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Dithering about what dinner to make for a family who needs it. Please help!?!?!

About a month ago I volunteered to take dinner to a local family through takethemameal.com (great site, by the way). The dad is recently home after almost two weeks in ICU and the community's pulling together to bring dinner four times a week. So far so good. But it's my turn tomorrow and I can't seem to settle on anything.

Here's what I know: two adults (mid to late thirties?), two growing boys. Fit, active family. Um, yeah, that's it. Oh, they're lovely people of course, but that doesn't help with food preferences.

I was thinking about the epi super slaw (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...). But then, what else? My rice has never been fab and at over 7000 feet, even less so. Grilled chicken?

Or take it a totally different way and go Chicken Marbella with a big salad and maybe some pasta?

I am at a complete loss and would really appreciate your help.

It's summer here in the Rockies, but not so warm an oven feels oppressive. Ideas about things that could be cooked at my house, taken to theirs and fill their tummies with delight?

Thanks in advance for any and all help you can offer!!!

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  1. Does it have to be fully cooked? Could you take them some pre-marinated, pre-skewered, toss-on-the-grill kabobs to go with the super slaw?

    Can't go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs. Homemade meatballs baked and then simmered in homemade marinara with a small chunk of good parmesan to grate over the top, garlic bread, and a nice salad.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jen76

      thanks for the ideas Jen, yes it does need to be fully cooked. The mom barely has time/energy to brush her hair, let alone cook whatever I might prep. Spaghetti and meatballs are a great idea... may just go that direction...

      thanks again!

    2. I think I would opt for something that would leave them some leftovers at least for sandwiches if not for another dinner. For example, whenever I see s/b chicken breasts on sale, I'll buy a package on 6 of them, marinate and grill them all up, and then we'll (two of us) have two for dinner plus the rest for sandwiches or to top salads, etc. over the next couple of days. Pulled pork goes a long way as does ham, etc. That would be my approach.

      1 Reply
      1. re: junescook

        Junes, thanks for the direction. I guess I'm extra wobbly on this dinner because when I was the recipient of many sweetly intentioned future leftovers, I found the thing I needed most was for someone to throw away the food I couldn't eat. Made me feel awful to see so much go to waste. They're getting food every other day, so I think I'm going to try to focus on what they might enjoy on Tuesday. (Will be taking cut fruit and muffins for breakfast, though.)

      2. If you're already Epicurious'ing, why not go to the Advanced Search page and check off "chicken" and "quick & easy"? When you get your selection, narrow it down by checking "part of a menu".

        1. My advice is to make something simple and not too 'weird'. I use the weird word because I know young boys can be a bit weird about eating other people's cooking. I remember going to potlucks, church socials, etc. and making very sure to eat what my mother brought (who didn't?). I would keep it simple and boring like lasagna, or spaghetti sauce and already cooked pasta, chili, roast chicken, mac and cheese or something else with kid friendly ingredients. It's boring for the cook, but I bet the mom appreciates it. You should be commended for helping this family.

          4 Replies
          1. re: John E.

            Thanks John. I was worried about the weird factor in my own personal leanings. Um, wrt kids and food, I mean. :-)

            I'm now leaning toward oven "fried" chicken, green beans, and some fresh bread from Healthy Bread in 5. Maybe choc cupcakes for dessert if I can get the recipe to cooperate with the altitude.

            It is tremendously helpful to have the advice of others here to bounce off of. Thanks to everyone!!!!

            1. re: miss louella

              Wow. Your menu sounds fantastic. Sounds like it hits all the bases. I know we'd love it!

            2. re: John E.

              the other issue that I would consider(not to further complicate this wonderful service) would be that they may be getting lots of pasta dishes from other folks... I think a baked ham with great rolls and interesting mustard on the side would be a great option...s

              1. re: betsydiver

                Yeah, that's why there's a coordinator using the takethemameal.com website.

            3. The best advice might be to call the mom and talk with her....What if they had fried chicken a couple of nights ago, and still 1/2 of a chocolate cake left? Does the dad have any dietary restrictions? Not sure what is meant by "growing boys" Is that a 5 and 7 year old..or a 15 and 17 year old?? ~~ Mom will eat anything and and be much appreciative ..dad may be limited to what he can eat and how much...I would target the boys...Send them to bed full and happy, and you'll have hit a home run...Again...just call the mother.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Uncle Bob

                The whole point of the website www.takethemameal.com is to manage the meals so those making them don't have to bother the recipients. Miss Louelle, I would also consult with the people coordinating this effort. Meatloaf, pulled pork, sloppy joes, tater tot hotdish, all are good simple ideas.

                1. re: John E.

                  Thx again. The coordinator said they'd be happy with anything; I'm sure their hearts will be, just hope their tummies are too. Some people have posted what they're taking on the web site, most have not. No oven fried chicken or choc cake in the listings but that means little since the three people before me said something along the lines of "yummy dinner."

