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. says

    So sorry that hubby is gone so much.I went thru something similar, but only for about 4 months. It is so hard, especially when pregnant!
    I don’t know if your kids would like the dish I just posted, but it is so easy and could be made with chicken, if you brown it a little longer.

    Lyndas last blog post..Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Apples

  2. Athena says

    I’m a single mom with two picky boys so I feel for you. I’m a huge fan of soup because the boys will almost always go for soup and sandwich (at least they’ll eat the sandwich). Our favorite is Southwestern Sweet Potato Chowder. I don’t have a recipe but I’ll give you the gist.

    Cook several pieces of bacon in your soup pot. Set these aside and add a chopped onion to the drippings. Cook till translucent. Add two sweet potatoes (or yams) cubed and a can of green chiles. Add about four cups chicken stock and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook until the sweet potatoes are done. Add two cups milk (or cream or half and half). Stir in one cup shredded cheddar cheese until melted. Turn off heat add back in the bacon, crumbled, and a cup of cheese, cubed. I also like some cilantro though my kids hate it. The different textures of the crunchy bacon, slowly melting cubes of cheese, and creamy soup are amazing.

    Good luck!

  3. says

    Wow! Being alone AND pregnant…you are super woman. :-) Here’s one of my favorites from when I was little:
    http://cookiedoc.blogspot.com/2007/07/from-little-girl-to-m3.html
    Stir fry is always good, too. I like to cook the veggies and then cook the meat, then put them together with some soy sauce and catalina dressing (That’s my secret!)…quick and healthy and you can choose what your kids like. I think my mom has another recipe that I’m going to ask about and I’ll let you know that one, too. Hope your week goes well.

    Claires last blog post..Getting Ready for February!

  4. says

    Ohhhh.I am soooo sorry. I cant imagine how difficult it must be for you. I get upset when my husband isnt home in time for dinner. For him not to be home for extended periods of time would just make me insane! Being a stay at home mom is the hardest job in the world. Do you have any relatives to help you out? good meals to have are slow cooker meals that you can put in the cooker in the morning with not a lot of prep. I will give you a super easy recipe that takes less than 10 minutes and is under $10

    Beef Quesadillas with a Creamy Avocado Dip

    For Quesadillas
    8 Flour Tortillas
    1 pound Ground Chuck
    1 packet dry Taco Seasoning
    8 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, Shredded

    Brown ground beef and drain. Add taco seasoning packet and cook per package directions. Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Place 1 tortilla down in the skillet. Add a thin layer of cheese. Next, add a thin layer of the taco meat. Place another tortilla on top. Add another thin layer of cheese over the meat. Cook until the bottom tortilla is lightly browned. Flip and cook the opposite side is lightly browned.

    FOR DIP
    1 Avocado
    3 Tablespoons Sour Cream
    2 Tablespoons Salsa
    Salt and pepper

    Peel and remove the pit from the avocado. In a small bowl mix the avocado, sour cream and salsa until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a dip for the quesadillas.

    leslies last blog post..Daring Bakers..Tuiles

  5. says

    You certainly have more than your share with keeping things together at home, 3 kids, work, being pregnant, being away from your husband regularly. I don’t know how you do it. Is there any end in sight for the regular travelling that your husband is doing?

    Here are some recipes that I think are kid friendly:

    http://eatfordinner.blogspot.com/2008/11/chicken-cordon-bleu.html
    http://eatfordinner.blogspot.com/2008/10/honey-sesame-chicken.html
    http://eatfordinner.blogspot.com/2008/02/sweet-sour-chicken.html
    http://eatfordinner.blogspot.com/2008/01/chicken-parmesan-with-potato-dumplings_24.html (or even just the breaded chicken part)
    http://eatfordinner.blogspot.com/2008/04/baked-spaghetti.html

    Psychgrads last blog post..Recipes to Rival: Beet Leaf Holopchi

  6. Laura says

    Here’s our favorite, for the contest…
    Black bean, corn and zucchini enchiladas: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1611704

    Some other family favorites:
    * Chipotle Mac&Cheese, really good and great to double and freeze for later. Not your everyday mac&cheese either, more like a pasta casserole. http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=671466
    * 3 bean tacos. I dont know a kid that doesnt love ‘taco night’. http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=224135
    * Pasta fagioli (we prefer the canelloni beans, dont like kidney). http://healthcorner.walgreens.com/display/641.htm
    (with potato knot rolls: http://littlewindowshoppe.com/homemade-knot-roll-recipe)
    * Garlicky Peppers and Shrimp: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/seafood/garlicky-peppers-shrimp/

  7. Laura says

    Argh, I did something and deleted my whole post… let’s try this again! :)

    It’s ok to vent – better to know your mind and say so immediately, vs. bottle it up and explode over something totally unrelated and create communication issues.

