Birthdays PM

Mom's Birthday 2009 Wildfire: Oakbrook, IL Mom’s Birthday 2009 Wildfire: Oakbrook, IL

Birthdays PM (post mom) pretty much suck.  I had my 37th birthday a mere 3 weeks after my mom died.  I wasn’t exactly in a celebratory mood.  I remember my dad asking me if I wanted to go out to dinner.  I told him that I just wanted to make dinner like a regular Thursday and forget the day had some sort of significance.  Honestly, with exception of my wedding, honeymoon, and very few other joyous events, I would have liked to have forgotten that my 36th year even existed.  I wanted a redo.

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MONDAY MEMORY: Mother’s Day

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Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I thought that the day would see me curled up in a ball unable to speak or see through my tears. I was wrong. I was overjoyed at seeing all people at the 15th Annual Beverly Breast Cancer Walk in support of those surviving, battling, or taken by breast cancer. We had never walked as a family before. The day my mom had her second surgery, my brother mentioned that maybe we should walk this year. Then, just two weeks ago, my dad brought it up again. We got working to put together a team and logo. Yesterday, in a sea of pink, 19 crisp white t-shirts with a beautiful butterfly and the words FIGHT STRONG stood out from the rest. Those were the people walking in honor, memory, and celebration of my mom, Debra McKenna…Grandma to some, GramCrackers to a special little one.  My mom’s familiar signature saying Love, Mom took my breath away when I first saw it.  I just felt her with me.

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Pre-Wedding Swedish Meatballs

Is there a meal that just transports you to another time? Another place? A meal that has strong memories you cannot help but think of them upon first taste? For me, one of those meals would be my mom’s Swedish Meatballs. It is such a ridiculously easy recipe I have a difficult time even calling it a recipe. There really isn’t any cooking involved–just some assembling. I can see the appeal to a busy mom of 6 kids!! Every time I make this meal, I cannot help but remember the night before my sister’s wedding. I have no really memories of this dinner or after that night. I know it was always a dish I enjoyed but I don’t exactly know how it became my sister’s favorite meal.

April 10, 2003, was the night before my little sister’s wedding. She had been dating her guy since they were kids…seriously. They met early on in high school and started dating somewhere around age 14. They have been together for longer than they have ever been apart. They now have 3 of the most adorable children, rivaled only by my other nephews. Anywho…that night, Colleen wanted to have a special meal. She asked my mom to make the dinner she just LOVED. Swedish Meatballs…and for some reason she wanted them accompanied by party potatoes. Strange bedfellows no doubt. I remember the three of us eating in that third floor condo together–probably watching Friends or Will & Grace followed by Golden Girls as we often did.  Forever, Swedish Meatballs and the night before my sister wed will be connected…paired memories never to be separated.

That’s exactly why I told this story just yesterday.  A friend of mine wanted to learn to make something new.  I made a few suggestions and she settled on my mom’s Swedish Meatballs.  As we assembled the unbelievably easy dish, I told her about that night just over 11 years ago.  A smile crept onto my face as I remembered that happy day.  I recalled that yummy meal, my sister’s anticipation, and singing the Golden Girls song.  I couldn’t help but call my sister on the way home.  Thank you for being my friend.

 

Swedish Meatballs–Mom’s Version
1 package egg noodles
4 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 beef bouillon cubes
12 ounces
1 package (11 servings) frozen Swedish Meatballs (I can find them at Jewel, Food for Less, or Ikea)
In a large frying pan (with a lid), mix together the soup and bouillon cubes.
Allow the cubes to melt into the sauce.
Add the meatballs and let heat through.
Make the noodles according to the directions.
Just before serving, stir the sour cream into the sauce.
Layer egg noodles with the sauce and meatballs.
Swedish Meatballs–lightened up
1 package egg noodles–No Yolk or Whole Wheat
3 cans reduced fat Cream of Mushroom Soup
1-2 beef bouillon cubes (mind the salt)
12 ounces non-fat plain Greek yogurt
8 servings frozen turkey meatballs–about 36 meatballs (my favorite brand are the Kroger brand at Food 4 Less)
In a large frying pan (with a lid), mix together the soup and bouillon cubes.
Allow the cubes to melt into the sauce.
Add the meatballs and let heat through.
Make the noodles according to the directions.
Just before serving, stir the Greek yogurt into the sauce.
Layer egg noodles with the sauce and meatballs.
This recipe yields about 1 cup of noodles, 8 meatballs and sauce to coat for about 10 WW points plus.