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  1. Thursday, July 31

    My New Favorite Cupcake & Muffin Liners: Tulip Baking Cups

    A couple years ago I started noticing really cute muffin liners at coffee shops that sort of stuck up on top. I had been keeping my eye out for them at the store but never found them anywhere. Then, one day when I sent on a mini shopping spree on the King Arthur website, there they were. Tulip muffin papers. I of course put them in my cart immediately! Imagine my delight when I found them a few months later at Target. Yay!

    tulip muffin liners

    Tulip baking cups are my new favorite baking cups, a.k.a. muffin papers, a.k.a. muffin liners, a.k.a. cupcake liners, a.k.a. they have a lot of names, apparently. Whatever you call them, they are wicked cute and I’m loving them!

    tulip cupcake and muffin liners info from @janemaynard

    Here’s why I like tulip liners:

    • Tulip liners are really easy to separate when you’re putting them in the pan. Makes them a bit quicker to set up than traditional baking cups, which I almost always accidentally double up a few times per batch.
    • No batter spillover on your pans! I think this is my most favorite aspect of these liners.
    • They’re purrrrty.
    • If you’re in a pinch and find yourself without cupcake liners, you can make your own tulip liners using small squares of parchment paper. Just Google “diy tulip cupcake liners” and you’ll find a plethora of tutorials.

    tulip cupcake liners

    A few more notes for when you use them as well as where to buy them:

    • You can cook cupcakes as well as muffins in these liners, although I have yet to make cupcakes myself. If you make cupcakes, you’ll need to pipe on the frosting.
    • If you make muffins with these liners, you’re not really going to get a “muffin top.” The tops still get the same texture as a normal muffin, but they don’t have that classic muffin top shape. In fact, it’s pretty much stump central. (When Nate and I realized I was making muffin stumps, it made us laugh so hard. It’s safe to say Elaine would not like these muffin liners.)
    • When filling the liners with batter, do so carefully. If you drip or accidentally get batter on the upper part of the liner, it will bake to a dark color so you’re liner will have ugly spots. Not the end of the world but something to keep in mind.
    • Like I mentioned, I recently found PaperChef tulip baking cups at Target. You can also buy tulip liners online at various sites like the King Arthur website and Amazon. Please note if you order them from somewhere online, depending on how they are packaged when shipped they may arrived “squished.” I was able to straighten mine out after some careful bending. Customer reviews on Amazon mentioned the same problem with some of the liners you can order there.

    Wow. I had no idea I had so much to say on the subject of tulip baking cups.

    Happy baking!


  2. Sunday, July 27

    Week 392 Menu

    Happy Sunday!

    caprese salad ingredients from @janemaynard

    So, I had a dinner item on last week’s menu that ended up being a surprising hit with my girls – caprese salad. They loved it and ended up having it for lunch a few days, too! I think I’ll throw caprese paninis on the menu this week and see what they think!

    weekly dinner menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list

    MONDAY:
    – Quiche
    – Spinach and strawberry salad

    TUESDAY:
    – Day trip to Los Angeles to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor and visit the Natural History Museum
    – Eating dinner with my sister in LA

    WEDNESDAY:
    Caprese Paninis

    THURSDAY:
    Chicken Caesar Wraps
    – Fresh fruit

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Takeout night

    SUNDAY:
    – Breakfast for dinner!

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    You know the drill…please share your menu for the week! Thanks and have a great week!


  3. Friday, July 25

    Friday Show and Tell

    Happy Friday! I survived our first full week of summer at home. Yay! My strategy is to work a bit each day and then plan one fun thing to go out and do with the kids each day (even if it’s just a stop at the library or sprinklers in the yard). One of our fun activities this week was watching Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I can’t even tell you how excited I was when it came onto Netflix service recently. The kids totally loved it! I especially love how nervous Cate would get during the suspenseful scenes, it was crazy cute. Also, I can’t believe how much of that movie I still have memorized. Kinda scary.

    honey, I shrunk the kids on netflix from @janemaynard

    Here are links to all my other stuff on the web this week!

