On Delivering Dinner

Hopefully we have been friends for a bit. If not no worries. I’m always happy to make new friends.

If we have been friends for a awhile one thing you will know about me is my reaction to pretty much any major life event is to throw food at it. Not literally but figuratively. You moved? Had a death in your family? New baby? Generally speaking an awful week? Birthday? Anniversary? I’m there with food in hand.

On delivering dinner

Over the years I feel I have become a bit of an expert on what to take to people. There are a few things I try to take into consideration:

1. I never make anything for a someone I wouldn’t feed my family. Good food but also good for you (well besides the cookies maybe). This means whole grains, locally sourced meats, as much organic produce as I can afford, little or no refined oils

2. Aim to include veggies. So often I feel when people drop off dinner the dishes are rich and calorie laden. I always pick main dishes that are chocked full of veggies.

3. Include something for breakfast. Ages ago I read a post about delivering dinner to a new mom and it suggested to take breakfast foods along with the dinner. I tend to make something like muffins or scones for an easy next day breakfast.

4. If you can just bring along some plain fresh fruit- apples, watermelon, grapes, strawberries. you know- whatever is in season. When we are in the midst of a life changing event I don’t think we tend to eat well. Wash and cut up the fruit for easy, mindless snacking.

5. Always ALWAYS ask about allergies, aversions, preferences before deciding on your menu. I don’t like blue cheese but you wouldn’t know that unless you asked. Or know me well.

6. Don’t break the bank. The reason I have such a deep repertoire of recipes is I cook and deliver based on what is in season, on sale, or on hand. Most meals I deliver cost me less than $10 to make. The entire meal- fruit, breakfast, and entree.

7. Only deliver on dishes and in tupperware you don’t want or need back. The last thing these people need is to keep track of your stuff. Make sure they know they don’t need to wash or return anything.

Do you ever make and deliver food to friends and family? This little blog has a long list of recipes that are perfect for delivery. Here is a list of my favorites:

Casseroles:

Black bean and spinach enchiladas

Black bean and spinach enchiladas– Healthy and hearty. I actually delivered this to a new mama yesterday.

lighter tuna noodle casserole

Tuna noodle casserole– First reference #5 above. Not everyone loves tuna casserole BUT if they do this lighter version is packed full of veggies and is sure to please!

chicken or turkey biscuit pot pie

Chicken or turkey biscuit pot pie– A twist on pot pie that is a bit quicker to prepare. Still a showstopper and again loaded with veg.

Baked penne bolognese

Baked penne with bolognese– This dish packs a veggie punch without you realizing it. Plus there isn’t anything out there as hearty or heartwarming as homemade pasta sauce.

Baked mac and cheese

Baked mac and cheese– This recipe offers two ways to make it- both with veggies! And who doesn’t love homemade mac and cheese? Fascists that’s who.

Easy to reheat dinner:

Easy veggie curry

Easy veggie curry– Perfect vegan or vegetarian dish. Make brown rice for an extra hearty fiber punch.

Lentils, sausage and swiss chard

Lentils, sausage and swiss chard– Yes this sounds a bit unusual but make it and I promise the recipient will be impressed. This basic dish has so much flavor.

Soups:

Broccoli cheese soup

Broccoli cheese soup– Loads of veggies in this lighter version of an all around classic. Be sure to include bread for dipping!

Beef barley stew

Beef barley stew– Veggies, meat, barley. Yum. Stick to your ribs soul food.

Saffron chicken veggie soup

Saffron chicken veggie soup– Did you know saffron is a mood booster? Ideal dish if someone if having a particularly hard time.

Leek and potato soup

Leek and potato soup– One of our standby faves for weeknight dinner. Simple mild soup made with nourishing chicken or veggie broth. A must make for anyone recovering from illness.

Sweet potato quinoa chili

Sweet potato quinoa chili– Another great recipe for the vegetarian or vegan. Be sure to make cornbread (suggested recipe below).

Breakfasts:

Banana bread

Banana bread– Does this really need an explanation? A classic favorite.

