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what to make for neighbors who are moving?

I want to make a complete but simple meal from my good friends and neighbors who are moving (just a street away), next week. My plan was to take them a complete meal with paper plates, napkins, main course, over to their new home on the day they move in so they don't have to worry about what to eat after all that moving work. There will be the couple, 2 children, and probably a set of grandparents at the house to help with the move. None of them are real foodies, and my friend is a self admitted terrible cook. So, nothing extravagant. I was thinking about a chicken piccata, a nice salad, bread, and maybe some type of pasta dish. I would like to bring everything over in containers that they can heat the food up in, and hopefully throw away.
First question, can I put chicken piccata in an aluminum pan? Won't the lemon react with the aluminum pan? Second, I hate to serve a pasta with a tomato based sauce with a lemony sauce, so was thinking about what else I could serve with the chicken. The children are plain eaters, so I don't want anything too sophisticated. Any ideas on what I can make and can be just warmed up in an oven? All ideas are welcome.
Thanks all.

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  1. How about pasta with a nice bolognese sauce. Our grandkids love that and when I make chicken piccata I leave some of the cutlets out of the lemon/caper sauce for them. So, I would suggest if you make chicken piccata send some plain breaded and fried chicken pieces for the kids. Add a nice salad and bread an you are all set.
    PS I put alot of finely chopped carrots in my bolognese so that the kids get their veggies.

    1. I made a meal for a family recently. They, too, had smaller children, weren't foodies and there were other grandparents around for whatever reason. I made homemade meatballs (smaller size) in homemade marinara sauce. I used less sauce than for pasta. I sent that hot in an aluminum container. Alongside, I sent hoagie buns (I made sure they were split) and provolone slices for meatball subs. I also made a nicer salad for the adults (and children), but for a moving situation, crudite with a good dip might be nice. Then I sent some washed grapes in a ziploc bag and a lemon velvet poundcake loaf, sliced. Not to blow my own horn, but to say how well it was received, the mom gushed about it to friends and I heard about it second-hand.

      2 Replies
      1. re: FeedingFive

        How about a lasagna along with some salad and garlic bread? Some fruit for dessert. A bottle of wine for the adults and juice that you know the kids will like.

        1. re: snk

          I'm for the lasagna idea!! First that popped into my mind!! With a salad and Garlic Bread!! It was the meal I always asked for on my trips home from college.

      2. I like the lasagne idea or something like pastitsio that can be reheated easily whenever they need a snack. That, some good italian bread and they're set for lunch, too. You could do a chicken marsala instead of a piccata if you're worried about the clashing flavors.

        1. Could you grill some meat and send over a taco/fajita kit (veggies, beans, rice, salsa, ect.), that seems re-heatable but maybe too much work for you. If you go the piccata route, why not just a simple olive oil, garlic sauce for the pasta, or would a rice pilaf suffice? Not sure about aluminum and lemon, so to avoid the idea all together check out the food storage aisle next time you're in the market. I think it's Gladware that makes a disposablish container that can stand up to 400 F (maybe Reynolds brand, not sure).

          1. What a sweet idea. Chicken sounds like a lovely main. Not sure it it's too "foodie" but to go with you could do a pasta with pesto sauce for the adults -- some cut-up baby tomatos thrown in if you felt ambitious. Tastes good hot, cold or in between. For the kids, something the v. young bite-bites (picky and inconsistent eaters) generally love, which distresses their father to no end, is pasta with a very basic sauce of diced tomatos with cream cheese mixed in (this does have tomatos -- but if doing just for kids they probably wouldn't care). Potatos salad or a good old-fashioned macaroni salad could be another way to go starch-wise.

            Not sure where you stand on dessert -- but watermelon and/or some home-made chocolate-chip cookies might be a nice way to finish it off.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bite bite

              If set on the chicken piccata idea then as enbell suggested I often do a simple oglio as a side but, for the kids, you might consider linguine with a lightly creamy button mushroom sauce. Otherwise, I agree that one can't go wrong with meatballs or any type of casserole (lasagne or eggplant parmigiana). An egg-battered chicken scallopine is another way to go. You could make the lemon sauce on the side, so kids could have it plain. Perhaps you could line the aluminum pan with parchment paper to avoid reactivity with the lemon?

            2. Thank you all for the ideas. Actually, the lasagna sounds better than my idea; hadn't thought of that. Now, which recipe to make!! I don't make these kind of big casseroles often, and when I have made lasagna (last time at least 2 years ago!), it gets kind of soupy. Love any great lasagna recipes you have; otherwise, it's onto epicurious to see what they may have.
              The meatball idea also sounds like a good idea, I KNOW the husband and his 14 year old son would love that.
              Two good ideas that I hadn't thought of . Thanks all.

              1. Having moved several times in the last few years, I'd suggest something that is equally good hot or cold -- maybe roast chicken or fried chicken. It could be difficult to get everybody to sit down while the food is hot. And if they're still up late at night getting organized, a little cold chicken is a nice snack. Or for sandwiches the next day.

                1. While this is all well intentioned, and the menu suggestion lovely, I would suggest waiting at least another day if you're going to offer them something that needs to be heated up or required use of a table, chairs and utensils... after my own move it was at least three days before the stove was reachable and the kitchen functioning... the table put together and the chairs all in the same room.

                  Food for thought.

                  1. good points....I did not even think about the fact that they may not want to bother heating stuff up after moving all day. I may need to rethink my plan so as not to inconvenience them. Thank you for our frankness.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mschow

                      I was going to make the same point about lack of interest in complicated prep, even just sticking something in the oven, though I think lasagna is a great idea.

                      You might even consider getting some nice breads, making some nice spreads, chicken and/or egg salad, meats, and cheeses, and doing a gourmet sandwich bar, or if you have one to bring over, bring a panini press, and then take it home with you, so they have no cleaning to do once dinner is over, as they'll likely be plum tuckered out. I'd probably accompany this with some pasta salad, or some baked sweet potato wedges or roasted root vegetables. For dessert, a trifle is easily transported, or a plate of nice fudgy brownies. Another idea would be strawberry shortcake, with extra biscuits for leftovers for breakfast in the morning with some extravagant jam.

                    2. I hope the grandparents are there to take the kiddies off the parents hands, for (at least) the night ... having moved many times over the years, not having to worry about the kids during these stessful times is a gift beyond price. :-)

                      I totally applaud your intent, (wish I had a great neighbor like you!) but doubt they're going to be "into" a sit down meal that early in the process ... they will likely be tired but still eager to get things as 'settled' as possible as soon as possible.

                      I'd think more along the lines finger foods that can be eaten cold or room temp.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: OldDog

                        I think finger foods, things you can pick at quickly is a great idea. We move often and I don't take the time out for a meal but need little things I can eat all day long. Cookies, half sandwiches (already prepared and just ready to eat, not ones they have to assemble), trail mix, deviled eggs, drinks, things like that. Cut up fruit and veggies would be wonderful.

                        1. re: chowser

                          How about a nice sandwich tray? One you make yourself, or one you pick up from a deli or specialty shop.

                      2. If you want a warm meal you could send over a crockpot filled with delicious soup and a cooler of sandwiches or cheeses and salami or whatever, fruits, vegetables and dip...

                        Remember to send a ladel or mug or something to serve it with.

                        Or fill the crock with chili, make cornbread, prepare veggies & dip.

                        Or pulled pork or some kind of bbq for sandwiches, good pre-sliced rolls.

                        Lemonade or iced tea.

                        Brownies will be happy on the counter.

                        You are really nice to do this, it will be so helpful and give them a sense of being home on their first day there. A comforting meal does so much.