Good morning and happy Sunday! Thanks for joining me here for another catch-up on all that we've been up to during this period of quarantine. It makes me so happy to hear from many of you each week, too -- sharing your own struggles, checking in for a little dose of normalcy, or just looking for a new recipe or two to make while you're hunkered down at home. It's been an odd, scary and stressful time, but my goal is to keep life at home as routine and positive for the kids as possible. With that, 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!
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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…
Sunday morning started with my favorite breakfast of the week (which I ate on repeat for many days in a row): a couple of slices of toasted English Muffin Bread from my neighbor topped with raspberry jam and a fried egg, plus strawberries on the side. Such a great combo of sweet and savory!
We went up to Culpeper before lunch so that we could grab some bagels from the Panera drive-thru and pick up an order that Keith had placed at Lowe's. Running errands while social distancing looks like a lot of sitting in the car! On the way home, we stopped at the Cedar Run Mountain Civil War battlefield for a walk and some fresh air.
The weather was misty and cool that morning, and there wasn't another soul in sight.
We were so glad to see the sun come out and the temp go up that afternoon!
Perfect football and grilling weather...
...while I sat on the front porch!
We had one of my very favorite beef recipes for dinner that night: my Mom's Easy Marinated Flank Steak. I purchased the flank steak through my farmer's market order the day before, which worked out well because there's not much meat at the grocery store these days...
I paired the grilled steak with broccoli, garlic bread, and this Baby Shells Bechamel recipe from The Kitchen. Spencer was watching The Cooking Channel with me that afternoon, and when he saw Jeff Mauro make it on TV, he decided that we needed the pasta for dinner. Fortunately, it's a really simple recipe and we already had almost all of the ingredients in the pantry/fridge. I swapped out the baby shells and just used elbow macaroni, though.
I also finished another book that evening! I read JoJo Moyes's Me Before You years ago and really enjoyed it, so when my mother-in-law recommended The Giver of Stars, I immediately scooped it up. The novel is set in Depression-era America, and tells the story of five women and their journey through the mountains of Kentucky as they work together to deliver books for Eleanor Roosevelt's traveling library. Part love story, part adventure, and part historical fiction, this is a quick read that I could not put down! Love, love, love.
We were treated to another beautiful spring day on Monday, so we took full advantage and spent a good portion of the day outdoors. As soon as "home school" was done (which is minimal review work for the time being), we headed out for a walk.
He's 10 going on 15!
We ran on hay bales,
splashed in the pond,
and ate quesadillas for lunch at the picnic table! Notice that Casey doesn't even sit down long enough to eat...🙄
I entertained the boys with an "art" lesson that afternoon: Aquabeads! The older boys had a lot of fun with this, and could largely do it independently while I chatted on FaceTime with my parents. Spencer, on the other hand, got really frustrated after the first few minutes and kicked the board (sending the beads flying). So maybe not the best choice for a short-tempered 6-year-old?! 😬
Dinner that night was Gibbs's request: Chicken and Stuffing Casserole! Classic comfort food that always hits the spot. I served the casserole with cranberry sauce (from a can) and a salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.
Tuesday was cloudy and gray, so we picked up our eggs from our neighbor's farm and then spent some time outside that morning before the rain arrived in the afternoon.
I think they're getting tired of posing for photos...
I fed everyone Sloppy Joe sandwiches for lunch (no wonder I feel like a cafeteria lunch lady these days)! I know that other moms can relate right now. In fact, Keith and the boys have been singing me this "Lunch Lady Land" song.🙄 Nothing fancy -- just some ground round and a can of Manwich!
After Zoom calls with their teachers and friends that afternoon, the boys had a "geography" lesson: i.e., I gave them this floor puzzle to put together. Teddy chewed on Florida and we never could find North Carolina, but otherwise it was a great success!
I picked up a pork loin roast from the Farmer's Market over the weekend, so Keith grilled the Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin while I prepared the sides.
We had the pork with a Chinese Salad with Cashews (I omitted the chicken and used the pork instead), couscous, and a loaf of 3-Ingredient Beer Bread. You don't need any yeast for this bread, so I know a lot of you have been making it in recent weeks when yeast has been hard to come by at the grocery store.
Not much to report from Wednesday! It was another day of staying at home, plugging away at a little bit of school work, cleaning and taking care of house chores, and taking a lot of breaks for walks and outdoor play.
