Five Favorites: Meals To Bring To A Friend

I help coordinate meals for new moms in my parish, and I love this ministry.  It’s a concrete way to carry out the corporal work of mercy “Feed the Hungry.”  Maybe the people you bring a meal to aren’t going to starve without your meal, but you are literally feeding the hungry.  And I know what a blessing it was to be fed by the friends and friendly acquaintances who brought meals after I had my babies.

Link-up at From Little Hands

So I’m linking up today with Maia and with Hallie and listing some favorite meals to share:

1. Man-pleasing chicken: Don’t be put off by the name.  It’s woman-pleasing too!  I use a bag of individually frozen chicken thighs (defrosted).  Easy to make and so, so good.  gluten-free and dairy-free.

Man-pleasing chicken

2. Bare minimum mode chicken a la Jen: I chop up potatoes and onions and add some baby carrots, drizzle olive oil and shake on salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil and marjoram.  Then I put frozen chicken breasts on top, drizzle and shake some more, then bake at 425 degrees (F) for about 45 minutes.  It’s a great one-dish meal and it smells awesome.  GF, DF.

3. Creamy parmesan chicken.  You can make it using either mayonnaise or yogurt.  This was a hit each time I made it.

Parmesan crusted chicken

 I’d love to bring homemade desserts and sides, but usually I just make rice and bring a bagged salad kit and ice cream for dessert.  I still remember when my youngest biological sibling was born, and my family received lots of meals.  It was heavenly for us kids . . . ice cream every night!

Actually . . . these three meals are it.  I stick with them most of the time.  I’ve made some doozies in the past though . . . .  One time I made shrimp alfredo and decided to cook the pasta and mix the sauce into it before the 30 min drive to the person’s house.  I shudder to think of the gloppy mess it must have become. . . . And I used to find myself trying out a recipe for the first time the afternoon that I’d promised to bring a meal to someone.  No more!

So to finish out my list,  other favorites for meal deliveries are:

4. Disposable dishes: I try to bring the food in aluminum pans or other disposable dishes so that the recipients don’t have to wash and keep track of and return a bunch of dishes.

5. Pizza delivery: If you don’t have time to make a meal for someone, consider ordering them a pizza.  It feels like a cop-out not to cook, but I think it’s usually a treat to have a fresh, paid-for pizza delivered to your door.  This isn’t always affordable, although a lot a pizza places have mid-week specials.  Also, a rotisserie chicken is a good choice when you’re running low on time.

6. (Bonus!) TakeThemAMeal: Great online meal scheduling calendar.  Very easy to use and prevents people  getting the same dish over and over.

What about you?  What’s your go-to meal to bring to people?  And what was your favorite meal to receive?

Ye Olde Weekly Food Poste: Steak N’ Greens

Can I just share with y’all one of my favorite meals of late?

Pan fried steak with mushrooms, onions and collard greens (or kale): it’s paleo/ Perfect Health Diet friendly but also basic, comforting, Southern-inspired home cooking.


I don’t have exact recipes for you, but this is basically what I do:

For the greens:

Buy a  bag of pre-washed, pre-cut greens and put in a big pot.  It will seem like a lot but they reduce a lot in volume once cooked.  Add enough water or broth that they are almost covered (about 10 cups).  Add some onion and garlic and (ideally) a ham bone or some bacon.  Bring to a boil then simmer until the greens are very tender (an hour or so for collards, more for kale).  Salt to taste.  This will make about 4 generous helpings.

For the steak:

Take two steaks (try cube steak for economical deliciousness) and fry them up in a pan with a little olive oil (more or less depending on whether you have a non-stick pan).   Use medium-low to medium heat.

If you’re using cube steak, you can dredge it in a little flour (rice or almond) with salt and pepper and garlic powder, before you fry it.

After the steak is done, add some sliced onion and mushrooms and enough Worcestershire sauce and red wine to make a little sauce.  Saute until the veggies are tender.


Aw man, I love it.


The end.

Cauliflower Risotto and the Dark Side of Paleo {Menu Plan Monday}

Just today I tried this cauliflower “risotto” recipe from paleo guru Mark Sisson.  It’s delish (though time consuming)!  In place of bacon, I used proscuitto plus some extra olive oil.  And I simmered it longer than the recipe calls for, to get rid of the raw cauliflower taste and mouthfeel.  Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly.  I put butter and grated parmesan in Pat’s.  That was reeeeeally good (I tried a bite).  I left out all dairy from mine, and it was still quite good.

So here’s the dark side:

IMG_2604 IMG_2603 IMG_2605 IMG_2607

The paleo diet, or Perfect Health Diet, or any sort of whole-foods diet involves lots of chopping, peeling, and cooking, which lead to . . . lots of mess.  Throw into the mix a toddler who insists on feeding herself:


This pic kind of pours salt on my wound because it makes the mess look much LESS than it was.

and multiply by  3 meals a day, plus a few snacks.  I feel like all I do all day is clean the kitchen.   I don’t cook something new for each meal but still . . . none of the stuff we eat is as easy as Hot Pockets and Lunchables.  I’m hardly the first person to have to clean a messy kitchen, but we’re still in Jen-sanctioned Complaining Week, so, yeah, I’m sick of cleaning the kitchen.

