Former Real Simple recipe developer and stylist Sara Quessenberry joins forces with Suzanne Schlosberg to create The Good Neighbor Cookbook, a must-read for anyone who believes that going the extra mile in the kitchen is worth the effort for friends and loved ones. The chapters in the colorfully bound cookbook include everything from "Bringing Home Baby" to "Block Parties and Barbecues" to "Condolences." Here are a few sage tips from the book for making food as love a doable deed.
Nothing perks up a lunch-hour committee meeting like lunch, especially when it's an anything-but-lackluster soup and sandwich combo, quiche and salad pairing or grab-and-go dessert for folks racing back to work.
Book clubs and after-work get-togethers can pose culinary quandaries for hosts and hostesses. These special occasions tend to meet at the dinner hour on weekdays, but finding time to prepare a full meal for a group during a busy week can be a challenge. The solution: try pick-up hors d'oeuvres and irresistible bites that provide enough sustenance to count as dinner.
If you don't have time to make something special for a grieving family, deliver these store-bought but thoughtful treats to express your condolences to the friend or family in mourning: Wine, chocolate, hot cocoa mix with marshmallows and milk, tea and honey, fresh fruit or fresh bagels and cream cheese.
Grief is an overpowering emotion and knowing what to say or do for a friend who has lost a loved one leaves many of us walking a fine line between genuine caring and a desire to respect the privacy of a person in pain. A meal is always welcome, though, and very little comforts like a hot bowl of soup. This spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup is a meal in and of itself, and will appeal to almost any taste. Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup
When making food for a friend who is sick or recuperating, make dishes that are flavorful but not overpowering and choose recipes with healing properties. Immune-boosting nutrients will help speed the healing process as well as lend a measure of comfort.
Three ways to nourish a friend on the mend: Bring a complete meal; organize a meal train between the patient's family and volunteer cooks; and if you run out of time to cook, take a restaurant gift card instead.
Nothing works up an appetite like hauling boxes and maneuvering an armoire through the front door. Greet new neighbors with filling main dishes for dinner plus sweet treats that can be devoured immediately, like Lemon-Glazed Pistachio Shortbread Cookies. Recipe: Lemon-Glazed Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
New Neighbor Tip: To make your new neighbors feel especially welcome, package your food gifts with a list of best local picks, like the optometrist you adore, or the hole-in-the-wall coffeehouse that makes the world's best lavender latte.
No matter what the occasion - welcoming a new neighbor, heading off to a potluck, or dropping by to see an under-the-weather friend - cake never goes out of style. Try this simple but satisfying Sweet Tangerine Cake that anyone with an oven and a few ingredients can make. Recipe: Sweet Tangerine Cake
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The following kitchen-centric gifts are the perfect mix of practical, fun and special.