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Care packages for parents

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Chopped Chicken Salad with Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette

GOURMET, TO GO  The Chopped Chicken Salad with Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette from Peace Meals is gourmet-style yet easy to put together. (Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Houston)

Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston, a women’s charitable and education organization founded in 1925.

One great Texas tradition of neighborly behavior is delivering meals to parents of newborns. Sleep is at a premium, and meal planning and grocery shopping can become an afterthought. The key to a great care package for new parents is flexibility. Parents of babies are adjusting to a schedule not-all-their-own, which often means eating whatever and whenever they can.

The Mushroom Quiche from Peace Meals is described as a dish that “will melt in your mouth at breakfast, lunch or dinner” – tailor-made for new parents. It’s easy to pop in the microwave to reheat and serve as a standalone meal for breakfast or with a simple green salad for lunch or dinner.

Oatmeal Cake from Peace Meals is another favorite that tastes great any time of day. The topping makes this a decadent treat, perfect for baby’s siblings too. Pair with yogurt and pre-cut fruit from the grocery store to make mealtime easy.

New parents may be receiving a lot of comfort food like lasagna or King Ranch chicken casserole. One favorite meal that my family received was a deconstructed salad, with lettuce and chicken in separate containers and toppings tossed in salad dressing in another container, keeping everything crisp until ready to serve. The Chopped Chicken Salad with Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette from Peace Meals is a flavorful, gourmet-style salad that would be easy to deliver. You can use a rotisserie chicken or salad dressing from the grocery store if you are short on time; add tortilla chips or tortillas and salsa.

Dessert is always appreciated. Texas Gold Bars from Star of Texas are an old-fashioned treat that tastes good any time. New parents also may appreciate disposable plates and utensils, their favorite adult beverage or strong coffee, or a box of diapers. Every little bit helps during the newborn haze!

Mushroom Quiche

From Peace Meals

1 refrigerated pie crust, unbaked
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
8 ounces fresh button mushrooms, sliced
3 eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Dash of white pepper
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan; sprinkle with the Swiss and Parmesan cheeses. In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour the mushrooms in the pie shell. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, cream, white pepper, salt and Worcestershire, and pour the mixture over the cheese and mushrooms. Bake until golden and set, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting and serve warm. Serves 8.

Oatmeal Cake

From Peace Meals

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1½ cups boiling water
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt

Topping: 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 11- by 7-inch baking dish. Place the oats in a medium bowl and cover with the boiling water; let stand for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cream together the sugars, shortening and eggs in a large bowl; add the vanilla and mix to combine. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture until well combined; stir in the softened oats. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes. While the cake is baking, mix together the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Remove the cake from the oven and spread the topping over the cake while it is hot. Place under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Let the cake cool slightly before serving.

Chopped Chicken Salad with Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette

From Peace Meals

Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette: ½ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons honey
1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce (about 2 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¾ canola oil
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salad: 3 ears of corn, shucked
1¼ pounds chicken breasts, cooked and cut into thin strips
1½ cups diced vine-ripened tomatoes
5 ounces mixed baby greens
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup diced roasted red bell pepper
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
¾ cup toasted hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), for garnish

Combine the vinegar, lime juice, garlic, honey, chile (with a little of the sauce) and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the oil in a thin stream to form an emulsion. Add the cilantro and pulse to combine. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs with a serrated knife. Place the corn, chicken, tomatoes, greens, cheese and peppers in a large salad bowl. Toss with desired amount of the vinaigrette. Before serving, garnish with the cilantro and pumpkin seeds.

Texas Gold Bars

From Star of Texas

1 package yellow cake mix (plain, without pudding)
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup margarine, melted
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine cake mix, 1 egg and melted margarine. Press into an ungreased 9- by 13-inch Pyrex pan (do not use a metal pan). Mix remaining ingredients and spread over top. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting into bars. Yields 48 bars.

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