Menu Banner
  1. Sunday, March 31

    Week 323 Menu

    Happy Easter and Passover! Such a festive time of year I love it! Our family celebrates Easter and the kids successfully found their baskets this morning. I was actually more organized than usual this year, so most of the food for this afternoon’s dinner was prepped yesterday, making for a nice, relaxed morning complete with candy, resurrection buns and Owen freaking out because he doesn’t get to eat this cake for breakfast. (In case you’re wondering, I used my White Chocolate Raspberry Cake recipe and the decoration inspiration came from my uber-talented friend Lindsey Johnson.)

    By the way, I decided to go the super simple route for our Easter dinner this year: a small ham, roasted carrots and asparagus, funeral potatoes, and spinach salad with grapefruit and feta. The girls made our place cards and I think they did a fabulous job.

    Today marks a first for This Week for Dinner…I am literally copying and pasting last week’s menu! I did in fact make dinner last week, but I didn’t make one thing that I had planned! Not exactly what I love to do, but at least it makes this week’s planning easy!

    MONDAY:
    – Bistro Chicken
    – Mashed potatoes and a green veggie

    TUESDAY:
    – Caprese salad
    – Crusty bread
    – Roasted vegetables

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Chicken Pot Pie

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Island Pork with Sticky Coconut Rice
    – Veggie of some sort

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    Waffles and fruit

    As usual, looking forward to seeing your lovely menus for the week! 


  2. Thursday, March 28

    Sweet and Salty Holiday Popcorn {Bunny Bait}…and a few thoughts on parenthood

    I’m an artist and designer, so I like things to look good. Sadly, though, I am also lazy lazy LAZY. Rarely do I pull out all the stops for cute holiday crafts and treats and such. Once in a while, though, I stumble on an idea that is super cute but also very simple and I actually do get a little holiday pizazz goin’ on.

    Bunny Bait is one of those very ideas! My friend Erin wrote about it on Today’s Mama. She got the idea from Sing For Your Supper, who got the idea from Bake at 350, who got the idea from Nest of Posies. Bottom line? Bunny Bait gets around, people.

    Here’s the thing. Bunny Bait is perfectly cute for Easter and I love the name. But the beauty of this recipe is it is so easily adaptable to any holiday or event. Just pick up the M&Ms du jour and change up the candy melt color and you have deliciously sweet and salty popcorn goodness for any holiday. In fact, this is what we will be making for our holiday gifts this December. It’s easy to throw together a large batch, the popcorn is super cute, it tastes awesome and you can dress it up with matchy-matchy baggies and bows. Done and done.

    Erin mentioned that Bunny Bait may be slightly addictive. She’s right, and here’s why. You inevitable take a bite that has popcorn and an M&M. And it’s delicious, but then you realize that you didn’t get a pretzel in that bite, so you dig back in and get a pretzel-ful bite, only to discover it was missing the popcorn. And the cycle continues until you have eaten the whole bowl. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Probably best to make this with purpose and get it bagged up and given away ASAP.

    Also, lest you look at these pictures and think we are a perfect family with a patient mother who cooks with her kids while birds flit about our heads and sing pretty songs…Anna did have a lot of fun making this with me and it was really sweet and cute. But, I must admit, towards the end a few things got me frustrated (that had nothing to do with the recipe or with Anna but everything to do with me and my lack of sleep and patience) and I ended up yelling at her for something stupid and felt terrible as she ran away crying with her blankie. I realized my mistake immediately and was overcome with regret and sadness. I hate these moments as a mom. I ran to my sweet girl and gave her a good, long hug. She quickly forgave (kids are amazing that way) and we finished our Bunny Bait adventures with smiles. But, looking at these photos of the Bunny Bait, I still have a twinge of guilt. But I also have a resolve to do better next time. This parenting gig certainly is salty and sweet, but I suppose the salty just helps me truly appreciate and seek after the sweet.