Cranberry orange muffins

Cranberry orange muffins– Perfect around the holiday season or if you have frozen cranberries lurking in your freezer.

Homemade granola

Homemade granola version one or version two– Cereal lovingly made by someone else is always a welcome treat.

blueberry-muffins

Blueberry muffins– I make this recipe so often I have it memorized. First time I made them was to deliver to a friend at the hospital right after she had her baby.

Sides (to go with soups or casseroles!):

Brown butter rosemary cornbread

Brown butter rosemary cornbread– I think this would go great with the sweet potato quinoa chili. Just sayin.

Artisan bread

Artisan bread– This bread is no effort at all on your part and is a stunner. Sure beats spending $5 on a loaf at the store.

Cheddar scallion drop biscuits

Cheddar scallion drop biscuits– Ridiculously cheesy and flavorful biscuits. Goes great with the saffron veggies soup.

 

I hope this has given you some ideas and inspiration. What are your favorite recipes to deliver?

 

 

Almond Poppyseed Bread

Who doesn’t love the poppyseed muffins from Costco?

Yum.

Almond poppyseed bread

However they present many problems. I can’t pronounce all the ingredients in them. Who needs to eat that big of a muffin anyways? And lastly I don’t have a Costco membership.

When I ran across this recipe earlier this month I was super excited. It sounded just like a poppyseed muffin but baked into a loaf.

Almond poppyseed bread

I was not disappointed. Incredibly tasty and easy. You can glaze or not. It is equally tasty either way. Wanna hear something strange? This bread is best a few days old and just a tad stale. Maybe that is because I wanted that authentic Costco muffin experience but honestly I liked it better the longer it sat on the counter. Which for the record was only three days.

Yeah it didn’t last long around here.

Almond poppyseed bread

Almond Poppyseed bread (makes two big loaves)
(I am not linking to the post I got the recipe from. The recipe was SCREWED up and that makes me cranky)

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups melted and cooled butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 T. poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp lemon extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1-3 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream together the melted butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add eggs one at a time. Add poppyseeds, almond extract, milk and vanilla. In a seprate bowl sift together the flour salt and baking powder. Add to the wet mixture and mix till just combined. Do not overmix. Pour in to two floured and greased (or parchment lined) loaf pans. Bake for 40-45 min. Glaze while still warm.

To make the glaze combine the powdered sugar and extracts in a bowl. Slowly add milk one teaspoon at a time till it is ever so slightly runny. Pour over warm bread.

Almond poppyseed bread

Cranberry orange muffins

Years ago (11 actually) I attended a wonderful discipleship school in Laussane, Switzerland. I lived in the large school in the Swiss countryside for three months. Our school had about 90 people living there, of which about 55 were part of the program I was in. It was the biggest growing experience of my life.

Orange cranberry muffins

While living at the school each person was required to work at the school. It helped keep the costs down and build community. Tasks ranged from cleaning the bathrooms to babysitting to helping with meals. I got the wonderful task of baking. I may be quite the baker now but looking back I really had no idea what I was doing at the time. My partner in crime, Jen (who should be given an award for dealing with the 18 year old not very nice version of me), and I were responsible for making tasty treats for morning snack as well as making goodies for special occasion such as birthdays and Thanksgiving dinner. It was alot of work but I truly enjoyed it.

What does this have to do with these muffins?

One of the many recipes we made was cranberry orange bread. It was Jen’s recipe and it was love at first bite. Ever since cranberry orange anything has reminded me of those afternoons spent working away in the kitchen in Laussane.

So here you go. Absurdly simple. Ridiculously good. And once again- seasonal. Fresh cranberries are only available for a short time so make this soon! (or do like me and freeze 4 bags of fresh cranberries to nom on at a later time)

Orange cranberry muffins

Cranberry Orange Muffins (makes about 14)
adapted from Branny Boils Over

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup of buttermilk
6 tbsp. unsalted butter – melted and cooled
1/3 cup orange juice
1 large egg
1 tbsp. grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups of fresh cranberries (or frozen), chopped
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place muffin liners in muffin tin. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, melted butter, orange juice, egg and orange zest. Gently fold in the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with the rubber spatula. Do not overmix. Add in cranberries and stir as little as possible. Fill cups 3/4 full, sprinkle turbinado sugar on top, and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Best eaten the same day.

