Hey, friends! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is on the horizon?! Hooray for a short week and a holiday with family in just days…
But before we skip ahead to the festivities, let’s backtrack a bit for a look at Our Week in Meals. For those of you who are new around here, this is where I share a little bit about what we’ve been up to over the past week — as it relates to our meals each night. I hope that 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.
Last Sunday started with an early morning pumpkin spice cappuccino (the best way to start any day)! I pulled out my milk frother again a few weeks ago after storing it for the summer. On cool mornings, it’s so nice to have a cappuccino at home with no effort (similar version HERE). I love getting up a little bit before the kids so that I can sit and enjoy the caffeine before the chaos starts. Simple pleasures!
I also spent about 30 minutes packing up the kids’ school lunches for the week ahead, which has been a total lifesaver this year. Due to popular demand, I’ll be sharing a post with all of the specific details for batch prepping school lunches very soon. If you’re a busy mamma, stay tuned!
While Keith stayed home with the older two boys, I took Spence to his friend’s birthday party at a farm.
It was a beautiful day,
and he loved playing in the hay loft,
driving trucks on the sand piles,
and just getting dirty outside (of course).
While we were there, Spencer picked out some cookies from the farm stand to bring home for dessert that evening. We were celebrating his third birthday as a family, so we wanted a special treat.
Served on our favorite birthday plate (courtesy of Aunt Barbara)!
Since I was gone most of the day, it was nice to leave Keith in charge of dinner. He smoked a large turkey breast on the grill, which I served with a couscous salad, broccoli, and homemade cornbread with butter and honey (and cookies for dessert, of course)!
The whole wheat cornbread was my favorite recipe that I always use (from this cookbook), and for the couscous I just cooked this box according to package instructions (it only takes 5 minutes!) and added some diced cucumber, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and green onions. I drizzled the veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper before combining with the cooked couscous.
One of his favorite birthday presents from the evening: a new scooter like his brothers’!
On Monday morning we had to miss Spencer’s normal tumbling class so that we could take Gibbs to the doctor’s office instead. Since we had a few minutes before the appointment, we made a quick stop for a Birthday Week Donut. There’s nothing this child loves more!
After Gibbs’s throat culture, both boys were treated to popsicles (and the strep test was positive, which explains the 4-day illness)!
Since I knew that I couldn’t drag a sick child and an impatient 3-year-old through the grocery store, I ordered our groceries online and picked them up at Harris Teeter on the way home. I need to take advantage of this affordable service more often when I know I’ll be in Charlottesville!
Since it was a cool and rainy day, we had one of our favorite comfort food dinners that evening: Aunt Barbara’s Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole.
The sides that night were super-easy: Italian bread and French Herb Green Beans!
Wednesday was Spencer’s actual birthday, and while he wasn’t excited to go to school for the morning, he was at least happy to wear the new sweatshirt that my brother sent him.
His grandmothers came for a visit, so while they took Spencer out for a birthday lunch (he requested Subway!), I met Casey at his school for the kindergarteners’ Thanksgiving feast.
Classic school cafeteria Thanksgiving lunch: turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans and a roll…my 5-year-old company was great!?
Before heading over to the school, I prepped dinner for later. I made my Mom’s Crab Cakes (a Spencer favorite), which I later pan fried.
I also blended together a coleslaw sauce so that I could just toss it with a bag of shredded cabbage right before serving. We had french fries on the side as well (another Spencer favorite)!
The highlight of Spencer’s day was receiving his new tractor with a front loader. He has been eyeing this model for months, so his grandparents + Aunt Barbara all chipped in to make it happen! Lucky boy!
I sent a batch of mini cupcakes to the preschool in the morning, and the entire tray went flying off the seat of the car on the drive there. The cupcakes toppled upside down and ended up a giant mess. Fortunately Spencer didn’t care about his ugly cupcakes, and I had saved plenty of extras at home for dessert after dinner!
We were at home on Wednesday morning with a sick Gibbs still on the couch (he was finally better about mid-day and started eating again for the first time all week!). I took advantage of being house-bound and did about 5 loads of laundry so that I could sanitize all of the kids’ sheets, mattress pads, pillows, comforters, etc. I also prepared dinner in advance, which turned out to be a good idea…because at about 1:30 I got a call from the school nurse to let me know that Casey wasn’t feeling well!
I dragged all 3 of the boys to Charlottesville for another trip to the pediatrician, and fortunately Casey’s strep test came back negative.
We returned home shortly before dinner, so I baked the dish that I had prepared in the morning — Aunt Bee’s Famous Tuna Noodle Casserole — and served it with steamed broccoli and toasted leftover Italian bread from Monday’s meal.