Our dinner that night was inspired by a recipe that I recently received in my Taste of Home Special Delivery subscription box. It's called Sunday Chicken Supper, and was originally intended for the slow cooker. I used the recipe and ingredients as a general guide, but instead I roasted the chicken parts in the oven because we like when the chicken gets crispy and golden brown (something that's hard to achieve in the Crock Pot).
I lined a large baking sheet with foil and arranged the carrots, celery and onion on the pan. I drizzled the veggies with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and gave them a good toss. I then rubbed the chicken skin with olive oil and seasoned it really well with salt and pepper, too. Next, I placed the chicken parts on top of the carrots, celery and onion and roasted the chicken in a 425 degree F oven for about 45 minutes.
Since the potatoes and the green beans didn't need a full 45 minutes in the oven, I tossed them with olive oil, seasoned them with salt, pepper, thyme and basil, and then spread them out on a separate baking sheet. I added the potatoes and green beans to the oven for the final 25-30 minutes -- just enough time for them to become tender, crispy and golden brown.
This meal was a huge hit with my family, and the chicken turned out so crispy that Keith said it tasted like it was fried. Let me know if you give this one a try -- either in the slow cooker (as originally written) or in the oven (my version). You can find the full recipe here.
I braved the grocery store on Thursday morning for my weekly re-stock. It's just crazy how busy the store gets and how bare the shelves are!
Since we're under stay-at-home orders (just like most of the rest of the country), our only other "outing" that day was a hike with the boys after lunch. Feeling grateful every day for the nature around us!
It's interesting how I go back and forth between craving familiar comfort foods one day, and then a fresh, bright, grilled seasonal recipe the next! That particular night was another cozy classic that totally hit the spot: Meatloaf with Party Potatoes (just half of the recipe baked in an 8-inch square dish is enough for our family) and Creamed Peas.
The light on Friday morning was unreal. Everything just looked so bright, vibrant and spring-green!
I joined my friend for a "virtual" walk since we're missing our regular in-person dates. Instead, we scheduled a time to walk near our own houses while we chatted on the phone. It's not quite as great as the real thing, but it's a pretty close second...and we both appreciated the opportunity for uninterrupted conversation (which is practically impossible with the kids at home all day).
This fort-building kit was great afternoon entertainment for the boys.
They worked together to construct the frame, and then draped a sheet over the top to create the roof and walls.
Baked cookies for snack!
I had kielbasa in the freezer and found plenty of frozen shrimp at the grocery store, so a Sheet Pan Low Country Boil was on the dinner menu!
I served green beans and Cheddar Bay Biscuits on the side.
Saturday was another quiet one at home, complete with dog walks, house chores, laundry and an order pick-up from the farmer's market.
I made a Quiche Lorraine for lunch, which is my absolute favorite quiche recipe. Fortunately, it came together with basic ingredients that I already had on hand. The bacon and chopped onion were in my freezer and eggs were in the fridge, so I just needed the frozen pie crust and cheese from the store. Swiss was sold out, so I just grated Monterey Jack cheese instead. Worked fine!
I finished up another quick read by the end of the week, too. The Blue Bistro isn't one of Elin Hilderbrand's newer books, but a friend had recommended it and I appreciated the light, quick read. Books are a great escape! Here's a short summary:
Adrienne Dealey has spent the past six years working for hotels in exotic resort towns. This summer she has decided to make Nantucket home. Left flat broke by her ex-boyfriend, she is desperate to earn some fast money. When the desirable Thatcher Smith, owner of Nantucket's hottest restaurant, is the only one to offer her a job, she wonders if she can get by with no restaurant experience. Thatcher gives Adrienne a crash course in the business...and they share an instant attraction. But there is a mystery about their situation: what is it about Fiona, the Blue Bistro's chef, that captures Thatcher's attention again and again? And why does such a successful restaurant seem to be in its final season before closing its doors for good? Despite her uncertainty, Adrienne must decide whether to open her heart for the first time, or move on, as she always does.
And for dinner we had Grilled Chicken, which I served with salad, skillet cornbread and succotash (I'll share my succotash and cornbread recipes soon). This meal totally felt like summer -- even though most of the veggies were frozen!
Finally, I'm excited to announce that my Southern Pineapple Casserole recipe is included in RecipeLion's 2020 Easter Hop Along event! You can find my recipe here, along with links to other delicious Easter recipes from RecipeLion's blogger community.
Thank you for stopping by and for joining me here each Sunday -- even during challenging times. I hope that my recipes and weekly updates offer a little bit of light while we all stay home, stay safe, and work to keep our loved ones healthy.❤️