Sunday, May 30
Here’s our breakfast this morning, puffed oven pancake. It’s Cate’s new favorite breakfast food. I think they’re pretty good, but honestly, the best part is how EASY they are to make. I’m glad Cate is so easily pleased…at least for now. Knowing how 5-year-olds are about food, she’ll hate them tomorrow.
– Happy Memorial Day! I haven’t planned our menu yet…any suggestions are welcome!
– Cannelloni (still haven’t made it!)
– Creamy Potato Leek Soup (still haven’t made this, either!)
– Chickpea Veggie Burgers
– Eat out
– Orange Chicken and rice
Bring it on! Show us what you’ve got! Share your weekly menu…no matter how big or small!
Thursday, May 27
Last week someone commented on here asking if I have a french butter crock (a comment which seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth, by the way), to which I answered that I had a friend who used one and always thought I might get one but never had. Literally the next day I saw a Butter Bell on sale at Sur La Table. Of course I snagged it and I love it!
French butter crocks keep butter fresh by sealing it away from oxygen. And the crock keeps butter at a perfectly spreadable consistency – not too hard, not too soft. It’s like magic. You just fill the pot about 1/3 with cold water and then invert the cup of butter into the water, changing out the water every three days or so. I plan to change out my water whenever I run the dishwasher so I don’t forget!
I have a Butter Bell brand crock. I’m very happy with it. The red color is really cute, and it comes in lots of other colors, too. Le Creuset makes butter crocks as well, and their version holds 1 1/2 sticks of butter, as opposed to mine that only holds 1 stick of butter. I also love how the Le Creuset crock looks (just like how I love how everything they make looks). I’m sure you can find other brands out there, too, if you like shopping around!
I will never go back to our old butter dish. I’m completely sold.
Wednesday, May 26
Today is a big day for This Week for Dinner!
- Recipes finally have a print option! I am SO excited about this. All the recipes now have a pretty little green box around them, and at the end of the box it says “Print This” and, you guessed it, you can click that to easily print the recipe. Yippee! Click here to see a quick example. If you find a recipe on the site missing the fancy new box, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add it! (Quick note: For the most part, the “Print This” option will NOT include pictures so that we don’t use up all your printer’s ink. There are a few recipes that have the photos inside the green box because they illustrate a step in the recipe – if that’s the case, just know any photos inside the box ARE going to print. This only happens with a handful of recipes and, one day when I have a few free minutes, I’ll come up with a better solution.)
- Advertising on This Week for Dinner is bigger and badder than ever. I have finally strategically planned out my ad space, and I signed on with Federated Media to handle my advertising. This may not be all that exciting to you, but it’s super exciting for me. I feel strongly that it’s time for me to take this step, but I also feel strongly that the website needs to stay simple and easy-to-read, with a nice, clean, pleasing-to-the-eye design. I believe we’ve successfully done that. Big thanks to my awesome developer dude Aaron Harp for taking my Illustrator files and making them into wonderful WordPress themes.
Thanks for letting me share the fun changes to the site today. And thanks for reading…I couldn’t do this blog without you!
Tuesday, May 25
This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!
Remember those yummy Sprinkles cupcakes I enjoyed with my girls a few weeks ago? Now’s your chance to get some of your very own! We have a very sweet giveaway today!
One of you lucky people will win 1 Dozen Sprinkles Cupcakes and one of these completely adorable cupcake trays! Simply leave a comment on this post by Midnight, Monday May 31. The randomly-selected winner will be announced Tuesday, June 1! Thank you to Sprinkles for such an irresistibly delicious giveaway!
(For those of you not lucky enough to live near a Sprinkles bake shop, the 1 dozen cupcakes will come in gift card form, which you can use on the website for the cupcake mix or other goodies!)
Monday, May 24
I’ve officially LOST it, folks. Yesterday afternoon the frog outside my window sounded like the smoke monster. This morning the garbage truck sounded like the smoke monster. All of my dreams last night were about LOST. The show has taken over my brain! And, truth be told, I’m not fighting it. I’m loving every minute!
(photo from ABC)
Since those of you who don’t care about LOST are going to stop reading right about now, let me say this: I really think this is the best TV show out there, it’s unbelievably well done with amazing character development. It literally makes you laugh, makes you cry, and has lots of good action, mystery and suspense. If you’re going to watch a TV show, this is the one…so get it on your Netflix queue stat!
I try to stick to food on this here blog. But I’m bubbling over with the need to write about the finale. So, that’s what I’m doing. There you go. If you love LOST, keep reading…but be forewarned, there are about a billion spoilers in this post, so if you haven’t seen the finale yet, don’t read this until you have! If you don’t watch LOST, come back tomorrow when we return to our regularly scheduled programming.