Orange cranberry muffins

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Cooking is my hobby. I am fairly competent in the kitchen, or at least I think so. However, when it came time to make these cupcakes, it was amature hour. My mind was clearly elsewhere. Where you ask? I have no idea. This was a disaster. It felt like the three stooges moved in. Despite my attempts to sabotage my own cupcakes, they turned out. Proof even a bad cook can make a good recipe. Think I am exaggerating? The following happened yesterday as I tried to make these:

1. The tiny carrots I had picked from my garden were in water. Said water was spilled all over my cookbook, counter and floor. Water was later found in the cupboards and drawers.

2. I tried to grate the aforementioned tiny carrots on my regular grater. I am sure if I had continued that course of action I would still be grating carrots. In the interest of time I did something I have never done before- I pulled out my Cuisinart and fitted it with the shredding disc. The tiny carrots didn’t want to grate. Well they did, but just not all the way.  I then had to pick  large carrot pieces out of the shredded carrot. Maddening.

Carrot cake cupcakes

3. I skipped a step in adding the ingredients. Who does this?!? After mixing the oil and sugar, I proceeded to add the flour mixture completely forgetting the eggs. Once all the flour was in the bowl I saw the egg carton. I debating trying to remove the flour but opted instead to turn on the mixer and quickly add all the eggs. To make up for the lumpy mess I scrapped down the bowl then turned the mixer on medium high and beat the living daylights out of it.

4. I forgot to preheat oven. Not the end of the world and, in my case, a blessing because when I went to turn the oven on I remembered to remove the pizza stones from last nights dinner. I was feeling smug. After scooping the batter into the muffin pans I popped them in the oven and started in on dishes. About 5 minutes later my oven beeped at me. It was to early for the timer so I stared blankly at the oven trying to figure out why it beeped. Oh. It was finally up to temp. Nearly 7 minutes into the baking time. Awesome.

5. They burnt. But out of the three pans only four cupcakes burnt. And it was only the bottom. What? There was no rhyme or reason to the ones that burnt too. My oven is always very very even.

6. I screwed up the frosting. I didn’t take time to read the recipe fully and after creaming the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar I just dumped in the whipping cream. Uh… You are supposed to beat it separately and fold it in. So again, I turned the mixer on medium high and prayed. The frosting is actually quite good although a bit runny. I refrigerated the cupcakes overnight and they were delicious the next morning. I was looking for a new cream cheese frosting what I can pipe so this clearly wasn’t it.

But as you can see they are beautiful. Moist. Carroty. Here are the recipes as they were written- however you can make the above modifications and they will still turn out. I would recommend skipping the part where you spill water all over your kitchen.

Carrot cake cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes (makes 26 give or take)

2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat in one egg at a time mixing well after each addition. Combine flour, soda, powder, cinnamon, and salt in a separate bowl Add to egg mixture and mix well. Add carrots and nuts and stir till combined. Pour into lined cupcake pan. Fill to 1/2 full. Alternatively pour in to a greased and floured 9×13 pan. Bake for 28-30 minutes for cupcakes, 45 minutes for a cake.

Carrot cake cupcakes

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

16oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, cold

Beat the cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream to nearly stiff peaks, then add the whipped cream into the cheese mixture and quickly and briefly beat to combine. Do not over beat.

Ps. Alternatively use this cream cheese frosting which is pipe-able. Also for some reason I feel the need to tell you that this carrot cake recipe has in fact won a ribbon at my local county fair and I will be entering it again this year. I have made it many times. I have no idea why I was such a screw up this time. In fact, the day went so poorly I completely abandoned all other cooking projects for the day. Some days are meant for cooking, others for beer. Yesterday was the latter.

Carrot cake cupcakes

Blueberry Muffins

When Nathan and I got married nearly seven years ago (that long already!?!) we had just arrived home from our honeymoon and woke up that first Saturday morning hungry. Wanting to be the perfect new little wife I asked him what he would like for breakfast. He surveyed the pile of gifts still in our living room and eyed our new waffle iron.

