Sunday, September 29
When we lived in San Diego previously, Nate would get The Viking chocolate cake from Extraordinary Desserts every year for my birthday. That’s right, an ENTIRE cake. It was decadent and thoughtful and something I looked forward to all year. Then…we moved away. Nate tried with all his might to find a cake in the Bay Area to take The Viking’s place, and, while we found some delicious cakes, nothing lived up to the legend of The Viking. I have to admit, this cake is one of the best things about moving back to San Diego…maybe even better than the weather! Nate got me the cake this week and it was just as good as we remembered! Layers of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, chocolate pastry cream, ganache and a sweet-crunchy-praline-nutty coating on the outside, The Viking is the best chocolate cake ever. Yeah, I said it.
Enough cake talk. On to the menu! We were supposed to have pot roast tonight, but we made last-minute plans with some friends who are in from out of town, so we’ll have a nice Sunday dinner on a weeknight instead!
– Pot roast
– Mashed potatoes, gravy and a veggie
– Barbecue Chicken Pizza
– Chicken Caesar Wraps
– Chips and fresh fruit
– Eat out
You know the drill – time to share your menus for the week. Thank you!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 1:50 pm 59 Comments
Categories: fab faves, weekly menus Tags: birthday cake, dinner plans, extraordinary desserts, meal plan, menu plan, the viking, weekly menu, weekly menu planning |
Friday, September 27
I can’t believe it’s already Friday and that Friday is almost over!
I spent my birthday morning on Wednesday watching lip-sync videos from Jimmy Fallon. They are pure awesome and Stephen Merchant is my new favorite person.
And if you haven’t seen this #hashtag video yet, hop to it. More pure awesome.
A few of my “Babbles” from the week:
- I pulled together a collection of miso recipes and every last one of them is beautiful. Be sure to check them out!
- And here is more snacking inspiration: 2-Minute Snacks and spooky Goblin’s Grub
Let’s talk TV for just a second:
- Do you watch Dexter? What did you think? Here are my final thoughts.
- The last episode of Breaking Bad is on Sunday. DYING to see how it all ends!
- I like Scandal, BUT…
As usual, everyone gets to share! Your turn!
Thursday, September 26
Today I want to introduce you to my new dishwasher. Everyone, meet my dishwasher. Dishwasher, meet everyone.
So, who is this pretty lady? She’s the brand new Bosch 800 Plus Series 24″ Flush Handle Dishwasher in Stainless Steel. She has a long name, kind of like royalty. That’s how fancy dishwashers roll, folks.
I’m going to do a few posts about this dishwasher and why it is SO AWESOME, but today is just a first date. She doesn’t want to scare you all off with talking about herself too much. She has good manners like that. Remember? Fancy, royalty-type dishwasher we’ve got here.
I am really, really, REALLY loving my new Bosch dishwasher. Bosch brags a lot about how quiet their dishwashers are. Well, the bragging is well-deserved. The first time I ran it Anna was with me. We turned it on, closed the door and couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t start. We did this several times, then Anna spotted the light on the floor (it projects how much time is left!) and we realized the dishwasher WAS on. We honestly could not hear it! Anna thought that was so funny and giggled like crazy. She was also really proud she discovered the light on the floor. (Side note: it is really nice having someone else in the family who is just as enthusiastic as I am about the new dishwasher!)
Fair warning: if you ever come visit me and get a tour of our new house, you will be subjected to a long speech about the various features of my dishwasher. I just can’t help myself. I’m pretty sure my mom was thinking, “Uh, yeah, okay, can I see the kids now?”
Speaking of our house, the new dishwasher fits right in. I’m especially happy we chose the flush handle since the dishwasher is tucked away in the corner there. It’s worked out perfectly.
Big thanks to Bosch for providing me with this dishwasher. Bosch is wonderful to work with and I look forward to sharing more with you about their products!
Disclaimer: Bosch provided me with the dishwasher in exchange for reviewing the product. While they are wonderful and generous, all opinions are my own and, as always, I will share my honest opinions.
Tuesday, September 24
I love making my kids’ birthday cakes. The tradition stems from my childhood. I remember so many of the cakes my mom made for me and I also remember being sooooo excited for each of those cakes. They made me feel special and like my mom could work magic. My brother and I have both continued the tradition with our own children. It’s one of those things that I really love to do for my kids.
Each time I make a cake I share it on the blog (let’s be honest, I like to show them off!), but I never get around to explaining how I put the shapes together. I thought I’d give a quick rundown of how I assembled the Little Blue Truck cake.