    Sweet and Salty Holiday Popcorn {Bunny Bait}
     
    From all over the place, original idea from Nest of Posies
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • ½ cup unpopped popcorn (yields about 24 cups)
    • 8 ounces candy melts (you can just use white and let the M&Ms and/or sprinkles add the color, but feel free to use a colored candy melt, too!)
    • 1½ cups rod pretzels, broken into smaller pieces
    • 1 12-oz package M&Ms (holiday themed)
    • Sprinkles to match your color theme (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Pop your popcorn (I used my Whirley Pop). Pour into a giant bowl. Add pretzels and M&Ms, but don’t stir anything yet. Melt the candy melts as per package instructions, then drizzle over the popcorn mixture. Toss and toss and toss to coat. (It takes a lot of tossing!) The pretzels and M&Ms will want to sink to the bottom, so when you serve it or put in bags for gifts, be sure to toss again and then scoop. Also, if you do plan to bag it for gifts, let it sit out for a bit to allow the candy melts to temper.
    2. For the bunny bait, I used pink and green candy melts. I poured the green first, tossed it, then let it sit for a bit before drizzling the pink, so that they didn’t mix together. The result was cute, but next time I’m just going to use one color – it’s just as cute and less effort.

     


  3. Tuesday, March 26

    Cocoa Syrup (aka Homemade Chocolate Syrup)

    Friends. I have quite a find for you today. A delicious, chocolatey find that I should have discovered long before now.

    Years ago Nate and I were addicted to the show Good Eats, something I believe I have confessed before. One of the episodes I clearly remember was about making your own chocolate syrup. I wasn’t interested. I don’t really like chocolate syrup. I’ve never really liked it in chocolate milk (Nate disagrees with me on this count, for the record). I also had no desire to put it on ice cream. I’m a hot fudge girl! So, yeah, I didn’t think much about the recipe.

    But the last few years I’ve been finding that sometimes I do wish I had a bottle of chocolate syrup in the fridge. It just comes in handy sometimes. But I want GOOD chocolate syrup, not the regular stuff you get at the store. I don’t actually hate the regular syrup, but, honestly, I’d just rather go without. To me, the taste isn’t worth the calories.

    WELLLLL…Anna wanted me to figure out how to make a Starbucks drink that she’s obsessed with (recipe to come later this week!) and it involves chocolate syrup. So, remembering that Good Eats episode from long ago, I dug up the recipe and gave the syrup a try.

    I compared a few recipes and decided Alton’s looked the best, so I just followed it verbatim. Heavens, this stuff is good. And the name cocoa syrup is much more fitting than simply chocolate syrup. It is rich and has a depth of flavor you don’t get with the usual “chocolate flavor” syrups out there. The cocoa syrup also has the exact same texture as a regular syrup, so it can serve all of your ‘syruppy’ needs. I have decided we will always have a bottle or two of this delectable stuff in the fridge. It, quite simply, is worth the calories.

    So far we’ve used the syrup in milk and on ice cream. It was delicious both ways. A quick squeeze on the finger ain’t too bad, either.

    When you make your chocolate milk, don’t be stingy with the syrup! The more the better. The chocolate milk reminded me a lot of the Cow Girl Creamery chocolate milk in San Francisco. Yep, it’s that good.

    A note about the cocoa I use: For the last several years I have been using high-quality cocoa powder for baking. Scharffen Berger and Guittard have both been wonderful. Yes, it costs more. But it is WORTH IT. Trust me. I made the same exact chocolate cake for both Owen’s and Cate’s birthdays. Owen’s cake was made with the expensive cocoa while Cate’s used the regular cocoa you get at the store (I had to use it in a pinch). I kid you not, they tasted like I used a different recipe, and I have witnesses to back me up. Owen’s cake was amazing. Cate’s was good but nothing special. It was all about the cocoa.

