Good morning, and happy Sunday! The countdown to the holidays is on, so we’ve spent the past few days finishing up school activities, wrapping and making gifts, and starting our Christmas celebrations. All of the highlights, along with our easy dinners, are included in today’s roundup of Our Week in Meals!
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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 finished up a fun visit with family in warm, sunny Florida and caught a plane back home to Virginia early on Sunday morning.
The travel was relatively uneventful (thank goodness!), so I even managed to finish my latest book: A Well Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler. My mother-in-law gave me this novel since she had really enjoyed it, and the story proved to be a fun, light read based on the Vanderbilt family. If you enjoy historical fiction, then you will love this one!
We made it back to Virginia shortly after lunch, and were fortunately greeted with some equally beautiful (albeit cooler-than-Florida) weather.
I made it out for a quick walk with the dog, picked up an online grocery order, unpacked our bags, and threw in a load of laundry — all before pulling together a quick dinner!
Since I knew that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to cook much for supper, I reheated some leftover Crock Pot Mexican Chicken that I had stashed in the freezer from a couple of weeks ago, and used the meat to make Chicken Quesadillas. I served the quesadillas with corn, chips, salsa, guacamole and salad.
The kids returned to school on Monday for their last week before the Christmas break, so I spent the morning working in the kitchen (testing new recipes, re-shooting an old recipe, etc.).
It was rainy and cold all day, but I did manage to sneak out for a long walk with Teddy after lunch (he was NOT a fan of the weather)…
We had dinner together as a family before Keith took the older boys to basketball practice that night. On the menu: an Italian Sausage Pasta Bake served with salad and garlic bread. I prepared the full recipe, but I split it between two 8-inch square baking dishes so that I could freeze one for a later meal. Always one of Keith’s favorite dinners!
Tuesday was another damp, chilly day, so I was happy to join my friend at the gym for our favorite early strength class. I then hustled back to Madison to meet another friend at the school so that we could package up Christmas cookies for all of the teachers on behalf of the PTO. ‘Tis the season!
After lunch, I ran a couple of errands near the house, including a stop at Yoder’s Country Market for baking supplies, bulk pecans, and local country ham for Christmas. The shop is full of delicious holiday treats right now!
As soon as the boys got off the bus, we jumped in the car and headed back to the school to watch Gibbs in a performance. Since I knew that I would be out of the house until dinnertime, I planned a meal that would be ready and waiting for us when we walked in the door hungry at the end of the day.
The sun returned on Wednesday, so I took advantage and met my friend at her farm for a walk before heading into town to deliver teacher gifts at the boys’ schools.
Back home, I spent much of the afternoon making many, many batches of Candied Pecans to share with friends. One of my favorite holiday traditions! These are so good on cheese boards, on salads, on oatmeal, or just by the handful for snacking…
Dinner that night was one of Casey’s favorites: Rosemary Chicken, which I served with rice and steamed broccoli. Keith was out for the night, so this was an easy meal for me to pull together for the kids without too much fuss. No basketball practices or other obligations that evening meant we were in our pajamas by 6:00 p.m.!
Keith and I took the dog for a frosty walk on Thursday morning, and then joined my parents at the high school for Spencer’s kindergarten Christmas performance.
The cutest little caroler in town…
Mom and Dad came over for lunch afterwards, so I served bowls of Vegetable Soup (recipe coming soon), along with chicken salad, rolls, cheese, crackers, and grapes. Followed by Christmas cookies for dessert!
I baked a batch of Keith’s favorite Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies that afternoon, and then stashed most of them in the freezer to enjoy next week.
Dinner that night was Turkey Meatloaf, along with mashed potatoes and side salads. Then we all hustled out the door to various activities — Spencer’s evening performance of the Christmas program, as well as basketball practice for the older boys.
The kids just had half a day of school on Friday, so I took advantage of my last kid-free morning and headed up to Culpeper to run errands. I dropped Teddy at the groomer, made a quick stop at the gym, and grabbed some last-minute Christmas goodies at Target. Plus, my last Peppermint Mocha of the season!
I also needed to re-stock our bagels in the freezer, so I went through the Panera drive-thru before returning to Madison at noon. Treated myself to carryout, as well: a tuna salad sandwich and a Caesar salad. That tuna salad was on focaccia bread (I think)…and it was really good!
Keith and a couple of his friends took Gibbs and a few other kiddos to see the new Star Wars movie that afternoon (my younger two boys weren’t interested in sitting still in the theater for that long). Instead, Spencer requested a fresh, warm cinnamon sugar donut from the donut truck that parks at Yoder’s every Friday. The perfect way to kick off Christmas break, in my opinion! Donuts > movies every time.☺️
While at Yoder’s, Spencer fed the chickens…
and the goats desperately tried to snag a few of Casey’s gum drops (they didn’t get any)!
Speaking of donuts, isn’t this the CUTEST gift that Spencer received from his kindergarten teacher? Each child got a book (If You Give a Dog a Donut) and a gift card to Dunkin Donuts! So thoughtful.❤️ It would also be a great gift for a child’s birthday party, etc.
Keith and Gibbs went out to dinner with their friends after the movie, so I didn’t do much cooking that evening. Instead, I thawed some leftover Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup from the freezer for myself, which I enjoyed with the leftover baguette from Panera and a Honeycrisp apple. Casey and Spencer just wanted a box of mac and cheese, so that’s what they got!
Yesterday got off to a slower start, since the kids slept in a little bit (7:00 a.m.!). We worked on cleaning out bookshelves and toy baskets to make room for new gifts, as well as emptying the pantry of any expired canned goods, etc. Feels so good to get things organized before the chaos of Christmas begins!
After lunch, we piled in the car and made our way down to my parents’ house in Nelson County to celebrate Christmas with them before they leave town for Florida (to see my brother’s family). The boys were so excited to start the holiday a few days early!
Can you find Teddy?!????
Mom served the traditional Christmas dinner that we enjoy every year — Southern Bourbon-Glazed Beef Tenderloin, along with Aunt Bee’s 3-Ingredient Cheesy Potato Casserole, Caesar salad and a French baguette.
Followed by a tray of Christmas cookies (including my Grandmother’s Bourbon Balls) and peppermint stick ice cream!
And that’s where I’ll leave it for today! I hope that you’ve found a few new easy meal ideas to add to your own family’s menu in the week ahead. Have a great holiday!