Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Simple Entertaining Meal

With Easter just around the corner, I thought I'd share a little bit about what our family will be having for a simple but special meal (emphasis on simple).  Here's a sneak peak.  It's a repeat of a meal my sister Julz made to entertain with awhile back.  Read on...

Recently my sister Julz decided to have a bunch of people over for Sunday lunch after church.  Well, it wasn't just a few...it was actually closer to 20 people.  I know.  I know.  Crazy!  But really, it wasn't.  Somehow she managed to pull off a delicious meal that was easy to make, a cinch to clean up, and all while being 4 months pregnant and having a 9 month old daughter hanging on her hip.  "Is she super woman?" you ask.   No.  But she was smart about her menu.  Here's what she did:

The Protein:  Spiral Ham from Costco
Her original intent was to cook this in a crockpot, but it ended up being too large to fit, so we cooked it in the oven.  With ham, you aren't cooking it at all, you're merely heating it through and then melting a glaze over it.  It couldn't be simpler.  It's not the cheapest of meats, but it's certainly not the most expensive either.  She figured her ham was about $2 a pound.  Not bad.  Figure on 1/2 to 3/4 lbs per person for a bone-in ham.  Also keep in mind that most people don't eat as much when they're in a large group of people.  They tend to take smaller servings.  Besides, a little bit of leftover ham never hurt anyone. 

The Starch:  Deluxe Potato Casserole
In our family, this is called "Nall Potatoes," named after the church where we learned about this heavenly side dish.  The beauty of the dish is that not only is it delicious, creamy, and decadent, but it couldn't be simpler.  It's miraculous.  The original plan was to put two of these casseroles (one with onions and one without) in the oven in two large disposable aluminum sheet pans.  However, since the ham booted everything else out of the oven, the potatoes were relegated to two crockpots (she borrowed mine).  The recipe for the potatoes is at the end of this post.

The Veggie:  Green Beans Amandine
This is the fancy way of saying "green beans with butter and almonds."  All we did was cook a large bag of frozen green beans (again, from Costco) according to the package directions.  Once the beans were cooked and drained, we added about a half stick of butter and a package or two of sliced almonds.  A little bit of seasoned salt added to taste rounded it all out.  Voila!  

Important note: In my family, we don't believe in crisp-tender green beans.  We believe that a properly cooked green bean should have the consistency of a cooked spaghetti noodle.  I'm not joking.  If you happen to be one of those crazy people who disagrees with this philosophy...well...make your beans however you wish.  I just don't want to know about it!

The Bread:  Store-bought Dinner Rolls
The plan was to have dinner rolls alongside the meal.  Unfortunately, the rolls were left off of the shopping list, so we did without.  I really don't think anyone desperately missed them.

The Dessert:  Store-bought Cheesecake and/or Dessert from a Willing Friend
If you're as busy as Julz is, don't even bother making dessert.  No one will care!  Let me repeat...NO ONE WILL CARE!!! They will happily eat ice cream sundaes, store-bought brownies, or whatever you decide.  In this instance, we went with a large cheesecake from Costco sliced into very thin servings. 

The other option is to ask someone who is on the guest list to bring a dessert.  Inevitably, some kind soul will ask if there is anything he or she can bring.  Take them up on the offer!  In this case, our friend Bridget brought a homemade chocolate sheet cake. 

That's all.  That was the entire meal.  The best part was that the meal was incredibly simple to pull off.  No crazy recipes.  Just simple food that was easy to prepare and delicious to eat.  Try this for your next entertaining meal. 

Recipe:  Deluxe Potato Casserole
Serves: 10-12   

  • 3 lbs frozen hash browns (my family prefers cubed, not shredded), thawed for 30 minutes
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 2 cups grated Colby cheese 
  1. Mix ingredients together.  
  2. If baking in oven, place in 9 x 13 pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 1 hour until hot and bubbly and slightly crunchy on sides and top.
  3. If baking in crockpot, place ingredients in crockpot sprayed with cooking spray and cook on  HIGH for approximately 3 hours, or until gooey and melted all the way through.  You will want to stir this, as the sides tend to brown before the middle is melted.  But never fear, the brown bits mixed in are the BEST part.  Trust me.  
  4. NOTE:  The original recipe calls for crushed potato chips to be sprinkled on the top of the casserole before baking.  Such a topping wouldn't work in the crockpot, but would be lovely if baking it in the oven. 


  1. The mushy green beans must be a Nana thing. Uncle Ray likes them cooked to death too.
    Aunt Ruth

  2. Kelly, Tried the potatoes for Easter dinner today, and they were delicious.