2012 March For Life Dinner Boxes

Each January, IPC participates in March for Life in Washington, D.C. Up to 50 attendees must endure a grueling bus trip to D.C. and back, to speak on behalf of the unborn. So, I try to make their dinner boxes fresh and colorful.

Menu for MFL Dinner Boxes:
Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich with Herb Aioli
Garden Salad with Savannah Mustard Dressing
Fresh Fruit Salad
Chocolate-Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Dipped Strawberry and Mint Patties
Potato Chips

Fried chicken breast seem to be the best meat option for picnic style dinner. It holds up well and still tastes great even when served room temperature.

We had some left over chocolate from a previous event, so we dressed up the berries a bit!

Over the years, packing dinner boxes for the marchers has been my favorite event to do in the church kitchen.

Here are some make ahead tips for boxed dinners:

(Organization and prepping ahead is the key!)

Up to a week or more ahead:
Chicken breast is pounded, layered with plastic, & frozen Click here for how to prep
Make Cookie Dough and freeze

Up to fours Days Prior:
Make Salad dressing & Aioli, put in 2 oz containers; store in fridge

Up to two days Prior:
Prep fruit click here for tips;
Bake cookies, cool completely, store in zip lock baggies & refrigerate

One day prior:
Thaw chicken breast in fridge, all containers, utensils, buns if using are out

5 Hours prior:
Lay out containers in an assembly line fashion, put any non-perishable items
(utensils, Handi-wipes, napkins, mint patties, etc)
Cut fruit smaller and store fruit individually and temporarily store in fridge
Wash and prep veggies for salad, I used mixed green and cherry tomatoes
Prepare to fry
Melt chocolate and dip strawberries, cool on parchment lined sheet pans

2.5 Hours prior:
Fry chicken breast and cool completely on wire racks

1.5 Hours prior: You will need 3 sets of quick hands to do this in 1 to 1.5 hours
Begin assembling the boxes, layer fruit, place salad, sandwiches, cookies, utensils, etc.


Simple Wild Rice Pilaf for 300

Rice pilaf is wonderful and inexpensive side to feed my church family. But it took me several tries to get the texture just right. Cooking 20+ pounds of rice can be little tricky, as you can imagine. First, I tried a large, commercial electric rice cooker. Fail. Because of large volume, the rice on the bottom burned while the rice on top was barely cooked. Then I tried using three smaller rice cookers and cooking in small batches. And that took wayyyyy too long. It seemed like we were cooking rice all afternoon and nothing else.

Well, as for the equipment, this 29-qt roaster which I inherited when I took on this job was the answer! Using both top and bottom roaster pans separately to cook 24 pounds of rice turned out to be perfect solution. Since the pans fit nicely over two gas burners, cooking rice pilaf for 300 became super easy. (No, our roasting pans DO NOT look this shiny and nice).

To add some texture and flavor, four pounds of wild and brown rice blend was mixed to long grain rice. Rinse rice in cold water, then soak for 15-30 minutes. This water absorption reduces the cooking time.

Saute diced onions in small amount of butter.

Drain water well from rice and then add to sauteed onions. Stir until fragrant, 3-4 minutes. Add chicken stock. (yep, that's our beat-up roaster pan, well-loved for sure!)

Adding the correct amount of liquid is crucial whether you are cooking a small or large amount. So let me show you using water, how my Korean mother taught me to measure the perfect amount. You eye-ball the water amount over the soaked rice, level the rice with your hand so it's even under the water. Then lay your open hand flat like this gently over top of rice. Add or reduce water amount until it just covers your proximal phalanges (had to google that one). Can you see where the water level is on my fat fingers?

Using a ruler to show you, it is about 5/8 " from the leveled top of the rice.

Back to the rice pilaf, using two sheets of foil, cover the roster pans tightly and seal the edges. Place a full sheet pans over the foil to keep it in place. Cook in high heat until you see steam escape on the side, about 10-15 minutes, depending on the amount of rice. Reduce heat to simmer and let steam for 20-30 minutes. Do not uncover the foil top at anytime during steaming.

Peel back the foil sheets and fluff the rice.

Transfer to serving pans. Cover with foil and keep warm until ready to serve.

Simple but perfect wild rice pilaf for a crowd and perfect accompaniment to any meat dish!

Print This Recipe!

Simple Rice Pilaf for 6

1 1/2 cups white rice (preferably long grain)
1/2 cup wild rice blend
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups of chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

In a bowl, blend white and wild rice and soak in water for 15-30 minutes. While the rice is soaking, using medium-high heat in a large saute pan with a lid, saute diced onion in butter until fragrant.

Drain rice well and add to onion. Add chicken broth and salt and pepper. Stir and cover with lid and cook until broth is in full boil, 10-15 minutes depending on the amount of rice. Quickly reduce the heat to low simmer and cook until all broth is absorbed into the rice, about 20-30 minutes. Do not uncover the lid at any time. Fluff the rice and serve with your favorite main dish.

Simple Rice Pilaf for 300

20 lb white rice (preferably long grain)
4 pounds wild rice blend
1 lb butter
6 large onions, diced
chicken stock, preferably homemade, enough to cover your fingers as directed above
Salt and Pepper to taste

Equipment: Two 23-quart roasting pans, top and bottom, heavy duty foil sheets; divide the ingredients into two roasting pans (each pan will cook 22 lbs of rice).

Make Ahead Tips:
Onion can be diced up to days ahead.
Make homemade chicken stock and freeze weeks ahead.


Birthday Party on Blue Horizons

"I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah."
 ~ William Tecumseh Sherman (February 08, 1820 - February 14, 1891
Did you guys have a restful holiday?  I had the most peaceful two weeks...almost to the point of  being lazy.  But now I am fully recharged and ready to face 2012!  Here is something fun I did yesterday.  I went aboard on this gorgeous 70' Hatteras, named Blue Horizons as a guest/caterer/photographer for my dear friend Charlie, for his birthday celebration.  

Look at this huge upper deck!  To truly appreciate the historic Savannah, you have to view it from the water.  This floating B and B and beautiful venue is locally owned and operated by Savannah Cruise Inn Yacht Charters 

Master State Room

The yacht's galley has the state of the art appliances and was great to work in.      

 I wanted to create a simple dinner menu...but all bite-size:  
Mini-venison burgers with pepper jack cheese, Grilled pineapples and strawberry on skewers.

Lemon Caesar Salad in Parmesan Cups.

Shrimp Cocktail in Cucumber cups, Ahi Tuna Bites and not pictured Fried Egg Rolls.  

As the sun set, the lights around the city of Savannah illuminated and sparkled as 30 guests on board mingled, conversations flowed, and hearts knitted stronger in friendship. 

The birthday cake presented by Charlie's beautiful wife, Linda. 


What a wonderful evening it was, spent with friends and family, filled with laughter and warm wishes.  
What a lovely way to start the new year. 
Happy 2012 to you!