With the holiday season just a few short months away, many of us will be hosting overnight houseguests for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s. When you have visitors from out of town at your house, does your meal planning go out the window? Or do you kick it into high gear and make some adjustments to accommodate your guests?
Last week I had a very special houseguest – my Aunt Claudia. She came down from Holland, Michigan so she could surprise my Mom for her birthday (and boy was she surprised!) Many times when people are hosting visitors, they think it’s easier just to order out pizza or go to a restaurant rather than cook. I love to eat out too, but that can be expensive, both in terms of dollars and calories, to eat out every meal. My Aunt Claudia and I did eat out few times, mostly for lunch, since we were out shopping and going to movies during the day.
A week before my aunt came down to visit, I called her and asked her if there were any special foods she wanted me to have for her visit. This allowed me time to search a coupon database, like the one at WeUseCoupons.com (http://www.weusecoupons.com/index.php?pageid=coupondatabase) for the yogurt, half & half, crackers and other things my aunt requested.
It’s also a good idea before you lay out your meal plan to check with your guests to see if they have any special dietary restrictions. Personally, I do not eat any beef or pork, so I always make sure I communicate that to my host when I am staying with someone else. Trust me, the host would rather know ahead of time and be able to accommodate you than be frustrated that she slaved over a pot roast that you won’t eat. When I have houseguests, I try to serve crowd-pleasing meals like pasta and my oven-fried chicken. I also utilized some freezer cooking in the weeks prior to my Aunt’s visit by making extra meat sauce and freezing it so that my time spent in the kitchen last week was minimal. Here was my meal plan for the week my Aunt Claudia visited.
Monday ~ Cheese Tortellini with Meat Sauce (made with ground turkey), and Salad
Tuesday ~ Chicken & Wild Rice Soup (See recipe below)
Wednesday ~ Soup and Sandwiches
Thursday ~ Coconut Crusted Tilapia (Sea Cuisine brand, very yummy), with Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Carrots
Friday ~ Oven Fried Chicken, Mac & Cheese, and Green Beans with Almonds
Saturday ~ Dinner out at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Camino Real
Sunday ~ Turkey Slices & Gravy with Wild Rice and Asparagus
Here’s the recipe for the Chicken & Wild Rice Soup. This is a great soup for cool fall and winter days!
Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
1 Tbs of Olive Oil
8 oz. of Sliced Portobello Mushrooms
2 Stalks of Celery, chopped
1 cup of Carrots, Chopped
¼ of Onions, Chopped
¼ Cup of Flour
¼ tsp. each of Salt & Pepper
1 package of Uncle Ben’s Quick Cooking Wild Rice (do NOT use the spice packet, just the rice!)
3 cans of Chicken Broth (14 oz. each)
2 – 5 oz. cans of cooked Chicken Breast, drained (or 1 cup of cooked, shredded chicken breast)
½ Cup of Reduced-Fat Sour Cream
2 Tbs. of Parsley
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onion. Cook until softened, stirring frequently, about five minutes. Add flour, salt, and pepper and cook about two minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth and rice. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until the rice is tender, about six minutes. Add the chicken, sour cream, and parsley. Cook two minutes more until heated through.
* A quick note – this soup is great with leftover Thanksgiving turkey breast!