“Are you going to make waffles?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“Are WE going to make waffles?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“Am I going to make waffles?” I asked.

He nodded enthusiastically. (He can talk by the way…)

Waffles  take work. I was not going to make waffles for just the two of us. So I called my sister and her boyfriend (now her husband!) to see if they wanted to come over. And they did! So then started the tradition of Saturday morning breakfasts. For nearly four years. Every Saturday morning we would tidy the house, whip up waffles, and serve them hot at 10 am (9 am if there was a noon kickoff football game. Priorities people.).

We had as few as just Nathan and I and one other person for breakfast and as many as 14. I used to live in a tiny apartment and then a tiny house. We ate in shifts. It was wonderful. I loved it.

Over time the tradition ran its course and we have all gotten busy, some have moved away. I miss a house full of family and friends. I can’t wait till Little has sleepovers and I get to make breakfast for a flock of sleepy boys.

After years of cooking every Saturday morning I still feel the need to DO something when I get up. Saturday mornings at my house still mean family time. It used to be a broad definition of family will all kinds of family and friends swooping in to devour plate after plate of waffles. These days, with Little, Saturdays start early. Much earlier than any human being should be up on a Saturday. Instead of waffles I make other things- muffins, pancakes, french toast. Mercifully, these muffins come together in a flash and, thanks to picking and freezing blueberries every summer, we always have the ingredients on hand.

I hope these blueberry muffins bring love and joy to your weekend mornings like they do to mine.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or you can use 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and omit the all-purpose)
3/4 cup white sugar (or you can use 3/4 sucanat- an unprocessed sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup melted and cooled butter
1 egg
1/3 cup milk (approximately)
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (ok to add frozen)
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Pour the butter in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add the egg then add the milk to fill to the cup. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ones. Stir till combined (10 stirs). Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups (greased if you aren’t using liners) about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes till light brown and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Makes about 12 regular size muffins.

Oh and they won the blue ribbon at the local county fair. Not that I am bragging or anything.

(Note- if you use whole wheat flour and sucanat the muffins will come out quite dark although just as tasty. I would recommend using frozen berries as they add a tid bit more moisture and the “real” food version can be a bit drier. Still just as good though!)

Real Food Banana Muffins (vegan)

There will be lots of butter on this blog. I guarantee it. You will get your fill of sugar- white, brown, unprocessed or otherwise. Bacon will no doubt make an appearance.

But today, for our first day, I want to offer you the first recipe I have ever written. Vegan, real food, whole wheat and amazing.

Sure I have thrown things together in a pot and called it dinner (and boy does that normally end in delicious!) but this is my first honest to God wrote it down recipe. And it is baking. Booyah.

I am ridiculously proud.

First a bit of backstory. We are trying to transition to eating “real” food. This means eliminating white sugars and flours and processed foods. I have loved it. We eat lots of veggies, whole grains, and happy meat as we call it (humanely and locally raised). I have found an incredible local whole wheat flour I put in everything.

I had purchased two bananas for Little, my 8 month old son, and never got around to feeding them to him. They were screaming to be made into banana muffins! My favorite recipe seemed easy enough to adapt to real food I decided to challenge myself and -gasp!- make it vegan too! What ensued was some googling egg replacements then deciding who needs eggs anyways! I scribbled it all down on a piece of scrap paper, put Little down for a nap, then off to the kitchen I went.

This recipe makes 6 muffins. Feel free to double it. They are moist, delish, and you can’t even tell they are vegan.

Real Food Banana Muffins (vegan)

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Real food banana muffins that happen to be vegan. This recipe makes 6 muffins.
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbs melted coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat muffin pans with nonstick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.Combine bananas, honey, and coconut oil in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Scoop into muffin pans.Bake in preheated oven. Bake muffins for 19 to 22 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.
  2. Options: You can replace the coconut oil with melted butter if you prefer or if you don’t have it on hand. Also you can add nuts- 1/3 cup of walnuts should do.