Good morning, and happy Sunday! I hope that my American readers enjoyed a fun holiday! We had some unexpected construction at our house all week, so we stayed busy and out of the way with pool time, putt-putt golf, and other summer adventures. All of the highlights from the past few days, along with our easy dinners, are included 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…
We got an early start on Sunday morning when I brought the boys over to our friends' farm. Keith was out of town, so Mollie's husband supervised the kids while they played with their buddies so that the moms could escape for a walk. The forecast was calling for humid, 90+ degree temps, so we beat the heat by 7:30 a.m.!
The boys have been asking me to take them to Red Lobster for months, so I finally made a bargain with them: I would treat them to lunch in Charlottesville if they tagged along to Costco afterwards. ????
While the younger two feasted on chicken fingers and mac and cheese ????, Gibbs and I both ordered the same meal: salads and Cheddar Bay biscuits to start, followed by the shrimp and salmon combo with fries and rice. The boys were thrilled with this meal (I thought it was average, at best).???? But hey, they had fun!
And then we braved the wild of Costco on a Sunday afternoon. Not my favorite way to spend time, but we got what we needed (and then some)! Fake smiles for Mom...
My parents came for a visit that afternoon and stayed for dinner. My dad wanted German food from The Bavarian Chef here in Madison, and I'll never argue with an easy supper!
This was the Traditional Bavarian Sausage Platter with Weisswurst, Bauernwurst and Bratwurst; sauerkraut, red cabbage, green beans and a brown bread roll.
For dessert, I used the blackberries that we bought in Nelson County a few days prior to make Morning Glory Farm's Berry Cobbler (you can easily substitute raspberries or blueberries, too). Topped with vanilla ice cream, of course...
While my parents and I ate our cobbler on the front porch, the kids had fun sampling new cupcake flavors from this box that my mom brought. That blue hydrangea-shaped cupcake in the back was my fave -- so pretty!
We needed to replace some of the original cast iron plumbing in our 100-year-old home, which unfortunately meant cutting out the ceiling in our kitchen in order to get to the pipes upstairs. The construction project started on Monday morning, so I put dinner in our Crock Pot before the workers arrived.
Then we did our best to stay out of the house for most of the day. When the kitchen is off-limits, it's hard to have 3 little boys at home!
We spent the morning swimming at the pool, which was chilly in the water...
but beautiful on the deck in the sunshine.
We played putt-putt golf in the afternoon, and then came home to dinner that was waiting for us in the Crock Pot!
I served Slow Cooker Barbecue Brisket Sandwiches, along with carrots, dip and potato chips. An easy meal that didn't require me to spend much time in the construction-zone kitchen.
I dragged the kids out of the house bright and early on Tuesday morning for my 8:15 yoga class. After they hung out in childcare, we stopped for treats on the way home. I'll spare you another pic of my iced latte -- Casey's Pineapple Cosmic Coolatta was way more photogenic!????
We visited our favorite teachers at the Reading Van at the kids' school (thanks for the photo, Jennifer!),
and then picked up subs for lunch on the way home.
The boys had haircuts that afternoon, and since my kitchen was still off-limits, another slow cooker dinner was on the menu! We had my Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Tacos, which are an easily customizable meal for picky kiddos. I had my chicken with buffalo sauce, crumbled blue cheese, and diced avocado. The boys kept their tacos more traditional -- with grated cheddar cheese and salsa on top. A bagged salad kit was an easy side to sneak in some veggies!
Wednesday was one of those days when the temps reached 100 degrees F and we were pretty much sweating as soon as we stepped out the door in the morning.
As the construction continued at our house, the boys and I headed south to visit my parents for the day. I took a very steamy bike ride with these two,
and helped everyone cool off with some water play. Since we live in the country and have a well for our water, my boys had never seen or played with a sprinkler. They thought running through the spraying water was very exciting! ????
For lunch my mom served a delicious Cobb Salad, complete with Honey Baked Ham, eggs, olives, cheese and plenty of veggies and herbs -- plus fresh bread on the side. Perfect light meal for a summer day!
My folks gave the kids money to buy ice cream cones on the drive home, so of course they asked to stop at Dairy Queen as we passed through Charlottesville. S'mores Blizzards, a Cookie Dough Blizzard, and a cone!
