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Good morning, and happy Sunday! This week we welcomed December, kicked off roller hockey season, and celebrated Gibbs’s birthday. All of the highlights, along with each of our dinners, are included in today’s roundup of Our Week in Meals.

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 spent Sunday morning testing new recipes in the kitchen, and then Keith’s parents stopped by for a visit mid-day. We had a pan of gingerbread for an afternoon snack!

Overhead image of gingerbread cake slices

After watching football for a couple of hours, we were all ready to get out of the house that evening. I took a break from cooking, and instead we headed to Sperryville for dinner at Rappahannock Pizza Kitchen. We love this restaurant so much!

In addition to a few cheese pizzas for the table, I ordered one of the best salads of my life: a charred, crispy Brussels sprouts salad with warm radicchio, a balsamic dressing, smoked almonds, and Parmesan cheese…

…as well as a delicious turkey, mushroom, and wild rice soup with toasted homemade sourdough bread. Very cozy for a damp, chilly evening.

Let’s chat about this week’s books! My friend Adria loaned me The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abe, which we both really enjoyed. If you like historical fiction, then you’ll probably like this one. I just wish that the ending was more developed…it felt too abrupt, and I wanted to keep reading! Here’s the quick summary from Amazon:

Perfect for fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Marie Benedict, this riveting novel takes you inside the scandalous courtship and catastrophic honeymoon aboard the Titanic of the most famous couple of their time—John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Told in rich detail, this novel of sweeping historical fiction will stay with readers long after turning the last page.

Madeleine Talmage Force is just seventeen when she attracts the attention of John Jacob “Jack” Astor. Madeleine is beautiful, intelligent, and solidly upper-class, but the Astors are in a league apart. Jack’s mother was the Mrs. Astor, American royalty and New York’s most formidable socialite. Jack is dashing and industrious—a hero of the Spanish-American war, an inventor, and a canny businessman. Despite their twenty-nine-year age difference, and the scandal of Jack’s recent divorce, Madeleine falls headlong into love—and becomes the press’s favorite target.

On their extended honeymoon in Egypt, the newlyweds finally find a measure of peace from photographers and journalists. Madeleine feels truly alive for the first time—and is happily pregnant. The couple plans to return home in the spring of 1912, aboard an opulent new ocean liner. When the ship hits an iceberg close to midnight on April 14th, there is no immediate panic. The swift, state-of-the-art RMS Titanic seems unsinkable. As Jack helps Madeleine into a lifeboat, he assures her that he’ll see her soon in New York…

Four months later, at the Astors’ Fifth Avenue mansion, a widowed Madeleine gives birth to their son. In the wake of the disaster, the press has elevated her to the status of virtuous, tragic heroine. But Madeleine’s most important decision still lies ahead: whether to accept the role assigned to her, or carve out her own remarkable path…

I also flew through The Bodyguard by Katherine Center, which was a very unrealistic, but fun romance. This is a great one if you’re looking for a light escape!

And finally, another predictable romance that was a pleasure to read: Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners. I love how these novels wrap up cleanly with a happy ending!

Cold, dark, Monday mornings are a lot easier to wake up for when they start with a gingerbread latte! I’ve had a jar of the gingerbread syrup in my fridge all week, so I’ve enjoyed the quick and easy homemade version of my favorite coffee shop treat with breakfast each day.

Side shot of homemade gingerbread latte recipe served in mugs on a tray

The boys reluctantly returned to school, while I took care of business at home — wrapping birthday presents for Gibbs, work at the computer, and a mid-day walk with my friend Adria.

This tree is one of the last to hold onto its leaves…not ready for winter quite yet!

Spencer and Casey had their first roller hockey practice of the season that evening, so we sat down to an early supper before we headed out the door.

On the menu: Dutch oven roasted chicken

Overhead image of a crispy roast chicken on a blue and white platter

…along with mashed potatoes, dinner rolls

Overhead shot of creamy mashed potatoes with sour cream and chives on a wooden table

…and a house salad. I used my leftover candied pecans and dried cherries from Thanksgiving on top of the salad!

Quick tip: I prepped the chicken in the morning, and let it sit in the fridge (uncovered) all day. This was more convenient for my schedule, but it also helped the skin dry out so that it was extra crispy after roasting. I popped the chicken in the oven before I left to pick up the kids from school (Keith was working at the house), and we came home to a dinner that was almost completely done.

Overhead image of a bowl of salad with mandarin oranges and homemade dressing

After a morning walk with Keith, I was back in the kitchen photographing recipes on Tuesday.

