Good morning, and happy Sunday! It's been a week of rain, reading, and fall fun around here -- along with the usual responsibilities of school and work. 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…
There was rain in the forecast for all of Sunday, so I was grateful that I could at least sneak out for a dry morning walk before it started.
Other than a quick trip to pick up a grocery order after lunch, we stayed tucked inside all afternoon. I spent some time in the kitchen prepping a pot of chili for later in the week, while Keith and the boys watched football.
A Dutch Oven Roasted Chicken seemed like the perfect cozy Sunday supper for a cool, gray day.
I also made Buttermilk Biscuits,
Creamed Spinach, and rice on the side.
We had more non-stop rain on Monday, so when the older boys and I were done with their school work and getting stir-crazy mid-day, we made our way up to Culpeper.
We grabbed a drive-thru lunch at Chik-Fil-A, drive-thru bagels at Panera, and plenty of Halloween candy at Target. Did we forget any favorites?! I was voting for 100 Grand bars, but the boys didn't agree...
For dinner that night, I made one of Gibbs' favorite meals: Parmesan Herb Baked Salmon...
which I paired with a side of pasta and marinara, garlic bread...
...and Sauteed Kale with Bacon. The kale isn't the boys' favorite, but that's okay -- sometimes I get to make veggies that I like, regardless of what the rest of the family wants!
Time for my latest book update! My mom's book club really enjoyed The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, so she kindly passed it on to me.
Set in modern times, this powerful story offers a look at a little known region in China, which had been cut off from the rest of Chinese culture and the globalized world until the late 1990's, when their special Pu'er tea was suddenly discovered internationally. It's the tale of Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, who rejects the customs that shaped her early life. When she has a baby out of wedlock—conceived with a man her parents consider a poor choice—she refuses to kill the child, and instead leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near an orphanage in a nearby city.
As Li-yan comes into herself, leaving her insular village for an education, a business, and city life, her daughter, Haley, is raised in California by loving adoptive parents. Despite her privileged childhood, Haley wonders about her origins. Across the ocean, Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. Over the course of years, each searches for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries.
The sun returned on Tuesday!
Spence went to school, while the older boys and I stayed home to work on their distance-learning assignments. We also took a break mid-afternoon for soccer practice, which has been such a blessing this fall (even if they don't actually get to play games).
Keith suggested White Chicken Chili for dinner...
...which I served with salad and cornbread.
Since I have all 3 kids at home on Wednesdays, we took advantage of a beautiful afternoon and went to the largest corn maze east of the Mississippi!
Liberty Mills Farm is just a few miles down the road from us, so this was an easy outing -- and the maze was deserted in the middle of the week.
We had a great fall meal on the menu that night for dinner: Pork Chops with Apple Cider Gravy...
...as well as Skin-On Mashed Red Potatoes and steamed broccoli.
Thursday was my day to focus on work while the kids were all at school.
After a quick walk with the dog in the morning, I devoted my attention to writing, recipe testing, and photographing food. My kitchen was a disaster by that afternoon, but at least it felt productive!
Keith took the boys to football practice that evening, while I stayed home to get dinner organized. I made a quick pot of Easy Chicken Noodle Soup,
which I served with a salad and a loaf of No-Knead Bread that I had baked earlier in the day.
The rain held off on Friday morning, so I was able to meet two of my friends for a walk once the boys left for school.
I also had fun picking out more pumpkins and mums for our front porch at Madison Gardens.
And dinner that night was Mexican-inspired: a Taco Crescent Ring...
plus tortilla chips, salsa, homemade guacamole and a salad. Delish!
Saturday morning was off to an early start with Dad's sunrise football drills...
I walked the dog, continued testing a dinner roll recipe, and spent time in the kitchen whipping up a dessert with Gibbs!
He recently finished reading the Harry Potter series (and is totally obsessed), so when he asked for this Harry Potter cookbook and folded down the page for "Honeydukes Chocolate Truffles," I was happy to indulge his sweet tooth.
We got ourselves organized for a family photo that afternoon, and then I made crispy fried shrimp for dinner (kids' request)!
We paired the shrimp with hoe cakes (that I had stashed in the freezer), dinner rolls that I was testing earlier in the day, and steamed green beans.
And there you have it -- another week full of tasty meals and fall fun! I hope that you've found some new inspiration for your own family's table in the days ahead. Thank you for joining me here!