First and foremost, be sure to read through this post to get lots of tips for successfully decorating cute cakes. The instructions below mostly focus on how to create the shape of the truck, but the tips in that post are just as important!
I decided to make Little Blue just a day or two before Owen’s party, so it was pretty last minute. I was planning to do a 2-dimensional cake in the shape of Little Blue as he appears on the cover of the book. While the cake was cooling, Anna found a 3-dimensional truck cake in our favorite book Cakes for Kids and plans changed!
In Cakes for Kids, the truck cake utilizes loaf pans to create the shape, but since I had already baked a standard square cake for my 2-dimensional version, I went with my own design. It actually worked really well, so here’s what I did!
- Bake an 8-inch square cake. (When I am baking cakes to cut into shapes, I like to use a pan with very straight, right-angled edges. Also, use cake strips so it cooks flat.)
- When cake is completely cool, cut it into three pieces as indicated by this diagram:
- Find something to use as a “lift” for the cake – I used four blue duplo legos (I should have used white or black). Cut a piece of cardboard that is just a smidge smaller than the largest piece of cake. On your cake board (the final board the cake will be displayed on), line up the legos (or whatever you’re using as a lift) underneath the cardboard cutout so that the legos are near the edges and placed where the wheels on the truck would go. Set the cardboard cutout aside, then secure the legos to the cake board using frosting. Freeze so frosting gets hard and legos stay in place.
- Put a dab of frosting on the cardboard cutout, then place the largest piece of cake on the cutout, lining it up so you can’t see the cardboard. Frost cake with crumb coat then freeze.
- Place one of the smaller pieces on top of the frosted cake, where the cab of the truck would be, making sure to use frosting to attach it to the cake below. Spread a layer of frosting on top of the small piece you just placed, then add the second small piece on top. Shape the two small pieces using a knife so it’s narrower at the top. Apply crumb coat of frosting and freeze.
- Frost cake with the pretty layer of frosting.
- Use white rolled fondant to make the windows, bumper, headlights, license plate and grate. I added a smidge of black food coloring for the bumper and grate and a smidge of yellow and orange food coloring for the license plate. Windows and headlights stayed pure white. I used a black edible pen to draw in the eyes on the headlights and lines on the grate.
- To get the right size and shape for the windows/etc, I held up a piece of cardstock to the cake, estimated the size for each piece, then drew out the pieces and cut them out of the cardstock. I adjusted the templates where necessary then traced the shapes on the fondant with a knife, then cut the pieces out. Be sure to roll the fondant out quite thin or it will look too bulky on the cake (some of my windows were a little thick!).
- Place truck on top of legos on the final cake board, securing with frosting.
- Dab a bit of frosting on the edge of an Oreo cookie then stick to the sides of the cake, covering up the legos from the side, for wheels. If a little frosting squishes out around the edge of the Oreo, use a toothpick to clean it up.
- If I had planned ahead a bit more, I could have filled the back of the truck with animals, but I didn’t, so Little Blue had a light load that day!
There are some fancier Little Blue Truck cakes out there that are sooooo cute (you have to check out this one – thanks for the link, Hillary!). But my simpler version worked just fine and Owen was ecstatic about his cake, crying out “Little Blue Truck!” every time he saw it. Plus, it is a pretty generic truck so you could make whatever color truck you want!
A quick note on the big green toad cake: I simply cooked an 8-inch round cake and then cut a few pieces out around the edges to make a shape of the toad’s head, with fondant for eyes. Super simple!
My various birthday cake links if you’re interested!
- Click here for tons of tips for decorating birthday cakes, as well as the buttercream and chocolate cake recipes that I always use and love.
- Giraffe Cake
- Princess Crown Cake
- Hello Kitty Cake with Cat Cupcakes
- Elephant Cake
- Ghost Cake
- Spiderman Cake (my first successful cute cake!)
- My first successful layer cake (boring but cute)
- My first birthday cake post on this blog that shows just how far I’ve come and proves anyone can make cute cakes!
Sunday, September 22
Yesterday we hosted a simple birthday party for little Owen, who is turning 2 this month! My mom and sister were in town so we decided to seize the moment and celebrate Owen’s big day with them. Owen is obsessed with the book Little Blue Truck. I love making fun cakes for my kids’ birthdays, so I decided to give the truck a try. I had no plan going in and thankfully it all turned out okay! I’ll do a quick post this week explaining how I put the cake together as it was quite simple! Owen loved the cake and thoroughly enjoyed his party – although we had to stop singing “Happy Birthday To You” halfway through because he burst into tears with all the attention! So sweet.
