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  1. Sunday, April 29

    Week 275 Menu

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    I love bedhead, blankies, Christmas jammies in April, and big yawns. How can so much cuteness be rolled up in one little person without them even trying?

    I am swamped with work right now. And on Thursday I am heading to Miami (woohoo!) for the Mom 2.0 Summit with my DailyBuzz Moms colleagues. I’m starting to hyperventilate just a little thinking about the week…so, I am going to make this a super easy plan. It involves more prepared foods than I like to use…but…it’s between that and my sanity, which is hanging by a thread, so I choose sanity!

    MONDAY:
    - Spaghetti
    - Sauteed zucchini

    TUESDAY:
    - These frozen chicken cordon bleu things from my grocery store
    - Cauliflower and long grain rice

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw (buying pre-made BBQ pork and coleslaw!)

    THURSDAY:
    - Family fending for themselves!

    FRIDAY:
    - Family fending for themselves!

    SATURDAY:
    - Family fending for themselves! I’ll be partying at the Versace Mansion for Cinco de Mayo…with Owen in tow. How many 7 month olds can say they’ve done that?!

    SUNDAY:
    - Waffles, scrambled eggs and fruit

    Share your menus for the week, please pretty please! Since I’m not providing much inspiration, you’re going to have to rely on each other for that! ;)

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  2. Friday, April 27

    Grandma Wallin’s Bulle

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    My Grandma Wallin was a wonderful cook. A reluctant American, she never stopped eating and cooking like a Swede, despite living in the United States for the last 45+ years of her life. Many of my memories of her are centered around food. Amazing ham for Christmas Eve dinner, rice pudding with a hidden almond for dessert. Swedish meatballs for Sunday dinners. Cheese and hard bread every single day of her life. Despite all these food memories, my strongest by far is of cardamom bread. Officially called vetebröd, our family calls Swedish cardamom bread “bulle,” which means “roll” or “bun” in Swedish. Every time I taste cardamom, no matter what dish it is in, I immediately think of my grandma and her bulle.

    Grandma Wallin served bulle pretty much every time we saw her. My memories of Grandma’s bulle involve buns that looked like cinnamon rolls, but flavored with cardamom rather than cinnamon. I remember one time when I was around 9 years old she came to visit and baked a batch, specifically making a cinnamon version for me. I laugh when I think that I would have asked for cinnamon bulle since I always liked the cardamom version anyway. Crazy 9-year-old Jane.

    My mom has continued the tradition of making bulle, especially at Christmastime. While the little rolled buns remind me of my grandmother, the beautiful braided version of the bread reminds me of my mom and Christmas. Since I’ve been married and have started a family of my own, I always make bulle on Christmas Eve so we can have it Christmas morning. Like my mother, I braid the dough.

    I was thinking about my grandmother’s version of the bread the other day, so I gave my mom a call to find out how Grandma Wallin made her bulle. My mom started to describe the process for making the braid. I stopped her and said, “Yeah, I know how to do that. That’s how I’ve always done it. How did she make the buns?” My mom laughed and said, “She switched to the buns when she was older. My memories of her bulle are of the braids!” While we both had the same Grandma Wallin bulle memories, it was funny to us that the shape of her bread was so different in our minds.

    I was talking to my sister about these memories the other day. She’s nearly nine years younger than I am, so her memories are not always the same as mine. When I was telling her about how my recollections of Grandma Wallin’s bread were similar but different from our mom’s, she laughed and said, “I always thought that Grandma made cinnamon rolls…but now that I think about it, I’m certain it was bulle. I never even realized those buns were the same as the braided bread Mom makes.” I love that one type of food in the same family can have such different associations for the different family members.

    As I write this, I have a batch of bulle baking, the familiar scent filling our home. I am delighted that my daughters love bulle as much as I do. I look forward to teaching them how to make the bread and then watching them one day make it for their own children. It remains to be seen what shape of bulle they will associate with me and ultimately make themselves!

    Please share your own family food memories! Would love to hear them!

    Note: I’ve shared the vetebröd recipe previously, but I’ve only ever made the bread into a braid. This was the first time I made bulle into buns like my grandma did and they turned out deliciously. I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit here to tailor to the bun shape. If you want to try your hand at the braid, click here!