    I feel like it’s only fair to offer one ‘submission’ for your weeknight plea and contest: Black Bean, Corn and Zucchini Enchiladas (http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1611704)

    But we have so many favorites, that I’d also like to offer these for future weeknight meals… I hope you find something new your family will enjoy!
    * Salmon Cakes with Remoulade: Great plain or served on whole wheat buns. http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1011279
    * Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese: It’s more like a mexican pasta caserole. Great to double and freeze half. http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=671466
    * Pasta Fagioli: Use cannellini beans and make with potato knot rolls (http://littlewindowshoppe.com/homemade-knot-roll-recipe). http://healthcorner.walgreens.com/display/641.htm
    * Garlicky Peppers and Shrimp Pasta: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/seafood/garlicky-peppers-shrimp/

  8. says

    I don’t have a family of my own but the tried and true recipes that I love from growing up, college days, or just because I love to cook are:

    Teriyaki Chicken Skewers (everything is more fun on a stick for kids)
    Just skewer the chicken – throw in the fridge with Teriyaki sauce to marinate (I like Yoshida’s original sauce). Once it’s done marinating either throw on the grill, oven, or in a frying pan. When the chicken is just about cooked all the way through brush the chicken with a bit more teriyaki sauce. Serve over rice and steamed broccoli – not super labor intensive and if you skewer the chicken during naptime it’s pretty no fuss at night.

    Other favorites include tortellini lasagna – the great tastes of lasagna, but without the fuss. Just layer tomato sauce, cheese tortellini or ravioli, chopped up Italian Sausage, and mozzarella cheese a couple times in a crockpot. Let it meld together throughout the day. Serve with toast or garlic bread if you have it around.

    I also really like hearty salads. It’s a good way to get your kids to add in some extra fruits and vegetables on their plate. Cook up some taco meat or some sweetened pork (try this recipe – http://favfamilyrecipes.blogspot.com/2008/09/cafe-rio-sweet-pork.html). All of the meat and typical taco toppings on a salad blend hot and cold and several textures to be interesting. An extra treat is a little melted cheese on a toasted tortilla at the bottom.

    Another fun idea are Hawaiian haystacks or chicken pillows. Hawaiian haystacks are fun because you can choose your toppings. Chicken pillows are fun because they can largely be paired with anything and the smaller sizes make it easier for kids to dip in gravy or sauce.

    Chicken Parmesan – I darken some chicken on the stove and then bread in Italian bread crumbs (egg wash straight into the crumbs) and then place in a pan lines with tin foil, pour tomato sauce on top of all of the pieces and then tent the pan with foil to keep the moisture in. Bake for an hour at 375(more if you have larger pieces or more pieces in the pan). With about 5-10 minutes to go I sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top to melt over all of the pieces. This is great with pasta and a quick clean up because of the foil. I do this on quiet nights with just me home and I make a tin foil pocket and bake for less time – very moist chicken and infused with all of that great tomato flavor.

    We’ve done quesadilla nights or baked potatoe nights at my house as well. We would bake all of the potatoes and have all of the toppings and options to go on the potatoe based on your liking on a lazy susan in the middle of the table. For quesadillas we would have a couple different types of meat, guacamole, cheese, tomatoes, pico de gallo, garlic, onions, peppers, and hot sauce. With a griddle it doesn’t take too long to get a personalized quesadilla. If you want to speed up the cooking time or the time in between each quesadilla – make up a couple cheese quesadillas and cut them down to kid size portions. Each kid can add in a few toppings that they want and either pop it in the oven for a minute to meld the ingredients together or just make sure the ingredients are at the proper temperature when you put them on the table.

    Good Luck!

    Marissas last blog post..Signs by André Tadiello

  9. Janel says

    This is a new favorite at our house – I could’t believe my kids ate this! It’s so hard to find good fish recipes that kids will eat.

    Sephardic Fish

    1 teaspoon cumin
    ¼ cup olive oil
    2 15 oz cans stewed tomatoes (ok to use Italian seasoned or even diced)
    2 Tablespoons drained capers (or not if you don’t like – you couldn technically puree these with the tomatoes so they are not seen)
    ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    2 Tablespoons packed golden raisins (optional)
    2 lbs tilapia, hake or halibut filets cut to portion size

    Salt and pepper

    In a very large skillet (12 inches at least), heat oil over medium heat. Add cumin and stir until fragrant, about a minute. Stir in tomatoes, capers, cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper, and simmer uncovered until thickened, about 10 minutes. Rinse and pat fish dry. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper and add to skillet. Cover skillet and cook until fish is cooked through, about 7-10 minutes.

  10. says

    My favorite easy to make, kid-friendly recipe is ham & potato soup. This is the recipe I use (from AllRecipes.com):

    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Delicious-Ham-and-Potato-Soup/Detail.aspx

    It’s homemade comfort food. I often make it without the ham (i.e. cheap too) or I sprinkle a bit of crispy bacon on top. Once I added mashed potato flakes which made the soup creamier. My kids begged me to make it again that way.

    Kristen M.s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Tide Pool Creatures

  11. says

    Twice-baked potatos

    Bake potatos whenever – let cool
    Cut in half and scrape out insides into mixer bowl
    Add greek or plain yogurt or sour cream
    milk
    salt and pepper
    garlic salt
    any cheese you have lying around
    and mix until creamy

    Scoop mixture back into potatos and bake until lightly browned on top

  12. says

    Our favorite meal is breakfast for dinner. It includes egss any way you like them, a half pound of bacon, fried potatoes, orange slices and frozen waffles.

    For the potatoes,

    Slice 3 big white potatoes and one medium onion about a quarter inch thick, use some of the back fat and heat in a cast iron skillet, add half the potatoes, then the whole onion (you can add salt and pepper here) then the rest of the onions. Cook until bottom layer has a nice crust. You’ll slowly flip sections until you have the crust side up. Add a little water (tbsp or so) and put a lid on them. Cook until tender.

    AJs last blog post..Virginia is for chocolate lovers

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