On to more constructive blogging:

I’m linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday:

I’ll eat more of this delicious avocado egg salad this week.  I eat it on rice cakes.  To make it truly Perfect Health Diet compliant, I could make my own mayo with olive oil and eggs.  But instead I cheated and bought a small jar of Duke’s.

Avocado egg salad from

Our main meals will be (or were) the following (usually with a green salad on the side):

Rice wrap recipe from my little sister over at Romancing Reilly

Monday:  Cauliflower risotto discussed above, with simple baked chicken thighs

Tuesday: Cube steak with mushrooms and onions, with collard greens on the side

Wednesday: Spinach tomato frittata (I’ll try it without cheese for me)

Thursday: Pot roast

Friday:  Flounder fillets cooked some way or another

Saturday: Crock pot rotisserie chicken

Sunday: Rice wraps using leftovers

Perfect Health Diet: Why I Keep Trying {Menu Plan Monday}

Lately I’ve been discouraged by my lack of discipline when it comes to sticking with my healthy eating resolutions.   (I’m continuing my no-dairy attempt for at least another month, by the way.)  I feel like a bit of a fraud when I talk about the Perfect Health Diet because I’m by no means a model follower.

When I think of giving up, though, I feel a bit like Saint Peter.  Jesus asked him, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” and Peter responded, “Lord, to whom would I go?”  I mean, What else would I eat?   Processed, refined crap?  NO thank you.  I eat junk food on the sly more than I’d like, but I can’t bring myself to eat that stuff purposefully, regularly.  I could see going to a less restrictive, whole foods diet, one that incorporates more grains and legumes and natural dairy products.  But it’s so easy to overdo those.  So for now I’ll keep on keepin’ on, albeit very imperfectly.


Linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday:

I’m excited to make this avocado egg salad this week.  Doesn’t it look great?  And so nutritious.  I’ll probably eat it on rice cakes.  I’m the only one in the house who will eat it, though.

Avocado egg salad from

Our main meals will be the following:

Monday:  Jennifer’s “bare minimum mode” chicken and potatoes

Tuesday: Cajun spiced tilapia (this is sooo good, y’all; I use canned tomatoes to make it easier)

Cajun spiced flounder (or tilapia)

Wednesday: Chili

Thursday: Pan fried steak and collard greens

Friday: Salmon with roasted cauliflower

Saturday: Easy tuna and rice noodles

Sunday: Dinner out.


No-Plan Monday: Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free Smoothie

My Perfect Health Diet + no-dairy month went pretty well: as of May 1 I was down 4 pounds and feeling good.  Four pounds is not so impressive, perhaps, until you take into account the fact that I cheat.  I cheat a lot.  Even if you discount the two bowls boxes of mac and cheese I ate (made them for the girls, who hardly touched them), and that bag of chocolate truffles Pat and I (mainly I) devoured in one day.  (After all, dark chocolate is good for you, even according to the PHD.)

Even discounting those instances as complete aberrations explainable only by hypothesizing that an alien was inhabiting my body . . . even then: I cheat a lot.

And then this past weekend on our mini-getaway, I threw dietary restrictions to the wind, entirely.

Aaaaaand as of today I’m back up four pounds.  (Four pounds in five days?  That must be water weight, right?)

So, basically:


But I’m trying  to make this not all about my dieting woes (ha! too late!), so hows’ about a healthy recipe?

I’ve been drinking a lot of almond milk smoothies lately, often for dinner.  (We eat our main meal at lunch.)  It’s hardly a groundbreaking recipe, but I’m happy with it: no added sugar, quick, yummy, nutritious.

This week I have no oven (until I clean it), no stove (long story), and no menu plan, so I’ll be making a lot of these.  Let me know if you try it!

Almond Milk Smoothie (no dairy, no added sugar)

  • 1/2 c. unsweetened, vanilla almond milk

    Smoothie og kaffe

    Not my photo, but my smoothies look pretty much like the glass on the left.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • 1/2 c. frozen fruit (I like cherries or blueberries)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 T. almond butter
  • Small dash of salt (careful!)
  • A few drops of vanilla

Directions: Blend!

You could add some spinach leaves if you’re feeling especially virtuous.  I haven’t tried it yet.


Have a good week!  I’m off to clean the oven, maybe.


Menu Plan Monday: Musings of the Dairyless

I’ve been without dairy for over two weeks now.

