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  1. Friday, October 30

    What’s that? No bacteria in my sponge? Say it ain’t so.

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    Remember the great Sponge V. Dishrag debate of 2009? I have a follow up for all the sponge haters out there. Nate and Cate did a  science project together last month. They went around the house with Q-Tips, swabbing all sorts of surfaces, and then growing bacteria in petri dishes. When they were collecting their “samples,” I had just finished doing the dishes and wiping down the counters with my sponge. We swabbed both sides of the sponge really well to include in the experiment.

    Guess what? NOTHING grew in that petri dish. That’s right, Nate’s ear grew more junk than my sponge did. Okay, so this was not the most controlled experiment and we’re pretty sure that Nate’s ear sample was contaminated…but still. Just sayin’. No fungus, bacteria, virus, nothing grew in the sponge’s petri dish.

    Let the furor begin! I know the dishrag folks won’t take this lying down. Even though the scientific evidence is indisputable…okay, maybe not indisputable, but whatever. And, for the record (a record that will make the more Type A personalities cringe), the sponge was 1-2 weeks old and I had not run it through the dishwasher or microwave at any point in time. Guess those poor sponges are getting a bad rap for no reason, eh?

    (Note: I am not endorsing using sponges for weeks on end, especially if they smell or turn green. Yeah, that one might grow some bacteria. But so will your stinky, green dishrag.)

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  2. Wednesday, October 28

    Easy, Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes

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    I have finally found a pumpkin pancake recipe that I like! I’ve tried mixes, I’ve tried making them from scratch…and generally the pancakes come out flat and gooey. Cate’s preschool recently made pumpkin pancakes and shared the recipe they used…and they’re perfect! Yea for preschool teachers!

    pumpkin pancakes web

    Easy, Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes
     
    Adapted by me from a recipe on FoodNetwork.com
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Breakfast
    Ingredients
    • 3 cups buttermilk pancake mix (I like Krusteaz the best, Bisquick worked too)
    • 2 cups cold water
    • ⅔ cup canned pumpkin
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    Instructions
    1. In a medium/large bowl, whisk all the ingredients until just blended (batter should have lumps). Spray heavy griddle or skillet with nonstick spray and heat griddle over medium heat. Spoon 2 tablespoon (I did ¼ cup) batter unto griddle to form each pancake. Cook until edges are drying and bubbles start to pop, turn and cook a few minutes longer. Serve with lots of butter and maple syrup!

     

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  3. Tuesday, October 27

    Free Giveaway! Set of 3 Books from Matthew Mead

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    This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!

    Today we have a giveaway – yippee! Matthew Mead will be giving away a set of three of his books – Entertaining Simple, Gifts from Nature and Matthew Mead’s Halloween – to one lucky This Week for Dinner reader!

    matthew mead giveaway web

    Simply add a comment to this post by Midnight PT, Sunday November 1 to put your name in the hat! One winner will be randomly selected and announced on Monday, November 2.

    As you know, I’m really enjoying these books. I’m excited to get the chance to share them with you!

    Big thank you to Matthew Mead for such a great giveaway. And good luck to everyone!

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  4. Sunday, October 25

    Week 144 Menu

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    This morning I threw some pancakes together. After breakfast Nate said, “Wow, those were perfectly fluffy pancakes!” I couldn’t believe he said that because it was the first time I had ever used Bisquick instead of making them from scratch. So much for homemade! Just kidding, I’ll make my pancakes again…however, Nate’s comment did give me something to think about. Hmmmm…

    bisquickweb

    Speaking of pancakes, I’ll have a great pumpkin pancake recipe for you later this week. And a giveaway!

    MONDAY:
    - Quiche

    TUESDAY:
    - Orange Chicken and rice
    - Veggie

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Mini burgers and couscous salad

    THURSDAY:
    - Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    - Rotisserie Chicken (from Costco) with mashed potatoes and veggie

    SATURDAY:
    - Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    - Bean tacos (a friend was telling me about a recipe that sounded great that I’m going to get from her!)

    I am loving all the menus we’re getting every week! They really are so helpful to read through as I plan, and there are so many great ideas. Please keep the menus coming!

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  5. Friday, October 23

    Matthew Mead and His Lovely Books

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    Back when I first started this here blog, I mentioned a website that I liked, MatthewMeadStyle.com. This website is chock full of wonderful things. I was delighted to receive an email from Matthew Mead not too long ago asking if I would like to review one of his books. Of course I jumped at the chance and Matthew sent me THREE of his books: Entertaining Simple, Gifts from Nature and Matthew Mead’s Halloween.

    the books web

    I love all the books. Matthew has impeccable taste, is a great writer, and the recipes that are included look divine.

    the books2 web

    Entertaining Simple is fantastic. So many wonderful entertaining tips, decoration ideas, menus and recipes…it’s really lovely. And Gifts from Nature is a wonderful resource, complete with great ideas for every season of the year.

    inside halloween web

    And if you’re dying to get your hands on Matthew Mead’s Halloween, you’re in luck…it’s on newsstands now. I saw it at Safeway just the other day. I love Halloween and this book did not disappoint. My favorite part of the book is all the pumpkin decorating ideas. CUTE stuff.

