Good morning, and happy Sunday! It was a week full of Christmas cookies and holiday parties around here, so this is going to be a very tasty post. I’m sharing all of the highlights, along with our easy dinners, in today’s roundup of Our Week in Meals!
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 dinners 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…
My day started with a bowl of Gingerbread Slow Cooker Oatmeal, which I had prepared on Saturday afternoon and then just stashed in individual containers in the refrigerator. If you've never had steel cut oats in the Crock Pot, then you're seriously missing out. They get so rich and creamy (even though they only cook in water), and they're nothing like the microwaveable oatmeal that you might be used to.
To reheat, just add some milk (or eggnog) and microwave for about 1 minute, stirring. Don't forget all of the toppings (I added Easy Candied Pecans and some whipped cream that morning. Basically, it tasted like dessert!).
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen last weekend, taking care of my holiday baking. It's hard to find a chunk of time to do this during the week, so I knocked out almost all of it over the course of Saturday and Sunday. My Assistant Dough Eater was never far from the action!
I made 3 batches of Easy Candied Pecans,
2 batches of Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies (definitely the family favorite),
Spencer and Casey wanted to decorate some of the cookies on Sunday morning, so we pulled out all of the sprinkles and candy and they had a ball (for about 15 minutes, until they lost interest)! Hah! The boys were then off and running again...
I needed to do some Christmas shopping at Target that afternoon, so Keith took the kids to lunch at Panera while I checked off my list. I enjoyed my Napa Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich in the car on the way home. Glamorous!
Keith and Gibbs then went to the movies to see The Grinch (the younger boys did not want to go), and the rest of us returned home to get dinner into the slow cooker.
We had The Best Slow Cooker White Chili (thanks again to reader Kara for sending me that recipe a couple of years ago!), plus cornbread on the side. Everyone loves this meal!
Poor Spence went to bed with a low-grade fever on Sunday evening, so I kept him home from school on Monday. After 13 hours of sleep, he seemed to be feeling fine by Monday morning -- but I figured a day of rest couldn't hurt (and we didn't want to share any lingering germs).
Since I was housebound for the day, I decided to make a batch of My Grandmother's Bourbon Balls. I knew that I would need them for an upcoming holiday party, and they keep in the refrigerator really well. YUM.
My friend Mollie came over before lunch so that we could get outside and walk our property to enjoy the beautiful weather. Meanwhile, I had dinner slowly cooking in the Crock Pot again!
The boys have started basketball season, which means practices 4 nights a week! Since the kids needed to eat early (before Casey's practice), but I also needed to be able to serve Keith dinner later, I decided to make my Slow Cooker Cajun Beef Sandwiches. This recipe is on the blog as a healthy freezer meal, but I just put all of the ingredients into the pot that morning (no freezer meal prep necessary).
We had the Beef Sandwiches with store-bought potato salad and Cauliflower Veggie Tots!
After dropping the kids off at school on Tuesday morning, Teddy and I took a chilly-but-sunny 28-degree walk in the woods, before picking up an online grocery order.
When Spence got off the bus at lunchtime, we headed south to run errands in Charlottesville. Our mission: Costco (to buy beef tenderloin for Christmas dinner) and Dunkin Donuts (to buy treats for Spencer's class pajama party on Wednesday).
He hit the free sample jackpot when he came across chocolates and cookies!
Keith was gone that night, so the boys and I tested a new easy dump-and-bake recipe for Chicken Stuffing Casserole. I'll share the details soon, but in the meantime you can try this similar recipe (which is almost as easy) or this slow cooker version! Clearly we're big fans of chicken and stuffing dinners, and this was definitely my kids' favorite. They devoured that chicken (and asked for seconds).
I delivered Spencer's doughnuts for his class's Christmas brunch on Wednesday, walked the dog, and then had a quiet morning at my computer while the boys were all in school.
I love this picture that Spencer's teacher sent me, because few things in life make him happier than a chocolate frosted donut!????
Casey's basketball practice wasn't until 7:00 p.m. that night, so we had time for an early family dinner before he headed out the door.
I took the easy route and used Costco's help for this one! I made Chicken Caesar Salads by combining a Costco rotisserie chicken with a prepared Caesar salad from Costco's refrigerated deli section. I added a fresh loaf of French Country Bread from Costco's bakery for a no-cook dinner that everyone actually enjoyed!
Thursday was the kids' last full day of school before the Christmas break, so it wasa crazy coffee-to-go kind of day (I burned my mouth on that hot coffee as soon as I took a sip!).????
I spent the morning at the elementary school, serving Gibbs and the rest of the 3rd graders a holiday brunch (in their pajamas) -- complete with biscuits and sausage gravy, eggs and bacon!
I made it home by lunchtime to get Spencer off the bus, my friend Mollie came over for a walk, and then we were back out the door!
Spence and I joined Casey and the 2nd graders for their Christmas party that afternoon.
Gibbs had basketball practice at 6:00 p.m., so we ate an early supper of Mustard and Brown Sugar Baked Pork Tenderloin (just 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep!), along with rice, broccoli and corn.
Phew! By the time I got everyone in bed, I was ready for bed as well!
Christmas break arrived a day early on Friday! School was cancelled due to flood warnings, so we spent a rainy morning at home instead.
Teddy went to the groomer for about an hour, while I taught Gibbs how to make a Chocolate Pudding Pie. Important life skills, folks!????
The hardest part is waiting for it to cool...
After lunch I drove the kids into Charlottesville to meet up with my dad. He took them back to my parents' house for a sleepover that evening, which meant Keith and I had the night to ourselves!
While the boys were busy feasting on tacos with the grandparents,
Keith and I went for a walk around downtown Culpeper...
and had dinner at Grass Rootes.
We shared the Caesar Salad and the Fried Calamari to start (both were excellent!),
and then I had the Seared Salmon with Rice Pilaf, while Keith had the bone-in pork chop. The entrees were just okay, but the atmosphere was wonderful -- so cozy in a booth by the fireplace with live music in the background. Such a fun date night just before the holidays!
We woke up to a quiet house on Saturday morning since the kids were still gone, so Keith and I took the dog for a nice walk together after breakfast.
It was so nice to see the sunshine after days of rain!
I spent the morning testing recipes in the kitchen, so our lunch was much more substantial than our usual sandwiches! These Stuffed Pork Chops were SO GOOD, and I can't wait to share the recipe with you soon!
After lunch, I made my way into Charlottesville to pick up the boys.
I also stopped at Yoder's Country Market to buy our country ham for Christmas breakfast, pimento cheese for appetizers, and my favorite little fruitcakes for a seasonal treat.
Back home, Keith and the boys made a bonfire and enjoyed the afternoon outside, while I finished up the laundry and chores indoors.
And since we had enjoyed a big lunch and I didn't feel like cooking, I kept dinner really simple: Chicken Salad Sandwiches, side salads, and chips!
Our evening ended with Chocolate Pudding Pie and the Redskins game on TV!
So there you go -- another week of meals for your eating inspiration! ????
I'll be spending my morning delivering holiday gifts to our neighbors before we join our friends for a potluck Christmas party this evening. Have a wonderful week and a very merry Christmas to all who celebrate! I'll see you back here next Sunday for the full recap!