No, I didn't have another baby! :-) But a new friend did a couple days ago and I brought her family dinner after she came home from the hospital. I know many of you do this, also, to help the moms in your friend, family and church circles, but I write about it here in case anyone reading is new to this sort of hospitality and will glean some ideas.
Although I've delivered many meals over the years, I always ponder far too long over what would be best to make this time. Well, Chicken Parmesan is what came to mind Wednesday and it's not something I've made in quite a while. I reached for the "tried and true" cookbook of my friend Maralyn Mathias: "Around the World with Annie" is a fun cookbook packed with stories and delicious family recipes from Maralyn's wide and international circle of friends. She is an American who's lived in Europe most of the past 20 years. With all her travels she's developed quite an arsenal for the kitchen! Here's her recipe for Breast of Chicken A La Parmigiana:
6 chicken breasts (Make enough for baby's family and your own.)
4 Tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
6 thin slices Swiss cheese
6 thin slices Mozzarella cheese
3 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
homemade or jar pasta sauce
pasta of your choosing (I did bow ties this time.)
Pound chicken breasts flat. Beat egg with milk, then dip each breast in the mixture. Then roll in crumbs and saute in oil. Put half the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, add the chicken and cover with the rest of the sauce. Top each breast with a slice of Swiss and a slice of Mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and dried parsley. Bake at 350º for up to 30 minutes. Serve with the pasta.
I delivered this meal in 2 of those tin containers you find at the grocery store – one with the chicken and the other with the pasta. The pasta just needed to be warmed, but the chicken was to bake for the 30 minutes. I added a lettuce salad, a bagette, and a few pink cupcakes for dessert. (Tips: Avoid containers you want returned. Use tin or semi-disposable plastic type. Include baking instructions if not delivering the meal hot. Call before you come or have a confirmed delivery time. Ask what time they would prefer to eat by. Ask about food allergies, dislikes and restrictions in advance. Generally, avoid very spicy entrees for nursing mothers. If a new mom has someone staying with her the first week or two, like her own mother or sister, she might appreciate your meal more if you bring it after this help is gone.)
Here is a photo of a little onesie I also gave to our friends: Heaven Sent *handle with care*. This is something I designed and carried in my online store www.creativefaithplace.com, but are no longer readily available. (Note: If you bring a family dinner, you are not obligated to also bring a baby gift. Just enclose a nice congratulatory card or note. It's totally up to you.)
Let me know of your experiences or great tips you have about giving meals! And please check out my friend Maralyn's thought-provoking blog at www.maralynsupdates.blogspot.com.