    On Babble:

    And Cosmo:

    Your turn to share whatever you want! Blog posts, fantastic finds, summer activity ideas, it’s all fair game!


  4. Thursday, July 24

    Why You Need a Pampered Chef Scoop and Not Just Any Old Scoop

    Friends, I need to do a follow-up post about scoops because I didn’t realize a little something about my scoops until now. My sister-in-law Cora said that I needed to do a follow-up!

    medium and large scoops web

    Three years ago I wrote a post about how you absolutely need a scoop (or two) in your kitchen. I still firmly stand by that advice. HOWEVER…I learned this summer that there is a second bit of advice that I should have also included that I didn’t know was important. Not only do you need a scoop (or two), you need a Pampered Chef scoop.

    Here’s the deal. When I went to New Jersey this summer I made cookies at my mom’s house. When I went to make the cookie dough balls, I got out the scoop that I had given her last year, a scoop that I had purchased at Michael’s and was not cheap, by the way. As I pulled it out of the drawer, my sister-in-law said, “Ugh, I’ve gone through three scoops since you wrote that post about scoops. They always break on me!” I was stunned to hear this.

    And then I started scooping dough and the scoop kept getting jammed and the little swivel thingy kept getting pulled into the wrong place. It was basically the biggest pain ever. Cora was aboslutely right. The scoop could not handle a batch of cookie dough. It kinda blew my mind.

    I have NEVER had any issues whatsoever with my Pampered Chef scoops. They are in the exact same condition as the day I got them, they never get jammed, they have never broken and I can make a billion cookie dough balls with no issues. Cora and I realized that my advice to “Get a scoop” really should have been “Get a Pampered Chef scoop.” I had no idea that it made such a difference!

    Pampered Chef sells three sizes of scoops:

    • Large Scoop (~3 tablespoons): perfect for making pancakes and filling muffin tins.
    • Medium Scoop (~2 tablespoons): perfect for standard-sized cookies
    • Small Scoop (~1 tablespoon): also good for cookies, just smaller ones

    If you’re only going to get one scoop, go with the medium, especially if you’re getting it specifically for making cookies. It’s a great size.

    This post is in no way sponsored by Pampered Chef. I just needed to tell you how much better their scoops are! And also apologize if you, like Cora, have been feeling frustrated the the scoop you may have gotten based on my advice.

    Also, as usual, I love your feedback! If you have another brand of scoop that is equally as awesome as my Pampered Chef scoops, please share it with us!


  5. Tuesday, July 22

    One More Travel Post…Warwick, New York

    My parents recently moved to northern New Jersey, very close to the New York border. It is absolutely beautiful where they live, complete with rolling green hills as far as the eye can see. This is the third summer that we’ve visited them at their new home but the first summer that we made two really great discoveries – Dairy Swirl in Vernon, New Jersey and the little town of Warwick, New York.

    absolutely wonderful ice cream shop dairy swirl in vernon, nj by @janemaynard

    First, let’s talk ice cream. Dairy Swirl is literally five minutes from my parents’ home but, for some reason, we never went until this year. And that is a crime because it is awesome. They serve homemade ice cream in all kinds of wonderful flavors that are creative but make total sense. You know, nothing crazy, just all completely wonderful combinations of ingredients. And just outside the shop there are these giant rocks embedded in the side of the hill that are perfect for sliding. The kids could have stayed there all day. If you’re ever in northern New Jersey near Vernon, be sure to stop in!

    a visit to warwick, ny by @janemaynard

    After you hit the Dairy Swirl, keep driving north about 30 minutes to the town of Warwick, NY. Again, I don’t know why we never ventured to Warwick before but I’m so glad that we did! The town is adorable, with lots of little shops and restaurants, a cute town green where they play live music on the weekends, farmstands and more. I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the fall when the leaves are aflame!

