5 October 2017
For the last three or so months, we’ve brought a meal to a family with a new baby every other week. And you know what? I feel incredibly lucky to say that! That means that we have people around us we care about. It also means we have a tangible way to live out our calling to love others as we’ve been loved.
In case others of you are in the same situation, I thought I’d share a few of the go-to meals we like to bring to families in transition (new parents, yes, but also friends who are ill, grieving, or struggling in some other way!). Or, if you’re just looking for new recipes to try for yourself, that’s great, too :) I always like to put together a complete meal, so I’ve included my tips for accompaniments below, too.
If you’re looking to go above and beyond, I have two recommendations: one, take care with your packaging. Put freshly-washed blueberries in a mason jar, wrap up your brownie slices in parchment paper, tie a bow around a bottle of lemonade. A friend did this for us when June was born and I thought she’d hung the moon. Second, consider including something in addition to the main meal, like a pan of cinnamon rolls or a bag of bagels for breakfast, or cut-up veggies and dip or cheese and crackers for a quick snack. Totally not required, but a fun way to love a little extra!
Finally, don’t be feeling bad if you wish you had more people to bring a meal to. This is still a new phenomenon for me. And to be fair, because I know how much it meant to have meals brought to us as new parents, I basically chase people down on the street to ask if I can make them food, so it’s not like we have a million best friends :)
Photo by Jenny Steffens Hobick
Lasagna | This is my absolute FAVORITE lasagna recipe (it is soooo good!), and I love making it for friends in the winter. If you’re looking for something similar and also yummy but a bit easier, try this one pot lasagna recipe. Pack with a green salad, vinaigrette, and garlic bread or a baguette.
Lemon Parmesan Penne with Grilled Chicken | This is one of my personal favorite recipes, so I love to make it for friends! It’s a lighter pasta dish that’s perfect for the warmer months, and it comes together easily (if I’m delivering it on a week day, I’ll often ask John to grill the chicken the night before). Pack with sparkling lemonade and brownies.
One Pan Orzo Italiano | We got this in the HelloFresh box we tried, and loved it so much we promptly made it for friends AND for ourselves the next week! One note: I found that a full box of orzo (not the 1 1/3 cups it calls for) was the right amount to absorb the four cups of liquid. Pack with sparkling lemonade and chocolate chip cookies.
Hot Chicken Salad | While I appreciated the friends who brought us healthier food after June was born, what I really craved was comfort food (maybe because she was born in the winter!). Our dear friends brought us this Paula Deen recipe, and it was soooo bad but soooo good :) Pack with crusty ciabatta rolls, green salad, and blueberries.
Black Bean Soup with Cumin and Jalapeno | This is an easy, economical recipe that’s great for vegetarians! It’s also easy to double, which makes putting dinner for my family and another family on the table on the same night more manageable. Pack with a baguette, a green or kale salad, and chocolate chip cookies.
Award-Winning Chili | For a cozy fall or winter meal, you can’t beat chili, and this is a good one. Pack with apple cider, guacamole, and Honeycrisp apples.
Easy Chicken Pot Pie | Alongside meatloaf, chicken pot pie is one of my absolute favorite comfort foods. This recipe takes a lot of shortcuts to make the prep easier, but it’s still yummy and satisfying. Pack with sparkling lemonade, fruit salad, and brownies.
Taco Soup | Cheap, easy to make, and delicious — that’s a winner for a sharable meal! This recipe is a top performer for my family, for guests, and for new parents alike. Pack with a green salad, cornbread, and cut-up strawberries.
Lightened Up Chicken Enchiladas | A friend brought this to us when June was born, and in addition to being yummy on the first night, it was great for leftovers! Pack with sparkling lemonade, tortilla chips, and Rice Krispees treats.
Any go-to sharable recipes you’d like to tell the group about? Or favorite meals to make when friends come over to your house for dinner? (I find so many good recipes that way!)
