My Mother ruined me. Now if you don’t know me, you may not understand, but just possibly you have a mother just like mine and right this second as you read this, you are shaking your head up and down, knowing all too well what and who I am.
Thankfully, Hubs is the rational one, who will always try and warn me at a certain point, when I have people coming out to the farm, be it my step sons & daughter in laws, my in laws, parents or friends that “I’m going there”…. which in layman’s terms means I’m turning into my mother.
Really, it is not a bad thing per se, she just always goes WAY out of her way to make sure everything is perfect for everyone, and about kills herself in the meantime.
My mother did this to me.
Because we live in a 130++ year old farm house that frequently has chicken or duck shit on the front steps and/or sidewalk (we surly do not live in the Taj Mahal) when it comes right down to it, the food is what I worry most about. I fret, as my mother in law tells me, and kill myself so that the house is spotless, and the tables are properly set, but most importantly, I make sure the food is something SO good that everyone will enjoy, and surly NOT forget anytime soon. And in the long run, hopefully the good food and time had by all will make my guests forget or at least not swear at us if they arrive back home with some sort of poo stuck to the bottom of their shoe…
In my mind, when it comes right down to it good drinks, food and good conversation are what make people happy and that is all that matters when a get-together is had–especially when I’m the entertainer.
I don’t believe in having plain food when entertaining. I also don’t believe in store bought food when entertaining. I believe in having people over as an occasion to NOT have crappy, plain food. Because in reality, we can all get tasteless, plain, boring food day in, and day out.
Going to Walmart and throwing store bought food out for all to choke down is just not my style. And to me, it’s lazy, why bother? Why not just meet everyone at McDonalds then?
I love FLAVOR. And I love to see my guests happy and enjoying the whole party. And of coarse, the more they rave about my food, well… the happier I am, and it makes me feel like the whole ordeal was worth while.
That being said, a couple of weeks ago I had 11 people come out to the farm for a party that lasted into the wee hours of Saturday morning. I thought I would share a portion of what I made. In the mix of getting ready for the party, I had been flying low all week long between gardens & trucks, and I had to leave out for Arizona that Saturday afternoon, so time was of the essence. I knew I didn’t want to over do this get-together for my own sanity, but in the same vein, I did want to feed everyone good, tasty food.
As I get older I’m learning to pick my fights accordingly and preparation is key here. If you think ahead just a bit, good tasty food does not mean that it has to be expensive or time consuming.
I knew I didn’t want to worry about a bunch of ingredients, including hot dog/hamburger buns, because generally I will forget one or the other and town is too far away to just pop over and get what you forgot. Not to mention I think everyone one makes hotdogs & hamburgers at a cookout so I didn’t want to go that route at all. I also didn’t want to be stuck in the kitchen making the food while everyone else was out drinking beer and having a good time on the deck.
So, my menu include regular food but it was all hopped up on flavor and everything except for what had to be thrown on the grill that night was done and ready to serve.
Plan your menu! Then marinate, marinate, marinate!
My menu was easy. I made a prosciutto dip with chips for the hors d’oeuvre, then potato salad with fresh potatoes from our garden, and a cold pasta salad that my Daughter in Law requested which were all homemade, and to me, all the better with a little time to let the flavors mingle and marinated grilled chicken breasts & pork chops.
It was all delicious. And they all raved!
By late afternoon on the day before the party I had everything made as far as the food goes. The salads were made and mingling, the beer was chilling, and the meat was soaking in a flavorful marinade, which meant I was ready to rock and roll.
On the day of the party, all I had to do was set out the sides, pull the meat out of the marinade and have Hubs throw the meat on the grill and we were ready!
Below is a couple recipe ideas on marinades. There really is no right or wrong to marinades and you can mix and match the flavors that suit your taste buds.
- I cut all of the chicken breasts in half before marinating them. I absolutely hate a huge chicken breast, especially if it’s dry or not properly cooked. Cutting them in half made for nice portions, easy marinating, and it made them really easy to grill without any guesswork.
- When entertaining my fridge always gets way too full. One thing I am always using is my Ball half gallon canning jars. They give you room to pack your food, yet they take up height rather than width which is really nice when you need the space.
- 1 c. Olive Oil
- 2-3 tablespoons vinegar, like cider, balsamic, or red wine
- A good handful of preferably fresh, but you can use 2-3 teaspoons of dried herbs, like thyme, oregano, rosemary
- 1 to 2 tablespoons mustard, whole grain or Dijon
- 1-1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half
- Mix all ingredients together in container or large half gallon canning jar with tight sealing lid.
- Add chicken pieces and refrigerate from 4 to 24 hours shaking the contents every so often.
- Remember, the longer the marination the better!
- Grill to your liking.
- 8 thinly sliced pork chops
- 1 Large Onion chopped (doesn't have to be fancy)
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients
- Pour over pork chops
- Placed in large container or ziploc bag.
- Marinate overnight, or up to 24 hours
- Grill to your liking