    a visit to corbett's cookie bar kitchen in warwick, ny by @janemaynard

    My dad and I spent a few hours in Warwick with all three kids, so we kept the visit simple: lunch, dessert and a visit to the local bookstore. After lunch at Eddie’s Roadhouse (the filet sliders were awesome, the ribeye steak was just okay according to my dad), we hopped over to Corbett’s Cookie Bar Kitchen, where we had a really fun chat with the owners. They’ve been open about a year and only serve cookie bars. I love talking to small business owners who are so passionate about what they do – I really admire them because I am too chicken to do anything like that! The carmelita was our favorite flavor – it was like taking a big bite out of the best cookie dough. And the Mexican brownie was my other favorite. One bar is enough for 2-3 people, by the way, so pace yourself!

    a visit to ye olde warwick book shoppe in warwick, ny by @janemaynard

    After stuffing ourselves silly, we took the kids to Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe. This bookstore is tiny and like a maze of book shelves, which I love. The kids’ section is tucked in a back corner and the kids and I spent a lot of time back there. Basically, we loved it.

    Quick side note: another 10 minutes north there is an even smaller town called Sugar Loaf that also has some really cute shops, where you can buy things like handmade candles and soaps.

    So, this fall when you east coasters are wondering where you should take a drive to enjoy the leaves, head over to the Warwick Valley. You can’t go wrong! (For that matter it was perfectly fun in the summer, too!)


  6. Sunday, July 20

    Week 391 Menu + Dinner at Veladora

    Hello! We are home from vacation and I am getting back into the cooking groove! After such a long break I am actually really looking forward to it.

    review of veladora restaurant by @janemaynard

    Before we get to this week’s dinner plans, I need to tell you about the dinner that Nate and I had last night. Today is our 15th wedding anniversary (TIME FLIES! Happy anniversary, Nate!). Last night Veladora at the Rancho Valencia hotel in Rancho Santa Fe hosted us for dinner to celebrate. There are no words for how wonderful our evening was, but I’m going to give it a try! (Seriously, in the time it took for us to drive off the hotel property we must have said, “That dinner was awesome!” twenty times.) First of all, the food. Ahhh, the food. Nate ordered prime rib cap and I was treated to scallops. Both dishes were unreal. The rib cap was a beautiful cut of meat cooked to perfection, and my scallops were paired with three different corn sides that complemented the scallops beautifully. All of the food we had was wonderful, right down to the 18-year old balsamic vinegar for dipping the focaccia. Chef Matt came out to meet us at the end of our meal and it was so interesting talking with him about the food, how the menu is developed and modified with the seasons, as well as his own career path. Beyond the food, the serving staff was stellar and the restaurant itself was beautiful. The best part was that, despite the high caliber of the restaurant, we felt comfortable and relaxed, thanks to both the setting and the staff. Oh, and they gave us a little gift on the way out the door that was, of course, a tasty treat. It was truly the perfect way to celebrate our latest life milestone. Thank you, Veladora, for a night we will not soon forget.

    Despite the fact that I pretty much don’t want to eat any other food ever after Veladora, real life dictates that I still have to feed my family. So, back to the weekly menu!

    weekly dinner plans from @janemaynard including FREE printable menu and shopping list!

    MONDAY:
    – Caprese salad with crusty bread
    Stewed green beans

    TUESDAY:
    Taco night

    WEDNESDAY:
    Grammy’s Orange Chicken
    – Rice and veggie

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Takeout night

    SATURDAY:
    – Chicken on the grill
    Corn on the cob and watermelon

    SUNDAY:
    – Quiche
    – Spinach and strawberry salad

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    Big THANKS to all of you who continued posting menus the last few weeks while I took a break. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!

    As usual, please share your menu for the week! Plain or fancy, we want to see it all!


  7. Friday, July 18

    Friday Show and Tell!

    Hello, everyone! So, I really took a break from the blog this week…I don’t know the last time I did that! It’s just that we were too busy doing things like this…

    summer fun by @janemaynard

    But the party ends today…we’re flying home this afternoon! We’ve been gone almost a month and, as absolutely wonderful as our trip has been, it will be nice to sleep in our own beds tonight. That is if we survive the flight…wish me luck flying alone with 3 kids!

    Here are my food posts elsewhere on the web this week!

    Your turn for show and tell – share whatever you want!


