Good morning, and happy Sunday! It’s been quite the whirlwind around here as we celebrated Christmas, visited family, and worked to keep three busy boys entertained on vacation. 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…
I met my friend for an early walk on Sunday morning — in spite of the 23 degree temperature! It was sunny, and it warmed up quickly, so it really wasn’t too bad (I just wore about 15 layers to be comfortable).☺️
I also made a stop at the grocery store to pick up the items that I needed for our Christmas meals, and look what I found! This Coffee Cake ice cream was basically made for me. Just listen to this description:
Cake Batter-flavored ice cream with cinnamon graham cracker swirl, Vanilla-flavored ice cream, and Cinnamon ice cream with cinnamon chips. Heck yeah!
We went for a hike as a family after lunch,
…and then came home to watch football and get dinner started. I thawed two of these 16-ounce packs of wild-caught sea scallops from ButcherBox, which Keith grilled outside.
In addition to the scallops, I prepared two boxes of Rice-a-Roni (a kid favorite) and sautéed spinach in a big skillet with butter, olive oil and garlic.
Everything on a plate! Four out of five of us loved the scallops (Spencer was a hard sell), everyone ate the rice, and Spencer said that the spinach will “make me barf.” So there you go — a typical mealtime at our house.????
Monday was our last day to “get stuff done” before our official holiday celebrations started, so it was largely spent running errands. I took the boys with me to meet a friend and her kids at the gym in Culpeper that morning, and then made a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts before returning to Madison. Spencer couldn’t wait to use the “credit card” that he received as a Christmas gift from his teacher!
Keith took the boys with him to run errands for the afternoon, while I got a hair cut and made a trip to Charlottesville to pick up my parents’ dog. We took care of Tiller while my folks were out of town for the holidays.
The older boys had basketball practice that evening, so we ate an early dinner before they hustled out the door. I served my 3-ingredient Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with a side of pasta and marinara sauce and steamed green beans. Keeping it simple when there were so many other things on the agenda!
Tuesday was Christmas Eve, so we took a mini road trip up to Northern Virginia to visit Keith’s family for the day.
Keith was very happy when we went for a walk and came across the UNC football team practicing on his old high school football field! The team was in town for the Military Bowl, so we had fun watching their drills for a little while.
Plus a slice of s’mores pie for dessert! Then we made the trip home to change the kids into their new Christmas pajamas, enjoy some Christmas cookies, and get ready for Santa…
Oh! I almost forgot — on the drive home, I finished another Louise Penny mystery. A Fatal Grace is the second in her Chief Inspector Gamache series, and I’m totally hooked! This was even better than her first (Still Life) — I highly recommend these well-written page-turners.
PS — Other Louise Penny super fans have advised me to read these in order, so if you’re just getting started with her books, definitely start at the beginning with Still Life. You’ll get to know the characters and their stories that way!
We were blessed with a very beautiful Christmas on Wednesday, which started bright and early at 6:00 a.m. (the earliest that the kids were allowed up).
In reality, Casey had been awake and reading since 4:30 a.m.!! To say they were excited would be an understatement.
After opening presents, I served a delicious and easy breakfast: country ham biscuits, Dump-and-Bake Hash Brown Casserole (prepped the night before), fruit salad (also prepped the night before), eggs, and the most decadent, warm cinnamon rolls from Yoder’s Country Market.
Other than a dog walk and some clean up around the house, we stayed close to home and had a quiet day. The kids played with their new toys, and Aunt Barbara and Uncle Gary came for a visit in the afternoon.
I set out some snacks to enjoy while they were here, since they weren’t planning to stay for dinner. We had my 3-ingredient Sausage Balls, a cheese board, Chex Mix from my neighbor, and some candied pecans.
It was just our family of 5 for dinner that night, but I still wanted the meal to feel special. Since we had already enjoyed our traditional Southern Bourbon-Glazed Beef Tenderloin at my parents’ house a few days earlier, we changed up our Christmas Day menu this year.
We had a 4-Ingredient Pork Loin Roast (which had marinated in the fridge for 2 days, so it was especially flavorful).
On the side, I prepared Jiffy Corn Casserole,
For dessert, I made a Southern Red Velvet Cake…BUT! I am not a baker, so I opted for a shortcut (as usual). Instead of making the cake from scratch, I used a box of Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix, and then frosted the cake with this homemade cream cheese frosting. It was perfect — and definitely my favorite food that I enjoyed all season!
Thursday morning I had to do one of the hardest things that any pet owner ever has to do: put a dog to sleep. My parents’ pup, Tiller, was an old man (13 years!) who had lived a very long, very good life. Unfortunately, a brain tumor finally got the best of him this week and it quickly became obvious that it was his time to go. The timing was unfortunate with my parents out of town, but (with my mom’s support from afar) I took him to our vet first thing on Thursday morning so that the sweet boy wouldn’t have to suffer any longer than necessary.❤️
After an emotionally exhausting few days, I was ready for some fresh air, sunshine and time with a friend. I met Mollie for a walk at her farm before lunch, where Teddy desperately tried to chase the geese on her pond. Hah — no chance!
The rest of the day included a grocery run and some post-Christmas cleanup. It’s always bitter sweet when the holiday is over, but it’s also nice to get my house back in order!
I made Frito Pie for dinner, which we enjoyed with a salad on the side. The kids loved scooping up the meat mixture with extra chips (of course)!
I spent Friday morning in the kitchen photographing a couple of recipes, while Keith took the boys to Charlottesville to use their Christmas gift cards at Target and to have lunch at Five Guys. They came back with a lot of loot — shopping with Dad is fun!
We enjoyed the sunshine that afternoon and took advantage of the 60+ degree weather with plenty of time outside (including a trip to the school playground).
Keith was at a hockey game for the night, so the boys and I had Chicken Tetrazzini for dinner with a side of broccoli and went to bed early. The holidays exhausted all of us!
I just can’t get over how perfect our weather was this week, and Saturday was no exception!
When it reached nearly 70 degrees that afternoon, Keith opened up the house and we pretended that it was spring…
The day was spent at home — playing in tree forts, walking the dog, washing large amounts of laundry, and cleaning out over-crowded bookshelves (among other things).
Spencer’s friend came over to play for the afternoon, so that entertained everyone until dinnertime, when I served Pasta Fagioli Soup, along with a salad and French bread on the side. YUM.
And that’s where I’ll leave it for now, friends! Thanks so much for stopping by during this busy time. I appreciate your love and support this year, and I’ll see you back here next weekend for a New Year’s recap!