How about that finale? I loved it. And this morning, after dreaming about it all night (well, all 5 hours of the night thanks to Jimmy Kimmel’s LOST special keeping me up even later than the show would have), I love it even more. As I’ve been thinking more and more about what it all means, the more I realize what a beautiful job Carlton and Damon did writing this show. (Yes, I’m on a first name basis with the executive producers and head writers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof…I don’t know if they know that, but whatever. I love those guys.) I’m just going to bullet off all the things I’ve been thinking about that I need to get out of my system.
- Here is where I stand on “what it all means.” Everything that happened on the Island was reality, right up until the moment Jack dies in the bamboo forest in the last scene. The flash-sideways world was a holding place or purgatory that the characters created in order to find closure and come to a peaceful place before they moved on to the light/heaven/whatever you want to call it. That said, all the characters that you saw in the flash-sideways world were dead and didn’t know it…until they had their “enlightenment,” of course.
- Daniel Faraday’s mother didn’t want Daniel to be “enlightened” because she was still seeking peace and closure with him…and I don’t think either one of them were ready yet for him to discover that she was the one who killed him. All in good time. Same with Ben Linus…he didn’t join everyone in the church at the end because, as he said, he still had some things to do…namely reaching closure with Alex and her mother before they could be enlightened themselves. It’s obvious by how happy the characters are when they discover the truth of their situation that this peace (and in many cases forgiveness) is possible…it just takes some of them longer to get there. I mean, look at how easily John Locke forgave Ben for killing him once he knew the truth. I’m going to start crying just thinking about it!
- It doesn’t matter when or how all the characters die. When the show ended, I wanted to know so much if the plane really got off the Island, how did all the people on the plane die, how do Desmond/Hurley/Ben die, etc…but then I realized it doesn’t really matter. And I’m okay with that. It really ended up being about the characters coming to terms with their flawed lives and finding closure and, ultimately, happiness.
- How beautiful and sad were all of the flash-sideways stories when seen through the lens of it being how the characters would have done things differently? Sayid taking care of Nadia but knowing they weren’t meant to be together. Sun and Jin happily in love, but never getting to be with their child, but feeling at peace about it. Sawyer being a police officer, obviously trying to make amends for his outlaw ways during life. Ben Linus just being a good guy and getting to be a party of Alex’s life. John Locke creating a world where he and his father have a good relationship, where his father wasn’t the cause of his paralysis, and then being able to allow Jack to completely heal him. Hurley becoming the luckiest man in the world, with the ability to help whoever he wants at any time. No wonder I liked this flash-sideways life so much! (It’s interesting that Kate’s life actually didn’t change much between reality and the “ideal”…gotta think about that one some more.) These flash-sideways stories tell so much about each character and resolve all of their stories in really beautiful ways.
- Desmond’s character is so fascinating to me. Remember that episode a while ago where he flashed through time…I love how in the finale, when he was still alive on the Island, he knew what was going to happen and had obviously flashed back and forth between the after life and the Island present. At least that’s what I think happened.
- I love that the mythology of the Island was real. There really was a smoke monster and a Jacob and the Others and a Dharma initiative and everything else. Makes the story more satisfying and fun, rather than just saying it was all some crazy dream. And they were able to kill the smoke monster and plug up the evil and all of that…it was just so satisfying! And it totally made you realize that all of those people really did need to be drawn to the Island, that they really did have a purpose for being there. Way to save the world from evil and destruction, survivors!
- I kind of like that we don’t know the origin of Allison Janney’s character (Jacob and the Man-In-Black’s adoptive mother) or where the Others came from. As much as I like having all the mysteries solved, it’s fun still having some lingering questions, leaving some of the mystique to the Island. That’s one of the reasons the show was so great…if there wasn’t any mystery left at the end, I think it might have felt a bit dissatisfying.
- I love that Hurley ended up being Jack’s replacement as protector of the Island…and that he was able to give to Ben what Ben needed so dearly. (I wonder who became the Island’s protector after Hurley? Another mystery to ponder.)
- Juliette is still my favorite character.
- And I’ve finally decided – I pick Jack over Sawyer. It’s taken me 6 years to reach that decision, but I feel good about it.
Yes, I cried. Pretty much every single time one of the characters had their big realization moment. And of course at the end. How could you not? I am actually really sad it’s all over…but I have to say, it was well done and ended at the right moment.
Please pipe in with your own thoughts if you’re a fan of the show! The best part of LOST is how open to interpretation it is…and I’m sure you caught things I missed! Plus, I need to stop writing about it…I could go on all day. I’ll simply end with this. LOST RULES.
