I Want My Life Back

Motherhood is wonderful they said. It is filled with milestone moments you will remember for a lifetime and there is no greater love that a mother’s love for her child. Are you sure it’s love all the time though?

Tonight I found myself running home after work to quickly cook a meal for the kids, asking my teenage stepdaughters to help clean up the dishes while I cooked pancakes and sausage. Breakfast for dinner tonight because I’m just beat in every way. My 3-year-old son watches cartoons with no cares in the world and a face full of excitement. I find myself going over my day in my head resenting my coworker for taking her cruise vacation this week. Jealous of my husband who is coaching high school baseball this evening and even jealous of my stepdaughter who just explained how her daddy is going to pay for a weekend concert ticket for her even though she is currently grounded. What? Really? Can I catch a break?

I feel like I am breaking, like all the life is slowly being sucked out of me. What do I have, what is really mine, something I can call my own that I don’t have to juggle around everyone else’s schedule. Nothing, because even the things I enjoy like quilting and gardening I have to work around everyone else. I always work around everyone else and even give things up because it doesn’t fit in with the family’s schedule.

Often times I look forward to going to work so that I can feel like I am good at something, I am really good at my job. It has always come naturally to me and I still enjoy it after 16 years, but my job is not who I am. See, that’s the thing, I think I’m a pretty good mom too, but that doesn’t mean I always want to do it though. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully committed and I will give up everything for my kids, but I don’t like it. Sometimes I wish someone would give a little for me. I see my husband go on trips to ballgames with his friends, or golf tournaments that take him away all day while I stay home and take care of the kids.

When I try to express this to my husband, he says go do something or go get something, do whatever you need to do. I don’t know what will fulfill me or make me happy. I am not fulfilled by work as I have always felt I cannot let it define who I am. Meanwhile I am being a good mother but it drains all the life out of me. Am I depressed? Are these things signs of an impending mental illness? Is this normal, does everyone feel this way? Is it just my hormones talking? How do I shake this feeling? What will make things better?

I think about all the things my parents did for me. Looking at the life they have now that my brother and I are adults, it is clear they take weekend trips together and complete home projects. They do what they want. If my mom wants to go shopping, she does. If my dad wants to go to a game or start a project, he does it too. There is nothing to keep them from doing whatever they want, whenever they want to do it. Maybe that’s it, my time is not my own. My time is ruled by my family.

So, I guess the mature adult thing to do is suck it up and keep on truckin’. When my son is 18 I can begin my life again.

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Meatballs… Yes!

Meatballs, oh yeah! My 4-year-old son would eat meatballs everyday if I would let him. It is the one way he always eats beef. However you can use any type of ground meat you like. My boss is an Italian dentist and when we have the staff bring food in for a lunch he is asked to bring meatballs. He makes awesome meatballs and he swears you just throw spices in there and they always come out fine because the real trick as he says is to use half ground beef and half ground italian sausage. I used this recipe to make meatballs to go with spaghetti tonight and I only used ground beef but you choose. The possibilities are endless.

 

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef, lean

2 cloves garlic (or garlic powder)

1/2 c onion (or onion powder 2 tbsp)

1 tbsp parsley

1 egg

3 tbsp ketchup

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

1/4 c bread crumbs (or crumbled up old bread)

1/4 c parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add all ingredients except meat to a bowl and mix together. Add meat to mixture and incorporate with your hands until everything is mixed together. Roll mixture in hands to form 1 inch balls. Spray cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until done. I like to place my meatballs in muffin tins so that the juices don’t run all over my oven.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I had wanted to make a homemade spaghetti sauce over the weekend so I could freeze some and keep some for recipes during the week. I am trying to be more budget conscious with our family’s food bill each month. I just made the best spaghetti sauce in the crock pot on Saturday and let it cook on low for 8 hours. I have a large crock pot so be prepared for a full large crockpot of spaghetti sauce goodness. Also, you may want to prepare with containers to freeze some sauce. I was scrounging because I did not. You can use freezer bags, canning jars or plastic containers, but keep in mind it will stain plastic. Now remember, I have picky eaters in my family so I puree all the canned tomato and sauces in my food processor. You may prefer the chunks of tomatoes and want to omit the food processor completely. Whichever you prefer is fine.