On Thursday I arrived at Spencer’s preschool a little bit early so that I could read to the class. I walked in while they were in the middle of singing and dancing. I swear…there’s nothing cuter than a group of 2, 3, and 4-year-olds dancing!
Spencer picked this book for me to read to his class, which has been a favorite with all of my boys for years. Fun fact: I taught school for a couple of years (6th grade) before going to law school. I still love to get back in the classroom (for short doses!) when I can!
While I was in Orange, I picked up lunch at Real Food because Aunt Barbara was passing through town and came for a mid-day visit. Such a treat!
I had the Winter Greens Soup and the Kale Salad with dried fruit, walnuts, greens, and poppyseed vinaigrette,
and a little bit later when I got hungry again I had the other half of Aunt Barbara’s sandwich that she left for me. This was chicken, fresh mozzarella, herb pesto, and tomato mayo on a baguette.
Dinner that night was shredded Cuban-Style Mojo Pork in the slow cooker. Remember last week when I froze the pork in the marinade so that I could just dump it in my Crock Pot on another day? Well that day was Thursday! I had the pork bowl-style over leftover coleslaw with avocado, salsa, black beans, and cheese. So good! Keith and the boys ate their pork taco-style in tortillas with guacamole, salsa, cheese and corn. Recipe is from Julie Bauer’s cookbook.
My dessert: these Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Heaven!
Spence and I made an early morning Target run on Friday after dropping the older two boys off at school. We grabbed birthday supplies for Gibbs, Thanksgiving stuff, and even a few Christmas decorations!
When we arrived home, Spence was ready for some fresh air. While he played outside my kitchen window in his “happy place,” (AKA the sandbox with all.of.the.tractors.),
I baked another loaf of my Mom’s Cranberry Bread. This is the 3rd loaf that I’ve made in the last week or two. The bread freezes well, so I was prepping ahead so that I can bring this to my parents’ house when we visit on Thanksgiving. I will share this recipe soon!
As the bread baked, I also prepared a big pot of Pumpkin Soup. It sounded like an appropriate lunch or dinner to have on hand for the coming week! I used my Easy Pumpkin Soup recipe as a base, but I tweaked it a bit. Here’s my updated version (recipe below), using a can of coconut milk to add some richness and staying power. It was delicious!
Friday’s lunch: soup + leftover Cuban pork, black beans, and coleslaw from the night before. Random mix, but tasty!
Pumpkin Coconut Soup
- ½ Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced (I used 1 cup of frozen diced onion)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 24 ounces frozen cauliflower florets (I didn't bother to thaw them)
- 32 ounces vegetable broth (I used organic chicken stock)
- 1 (15 ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
- 1 tsp. salt, to taste
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent (about 5-10 minutes). Add garlic and cook for about 1 more minute, stirring.
- Add cauliflower, broth, and pumpkin. Bring to a boil; cover, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
- Stir in Parmesan and coconut; give the soup a taste to check for seasoning. Add salt or pepper, if desired.
- Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, just transfer the soup to a large blender and puree until smooth. Be careful with the hot soup!
We skipped our usual Friday night pizza, and instead enjoyed this Dump-and-Bake Honey Mustard Chicken. I had mine with another bowl of soup on the side, while Keith and the boys ate their chicken on sandwiches with chips and fruit. An easy meal for the end of the week (and I’ll share the recipe on here soon, of course)!
Saturday was pretty low key. It was the first weekend in awhile that we didn’t have too many plans on the calendar, so Keith (and the boys) did a lot of work in the yard while I got some projects done inside. It turned into a work day for me, since I have deadlines coming up and I know that I’ll be busy with the holiday in the coming week.
Casey came with me to Culpeper in the afternoon because I was on the hunt for some recipe ingredients for an upcoming post. He has been nagging me to take him shopping for art supplies, so that’s exactly what we did.
Casey loves to play sports, he loves the outdoors, and he loves crafting! He’s such a passionate, creative child and I do my best to foster his many interests as much as possible.
While I made dinner, he got straight to work…
We had King Ranch Chicken Casserole for supper that night, along with steamed broccoli. Such a comforting (and easy) dinner on a night when the winds were howling and the temps were dropping outside.
And that brings us to this morning! We don’t have too much scheduled for the day, so we will stay close to home and do some more holiday prep. Is it too soon to buy a Christmas tree?! Keith says YES…it’s too early.?
Have a great week ahead and a wonderful holiday! See you back here tomorrow for another quick, easy, and delicious recipe!