By now, I think we’ve established that I love to cook. But I love it even more when I’m able to put my cooking skills to good use to help others. This week, I had the pleasure of preparing a meal for a dear friend and co-worker of mine (and her husband) who recently had a baby. Sites like mealbaby.com, the one she used to coordinate this, have become very popular in recent years as a way to have friends and family help out after a new baby birth or when loved ones become ill. In addition to coordinating the schedule, she was able to provide specifics on the kinds of food they do and don’t eat, which made this experience in some ways like a cooking challenge.
Here was what I was given:
Food We Likes: We try to eat healthy - veggies, not a lot of processed foods.
Food We Dislike: I don’t like blue cheese, or grapefruit. My husband likes everything, but tends to not eat much gluten.
Food Allergies: No allergies!
Of course what I didn’t plan on was totally forgetting about it until the morning before the day I was to deliver the meal. Thank goodness for calendar reminders! With a ton of family responsibilities to take care of on Tuesday night, I knew I had to prepare a meal quickly and with little mess. The solution? Grill as much as possible! I could cook a lot of food at one time and cleanup consists of using a grill brush. Can’t get much easier than that. So what did I come up with? Fajita night!
Here was the menu, complete with several proteins and lots of veggies, and with limited gluten that could easily be skipped and still provide for several hearty meals. And the use of to-go containers were the perfect vessels because my friend could dump it when they were done, without having to worry about washing dishes to return to me.
Grilled Chicken and Steak
I bought super thin chicken and steak and marinated it for just 2 hours in Goya Mojo. You can find this in any store with a decent ethnic food selection, such as Target or Walmart. It’s cheap and super flavorful. Then I very quickly grilled it up and sliced it for storage. A quick reheat in the oven just to warm it slightly is all that’s needed.
Grilled Peppers and Onions
I halved and deseeded a bunch of green and yellow peppers and thick-sliced a white onion, rubbed it all with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Then I grilled them up until they began to char and soften. Just slice it all up and they are ready to go. Also, a quick oven reheat is all that’s needed.
Cilantro Yellow Rice
I lightly browed a cup of long grain rice in a little olive oil then added some chopped garlic. After about 30 seconds, I added 1 3/4 cups water, a packet of low-sodium chicken bouillon (you could just use chicken stock), and dashes of turmeric, salt and pepper. I covered the pot and simmered on medium-low heat for 17 minutes until all the water was absorbed. Then I fluffed the rice with a fork and tossed in some chopped cilantro and the juice of one lime. Easily reheatable in the microwave for a few minutes.
Mexican Corn Salad
For this one, I followed a super easy recipe I found on Pinterest using frozen corn which I thawed slightly before cooking. This could be used as an appitizer with some tortilla chips (which I also provided) or as a side dish with the fajitas. And best of all, it can be eaten right from the fridge!
I also sent along some homemade guacamole (just smash up a couple of avocados and mix with some chopped garlic, cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper), salsa from your favorite brand, some freshly shredded cheddar cheese (I hate buying the pre-shredded cheese due to the waxy consistency), a few extra limes and flour and corn tortillas to complete the fajita-making process!
I was told they loved it, so I’m a happy cook. Have you ever prepared a meal for someone? Comment on what you made!