                  It was super helpful to hear the "simple" ideas. The oven "fried" chicken I have in mind is good both hot and room temp, so it meets my travel-well needs.

                  Right now I'm thinking oven fried chicken, green beans, sliced tomatoes (a luxury here this time of year, from a nearby geo-thermal greenhouse), fresh bread and cole slaw. Fruit/choc cupcakes for dessert and muffins and more fruit for breakfast.

                  Thanks to EVERYONE who has weighed in. It really helps!!!!

                  1. re: miss louella

                    This sounds like an excellent meal! You are so sweet; it's very kind of you to do this for them, and to put in so much care, time, and effort. God bless you and people like you! <3

                    1. re: Diamond

                      I live in a very generous community and I have definitely received far more than I could ever give. Blessings to all who give what they can when they they are able. Together we make the world go round.

                      And speaking of generous communities, the hounds have enriched my life and cooking exponentially. In this and in many other endeavors. Thanks to you all!!!

              2. The last time I did something like this, for a family with active kids, we made barbecue pulled pork, rolls (for pulled pork sandwich w/ leftovers) and cornbread, cole slaw, mac and cheese, collards, brownies. It was enough for a few days and easy to reheat. I did the pulled pork in a crock pot, mac and cheese and brownies in disposable tins.

                1. I'd do a big ol' baked ham and a couple of pans of homemade rolls, along with some potato salad, corn-field pea salad, a jar of homemade Ranch dressing and bags of cut up veg, grape tomatoes, some good cheese cut up into bite-size pieces, , etc.,etc... In other words, a big pile of munchie easy stuff they can just throw on a plate.

                  1. If the dad is home after 2 weeks in the ICU I would say be careful about what you make as some stuff suggested may be hard to digest. I would stay away from stuff like barbequed pork, chili, marinara sauce, etc.

                    And definitely no hot sauce, cayenne, chilies.

                    1. I've done the bring a meal thing for a family in a needy spot and the website they used had space where you signed up for what day you wanted to write in what you cooked, so the people signed up for the days around yours could see what the family had just eaten. there was also a spot for the family to write in their likes/dislikes.

                      one meal i did steamed broccoli, balsamic grilled chicken and mashed potatos, the other i did pulled pork, rolls, coleslaw and mac and cheese. both were well received!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ediecooks

                        Yeah, after having so little info about what they'd recently had (and none about what they like), I went back and filled in my menu:

                        oven "fried" chicken, green bean, sliced tomatoes, fresh corn on the cob, home made ww bread, chocolate chip cookies and a slice and bake log of same for the freezer. Mostly food as itself, but this is a good season for that.

                        Thanks everyone for your help!! I went from total dithering to some semblance of certainty.

                        1. re: miss louella

                          Sounds wonderful. You made them happy and gave us all something to think about. God bless you Miss Louella.

                      2. Report back on the dinner you all helped make more marvelous:

                        I made oven "fried" chicken (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...), green beans, sliced tomatoes, fresh corn on the cob, and ww bread from artisan bread in 5.

                        and Mom wrote to thank me and called dinner "a painting in summer deliciousness."

                        So thank you ALL!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: miss louella

                          That's awesome. I've forwarded the link to TakeThemAMeal.com to some people whose churches do stuff like that. Really ingenious idea!

                          1. re: miss louella

                            Sounds great, well appreciated, too. Which oven fried chicken recipe did you use? Your link goes to the main epicurious page and when I searched, I came up with quite a few. Thanks!

                            1. re: chowser

                              There used to be an oven-fried chicken recipe on the back of the Bisquik box. My mother used to make it that way when she didn't wish to splatter the stove with grease and stand there browning chicken. My older sister was a terrible cook (a fantastic musician however) and she heard my mom mention Bisquick oven fried chicken so she tried to make some once. She didn't bother to look at the recipe, she just made biscuit dough and tried to wrap it around the chicken and bake it in the oven. Apparently it doesn't work too well that way.

                              1. re: John E.

                                Thanks for the giggle. It's kind of comforting to know there are others who use both feet to jump smack into the wrong pond.

                                1. re: John E.

                                  That's funny. I make oven fried chicken with anything crunchy (potato chips, melba toast, pretzels, etc.) but am always looking for new ideas. I might pass on your sister's though!

                                2. re: chowser

                                  Dang, I'm sorry about that! It's the "spicy" oven fried chicken--I've made it several times and this time I actually did the overnight soak in the buttermilk mix--it was good with a short soak, it was great with a long one. (I used all thighs, btw.)

                                  Hopefully I've got the correct link this time: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                  1. re: miss louella

                                    That sounds great--thanks. I'm going to have to try it.

                              2. I would certainly want to know what others had brought so as not to duplicate or even have something similar. I would be tempted to braise something because it can be reheated well and provide left overs. Another possibility would be meatloaf.

                                I would make sure I provided a dessert like a cake or pie or brownies. Something that others might forget and would be special for the children.