I added sugar to this recipe for my family’s taste. I think it needs a little and I add more when I warm it over the stove if I’m making spaghetti.

 

Ingredients:

2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes or Pomi strained tomatoes

2 28oz cans tomato sauce

1 28oz can tomato puree (or cheap jar of spaghetti sauce works)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

3 tbsp minced garlic (I use garlic powder)

2 bunches basil (or 2 tbsp basil paste or 2 tsp dried basil)

It is preferred that you mill the crushed tomatoes. I pureed them in the food processor, so use your best judgement. If you are using Pomi tomatoes, just skip this step. Place in crock pot with tomato puree, both cans of tomato sauce, basil, parmesan cheese and garlic. At this point if you want to make a meat sauce, add your cooked ground meat, meatballs or seared italian sausage. I prefer to add the meat as I am warming it over the stove for whatever meal I am making that night. Give the sauce a good stir and cook on low for 8 hours. Be sure to place a spoon in the crock pot before placing the lid on to cook. The condensation from a tight-fitting lid makes the sauce runny.

After 8 hours have passed, you’re ready to use this delicious sauce for anything your heart desires.

Ham Loaf

My mom made this recipe when we were teenagers and had a lot of kids over. It’s a great warm lunch and really easy and cheap to make. I try to find bread from the bakery discount section as you are cooking it anyway so it won’t matter if it’s ready to be eaten that day. I purchase the plain ham in the packages not fresh from the deli. I find it has more water in it, therefore it makes this a juicy sandwich and doesn’t dry the ham out in the oven. You can use any type of cheese you like. The original recipe calls for swiss, but today I used cheddar that I shredded myself.Mix in small bowl butter onion, mustard, and seasoned salt, set aside. Cut bread horizontally about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Place foil under loaf enough foil to wrap. Stuff between every two slices a piece of ham and cheese. Pour butter mixture over loaf, wrap and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-30 minutes.

Ingredients:

1 lg loaf French or Italian bread
1 1/2 stick butter melted
1 tbsp minced dry onion
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 lb sliced cooked ha
1/2 lb swiss cheese

Mix in small bowl butter onion, mustard, and seasoned salt, set aside. Cut bread horizontally about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Place foil under loaf enough foil to wrap. Stuff between every two slices a piece of ham and cheese. Pour butter mixture over loaf, wrap and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-30 minutes.

Cream Puffs

On New Year’s Eve 2016 our family went to party with friends and watch the Clemson game. There were so many goodies there and we roasted oysters over the fire and filled our bellies. I wanted to try a new recipe and this one seemed easy. I actually had vanilla and banana flavored puddings in the cabinet so I used one of each. I am excited to try different flavored fillings in the future.
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz each)
  • 1 1/3 cup cold whole milk
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Melt stick of butter and water to a rolling boil
  3. Stir in flour and stir vigorously over low heat until mixture leaves the pan (comes off the sides) and is in a ball (about 1 minute)
  4. Remove from heat and cool for a couple of minutes
  5. Beat in eggs (one at a time) with a mixer
  6. Beat mixture until smooth and velvety
  7. Drop by spoonfuls (walnut sized) onto ungreased cookie sheet
  8. Bake until DRY, 20-25 minutes (maybe longer)
  9. Allow to cool
Filling:
  1. Mix instant vanilla pudding with whole milk until the pudding is dissolved
  2. Add sour cream until thick
  3. Put mixture in the refrigerator (at least an hour)
  4. Slice the cream puffs in half and fill with the chilled pudding mixture
  5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar

Banana Bread Recipe

While growing up my mom made a lot of recipes from scratch. It wasn’t until I was in college and lived in my own apartment that I realized my friends came over to eat dinner at my place pretty often because of my mother’s wonderful recipes. One of my fondest memories was her banana bread. One of the tricks to banana bread is to use over ripe bananas and buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk just substitute regular cow’s milk.

Every year my mother and grandmother order pecans Sunnyland Farms in Georgia to be delivered to all of our homes. I am spoiled by wonderful Georgia pecans but you can substitute any nuts you would like.

