Just picture — after a long and arduous day of work — you walk in the door, hang up your coat, and yell (politely, of course) “Honey! I’m home!”
Then — in the very next moment — you walk into your kitchen, snap your fingers and happily announce: “Dinner’s ready!”
Thanks to Marie Lizotte of Eggcettera Catering and Dinners to Go, you might feel a bit like a magician while serving up a home-cooked meal in, I’m estimating, approximately four minutes or less. All you’ll need are dinner plates, utensils and napkins.
Ordered 24-hours ahead of time, your individual-serving-sized meals will be hot, packaged up and ready for pickup when you stop by her Auburn location at 31 Leavitt St. It isn’t fast-food in the traditional sense, although it will be equally as quick as scooting through your regular drive-thru on the way home.
“I prepare a menu for Monday through Friday,” Lizotte said, “with a different meal each night.” She changes the menu a month in advance. Meals are $7 each, and can be picked up between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Lizotte was the former owner of Eggcettera restaurant in Mechanic Falls for nine years. When she traded the restaurant business in a year ago, she took over her husband’s garage, converting it into a commercial kitchen for her new culinary enterprise. The side street is just a stone’s throw from Minot Avenue — easy enough for commuters to stop by for a meal pickup.
On the day I gave Lizotte’s home cooking a whirl, the menu consisted of two extremely moist and tender pork chops coated with barbecue sauce. When asked how she made them so tender, she said, “I sear the chops on both sides in a hot pan to seal in the juices. Then I turn the stove down to medium heat to finish cooking.”
A hefty portion of cubed and seasoned roasted potatoes was tucked in beside the pork chops, with fresh coleslaw packaged separately and refrigerated until I arrived, so as to not get warm. The meal was quite substantial, and amazingly enough, I found myself with enough left over to bring to work for lunch the next day. An extra perk.
She shared the recipe for one of her favorite desserts — banana cookies. With maple frosting sandwiched between two cookies, it made a great whoopee pie. For a quick and fun appetizer, she offered readers her favorite (and very easy) recipe for Crab Rangoon.
Because she has a grandson with peanut allergies, she is sensitive to the needs of her customers. “I just need to know ahead of time if there are any food allergies, and I’ll try to work around it.” I noted several gluten-free meals on the menus (just pass on the fresh-baked dinner rolls she includes with most dinners), but limited vegetarian options — mainly because Lizotte considers herself a “meat and potatoes kind of gal.”
Items on last month’s menu included numerous fish-based meals; spaghetti with meat sauce served with a side salad; chicken alfredo with broccoli; and one of her specialties, a traditional pot roast.
When it comes to seasoning, she will err on the side of caution. “I use little to no salt,” she said. “The customer can add some” to suit their taste, “but can't remove it.”
For someone who might like to save even more time and stock up on a few meals, she said it works well to package and freeze the dinners-to-go. “There isn’t anything on my menu that you wouldn’t find in a (store-bought) frozen TV dinner.” What would be missing, though, is obvious: the “home-cooked” part.
She has found a niche in bringing her individually sized meals to catered meetings and functions, as opposed to setting up a buffet table. Lizotte can supply meals for “one to 200 people.”
She has noticed her pre-packaged portions work well for those with smaller appetites, because they can just put the lids back on the plastic serving dish and save the remainder for the next day.
Lizotte faxes or emails the monthly menu to her clients, or they can find it at www.eggcetteracatering.com. She can be reached at 784-5544. All that is required to reserve a meal is to call in the order at least one day ahead.
Marie Lizotte’s Banana Cookies
(Amounts are for a double batch)
2 cups shortening
4 cups brown sugar (a 2-pound bag)
4 cups mashed bananas
Cream together those four ingredients.
In a separate bowl, add together:
8 cups flour
8 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
Sift dry ingredients together and then add to the cream mixture. Add 2 cups of chopped nuts if desired.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes in a 375-degree oven. The cookies freeze very well. Lizotte says if you put a layer of vanilla or maple-flavored frosting between two cookies, you've got a delicious banana whoopee pie.
Easy Crab Rangoon Appetizers
1 six-ounce can crab meat, drained and flaked
4 ounces Philadelphia, Neufchatel or regular cream cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Kraft mayonnaise
12 wonton wrappers
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix first four ingredients. Spray mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Place a wonton wrapper in each muffin cup, fill with crab meat mixture, and pinch the wrapper dough to seal a bit on the top. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until edges of cups are golden brown and filling is heated through.