We had beef burritos for supper (a kid favorite), along with tortilla chips, salsa, and guacamole.

Gibbs turned 13 on Wednesday! I took him out to lunch for burgers and ice cream during his break at school, which was a fun treat for both of us. It’s crazy for me to think that we now have a teenager in the house!

It was rainy and nasty all morning, but it turned into a beautiful, warm evening.

Teddy stays hidden on the couch until the sun comes out!

Gibbs requested fried chicken for supper,

Side shot of a plate of buttermilk fried chicken on a plate

which we paired with baked potato wedges,

Crispy baked potato wedges on a blue and white plate

and collard greens. He definitely did NOT ask for the greens, but I had extra in the fridge from another recipe and they needed to be used. Hah!

Overhead shot of hands eating a bowl of southern collard greens.

And then he blew out candles on his favorite boxed mix brownies, which he requested in lieu of a cake. I always add extra chocolate chips, of course!

I met Mollie for a walk on Thursday morning, and then spent the rest of the day checking off my to-do list. Blog photos, computer work, laundry…the usual.

We kept it simple with this 15-minute honey garlic shrimp for supper, which we paired with rice, steamed broccoli, and frozen egg rolls. The kids love this dish, and went back for seconds.

Overhead shot of two bowls of honey garlic shrimp on a table with a side of broccoli.

Friday included a morning walk, as well as a quick stop at Yoder’s country market for eggnog, buttermilk, lunch meat, cheese, and more.

I had a couple of meetings that afternoon, Keith took the younger two boys to play hockey after school, and we had a quick dinner that evening before heading to the high school basketball game.

There was leftover ham in the fridge from a recipe that I made earlier in the week, so I prepared a pan of ham and cheese sliders, which we served with mac and cheese from Yoder’s, as well as a side salad.

Overhead image of hawaiian roll ham and cheese sliders served with a salad

On a dreary, rainy Saturday morning, Keith ran some errands in Culpeper while I stayed home with the kids. Teddy and my bread dough were proofing in the coziest spot in my office!

I got out for an afternoon walk when the sun appeared, and Keith and the boys played football, mended fences, and took care of yard chores.

We ordered Chinese takeout for dinner, which always makes the kids happy: kung pao chicken, moo shu pork, sesame chicken, rice, and spring rolls!

And that’s it for this week, friends. Thank you for being here! I hope that your December is off to a festive and cheerful start. Have a wonderful week ahead!🎄


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!

Read More

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. I’m looking forward to looking at all your weekly meal recipes. I love your meals but sometimes don’t copy them, so now I have them. It’s so wonderful to have you as my “chef”. I can’t wait until tonight to make one of your meals!!! Thanks again.

  2. The picture of Teddy and the bread dough rising by the fire is too cute! Too bad he can’t double in size like dough does!
    Thanks for the great recipes, also made a note of the book recommendation, as I like historical fiction and just finished reading a nonfiction book on the Titanic recently, so will have to check for that one! Thanks to Adina for suggesting it, she was how I found out about you and your awesome recipes through the Take a Meal blog!!

    1. Hah! Teddy would love to be able to grow like the dough! 🙂 Thanks for following along with us, Ann. I hope that you enjoy the book.

  3. Every time I read your blog and see your amazing photos, I want to eat and move be your neighbor! What beautiful countryside you live in. Your meals always look delish! Happy Belated Birthday to Gibbs!

  4. Hi Blair, I notice that you seem to buy buttermilk every week. I am curious as to what you use it for that you would buy it every week. I only buy it a couple of times a year for specific recipes. Love your recipes. Very down to earth.

    1. Hi, Linda! Yes, just about every week! I use it in so many different recipes, so it’s really a kitchen staple — cornbread and biscuits most frequently (which I bake at least once a week each), but also marinated chicken, salad dressings, cakes, fried chicken, pancakes, mashed potatoes, pies, etc.

      I’m actually putting together a blog post in the coming weeks with all of the different ways that I use this ingredient. In the meantime, you can browse some of my buttermilk recipes here: https://www.theseasonedmom.com/page/2/?s=buttermilk#search/q=buttermilk

      Hope that helps, and thank you so much for reading the blog each Sunday!

  5. I can’t wait to try the burritos they look yummy. Happy Birthday Gibbs. Teddy is adorable and thank you for the recipes using buttermilk I usually have some in the fridge.

  6. Love all your recipes and have made several. Looking forward to making the Dutch oven chicken. Love your blog!!