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Win a Amazon.com Gift Certificate (and Black Raspberry Meringue Bars)

Please excuse me while I vent for a second. My husband has been traveling for just about every week since August for business. Most often, he leaves before we wake up on Monday morning and comes back on Friday evening. He has occasionally come back at 11pm on Thursday night only to turn around and go to work at 5:30am the next morning. He has always traveled with his job, but in the past it has just been for a week or two out of the month… none of this gone for the majority of our life business that is going on now.

I am fairly proud of the fact that I have been such a trooper through it all. My three kids are well behaved, for the most part, and are not too difficult to take care of. We have honestly gotten to the point that he is gone so much that when he comes back home on the weekends it is more disruptive than when he is here.

I have tried very hard to be the supportive wife… listening about his hectic schedule in New York, understanding on Saturday’s when he is so tired from traveling the day before, even grimacing through the “my steak at dinner had too much pepper on it” complaints, etc. But, you know what? I don’t know if it is pregnancy hormones, this dreaded winter weather, or what… but this week I am 100% fed up with it all.

I’m tired of being the sole person during the week to be responsible for getting the kids where they need to be. I’m tired of doing bath time by myself. I’m tired of every time I need to run to the store for just a gallon of milk, I have to pack all three kids in the car to go with me. I’m tired of not having a minute to get things done, like my freelance work that I need to do, until the kids are tucked in bed. I’m tired of not having a husband home in the evening to share the tasks and to just be here to spend the evening with. We miss him a lot when he’s gone and it is really starting to get on my nerves!

I didn’t mean for this to be this much of a gripe session. I admire those of you who have been doing this far longer than I have been. Those of you who are single moms, who have husband’s gone in Iraq, who are alone for other reasons… I truly do not know how you do it day in and day out.

With all that I have going on with him gone, do you know the one thing that I am up to here with? I am so tired of our dinner menu plan looking like something off of the school lunch menu. Hotdogs, mac and cheese, taquitos, breakfast for dinner, etc. I want my husband home so I can cook real meals for us and so we can all sit around the table again at night as a family.

This is where I am going to implore you to help me out. I need some new family friendly meals to put on the table. I need recipes that make me feel like I am cooking, but that my kids (who aren’t that picky) will eat. I want your favorite “the whole family will love it” dinner time recipe that is not super complicated (our evenings our tight lately) and that I feel would be worth spending time on for just the kids and I. I’d love for you to include your favorite family friendly recipe link in the comments section of this post. Have them in by midnight CST on Wednesday, February 4th. I will then sit down on Thursday to make my menu plan for the following week. If your recipe gets chosen to be included in that weeks worth of dinner menus, I will send you a $10 Amazon gift certificate. I will be giving out 5 Amazon.com gift certificates in all… one for each day my husband is out of town during the week. All comments must be accompianied by a valid email address.

I am still managing to bake during the day, which my kids appreciate! I chose to make these Black Raspberry Meringue Bars because my mom brought us a jar of homemade Black Raspberry jelly when she was here over the holidays. These bars are delicious… far too delicious to waste on my kiddos. Perfect for an afternoon tea or a brunch with your girlfriends!

Black Raspberry Meringue Bars (adapted from Mary Engelbreit’s Cookies Cookbook)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Generous 1/3 cup raspberry jam (we used black raspberry jelly)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. On low speed, gradually add the flour, beating just until incorporated; the mixture should still be somewhat crumbly. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Set pan on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until whites begin to form soft peaks. Add the sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the whites form stiff, glossy peaks. Spread the jam evenly over the warm crust. Using a large metal spoon, drop the meringue in large dollops on the jam, and using the back of the spoon, carefully spread the meringue over the crust, making sure to seal the edges. Bake for 25 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown. (The meringue will puff up as it bakes and sink as it cools.) Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

Using a large sharp knife, cut into 24 squares. Dust the tops of the bars with confectioners’ sugar. Store the bars, well covered, in the refrigerator.

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Comments

  1. Hi Kristen,

    To be a mom is an immense and so strenuous job 100% full time and without holidays!

    For sure your raspberry meringue bars must be scrumptious..your kids will love them! :)

    Cheers!

    Gera

    Gera @ SweetsFoodss last blog post..Health & Fitness – 15 Tips and Benefits to Get the Best of You

  2. That is awful that your husband is away so much! I can’t imagine. Especially since his job didn’t always involve so much travel, it must be quite a change.

