Merry, merry Christmas to all of you, my friends! Since I can't send you each individual holiday cards, I'll go ahead and share the photo from our family's card here instead. I am so grateful for your support, your kind words, and your friendship. I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year to come!
And with another week behind us, it's time for Our Week in Meals. 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. As you can imagine, we had an eventful week of Christmas celebrating, good food, and many, many holiday sweets! Shall we jump right to it?!
We spent last Sunday morning cleaning up and recovering from our holiday party the night before (you can see those details in last week's post!), and then we piled in the car and made our way south to my parent's mountain house for an early Christmas celebration.
They were on their way to Florida to see my brother and his family later in the week, so we squeezed in a special day before they left. The boys did Christmas puzzles and artwork,
and had a delicious meal. In the midst of the excitement, I flaked and forgot to take a photo of our appetizers and dinner (oops!)...BUT I did remember to document dessert! #priorities
For the main course Mom served a beef tenderloin that my dad grilled (OMG...SO GOOD), Aunt Bee's Cheesy Potatoes, broccoli, and French bread. Perfection.
And dessert is always my favorite! We had bowls of vanilla ice cream with Creme de Menthe, chocolate sauce, and crushed peppermint,
and a big tray of assorted Christmas cookies. Yep...I grabbed the fruit cake!
Spence and I stayed close to home on Monday while the older boys were at school. We took a quick walk for some fresh air before lunch, but we didn't make it too far before the little guy got cold and we turned around. It was fuh-reeeezing out there!
I had a fridge full of leftovers from the weekend, so my lunch was a random mix in a bowl: cauliflower rice with honey balsamic dressing, half of an avocado, two Western Omelet Egg Muffins (recipe coming soon), and some cranberry seed crackers (<-- SO delicious!) from Saturday night's cheese plate. Hit the spot!
And for a sweet treat to warm-up after lunch: this Peppermint Hot Chocolate that my friend Tricia brought to us as a hostess gift last weekend. YUM!
I had originally planned to serve salmon for dinner that evening, but I left the fish in the freezer and instead worked on finishing up some more leftovers. We had the rest of my 3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Barbecue Meatballs from the party on Saturday night, along with the potato and cheese casserole that Maggie brought to the party and some carrots and Ranch for dipping. Kind of a random mix, but I refuse to throw away food and this made everyone happy!
Casey stayed home from school on Tuesday with an ear infection, so as soon as we dropped Gibbs off at school we headed into Charlottesville to get some amoxicillin from the pediatrician.
It's super soft, and it's not bulky at all. I may have ordered myself the camel colored version as well when I saw that it was on sale for 40% off that day!?
And Spencer was sporting his new shoes from Mom as well...the cutest mini Nikes ever!
We had some time to kill after the doctor's appointment while we waited for Costco to open, so we swung through Dunkin Donuts and treated the boys to a snack,
while I grabbed a coffee. I then proceeded to splash that coffee all over my pants. #ofcourse
In Costco the kind lady at the sample table gave us a bucket full of truffles, including the seasonal flavor -- White Chocolate Peppermint. Holy moly, that was good. Thanks to her generosity (and the delicious chocolate), I am now the proud owner of a giant-sized multi-flavor bag of Lindt Truffles. There could be worse problems to have...
We also stopped at Target for Casey's prescription, Harris Teeter for my grocery pick-up (thank goodness for online orders), and then finally made our way home for a late lunch. We were all ready to stay put for a few minutes before heading back out to get Gibbs!
Gibbs was so proud of this adorable little snowman decoration that he made for me (which he crafted from a stuffed sock). ?
Dinner that evening was a hearty and healthy bowl of Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Quinoa Soup (a recipe that I will share just in time for New Year's resolutions)!? Keith worked late that evening, so this was an easy option to serve to him separately when he arrived. I included garlic breadsticks on the side for Keith and the boys.
I kept Casey home from school again on Tuesday since he was up all night coughing and still just wasn't quite feeling well. In between naps on the couch he rallied to build train tracks for Spencer,
and play out in the yard (it was 50 degrees!). Spencer was thrilled to have a playmate at home with him for the day!
Four loads of laundry, changing bed sheets, and photographing a couple of recipes kept me busy until it was time to get Gibbs at school. One of the recipes that I was working on included white wine in the sauce. I used some of this bottle that Maggie gave me as a hostess gift last Saturday night, and it was SO good. I even poured myself a glass to have with lunch, since it was sitting out on the counter. Perks of working at home! ?
Keith was out of town for a work event that night, so the boys and I had an easy dinner before an early bedtime: Dump-and-Bake Butter Chicken and Rice, paired with peas on the side. Love this dish, and can't wait to share the recipe with you soon!
