Laura Rennie

planning meals for company

Laura R.Comment
I have been a lazy blogger lately! I used to have this blog on the brain constantly, but lately I rarely ever think about it. Life has been so full. The last weekend that didn't include travel or visitors was five weekends ago! We haven't nailed down our Thanksgiving weekend plans yet, but we're both determined to make it relaxing whether we're home or away.

The weekend before last we had friends from college in town. We played Acquire and drank lots of coffee, ate breakfast in our pajamas, talked books and marriage and jobs (us gals), and played basketball and watched football (the boys). On Saturday night we all went downtown for "First Saturday," a monthly downtown event where the shops stay open late, wine and snacks are given out and bands play on the sidewalk. I knew we were going to be eating an early dinner downtown, so I made a big breakfast and a picnic-like lunch. I took a cue from my mom, who often serves a similar lunch when we go to the cabin. With my friend's help I set out sliced summer sausage, apples, cheese and bell peppers, along with baby carrots, grapes and two types of crackers. We destroyed most of the munchies, but whatever was left over was tossed in a ziploc for snacking on later.

I've been purposefully trying to plan fuss-free meals to keep myself from getting too overwhelmed when company comes a-calling. We had friends from Harrisonburg visit this Sunday and we didn't know when they would be arriving. I didn't want to slave away in the kitchen and be exhausted by the time they arrived, nor did I want to be cooking a whole lot while they were over. By using leftovers, I hardly cooked at all. I had made a big batch of Italian sausage soup on Friday, so I served that for lunch on Sunday along with some bread and dipping oil. For dinner I thawed leftover chicken burrito filling and all I had to do was heat up the tortillas and assemble the burritos. I did make sweet corn cake to go with the burritos, but all that requires is a few ingredients and five minutes of your time. We also had chips and salsa on the table for everyone to snack on.

Here's the recipe for the soup I made. This makes a TON of soup, but it's so good you'll be glad you have a ton leftover. You're going to need a huge pot! Be sure to leave the pasta out if you plan on freezing the soup. Otherwise, the pasta will overcook when you reheat the soup. (This happened to me and the soup was still delicious, but if you like firm pasta then I suggest cooking it separately). My advice would be to cook up pasta and ladle the soup over it.

I left out the carrots and added a can of northern beans, a tablespoon of fresh basil (in addition to dried) and several pinches of dried Italian seasoning. It was SO good. In fact, I ate some for breakfast today. (I have a cold, okay?)