The Shared Shrimp Tacos by Amy Cantu

It's late. We had just spent three days hoofing it all over Disneyland, (24,600 steps per day, if you're counting,) in extreme heat. We had just arrived in San Diego to visit Grandma Sheryl and Grandpa Bob. My husband pulled into the driveway and began unloading what always turns out to be too much stuff from the trunk of the car, while I gingerly carry each child into the house as quietly as I can. We're exhausted. I feel the blisters on my feet with each step and my legs ache. As I groggily pull open the refrigerator, I start making a mental grocery list of all the things I needed to get from the store before heading to bed, so the kids would have have something that they would eat in the morning. Suddenly I hear angels singing, as I squint through the bright light of the refrigerator. I rubbed my eyes and wondered if I was hallucinating. Grandma Sheryl and Grandpa Bob had us covered - milk, fruit, iced coffee, waffles, bagels, sandwich supplies, and animal crackers - they had stocked up for us, so we wouldn't have to rush to a grocery store to feed ourselves or the kids! Angels!

I know in-laws get a bad rap sometimes, but I won the lottery with mine. Both sets of my in-laws welcome in our family zoo and are always eager to take the kids off my hands and usher me away to take a nap. (How do they know that I ALWAYS need a nap??? Do I look that bad . . . no one answer that. I'm just grateful.) They are early risers, so somebody (not me or my husband!) is always up when our first child wakes at 5:30 a.m. Did I mention angels? They are ANGELS! And so, after a couple days of lounging around with my feet up and calling out, "I don't know, kids, go ask Grandma or Grandpa!" I thought maybe I should repay some of this kindness with a family meal of Mango-Shrimp Tacos with Honey-Lime Slaw. These tacos are special enough to seem like a treat, but easy enough to pull together on a weeknight or just to say, "Thank you for being totally awesome!"

Follow us the recipe:

Mango-Shrimp Tacos with Honey-Lime Slaw

The Shared Dessert Bars by Cynthia Raub

Have you ever laid in bed, unable to sleep, because you were thinking about rhubarb? It has only happened to me once, and while my husband blissfully dozed into dreamland, I tossed and turned wondering when I was going to be able to eat it. Like many of my mom-stress-fueled restless nights, I reached out to Amy to see if she was awake and thinking about rhubarb, too. Turns out she wasn't thinking about rhubarb, but when I mentioned it, she (like the recipe encyclopedia that she is) recommended I make Smitten Kitchen's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp bars. The recipe was simple, straight forward and not heinously gluttonous. Perfect! Once we started chatting about dessert bar cravings, Amy came strong with multiple recipes she has been meaning to try including her Coconut Bars and Lime Bars with Pistachio Crust.

I am always weary about making whole servings of desserts because I always seem to eat everything in the pan in a matter of 24 hours. I avoid baking unless I am giving the goods away because of the magical disappearing act baked goods do in my presence. Now you see them on a platter! Now you don't. (Because they're ALL in my gut, and in the back of my mind, and on my conscience as another loss of self control.) But like the good friend that she is, Amy suggested that we swap bars! It was a great idea in theory (sharing, variety, smaller portions), until I did the math: three scrumptious pans of bars for two households. Isn't that more than the one pan in my house that I was fearful of? No time to overthink the math. We were committed. No regrets.

Follow us to the recipes:

Lime Bars with Pistachio Crust

Coconut Bars (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars