Hi, friends! It's been another busy week around here and I can't wait to fill you in on our adventures with this latest roundup of Our Week in Meals! One of the highlights from the past few days was definitely my Mom's Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Glaze, which is included below. Don't miss that recipe towards the end of the post!
For those of you who are new to the blog, Our Week in Meals is where I share a little bit about what we’ve been up to over the past week — as it relates to our meals each night. This series gives you a glimpse “behind the scenes” at some highlights from our life, shows you how I balance a busy schedule with feeding my family, and offers a few new ideas for your own weekly meal plan. Now let’s back up to last weekend…
I met Mollie for a walk on Sunday morning,
and then joined the rest of the family for a short hike at Ruth Hollow after lunch.
Searching for "gems."
Keith had a fantasy football draft with some friends that evening, so the boys and I were on our own for supper. We went with the "breakfast-for-dinner" theme, which the kids and I love. We had 5-Ingredient Dump-and-Bake Buttermilk Pancakes (recipe coming soon!), plus some bacon and eggs. Hit the spot!
Dessert = Casey's idea of heaven (a giant jar of jelly beans)!
Spencer and I made a run to the grocery store on Monday morning after preparing a weekly meal plan and shopping list (that meal plan got switched around quite a bit as our week progressed)! We also stopped at the post office to ship some more Simply Mailed recipe binders!
We had a pretty quiet day while the older boys were at school, including recipe testing and a visit from the appliance repair man to fix our refrigerator door. Did you see the solar eclipse? Spence and I shared the glasses that the older two boys got at school, and I spent the rest of the time making sure that my sweet little 3-year-old wasn't glaring at the sun!
We had to take Gibbs to soccer practice that evening, so I fed the kids a quick Dump-and-Bake Mexican Lasagna before heading out to the fields. I'll share this easy recipe soon!
It was almost 100 degrees on Tuesday, so Spence had no interest in playing outside. Instead, I took him to an indoor playground where he could run around in the air conditioning.
We had the whole place to ourselves since most kids have returned to school already, and apparently Mom isn't nearly as fun as his brothers (Spence kept asking for the older boys)! He had chicken, biscuits, and mac and cheese for an early lunch before we headed back home.
We all had dinner together on Tuesday night, which seems kind of rare these days given all of the sports practices, swimming lessons, and wacky work schedules that we've had. I made Italian Stuffed Chicken Roll-Ups, which are basically an Italian twist on Chicken Cordon Bleu. They were great served with a salad on the side!
Spence and I went to Charlottesville on Wednesday, where we spent the morning jumping around the trampoline park!
He's been asking to do this for awhile now, and it worked well on Wednesday when they had "toddler time."
My parents were running errands in town at the same time, so we met them for lunch at Jason's Deli (i.e. my favorite salad bar)!
Spencer goes there for the hot dogs and "free" ice cream...
We all had an early supper that evening before Keith took the older boys to the fields for Gibbs's soccer practice. I heated up some of this Slow Cooker Pulled Pork that I had leftover in the freezer. Instead of the sandwiches shown below, I switched it up and served the pork stuffed in baked potatoes with barbecue sauce and cheese on top!
We took advantage of a nice, cool morning on Thursday by meeting Mollie for a walk at Veterans Park in Orange.
Spence played on the playground while we did loops around him, and then joined us for a snack in the stroller.
Maybe it was the fall-like temps, but I came home from our walk and was inspired to use the apples that we picked from our trees last weekend in a giant batch of Slow Cooker Applesauce (my family's FAVORITE). Our Gala apples are very tart this year, so I added more sugar than the recipe calls for (just adjusting it as it cooked). I also cooked the applesauce on HIGH for 4 hours (rather than on LOW for 6-8), because I didn't get it started until closer to lunch time and I wanted to have it done by the time the boys came home from school. Definitely add this to your list this season!
I also received a sweet comment from a reader named Kathy, who had just put up 12 quarts of my 20-Minute Garlic and Herb Tomato Sauce! That reminded me that I was due for another batch of the sauce in my own kitchen, and I had all of the ingredients on hand to make some that afternoon. Perfect to go with our dinner!
I used the tomato sauce to make my Grandma's Baked Eggplant Parmesan for supper that night, which I served with a side of rigatoni pasta. This easy recipe has definitely been a reader favorite this summer, so I hope that you will give it a try while eggplant is still readily available!
While eating an ice cream cone for dessert, Gibbs also managed to wiggle out his loose front tooth!