At first I was all like:

But now I’ve actually lost a pound or two.  A friend of mine was gluten-free and dairy-free for several months for various reasons.  She was quite thin, and I remember thinking, “She’s given up gluten and dairy: of course she’s skinny!  There’s nothing she can eat!”  And now I’m in the same boat (albeit by choice).  So yeah . . .

I doubt any weight I lose is due to my giving up dairy, exactly, and more a matter of my having fewer food options.  For snacks I’ve got nothin’ but fruit and nuts, nuts and fruit, as far as the eye can see.

Also, I’ve learned to drink my coffee black (gasp!).  I never thought it would happen.  It tastes a bit better when I brew it with some cinnamon shaken in with the coffee grinds (thank you Sharon, for the tip).  And I think that my caffeine addiction is just stronger than I gave it credit for.

True. Dat.

Cutting out a whole food group is a pretty drastic way to lose weight.  I don’t know whether I’ll keep it up when (if???) I get down to my goal weight.  I experienced weird stomachaches and headaches recently, and those are gone now.  So maybe I was slightly sensitive to milk?  I don’t know.  We’ll see.


I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.  About the menu plan though: Girl 2 is sick and screams if I don’t hold her constantly.  I don’t know what I’ll cook, if at all.  Fortunately we have enough leftovers and odds and ends to keep body and soul together.    But here are some ideas I have for later in the week:

Butternut squash, quinoa, and chicken stew with Kalamata olives. I love this recipe from Cookin’ Canuck so much. I make it with frozen, cubed squash and frozen, diced onion to make it easier.

And next time I’m at the store I plan to get some rice papers, to make Asian-style leftover rolls, like my little sister did:

Classy leftovers from Romancing Reilly

Have a great week!

Cakes of the Pan and Salmon Variety (Menu Plan Monday)

I’m linking up again with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

I don’t have a whole lot new to report this week, and I don’t have another installment of The Beginner’s Guide to Good Enough Fish.  But, I would like to draw your attention to two recipes I’ve enjoyed lately.

The first is for these Fluffy Coconut Flour Pancakes from Nourishing Days via She Cooks He Cleans.  They are grain-free and (if you use the coconut milk option) dairy-free, and delicious.  They are much more pancake-like than my go-to “Paleo Pancakes,” which are really just glorified scrambled eggs.

These are moderately time-consuming,  so I make them on weekend mornings or for dinner, not on busy weekday mornings.  I’ve made them three times now and I’ve tweaked them slightly each time.  The first time I didn’t have baking soda, so I used baking powder (I forget how much).  They were fine but not as fluffy as I would like and a little gritty.   Also I didn’t watch carefully enough and I burned them a bit.  The second time I used the called-for amount of baking soda and the texture was good but they tasted just a little like . . . baking soda.  Pat didn’t notice it though.

The last and best time, I halved the recipe (’cause I only had two eggs) and used canned, evaporated milk because I was out of the other milk options.  It was my best batch yet.  Fluffy, not grainy, and without a baking soda taste.  Oh, and I used rice syrup in place of honey.

No matter what the variation though, they were enjoyable each time and I will keep on making them.  It is important to read the directions carefully because coconut flour is peculiar and the texture of this batter is very different from ordinary pancake batter.

I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour because that’s what I had on hand.  Nancy at She Cooks He Cleans recommends Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Flour.  I’ll try to find that when I run out of Bob’s and see if it improves the pancake texture.

This last time I made a strawberry topping out of frozen, unsweetened strawberries and a few spoonfuls of rice syrup (a Perfect Health Diet approved sweetener) simmered together on the stove.  Very tasty.

Secondly, I’ve made this recipe for salmon patties from Everyday Paleo several times now.  Really yummy.

From Everyday Paleo

The seasonings are great, though I left out the fresh ginger.  I only ever buy the powdered stuff, and I ran out of that.  Also, this last time I used frozen pre-chopped onions, which made the mixture a little watery, so I left out the lemon juice.

Because these don’t have breadcrumbs to help hold them together, you do have to make sure to cook them a full three minutes on a *hot* skillet before attempting to flip them.

I haven’t made the ginger mayo.  I just mix up a little yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and garlic and use that as a sauce.

Oh and this dairy-free, no sugar-added, paleo-compliant chocolate mousse??

Chocolate mousse (no added sugar)


But not Lent appropriate, so I’ll save the deets for later.

Here’s my menu plan for this week.  A lot of repeats are here from last week because I often come up with a different idea or have unplanned leftover nights.  That’s okay; the whole point of a menu plan is to avoid last-minute take out and extra trips to the grocery store, so it’s all good.

    • Monday: Tuna and rice noodles (with peas and cherry tomatoes and sesame seeds added)
    • Tuesday:  Leftover chili from Sunday
    • Wednesday: Salmon cakes described above
    • Thursday: Baked chicken and root veggies (try to cut down on white potatoes)
    • Friday: Salmon of some variety
    • Saturday: Chicken veggie stir-fry
    • Sunday: ??

Have a delicious week!