Monday, December 13, 2010
A Gift of Food
It is my niece and goddaughter Jamie's first Christmas as a mom. And to say that she has embraced motherhood is an understatement. Her little nugget Claire is obviously thriving from the love and attention she receives. I love to watch them together, their bond so perfect and sweet. I must confess that I watched her pull into my driveway the other night and stood there in the window as she gently unhooked Claire's car seat, talking and smiling at her the whole time. She was late arriving to our house, yet Claire never would have sensed it, as her mother's primary focus was not on the mad rush of the holidays. It was, as always, on HER. I'm some years away from being a grandmother myself, but this has to be similar to how it feels when you watch your own children as parents. Pure joy and pride.
On Thanksgiving, a few of us were having a conversation about cooking, and Jamie expressed that she doesn't do much cooking in her small kitchen. As a working mother, she would rather spend time playing with Claire than in the kitchen preparing a meal. Claire's dad Jason will often barbeque or one of them will bring something home that is easy to throw together. So that's where the gift of food idea was born! Tim and I decided to do some make-ahead dinners that we could freeze and give to Jamie and her family for Christmas. We decided to give them to her early so it would make this hectic time a little easier for them.
Our idea took on a second life and when we were finished we had: Italian meatloaf, turkey chili, turkey soup, penne and meatballs, beef stew, and chicken noodle casserole- all in freezable containers, some that could go right in the oven. The card included the names of the dishes and the cooking directions for each. What a fun project!
I'm including here the recipes for Italian meatloaf (which is Michael Chiarello's) and the chicken noodle casserole (which is based on a recipe from an old family friend). I highly recommend the meatloaf as it tastes like a giant meatball and is the only meatloaf my family wants to eat. I've passed this recipe along before and it is much loved. My friend Stacey triples the recipe when she makes it and freezes two.
Here is the link for the meatloaf:
Mrs. Shaw's Crockpot Chicken (modified)
(can be mixed with noodles and baked in the oven as a casserole)
6-8 chicken breast halves
salt and pepper
Italian seasoning (or a mix of Italian dried herbs)
1/2 cup sherry or Marsala
1 can cream of chicken soup
6 oz. cream cheese
1 Tablespoon minced onion
Place chicken in crockpot. Brush with butter, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Mix thoroughly. Cover crockpot. Cook on low 5-6 hours. About 3/4 hour before serving, mix soup, cream cheese, onion and sherry together in pan. Cook until smooth. Pour over chicken in crockpot. Cover and cook 30 minutes more. Break chicken up with a spoon or fork until shredded. Serve over noodles or rice
*We serve this over brown rice but for Jamie's family mixed it with egg noodles for a casserole.