    Bulle (aka Vetebröd, Swedish cardamom bread, in bun form)
    Makes 48 buns…I promise you can eat them all.
    - 2 1/2 cups milk
    - 2 cakes compressed yeast OR 2 packets active dry yeast OR 4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
    - 1 cup sugar
    - 8 cups sifted flour
    - 1 cup melted butter
    - 1/2 tsp salt
    - ~3 tsp ground cardamom
    - 1/2 cup or so of butter, melted
    - Sugar
    - Powdered sugar
    - Milk

    1. Scald milk and cool to luke warm. Crumble yeast in bowl: add 1/2 cup luke warm milk and stir until yeast is dissolved. Add remaining milk and 1/4 c sugar. Beat in 3 C flour and continue beating until smooth. Cover and set aside to rise until double in bulk, 3/4 – 1 hour.

    2. Add remaining sugar, 1 cup melted, cooled butter and salt. Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cardamom and 4 1/2 C flour to yeast mixture. Place remaining 1/2 C flour on board or pastry cloth for kneading. (I let the KitchenAid do the kneading, so add 5 cups of flour at this point if you are going to do the same.)

    3. Turn out dough and knead until smooth and elastic. (If you are using the KitchenAid to knead, use the dough hook and knead for 10 minutes or so on low.) Place dough in greased bowl. Cover with cloth and let rise until double in bulk, 3/4 – 1 hour.

    4. Divide dough into four even pieces. Roll each piece out into a rectangle, about 15″ x 20″. Brush rectangle with butter, then sprinkle evenly with sugar and cardamom (dividing the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of cardamom between the four rectangles…it may be more than that). Roll the dough up so you end up with a 20″ long roll. Slice off pieces so you end up with 12 pieces per rolled rectangle. Place rolls in buttered muffin tins. Let rise until double in bulk, 30-40 mins. Brush with egg. Bake in moderately hot oven (400 degrees F) 12-15 minutes, until tops and bottoms are golden.

    5. Drizzle rolls with glaze (see below).

    Vanilla Glaze
    - 1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
    - 1/2 tsp vanilla
    - Milk or half-and-half or light cream

    Whisk sugar and vanilla together. Stir in enough milk/half-and-half/light cream to make drizzling consistency (a little goes a long way!).

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  3. Thursday, April 26

    Gearing Up For Baby: Stroller and Car Seat Update

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    It’s been a while since I’ve done a Gearing Up For Baby post because, well, I’m not really gearing up anymore! Baby is here and we are in the groove! (P.S. How is he 7 months old already? Oh my…)

    I do want to do a quick update on the strollers and car seats that I reviewed before Owen was born. Thought it would be nice to let you know how they’ve been working when used with, you know, an actual baby.

    I LOVE the Orbit Baby travel system. Hands down best travel system I’ve ever used, and I’ve used quite a few. Owen and I took a trip to Utah a few months ago and I decided to take the Maxi Cosi travel system on the trip instead since it was smaller. While I had been enjoying using the Orbit system up until that point, it wasn’t until I used another system that I realized just how awesome the Orbit really is.

    Here are my follow-up thoughts on both systems.

    Orbit Baby

    • The soft handle is even greater than I thought it would be. It makes carrying the car seat sooooo much easier. It’s also super easy to flip up and down – no buttons to push. Love it.
    • The rotating base of the car seat is so handy for so many reasons. I could tell it would be, but now that I use it daily, it really is a fabulous feature.
    • The paparazzi shield is also really great. Use it all the time.
    • The sidekick skateboard for Anna is perfect. Again, use it all the time. She loves it, I love it. And it looks like a real skateboard, which makes it ultra cool.
    • The car seat is heavy. For sure. But all the other stuff makes up for it. And, again, the soft handle makes all the difference. I would much rather carry this heavier car seat with the flexible handle than a lighter one with a hard handle…because, let’s face it, car seats feel heavy no matter what.
    • Warning: If you use this system, people will talk to you. ALL THE TIME. I am not exaggerating when I say that every single time I use the car seat and stroller base in public, people either ask me about it or I overhear them talking about it. I really truly am not exaggerating. I even did a 10 minute demo for a couple at the mall last week. So, if you are not a natural extrovert, look at the stroller as a way to hone those skills! ;)
    • Orbit just came out with a toddler car seat that fits into the infant car seat base so you can continue to have the rotation benefit. Very cool – I’m telling you that rotation feature makes life so much easier. And the Double Helix stroller is coming out this fall. They’ll even have an upgrade kit for people like me who already have the single stroller so you can turn it into a double.