Ingredients:

1/2 c butter
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
3 large mashed bananas
1 c sugar
2 c flour
3 tbsp buttermilk
1 1/2 c pecans, chopped

Cream butter, sugar and eggs. Beat well. Add flour and baking soda that has been dissolved in buttermilk.  Add the bananas and chopped pecans. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for one hour.

Creamy Green Bean Casserole

When I met my husband I inherited some family recipes with he and his children. My stepdaughters love this version of green bean casserole. I don’t believe they have ever tasted any other version. I had to practice making this dish until I got it just right. Not that it is hard to make, but the bar was set very high for me. Lots of things about this recipe can be changed to your preference such as cheeses, toppings and the style of green beans you prefer. I have tried to double this recipe before in the same dish, but I have not been successful. Each time it turns out to be soppy. I would just suggest making two pans if you choose to do this.

ingredients:

2 cans french cut green beans
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp finely chopped onion or onion powder
1 pt sour cream
1/2 lb swiss cheese
corn flakes – to cover
2 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter casserole dish. combine butter, flour, salt, pepper, sugar, onion and sour cream in sauce pan. Stir until thick. Combine beans. Pour into casserole dish. Cover with cheese, then top with corn flakes and melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes uncovered.

Cheddar Cheese Ball

We love cheese in our family, especially sharp cheddar cheese. It is one of our favorites and we love pairing it with crackers for a snack. Cheese balls have had their place as an appetizer, snack and party food for years. The first cheese ball, however, was of grander proportions. In the early 1800s, Elder John Leland of Cheshire, Massachusetts crafted a cheese ball that weighed a hefty 1,235 pounds. According to legend, the Baptist community of Cheshire donated milk from over 900 cows to make enough cheese for this ball known as “The Mammoth Cheese.” Preaching along the way, he transported the ball by wagon and then rolled it across the White House lawn to serve it to President Thomas Jefferson to show his Republican patriotism and appreciation for religious liberty. The adaptable appetizer resurfaced publicly in 1944 while women were throwing modest parties during wartime. The cheese ball had a place in this for its versatility.

Next time you are at a party with a cheese ball on the menu, you will be educated as to its history.

Ingredients:

9 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz sharp cheese shredded
4 oz mild cheddar cheese shredded
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
red pepper to taste
garlic salt to taste
1 cup pecans, chopped

Mix/mold together (food processor works great). Form into ball and roll in pecans. Wrap in seran wrap until you are ready to plate and serve.

 

Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread

I first tasted this buttermilk cinnamon bread when my mother’s friend brought it over for brunch. It was so good and the buttermilk flavor shines through cutting the cinnamon sugar taste just right.

Ingredients:

4 c all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 c vegetable oil

2 1/2 c sugar divided

2 c buttermilk

2 eggs

1 Tbsp cinnamon

Nuts (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, soda and salt. In a small bowl, combine oil and 1 1/2 c sugar. Add buttermilk and eggs; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Grease bottom of two loaf pans. FIll pans about 1/3 full (about 1/4 of mixture). Combine 1 c sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half over batter in pans. Top pans with remaining batter, then the remaining sugar-cinnamon mixture. Swirl batter with a knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes on wire racks, then take loaves out of pans and finish cooling on wire racks.

Crunchy top even after freezing and thawing later. Can be frozen for up to 3 months. Drizzle frosting over top before serving if you like.

Ham and Cheese French Loaf

My mom would make this recipe when we had a lot of people over as an appetizer/meal. The younger crowd loves it but it can be a little messy for others. If a ham and cheese sandwich could get any better, it has with this recipe.

Ingredients:

1 lg loaf French or Italian bread
1 1/2 stick butter melted
1 tbsp minced dry onion
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 lb sliced cooked ham
1/2 lb swiss cheese

Mix in small bowl butter onion, mustard, and seasoned salt, set aside. Cut bread horizontally about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Place foil under loaf enough foil to wrap. Stuff between every two slices a piece of ham and cheese. Pour butter mixture over loaf, wrap and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-30 minutes.

You can finish the recipe with parsley for a nicer presentation. This loaf can get soggy if left too long. If this happens just pop it in the oven to crust up.