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Good morning, and happy Sunday! This week we celebrated the 4th of July, had a very unwelcome surprise, and otherwise stayed close to home after a couple of weeks of travel. All of the highlights, along with each of our 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…

After almost two weeks of back-to-back vacations, Sunday was devoted to getting the house back in order: cleaning, laundry, yard work, and restocking the kitchen with groceries.

A Greek-inspired dinner sounded good that night, so we grilled chicken souvlaki, and paired it with pita bread, rice, tzatziki sauce, and a Greek salad. Fresh, healthy, and flavorful!

Chicken souvlaki served in a bowl with rice and tzatziki sauce

Since I totally forgot to share my recent reads in last week’s post, I owe you a handful of new book suggestions this week! Thanks to those of you who kindly reminded me about the oversight last week — I think my brain was in vacation mode. Anyway, let’s start with a Colleen Hoover novel, It Ends with Us. This was an entertaining, quick read, but not as much of a shocking page-turner as Hoover’s more recent Verity. The ending was good, though, and I will definitely look out for more of her books in the future. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. And when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life seems too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

I also read L.A. Weather by Maria Amparo Escandon, which was a recommendation from Reese’s Book Club. It was good, and I enjoyed the interesting look at Mexican-American culture, but it wasn’t my favorite.

If you need a good beach read, I loved Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis. This romantic, heartwarming novel keeps you breezing through the pages as you try to find the connection and discover how the story will end. I can see this one becoming a movie, as it reminded me of Notting Hill. Here’s the summary:

On a snowy evening in March, thirty-something Noelle Butterby is on her way back from an event at her old college when disaster strikes. With a blizzard closing off roads, she finds herself stranded, alone in her car, without food, drink, or a working charger for her phone.

All seems lost until Sam Attwood, a handsome American stranger also trapped in a nearby car, knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours together, until morning arrives and the roads finally clear. The two strangers part, positive they’ll never see each other again but fate, it seems, has a different plan. As the two keep serendipitously bumping into one another, they begin to realize that perhaps there truly is no such thing as coincidence.

With plenty of charming twists and turns and Lia Louis’s “bold, standout voice”, Eight Perfect Hours is a gorgeously crafted novel that will make you believe in the power of fate.

And finally, One, Two, Three by Laurie Frankel is a poignant story, with a bit of a mystery to solve. I found it a little bit slow at the start, but the character development was wonderful and I was hooked by the end! Here’s the summary:

In a town where nothing ever changes, suddenly everything does…

Everyone knows everyone in the tiny town of Bourne, but the Mitchell triplets are especially beloved. Mirabel is the smartest person anyone knows, and no one doubts it just because she can’t speak. Monday is the town’s purveyor of books now that the library’s closed―tell her the book you think you want, and she’ll pull the one you actually do from the microwave or her sock drawer. Mab’s job is hardest of all: get good grades, get into college, get out of Bourne.

For a few weeks seventeen years ago, Bourne was national news when its water turned green. The girls have come of age watching their mother’s endless fight for justice. But just when it seems life might go on the same forever, the first moving truck anyone’s seen in years pulls up and unloads new residents and old secrets. Soon, the Mitchell sisters are taking on a system stacked against them and uncovering mysteries buried longer than they’ve been alive. Because it’s hard to let go of the past when the past won’t let go of you.

Three unforgettable narrators join together here to tell a spellbinding story with wit, wonder, and deep affection. As she did in 
This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel has written a laugh-out-loud-on-one-page-grab-a-tissue-the-next novel, as only she can, about how expanding our notions of normal makes the world a better place for everyone and how when days are darkest, it’s our daughters who will save us all.

A beautiful 4th of July on Monday!

Instead of going to a parade, bbq, or fireworks show, we stayed close to home that day (and for the entire week), because it seems as though I brought COVID home from our trip to Florida! I developed cold symptoms on Saturday afternoon, and had a positive test on Monday morning.

The kids rode their bikes, I got work done, and I fortunately felt well enough to make supper. We had our own little cookout with Keith’s smoked baby back ribs (here’s the recipe for my oven-baked version)…

Close up shot of oven baked baby back ribs on a cutting board with a side of sauce

pasta salad,

Overhead image of two bowls of easy pasta salad with mayo on a picnic table

baked beans,

Close up shot of a ladle of homemade baked beans with bacon and molasses

and a pitcher of freshly-squeezed homemade lemonade.