    Maxi Cosi

    • I love the Mila stroller. I use it now in place of my Maclaren. It folds and unfolds easily, doesn’t take up much space, it has the most user-friendly brake system on a stroller that I’ve ever seen, the storage area is big and easy to access (hasn’t been a problem having the access point in the front, which I had wondered about), and it can stand on its own when folded. It is a great stroller!
    • When the car seat is attached to the stroller, it actually feels a little wobbly. I’m not worried about its safety at all, it’s just, well, wobbly.
    • The car seat is fine. Pretty standard. It’s nice and light, which is probably my favorite feature. Everything else about the car seat is pretty basic and similar to other brands.

    If you are looking at travel systems in the Orbit price range, I highly recommend the Orbit. I have enjoyed using it so much and it really has made life a lot easier in so many ways! The Maxi Cosi is in a lower price range and is a nice system…definitely a good option and I like it MUCH better than the Peg Perego system I had with Anna. That said…I heart Orbit 4ever.

    Links to my original posts about these travel systems, which have more information about the various features:

    Links to the manufacturer’s websites:

    I received both of these travel systems from the respective companies for free to review on the site. I was not compensated monetarily. Even though the systems were given to me, all opinions are my own and I was at liberty to say what I thought about the products, positive or negative.

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  4. Tuesday, April 24

    Kitchen Tip: Shredding Chicken

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    Today’s Kitchen Tip is SO AWESOME. Brace yourselves. No really, you might want to sit down.

    The other night I was bopping around Facebook and couldn’t help but notice my friend Malerie’s status update, which claimed that using your KitchenAid stand mixer is the best way to shred chicken. I’ll admit, I was not totally convinced. I couldn’t really see the chicken coming out shredded and it just seemed like more dishes to wash in the end. But I decided to trust Malerie…I told myself that next time I needed to shred chicken, I must give this trick a try.

    Well, the need for shredding chicken arose just days later, so I tossed the chicken breasts into the KitchenAid, grabbed the paddle attachment, turned the mixer up to about medium high and let ‘er have at it.

    HEAVENS TO BETSY it worked like a charm! And I have never used the phrase ‘heavens to Betsy,’ so that tells you how awesome it was. TOTALLY worth washing the mixer bowl and paddle attachment.

    Thank you, Malerie. You’ve changed my life…well, at least when I need shredded chicken.

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  5. Sunday, April 22

    Week 274 Menu

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    We have a giant patio with a teeny tiny outdoor table that we never use. Well, I use it all the time to photograph food, but that’s about all it is good for. I’ve been really wanting to get a big table and chairs for the patio. Yesterday Nate bought and built a beautiful table, chairs and a bench. I AM SO EXCITED. Our family will finally be able to enjoy eating outside in the lovely weather together. It’s about time…we’ve only been living in California for 10+ years! Owen loves the set up, so I think we made a good pick!

    Also, won’t this table be pretty for food photography? I have a feeling you will all be seeing it quite often!

    MONDAY:
    - Rachel Sandwiches (Cate’s favorite)

    TUESDAY:
    - Stuffed Peppers (didn’t get to these last week!)

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Omelettes (Anna’s favorite)
    - Fresh fruit

    THURSDAY:
    - Family Fun Night at school – pizza will be served!

    FRIDAY:
    - Grill night…hot dogs, hamburgers (Nate’s favorite)
    - Baked beans, fresh fruit

    SATURDAY:
    - Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    - Orange Chicken (Nate’s other favorite)
    - Rice & Veggies

    I wasn’t feeling super inspired to plan a menu this morning, despite reading through all of your great menus from last week. So, I went with my family’s favorite foods. At least I know everyone will eat what I make this week!

    Time to share menus! Please let us know what you’re eating this week for dinner!

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  6. Friday, April 20

    Trader Joe’s Obsessions of the Day

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    I try not to mention Trader Joe’s too often for two reasons. First, they’re not paying me. Second, I know that not all of you are lucky enough to live close to a Trader Joe’s, so I try not to torture you. But, today, torture I must. Because those of you who DO have a Trader Joe’s nearby need to get on over there and indulge in my latest obsessions.

    Almondictive Bits. I’m just going to quote the package because it says it all: A compulsively, compelling candy, caramelized almond morsels covered in dark chocolate. The name and the description speak for themselves.