I baked a cake on Friday morning, which is a rare occurrence around here (unless it starts with a cake mix). I made an exception, though, for my Mom's Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Glaze. OH.MY.GOSH. This cake is so darn good -- I can't wait for you to try it! And while it's a cake made from scratch, it's very easy (even for a non-baker like me).
I knew that we had friends coming over for lunch on Saturday, but I also knew that I wouldn't have time to cook much on Saturday morning. Instead, we planned a really simple menu and I just baked the Apple Walnut Cake in advance on Friday. My mom's recipe is below, so look for that towards the end of the post!
It's all about the caramel glaze...
After lunch Spencer and I had to take my car to the dealer in Culpeper for a routine oil change.
They have these great massage chairs in the waiting area, which Spencer calls the "remote chairs."
We sat side-by-side and I swear he was laughing at the chair the entire time we waited. Kept the whole dealership entertained!
Dinner that night was a new recipe that I was testing for the blog, and I'm so happy with how it turned out. This was Dump-and-Bake Pork Chop Casserole with Broccoli and Wild Rice. I just baked the uncooked rice, seasonings, broccoli, and pork chops in one dish...SO EASY! I'll share the full details on the blog soon!
I was up and out of the house bright and early on Saturday morning for a 4-mile walk here in Madison. It's a local fundraiser each year, and I absolutely love this event.
Some of my friends help to organize it and it's SUCH a great small race. It helped that we had the most perfect early-fall weather, and it was even cool enough for long sleeves!
I walked with my friends Becca and Maddie,
Photo courtesy of Becca's son, Clark!
as we chatted, enjoyed the scenery on Hebron Church Road, and finished in about an hour. Brisk pace!
The "parking lot" was actually in a cow pasture adjacent to the church, so we were asked to please "close the gate" as we drove out so that none of the cows would escape. Only in Madison!????
I hustled home after the walk to shower and make a couple of salads. Keith's friend Justin, his wife Kate, and their new baby boy came for a lunch visit on their way to Charlottesville for the weekend.
Green salad: lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, and feta cheese
Fruit Salad: blackberries, raspberries, nectarines, and grapes
Keith picked up fried chicken from the old Wolftown General Store, which paired perfectly with the sides.
Dessert was the best part, though (as usual)! We had my Mom's Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Glaze, which I had prepped the day before (plus vanilla ice cream). This is such a moist, flavorful spice cake that's loaded with apples and walnuts. Almost reminds me of sticky toffee pudding. So perfect for the season!
And that caramel glaze on top of the Apple Walnut Cake? Heaven. When it's combined with the toasted walnuts it's like those "wet nuts" that you can get on ice cream sundaes. Again, so.darn.good. Mom's recipe is below, so I hope that you'll give it a try this season!
Mom's Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Glaze
For the Cake:
- 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
- ½ cup butter 1 stick, melted
- 1-½ cups white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2-½ lbs. Granny Smith apples peeled and cut into ¼ inch slices*
For the Caramel Glaze:
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup butter 1 stick, at room temperature
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350. Bake walnuts in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
- Stir together butter and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl until blended.
- In another bowl, combine flour and next 4 ingredients; add to butter mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in apples and 1 cup of walnuts. (Batter will be very thick, similar to a cookie dough.) Spread batter into a lightly greased 13x9 inch pan or divide it into 2 8x8 inch pans.
- Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack before glazing.
Once the cake is cool, prepare the Caramel Glaze:
- In a small heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and cream. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes or until glaze thickens slightly but is still pourable.
- Drizzle the glaze slowly over the cooled cakes. Sprinkle remaining walnuts on cake and spread additional glaze on the nuts.*I used the Gala apples from our yard, which were very crisp and tart -- similar to a Granny Smith.
Justin and Kate left shortly before dinner, so we weren't too motivated (or hungry) for anything very substantial. I used it as an opportunity to clean out the fridge, so I had leftover salad from lunch with leftover chicken on top, while Keith and the boys had the leftover chicken inside quesadillas (shown below) with corn, chips and salsa. Everyone was happy!
And that's where I'll leave it for today! I hope that you all have a wonderful week ahead, and be sure to check back tomorrow for another new, easy dinner recipe!
Need some help planning your family's meals? When you join Simply Mailed, I will send you 3 quick-prep dinner recipes and a grocery shopping list each week. This super-affordable service takes the stress out of dinner, saves you time and money, and brings your family together at the end of the day. There are even options for smaller households of just 1 or 2!