"Meals to Take" and a Request for Help – WFMW

I need your help this week. I’m really excited about something I have planned for the blog, but I definitely can’t do it by myself. This past week, through some conversations with friends, I’ve been thinking about meals that you take to other families. It can be for a variety of reasons – a new baby, a death in the family, a hard time, etc. But in general people seem to respond the same way – offer to take a meal to ease some of the burden. It’s a great idea! But what in the world do you make? After all, we can’t all take lasagna. If you’re like me, you have one “go-to” meal you tend to make over and over. And sometimes I wish I had some other ideas.

This is where you come in! I’ll share my go-to recipe with you, and you share your favorite recipe with me! How does that sound?  I’d love to take your recipes and feature them over the coming weeks and create a section of my blog dedicated to these types of meals. Is anybody interested? I’m really excited about this  – imagine if you were looking for a meal to take to a friend or family member, weren’t sure what to make, and knew that you could just stop by here and have a whole list of tried and true recipes to choose from! It makes me happy :)

Details:  Leave me a link in the comments if you’ve already posted your favorite recipe on your own blog. Otherwise, feel free to send me an email – whatmegansmaking[at]gmail[dot]com, and include a picture if you have one. If you leave a link or send a recipe, I’ll assume that means it’s ok if I repost the recipe (giving you credit and linking to your blog if you have one of course). Some of them I’m sure I’ll make myself, but I’m hoping I get more recipes than I have time to make :)   Also, be sure to include freezing/thawing instructions if you have them. One of the worst things is having a frozen meal and then not being sure how to cook it! Ideally these will be meals that travel well, and are perfect for new moms, people going through hard times, etc.

So what do you guys think? Are you interested? Are you willing to help me out and share your “meals to take”? Please? :)

My recipe contribution is below - Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage. It’s originally from My Kitchen Cafe (Mel has a ton of amazing recipes on her site!), but it’s so good that it’s become my default “meal to take”. It’s warm, comforting, creamy, healthy and delicious. Plus it’s freezer friendly and it makes a ton, making it ideal to take to a family that needs it. This is what works for me!

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Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound penne pasta
9-oz. bag fresh baby spinach
12 ounces precooked smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Cook for another minute. Stir in tomatoes, oregano and basil; simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Add spinach to the pot of boiling pasta right at the end and cook until wilted. Drain, and return contents to pot. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and half of mozzarella to the pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop pasta into lightly greased 9X13-inch pan (or divide evenly between two 8X8-inch pans). Top with rest of mozzarella and grated Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

*Makes a heaping full 9x13 pan

*To Freeze: Prepare recipe up until the baking step and then cover with a double layer of aluminum foil. Freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. To bake, increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours. If baking from frozen, bake covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, uncover and bake 30 minutes longer.

Adapted from My Kitchen Cafe

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24 Responses to “"Meals to Take" and a Request for Help – WFMW”

  1. 1

    Emily — November 10, 2010 @ 3:33 am

    This recipe can be doubled easily to feed a family for a couple meals and it's quite easy! It's also a favorite at our house.

    http://strobelshappenings.blogspot.com/2009/03/whats-for-dinner.html

    The link was closed, so I just put it here.

  2. 2

    megan @ whatmegansmaking — November 10, 2010 @ 3:41 am

    Thanks Emily – it looks delicious!

  3. 3

    SnoWhite — November 10, 2010 @ 3:59 am

    We just took a meal to our neighbors to celebrate the birth of their second little one. We made our go-to recipes:

    (1) Three Cheese Baked Ziti (http://joyinmykitchen.blogspot.com/2008/12/three-cheese-ziti.html)
    (2) No-Knead Fococcia Bread (http://joyinmykitchen.blogspot.com/2009/03/no-knead-fococcia-bread.html)
    (3) Apple Pie (http://joyinmykitchen.blogspot.com/2009/11/apple-honey-pie.html)

    These all freeze really well (the bread after baking), and are large enough to have leftovers for a few days.

  4. 4

    Melanie — November 10, 2010 @ 4:16 am

    Oh man, you already shared my favorite take-in meal (that baked pasta) but here's a second favorite:
    http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2010/05/white-and-green-chicken-enchiladas.html

    I actually finally created a whole category on my blog called "take-in meals" for needs such as this. Your idea to get suggestions is fantastic! I can't wait to see the ones you highlight.

  5. 5

    Lisa (bakebikeblog) — November 10, 2010 @ 4:16 am

    oooh yum! I have a baked pasta dish in mind for tonight as well :)

  6. 6

    megan @ whatmegansmaking — November 10, 2010 @ 4:22 am

    Melanie – Sorry to steal your meal idea! Thankfully you've got so many amazing recipes on your blog to choose from :) I'll have to check out the "take-in meals" category!

  7. 7

    Ami — November 10, 2010 @ 5:23 am

    I often bring a roast chicken. It is something that they can eat hot (by just throwing it back in the oven for a about 20 min to reheat) or cold as a sandwich etc.

    Here is my recipe from my blog:

    http://beyondpeasandcarrots.blogspot.com/2010/11/simple-roast-chicken.html

    I also have been known to bring baking and it is usually either this banana bread:

    http://beyondpeasandcarrots.blogspot.com/2010/10/banana-walnut-chocolate-chip-bread.html

    or these cookies:

    http://beyondpeasandcarrots.blogspot.com/2010/11/nutty-oatmeal-surprise-cookies.html

    Sorry… that is 3 recipes haha.

  8. 8

    foodies at home — November 10, 2010 @ 5:26 am

    Everyone always seems to enjoy my homemade mac and cheese…funny thing is…I don't like mac and cheese myself! Go figure!

  9. 9

    Lauren at KeepItSweet — November 10, 2010 @ 11:47 am

    that looks delicious! right now, my favorite recipe i have posted is this one for red velvet cookie sandwiches with white chocolate buttercream: http://keepitsweet.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/red-velvet-white-chocolate-heaven/

  10. 10

    Emma — November 10, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

    What a great idea. I love pasta bakes. My recipe is for chilli con carne – easy to freeze and reheat, and tastes even better after it's been in the fridge for a couple of days.

    http://emmainthekitchen.blogspot.com/2010/10/chilli-con-carne.html

  11. 11

    smalltownoven — November 10, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

    That sounds like a wonderful idea! I don't really have a "go-to" recipe to take with me places since I'm usually slated to take dessert and it's always something different but I'd love to see what everyone contributes. This pasta bake looks delish!

  12. 12

    Angie — November 10, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

    You can never go wrong with chicken noodle soup, and this recipe is large enough to share.
    http://alilcountrysugar.blogspot.com/2010/11/weather-change-chicken-noodle-soup.html

  13. 13

    TJ — November 10, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

    I will be emailing you one shortly, but mine is actually something very similar to empanadas, only round and smaller called "pastelitos". It's not a whole meal in itself, but more like a side dish or snack of sorts. You can make empanadas with the same dough, fill them up with things like veggies/meat and they are perfectly portable. Like a good turkey dinner, they are better the day after, room temp!

    The recipes posted here sound absolutely great. Can't wait to see how the end product of your project will look!

  14. 14

    julie — November 10, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

    Sounds great! I have a bunch of good ones that I send on a regular basis. I'll drop some your way later today!

  15. 15

    Eliana — November 10, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    What an awesome meal to take to someone. This looks delicious. Now you have me thinking of what I would take. Let me get back to you on that one :)

  16. 16

    Diana — November 10, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

    Great idea! We should all have a go-to that we can bring to others when they have a baby, experience loss, etc. This recipe is just one I made for Christmas morning last year, but I think it would work well for a gift as you're describing:
    http://www.soapandchocolate.com/2009/12/special-occasion-strata.html

  17. 17

    Milehimama @ Mama Says — November 10, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

    Chicken or turkey pot pie is always a hit:
    http://www.milehimama.com/2009/12/22/turkey-leftovers-pot-pie/

    Or enchiladas (made with beef or chicken for other families)
    http://www.milehimama.com/2009/07/03/how-to-make-lentil-enchiladas/

    and scalloped potatoes:
    http://www.milehimama.com/2010/04/05/scalloped-potatoes/

    Recently I made meals for a family with very picky children. I made baked chicken legs – easy, classic. A roasted chicken is also easy to make but basic enough to appeal to a wide variety of tastes (I guess that's why stores make so much $ selling rotisserie chickens!)

  18. 18

    StephenC — November 10, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

    Most people lean toward the casserole. I'm thinking soup. No real recipe is necessary. Just put vegetables (lots of them – your personal favorites) in a broth and simmer till done. With the addition of some sausage you can have a savory and nutritious one-dish meal to share.

  19. 19

    Maria — November 10, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

    Great idea!

    I like to take stuffed shells:
    http://twopeasandtheirpod.com/stuffed-shells-with-ricotta-spinach-and-portobello-mushrooms/

    Or

    Baked Potato Soup:
    http://twopeasandtheirpod.com/baked-potato-soup/

  20. 20

    Paul Jennette — November 10, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

    Hi Megan, this is a great post & idea. This is a practice I use all the time, see my wife has around 75 cousins so through the year there are stressful times, more then I care to count. So this is my go to recipe Chili with a Polenta Goat Cheese crouton. Easy to warm up and comforting. I pre-cut the croutons for them, so all they are doing is reheating everything.
    http://www.pantryblogger.com/2010/10/chill-in-air.html

  21. 21

    happywhennothungry — November 10, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

    That looks delicious! Here are two standbys that are easy to make and easy to transport as well:

    1. Fruit Buckle – you can use pears, apples, blueberries, etc. (whatever is in season) http://happywhennothungry.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/fruit-buckle/

    2. Cimabotta – Italian rustic stew that can be vegetarian or made with sausage, meatballs, etc.

    http://happywhennothungry.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/sausage-lentil-ciambotta/

  22. 22

    happywhennothungry — November 10, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

    Megan, I forgot to add a very yummy dessert that is easily transportable and also delicious…

    Pumpking Bundt Cake w/ Vanilla Glaze
    http://happywhennothungry.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/pumpkin-bundt-cake/

  23. 23

    Rachel @ The Avid Appetite — November 10, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

    What a great idea! I make enchiladas that are so delicious and can be easily reheated for days…
    http://www.theavidappetite.com/home/2010/9/13/easy-cheesy-enchiladas-redux-cumin-crema.html

    and healthy, delicious meatloaf:
    http://www.theavidappetite.com/home/2010/3/15/its-not-your-moms-meatloaf.html

  24. 24

    fink-girl — November 10, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

    Crockpot lasagna is my go-to dish for new babies and funerals and the like: http://fink-girl.livejournal.com/3459.html

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