Let’s face it: sometimes we’re just *over it,* and that’s especially true when it comes to dinner. When it’s Wednesday night and all you want to is lay on the couch and eat a bag of microwave popcorn, just remember the wisdom from our guest today—podcaster and now-cookbook author Jen Hatmaker! Jen’s latest book is called Feed These People, and this week, Jen and Emily talked about how to muster the energy and creativity to cook for your people when you have zero left in the tank, Jen’s favorite recipes for a random Wednesday night, her favorite kitchen tools and so much more.
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A Food Q&A with Jen Hatmaker (plus tips!)
Q: Favorite meal for busy weeknights?
A: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sliders
Drop a pork tenderloin that you just bought from the store that you did literally almost nothing to it into your crock pot or whatever, dump store bought barbecue sauce, whatever kind you like, on top of it. Turn it on low and put a lid on it. That whole process will take you 45 seconds. You get your little Hawaiian sliders. You take your two forks. You shred it. You make your little slider. You buy prepackaged slaw, which is a dump and stir, or nothing, or no slaw, or you put pickles on it, and that's your dinner. And chips. That's it. This is almost a zero labor dinner and it tastes delicious.
Q: Favorite Go-To Appetizer
A: Bacon-Wrapped Dates
You can literally just wrap a date with bacon and bake them and just go the most rudimentary route, and everyone's still going to be thrilled. I generally cut it in half—not all the way through, so it opens up a little book—and put a little smear of either goat cheese or blue cheese or cream cheese, whatever you like and have, and one roasted almond right in there. Close it up. Wrap it with half a strip of bacon and bake them.
I usually serve them with just a little tiny thing of... I'll do a little mix of orange marmalade and a little bit of horse radish and a little bit of hot water and just stir it up and it's delicious.
Q: Favorite quick meal during the holidays?
A, part 1: Sandwiches
I'll get a huge loaf of french bread and just cut it in half and do this massive Italian sub. Get it all from the deli. It's just layer, wrap, stick in the oven. I use jarred marinara and jarred pesto on the top and the bottom. For some reason, my kids love that.
A, part 2: Eggs
The second thing that I do is ask, What can I put inside some scrambled eggs? Eggs are so cheap. They feed a ton. In my opinion, anything can go in scramble eggs. I'll put anything in it, just clean out my refrigerator. I'll saute all that stuff up, and then I'll pour my scrambled eggs over it and put cheese on top, and put it in a tortilla.
Q: Favorite meal when you have a bunch of people over?
A: Individual homemade pizzas
Virtually all of it can be done in advance. You can have all your toppings ready. Everybody make your own. You don't have to put anything together. Everybody gets their own individual pizza crust, which you can make or you can buy. That's really great too when people have all sorts of dietary issues Hi! It's a good time to be alive.
Q: Ride or die kitchen tool?
A: A really good knife. And If you have $11 to spare, a food scraper.
Q: Favorite Recipe from your new cookbook, Feed These People?
A: Italian Butter Garlic Subs
They’re sloppy and delicious and melty and oozy, and the bread is a little toasty. There's no chance that somebody won't like it. It's a no-fail.
“I learned to cook right around when I turned 30 and only because I had three kids. This was the early 2000s, and I started watching the Food Network, which was the only thing of its kind at the time. Now, of course, we have a billion food streaming shows and channels. But at the time, that was Paula Deen and The Neelys and Rachael Ray and Emeril. Those were my teachers. That was my culinary school.” – Jen Hatmaker
“First of all, all the yeses and thumbs up to Jersey Mike's. All of them. Every thumb that I have, all the yeses that I can muster. Whoever told us we have to cook something every day, that's just a lie.” – Jen Hatmaker
A Blessing for Your Week
I hope you remember the work you do day in and day out makes a difference.
And I hope you remember that no matter how the work gets done, showing up is what really matters.
Because no one will remember that you put food on paper plates. They’ll just remember the time you took to feed them—and love them well.
Simplicity Tip of the Week
Do you have a go-to pantry meal? Like, something you can whip up for kids or company at a moment’s notice using what you’ve got just in your pantry?
Maybe it’s baked spaghetti, and you always make sure you have noodles, sauce, and cheese on hand. Maybe it’s taco soup, or fried rice—or, if you’re like the Ley family, macaroni and peas. Whatever it is, decide what your pantry meal is going to be. If you have more than one, write them out on a piece of paper, and tape them to the pantry wall. That way, when you don’t have the energy to be creative, you know where you can turn for a quick and easy meal.
And then—when you use up the ingredients for that dish, those ingredients go right onto the grocery list. Because you know you’re going to need those supplies for a rainy day pantry meal. And sister, you’re going to thank yourself later, I promise.
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