Hello, hello! We had quite an interesting week with all 3 boys home on winter break, Keith out of town for a work trip, and me sick on the couch! We did still manage to have a few good homemade dinners, so let's get right to 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.
Last Sunday we started the New Year with a short hike in the woods.
We then came home for lunch, and I did a little bit of food prep before Keith headed out of town for a week-long international business trip.
I made a batch of these blueberry muffins, which the boys loooooooove.
And while the oven was still heated to 400 degrees, I roasted two sweet potatoes to have on hand to eat with eggs at breakfast, to toss in salads, or to reheat for an easy side dish at dinner. Just wash, chop, and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. They're crispy on the outside and soft on the inside!
While the sweet potatoes baked, I also cooked some chicken to use later in the week in my Chicken and Stuffing Casserole. This is the easiest and fastest way to bake chicken that turns out moist every time (no dry meat allowed)! I like to use chicken tenders because they cook faster than a full breast, but either works fine. Place the tenders in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and cover with foil. Bake (covered) at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Once it was cooled, I chopped it up and kept it in the refrigerator to use later.
And since I was in the kitchen, I snapped a photo of this avocado oil that I'm loving at the moment. The avocado oil has a high smoke point so it's great for stir-fries; but it's also flavorless which means that it works well in baked goods as a substitute for vegetable oil or canola oil (like the blueberry muffins that I made). I prefer it over coconut oil in most cases because I find that coconut oil often has a coconut-ty taste that we don't normally care for. Plus, avocado oil is supposed to be one of the healthiest oils available. I grabbed this giant bottle at Costco!
Even though Keith was gone, I made the effort to serve a real New Year's Day dinner -- just like my mom taught me! ? We had all of the "good luck" foods that I was raised on, including my Garlic Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin,
My Grandmother's Easy Sauerkraut with Crispy Bacon, and some steamed spinach (which I just bought frozen and heated in the microwave).
And then Monday arrived...and that pesky stomach bug that I had been trying to fend off since Saturday night finally got the best of me. I was seriously down-and-out! It was a rainy day, so the boys patiently spent time playing indoors,
and driving cars on my legs while I rested on the couch.
But when I couldn't even keep ice chips down, I waved the white flag and surrendered. I called my mom! I needed help with the kids since Keith was out of town, so she came for the night, took the boys out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, and put everyone to bed. When I still couldn't keep down food or water the next day, a quick trip to the doctor's office for some anti-nausea medication worked like a charm. Once I could rehydrate, I was on the road to recovery. In the meantime, I obviously didn't take too many food photos! This is basically what my life consisted of for a few days...
On a brighter note, my mom was around on Tuesday to get the kids out of the house. She took them to the indoor playground at Bounce n' Play, which they loved.
And I rallied that afternoon to drag everyone to the dentist, before coming home to one of the world's easiest dinners: Dump-and-Bake Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (recipe soon!). I served the pasta to the boys while I stuck with toast on my still-recovering stomach...
By Wednesday we were all ready to get outside and breathe some fresh air. The boys requested a trip to the playground in Orange once the weather warmed up, so that's what we did!
Dinner was delicious, and super-simple. We had Hoisin-Glazed Pork Tenderloin,
with Vegetable Lo Mein on the side. The pork recipe will be coming to the blog soon, while the Lo Mein is an oldie-but-goodie. It was one of the first recipes that I ever shared on here, and it's a great way to get the little ones to eat some veggies. I just updated the photos this week to make it look as good as it tastes! Trust me: even if you think that your kids (or husband) won't like this...they will!
Thursday morning marked Spencer's (reluctant) return to preschool after Winter Break, while his older brothers were still on vacation for a few more days. We dropped the little guy off at school, returned home to assemble a Chicken and Stuffing Casserole for dinner (which I just kept in the refrigerator before baking later that evening), put away laundry, and take care of a few other chores. On the way to pick Spence up at lunchtime, we grabbed sandwiches from Subway,
and I ran in the smoothie bar next door to get an "Immune Booster" juice. My sick body needed all of the help that it could get! This was a blend of apple, beet, carrot, ginger, echinacea, vitamin C, and vanilla protein. The kids had to try it (of course); they loved it; and they said it tasted like a "Hawaiian drink." ?
We then picked up Spence and headed into Charlottesville for a few errands -- including a stop at the grocery store, which is always more expensive when the kids are in tow. We somehow ended up with these UVA football-themed frosted sugar cookies in our possession.?
And the boys got to spend their Christmas gift cards from Aunt Barbara at Target. Definitely one of the highlights from their week (they came home with Legos, a Minecraft Pick Axe and a giant Garbage Truck)!
We had Chicken and Stuffing Casserole for dinner (<-- one of the all-time most popular recipes on my blog) with mixed veggies on the side. That casserole totally reminds me of my childhood and it has always been one of Gibbs's favorite dinners as well. Total comfort food!
We stayed close to home on Friday and spent time indoors in the morning with Legos, Minecraft, and art work.
I took a photo of a smoothie that I was creating for a client mid-morning, and the boys were hanging around like vultures waiting for a sip. Snack was a glass of this Healthy Chunky Monkey Protein Smoothie, which we loved. Recipe coming later this month!
Since the kids were fueled and running laps around the house, I decided that they needed some exercise...so we bundled up and headed into the woods for a walk before lunch.
I spent a little while planning our meals and shopping list for the coming week,
and dinner was the typical Friday night fare: pizza! I usually pick it up from the Italian restaurant in town, but it was starting to snow outside and I honestly had no desire to haul the kids out in the car to get the food. Instead, we went with the frozen option. Whatever it takes! This dinner makes everyone happy, and I appreciate the night off from cooking.
Spencer was hungry and was getting very impatient while the pizza cooked, so I pulled out the celery and hummus for us to snack on. He opted for the spoon-in-the-bowl method. No wonder we all share germs around here...?
Keith arrived home late Friday night, and on Saturday morning we all woke up to the first dusting of snow this year. The kids were really excited until they realized that it was about 19 degrees outside and they lasted 15 minutes before they deemed it too cold!
Mesmerized by his footprints in the snow.
Along with eggs and toast, Spence and I shared an Orange Dream Protein Smoothie for breakfast in an effort to get some more Vitamin C into our life.
We had a hodgpodge of leftovers for lunch, and when the snow stopped we jumped in the car and drove up to Culpeper. I needed to buy groceries for the week, and the kids desperately needed to get out of the house. Keith took them next door to the indoor playground at Chik-Fil-A while I shopped. Mission accomplished!
For dinner I served brats with sauteed mushrooms and onions.
I first cooked the onion and mushrooms in a big skillet in a combination of butter and olive oil until tender. Then I removed the onion and mushrooms from the pan and set them aside on a plate. In the same skillet, I cooked the brats over medium-high heat until browned on all sides (about 5 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low, add ½ cup of water to the skillet, and cover. Continue to cook the brats (covered) for about 12 more minutes (or until cooked through). Serve on a roll or bread for hungry boys, topped with mustard, onions, and mushrooms.
On the side we had sauerkraut, plus oven-roasted potatoes and green beans. I just diced the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and placed them on a baking sheet. Drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with garlic, salt, and pepper. Baked in a 400 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes (stirring once while they cooked). I added the green beans during the final 10 minutes of cooking, since they didn't need as long to roast. The potatoes get perfectly crispy and golden!
We stayed inside the rest of the evening in front of the fire, watching Keith's football games on t.v. Cozy!
And that brings us to this morning. It's not snowing today, but it's definitely coooooold. We don't have much on the agenda, so it will be a low-key day at home before everyone heads back to our normal routine on Monday. Have a good week ahead!