Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Care Package

Several weeks ago, my sister had an accident that has put her out of commission for a while. I took food when she got home from the hospital and had planned to do it again last week. But you know how plans go---they went awry. So this week, I took enough food to last them several days. I did choose a couple of recipes that can be frozen for later, if that helps them. If she lived closer to me, I would divide meals and share as I cook for us. But she is just far enough away to make that impractical.

If you are like me, the hardest part of doing this is deciding what to make. So I'll tell you what I took. You might find a recipe here that you can use. Maybe you'll put it with one of your own favorite recipes. Factor in major dislikes (no olives or feta cheese will go to this house!) but don't get too crazy about "cooking to order" or you'll never do it.

Do take a minute to think about who is getting your care package. I'm taking this to a household of 2. That means I didn't make the whole 9x13-inch dish of baked ziti for them. As glad as they were to get some home cooked food, I know they didn't want to eat the same thing for a week. I divided the ziti into smaller foil pans—two small ones for them (one to bake, one to freeze for later) and a square pan for us.  If things might go into the freezer, wrap it so that it's ready to freeze and add the date. Make it as easy as possible for them.

And take just part of a meal if that's what you have time for. (This time, I was lucky to have most of the day to do this.) My brother-in-law did say that they are lucky to live where there are many restaurants so "it's easy to pick up food—but take-out meals get old pretty quick." So anything you've made will be welcome. A couple of weeks ago, I took BBQ chicken sliders, pasta salad and a bag of chips. (I cooked chicken breasts until tender, shredded them, and poured a bottle of bought "sweet & spicy" barbecue sauce over. I took that and a package of dinner rolls.) It was quick to put together, but it was greatly appreciated.

Here is what I took (with recipe links) this week:

Mason Jar Salads
While the water for the ziti was coming to a boil, I made these four pint jars because I realized that the container of baby spinach I bought was only enough for four jars. (I had planned to make some for us, too. Next time.) They will keep for five days. I added the "use by" date to the lids. I've done these before and they really do keep for days. And it's delish.

Baked Ziti
This recipe is a favorite of my family. It makes a huge amount. And we know it freezes well—either before baking or after. I divided it into two small foil pans to take and a square pan for us. I ran out of mozzarella when I was adding the cheese on top, so I finished up with a little Mexican cheese blend. Close enough.

Chicken Salad
I figured they can have sandwiches, or add a scoop of this to the mason jar salad to make that a complete meal. This will keep a few days, too.

Sloppy Joes
If you've eaten Manwich and decided that you don't like sloppy joes, this isn't Manwich (which I happen to like, but lots of folks don't.)  It freezes and reheats well. I packed this so that it could be frozen if they want to use it later. I divided the meat mixture and divided a package of slider rolls—half for them, half for us. Toast the rolls before serving.

Black Eye Pea Salad
Since this was going to my sister and brother-in-law, I figured I could experiment a little. This is a new recipe. I started with a recipe I found on Plain Chicken's blog, but then I drifted and changed it up a bit. Taste and adjust to suit you. You might like it a little sweeter. I'm thinking a little whole kernel corn would be a good addition, too.


3 (15-oz) cans black eye peas, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced onion
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Put peas, peppers, onion and celery in a bowl. Mix oil, vinegars, garlic powder, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to blend. Pour over vegetables and stir gently. Cover and chill for at least an hour. Longer is better.

Just to finish the cooler box up, I added a purchased container of fresh fruit, a container of sliced cucumbers from our garden and I tucked in a loaf of pineapple zucchini bread from my freezer. Now they are fixed for a few days and there is enough here so that I don't have to cook for us for a while. A definite win/win. Now, don't think I'm crazy, but this is how I do things. I typed up sheet listing everything I delivered, with preparation directions if needed. I even included an ingredient list, so they would know what they had. That's overkill, I know, but I was glad for an excuse to sit down and type after cooking all morning!

As we were leaving her house after the food delivery, my sister shouted out the door to me. She promised that if I fall down the stairs and break something, she'll bring me food. It's a deal.


  1. You're a good sister! What a nice assortment of meals. I wish your sister all the best.

    1. Bonus for us here at the farm is that we are enjoying the other half of most of those dishes. I might start this "once a week cooking" all the time. Yesterday I had time to go to my knitting group, come home read some, and only had to pop the ziti in the oven. Tonight it's sloppy joes on the menu.

  2. I am so glad to have this list - I never know what to take to people!! What a lovely, thoughtful and HELPFUL thing to do for your sister.

    1. Missy, the pasta salad (also linked here) even though it isn't pictured here, is an excellent dish to take, too.

    2. Yes - sounds perfect! Thanks!

  3. I loved this post!

    Try this:

    Tortellini salad

    1 large refrigerated 3 cheese tortellini cooked/ drained
    1 can drained kidney beans
    1 pouch pepperoni ( don't need the entire pouch)
    Diced red pepper
    Diced yellow pepper
    1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
    Cilantro chopped (if you like it)
    Salt and pepper to taste
    1 bottle Paul Newman balsamic vinegar( to taste)

    Best served at room temperature.
    Great summer dish with all your groups covered: protein, carbs, veggies

    1. Yum! Will surely try this soon. Thanks.


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