Mother’s Day has been a bit rough for my family for the past few years. Nothing bad has happened, but ever since we moved North—away from my grandparents—we’ve had to celebrate Mother’s Day on our own. And because my family doesn’t really like to go out for food (“They want how much? For that?!“), we went from going to my grandparents’ house, where my grandpa and dad could join forces to make lunch, to being on our own, meal-wise. For the record, it’s not that we’re stingy; we can just make food (for cheaper, yes) that’s as good or better than what we’d buy at a restaurant, so going out doesn’t make any sense.
Thus, Mother’s Day has been a little rough the past few years because Dad enlisted us to make Mom a meal. And my siblings and I… well, we’re a spicy family. We don’t do things quietly. And, when it comes to giving each other jobs, we don’t always do them peacefully, either. (I can remember one year, a few Mother’s Days back, that ended with Mom in tears. Not exactly what you want on a day that’s supposed to be relaxing and make your mom feel loved.)
This year was the first year that I’d been home on Mother’s day for a few, and I had, to be honest, kind of forgotten about the holiday amidst the haze of finals and packing and graduation. So when my Dad texted our mom-less group chat asking what we were planning for this year, I was slightly taken aback. Chloe, luckily, had been planning for what I can only assume was weeks, and had an idea for a gift—all I had to do was donate cash and make a few calls. But food still needed to be addressed and, given our track record, nobody seemed too excited to plan that out.
So I took one for the team.
Yesterday, I started planning and prepping so that today, nobody would have to fight or yell. And this afternoon, while Chloe and Molly grabbed feta and ice cream, I enlisted Dad to do the grilling, had Wesley to roll out the cookies, and prepped the rest myself–no yelling required.
This is what I made:
Grilled chicken breasts. I took them out of the freezer yesterday and put them directly into a refrigerated marinade which they sat in overnight, both taking in flavor and defrosting. This was actually a godsend, as they were super moist, even after being grilled! (No worries, for you germaphobes out there—the CDC says you can let uncooked chicken marinate in the fridge for up to two days, no problem!) My family loved these–10/10 would recommend. It really is the best chicken marinade.
Green salad with strawberries, bacon, candied nuts, and sesame-poppyseed dressing. I knew I wanted to do a salad, but figured I’d just throw one together last minute. When Chloe came home with a package of strawberries yesterday (that actually had flavor! In May! Wild.), I knew I had to use them. For nuts, I did both walnuts and almonds (chopped, about a cup each), which I candied in about a tablespoon of butter and 1/4 cup of sugar. (The trick is to keep the heat pretty low and keep stirring them while they candy. That way they don’t burn but the sugar melts and coats everything well.) I did a mix of lettuce and spinach for the greens, threw in a few scallions instead of red onions, and served the dressing on the side. (Thankfully, there was some dressing left over—more happy salads to come!)
Cucumber-honeydew salad with feta. I wasn’t planning on serving a second salad at all, but when my sister didn’t cut up the honeydew melon for breakfast, I scrapped my original plan (barbecue some veggies) and whipped this up. I substituted green onions for red here, too, which worked great! This might have been my mom’s favorite—we’ll be making it again.
I served this up on the deck with Arnold Palmers and sunshine (chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream for dessert). Mother’s Day? Nailed it. Now I just have to plan ahead for next year… or just leave it to Chloe and the last minute again. (If we’re being honest, that’s way more likely.)