  8. Sunday, July 13

    Week 390 Menu

    Hi everyone! I’m getting a late start today after a very long night with our little Owen and another bout of croup. He’s doing well now, but pretty much everyone in the family feels like a zombie. Happy vacation to us! 😉

    This is our last week of traveling, so no menu for us once again! But I’ll be back in the game next week. I really appreciate everyone who has been loyally posting menus the last few weeks while I’ve been taking time off from the kitchen. Your dinner plans are wonderful and a great inspiration to everyone.

    So, here we go…my weekly beg for your menus! Please share your dinner plans for the week!


  9. Friday, July 11

    Friday Show and Tell + Fondue with Kids!

    Happy Friday! Just a few fun links today and then I’ll be out of your hair! 😉 As always, please share your own stuff in the comments, too! I love seeing what you’re up to/what caught your eye during the week/all of it!

    fondue with kids from @janemaynard

    fondue with kids from @janemaynard

    fondue with kids from @janemaynard

    Okay, so I really loved writing my Babble post about making fondue with kids this week. We put it all together with our extended family here in New Jersey and had a blast! The cooking was fun, the eating was fun and everything tasted wonderful. Plus, there are lots of cute photos and two great recipes in the post. So, you know, be sure to check it all out!

    And here are some fun posts on Cosmo this week!


  10. Wednesday, July 9

    Serrano Salsa

    I’ve mentioned my wonderful neighbor Ari a few times. She is from Mexico and gives me tips for cooking Mexican food that make my life happy. The latest is a recipe for salsa that she got from one of her aunts the last time they visited family in Mexico.

    serrano salsa by @janemaynard

    Ari and I were sitting by the pool and she said, “My aunt made some salsa. It’s my favorite. And it’s soooo easy.” She then told me how to make this magical salsa. I asked her to repeat it a few times and then, of course, emailed her later to ask her to write it down. This is basically what happens every time she shares a recipe with me – I make her repeat it a million times and then have to call her and/or email her multiple times before I get it down. Don’t you wish I was your neighbor? 😉

    serrano salsa by @janemaynardserrano salsa by @janemaynard

    Okay, so, for real, this salsa is easy, simple and delicious! It has a rich, smoky flavor and the perfect amount of heat (well, at least I think it’s perfect). Most of the kids didn’t try it because they were scared it would be too spicy, but my brave little Anna dug in. She described the salsa as hot and then proceeded to tell us how she has a “sensible tongue.” It was so cute. In terms of “hotness,” I would consider this a hot salsa. Depending on the heat of your particular serranos and what your final proportion of tomatoes to chiles is will determine exactly how hot it ends up being, but, even with those variations, it’s a spicy salsa. My dad, my sister-in-law and I ate almost all of it in one sitting. I can’t wait to make this salsa for Nate when we get home from traveling!

    serrano salsa by @janemaynard

    I’m sure you could add onions and garlic and cilantro and yummy stuff like that. But, honestly, the beauty of this recipe is its simplicity, so just go with it!

    Serrano Salsa
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    My friend Ari shared this recipe with me - her aunt made it for her in Mexico. Enjoy!
    Author:
    Serves: 1 cup
    Ingredients
    • 3 tomatoes (my tomatoes were a little smaller than normal, so I used about 9 tomatoes)
    • 3 chiles serranos
    • salt, to taste
    Instructions
    1. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them cut-side down in a pan. (I used a non-stick pan and would recommend that.)
    2. Cut off the stems of the serrano chiles and place them whole in the pan with the tomatoes (no cutting or seeding necessary!).
    3. Cook the tomatoes and chiles over high heat to burn them. Ari said about 3-4 minutes per side, but I think it took mine more like 5-10 minutes per side. You will see little brown and black spots on the tomatoes and chiles when they are ready to come off the heat. You cut the tomatoes in half and put them on a pan with the chiles (chiles are complete with seeds). The tomato skins will also start to peel off.
    4. Remove from heat, put everything in the pan in a blender and blend well. Season with salt to taste, probably about ¼ - ½ teaspoon.
    5. As Ari said, "Habemus salsa!"