    Cocoa Syrup (aka Homemade Chocolate Syrup)
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 1½ cups water
    • 3 cups sugar
    • 1½ cups Dutch-processed cocoa
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    Instructions
    1. In a medium pot, stir together water and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk in cocoa, vanilla, salt, and corn syrup. (Jane note: I had everything measured and ready to go so I could whisk it all in at once.) Whisk until all of the solids have dissolved. Reduce heat but make sure it’s still simmering and cook sauce until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly.
    2. Cool to room temperature and pour into squeeze bottles. (Jane note: I bought Wilton squeeze bottles at Michaels, which work well. This recipe fills two of those bottles. HOWEVER…the opening is a bit small, so I’m going to be on the lookout for bottles with a larger hole, like you get for ketchup or mustard. I would just cut the ones I have, but then the caps won’t stay on.)
    3. Refrigerate to store. Makes 24 ounces.


  4. Libby’s Giveaway Winner

    Time to announce the Libby’s giveaway winner, who will be receiving an assortment of Libby’s goodies and a Le Creuset Ink Grill Pan.

    Kelly D, who said, “I love new veggie recipes. Thanks!”

    Congratulations, Kelly! Thank you, Libby’s!


  5. Sunday, March 24

    Week 322 Menu

    Anna brought this home from school last week.

    Her teachers said it was so funny, when they were asking the kids what foods they didn’t like, most of the answers were what you would expect: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beans. Then they got to Anna, who’s response was, “Chicken pot pie.” The teachers thought it was hilarious how specific (and random!) her answer was. I would like to take this moment to publicly defend my chicken pot pie. It is amazing and Anna doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Also, we will be re-reading the end of “Green Eggs and Ham” with that girl. Also, chicken pot pie sure sounds good right now, I think I’ll put it on the menu. (I’m so mean, eh?)

    MONDAY:
    Bistro Chicken
    – Mashed potatoes and a green veggie

    TUESDAY:
    – Caprese salad
    – Crusty bread
    – Roasted vegetables

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Chicken Pot Pie

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    Island Pork with Sticky Coconut Rice
    – Veggie of some sort

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    – Easter Sunday! Menu TBD…please share your plans if you have them, I need inspiration!

    You know the drill – bring on the menus! 


  6. Thursday, March 21

    New Kitchen Goodies…and Rubber Glove Ambiguity

    When we drove to Utah a few weeks ago, I had to stop at the Williams-Sonoma outlet on the California-Nevada border. Overall I was underwhelmed, but I did walk away with a few goodies that make me happy!

    My first find was this adorable mixing bowl. This bowl has brains and beauty. I love the pouring feature, there are measurements on the inside, and the bottom has a rubber ring so it stays put on the counter. I was drawn to the bowl because it reminded me of the white and red Tupperware mix-and-pour bowls that my mom and Grandma have used for AGES. My new bowl is, ironically, more retro looking than my mom’s actual retro bowl. Funny! Anyway, my sister used the bowl this weekend and agreed that it is very lovable. I found a similar bowl on the Williams-Sonoma websote, if you want to check it out. Lucky for me I only spent 10 bucks. Woohoo!

    Second, I finally bought an 8×8 cake pan with super straight, right-angled edges. Although, as I type this, I’m wondering why I didn’t also buy a 9×13 pan of similar shape. DUH. Oh well, I’m still excited about the 8×8 pan! (Click here to read more about why I wanted a pan like this.)

    Third, I bought rubber gloves. I have never owned rubber gloves. I had been thinking I should get a pair, so when I spotted these cute pink ones at the outlet, I grabbed them. And I am ambiguous about their existence. I like them in theory, but honestly, I feel like my hands turn into horses hoofs when I put them on. I feel so clumsy!

    How about a fun little side story about my clumsiness? A few days after I bought the gloves, I sliced my finger on my new KitchenAid food processor reaching in to move the mushrooms around. (Rookie mistake that I’ll never make again.) I thought, “Good thing I have these rubber gloves so I can still do dishes!” and then started to do the dishes and proceeded to fill the glove of the injured hand with water when reaching into the sink for a dish. (Another rookie mistake I’ll never make again. Apparently reaching for things is downright dangerous.) ANYWAY…back to the topic at hand.