Two glasses of homemade lemonade with pink and white striped straws in each glass

I baked apple turnovers for dessert (recipe coming to the blog soon), and then Keith gave us our very own fireworks show on our property! Of course, the kids were really into that…

Not much to report from Tuesday, as it was another quiet day at home. I rested, watched the kids play hide-and-seek (among other games) in the yard, and took care of the bare minimum around the house.

I had some leftover pork tenderloin from a previous recipe that I was testing, so I made Cuban sandwiches in my panini press for supper: sliced pork tenderloin, along with sliced deli ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard. The boys just had regular ham and cheese sandwiches since they’re not into the mustard and pickles. Plus a side of potato chips for crunch!

A few of the ways that we stayed busy on Wednesday without leaving the house: baked a batch of one-bowl zucchini muffins,

Close up shot of a stack of homemade easy zucchini muffins.

took the dog for a short walk up the street,

made the kids’ favorite “puppy chow” for snack, which they’ve been requesting for weeks…

…and spent some time coloring! We’ve all been enjoying adult coloring books recently, which are a great mindless, relaxing activity. Gibbs first picked them up before one of our trips earlier this summer, and the rest of us jumped on the bandwagon. We have books in various themes, from country gardens to Pokemon, sports cars to National Parks, and even a collection of scary monsters. We’ve tried a few different brands, but these are our favorite markers (and they’re relatively affordable)!

I made a Sheet Pan Low-Country Boil for supper that night,

Shrimp and kielbasa from low country boil on a spatula

along with cornbread and (store-bought) coleslaw.

Close up side shot of Jiffy cornbread with creamed corn and sour cream on a plate with honey and butter on top.

I snapped these pictures of our apples trees loaded with baby apples on Thursday morning. It might be 95°F outside, but apple season is coming to Virginia…soon. It’s always my favorite time of year!

Biking for the boys when they were getting very stir-crazy (while I sat in the shade of a tree!)…

I kept it simple with grilled cheese sandwiches and 30-minute tomato basil soup for dinner. You can never go wrong with the classic combination!

Close overhead shot of a spoon in a bowl of tomato soup with parmesan cheese and fresh basil on top.

By the way, this is what happens when Spencer “helps me” make dinner: he asked me to take his picture with the cheese stuck to his face. Needless to say, we lost more than one slice to the floor, which obviously didn’t make it onto our sandwiches…

Last note from Thursday! I received the seasonal Special Delivery Box from my friends at Taste of Home magazine, which never disappoints. This year’s summer edition includes a new cookbook, Blue Ribbon Winners, featuring state fair foods and prizewinning recipes, as well as kitchen gadgets like a mini donut pan, a pie server, corn-on-the-cob holders, and more. These boxes would make a great gift for yourself, or for your favorite home cook!

My quarantine was officially over by Friday, and I was feeling well enough to leave the house for minimal activity, so I took the boys to the pool for a swim after lunch.

It was cloudy, but so hot and thick with humidity. I think the local weatherman described it as “weather that you can wear.” Hah!

We made bbq chicken flatbread pizzas for supper, which I paired with a simple green salad. My motivation to cook was pretty low this week, so soup, sandwiches, and other 20-minute meals fit the bill!

Close up image of the best bbq chicken pizza recipe on a cutting board

Saturday was rainy and gray, but that didn’t stop me from making a stop at a local farm stand for a haul of fresh peaches, blueberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, corn, and more. I’ve got big plans for blueberry buckle and blackberry muffins in my near future!

The boys had haircuts, and Keith grilled chicken for dinner. We paired the chicken with corn on the cob, sauteed zucchini, and couscous.

Marinated grilled chicken on a plate with lemon and herbs

And that’s where I’ll leave it for this week! I know it wasn’t a very exciting one, but I’m grateful that I’m continuing to recover (going to bed every night at 8:00 p.m.!) and looking forward to a more fun week ahead. Stay healthy, friends, and thanks for joining me here again this Sunday!


Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

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  1. So glad you are feeling better and thank you for the weekly e-mails, I so look foreward to a cup of coffee and a good read before everyone wakes up.

  2. Happy that you are on the mend, Blair! One thing about being sick is that it makes us appreciate good health and being able to do our normal routine once recovered! Take care!

