Even being married and having our own small family, Sundays have still somehow felt lonesome for Ethan and I. It seems like we should go from Holy Mass to one of our parents’ homes to spend the day with them and our siblings, but that just isn’t possible considering we live hundreds of miles from any of them.
A few months ago we decided we wanted to make Sundays more special, as they are truly the Lord’s day, and a day of rest. We have always made sure to never shop or work on Sunday, but changing a few more things have really made it set apart from the rest of the week.
We noticed that when we have company for dinner on Saturday evenings, how nice it feels the next morning to wake up to a really clean house. So, every Saturday we pretend guests are coming over and it makes a big difference!
Here is this week’s before:
And our after:
Ethan makes sure to gather all of the garbage and recycling and take it out, and I make sure that cloth diaper laundry gets thrown in if necessary. I lay out us three girls’ church clothes, and fully prep our Mass bag with diapers, our missals, chapel veils, Philomena’s quiet toys, and the tithe check written out and put into Ethan’s missal.
Our weekday meals tend to be very simple, like grits and a piece of sausage for breakfast and chicken drumsticks with a vegetable or homemade soup for dinner. We want Sunday’s meals to be special.
I eliminate most cooking and pesky dishes on Sunday by making double portions of a nice breakfast and dinner on Saturday, and then eating them again the next day. (Or sometimes we have simple meals on Saturday, but still prepare Sunday’s meals.)
There always seems to be this stressed scramble when we walk through the door after Mass of everyone being hungry, needing to get diapers changed, Philomena out of her nice clothes etc. before we can eat. It’s nice to come home, handle all of that chaos, and be able to sit down to a nice breakfast ready (or almost ready) to go.
We all usually take a nap on Sunday afternoons, and then go out for family time, which is often a long walk in the summer or a drive in the winter. We pray our family Rosary every night in Philomena’s room before she goes to bed, but on Sundays we like to pray it in the car after our special outing.
When we get home we enjoy part two of the nice dinner from the night before, and then Philomena goes down for bed.
Sometimes our Saturdays are full and we don’t get some or even most of this done, and that’s just life, but in general this happens. I feel like I really get to focus better at Mass, and relish the day of rest as God intended it when we are diligent about prep on Saturday. While we still wish that we could spend Sundays with our parents and siblings, these things have all made the Lord’s day a special day for us to look forward to each week.
Here is one of our favorite indulgent real food recipes that I made for our special meal this last weekend:
White Sauce Chicken Lasagna
1 package lasagna noodles (whole wheat if you can find them)
2 cooked chicken breasts, cut up
1 16oz tub cottage cheese
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbl butter
3 Tbl whole wheat flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1.5 cups frozen bell pepper strips
3/4 cup shredded cheese (I try to shred from bricks but that didn’t happen this week!)
1/4 chopped basil (or 1/4 cup pesto)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley
A great tip from Alton Brown of Good Eats to prevent any lasagna from being watery is to NOT pre-cook the pasta. Just cover it in a dish with the hottest water your tap will give you while you prep your other ingredients, and it will be soft enought to be perfect once baked, yet able to absorb extra liquid so your lasagna doesn’t sit in a pool of water. Trust me, you won’t regret this!
I saute the chopped garlic with the butter over medium heat for two to three minutes, then whisk in the flour. I slowly add in the heavy cream, still whisking, until I get a thick paste. Then I whisk in the milk. If you end up with clumps just bring to a boil and keep whisking, and they’ll smooth out. I add about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of parsley, then the parmesan cheese. If your sauce is thicker than you like, just thin it out with more milk. Stir in the chopped chicken.
I would also add the chopped basil in to the sauce at this point, but I totally forgot to buy it this week! I used some of my homemade basil pesto out of the freezer in the cottage cheese instead. If I had used basil in the sauce instead of pesto in my cottage cheese, I would have sprinkled in a teaspoon each of garlic powder and onion powder to the cottage cheese. Also, this cottage cheese is what my mom always uses, replacing the traditional choice of ricotta cheese for a lasagna. It sounds weird, I know, but this is really good!
To make the lasagna I spread a little white sauce from the chicken mixture on the bottom of the pans, and then layer with pasta, chicken mixture, spoon-fulls of cottage cheese, lots of the frozen bell pepper strips, and a very light sprinkle of the cheese. I also add spinach leaves if I have any in the fridge. Repeat the layers and on top add pasta, a little bit of the white sauce, and cheese.
I bake this at 375 degrees until the cheese on top is golden brown and melted nicely. This usually takes my oven 25 to 30 minutes.
We love to eat this alongside simple roasted carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme, and broccoli with a little grass fed butter and salt and pepper.
What does your family do to make Sundays special?