Yesterday was one of “those” days in a big way. Afternoon set in and Little Lady decided she didn’t want to nap at all and would cry unless she was being held. Little Man is teething molars so he was grumpy anyway and seeing his sister get all the attention turned him into VelcroMan. VelcroMan has the superpower of being constantly stuck to Mommy. So the afternoon was long. And stressful. And long.
The plan to cook dinner was out the window by about 2:00. If I was going to do anything in the kitchen it would be making a pan of brownies and eating most of it myself after Little Man went to bed. I spent the afternoon carrying Little Lady around with Little Man hanging onto my leg and thinking about chocolate and Big Man getting home to help me out. Ideally, I would like home to be a place of peace and quiet where Big Man can relax after his long day at work and enjoy good food, sweet cuddly kids, and a happy, sexy wife. In reality, there are days when he comes home from work only to have to deal with grumpy kids and me being stressed out and just DONE and needing his help a lot.
Here is where the blessing comes in. Big Man is my hero. He came home from a stressful and busy day at work and took over for me with no complaints. He carried Little Lady around and got her to go to sleep. He fed Little Man dinner. He ordered Chinese take-out for me because I said it sounded good. He encouraged me and hugged me and sacrificed his own preferences to help me. Big Man is the greatest earthly blessing God has given me and days like yesterday remind me of that. So while “those days” may be pretty much homekeeping failures they serve a purpose, at least to me. They remind me of grace. Big Man redeemed a bad day. He made up for my shortcomings and gave me a good evening. And that reminded me of everything Christ has done for me. He redeemed my life and blessed me far beyond what I deserve. So thank you, Big Man, for being my husband and modeling Christ’s love. And thank you, Jesus, for my salvation and my family.
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My maternal grandmother was a master baker. She loved baking and was very good at it. During the holidays she baked pies to give away as gifts. Not just a few pies for family members and maybe the postman. No, we’re talking 50+ pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And those were 100% homemade from scratch, crust and all.
I didn’t inherit all of my grandmother’s baking talent, though I can make a good pie with a decent crust from scratch. And it is something I love to do, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, I want to eat pie far more often than I have the time to make one. Can I dedicate the time and attention to make a good pie crust on a weekday afternoon with both kids in the house and Big Man at work? Not so much. And an interruption in the crust-making process results in a Pie Crust Epic Fail (at least for me). The butter gets too warm or I handle the crust too much or I forget an ingredient entirely because I am trying to keep Little Man from pulling the cat’s tail or spreading the clean laundry over the whole house.
That’s why I love these Berry Pie Bars. All the taste of a berry pie, but make-on-a-weekday friendly. You can use all blackberries or raspberries or a mix of both. This recipe is originally from Joy the Baker, but I simplified it by leaving out the lemon sugar and halving the recipe so Big Man and I don’t have a whole 9×13 pan of yumminess sitting around causing temptation. I think the bars actually taste better on the second day after the flavors have melded together. The best part of this recipe? I has fruit and looks kinda like a coffee cake, so I can convince myself it is OK to eat for breakfast. Of course, I have been known to eat real pie for breakfast. . .
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
scant 1/2 cup flour
1 16 oz. package frozen berries, thawed and drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9″ square pan. Combine crust/topping ingredients in bowl and mix until it looks crumbly (I use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment). Reserve 3/4-1 cup mixture for topping and press the rest into the prepared pan. Bake for about 15 minutes until it looks light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool while you mix the filling.
In a bowl, whisk eggs and then add the sugar, sour cream, flour, and salt, mixing until smooth. Gently fold in the berries and pour over the crust, making the sure the berries are evenly distributed. Sprinkle on the topping. Bake for 45-50 minutes until set. Cool completely before serving.
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Yesterday was Monday. When I quit my old job to start homekeeping, I had this great hope that Mondays would no longer feel like Mondays since I wouldn’t have to leave the house to go to work. Maybe Mondays would be filled with happiness and anticipation of a great week. Mondays would be the new Thursdays – not quite the weekend, but close enough to encourage a good mood. I have since discovered that my hope was utterly unfounded. Seriously. Mondays are still Mondays. Blah.
Part of “the Mondays” for me usually means laziness about cooking. I go back to being the only parent in the house after two days of having Big Man here to help. I have piles of laundry to do because I didn’t do the two loads on the weekend like I told myself I would. (I need to stop lying to myself. I will never do laundry on the weekend. It’s a lost cause). So by the time the afternoon rolls around and I need to start making dinner, I’m very tempted to order a pizza or eat cereal for dinner.
Enter Hamburger Gravy. It’s quick to make, inexpensive, requires few ingredients, and is totally delicious! And there are several different serving options. I have used mashed potatoes, egg noodles, biscuits, and grilled bread. My favorite is the grilled bread, but really they are all delicious. Add steam-in-the-microwave veggies and you have a complete meal in about 20 minutes. Win!
This is my version, adapted from Allrecipes. Serves 2
1/2 pound ground beef
1/4 onion, diced (I prefer yellow or Vidalia onions)
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tsp beef bouillon granules
1 tbs butter
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbs flour
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once beef is cooked, drain off any fat more than what is needed to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add onion and cook until the onion begins to soften
Pour 1 cup of the milk in the skillet and stir, scraping up any brown bits. Add in the bouillon, butter, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Whisk the four into the remaining milk until mostly smooth and add into the skillet, stirring constantly. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Adjust with more flour or milk as needed to achieve desired consistency.
Serve over your starch of choice and enjoy a home-cooked meal, even on a Monday.
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