Sunday, May 23
This weekend was all about my friend Faye, which is a very good thing. Faye is an amazing pastry chef who creates wonderful delights like this nut tart.
Yesterday I attended Faye’s artisan bread workshop at my local Sur La Table, which I am going to have to share more of with you in a separate post. As for the nut tart, it was awesome and I’m going to hopefully share the recipe with you in yet another post…although I’m pretty sure it’s one I’ll just let Faye make for me rather than attempt myself! I may as well let the artist do what she does best, right?
I need to confess, my menu pretty much didn’t happen last week. I’m too tired right now to even remember what DID happen! Anyway, that explains the multiple repeats from last week. Forgive me!
– Baked stuffing-coated chicken with a nice veggie
– Eat out
– Creamy Potato Leek Soup (without any cream – it’s a fab recipe!)
I want to take a moment to THANK YOU for your menus every week! They are wonderful! The blog wouldn’t be what it is without them! THANK YOU!!! Can’t wait to see what you’ve got this week! (Good job to me for using exclamation points at the end of every sentence in this paragraph!)
Friday, May 21
I’ve had this fruit dip recipe up on the blog for ages, but never had a good photo of it. Today I remembered to take a few quick snapshots and I can finally give it the attention it deserves! This fruit dip is one of my favorites recipes of all time. It’s easy. It’s delicious. It makes you want to eat all your fruit…and then some.Fruit Dip So Good You Don't Need the FruitFrom who knows where…I’m sure half of you already have this one in your recipe box!Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 seven ounce jar marshmallow fluff
- Juice from one orange (I’ve substituted with limes for a tangier flavor – it’s great both ways)
- Take cream cheese out of fridge and let soften. (This is the hardest step in the recipe. A few times I’ve forgotten to take the cream cheese out of the fridge early enough and it just doesn’t blend well.)
- When the cream cheese is soft enough to blend, add the fluff and orange juice and beat the you-know-what out of it.
- Serve with fruit and prepare to be transported straight to paradise. Strawberries and green grapes are my favorite with this dip, but just about any fruit tastes great!
Thursday, May 20
Today I made a quick homemade tomato sauce. Thought I’d share my “recipe” with you. This isn’t necessarily cheaper or faster than jarred tomato sauce from the store, but it is very yummy and fresh tasting. I especially love using this sauce with homemade pizza. Tonight I’m going to add a bit of cream to the sauce and serve it over tortellini.
The beauty of this sauce recipe is that you can change it up however you like. If you have canned tomatoes, use them. If you have a bunch of fresh tomatoes, use those instead! If you like onion, use more of it. If you like Italian spice seasoning, throw some of that in, too! There are no rules…just play around with the recipe and make it your own!
Here is what I did today. Other days it might be a little different, but I always follow this basic plan.
Simple Homemade Tomato SauceSimple and delicious!Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: SauceCuisine: ItalianIngredients
- 1-2 tablespoon olive oil (or canola oil if you’re out of olive)
- 1 shallot OR ~1/2 onion, chopped
- 3-5 cloves garlic, minced or use your garlic press
- 2 14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes (I like the petite diced a lot, but you could use regular diced. also, if you have lots and lots of fresh tomatoes, dice those up and use them instead! I would guess you need 4-6 cups)
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 – 2 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 7-10 large leaves of fresh basil, chopped (probably 1-2 Tbsp or so…if you like basil, add more!)
- If you don’t have fresh basil, feel free to use dried spices – but I would add them in before the simmering step instead of after. Oregano, Parsley and Basil are all great dried spices to add.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots/onions. Cook until soft, a few minutes. Add garlic and saute for about a minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to the point where the sauce still simmers. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. (While it’s simmering, you can smash the sauce up a bit with a ricer or pastry blender, to break up some of the tomatoes…although I do like my sauce chunky, so I just do this a little bit. Again, just figure out how you like it best and go with it!) Add fresh basil and mangia!
A note on garlic: I love my garlic press. I’ve heard from a few chef-types that they don’t like garlic presses because it damages the oils or something. I don’t notice a difference and the press is just so quick, so I pretend I’ve never heard anything negative about the technique. Also, I don’t put the garlic in with the onions at the beginning of cooking because it can overcook the garlic…I’ve ended up with deep fried garlic before, not exactly the flavor I’m going for in sauce.
Comment #1 by Jackie “i borrowed this book from my grandmother once and I really liked it, having copy of my own would be great!”
Comment #122 by Teresa R “I need this book.”
Congratulations, ladies! I still can’t believe the random number generator picked #1. That’s never happened…kind of fun! I guess it really is random, eh?
Wednesday, May 19
As you know, I took a roadtrip last week. I drove alone with the girls to Utah. That wasn’t the original plan, and thankfully Nate was able to join us on the ride back…needless to say it was quite the adventure! We had a great trip, spent time with family, and ate lots of goodies.
