Easy Helping Hand Meals

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Last week I was informed by one of the other moms at Rachael’s bus stop that our neighbor down the road had just had surgery. Her three grandchildren live with her, and since she really wasn’t able to get out of bed, the kids were basically fending for themselves. I volunteered to help put together some food for the family. I have a couple of “go to” recipes that I make whenever someone has had a baby or needs help, which I thought I’d share.

Blueberry Muffins

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I love this recipe because it’s so easy to make. Seriously, it’s just about as easy as a boxed mix. They’re just as delicious with or without the streusel topping. Fresh blueberries burst in your mouth with every bite of these fluffy treats. The added bonus is that they freeze and reheat easily. If you double or triple the recipe, you’ll be able to give the person(s) you’re helping breakfast for several days.

Ingredients

1 ½ cup flour
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
~1/3 cup milk
1 cup blueberries

Streusel topping
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp flour
2 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
¾ tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400°. Grease or line 8 muffin wells with muffin liners.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to equal 1 cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Pour into lined muffin cups; fill to the top.

To make streusel topping, combine listed ingredients and mix well with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over tops of muffins.

Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe from Annie’s Eats

Lasagna

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I perfected this cheesy goodness while in college. It’s hearty and lasts for a few days, depending on how many people are eating it. It can also be divvied up and frozen in individual servings if you want to save some for later. My favorite part is the Italian sausage in the meat mixture. The fennel and other spices in the sausage give the lasagna extra flavor and dimension. Make sure you use good marinara in this, or your lasagna will suck. (That’s the technical culinary term.) I like using a basil and garlic sauce. (I’ve even made it with homemade tomato sauce, which makes it even better!) Note: You will have extra meat sauce. You can send it along with some spaghetti noodles and extra sauce.

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef
1 pound mild Italian sausage (use spicy if you want an extra kick)
7 cups marinara, divided
3 cups ricotta, room temperature
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Lasagna noodles, regular or no boil, unboiled (I prefer traditional noodles)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brown ground beef and Italian sausage over medium-high heat, crumbling with a spatula as it browns. Drain fat. Reduce heat to low and add 3 cups marinara to meat mixture, stirring to combine. Allow the mixture to heat together while assembling the lasagna.

Spread a thin layer of sauce (about 1 cup) in the bottom of a 9×13 broiler safe dish.
Place uncooked noodles on top of the sauce. (If you’re using traditional noodles, place 3 noodles horizontally and 1 vertically at one end. You will need to break the vertical noodle to fit.)
Spoon the meat and marinara mixture on top of the noodles, just enough to evenly cover the noodles, about 4 cups.
Spoon large dollops of ricotta on top of the meat mixture, spread evenly with a spatula. (If the ricotta is not room temperature, you will have difficulty spreading the ricotta.)
Place another layer of uncooked noodles on top of the ricotta.
Spoon about 3 cups marinara on top of the noodles, spreading to cover evenly with a spatula.
Sprinkle cheese on top, covering evenly.

Spray aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray. Cover the lasagna with the foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Uncover the lasagna and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Set broiler on high. With the rack on the second highest level, broil the lasagna for an additional 2-3 minutes to brown the cheese. Keep an eye on the lasagna to make sure you don’t over-brown the cheese.

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