    My new favorite family meal:
    http://coconutlime.blogspot.com/2008/12/swedish-ish-meatballs.html

    it doesn’t even need a side dish

    rachels last blog post..Toasted Ravioli with a Warm Tomato Dipping Sauce

  3. The meringue bars look great. I tried similar with lemon, but hese look better.

    Gennaros last blog post..A Travel Picnic To Die For

  4. Well single parenting in a lot of my 1st marriage was one of the nails in its coffin. I personally think it’s unfair but then again each marriage has its own rules/agreements etc

    But how about Lasagna Soup

    http://cookingmylife.blogspot.com/2008/12/souper-saturday.html?referer=sphere_search

    Maureens last blog post..Short Inspiration

  5. My heart truly goes out to you – I simply wouldn’t survive with my husband gone all week – and I don’t even have kids! I just love having him around, and would miss his companionship too much. I’d be a huge baby about it!! I hope it gets better and that the frequency of travel lessens!!

    I really love this baked penne recipe from Culinary in the Desert .. it’s very simple and it’s a complete meal with veggies, meat, carbs – and it is so simple to put together. Great for winter! I usually add spinach & sliced mushrooms along with the zucchini to bump up the veggies. I also use whole wheat pasta for its nutrition. :)

    http://desertculinary.blogspot.com/2005/07/baked-penne-with-fire-roasted-tomatoes.html

    Carmens last blog post..Tuna and Steak Bowl

  6. I’m continually in awe of how parents manage to care for their kids and themselves. Kudos to you! I think you’re allowed to vent every once in a while

    Fish Tacos are always fun! http://www.growcookeat.com/2008/12/savant-project-special-promotion.html

    Julias last blog post..Whole Foods, Whole Packaging

  7. I sympathize. I am a single mom to two (now grown) boys. We had a lot of fun, but it was tiring.

    I don’t have a link but I do have a delicious recipe that is very simple to put together but does take a while to bake. My kids love it.

    Put 1&1/2 cups raw rice in a casserole dish. Lay chicken pieces (you can use whatever pieces you like – I usually use thighs) on top of rice. Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 can beef broth, 1 can french onion soup, 1 can water in large bowl. Pour over rice and chicken. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Makes great leftovers, too.

  8. I hear you. I end up doing the same, I often wonder why I make different food when it is just the kids and I? They eat most anything. Here is one of my standbys since it can be mostly prepared ahead and is flexible enough to be made with what ever is on hand. It can be baking while the kids are doing their homework. Check out my list of week-night meals.
    http://foodurl.info/wtv2

    Kristens last blog post..The Hearty Cookie

  9. I don’t have a family myself, but I think this would be a fabulous recipe for a family meal and it’s delicious and easy to prepare:

    Cheesy Tortilla Pie

    Scroll down on that post to see my variations and the link to the original recipe. My variation includes mushrooms, which I do think is an improvement if the kids like ‘em.

    Judiths last blog post..La Fête du Fromage: Apple Cinnamon Monterey Jack

  10. This was one of my family’s favorites when my children were young. It’s easy to make, nutritious and delicious.

    Chicken Pot Pie

    1 cup chopped onion
    1 cup chopped celery
    1 cup chopped carrot
    1/3 cup butter or margarine
    ½ cup all-purpose flour
    2 cups chicken broth
    1 cup milk
    1 teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon pepper
    4 cups chopped cooked chicken
    1 ready made pie crust or make your own

    Saute onion, celery, and carrot in butter for 10 minutes. Add flour to sautéed mixture, stirring well; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
    Combine broth and milk; gradually stir into vegetable mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in salt and pepper. Add chopped chicken, stirring well.
    Pour chicken mixture into a greased shallow 2-quart casserole. Top with pastry cut in strips; Bake at 400 for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

  11. Ok, Kristen I am so sorry. I was raised that way and I have already told my husband, under no circumstances will we live that way for any extended period. I couldn’t handle it-I am in awe that you have been doing so well for so long that you are only now venting.