GM provided us with a brand spanking new 2010 Terrain to use for the trip. When we got the car it only had 400 miles on it! It was definitely a SWEET ride. I’ll tell you all the reasons I loved driving the Terrain (and a few of the things I didn’t love) in a bit…but first, let’s have some dessert, shall we?
My uber sweet tooth was able to track down plenty of yummy desserts while we were in Utah. We were in Provo for only one night and were able to spend $50 on all things bad for you and enjoyed every bite. I have concluded that Provo, UT is to dessert what Dublin is to beer.
The Sweet Tooth Fairy is a relatively new bake shop in Utah (locations in Provo and Draper) with delicious baked goods of all kinds, and the shop itself is adorable. Their cakebites were featured on Rachael Ray’s show…and you can order them to be delivered anywhere in the country! We arrived just before closing, so they were almost out of everything…but we were able to get our hands on some delicious cupcakes and the famous cakebites (coconut was our favorite flavor!).
Gloria’s Little Italy is a great Italian restaurant in Provo…yes, apparently you can find good Italian food in the middle of the Rocky Mountains! I’ve eaten dinner there before, but for this trip we focused on dessert. I ordered a tasty and freshly filled cannoli because we all know I simply cannot resist that dangerously rich dessert. We also ordered two slices of cake, which were heavenly. That cream filling you see there? Oh what goodness.
For breakfast we had chocolate eclairs and a variety pack of sweet rolls from Shirley’s Homemades Bakery. Yes, I have a serious sweet tooth, but I swear to you I only eat eclairs for breakfast on special occasions (and yes, I do believe kicking Nate’s butt on drums playing Rock Band is a special occasion). The sweet rolls are great, with the perfect amount of icing. Orange and cinnamon tie for first place in my book.
Just when I thought the desserts were over, we decided to have dinner at The Dodo our last night in Salt Lake. (P.S. The BBQ dip turkey sandwich with salad and house dressing is one good meal. I had it twice while I was in town!) The Dodo is also famous for their amazing desserts. We ordered FIVE different kinds of pie (hey, there were 7 adults to feed!) and they were all mighty tasty. Everyone’s favorite was the Banana Cream Cheese Pie. In fact, I’m going to try to recreate that one at home. My second favorite pie was the Avocado Lime Cream Cheese. The flavor was pretty amazing.
So how did this sweet tooth like her sweet ride? I really liked driving the Terrain a lot. I’m not a huge fan of the crossover in general…if I buy a bigger car one day I want it to seat more than 5 people. But honestly, this was a really fun car to drive. And our model had lots of bells and whistles, so it’s been hard going back to my SUPER basic sedan. But I’m surviving.
Things I loved about the Terrain:
- USB port – I really really love this – being able to easily charge and listen to our iPods and iPhones is the best
- Remote keyless entry, with a button that opens the back (I used that all the time) and remote start (we didn’t use this except for fun…but if you live in a hot or cold place, it is pretty darn handy since you can program what temperature you want the car to be when you get in)
- Bluetooth wired through the car speakers…I LOVE using my phone with this feature
- Rear view camera – now that I’m not driving around with this great feature I realize how much I used it. I loved having the rear camera, just gives additional peace of mind when backing the car up.
- It senses if there is a person in the passenger seat and turns the airbags on and off accordingly. It can also tell if the passenger has their seatbelt on and beeps if not (it totally busted my mom)
- Tinted windows (the girls loved this feature although they didn’t realize it…but I didn’t have any complaints about the sun all 2000 miles we drove the car)
- The “Infotainment” System was great and included XM Radio (which was really great to have driving across the barren desert) and the GPS navigation system
- There are about 10 different menus for the driver side dash – it can tell you how many more miles your gas tank has, your instantaneous MPG, etc, etc, etc…and it was super easy to use.
- Cruise control
- Good MPG (better than my Ford Taurus for sure) and high safety ratings
- The two-toned black and brown leather interior was really nice.
The thing I didn’t love:
- The brake pedal was WICKED high. I have a size 8 foot (pretty average) and my toes barely reached the pedal if I kept my heel on the ground. Driving on the freeway this wasn’t really an issue, but driving in town it was pretty annoying actually. I think other GM cars have an adjustable brake pedal, but unfortunately this particular car did not.
All in all it was a great car to drive for out trip! In Nevada a guy at a gas station stopped Nate to say, “Wow! Is that the new Terrain?” Yeah, that’s right buddy, we only drive the latest and greatest.
After sitting in a car for 2000 miles and eating way too much sugar, I think it’s time for me to go work out…for several days straight. Or maybe just watch some TV.