Strawberry shortbread bars

The hubby and I used to invite his family over for weekend lunches on a pretty regular basis. We love to entertain and putting together a huge spread for the family has always been one of our favorite things to do.

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Plus, inviting company – even company that loves you – over on a regular cadence is a helpful reminder to keep the house picked up and break out the dust rag and vacuum once in a while.

Last weekend the hubby told me his mom was stopping by for a quick visit. I was pretty excited. I’m very close with the hubby’s family and haven’t seen much of them the past few years. I couldn’t remember the last time we’d hosted my mother-in-law for lunch.

Then I realized I couldn’t remember the last time we’d hosted ANYONE for lunch.

I was on crutches for the latter half of 2021, and the kiddo and I had influenza at Christmas, and – oh, yeah – there was that whole COVID thing that feels like it started about 12 years ago.

I quickly discovered that I’m rusty. I used to be able to plan a menu, get groceries, clean the house, and whip up an entrée, dessert and multiple side dishes in a couple hours.

But Sunday morning found me staring dumbly at the shelves in the grocery store, trying to figure out how this whole thing worked.

I was failing miserably, so I asked the hubby what we should make. “I’ll grill some burgers,” he said.

“OK,” I said. “Are we … do we … I forget. Do we make something to go with it?”

He responded with silence, clearly as stumped as I was. “If you want?” he eventually replied.

I decided I very much did want, but even then, it was the most basic meal I could pull together – burgers, salad, and mac and cheese.

“Crap,” I thought when I was putting away the groceries. “Dessert!” I had strawberries, so whipped up these simple bars, which include lightly sweetened strawberries baked between a few layers of almond-flavored shortbread.

My mother-in-law loves strawberries, and these bars were a hit. The bars aren’t too sweet or syrupy, and the strawberries still have a bit of tartness that’s almost reminiscent of strawberry-rhubarb pie.

In fact, they may have been good enough to distract our guest from the fact that I only managed to dust and vacuum the one room we happened to be sitting in.