I absolutely LOVE having people over for dinner. Seriously. LOVE IT! For so long I struggled with the timing. I would always have the veggies done 30 minutes before everything else and then I’d forget about something. It was a hot mess.
BUT – I kept at it and I’ve been improving:)
Here are my top dinner tips:)
1. PLAN AHEAD! I like to plan out my meals in advance, so my meats are defrosted and I have all the supplies I need. The night before I often take out the pantry items and the dishes I will be cooking in, so I can start as soon as I get home from work.
2. Have a “repertoire” of a few meals to make that you know are good. I have a meal I make almost every time we have a new couple or new people over – baked chicken, mashed potatoes and some kind of vegetable. Some of my other go- tos are chili and cornbread and a few different pasta dishes. I’ll share one below!
3. However, don’t be afraid to make something new!! I will often make a new dessert or side dish – – just be prepared it might not always be as good as you were hoping:) it’s okay!
4. Invite people into your life. It can really stress me out when I feel I have to have an impeccable house, perfect meal and this fancy, perfect version of who I really am. I’m messy! I love to cook and bake, but if you ask to help, I’ll let you! I probably won’t have dinner on the table when you walk in the door. We will DEFINITELY have clutter in the corner! It’s okay. People don’t come over to see your house, they come over to be in your life.
5. If your husband is as fantastic as mine is – let him help you do the dishes:)
Here’s a recent fabulous meal I made!!
Baked Lemon Chicken Pasta
loosely based on Baked Lemon-Basil Pasta from allrecipes.com
- 3 cups bow tie or penne whole wheat pasta
- 2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins- cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 T. fat free half and half
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1-2 T. whole wheat flour
- grated cheese
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the pasta; return to a boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked through, but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Season chicken with lemon pepper.
- Put the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the chicken pieces until no longer pink in the center. Remove the chicken pieces, and place them in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish.
- To the same skillet, add the garlic, white wine, half and half, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour. Whisk the mixture together, adding more flour or white wine to get the consistency you want. Remove the skillet from the heat; stir in the pasta. Spoon the pasta and sauce mixture over the chicken. Cover with foil.
- Bake in the preheated oven until heated through, about 15 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Broil for a few minutes until the cheese is melty and bubbly and so delicious.