30 May 2017
Since y’all seemed to like my post sharing a month of meals in January, I thought I’d pop back in with a spring edition! I’m not surprised that post was popular, as I’m always looking for new tried-and-true recipes myself. Hopefully you’ll find a few recipes in today’s post that look promising enough to add to your own rotation! A few things:
— You’ll note that since April was a much busier month than January for us, many of our meals were, ahem, simpler. Grace and a side of vegetables was and is the name of the game.
— I’ve marked with an asterisk any recipe we were making for the first time.
Photo from Pinch of Yum
Saturday, April 1: out
Sunday, April 2: chicken piccata and sauteed asparagus
Monday, April 3: meatball subs and sauteed broccoli
Tuesday, April 4: chicken tikka masala, rice, and naan
Wednesday, April 5: sweet potato burritos with avocado salsa
Thursday, April 6: buffalo chicken pizza and salad (Publix dough, frozen buffalo chicken, chopped red onion, shredded cheese, and Whole Foods 365 blue cheese sauce)
Friday, April 7: potstickers (family recipe)
Saturday, April 8: vegetarian black bean enchiladas
Sunday, April 9: hot dogs and sauteed broccoli
Monday, April 10: lemon parmesan pasta with grilled chicken
Tuesday, April 11: peanut noodles with carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms (from Pretty Delicious)
Wednesday, April 12: chana masala, rice, and naan
Thursday, April 13: grilled sweet potato tacos (loose interpretation)
Friday, April 14: out
Saturday, April 15: out
Sunday, April 16 (Easter!): ham, mashed potatoes, green beans with shallots, salad, and rolls
Monday, April 17: ham sandwiches and salad
Tuesday, April 18: Articles Club night – I brought guacamole from this recipe and Mexican corn
Wednesday, April 19: three pepper pizza and salad (Publix dough, jarred sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, and chopped up red bell pepper, poblano pepper, pepperoncinis, and red onion)
Thursday, April 20: cobb salad
Friday, April 21: bratwurst, pasta salad, green salad, and baked beans
Saturday, April 22: out
Sunday, April 23: chicken tikka masala
Monday, April 24: traveling
Tuesday, April 25: traveling
Wednesday, April 26: traveling
Thursday, April 27: traveling
Friday, April 28: turkey and ricotta meatballs* on crusty bread with sauteed green beans
Saturday, April 29: lemon parmesan pasta with grilled chicken
Sunday, April 30: corn and zucchini chowder*
I’d love to hear if you have a favorite recipe for the spring or summer!
7 February 2017
Hi, friends! Thank you SO much to everyone who has taken my 2017 survey! I have loved hearing from more than 140 of you so far. The polls are open until Friday (when I’ll draw the $50 gift card winner!), so go leave your feedback here if you haven’t already. Looking forward to sharing some of the results, too!
In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share what we ate in January. It can be hard to get inspired to cook in the winter, when it’s cold and produce is a little lame, so I’m supplying you with 31 options :) A few notes:
— I’ve linked to recipes where I have them, which is most places – we are not the type of cooks who can just throw things together in the kitchen!!
— I’ve marked with an asterisk any recipe we were making for the first time.
Photo from Design Mom
Sunday, January 1: homemade ramen (John uses only the ramen noodles from the $.20 packets and adds frozen peas, soy sauce, an egg, cashews, etc.)
Monday, January 2: roasted butternut squash soup, salad, and baguette (Whole30 people, I’m pretty sure this is approved, and it is delicious and so easy!!)*
Tuesday, January 3: burrito bowls (we do quinoa rice, pinto and black beans, sauteed green bell peppers and onions, canned diced green chiles, salsa, and Greek yogurt)
Wednesday, January 4: kielbasa, crispy smashed potatoes with avocado aioli, and salad
Thursday, January 5: chana masala, rice, and naan
Friday, January 6: three pepper pizza and salad (we use Whole Foods dough (in the refrigerated/prepared foods section), jarred sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, and chopped up red bell pepper, poblano pepper, pepperoncinis, and red onion)
Saturday, January 7: lasagna, salad, and garlic bread (the absolute BEST lasagna, in my opinion!)
