Meal for a Friend



To make a meal for a friend is always a pleasure, always a privilege. Yet it's not always practical or even possible.

I am slow these days to sign up for more cooking, more driving, or more time in restaurants with children. This is what a meal for a friend tends to require. First there is the obvious cooking, but then also the meal delivery and the perhaps less obvious "let's-eat-out-tonight-because-I-can't-cook-two-meals" scenario.

Occasionally the stars do align, and I am thankful to have the opportunity to be a blessing to a friend in the way of food. TJ has an afternoon off, and it's brilliant. I get to cook in peace, we drive together to deliver the meal, and then the kids are happy because they finally get to eat at Tijuana Flats again. I just pretend I don't care how many chips they eat or that I'm special-ordering their tacos in such a way that I'm paying for more things taken off than left on (plus bringing my own avocados from home, so as not to pay even more to add guacamole to their tacos).

The last two meals I've made for friends having babies have both been Cuban Red Beans and Rice. This dish has been one of Bauer's favorite meals for years, only to be surpassed in recent months by BBQ Tofu and Cajun Rice (stay tuned for that recipe soon).

I have a standard set of sides for Cuban Red Beans and Rice: roasted green beans, homemade cornbread, and fruit salad. In this particular case, though, I was working around a corn allergy, so instead of cornbread, I picked up a loaf of Great Harvest cinnamon-chip bread. The bag of dark chocolate macaroons was a Deal Mart steal (thanks to my lovely friend and personal Deal Mart shopper, Jill). And the Dasani sparkling waters and juice box were a last-minute grab from the garage fridge, simply because I love these Dasani waters and I like to share my loves.

I also love my new Demarle Silpat nonstick baking mats, on which I always roast the green beans. My friend Sarah introduced me to the Demarle line of products in recent months, and I've been very pleased not only with the roasting of veggies on these mats, but also with the unbelievably easy cleanup. I'm happy to be using so much less foil and cooking spray these days too. I can't wait to buy the Demarle muffin trays one day.

Print the PDFs of the recipes by clicking on the links below:

Cuban Red Beans and Rice / Oven-Roasted Green Beans