After I put the kids to bed that night, I flipped through some old Southern Living Christmas books that my mom found for me at an antique store.
The books are about as old as I am, and some of the craft ideas and photos had me laughing out loud. A personal favorite? These Lacy Collars made from old linens. SO.FUNNY. ? ?
Thursday was the boys' last day of school before their winter break. I spent time at home with Spencer in the morning taking photos of a recipe for a client, and then preparing our dinner for that evening. I made my Healthy 4-Ingredient Chicken Enchilada Casserole, but really only needed 3 ingredients because I used some of the leftover Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken that I had stashed in the freezer after a recent dinner (you can find the 2-ingredient "recipe" for the salsa chicken in THIS post). The chicken already had plenty of sauce stirred in, so this was a super-simple meal to throw together.
When I picked the older boys up from school at noon for their early dismissal, I let them decide where to go for a special lunch. They opted for fried chicken and biscuits in Ruckersville, where they could also play on the indoor playground.
When we got home, we decorated Christmas gingerbread cookies.
This is such a treat, you guys! My childhood friend, Katie, has a mom who bakes the most amazing cookies (I've shared her Chewy Ginger Oatmeal Cookies on here before). Decorating these gingerbread cut-out cookies with Katie was a holiday tradition when we were growing up. Unfortunately, Katie now lives across the country in Arizona where she's in her residency training to be a doctor. Since I can't decorate cookies with Katie, her mom now sends my boys a care package each year that includes the baked cookies, as well as all of the necessary decorating supplies. This is the BEST way to do cookies with kids, because I don't have to worry about any of the prep work.
The cookies were delicious (as always), and apparently so was the frosting! ?
The hardest part of the entire activity was the clean up, as you can imagine. Sprinkles EVERYWHERE!
For dinner that evening, I just pulled the casserole out of the refrigerator (that I had prepared in the morning) and popped it in the oven. I topped it with diced avocado and served it with chips and salsa on the side. Such a hit!
On Friday morning I spent a few minutes in the kitchen baking one last batch of Christmas cookies. Keith casually reminded me that I hadn't made his favorite Cherry White Chocolate Chip Cookies yet this season, and it just wouldn't be the holidays without them. Seriously, you guys -- make these! The boys ate four of them straight from the baking sheets before I even had a chance to move them to the cooling racks. Needless to say, a batch disappears fast. And I'm going to need a serious sugar detox when this week is over!
I also made one last trip to the grocery store to grab fresh fruit, veggies, and oysters for our Christmas brunch and dinner. Fortunately the store was not crowded (because we live in the middle of nowhere and nothing is ever crowded); and that was a good thing -- because Spencer decided that he needed to do some shopping of his own. He ran through most of the store, and even bumped into a couple of innocent bystanders.?
White powdered sugar donuts instantly made their way into his cart!?
I usually take Friday evenings off from cooking dinner, and I originally thought that we might go out to dinner as a family. Unfortunately, Casey still wasn't feeling great so I knew that a sit-down meal in a restaurant wouldn't work that night. Instead, I picked up carry-out from Jack's Shop Kitchen in Ruckersville, which was absolutely amazing.
Casey could get homemade chicken noodle soup, the other boys ordered sandwiches, Keith had some local BBQ pulled pork with fried pickles (delicious!), and I devoured this entire enormous Quinoa Salad. Listen to this combo: Baby Spinach, Quinoa, Shaved Pear, Butternut Squash, Toasted Pecans, Pomegranate Seeds, Maple+Cider Vinaigrette. I will definitely be recreating this at home on my own soon! And of course, there were Christmas cookies and chocolates for dessert...
And that brings us to Christmas Eve! On Saturday morning we drove a couple of hours north to spend the day with Keith's family.
I had a Starbucks gift card in my wallet, so Keith reminded me that I could place an order on the Starbucks app and it would be ready for me as we drove through Warrenton. Love that!
Caffe Misto for me...
and a sugar cookie for us to share (because clearly we needed more cookies)!?
It was such a fun day of catching up with Keith's brothers and their families and seeing my nephews.
We snacked on appetizers,
and feasted on Carole's famous lasagna with bread, salad, broccoli, and Gary's special Chardonnay from Sonoma.
Mealtime with all of the kids was pretty chaotic, so I didn't remember to take a photo until halfway through...you get the idea! ?
We made our way home, put on the boys' new Christmas pajamas from Carole, and tracked Santa's progress on the NORAD app. I'm typing up this post to schedule it for Sunday morning and then getting the rest of our holiday prep in order for Christmas.
We have a quieter Christmas Day planned, including brunch with Aunt Barbara and Uncle Gary and a family dinner here at home. I'll be sure to share the details in next week's post, but for now I'm off to enjoy the festivities. Have a great holiday and a wonderful week ahead!