    Mini Heirloom Tomatoes. I hesitate to even mention these because it means I am encouraging you to purchase produce that has traveled a bajillion miles…but sometimes a girl needs a tomato. Especially when her CSA has basil. So, I blame my CSA for my irresponsible produce-buying habits this week. Okay, seriously, I really truly did feel guilty buying these, and I fully expected them to not taste good because when do tomatoes from the grocery store ever taste good? THESE DO. I cannot believe the flavor punch of these mini heirlooms. I really try to keep our produce purchases local and organic, but I may have to spring for these mini heirlooms occasionally. And, in case you were wondering, they tasted GREAT with that locally-grown CSA basil I mentioned. ;)

    Organic Tomatillo Roasted Yellow Chili Salsa. I. Love. This. Salsa. If you’re looking for chunky, look elsewhere, but the flavor and texture of this salsa is to die for. Everyone in our family gobbles it up.

    Belgian Chocolate Pudding. My friend Michelle was telling me how this stuff is amazing. So amazing she bought it and hid it in the fridge so no one else in the family new it existed. Michelle is onto something. This pudding tastes like rich chocolate mousse, with a really great, thick pudding texture. SOOOOOOOOO good. Please note that my crazy sister who doesn’t “really like chocolate that much” {what?!?!} actually didn’t really like this pudding that much either…because it is all chocolate, people. GREAT chocolate. {Sister is nuts. Although she is as addicted to the almondictive bits as I am…there’s hope!}

    I’m done. You’re welcome.

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  7. Wednesday, April 18

    Homemade Enchilada Sauce {Red}

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    I’ve had a hankering for enchiladas lately. Normally I go with the creamy chicken enchilada recipe that I love so dearly, but this week I felt like a more traditional enchilada. And I wanted to try something I’ve never done before…make the sauce from scratch. I’ve always either bought a sauce packet or enchilada sauce in a can, but I got to thinking yesterday…homemade enchilada sauce would probably be pretty easy to throw together. It was!
    homemade enchilada sauce from @janemaynard
    After some poking around the Internet, I discovered that most enchilada sauce recipes are pretty much the same, so I just did a variation on what I found. I really really liked how the enchiladas came out! Nate and Anne (my sister who recently moved to town) agreed it was very tasty. No more packets and cans for me…I’ll definitely make the sauce from scratch from now on!
    homemade enchilada sauce from @janemaynard
    I stuffed last night’s enchiladas with pinto beans, cheese, grilled chicken, and sauteed bell peppers and onions. I just couldn’t stop myself from adding more and more stuff! Of course you could keep them more simple, but, I’ve gotta say, that combo was mighty fine.
    Also, if I may, I do believe that I made the best guacamole ever last night. How do I do it? ;)
    homemade enchilada sauce from @janemaynard

     

    homemade enchilada sauce from @janemaynard
    Homemade Enchilada Sauce {Red}
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish
    Cuisine: Mexican
    Ingredients
    • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pushed through a press
    • 2 tablespoons finely diced onion- ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
    • 1½ cups water
    • ½ teaspoon cumin
    • salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon)
    • cayenne pepper to taste (if desired…I left it out last night for the girls, but we agreed this sauce would be SO good all hot and spicy!)
    Instructions
    1. Heat about 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Sautee onions until translucent. Add the rest of the oil, garlic, flour and chili powder. Stir constantly and cook for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Add tomato sauce, water, cumin. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne pepper (if using).
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  8. Sunday, April 15

    Week 273 Menu

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    Good Morning! Or afternoon or evening…whatever it is for you right now, I hope it’s good! And no matter the time of day, I’m pretty sure waffles are always welcome!

    Life has been busier than normal work-wise. I’ve still gotten meals on the table, but not as many as I’d like. Hoping things calm down a bit this week, although I’m not holding my breath!

    MONDAY:
    - Enchiladas
    - Guacamole and chips

    TUESDAY:
    - Leftovers

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Caprese paninis (didn’t get to them last week, but my basil arrives from the CSA this week, so it’s all good!)

    THURSDAY:
    - Island Pork with Sticky Coconut Rice

    FRIDAY:
    - Eat out

    SATURDAY:
    - Breakfast for Dinner

    SUNDAY:
    - Stuffed Peppers

    Your turn – what are you eating this week? As always, thank you for sharing your menus…they really are such a help every week when I sit down to plan!