  3. Glad your illness wasn’t too severe! I’ll make good use of the zucchini recipes. Thanks as always for the beautiful pictures, too. Tell Spencer his picture was really cheesy. 🙂

  4. Blair: Thank you for the zucchini recipes all in one handy place. Just last week I made two batches of your Morning Glory zucchini bread and your zucchini pie, as well as your tomato pie. These are all favorites in our house, not just when produce is plentiful but all year long. Take care of yourself as you recuperate!

    1. Oh, that’s so good to hear, Stephanie! I’m glad that you’ve found a handful of favorites on the blog. Have a great week!

  5. Hi Blair, I look forward to receiving your Sunday morning e-mail filled mouth watering recipes. The photos and stories are great. I really appreciate all the hard work that this encompasses. Keep them coming and God bless.

  6. Glad you are feeling better! My granddaughter recently gifted us all with Covid as well! I felt like it was a typical cold but it has definitely lasted a little longer than usual. Take care and enjoy the summer with your family!

    1. Thanks, Tylene! Yes, it’s going around again! My case was definitely worse than a cold (fever and temporary loss of taste and smell), but I’m recovering now and feeling much better again. It’s hard for mom’s to take a day off!

      1. Weird coincidence, but we were in Orlando in May at the Sapphire Falls Resort and all came home with COVID as well! It was an awful end to our trip!
        I enjoy your recipes and especially your book suggestions—I have devoured the Linda Castillo Amish murder mysteries since you reviewed them.
        Thanks again and stay healthy!

        1. Oh, wow! That is definitely a weird coincidence! Don’t you just love the Linda Castillo books?! I’m reading another one right now. 🙂

  7. Blair, I feel for you being under the weather with three active boys to manage during the summer. Hopefully, the worst is over. I always look forward to your Sunday morning blog. Thanks for all that you do to publish an inspiring summary of your week.

    1. Thank you, Doroth! Yes, it was rough, since the kids were all healthy and ready to go and do things (thank goodness!). They were definitely bored by the end of the week, but I’m on the mend now and looking forward to a more “normal” week ahead. Thank you for reading along with us each Sunday!

  8. Blair, I’m so sorry you got sick but thankfully, a fairly mild dose which is receding. 8 and 9 are normal bedtimes for me although I usually don’t go to sleep right away. The thing is besides being older, I often sleep lightly and wake up frequently so I figure that by the time I have to get up I will have slept a fair amount of time. Besides, in the summertime, I am ready to call it quits for the day anyway.
    I have asked before if the boys like to cook. Now I know! Your Spencer! More charm was never contained in one small boy! That sparkle in his eyes!
    I am thinking about trying some of your freezer meals. The freezer meal idea is completely new to me. Are those blogs of yours up to date? Could you do another round up of recipes you recommend as freezer meals, please. I need as much information as possible. In additional to your great advice, do you know of any additional blogs I might look at?
    I hope you continue to feel much better! Don’t overdo it! Love and stuff! Talk to you again soon!

    1. Thanks, Marion! Those old freezer meals posts are not really up to date. I’ll have to add that suggestion to my list…I’m definitely due for another roundup of freezer ideas. In the meantime, you might like this website, which is entirely devoted to freezer meals: https://thefamilyfreezer.com/ She’s been publishing recipes for years, so I’m sure you’ll find many great ideas and tips.

      Thanks for your note, and have a great week!

  9. So sorry to hear you caught COVID, but glad you’re doing better! I discovered the Taste of Home gift box from your weekly emails-ordered it for one of my SIL’s who has really been enjoying it!

    1. That’s great to hear, Renee! It’s really such a great gift idea for folks who enjoy cooking. 🙂

  10. Blair, so happy you are back to normal by now or ALMOST there ! Sorry to hear you were under the weather. i’d LOVE to have that apple turnover recipe when you are ready to share ! Pepperidge Farm (Weis Market and Shop Rite) both want $5.25 a box now ! No way ! Have to learn to make our own ! thank you! Love your scenic pics too …. our hostas up North are just starting to grow stems so they can bloom those lavendar flowers ! You are ahead of us!

    1. Thanks, Anita! Yes, I’m feeling back to normal, thank goodness. I’ll be sharing the apple turnovers soon, so stay tuned for those in the coming weeks. Hope you enjoy the flowers as they continue to bloom!