Another week, another menu! I actually made everything on last week’s menu, so I can’t carry any items over. Bummer! I have to think of new things! 😉
– Corn chips
– Tuscan Tomato Soup
– Grilled cheese
– Kitchen Sink Quesadillas
– Chips and Guacamole (just remembered this is my birthday, so I may relax and order out!)
– Barbecue Chicken Pizza
– Take out
– Pot roast (I haven’t made this in AGES!)
– Mashed potatoes, gravy and a veggie
Looking forward to seeing your menus! As always, they are great inspiration when planning each week! Please share no matter what your menu looks like!
Friday, September 20
Today I am making Owen’s birthday cake, which will be of The Little Blue Truck, his favorite book. Wish me luck, this design will be all my own! Hopefully I can turn this cute drawing into a cute cake!
My “babbles” this week:
- I had the chance to interview Ted Allen, of Queer Eye and Chopped fame. We chatted for 45 minutes and he was super easy to talk to – very fun!
- If you like gorgonzola cheese, be sure to click here!
- And, for autumn, oodles of delicious drinks with apples!
I am really liking this song Riptide by Vance Joy, a musician from Australia that I heard for the first time this week. It’s a great song. (Also, I just signed up for rdio and I think I might like it better than Spotify. We shall see!)
I am finally watching Scandal, hoping to get caught up by the season 3 premiere on October 3. I had to rant and rave a bit about Olivia and the POTUS after what I watched last night. It is all sort of making me cuckoo.
Okay, bring it on, friends! Share what you’ve got, anything at all!
Thursday, September 19
Time to announce some giveaway winners, don’t you think?
- Karen Hriniak, who said: “Always looking for new combinations. Went to Barnes & Noble to check it out & was told it was out of stock…I’m thinking they didn’t get it in yet…disappointed.” (I must admit I am delighted someone who went to the store to buy the book and couldn’t find it won a copy. Good karma!)
- Elizabeth Lemon, who said: “I would love love love new lunch ideas. My boys are getting bored with my lack of inspiration.” (Liz Lemon! Sorry, couldn’t resist!)
- Kim, who said: “I am constantly looking for lunch ideas for my toddler. I have recently become a stay at home mom and would loooooove this book for inspiration!” (This will be perfect for you, Kim!)
Thank you to all who entered and showed support for my wonderful friends! You can buy their books at the following links!
Wednesday, September 18
I have had a recipe for ‘chicken croissants’ archived on my site since the very beginning but have never actually written about it, which is a crying shame because it is delectable. Plus, it’s time I actually wrote the recipe out with solid directions rather than vague descriptions. So, today, chicken croissants!
First, a bit about the name of this recipe. Years ago our friends with the last name Chimento ate dinner at my parent’s house and raved over this recipe. From then on, our family fondly called this recipe “Chimento Chicken.” The original name is chicken croissants, which is a bit more descriptive. When I presented both names to my girls yesterday, they voted for Chimento Chicken. I must admit, it has a nice ring to it. Chimento Chicken it is!
There are two ways to make Chimento Chicken: using phyllo dough or using quick crescent rolls. In terms of taste, using phyllo is heavenly and I much prefer it. Nate disagreed and said both phyllo and crescent rolls are equally as tasty, although he did admit the phyllo is a lot prettier. Despite Nate saying both versions are just as good, I just love the crispy, clean butter taste of the phyllo version. Crescent rolls are good, but, you know, they taste like crescent rolls and have just a bit more flavor. BUT, that all said, if you use crescent rolls, it is still mighty delicious! And crescent rolls are SUPER easy. I mean, there’s cream cheese no matter what dough you’re using so take your pick!
Also, don’t be scared of trying the phyllo. I once made this recipe for 100 people and had 10 college-aged kids help me put the phyllo triangles together. If we could do it factory style in a terrible kitchen, you can tackle this!
Chimento Chicken, aka Chicken Croissants
– 1/4 of a large onion, chopped (feel free to add more onion if you like more onion flavor)
– 1 package fresh mushrooms, chopped
– 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
– 1 chicken breast, cooked and cut into pieces
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– 1/4 tsp. pepper
– Pillsbury (or equivalent) refrigerated crescent rolls (2 packages of 8) OR Phyllo dough (in the freezer section at the store)
– 6 tablespoons butter (only if using phyllo)
– 1 cup chicken broth, cooled
– 1 tablespoon butter
– 1 tablespoon flour
You can just use a boneless, skinless chicken breast. However, if you’re feeling resourceful: I like to buy a package of 2 chicken breast WITH bones and skin, cover breasts in a big pot with water, boil until cooked through, and then use one of the breasts plus 1 cup of the broth for this recipe and use the other chicken breast and the rest of the broth for chicken soup.
