Feeding grief

One of my beloved friends sadly lost her daughter in the middle of September. Her death was very unexpected. The day I heard the news, I instantly knew that I must cook food for her family. There was nothing I could do to help her emotionally and the thought of sitting at work not doing something — anything at all — to help her was impossible.

I had never made food for a bereaved family before, but I knew that I wanted to provide them with nutritious and comforting foods that would give them the energy they needed to grieve. That day I made a pan of lasagna, two pans of chicken and broccoli hot dish and two pans of chicken and green bean casserole. Simple meals that I hoped would warm them at such a very cold and dark time in their lives.

To ensure that she doesn’t have to cook or shop for a long time, a group of us at work organized meals for her and her family for at least six weeks. It has been so nice to see my coworkers coming together to provide something so important at such a difficult time.

There have been so many great ideas out of this group that I just had to share on this blog, should any of you need ideas for feeding a bereaved family.

Here are some of my favorite ideasl

  • Chicken enchiladas
  • Beef taco meat and all the fixings (cheese, shells, refried beans, lettuce and tomatoes)
  • Chicken noodle soup with a sleeve of saltines and freshly baked bread
  • A few pounds of grilled chicken breasts frozen for quick salads and sandwiches
  • Beef stew
  • Chicken quesadillas
  • Pulled pork sandwiches with buns
  • Cereal and milk
  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Banana cream pie
  • Desert bars and brownies
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Veggie tray
  • Kashi bars
  • Protein drinks/protein bars

My friend says that having these meals to feed her family has taken a tremendous amount of stress off of her. She doesn’t have to think about what to make for dinner and instead can focus all of her energy on grieving, which is exactly what she needs to do right now.

The easiest dinner in the world

I love to cook, but sometimes after a hard day at the office, I’m just too tired to chop, peel or sautee anything. All I want to do is come home, kick back and snuggle with my daughter, yet magically still put a delicious, home cooked dinner on the table.

I created this recipe a couple of years ago and it has been a hit, not only at my house, but with many of my friends as well. With just three ingredients, you can throw it together in a matter of seconds, pop it in the oven, pour yourself a glass of wine and relax.

RECIPE: The Easiest Chicken Dish Ever

Ingredients:

  • One pound frozen chicken breasts
  • One package frozen TGIFridays spinach and artichoke dip
  • One cup of mozzarella cheese

Directions: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Layer the frozen chicken breasts in a glass casserole or baking dish. Pop the frozen dip out of its container and set it on top of the chicken breasts. Cover and place dish in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until juices run clear. The dip will melt over your chicken breasts as they cook, making them ridiculously tender and adding just enough salt. About five minutes before it’s done cooking, stir the mixture and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top; cook uncovered until cheese is melted. Serve with rice, pasta or a steamed veggie.

This dish is so scrumptious and juicy, your family will think you slaved away chopping, peeling and sauteeing after work — but only you know the truth! 😉

Do you have any tried and true recipes that can be assembled in seconds and left to cook with little to no work on your end? Leave your recipes in the comments section below!

Get domestic!
Angie

School Lunch Made Easy

Last year, I was a slacker when it came to my daughter’s lunch during the week. Nearly every day, I relied on the ease of the school lunch, rather than packing her something nutritious from home. I have no excuse for this, except that I thought it was good to introduce her to new food (and I was busy and lazy).

After reading some terrible things about the quality of school lunches in general (particuarly the meat), I knew that this year, I couldn’t let her eat school lunch every day. I made a vow to send her with nutritious lunches that she would enjoy and that would provide her with fuel for her busy day. Best of all, I could include organic foods as much as possible and I would know how much she ate each day.

Last year I used a cheap lunch bag that I found in the Target dollar section for her lunch; however, it did not accommodate more than one container and a juice box. I knew I needed a lunch box that fit multiple containers so I could offer her a well balanced lunch of a main dish, veggie and fruit as well as a drink.

In my search for the perfect lunch box, I came across the Laptop Lunch Bento System. At over $40, the price seemed steep, but it looked oh so easy to use and would meet all of our needs. A couple of clicks later and I had this pretty little thing enroute to my house:

Though I have only used it for a couple of weeks now, I already love this lunch box. It is super sturdy and the slim case fits nicely into her book bag. It comes with two large containers (one with a lid), two smaller containers (one with a lid) and one even smaller container with a lid for dips/ketchup. It also came with a small bottle for drinks. All of this fits perfectly into the cute, flowery case.

Last year, my daughter hardly ate any of her lunch. Now, her lunch box comes home with nearly all of the food eaten and just a tiny bit of milk left in the bottle. I am ecstatic!

