Ready for Big Family Food and Fun: September 17-23?
During the past few weeks, God has filled up our Castle with additional housemates. Amazing! You can read the details about this here. We filled our final third floor room last Sunday. :) :) There are 16 of us living in our house now, but I’m only counting 15 in our “who ate the food” fun because the baby is still mostly drinking formula and figuring out purees. :)
Our five housemates sometimes eat with us and sometimes eat on their own depending on schedules, needs, work, and outside plans. Meanwhile, anyone who drops by to hang out with our older boys or anyone who comes over for any reason is welcome to eat here too.
So I always make a large evening meal, knowing that we’ll be feeding anywhere from 11 to 20 people. There’s always enough and if there’s too much: LEFTOVERS!!
Leftovers for Lunch
It’s pretty chill at lunchtime here, and there’s always this and that in the fridge that needs to be eaten up. So almost every day for lunch, everyone fends for themselves (well, Matt and I feed the littles, of course). This is easy, helpful, and a great way to keep from wasting food.
Here’s a silly photo of Anna and Brayden. Anna was wearing one of our housemate’s glasses and was so very proud.
Here’s what our week looked like!
Food and Fun: September 17-23, 2023
Sunday morning I set out the tail end of last week’s goodies for breakfast: Snickerdoodle Bites, Peanut Butter Honey Bread, and Pumpkin Donuts. I love finishing off tidbits to clear out space and to avoid waste!
We had a big day planned that day! After church we were going to eat lunch (at the church building) and then drive two minutes to an Apple Orchard. We invited another family plus several young adults to join us. Altogether, there were 28 of us. I love things like this!
Saturday night I had baked a double batch of these brownies to go with our lunch.
I put 14 Brats and 24 Hotdogs on our smoker before church. While they were cooking, we put together other lunch items to take with us: watermelon, grapes, chips, carrots, and water.
We put the cooked Brats and Dogs into crockpots and plugged them in once we got to church so they’d stay warm. After church, we quickly set out a buffet and enjoyed our meal together.
The Apple Orchard opened at 1:00, and it really was just two minutes away from the church building. So off we went to enjoy picking apples together!
This outing was everything I hoped it would be, with our huge crew enjoying the sunshine, time together, and apple picking!
Eva captured this photo of Kelsey and Acacia. I can’t stop staring at it.
We were way past naptime when we wrapped up, but we were able to get a photo with all 15 of our family members. It’s so rare and wonderful for all of us to coordinate schedules and be together like this.
Naps were extra good that afternoon. :)
Somehow I had managed to throw Easy Crock Pot Fajitas into our Instant Pot that morning so they slow cooked all day and made dinner super easy. I had never used our Instant Pot as a slow cooker, but both of our Crock Pots were full of Brats and Dogs that morning so I attempted it. It worked!
The meat (organic, grass fed fajita meat provided by one of the gals living with us right now) was absolutely incredible.
Malachi built this Fajita Burrito Masterpiece:
Monday morning I baked a double batch of Pumpkin Muffins (minus the chocolate chips). This made 24 muffins, and by the end of the day we were down to 6. I love watching food disappear! I made sausage links to enjoy with the muffins. Plus I got out our Pampered Chef apple-peeler-corer-slicer to cut apple rings for the kids.
After we got Brayden and Kiya to school, Keith and I headed to the Food Distribution site to help set up for Tuesday’s food giveaway. This is SUCH good one-on-one time for us and he loves being a helper!
I’m not sure that this is what Ms. Kathleen had it mind when she asked us to put the snacks out on the table. If you can’t build a tower of muffins, what even is the point? (Truly, Keith couldn’t see any other way to display these. I had to sneak in later to re-adjust the table.) ;)
Lunch was leftovers. :) Dinner was simple and delicious! I made Ham and Cheese Melts on buns they sent home with us that morning when we were setting up food. I had Colby jack, pepper jack, and Havarti cheese slices so I made an assortment with these sandwiches.
We enjoyed them with corn on the cob, spaghetti squash (cooked like this), watermelon, and peas.
After dinner, I sliced more of the apples we’d picked at the orchard and we ate them with Caramel Apple Dip. I hadn’t made that dip since last fall, so it tasted extra good!
Matt borrowed our neighbor’s leaf blower and Keith helped him clean up the parking lot area in our back yard. Keith takes every job very seriously. And I’m not sure if you can tell, but he’s wearing a spiderman hat someone had made just for him. It didn’t come off of his head for the entire day. :)
Tuesday morning we loaded up the kids and headed to Costco. My goal was to get stocked up on basic baking ingredients – which I did. But I also bought frozen pizza because I like having it on hand. AND, the strawberries and raspberries were still priced really low. So I got 2 containers of raspberries and 16 more pounds of strawberries. I’m out of control. :)
Raspberries make a great snack, but they taste better when you first put one on each finger. :)
That afternoon, Brayden, Kiya, and I went to help with the weekly Food Distribution. We got home at 5:30 tired, hungry, and in a hurry because Brayden had a piano lesson with Justus at 6:00. Thankfully, Malachi had baked chicken for sandwiches and Elias had build sandwiches and already fed the little ones. The rest of us grabbed ours and I didn’t even care about adding fruits and veggies because it was a bit hectic as we transitioned back home. :)
Wednesday morning I made Eggs in a Nest for breakfast with strawberries and Whipped Cream.
