skin potatoes, boiled corn on the cob and a salad.
For the potatoes, I cut them into bite size pieces, seasoned heavily with garlic salt, pepper, basil and Parmesan cheese. Drizzled a generous amount of olive oil on top and baked at 400 for at least an hour. I like to check on the potatoes every 20 minutes and turn them. When finished they are browned and a bit crispy on the bottom and sides, but still soft.
For the corn, you simply boil until you begin to smell them and serve with butter and salt.
Serve with any salad you enjoy! On this evening, I tossed my friend’s home grown red leaf lettuce with sliced pear, sliced grapes and blue cheese crumbles, and a homemade lemon/oil oil/Dijon dressing.
A summer meal is pretty.
But not as pretty as these girls.
I thought I’d offer a few tips on how to make an evening of food and company less stressful. I am an unorganized, organized person. I’m terrible with schedules, usually late, often double commit, and work best on spontaneity. But when it comes to my home, I work well in it. I have a rhythm to the way I organize and clean and prepare for meals. I might not look organized if you watched me, but I’m efficient and productive — which makes having company less stressful for me. I enjoy every bit of receiving company for a meal — the grocery shopping, preparing, cooking and eating! I think it’s because with every day dinner there’s an expectation, a normality, a redundancy. But when company comes, I get to break from the mold and be more creative than I am in my every day. So here are some tips from years of watching and working with my mother and sister, practicing with success and failure, and finding ways that work for me:
1. Grocery shop the day before.
2. Prepare as much of the meal as possible in advance. And read the recipes a few times in advance.
3. Make a list and check things off as you go.
4. Tidy your house, but don’t spend a long time cleaning it.
5. Remember, the goal is reception, not perfection.
6. Enlist your family to help. Receiving people ought to be a joint effort.
7. Don’t put pressure on yourself to have everything ready by the time your company arrives. It’s okay to have last minute preparations.
8. Hope your company brings a bottle of wine.
9. Get comfortable with a meal. Make it first for your family. Or at least get comfortable with a few side dishes. I like to make roasted potatoes because it’s a very inexpensive and yummy side dish. I’ve also made them countess times, so it’s never something I’m nervous to serve. It’s nice to have a few of these types of recipes under your belt so you can pair them with new recipes that might need more of your attention. And once you find a meal that you enjoy making and eating — use it for different company throughout the summer months.
10. Above all, enjoy your company. If something burns, breaks or doesn’t taste just how you hoped — but you had genuine, honest conversation and laughter — then it was a success.