The Very Word "Entertaining" Can Be Hugely Intimidating

The very word "entertaining" can be hugely intimidating, conjuring up images of lavish spreads, immaculately appointed homes and other visions of magazine living. It's time for a reality check!
Leanne Ely, CNC

Homemade hospitality
First off, let's chuck the word "entertaining."What I'm talking about today isn't about doing the Martha Stewart thing at all -- it's about hospitality. Hospitality isn't something one is talented in and another is not -- it is something that is cultivated, much like a plant. All it takes is a welcoming home a good meal (I can help you with that) and a warm and welcoming attitude (that's your department).

If you're going to practice hospitality, you need to keep your perspective -- don't invite someone over who will intimidate you the first time around. You need allies at this time -- comrades, amigos. You don't need to be intimidated as you take your first baby steps toward hospitality.

Keep it simple, sister!
The first rule is to keep it simple. I would suggest a big CrockPot filled with some terrific chili, a big green salad, some cornbread and some friends to enjoy it all. The kind of friends that you ask to bring dessert -- that's the type of guest you want for your first entertaining/hospitality venture.

Set your table, grab some flowers (anything you can find in your yard) and throw them in a pitcher for a country effect. Set the table with some red and white checked napkins or tablecloth and you're all set.

Here is a recipe that has earned raved reviews from my Menu-Mailer subscribers (you can get a sample menu and shopping list from my web site if you want one: ) and is in my newest book, Saving Dinner:

Really Easy Mixed Bean Chili
1 can pinto beans -- rinsed and drained
1 can black beans -- rinsed and drained
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 jar salsa -- your favorite
1 package frozen corn -- 10 oz.
1 sweet potato - cubed (this makes the recipe special)

Dump it all into a CrockPot, set on low and cook for 6 to 8 hours. Mix well before serving. How hard is that? Serves 6 (easily doubled to serve more).

Nutritional analysis per serving:
283 Calories; 1g Fat (3.4% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 15g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 584mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
I prefer this, but sometimes I use the packaged stuff (my health food store has it without the MSG):

1 cup dried minced onion
1/3 cup chili powder
2 Tablespoons cumin (I actually add an extra tablespoon -- we love cumin)
4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 Tablespoon oregano
4 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder

Combine all ingredients and store in a cool, dry place. When you're using for Mexican dishes, use about 1 Tablespoon or so per 1 pound ground beef, chicken or beans. More if you like the extra

Tags: entertaining hospitality

recommended for you