Sunday, January 8: easy chicken pot pie*
Monday, January 9: leftovers
Tuesday, January 10: leftovers
Wednesday, January 11: chili mac and cheese*
Thursday, January 12: BBQ takeout
Friday, January 13: three pepper pizza and salad
Saturday, January 14: kale sausage chick pea pasta (this is a recipe from our friends the Henrys that has become a staple in our house. I may share it in a separate post sometime because it is delicious!)
Sunday, January 15: sheet pan tenderloin and roasted veggies*
Monday, January 16: taco soup
Tuesday, January 17: Articles Club! Homemade ramen for John
Wednesday, January 18: leftovers
Thursday, January 19: butter chicken, rice, and naan
Friday, January 20: Chick-fil-a :)
Saturday, January 21: veggie burgers and frozen sweet potato fries
Sunday, January 22: zucchini meatballs, Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce, spaghetti, and salad
Monday, January 23: Chipotle (we had meetings at church)
Tuesday, January 24: quesadillas on the grill (we do pinto beans and sauteed peppers and onions)
Wednesday, January 25: pork lettuce wraps
Thursday, January 26: farfalle with pancetta and peas
Friday, January 27: buffalo chicken pizza (we do Whole Foods dough, frozen buffalo chicken, chopped red onion, shredded cheese, and Whole Foods 365 blue cheese sauce) and Asian charred broccoli
Saturday, January 28: Chinese takeout for Lunar New Year!
Sunday, January 29: chicken noodle soup
Monday, January 30: chickpea shawarma pitas
Tuesday, January 31: chicken and broccoli stir fry
If this was helpful, I’d love to do posts for other seasons, since our go-to meals change a lot with the weather! Let me know what you think, and I’d also love to hear if you have a favorite recipe for the winter!
P.S. I wrote a post a few years ago about how we meal plan – considering writing a follow-up since our process has changed a bit!
14 December 2016
I’ve been following along with Victoria’s fun Christmas link-up, and wanted to pop in today to share a few of my favorite Christmas recipes! Though out of the five I’m going to share, all but one is a dessert, or almost a dessert… I promise I do eat real food in December :)
I’ll move from the oldest holiday favorite to the most recent addition, which means starting with peanut butter balls. Possibly the most homely of treats, but my Mom’s are legendary. So much so, that I can’t give you the recipe :) When my sisters and I were in high school, she would make dozens and dozens and dozens to give to friends, family, teachers, mailmen, coworkers, Coast Guard cadets, and anyone else who stopped by and looked hungry. She even made 300 (!!) for our wedding, making batches over the course of a few weeks and freezing them until the big day. Moms are the best.
Every Christmas morning we eat monkey bread – ooey, gooey, possibly slightly raw, always delicious. Here’s our version – no fancy caramel sauce or raisins need apply. Cut four cans of biscuits in quarters. Mix cinnamon and sugar. Shake biscuit quarters in cinnamon sugar. Arrange in a 13×9 pan (better than a bundt pan – helps it to cook more evenly!). Melt some (?) butter and pour over the top. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
John’s Mom started making chewy chocolate-gingerbread cookies back in high school, and I was immediately hooked (as was the rest of his family). They’ve since become a staple of the holidays, and were also served at our wedding! Bonus: they freeze well, so we usually get to take a container home with us whenever we visit :)
The year we got married, I started making this toffee recipe and handing out the goods to our garbage men, mail lady, post office peeps, oil change guys, etc. – maybe my version of PB balls. June’s teachers have been added to the list this year! It really is delicious, and easy – just follow the peanut butter trick.
Finally, for the last few years, Jenny’s beef ragu has been the centerpiece of all sorts of special occasions, including Christmas dinner 2015 when we hosted John’s family. Aside from being deeeeeelicious, it makes your house smell marvelous.
I would love to hear: what are your favorite Christmas foods? (Almost) all sweets like me, or something more substantial? :)
Linking up with Victoria and Sarah!
Photos from their sources except for monkey bread and ginger cookies (photo by Tanja Lippert from our reception)