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  9. Friday, April 13

    iPhone Tip Follow-Up

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    Remember the iPhone tip about apps running in the background that I shared a few weeks ago? Well….I have an update that I need to share with you today! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here to get the scoop.)

    My friend’s boyfriend is an actual iPhone engineer at Apple. They were talking about this and he has some updated and important information for us. Apparently when iPhone apps are running in the background, they are not eating up battery life or processing power. Well, they can be…if it’s an app that is actually doing something, like tracking GPS, then it could be using up some power, but otherwise, the apps are not killing your iPhone’s life and speed.

    In my defense, our Apple engineer friend said that Genius bar employees are one of the reasons that this myth is being perpetuated…and I did do research online before writing my original post. Every source said that open apps use up battery and processing power. I blame the so called geniuses for all this confusion!

    Regardless of this new information that has come to light, I am still DELIGHTED that I learned the trick. Now that I know how to pull up open apps (just double click the home button), I use it ALL THE TIME. I tend to close apps that that I don’t use often. And the ones I use frequently I leave running. It really is so much faster to double click the home button to pull up whatever is open and get to the apps from there. I love it!

    So what originally was something I thought bugged me turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the iPhone. Of course. Should I have ever have doubted Steve Jobs and my friend’s boyfriend? No! :)

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  10. Wednesday, April 11

    Lemon Cheesecake

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    As I mentioned when I shared our Easter feast plans, I wanted to make a lemon dessert for Easter. I decided to give lemon cheesecake a go because, you know, if you’re not going to have chocolate for dessert, it’s probably a good idea to get cream cheese involved somehow.

    I did a quick Internet search and found a recipe on AllRecipes that sounded pretty simple and yummy. I was right. It was simple and mighty delicious! There are a few steps to the process, but nothing complicated or difficult, I promise!

    One big plus for me with this recipe is you don’t have to cook the cheesecake in a water bath. Now, I know that cooking cheesecake in a water bath makes for more even baking, but I can’t ever get a tight enough seal with tinfoil wrapped around my springform pan, so it just stresses me out. I did NOT use a waterbath for this cake and, I’ll admit, my edges have a bit of a different texture than the center of the cake…but who cares?!?! The whole thing tastes AWESOME, so I personally don’t think it matters.

    Another plus to this recipe? You don’t have to worry about the cake cracking because you pour a sour cream layer on the top anyway. It’s great! And mine didn’t even crack to begin with, so double bonus.

    Here’s the recipe! Enjoy!

    Lemon Cheesecake
    Adapted from a recipe on AllRecipes – I made it ‘lemonier’ and cut the nuts.

    Jane note: I used all the zest and juice from two lemons for this recipe. So, if you get two lemons, you’ll be all set!

    Crust:
    - 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
    - 1/4 cup sugar
    - 1/3 cup butter, melted (Jane note: next time I’m going to try 1/2 cup butter)

    Filling:
    - 4 eight-ounce-packages cream cheese (32 ounces total), softened
    - 1 1/4 cups sugar
    - 4 eggs
    - 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    - 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
    - 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Topping:
    - 2 cups sour cream
    - 1/4 cup sugar
    - 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
    - 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    - 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    In a bowl, combine crumbs and sugar; stir in butter until evenly distributed (I used a small whisk, a fork would work too). Press onto the bottom of a greased 10-in. springform pan; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar well until smooth (I used my KitchenAid mixer with the paddle attachment). Add eggs, beating on low speed just until combined. Add lemon juice, peel and vanilla; beat just until blended. Pour into crust. (Quick note – I was doing a lot of reading about cheesecake before I prepared this recipe. You want to make sure the cream cheese and sugar are very well blended, no lumps. But once the eggs are in, you want to mix slowly and just until combined to avoid adding in air. Both of these techniques prevent the cake from cracking while cooking.)

    Bake at 350 degrees F for 55 minutes or until center is almost set. (The center 2-3 inches should be just set and maybe look a little underdone when you pull it out. My whole cake was a little jiggly but you could tell visually that it was set, especially around the edges.) Remove from the oven; let stand for 5 minutes. Combine sour cream topping ingredients; spread over filling. (I had some leftover topping, just fyi…if I had used it all, I would have overflowed the pan.) Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

    Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen (this helps keep the cake from cracking as it cools); cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing.

    I didn’t care about putting the cake on a serving platter, so I kept it on the springform pan and put the sides back on with foil across the top to store in the fridge.

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