Sauté the onion in a bit of olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté until cooked through. Remove from heat.
Mix together onions, mushrooms, cream cheese, chicken breast, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
If using crescent rolls:
- Lay out crescent roll triangles. Plop about 1/8 cup of filling onto the wide end (divide the filling evenly between the 16 rolls), then roll up the crescent roll starting at the wide end, sort of tucking the ends around the filling once it’s rolled up. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 375 degree F oven until dark golden brown, 10-20 minutes.
If using phyllo dough:
- Defrost phyllo in fridge overnight or at room temperature for about 5 hours. Keep in packaging until ready to use.
- Melt 6 T. butter and have it ready with a pastry brush.
- Lay out a large piece of waxed paper or parchment paper on your counter.
- Dampen a clean dish towel. Unwrap dough from packaging and unroll, setting to the side, placing damp towel on top.
- Your phyllo will come in sheets about 12″ x 16″. You will cut those sheets into 4″ x 16″ strips. You will need 20 of those strips total. Once cut, replace under damp towel. (Roll up and wrap in plastic wrap any remaining phyllo dough and keep refrigerated for up to 10 days.)
- Remove one 4″ x 16″ sheet from the pile, re-cover pile with damp towel, place single sheet on waxed paper/parchment paper on the counter. Brush on butter, starting at one end, holding that end with one hand and brushing away from the hand holding the sheet down, covering entire sheet with a thin layer of butter. Add a second sheet and repeat process. The phyllo can break easily but don’t stress. It will all work out! Just be gentle but don’t be too stressed about it.
- Place appx. 1/4 cup of the filling on one end, in a triangle shape. Fold like a flag from the stuffed end all the way down, ending with a triangle stuffed with filling. This website has an excellent set of photos to illustrate the stuffing and folding process. Click here to see! Repeat to make 10 stuffed triangles.
- Place triangles on a Silpat- or parchment paper-lined cooke sheet. Brush tops with butter.
- Bake in a 350 F oven until dark golden, about 20 minutes or so.
To make the gravy:
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon floor and whisk well. Let cook for about 5-10 minutes, whisking fairly regularly. Add cold chicken broth to roux and bring to a simmer. Simmer about 5 minutes, remove from heat. Gravy will thicken a bit as it cools.
Makes 16 stuffed crescent rolls or 10 stuffed phyllo triangles. Serve with gravy.
Monday, September 16
Looks like it’s giveaway season on this here blog because I’ve got another one!
Today I am teaming up with some wonderful bloggers and companies I love to do a big fat giveaway worth ~$600! If you are in the “Starting Solids” phase of life with a baby (or know someone who is!), then you need to enter this giveaway!
- From giggle, a BABYBJÖRN high chair (like this one) and bib
- method is going to help you clean it all up with all-purpose cleaner, foaming dish soap, and laundry detergent
- Plum Organics is offering a tasting menu of $100 worth of goodies
- variety of NEW Stage 3 Training Meal pouches — varieties include mild herbs & spices!
- variety of fruit, veggie, whole grain and Greek yogurt blends in easy, squeeze pouches
- variety of Super Puffs, Little Yums and Little Crèmes for tiny teethers
- set of Plum’s Dispensing Spoon by Boon for one-handed feeding
To enter, use the handy-dandy Rafflecopter entry form below. There are plenty of ways to get extra entries! Winner will be selected on 9/30. Good luck!
Fine print and disclosures: We did not receive compensation for running this sweepstakes; we just wanted to get together and get a great prize for our readers. We hope you like it. Retail value for prize is between $400 and $600 depending on where you shop. Rafflecopter widget will choose a single winner of all prizes. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen. And so on. Winners must be over age 18 and live in the continental USA. No cash awards will be given in place of this prize so don’t enter unless you want it. Void where prohibited.
Sunday, September 15
I am already making our second batch of homemade granola bars! I can’t believe how many we went through in just three days. I think having six guests and two soccer games this weekend may have had something to do with it!
I’m feeling a bit under the weather and not really wanting to sit here at the computer planning a menu, so I’m pounding this out as fast as I can!
– Bistro Chicken
– Mashed Potatoes + a veggie
– Chicken Soup with Rice
– Chicken Croissants (got moved to this week)
– Take out
– Fresh Fruit
Your turn! Bring on the menus! I was so happy to see a few long-time reader, first-time menu posters last week! Hope to see more of you! 🙂