    If it helps nearly everything on my site is stuff I feed my family, but whether or not the kids eat it is always a crap shoot. My kids like weird food but they will always eat lettuce wraps, pizza bites, wings, fried rice, shrimp pasta, spaghetti, and I serve the same veggies and rice-a-roni with every meal so even if they dont like it they eat that instead.

    http://chaosinthekitchen.com/2008/07/quick-chinese-chicken-lettuce-wraps/
    http://chaosinthekitchen.com/2008/10/party-food-pizza-in-a-bite/
    http://chaosinthekitchen.com/2009/01/wings-3-ways-and-blue-cheese-dressing/
    http://chaosinthekitchen.com/2008/07/budget-cooking-101-fried-rice/
    http://chaosinthekitchen.com/2008/10/fast-food-creamy-shrimp-and-mushroom-pasta/
    http://chaosinthekitchen.com/2008/12/pantry-challenge-spaghetti-and-meatballs/
    http://chaosinthekitchen.com/2008/05/homemade-rice-a-roni/

    katies last blog post..Bread

  12. Oh honey, I feel your pain! I especially sympathize with the having to pack them all up to run for the milk – it’s not like you can fake THAT on the cereal, huh?

    This recipe is a total favorite of ours and everyone with whom I have shared this dish. I make it all the time for us and to bring to someone who’s had a baby, is sick, or just needs a quick boost. Aside of the drumsticks it uses stuff you probably have in the pantry. And EVERYONE WILL EAT IT! Even my kid, the Pickiest Kid on the Planet (he’s got the cape and everything) eats, like, SIX drumsticks.

    Get a family pack of drumsticks (I like to get the ones at the Club places since they are ginormous Chickasaurus legs). Dump them in a large baking dish (use two so they are all lying neatly side by side like a sacrifice, which they are, to the Gods of Please-eat-or-I-will-scream). Stir together one cup of soy sauce (I use low sodium but no worries), one cup of white vinegar and one cup of brown sugar. Stir together until sugar is mostly dissolved, like, twenty seconds. (You can adjust the amounts of the liquid up and down really easily; just keep in proportion.) Pour over the legs. Stick them in the oven at 325 for about two hours (you can speed them up at 350 for an hour and a half, it’s really not that fussy) turning them over when you remember to. They are done when they are a dark mahogany brown and the meat is starting to fall off the bones and the internal temp (for those foodie people who will not like my being too general) is at 165. (Good luck finding that thermometer.)

    Have carrot sticks or something handy because the kids will be weaving themselves in and out of your legs once they get a whiff. Let the meat fall off for the little ones and enjoy! They are great the next day nuked or even cold for lunch instead of peanut butter and fluff crusts or the bologna rind you have to cut off because it’s “icky”.

    And here’s one of the best parts: when you are done, pour the sauce into a freezer baggie and freeze for the next time. Instant dinner! And it tastes EVEN BETTER because it has all this good chickeny flavor.

    Enjoy and hang in there!

    Brendas last blog post..Another Lickety Split© for Stampin’ at Bickford’s

  13. These bars look fantastic.

    peabodys last blog post..Thanks for caring…

  14. Hi Kristen,

    It’s okay to vent…we all need to do it. I am a FACS teacher for a middle school and perhaps you’d like to route through my school site where I have recipes that my students have available to try:

    http://www.apsva.us/15632010181654260/site/default.asp

    The actual recipes that my students use in class (set up, make and clean up in 45 min)

    http://www.apsva.us/156320928145143753/site/default.asp?

    Hang in there…it won’t be forever like this…I am sure the hormones got something to do with it!!!

    Jennys last blog post..Highly Suggested Reading…

  15. I used to wish there were a drive-through-milk window at the convenience store just for those times. Sometimes, I’ve bought extra milk at the drive-through at McDonald’s just to avoid an extra trip.

    As for a quick and easy meal, I just made one last week that was a crowd-pleaser, easy, and delicious!

    http://www.whiskblog.com/2009/01/whisk-wednesdaysctes-de-porc-flamande.html

    Here’s the recipe:

    Serves 6

    6 pork chops
    salt and pepper
    1/4 pound butter
    1 tbsp veg oil
    2 lb potatoes
    thyme

    Preheat oven to 400. Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp butter and oil in frying pan. Brown chops on each side. Set aside.

    Peel, rinse and slice potoatoes. Brush a gratin dish with 1 tbsp butter. Layer potatoes on bottom and season with salt and pepper. Place chops on top. Finish with layer of potatoes. Season with more salt and pepper and sprinkle with thyme. Drizzle melted 2 tbsp butter on top. bake until potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes.

    Good luck with everything!