    I want to pose the following question. Rubber gloves: love ’em or hate ’em? I’m wondering if I just need practice, or if they’ll always just be annoying and used only for “special occasions” (i.e. slicing off the top of your finger). Share your feelings! I want to know what you think!


  7. Tuesday, March 19

    Ginger Candied Vegetables {and a giveaway from Libby’s with another chance at some Le Creuset!}

    This giveaway is now closed, but there is other good stuff in this post, so keep reading…the glaze on these veggies is yum!

    Today’s post is chockfull of great stuff. A recipe, helpful resources AND a giveaway. Are you ready? Let’s go!

    I cannot believe that Passover and Easter are NEXT WEEK. Where does the time go? I blame the Daylight Savings Fairy.

    Libby’s® Fruits & Vegetables recently contacted me about creating a side dish recipe for Easter and/or Passover that uses carrots, peas and corn. I thought and thought and decided candied vegetables would taste pretty darn good, especially with a little ginger thrown into the mix. So Little Chef Anna and I hit the kitchen and started creating. She looked into the big container of brown sugar and exclaimed in disbelief, “Brown sugar and salt and pepper?!?!” I assured her it would be delicious. Once she took a bite, she agreed!

    The glaze for these veggies would be delicious on a host of vegetables, not just carrots, peas and corn, although carrots lend themselves very  nicely to this treatment. Feel free to experiment with your veggies! I like the salty sweet flavor and the ginger adds a nice layer of flavor. This side dish would be a nice complement to all kinds of Easter feasts!

    Libby’s, the company sponsoring today’s giveaway, has two new fabulous resources for you that help make the meal planning process easier and more inspiring. We wanted to share them with you today!

    • Libby’s Digital Recipe Box: The Digital Recipe Box application just launched on Facebook. It houses more than 100 recipes and allows users to share, like and print recipes to their heart’s content. The app also allows you to plan meals by dish, ingredient or type of gathering. You will also find the recipes featured on the…wait for it…
    • Libby’s Pinterest Page: The Pinterest page is also brand-spakin’ new, featuring recipes, family activity ideas, nutrition tips and more!

    Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Giveaway time! And we have MORE Le Creuset to share with you!

    One lucky, randomly-selected winner will receive a variety of Libby’s® Fruits & Vegetables product as well as a Le Creuset 10.5″ Oblong Grill Pan in Ink. Oh how I LOVE Le Creuset’s Ink.

     

    Here’s how to enter!

    Be sure to leave separate comments for each additional entry. All comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Monday, March 25. (Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address.)

     

     

    Good luck with the giveaway! Big thank to Libby’s! And, without further ado, today’s recipe!

    Ginger Candied Vegetables {and a giveaway from Libby's with another chance at some Le Creuset!}
     
    From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 2 15-ounce cans Libby’s Gourmet Baby Carrots, drained
    • 1 15-ounce can Libby’s whole corn, drained
    • 1 15-ounce can Libby’s all-natural peas, drained
    • (This glaze would be good on other types of veggies, too. Shoot for 3-4 pounds total of vegetables if you mix things up. Blanched or steamed vegetables would work very well.)
    Instructions
    1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add brown sugar, ginger, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for a few minutes, until sugar crystals are mostly dissolved (about 3 or 4 minutes total). Add veggies, stir and cook until vegetables are heated through. Serve immediately. Makes about 10-15 servings.

     

    This post was sponsored by Libby’s – payment was received for services rendered.


  8. Sunday, March 17

    Week 321 Menu

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Tonight we are having green noodles and green lemon bars. They didn’t have spinach fettuccine at the grocery store, so I’m going to try food coloring in the boiling water. I hope it works or so much for green noodles on St. Patrick’s Day!

    Cate picked out most of the items on this week’s menu, so hopefully that means she’ll actually eat her dinner every night. Honestly, not holding my breath. Kids.

