Food for Neighbor / Tired of Chicken
My neighbor keeps my dog for me a couple of days during the week while I am school, and I make a meal for her every week as a thank-you. I have done everything possible I can with chicken, and I suspect she might be as tired of it as I am. Last week I did Jambalaya with sausages and she was excited about that.
I'd love to get some ideas from y'all for some future either one-dish meals, or entrees. I'm on a student budget, so I can't do anything too fancy, unfortunately. I guess my only criteria would be non-chicken for the meantime, and affordable.
There is my neighbor, her 10 year old daughter and her partner, so enough for three should be sufficient.
PS - I have a crock pot that I have never used and don't really know how to, but if there are some crock pot ideas I am into them as well with a little direction from the pro's!
Braise cabbage with onions, apple, and caraway. When the cabbage is largely done, bury bratwurst, knockwurst, hot dogs, or other sausage in it. This is best with steamed or boiled potatoes - little redskins are nice. You COULD do the potatoes in with the cabbage but my feeling is that the cabbage then overwhelms the flavor of the potato. You need to sweat the onions first (extra credit for chicken fat or bacon grease!). I like to use apple cider as the liquid but beer or ginger ale are fine. You don't need much liquid since the cabbage exudes a lot.
Add a little balsamic or cider vinegar at the end, so the zippiness isn't mellowed out too much by long cooking. I have never done this in a crockpot but it is suitable for this dish. You probably would need to leave it uncovered for part of the cooking since you want the cabbage mixture to be juicy but not soupy.
Chili or hearty bean-based soups or chowders are obvious choices. They are economical since they are satisfying and filling without using a lot of meat. And who doesn't like lasagna? Although it's not cheap to make. Keep an eye out for sales on the ingredients, and when you've accumulated all the components, get cooking.
Baked ziti and beef stew are great ideas since any leftovers can be easily reheated for another meal.
You can do a mushroom based shepard's pie type dish.
Or make a large pot of a lentil and veggie soup and bring over a nice loaf of bread to go with it. A butternut squash soup is also nice with a green salad- just bring over the dressing in a separate container.
I do a fabulous lentil and kielbasa dish that is fairly inexpensive to make (especially if you go heavy on the lentils and light on the sausage) and a perfect one-dish meal for fall. Let me know if you want the recipe. You could also google saucisson aux lentilles to find the classic french version and do your own experimentations from there. I also make a red lentil soup with italian sausage if that's more appealing.
How does the family feel about ground lamb (and how expensive is it in your 'hood)? I make this on occasion: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/qu... - it's very tasty, and a welcome change from chicken curry. I bump up the spices and use edamame instead of peas (hate peas!), serve over rice or noodles. You can easily bulk it up with more sweet potatoes or other veg and make the lamb a minor player. You could probably make it with ground beef as well.
Oh, one other thought - pork tenderloin is typically pretty cheap around here (around the same price as chicken breast) - you could sub that for chicken in almost any recipe, or google for something interesting. I find that it's always a crowd pleaser and seems much more elegant/interesting than chicken even though it's the same price (and also very lean/healthy).
Not sure where you live, but if it's a place that gets cool in the fall and winter, chili and soups would be appropriate.
Go to epicurious and check out Mahogany Beef Stew, it's scrumptious. You can make mashed potatoes and have her just heat everything up. It tastes even better a day or two later. And since mashed potatoes don't always reheat well. Add butter and some cream cheese, and it will make for a great meal. It makes a lot, so you could cut the meat in half and still have plenty for her and her daughter.
I love this stew recipe. It's on our regular rotation and I like to freeze it too. Look at the comments to it. A lot of people cut down on the hoisin sauce a bit. The wine and tomato flavors come through nicely. We also add other vegies to it. Some carrots or mushrooms or whatever looks good.
Shredded beef enchiladas
All the fixings for a "build your own" taco bar
Beef tamale pie
Bacon cheddar quiche
Corned beef casserole
Ham & scalloped potato casserole
Cheesy tuna & noodle casserole
Crockpot pulled pork with home made slaw