Hi, friends! For those of you who have missed the old Weekend Recap posts over the past few weeks, I thought that it would be fun to bring it back...with a twist!
With more of a focus on food at the moment, I figured that I could 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.
With that said, let's backtrack to last Sunday, which was the day before Halloween. We had been to a big Halloween party at a friend's farm the night before, so we stayed close to home to "recover" on Sunday. I spent some time after lunch building a Haunted Cookie House with the boys (from a Trader Joe's kit that my mother-in-law gave us),
although Spencer did more candy-eating than actual decorating. Does the house look a little bit sparse?!??
I had originally planned to roast a whole chicken in the oven for dinner, but we had the most gorgeous WARM fall day so Keith decided to grill the meat instead. Love when I get some help with a meal! On the side we served macaroni and cheese + broccoli. And of course, the kids nibbled on their haunted cookie house for dessert!
And then there was Monday...what a day! The excitement of Halloween was tempered by the devastating passing of our family's dog, Molly. She was the most wonderful pet, and the first "baby" that Keith and I ever brought home. In fact, Keith gave her to me as a birthday present almost exactly 11 years ago. Her passing has seriously broken my heart, and I'm just choosing to focus on the fact that she didn't suffer for long. We discovered a tumor on Saturday morning and by Monday evening she was gone. I think my mind is still spinning from it all.?
And even though I was a mess of tears, I still had to pull it together because I had three very excited little ones who couldn't wait to go trick-or-treating.
Super Mario, a Skeleton, and a Farmer
Since there aren't many neighborhoods in Madison and the farms are so spread out, most of the county comes to the high school for the Trick-or-Trunk event. The kids had a blast, and Spencer's night was complete when he got to ride in the caboose of the barrel train. Simple pleasures!
I was in no shape to make dinner that night, and since I knew that we would be rushing out the door for trick-or-treating, I was glad that I had only planned an easy soup supper. This was turkey and wild rice soup that I made the week before and just reheated (I will share the recipe here soon). It was the perfect quick dinner before the boys loaded up on candy!
My Aunt Barbara came for a visit on Tuesday to help me celebrate my birthday a few days early, and even picked these guys up from school for me!
Earlier in the day, while I stood at the counter eating lunch, I prepared a quick Thai Peanut Sauce with orange, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, and rice vinegar. I kept the sauce in the refrigerator until the evening, when I sauteed shrimp and sauce in a skillet for a few minutes before serving it with broccoli, rice and chopped peanuts on top!
On Wednesday I had a couple of recipes to photograph in the morning, and then Spence and I headed out for a walk in the woods. His only request that entire day was to hike along the Rapidan...so that's what we did. Except that he was sleepy after lunch and it was unseasonably warm outside, so he really just wanted me to carry him on my shoulders the entire time. Spoiled.
Keith was gone that evening for work, so the boys and I enjoyed the casserole that I had prepared and photographed earlier in the day. Reheating meals is always the easiest! This was a dump-and-bake recipe for Chicken, Brown Rice, and Green Bean Casserole that my friend Mollie gave me. It was delicious, so I'll be sharing it soon on here!
I was recruited to sub at the preschool for Spencer's teacher for a little while on Thursday morning, which made this little guy very happy.
My lunches during the week are almost always dinner leftovers, and this week they were especially tasty so I snapped a photo to share with you! My friend Amanda brought this Slow Cooker Butternut Squash & Chickpea Coconut Curry to a potluck recently and it was so delicious that I begged her to give me the recipe. I made it right away (with a few tweaks of my own), and I've been enjoying it ever since. So, so good! I will note, though, that my friend Erica and I both made this dinner over the past week and we both agreed that it does not need to cook for 6 hours on HIGH, as indicated. I cooked mine for 6 hours on low and it was more than sufficient.
Enjoyed on the front porch while supervising tractor driving outside.
Dinner was chicken quesadillas -- my go-to when I have leftover meat to use up at the end of the week. These included the rest of the chicken from the casserole the night before.
Spencer's Plate: Quesadilla; Guacamole; Peas; Taco Sauce
And my current favorite evening treat these days? Some Candy Cane Lane tea (the Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea is also a favorite) and a few squares of this extra dark chocolate. I love the mint chocolate flavor (like an Andes mint, only WAY better), but there's also an almond sea salt version that I add into the mix as well.
My mom came to visit for the day on Friday so that we could celebrate my birthday. We headed to Charlottesville for some shopping (of course), and dragged Spencer along with us. We only went in two stores, though -- this kid does NOT tolerate shopping. We started at Anthropologie, where I grabbed a new coffee mug, some dishtowels, bowls, and serving utensils. We hit a major sale at The Gap, so Mom and I both got this tunic (in red), I picked up some dress shirts for the boys, and I also got this top. We took a break for lunch at Jason's Deli before finishing with errands at Costco.
This was the best shot that my mom could get (and it's pretty indicative of how the whole morning went)!
Dinner was our usual Friday night favorite: carry-out pizza, which Keith picked up on his way home,
balanced out with a kale and avocado salad that I made here at home. Lemon tahini dressing on top.
And for dessert? The birthday cake that my mom brought -- yellow cake with my favorite Spencer Family Rich Chocolate Frosting!
This was our first week without soccer practices in the evenings or games on Saturday morning since the fall season just ended. Somehow we managed to stay crazy-busy on Saturday anyway, as we took an early morning road trip up to Northern Virginia for my nephew's baptism. But first, my Free Birthday drink from Starbucks on the way,
Whole Milk Cappuccino
and giant muffins for the boys.
Breakfast #2 for the day
Church clothes! But really, I chased the kids and their cousin around the playground for most of the service. I should have worn my running shoes!?
We stopped for a quick birthday lunch at Panera on the way home,
Turkey Chili + Ancient Grain and Arugula Salad with Chicken
and then made our way to the Montpelier Hunt Races back here in the afternoon.
What a gorgeous afternoon to be outside. Perfect fall weather to watch the horses run! We met up with friends at various tailgates and the boys played cornhole with their buddies.
After being gone all day, we returned home in the evening EXHAUSTED...and with no real plan for dinner. We had all been snacking on food at the tailgates for the afternoon, so nobody was particularly hungry. I decided to do some fridge clean-out and we munched on a hodgepodge of stuff -- carrots and hummus, mac and cheese, leftover soup, and leftover Italian food from the night before. It worked!
And dessert was a Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting that my mother-in-law sent home with us for my birthday. Delicious!!!
I spent the rest of my Saturday night flipping through the new cookbook that I just received before crashing in bed.
Have a wonderful week, friends!
PS -- Have you seen the new blog design? My friend and designer, Sydney, is super talented and amazing to work with. Let me know if you need her email address -- I highly recommend her!