Dining In

Meals For The Mending

By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist   

Years ago when our youngest son, then age 4, was hospitalized for nearly two months, we survived thanks to the kindness of church members, neighbors and friends who brought food.

I still remember so appreciatively what a help it was.

They often brought lasagna. Finally, one night our 5-year-old said, “Not salagna again!” We had to laugh and, in our family, lasagna has been nothing but salagna ever since.

Once again, we have been treated more kindly than we deserved as I am operating on one wing for a bit (the right one, and I am right-handed).  I am incredibly grateful for the gifts of food. My husband is especially grateful because he had to take over kitchen duties — not his favorite thing.

My daughter said, “Mom, why don’t you write about what help food gifts are when people have some kind of physical problem?” I decided she had a good idea. She is a geriatric nurse practitioner and particularly tuned in to the difficulties of aging folks (like her mother!).

I was truly touched by the thoughtfulness of those who are so busy, yet took time to bring us lovely meals or food contributions. We were lucky — the offerings came in over time, not all at once. Here are some things I learned that may help you do a similar good deed.

No one brought food in dishes that needed to be returned. Thanks to the reasonable plastic containers so available now, we don’t have to remember whose dish is whose.

A pasta salad was wonderful. It kept well and we enjoyed it both as an entrée and as a “side.” I’m suggesting a similar salad since our gift pasta salad was so good and a handy help.

Foods that can be frozen for later use are a plus. For one very large casserole freezing worked well. A quart jar of soup made an easy and good dinner for two. Some homemade cookies were much appreciated. Our love of “sweets” was assuaged!

One friend brought “Chicken Piccata” that was just delicious. Elise Hughes says she created the recipe herself. We enjoyed it with rice, with pasta and, finally, with the drippings served over a baked potato. She brought a lot!

“Chicken Chalupas” were the contribution of Jane Hostetler. They also were delicious.

We know these were good “gift” foods, but don’t wait until you or a friend is sick to try them out!

Chicken Piccata

Ingredients:

bullet

4 chicken breasts, skinned, boned and pounded flat

bullet

1 T olive oil

bullet

1 T butter (not margarine)

bullet

1 lb. button mushrooms

bullet

2 cloves garlic, minced

bullet

1⁄2 cup dry white wine (Vermouth is good)

bullet

Juice of 2 limes

bullet

2 T capers

bullet

Salt to taste

bullet

Freshly ground pepper to taste

bullet

1 lime, sliced, for garnish

Directions: Sauté chicken breasts in olive oil, browning on both sides. Remove chicken to platter. Add butter and mushrooms to pan and sauté until soft. Remove from pan. Add garlic, sauté. Add white wine. Simmer. Add lime juice. Heat through. Return chicken to pan. Add mushrooms and capers. Bring to simmer and cook just until meat is done. To serve, top chicken with mushrooms, sauce, and garnish with lime slices.

Macaroni Salad with Lemon Olive-Oil Dressing

Ingredients:

bullet

1-lb. pkg. elbow macaroni

bullet

1 T salt

bullet

15-oz. can white beans (navy, cannelloni or Great Northern), drained and rinsed

bullet

6-oz.can sliced ripe olives, drained

bullet

1 pint  cherry tomatoes, halved

bullet

3 T minced fresh parsley leaves

bullet

1⁄2 small red onion, diced

bullet

Dressing:

bullet

3 T lemon juice

bullet

1 T rice vinegar

bullet

1 T mayonnaise

bullet

1⁄4 t salt

bullet

Freshly ground black pepper

bullet

1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions: Bring water to boil (as directed on package). Add salt and macaroni. Cook just until tender. Drain and rinse with water until cool. While pasta cooks, mix remaining salad ingredients in large bowl. When pasta is cooled, add to salad. For the dressing, mix first five ingredients and whisk oil in to form a thick dressing. Toss with salad and serve. Makes 12 servings.

Chicken Chalupas

Ingredients:

bullet

2 cans (10 oz. each) cream of chicken soup

bullet

1 pt. (2 cups) sour cream

bullet

2 green onions, sliced

bullet

4-oz. can green chilies, diced

bullet

4-oz. can sliced black olives, drained

bullet

3⁄4 lb. (3 cups) Monterey Jack cheese

bullet

4 chicken breast halves, cooked and diced, about 3 cups

bullet

1 pkg. (8 to 10 count) flour tortillas

bullet

3⁄4 lb. (3 cups) grated cheddar cheese

Directions: In a large bowl, combine soup, sour cream, green onions, chilies and olives. Stir in Monterey Jack cheese. Remove 2 cups of mixture to another bowl and set aside. Add chicken pieces to remainder. Spread 1⁄2 cup chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla, roll, leaving ends open. Place in prepared dish. Repeat until filling is used. Spread with remaining sauce mixture over tortillas and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese.  Bake for 40 minutes until hot and bubbly. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Since this makes quite a quantity, you may want to make two portions in separate containers.

 

Home ] Up ] Cover Story ] [ Dining In ] Down Home ] Say Cheese ] Food For Thought ] Editorial ]