Hi, friends! It’s Sunday morning, which means it’s time for another recap of Our Week in Meals! I’ve got Christmas music on in the background, a gingerbread spice candle burning, and I’m sipping on my Spicy Eggnog coffee. Christmas is close and we’re trying our best to maintain our sanity while still enjoying it all with three very excited kiddos!
For those of you who are new around here, this 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. I hope that 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.
And now let’s backtrack to last Sunday morning. I spent time in the kitchen taking care of a variety of tasks: I packed the kids’ school lunches (<-- details are finally in THIS post!), I made a few recipes to photograph for the blog, and I prepared some food for the week. Since I finished up the last of my Slow Cooker Gingerbread Oatmeal, I decided to restock the fridge with another seasonal favorite: High-Protein Eggnog Overnight Oats.
I also tossed a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker to make a huge batch of lunches for the week: Slow Cooker Beef and Veggie Soup.
I had a bowl of the soup for lunch, along with a slice of avocado toast.
For dinner that evening, Keith smoked a whole chicken on the grill,
and I prepared the sides. I made Oven-Roasted Parmesan Broccoli:
Spread frozen petite broccoli florets on a large baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes!
and a double-batch of corn muffins. These little boxes are small, so I’d much rather make two of them at the same time and freeze half for another meal. Same amount of effort for twice as much!
I took Spence to his Parks & Rec class in Charlottesville on Monday morning, and I snapped a photo of the winter-themed sensory tray because I thought it was so cute. The construction trucks were Spencer’s addition (of course), but some of the other ideas were great — rice (as snow), sparkling snow balls, jingle bells, a snow man, stars, etc. The class was also decorating pinecones, but Spence wanted nothing to do with the crafts — his only focus for that portion of the morning is consistently the trucks + trays. I’ll use the pinecone idea here at home, though. I know that all 3 of my boys will love it!
For dinner that night we had this Crisp & Juicy 2-Ingredient Parmesan-Crusted Chicken. It was so good, you guys! Only two ingredients, but the cooking method is definitely the key to the perfect chicken. I’ll share it on the blog soon! My boys devoured the meal and asked for seconds. Served with green beans and pasta + pesto sauce for a quick supper.
It rained all day long on Tuesday, so instead of my usual morning walk with friends, I came home while Spence was at preschool and got some work done. I put dinner in the Crock Pot and I also made a batch of my Grandmother’s Bourbon Balls (which every holiday party neeeeeds)! We will be enjoying these with friends soon! They’re so easy, too…just 5 ingredients, no-bake, and they keep in the refrigerator for at least a week or two!
I don’t experiment too much with a wild variety of holiday baked goods, but instead I turn to my favorites year after year. The nostalgia is honestly the best part! Between these bourbon balls, Mrs. Hodgdon’s Chewy Ginger Oatmeal Cookies that I made last week, and our many loaves of Mom’s Cranberry Bread, the season is rolling along quite nicely!?
Casey’s friend Pace came home with us after school,
and then we had a relatively early dinner shortly after he left. On the menu: Slow Cooker Farmhouse Ham & Cheddar Soup along with dinner rolls. The soup is an easy way to use up leftover ham, so I’ll be sure to share the recipe soon so that you can take advantage of any holiday extras! Christmas Ham is a “thing,” right? My mom has always served ham for Christmas, so I just kind of assumed that’s what everyone else does too!
And can we talk about this little Elf on the Shelf? Does your family have one? I am the WORST at remembering to move him each night. In fact, on Wednesday morning my boys wouldn’t stop questioning me about WHY this Elf hasn’t moved recently! Each year I think they will forget about the Elf and I won’t pull him out on December 1, but each year the boys are excited for the Elf to “visit” and I’m pressured into the month-long game!?
I was hungry for a snack on Wednesday morning, so I decided to whip up a Peppermint Mocha Protein Smoothie. I haven’t shared a new smoothie recipe on here in ages, but this one was SO good that I figured you might want to give it a try. It’s like Starbucks, only WAY better for you!
Here’s what I did:
Peppermint Mocha Protein Smoothie
- 1-2 cups of ice, depending on how thick you like your smoothie
- 1 cup milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I like Quest brand)*
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
- 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (or about 2 drops of peppermint essential oil)
- Pinch of salt
- Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until thick and smooth!
*This protein powder is very sweet on its own, so I don't add any additional sweeteners. If you are using a less-sweet powder, then you might want to include a sweetener of choice, to taste.