    Sharis last blog post..Daring Bakers—Tuile Fortune Cookies and Coffee Ice Cream

  16. Kristen, my better half doesn’t travel much for work, but on the days he isn’t home for dinner, bath time, etc, I feel so alone and overwhelmed. I don’t know what I would do if it was every night of the week. I hope you get a little time to yourself soon to decompress and relax.

    Here’s a recipe I found a few weeks ago and I’ve already made it 3 times! Savory Breakfast Squares

    It’s a breakfast recipe but I’ve made it for dinner. In the link, you’ll see it’s made with kale but I used spinach and the kids loved it. Add more eggs if you want or more breadcrumbs and cheese, or change the seasonings. It’s a very forgiving recipe, and once it’s in the oven you’ll have a few minutes to yourself. I think you could even make it during the day and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it. Hope this helps a little. :)

    LyBs last blog post..TWD – Fresh Ginger And Chocolate Gingerbread

  17. Those bars look so good I would just skip dinner and head straight for dessert LOL

    In all seriousness I fully understand where you are coming form in terms of lack of time for cooking. Although I don’t have any kids to feed, I still have me, the finace and his sister…. We all work till dinner time, but one meal I have found that can be prepared the evening before and re-heated without losing its appeal is meatloaf. Sounds boring, I know, but man it is packed with flavour! I dont measure but it is more to your own taste really anyway :)

    ground beef or chicken
    green pepper, chopped
    fresh garlic, chopped
    onion, chopped (i like red)
    eggs, beaten
    rolled oats (about 1/3 of what you have in meat)
    dijon mustard
    paprika
    salt
    pepper

    -Mix together and bake.

    Sauce is easy too – tomoato soup with some spices to taste (I use papriak and cayenne with a bit of garlic salt)

    -Add the sauce after the loaf has been re-heated. Cut and serve. Goes very well with baked potato :)

    Danis last blog post..Iron CupcakeEarth Voting

  18. I can’t stand it when my husband is away for even one night — it throws off our routine! Tonight I made this recipe for quick marinated steak tips, which is a family favorite: http://verbatim.blogs.com/verbatim/2007/06/dinner_and_part.html

    Karens last blog post..This and That

  19. Erin McMilon says:

    I hear you – I was a married single parent for a while and we had babies… I totally understand the disruptive part all too well. The biggest thing that hurt us is when he stopped traveling I didn’t get things done, I was so in the habit of saving things to do when he was out of town and when he wasn’t out of town they didn’t get done and sleeping in the same bed – I turned from a cuddler into a don’t touch me and don’t you dare breathe your dragon nostrils on me – he hasn’t traveled much in the past 2 years but those adjustments are still hard for me {{{{{HUGS}}}} to you. You have kept the lid on a lot longer than I could have – (oh and another, when he would come home I was so ready to leave the house and go out to eat, I would hit the ceiling when he would say “I have eaten out at rich food restaurants all week and am so tired of eating great bread, yummy meals and fabulous desserts, well, that’s what I heard when he said all he was hungry for was PB&J)
    I have learned to cook 2 at a time – cook one and freeze one – I don’t manage leftovers well so most recipes are 9X13 I make into 2 8X8 foil pans – minimizes clean up too! It also works to double recipes and use 2 9X13 pans as well. In the morning when I know we will have a hectic night, or I don’t feel like cooking, I set something out to thaw and when 4:30 comes around I pop it in the oven and dinner is done!
    I make Chicken & Rice very yummy and semi balanced meal
    Chicken & Rice w/ Broccoli
    1 c minute rice
    1 c milk
    1 c frozen broccoli (thawed and chopped)
    1 can cream chicken soup
    1 c shredded chicken
    1 c your favorite shredded cheese plus more for topping
    Combine rice, milk, broccoli, soup, chicken and 1 c cheese in a bowl. Pour into 9X13 dish and top with additional shredded cheese. Bake @ 375* for 30 minutes or until bubbly @ 400* (watch the cheese!)

    I like this one because it’s a pretty complete dinner – I serve it with fresh fruit and dinner’s done!

  20. Hon, you don’t need to apologise for venting or for feeling the way you do. Your reaction is quite normal. Wish I lived close by to give you a hand…

    Hopefully things will ease up. Sending you warm hugs.

    Cynthias last blog post..Jam versus Jelly versus Marmalade

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