We made it back to the house shortly before supper, so I unloaded the car, threw in some laundry, and pulled together our meal. I made Gibbs's favorite Glazed Salmon (in the toaster oven instead of the regular oven so that I didn't heat up the kitchen),
which I served with ratatouille and pasta on the side. I normally bake the ratatouille, but I knew that I wouldn't have much time at the end of the day, so I left the veggies slowly cooking in the Crock Pot while I was gone. Worked perfectly on LOW for 6 hours.
Keith made it home from his trip in time for the Fourth of July on Thursday, but the holiday was definitely a bit quieter than usual. We're often at the Vineyard for the 4th, but this year's trip to the beach was obviously cancelled when Mom was in the hospital. No worries -- we were ready to party here at home, so we invited some friends over for a cookout on Thursday evening. Except, the plumbing work in our kitchen still wasn't finished by Thursday -- which meant that we had to cancel the cookout. Grrr...
Instead, Keith and Gibbs took his truck to a classic car show up in Culpeper for the morning, and then Spence, Casey and I drove up to join them for lunch at Chik-Fil-A since we couldn't get into our kitchen.
I think this was the first time I've tried the Spicy Southwest Salad, and I thought it was really good. Paired with a handful of waffle fries...perfection!
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the air conditioning -- playing numerous rounds of card games like Go Fish! and working on little art projects.
I bought this pack of Sculpey oven-bake clay for the boys, and of course...all that they wanted to make were army soldiers and weapons. Hah! So much for the animals, flowers and unicorns that I used to create as a child!
Since I had already purchased the food in anticipation of our cookout, we had a tasty All-American Fourth of July feast for just our immediate family. I prepped everything in advance in the morning (before the workers arrived), so that we only had to grill the meat later in the day.
On the side, we had a veggie tray and some chips, as well as a B.L.T. Pasta Salad.
For dessert, the kids picked out some red, white and blue sugar cookies at the Costco bakery, and I made my 5-Ingredient Ice Cream Sandwich Cake.
That ice cream cake is the dessert of the summer! It's totally customizable, so be sure to check out the comments from other readers who have loved it as well -- there are so many great topping ideas. I used these red, white and blue M&M's on our cake this time for a patriotic touch, but you can switch up the colors and use sprinkles for just about any holiday or special occasion.
We briefly considered going to meet some friends at the fireworks at Graves Mountain Lodge that night, but the thunderstorms that rolled through literally put a damper on those plans. Instead, we watched fireworks on TV and I finished another book!
I've recently enjoyed a memoir (Small Fry), historical fiction (Sarah’s Key) and a mystery (Death in Brittany), so I figured I'd switch it up again with Kate Andersen Brower's behind-the-scenes account of life at the White House.
The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House was fascinating! Here's a quick description, in case you're interested:
The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family.
These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love.
Combining incredible first-person anecdotes from extensive interviews with scores of White House staff members—many speaking for the first time—with archival research, Kate Andersen Brower tells their story. She reveals the intimacy between the First Family and the people who serve them, as well as tension that has shaken the staff over the decades. From the housekeeper and engineer who fell in love while serving President Reagan to Jackie Kennedy’s private moment of grief with a beloved staffer after her husband’s assassination to the tumultuous days surrounding President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle, The Residence is full of surprising and moving details that illuminate day-to-day life at the White House.
Friday started with a very foggy walk, and then we spent the rest of the morning getting some chores done inside and outside of the house.
An afternoon at the pool, followed by an easy dinner at home.
Our kitchen was finally finished, so I scrubbed it from top to bottom (SO MUCH DUST!), and then made a batch of my 20-Minute Garlic and Herb Tomato Sauce (using canned tomatoes as the base of the sauce, along with fresh herbs from the garden). I added about ¾ lb. of browned ground Italian sausage to the sauce at the end. We served the meat sauce over pasta, with sautéed zucchini and yellow squash on the side. Plus garlic breadsticks to fill up those hungry boys!
Yesterday morning started with another beautiful walk before the temps became unbearable.
Before lunch, we drove over to our friends' farm to pick blueberries!
They were traveling all week, but their berries were ripe -- so they encouraged us to grab buckets full to enjoy in the week ahead and to use for jam. I think the kids ate as many as they picked!
He also requested my Crock Pot Mac and Cheese (recipe coming to the blog soon), and a green salad on the side. If you need an easy baked mac and cheese, this recipe is a favorite as well.
And that's all I've got! I hope that you've found a few new dinner ideas to add to your menu in the week ahead. Thanks so much for stopping by!
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