After our snacks, Spence and I headed out to enjoy the sunshine and meet my friend Mollie for a walk.
Without a doubt, the most comfortable shoes in my closet.
For dinner that night I kept it very simple and didn’t even “cook” — we had Smoked Salmon and Avocado on Toast + veggies and hummus + fruit on the side. Since I just had a small package of salmon with enough for two of us, the kids got smoked turkey instead. That worked out well, because they enjoyed the turkey, and it needed to be eaten.
Keith also worked late that night, so this was a good option because it could be assembled easily at the last-minute. Nothing needed to be reheated or kept warm…
While Spence was at preschool on Thursday morning, I headed into Charlottesville for a bi-annual check up at the dermatologist. Afterwards, I had some time to spare before pick-up at noon, so I took advantage of my kid-free time by dashing through Target on a mission to grab some stocking stuffers. I also came home with other important items like a chocolate Santa for Keith,
When we got home I made a late lunch to use up ingredients in the fridge: a big salad with romaine, black beans, half of an avocado, grated cheddar cheese, carrots, Ranch dressing, and salsa. Then tossed it all together!
Followed by a brownie from the freezer (thawed),
and a mug of Gingerbread Spice tea,
with this eggnog stirred in. The almond milk nog is great (I picked it up at Target)! A little bit too sweet for my tastebuds to just drink it straight (like all nogs), but it’s perfect to stir in coffee, tea, oatmeal, cereal, smoothies or baked goods.
After lunch I threw dinner into the Crock Pot. We had my 3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Barbecue Meatballs with mac & cheese + cauliflower on the side. All of my boys were in heaven, of course!
Spence and I made an early trip to the grocery store on Friday morning, where I picked up this rosemary bush that’s shaped like a Christmas tree. So fun! It makes my kitchen smell SO good, and I can snip the rosemary to use in my cooking.
After unpacking the groceries, I put Spence in the stroller and we headed out for a walk with my friend Margeaux. It was cold, but sunny and a fun way to catch up.
By the time we made it back home, Spencer and I were both really hungry for lunch. Fortunately, I had prepared some egg salad before our walk (in an attempt to use up some hardboiled eggs in the refrigerator), so I could quickly assemble my sandwich when we walked in the door. I used my go-to Egg Salad recipe, but I didn’t have any celery on hand so I added about a tablespoon of sweet pickle relish, as well as some fresh green onion and snipped fresh rosemary (from my new plant). This lunch was DELICIOUS, and I had plenty of leftover egg salad to keep in the refrigerator for lunch over the next few days.
Post lunch sweetness: part of this new chocolate bar that I grabbed at the grocery store. It was AWESOME. Orange and chocolate is such an underrated flavor combo, and the added sea salt was perfection.
I had a bunch of overripe bananas on the counter, so I baked a loaf of our favorite banana bread that afternoon,
and then Keith walked in the door with pizza for dinner!
On Saturday we headed up the road to Grelen Market to visit with Santa, and for the first time in 7 years we had no tears!
He asked for a Lego set.
He also asked for a Lego set.
He didn’t ask for anything. In fact, our child who never stops talking was too shy to even make eye contact with the Big Guy.?
Before getting our hair cut later that afternoon, I put dinner in the slow cooker: 2-Ingredient Chicken Tacos! Seriously, the world’s easiest meal! I used about 4 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken thighs and a large jar of salsa. You could easily cut the recipe in half if you don’t want to cook as much meat, but this freezes really well and is a great option to have on hand for later meals (casseroles, quesadillas, lunchbox wraps, soft tacos, and salads).
Even though I thawed the meat in the refrigerator overnight, it was still pretty frozen when I put it in the Crock Pot. As a result, I cooked the chicken on low for 6-8 hours, shredded it with forks, and then stirred it back into the sauce. If I’m starting with thawed chicken, it usually only needs about 4 hours in the slow cooker. The meat is juicy and so flavorful at the end.
We put the shredded salsa chicken in flour tortillas and added the toppings of our choice — green onions, cheese, sour cream, olives, black beans, avocado/guacamole, you get the idea.
Served with corn, chips, salsa and guacamole on the side.
After we put the kids to bed, Keith watched the new Bourne movie while I worked on this post!
And that brings us to today! I’m doing some cooking this morning, I have a Christmas craft on the agenda for the kids later, and Keith is smoking a turkey for supper. We’ve got a busy week ahead with holiday performances and parties, so stay tuned next week for our next round of meals. Have a great week!