    MONDAY:
    Homemade pizza

    TUESDAY:
    – Spaghetti
    – Salad and garlic bread

    WEDNESDAY:
    Chicken Soup with Rice
    – Crusty bread

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    Bistro Chicken
    – Mashed Potatoes and a green veggie

    SATURDAY:
    Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    – Caprese salad with crusty bread and roasted vegetables

    Can’t wait to see your menus! They really are so helpful to look at when planning every week! And whether you are Irish or not, hope you have a lucky day!


  9. Friday, March 15

    Pork Chop Experiment

    Today’s post is fraught with diversions and side notes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

    Pork chops. There is such a fine line between good pork chops and terrible pork chops that I just usually avoid cooking them altogether. (On a related note, this recipe for pork loin is the best pork I’ve ever cooked or eaten. The recipe is super reliable and beyond delicious. Side note #1 is now complete.) The other day I was thinking about pork chops and thought to myself that the AMAZING technique I discovered from America’s Test Kitchen for cooking steak could perhaps be applied to pork chops. (Side note #2: If you haven’t yet made the perfect steak, what are you waiting for? Seriously, you’ll never cook a steak on the grill again.) The technique involves baking the meat before searing and using a thermoeter.  When you follow this technique, the steak cooks very evenly and comes out perfectly every time.

    Okay, so back to pork chops. When I toured America’s Test Kitchen in Boston last summer, I got to meet a few of the chefs. As I was ruminating over pork chops this week, I pestered emailed Chef Dan to ask his opinion. He said he thought it would work and gave me some advice, including target temperatures for the pork chops when cooking.

    SOOOOO…I tried it last night and…it worked! I used the garden variety 3/4″ – 1″ thick boneless pork chops at the grocery store because that’s all they had that day. The pork chops came out not dry (woohoo!) and had great flavor. It’s still pork, so, you know, it’s no filet mignon. But the pork chops were simple and yummy and Anna and Owen could not stop eating them!

    I am going to try the technique again another time with a different kind of chop and see what happens. But for now, here’s what I did if you want to give it a try yourself! The recipe is nice and simple!

    Thanks for the advice, Dan of the Test Kitchens! For the record, if anyone cooks this and something goes wrong, blame me and not Dan! Unlike ATK, where they test recipes literally hundreds of times, the recipe below has been tested ONCE by yours truly. That’s what I call thorough recipe development.

    Pork Chop Experiment
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Pork
    Ingredients
    • - ¾″ – 1″ thick pork chops
    • - Rock salt (or a nice coarse salt if you don’t have the rock salt)
    • - Pepper
    • - A bit of olive oil
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
    2. Let pork chops sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Pat dry then sprinkle with rock salt and pepper on both sides, pushing the salt into the surface of the meat with your fingers.
    3. Line a baking sheet with foil then place a wire rack on the lined cookie sheet (I also put a bit of foil over the wire rack for easier clean-up). Place the pork chops on the rack and insert an instant read, oven-proof thermometer into the center of one of the chops. Place in oven and cook until temperature reaches 115 degrees F (this took about 30 minutes).
    4. When the temperature hits 110 degrees, begin preheating a skillet at medium heat. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of oil on the pan while heating and spread it around by tipping the pan. Sear the pork chops (that have reached 115 degrees), about 5 minutes per side, until they reach 135 degrees. Don’t cook them longer than that! Quickly sear the edges just to brown them up and make them look prettier.
    5. Let meat sit for 5 minutes then serve.

     


  10. Land O Lakes Giveaway Winner

    Time to announce the randomly-selected winner of the Land O’ Lakes giveaway, which included butter (of course!), the orange Le Creuset cast iron skillet and the Anthropologie goodies!

    Comment #100 was the lucky winner! Emily, who said, “I have always wanted a cast iron skillet!!! But I have never had one!” will now get to try her hand at the skillet. Congratulations, Emily!

    Thanks to all who entered and thank you to Land O’ Lakes!