For a mid-morning snack, I cut more strawberries into what was left of the whipped cream. Keith, Anna, Acacia, and Josie helped me eat it. :)
We were preparing for a huge meal on Sunday in which we were planning to feed around 50 York University choir members. So during naptime, I went to Aldi to get a few things we needed for our family and a few things we needed for the choir meal.
It was the final evening the Lincoln Zoo was going to be open in the evening before next spring, so we took advantage and headed to the zoo that night.
I had packed hotdogs for us to eat there, along with fruit cups, carrots and ranch, and cold drinks. One of our new housemates joined us. Of course, the littles all love her and it appears that she’s never going to be allowed to eat a meal with our family without a child on her lap. :)
Thursday was a very full day. Matt was gone all day in York, I had two meetings scheduled, and some of our kids had extra behavior issues that needed to be dealt with. And that was just before 8:15am.
I sent our school kids off (one of them still in tears) with our neighbor who was gracious to walk them to school for me because I had already started my morning that was full of meetings for our littles. Case workers came, someone from our Early Development Network came – it was good and necessary but exhausting.
Why am I sharing this? Because while I love food and sharing food and all the fun that we have, it’s all mixed in with some very real life, very big challenges too. I think that’s why I love sharing about the rest of it so much. It reminds me of all the goodness God gives and all the fun we have each day. :)
So back to the food and fun…
I’ve been getting bags of organic pears at Aldi and they are perfect right now! They are small, making them great to hand out as snacks. Here’s Josie, looking as sweet as can be with her tasty pear.
One of our housemates provided us with a farm-raised chicken and I tried my hand at smoking it. I rubbed it down with Redmond’s Seasoning Salt and smoked it on low heat for the entire afternoon. Meanwhile, I made Mashed Potatoes in the Crock Pot and just before time to eat, I steamed broccoli. I love meals like this!
We had all those strawberries, so I had no choice but to make Strawberry Shortcake for our dessert after dinner.
No one complained about this choice of desserts.
I was continuing to prep to feed the York University Singers on Sunday so when I baked the shortcake, I also used oven space to make a double batch of Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.
That evening, I also stirred together an extra large Easy Breakfast Casserole. Then on Friday morning I slid it into the oven to bake while I had my God time. When the kids got up, the casserole was ready and we ate it with strawberries and shortcake. (The cake is about as sweet as muffins, so I figured it would be a perfect side plus fun for the kids to feel like they were eating cake for breakfast!)
I got a little bit too ambitious and made a batch of Peanut Butter Honey Granola. (I wanted to make the most of the hot oven, plus I always like to try and get ahead.) It mostly worked out, but with trying to get kids fed and off to school I let it stay in the oven a little bit too long. It’s extra toasted. :)
That afternoon, I cooked seven pounds of hamburger meat in my Instant Pot like this. Then I turned it into two huge pots of Chili for Sunday.
As I finished that up, all kinds of crazy hit the house as we had some friends from out of state who were in a hurry but needed a place to shower. Yep, come on over! Meanwhile I was getting ready to have a rare night out at an Adoptive Moms Support Group (life giving and needed!!). We ate a super simple meal, taking full advantage of our air fryer to enjoy “French Fry Friday.” Tonight it was fries with nuggets.
Saturday morning we ate good ol’ cereal as we were getting other food items made.
The kids washed the remaining apples we’d picked on Sunday at the apple orchard. I cut them and cooked them down to make applesauce. (I used this quick method.)
It made a huge bowlful that we can eat all next week!
We had been invited to a party to watch the Husker football game that afternoon and had been asked to bring dessert. We made Chocolate Cupcakes with hidden spinach. The spinach was then perhaps counteracted by the candy pumpkins I put on top, but aren’t they cute?? :)
I also made a big bowl full of Strawberry Fluff to take to the party to share.
We ate leftovers for lunch with Caesar salad. As we were wrapping up, our neighbor John brought over this huge bucket of apples! They were from a tree on his family’s property and hadn’t been sprayed. The remind me of our apple picking days at our favorite orchard closer to York. We enjoyed bags and buckets of those apples year after year and eventually became friends with the Claytons, owners of the orchard. We miss this! How grateful we were to receive this bucket from our new friend in Lincoln.
After an early nap, we loaded up and headed over to our Husker Game Party. During half-time, we all headed outside to enjoy a pinata the host had set up for all the kids.
Go, Kiya, go!
The kids definitely didn’t care about football, ha. They actually only barely cared about the food. But they had been talking non-stop about how we’d been invited to swim while we were there. So finally we got them all ready, with the help of Justus and Kelsey, and let them have what will probably be one last outdoor swim of the season.
Knowing that they’d hardly eaten before that and that they’d be starving after time in the pool, I quickly made a late dinner plan for when we got home. Indeed, joy turned to hungry melt-down as we left the party. We gave them all a handful of peanuts that we had in the van (phew!) and I hurried to make a pile of French toast with sausage when we got home before bed. You’ve never seen such small children put away so much food at one time. :) :) :)
And that was our week!
P.S. Total grocery spending so far in September: $1100 and we are VERY stocked up on basics right now.