South-of-the-Border Hospitality

Now, that all depends on your definition of “south of the border.” In this case, it’s south of the Virginia border into Raleigh, North Carolina. We were off to visit my niece Megan, her husband, Sean, and their two girls, Kiera (7) and Riley (3). And, Murphy the dog.

Fussing a bit, Megan said to her husband before we arrived for dinner and an overnight stay, “I want everything to be just right. “

“Why’s that?” he said.

“Because every time we go to Aunt Barb’s, everything’s perfect!” (I didn’t realize I was such a hard act to follow).

Sean said, jokingly, but with validity: “Last time we were at their house, I was almost killed by a tree and the air conditioning went out with the power.

The tree that missed Sean.

I cannot deny that. They were here during a bad storm and a mighty oak fell away from the guest room into the street instead of on the roof where Sean was sleeping. And, yes, the A/C did go out with the power outage. We slept (or not slept, rather) in sweltering conditions. Let’s just call that episode a hospitality challenge.

Back to Raleigh: I offered to cook dinner when we arrived to spare them the trouble. My brother (the famous Bobby G), who also lives in Raleigh, also offered to come by and cook. But, Megan insisted that she was doing it all. She sound motivated so we backed off.

Truth be told, Megan doesn’t need to cook or set the pretty table with wedding-gift linens to show us hospitality. She and Sean and those little girls roll out the welcome mat no matter the menu or who is cooking (or ordering the take out). After all, what more do you need than two darling little girls, Murphy the mellow mutt, and two cute grown-ups who greet you at the door and make you feel like you landed on the right spot.

Riley (l) and Kiera (r) always happy to see you!

Late into that night, a horrendous summer storm came through Raleigh. Sean and Megan were up with the crashes of thunder. The comforting food, the soft bed, and kisses from the little ones put me into a deep slumber and I never woke until morning. After all, it wasn’t my house and I didn’t have to worry about any trees. Now, that’s hospitality!

Corn and Bean Salsa (Pictured above.)
Easy! These are ingredients you can have stocked in your pantry for a quick appetizer.

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can shoe peg corn, drained
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Mix it all and serve with tortilla chips.

Mexican Lasagna
This dish is easily made ahead and held in the refrigerator, then heated in the oven for about 30 minutes before serving. It’s also a great dish to deliver to a  family in need of meals. Who doesn’t like Mexican food?

  • Cooking oil – any kind
  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 or 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 ounce jar taco sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn (do not thaw)
  • 1 package whole wheat or white tortillas, any size, cut into quarters
  • 1 package shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • Salsa and sour cream for serving on the side

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In your biggest sauté pan, cook the onions in a little oil (a couple of spoonfuls) for about five minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until it’s brown throughout. Stir in the next two spices. Add the next four ingredients (beans through corn) and cook a few more minutes.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray (or wipe it with cooking oil on a paper towel if you don’t have spray). Put about one-third of the beef mixture in the bottom. Layer on enough pieces of tortillas to cover, then sprinkle one-third of the cheese on top. Repeat this two more times.  Cook in the oven for about 12 minutes. If taking from the refrigerator, cook longer. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

We’re glad you came!

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