The Best Gift You Can Give Someone Who Just Had a Baby

Yum!I gave birth to my third child two weeks ago and the day we got home from the hospital a friend asked if she could swing by quickly to drop something off. It wasn't a cute outfit or flowers or Goodnight Moon (all great presents, by the way), it was a giant vat of chili with all the fixings, including homemade cornbread and instructions on how to heat and serve. Dinner! This friend happens to be a classically trained chef (one of the many reasons I adore her) and she had told me ahead of time that she'd be making me something. But chili was absolutely perfect, so I had to write about it here — and share her recipe and tips.

The chili itself was flavorful and fantastic but what made it over-the-top — and extra new-baby-in-the-house friendly: all the delicious toppings my friend had chopped and packed in separate Ziplock bags. Cilantro, scallions, cheddar cheese, lime wedges — plus an avocado, a container of sour cream and a bag of tortilla chips she recommended crumbling on top. All we had to do was heat the chili, chop the avocado and chow down. When you just had a human come out of you-know-where that's about all you can handle so the simplicity was greatly appreciated. As was the health factor. This chili is packed with hearty, good-for-you ingredients — after giving birth and feeling a little, how should I say this, pregnant still, the last thing I wanted was a big, heavy takeout meal (that's what we lived on after having our first kid in NYC). I could have seconds (OK, thirds) without feeling gross. My husband and mother-in-law (she was in town to help with the older two) devoured it also. And we still had enough leftover for lunch the next day. Score! Oh, and I had never thought to put chopped avocado on my chili or a squeeze of lime and both took the dish to the next level. YUM. I admit I'm a little food obsessed but this was such a nice new-baby gesture and one I will definitely be copying the next time I want to hook a friend up. Bonus: Even if they decide not to eat it right then, chili can be easily frozen for chowing down at a later date.

And, my friend tells me, it wasn't hard to make at all. Here's her recipe (you can substitute chicken for  turkey if that's more your style):

Turkey Chili (serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey breast
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 bottle Mexican lager (ok fine, Corona)
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
1 14 oz can chili beans (mix of pinto, kidney and black)
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped, with 1 tsp adobo sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with: chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, sliced scallions, sour cream or low-fat plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, and crumbled purple tortilla chips.

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat olive oil. Add peppers and onions, sauté until soft and golden. Add ground turkey, cook through. Add spices, salt and pepper, cook 30 seconds to allow spices to open up. Add tomato and beer, stir. Boil about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, beans, green chilies and chopped chipotle with adobo sauce. Bring chili to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer one hour. Serve with garnishes and corn muffins or rice.

It's a simple recipe but I'm telling you the result is huge. Have you ever brought food to a new mom? Did anyone bring you food when you gave birth? Another friend also dropped off an incredible meal (chicken and rice with a creamy delicious sauce and gorgeous roasted vegetables) to us the next night. How lucky am I? Do you cook for people when they are in need? Got any good recipes/ideas? Share them here!