    I’ve told you before, I only write about products and books that I like. And usually when I like something and write about it…well, it’s good news for you…perhaps I’m seeing a giveaway in your future? You’ll just have to check back to see!

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  6. Thursday, October 22

    Rolo Cookies

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    Remember the cookies I showed you on Sunday? I made them last night. They are unbelievably easy. And tasty. They were a huge hit at the baby shower last week, so it’s a nice easy recipe to add to your entertaining repertoire.

    rolo cookies web

    Rolo Cookies
    From Mindy Nielson (who got the recipe from someone else…)
    - 1 box Devils’ Food cake mix
    - 2 eggs
    - 1/3 cup oil
    - 1/2 package Rolo candies

    Mix the first three ingredients together (I used my hand mixer) and then roll into little balls with 1 Rolo inside each ball (Mindy tries to make them as small as possible to maximize the Rolo to dough ratio, which is smart). Bake at 350 for 9 minutes. Makes about 30.

    Jane sidenote: when I made them, I ended up with 22 cookies…and Mindy is right about the ratio thing, next time I’ll try to make them a little smaller.

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  7. Wednesday, October 21

    Guest Post on Make and Takes: The Joys of Meal Planning with Kids

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    Don’t miss my post today over on Make and Takes, The Joys of Meal Planning with Kids. Hope you enjoy it!

    cate at the store

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  8. Tuesday, October 20

    Grilled Vegetables, Part Deux

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    When I first wrote about grilling vegetables, someone mentioned asparagus was one of their favorites to grill. I can see why…I tried it, and the asparagus cooked so nicely on the grill, resulting in a really great texture. I still think roasting asparagus in the oven is a great way to do it…but grilling is now my favorite method for this vegetable.

    grilled asparagus web

    Did I mention the girls INHALED their asparagus? And mine? And Nate’s? I think Nate & I only got to eat a few spears in the end!

    Believe it or not, you’re going to have to endure another grilled vegetable post…I ordered a grilling basket and it arrived this week!  My next veggie venture on the grill? Broccoli!

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  9. Sunday, October 18

    Week 143 Menu

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    I went to a baby shower brunch yesterday. The food was so good, including these amazing chocolate cookies…I’ll get the recipe for sure!

    baby shower chocolate cookies web

    On to the menu! It’s kind of a combo of the last two weeks’ menus…stuff that I didn’t end up cooking.

    MONDAY:
    - Leftover lasagna

    TUESDAY:
    - Orange Chicken and rice
    - Veggie

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Homemade pizza

    THURSDAY:
    - Beef stew
    - Whole wheat crusty bread

    FRIDAY:
    - Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    - Pumpkin pancakes

    SUNDAY:
    - Eating at friend’s home

    Please share your menu for the week! Can’t wait to see all your comments!

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  10. Friday, October 16

    Cream of Mushroom Soup

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    I know, I know…another soup recipe! Apparently there is a theme to my cooking lately…an unplanned theme, but a good one nonetheless. Tonight I made cream of mushroom soup. This is one of my favorite kinds of soup, and this recipe was perfect.

    cream of mushroom soup 1 web

    Quick note, all of the soups I shared this week can easily be made vegetarian by substituting in vegetable broth.

    Anyway, I’m sure you want the recipe, so here goes! I found it on Simply Recipes…Elise is one of my blogging buddies whom I have had the pleasure of actually spending some time with. She’s a gem. And so is her soup.

    Cream of Mushroom Soup
     
    Modified from a recipe by Elise Bauer on Simply Recipes – I modified based on what I had in the kitchen tonight, but it was really yummy so wanted to document exactly what I did
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Soup
    Ingredients
    • 1 pound regular white mushrooms, cleaned, quartered or sliced (2/3 of my mushrooms were white, ⅓ were mini portobello)
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1tablespoon butter
    • 2 finely chopped shallots (the recipe only called for 2 TBSP…I misread it, but the flavor was actually really lovely with two whole shallots, so there you go!)
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I only had about ¼ tsp of thyme left in my shaker, but the soup still tasted great!)
    • ½ bay leaf
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 1½ cups chicken broth
    • 4 tsp Wondra (or flour could work) dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
    Instructions
    1. Coarsely chop mushrooms and lemon juice in a food processor.
    2. Melt butter in (4-5 quart) sauce pan and lightly sauté shallots on medium heat. Add mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf, sauté over moderate heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid that is released from the mushrooms disappears.
    3. Add salt, pepper, cream and chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
    4. Add flour slurry and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.

     

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