To make life easier in the mornings, I prepare her lunch immediately after dinner the night before, giving her first dibs at any home cooked leftovers and ensuring that I don’t cop out of making her lunch in the morning because I am too busy.

Here are some examples of lunches I’ve sent with her in her new lunch box:

  • Monday: Organic mac & cheese (prepared in advance and frozen into individual portions), cooked peas, strawberries, milk
  • Tuesday: Cheese squares and crackers (we call it a homemade lunchable), blueberries, carrot sticks, milk
  • Wednesday: Leftover spaghetti, cooked corn, strawberries, juicebox
  • Thursday: Veggie chicken nuggets and ketchup, cooked mixed veg, grapes, milk

Another bonus is that we are not wasting plastic baggies and all of the plastic containers are BPA free and can be microwaved. Because my daughter has special needs, she eats lunch in a classroom where they are able to microwave her meals. You can also buy larger containers for sandwiches and other meals that do not have to be microwaved. I will likely be buying some of the larger containers soon.

How do you pack your child’s lunches? Have you used Laptop Lunches or do you have another system you use?

Get domestic!
Angie

The Joy of {Freezer} Cooking

A few weeks ago, I discovered freezer cooking. I spend a couple of hours on a Sunday chopping up the ingredients for three meals (which I double to make six), throw it all into plastic freezer bags and pop them into the freezer. Each morning, my boyfriend or I throw one of these bags into the crockpot, set the timer and head off to work.

During the day, the meal cooks to perfection in the crockpot, while we slave away at our 9-5 jobs. When we get home in the evening, the smell of dinner greets me like a warm hug. Instead of spending the evening chopping, cooking and cleaning up a giant mess, I throw some rice in the cooker or boil up some noodles, snuggle with my daughter on the couch while surfing Pinterest and by 6:00 an effortless dinner is set upon the table. By 6:30, we have eaten and cleaned up the couple of dishes we dirtied and I have plenty of time to bathe my daughter and snuggle before bed. And I feel amazingly relaxed and satisfied.

Freezer cooking has literally changed my life and I highly encourage you to try it, too. By spending just a couple of hours on the weekend, you can save yourself hours upon hours during the week! My inspiration for freezer cooking came from Kirstin at Kojo Designs.

Here’s how it works: Chop up all of the vegetables for your meals. Place the appropriate amounts of each into a freezer bag. Then add the appropriate amount of spices and sauces to each bag. Then add your meat. Shake it up, seal it with as little air in the bag as possible and write the name, date and directions on the bag with a permanent marker. Pop the bags into your freezer. I pull mine out the morning I want to make it, throw the bag in the microwave for a minute and then toss the contents into the crock pot and add any additional ingredients per the directions written on the bag. Some sites recommend defrosting overnight but this has worked just fine for me. If you want to cook your freezer meal faster, then I would definitely defrost ahead of time.

Because my crock pot does not have a timer built in, I borrowed a cheapo timer from my Christmas stash (like this one) and it works perfectly. I arrive home to the smell of a delicious meal just waiting to be eaten. What could be easier?!

Here is one recipe I adapted for freezer cooking. It’s my mama’s world famous chili:

Put these ingredients in the bag:

  • One can kidney beans
  • One can great northern beans
  • One can baked beans
  • One can stewed tomatoes
  • One pound cooked ground beef or turkey
  • Half of one packet of original chili seasoning
  • Half of one packet of hot chili seasoning

Directions to write on the bag: Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

I usually whip up a quick pan of corn bread or muffins (thank you Jiffy mixes) with some sweet butter (a stick of butter with confectioners sugar to taste). I like to top my chili with a dallop of sour cream, sprinkle of cheese and some fritos.

And dinner is served. What could be better — or easier?

Stay tuned for more freezer cooking meal recipes to come!

Get domestic!
Angie

Welcome to my blog

Though I have very little free time, I have this fantasy of being like Martha Stewart — a perfectly groomed home, smiling children, a happy husband and a wonderfully delicious dinner put on the table each evening.

The reality is, I’m a single mom of a daughter with special needs, I work full-time in an office and the home I purchased in 2009 is anything but perfectly groomed. However, my desire to get domestic hasn’t waned. Though I’m nothing close to Martha Stewart, I’ve learned how to simplify everyday tasks to bring my domestic dreams a little closer to reality.

This blog is for all those mamas like me who don’t have time to slave over the stove, sewing machine or washer and dryer for hours on end, yet still want to be domestic divas. I will share tips and tricks on how I make the most of my precious free time and hopefully, you will share your ideas with me. Together, we will learn how to maximize our time and create the kind of homes we’ve always dreamed of!

Let’s get domestic!

Angie