How to say ‘Congratulations you’re moving in together!’. How to say, ‘Life is hard, but you’ve got this and I’m here to help!’. How to say ‘Thank you for having my back!’. How to say, ‘Thank you for coming over and taking that giant spider out of my shower!’. How to say ‘ I care for you and the proof is in the meatballs and the hand pies and the chocolate and the jam!’.
I take great pleasure in putting together a care package. I think it feels as good for me to make as it does to receive.
My trick is to mix indulgent, shelf-stable pantry treats with homemade items that can span from breakfast to dinner and dessert. When someone is in need of care, sometimes that means salty snacks, sometimes heart dinner, other times… pie and hot fudge sundaes. Best to prepare for all, gifting love and flexibility and a whole basket full of comfort.
I partnered with Stonewall Kitchen to put together this ultimate care package and I keep these essentials on hand to gift in or turn into homemade goodies that make these packages extra special.
Here are my favorites:
Truffle Marinara Sauce tastes so rich and luxurious. The texture is magically creamy and the aroma is divine! This sauce is my absolute favorite.
Maine Sea Salt clean taste and a fine but gritty texture perfect as both a finishing salt and inside baked goods for balance. Super versatile… I should know, I’m a secret salt-fiend.
Sour Cherry Jam bread has never had it so good. Hand-pies have never felt so special. This jam is balanced, sweet, sour, and just lovely.
The Ultimate Bar Mix for sweet and salty snack cravings. I often have a canister at my bar… hidden from myself so I don’t eat it all in one sitting.
For our homemade element, I like to make a dinner inspiration. In this case, Spicy Turkey Meatballs to accompany the Truffle Marinara Sauce. These meatballs can be eaten the day they’re gifted, or can be frozen until needed. The gift of flexibility is important when care packaging.
Ground turkey with fresh herbs and onions, breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, egg, and lots a good heap of crushed red pepper flakes.
The meatballs are scooped and baked in a pool of the Truffle Marinara Sauce.
And to keep the meatballs from drying out, they’re topped with sauce before baking.
The hardest part about making these meatballs is packaging them up and sending them off once your house and heart smell of hearty meatballs and sauce. Best to make a very large batch so there’s dinner for you too!
Package up with an extra jar of Truffle Marinara Sauce and a bag of pasta. Dinner is gifted.
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2/3 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
- 3 green onions, chopped (whites to greens)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- I jar Stonewall Kitchen Truffle Marinara Sauce
- Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place the ground turkey in a large bowl. Add bread crumbs, onions, garlic, egg, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, parmesan cheese, tomato paste and chopped parsley. Use a wooden spoon to work all of the ingredients together. You may need to get in there with your hands to thoroughly and evenly combine all of the ingredients.
- In a 9×13-inch pan or a large round oven-proof pan, spread about 1 cup of sauce. Shape together 12 meatballs. Each meatball will be about 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture. Use your hands or a cookie scooper to best shape the meatballs. Rinse your hands in warm water every few meatballs to keep your hands from getting too sticky. I found that having slightly damp hands helps tremendously in shaping the balls.
- Top each meatball with a small spoonful of sauce.
- Bake meatballs for 25 minutes, or until bubbling and cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before packaging for a care package. Serve with pasta, or just with sauce and a hearty green salad. Meatballs will last up to 4 days well wrapped in the refrigerator and also freeze well.
Pie can come from very simple places, and it should… especially when it’s gifted.
I started with a homemade pie crust. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again and again. I used this recipe, here.
Pie crust is rolled to a scratch thinner than 1/4-inch and cut (using a big biscuit cutter) to a 3 1/2-inch circle.
Crusts are lightly brushed with egg wash and dolloped with a big spoonful of Sour Cherry or Wild Maine Blueberry Jam. These jams are thick and flavorful enough to be hand-pie fillings on their own which is very simple and very exciting.
Folded over. Crimped to seal. Brushed with egg and sprinkled with sugar. They’re ready to bake!
I cut a few vent holes in the pies to the insides could breathe and bubble.
Baked just long enough to get that golden, flakey crust and bubbling center. These pies are so simple and alarmingly irresistible. Make plenty, cool to room temperature and package sweetly in cellophane and bows. Oh! These pies also freeze well before or after baking, so have them ready when you are.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
- 1 jar of Stonewall Kitchen Sour Cherry Jam and/or Wild Blueberry Jam
- 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash
- granulated sugar, for topping
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture. Some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes; some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring the dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.
- On a well-floured surface, roll one of the disks out to a 1/8″-thickness. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut about 10 to 12 circles out of the rolled crust. Place the circles on a plate and place in the refrigerator while you roll out and cut circles from of the second pie crust disk.
- You can re-roll the scraps of pie crust if you’d like. The more you work the crust the tougher it will become, but that's ok for about two rerolls.
- Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- To fill the pies, remove the rounds from the refrigerator and working a few at a time, place about 1 teaspoon of jam into the center of each circle. Lightly brush the edge of one side of the crust with egg wash. Fold the crust over. Press gently to seal the jam inside the crust, and use the tines of a fork to press the edges together, sealing well.
- Use a small knife to cut a few vent slits in the top of each semi-circle. Place on the prepared baking sheets about 1-inch apart.
- Repeat with all of the crust circles. Refrigerate for 30 minutes if your dough has warmed substantially. At this stage you can also freeze the pies on the baking sheet until frozen through, about 2 hours. Once frozen through place in an airtight bag and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Pies can be egg washed and baked from the freezer by adding about 7 minutes to the baking time.
- Brush the tops of the pies lightly with egg was and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
- Remove from the oven. Place on a wire baking sheet to cool completely before bagging up as gifts.
This post is in partnership with Stonewall Kitchen. All opinions and recipes are my own.