Easy Weekly Dinner Menu #141: A Tour of Smithfield Virginia

4 minutes
March 10, 2023
Andi Gleeson

This week’s dinner menu is a special edition where I tell you about my visit to Smithfield, Virginia in addition to showing you seven easy dinner recipes. I was not compensated or asked to write this post. I just thought you might like to hear about my trip!

Hi! Remember I told you I was going on a work trip? I’m back! I’m actually flying home right now while writing this. If you have ever wondered what the heck bloggers do when they go on a trip with a brand, I did too because I had never done one. Let me give you the scoop.

Watching the sunrise from the plane.

I would have traded this pretty view for a couple more hours of sleep.

I left my house at 4am (!!) on Tuesday and flew all the livelong day to Norfolk, Virginia. There I met up with a couple other bloggers, and a car service took us to the most adorable hotel ever in Smithfield, Virginia. It was about an hour drive to the hotel, and I was exhausted. Shortly after arriving, all eight of us bloggers had a long dinner at the hotel with Smithfield and PR folks. It was a wonderful meal, but by the end, I was beyond full and tired.

The next morning started around 8:00. We had breakfast together and then went on a guided museum and walking tour to learn about the town’s heritage. Afterward, we went to lunch to eat more. After lunch, we went to tour the Smithfield smokehouse, which was very interesting. We saw how they cure, smoke, and pack their genuine Smithfield hams all by hand, the old fashioned way. Some of their hams spend over six months in the smokehouse! It’s a pretty amazing process. After that, we had about an hour break before meeting for dinner.

I saw the world's oldest ham in Smithfield, Virginia!

A highlight of the trip was seeing the world’s oldest ham, cured in 1902!

We went to a gorgeous farm house on the river and had a wine tasting. Then we ate a whole smoked hog with southern sides and desserts. It started storming before dinner started, but it was still a great evening. I drank too much wine and stayed up way too late talking to the other bloggers. It was a fun night, but we had to be up early the next day!

The next morning, I dragged myself up to get packed up and head downstairs by 8:30 for breakfast. (As it turns out, that was supposed to be 8:00 and I was a half hour late. Oops.) We ate more, and then we went to tour the Smithfield Innovation Center. This is where they do small-batch testing of new products and recipes.

Touring food production facilities involves a lot of hairnets.

Hairnets were required. Here I am with the beautiful Sarah from High Heels and Grills.

After the tour, a PhD in meat science (that is a thing!) showed us how to butcher an entire half a hog. It was so interesting! We saw where pretty much every cut of pork you can think of comes from and how next to nothing is wasted.

Watching a demo of how to butcher a pig.

It’s amazing that virtually nothing is wasted from the entire pig!

After that, we went to eat AGAIN! We had a beautiful lunch on the water and then rode about an hour to the airport. I flew out of Virginia at 4:30 and had about eight hours of air travel ahead before I would get back to San Francisco around 11pm.

After the trip, I was much better acquainted with the Smithfield brand and their products. (I was also very full.) I definitely wouldn’t call a brand trip a vacation! I’m exhausted and talked out, but I learned a lot and do have a new respect for the Smithfield products and team.

While I was there, I hope you had a chance to enter my Facebook giveaway for a free year of Smithfield bacon! I announced it on social media and to my email subscribers. If you aren’t already signed up for my newsletter, I hope you will subscribe so you don’t miss special announcements like that!

If you made it this far, I’m impressed. Let’s get to some dinner recipes for the week now!

Slow Cooker Ribs, Cheeseburger Macaroni, and Buffalo Chicken Wraps are just a few of the easy dinner recipes in today's menu!

I couldn’t help but include some pork recipes for this week since I’ve got pork on the mind. There are plenty of other easy recipes in the mix too. Let’s dig in!

  1. Fast Pork FajitasImagine a fast, delicious, family-friendly dinner, and these easy pork fajitas will surely come to mind!
  2. 25-Minute Cheeseburger Macaroni25-Minute Skillet Cheeseburger Macaroni - Don't miss this #easy #dinner perfect for busy weeknights!
  3. Buffalo Chicken WrapsBuffalo Chicken Wraps - Perfect weeknight dinner ready in minutes!
  4. Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Pork Ribs5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Ribs #crockpot #pork
  5. Philly Cheesesteak PizzaPhilly Cheese Steak Pizza
  6. Layered Mexican Barley CasseroleMexican Barley Casserole - Barley gets a chance to shine in this fun and tasty dinner recipe!
  7. Cheesy Chicken over Pesto QuinoaMozzarella-covered chicken over a bed of pesto quinoa is a quick and easy dinner you'll love!

Want even more dinner ideas? I put together a list of creative spins on Chicken Noodle Soup for Parade Magazine this week. Check it out here!

Enjoy these creative recipes that are new takes on classic Chicken Noodle Soup!

Andi Gleeson, food blogger

Andi Gleeson

Andi Gleeson is a passionate blogger and mom based in San Francisco who focuses on easy and delicious dinner recipes.


Ashlyn @ Belle of the Kitchen
9 years ago

Sounds like an awesome trip, Andi! While reading your post, I kept thinking how much my husband would love to go there; he is our smoke master and could live off of pork! Love the pic of you with the world’s oldest ham by the way! :)

Andi Gleeson
9 years ago

Oh he would be in hog heaven (haha) in Smithfield! There is so much pork happening there, and it’s a really sweet little town! Thank you, Ashlyn :)

Steph @ Steph in Thyme
9 years ago

What a great idea sharing meal plans! That pesto quinoa dish looks divine!

Andi Gleeson
9 years ago

Thanks, Steph! Sharing weekly dinner plans was my main goal when I started this blog, so I’ll probably always keep it going :)

eat good 4 life
9 years ago

I would have loved going there to learn all about it. Seemed like very informative and fun!

Andi Gleeson
9 years ago

It was fun! And there was lots of bacon, which always makes for a good trip :) Thank you!

9 years ago

One of the twins is sitting here with me and she has declared that we’re eating the macaroni this week :). The trip looks like so much fun!

Andi Gleeson
9 years ago

Ha! I hope you like the macaroni if you do try it. Thank you, Sara!

9 years ago

Hi Andi! That sounded like an interesting trip, and I am sure the food was fantastic! By the way, you do not look the least bit tired in these photos! :-)

Andi Gleeson
9 years ago

Haha my selfie cam works magic and makes me look fresh and youthful. It’s an illusion ;) Thanks, Joanne!

Gerry @ Foodness Gracious
9 years ago

I wish I could have made that trip, looks like so much fun!

Andi Gleeson
9 years ago

I wish you could have too, Gerry!

9 years ago

Looks like a fun trip! That opened up hog reminds me of my meat cutter days!

Andi Gleeson
9 years ago

Oh, that must have been fun! I had no idea so much sawing was involved with butchering, but I guess it makes sense. I definitely learned a lot during that demo!

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