Menu Banner
  1. Tuesday, September 30

    Kitchen Tip: How To Perfectly Cut the First Slice of Cake

    I am SOOOOO excited about today’s post for two reasons. Reason #1: how gorgeous is my birthday cake? (In case you’re wondering, the cake is from Extraordinary Desserts and is called The Viking. Nate buys this cake for me as a gift every year and it is the reason I live for my birthday.)

    my favorite cake in the WORLD - the viking from extraordinary desserts (from @janemaynard)

    Reason #2 I am excited about today’s post: I have a spectacular new kitchen tip for you.

    When Nate picked my cake up last week at Extraordinary Desserts, they told him to use a hot knife to cut the cake, a tip we already know and love (simply hold the knife under hot water for 45 seconds, dry it off and then cut – smooth as silk!). But they also taught him how to perfectly cut the first slice of cake, and it’s so simple! Here’s what they had to say on the subject:

    “Use two knives to cut the first piece.”

    how to easily and perfectly cut the first slice of cake from @janemaynard

    Why we were never given that tip before I’ll never know, but I’ll tell you what. BEST. TIP. EVER. Nate mentioned their comment as we were about to cut the cake and were both like, “Two knives? Huh?” And then we tried it and WOW. It’s just so easy to slide that first slice right out of the cake when you have two hot knives simultaneously pulling it out. Amazing.

    perfectly cut first slice of cake

    Just one more reason to love Extraordinary Desserts, as if I needed another! I will never be scared to cut into a cake again!

    Side note: You can make this cake, the recipe is included in the book Extraordinary Cakes by Karen Krasne, the pastry chef behind Extraordinary Desserts. The cake involves six recipes…you’ve been warned!


  2. Sunday, September 28

    Week 401 Menu

    Today we’re off to ride ALL the trains at Griffith Park in celebration of Owen’s birthday. Can’t wait to ride some steamers! Before we go, I have to get my menu planned!

    travel town museum at griffith park by @janemaynard

    I seriously need to stop following my menus so well – I’m getting tired of coming up with new ideas each week! 😉

    week 401 weekly menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list

    MONDAY:
    Tuscan Tomato Soup (Anna’s request!)
    – Crusty Bread

    TUESDAY:
    Sweet Korean Beef BBQ Tacos (I have some in the freezer to use up!)

    WEDNESDAY:
    Chili
    – Corn chips

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    Turkey Sandwiches with Cranberry and Cream Cheese
    – Fruit and chips

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Lemon Pepper Chicken (recipe to come)
    – Veggie and Rice

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

    Can’t wait to see what you have planned for the week – please share your menus!


  3. Friday, September 26

    How to Make an Airplane Birthday Cake + Friday Show and Tell

    Okay, so there’s a lot of “mom stuff” I don’t do. I’m not crafty. I don’t make baby food from scratch. I am a terrible gardener. The list goes on and ON. But I do absolutely love making my kids’ birthday cakes. Every year they tell me what they want and I figure out a way to make it happen! For Owen’s 3rd birthday he requested Ripslinger from the movie Planes, or as Owen put it, “the green bad guy plane.” I was a little nervous but I pulled it off! The best part was Owen loved it and today he’s asked multiple times to see pictures of the cake. (That splash sound you hear is me turning into a puddle on the floor.)

    how to make a kids airplane birthday cake by @janemaynard

    how to make a kids airplane birthday cake by @janemaynard

    This cake was one of the easier ones I’ve done, so I have to share the step-by-step with you. Here’s how to make an airplane birthday cake!

    • Bake a 9″x13″ standard cake. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe (which you can find in this linked post) and it made for a nice tall cake, which gave the plane more height. I doubled the frosting recipe in that same post, which gave me enough frosting for the crumb coat and final coat with a bit left over.
    • After you bake the cake, freeze it. Once it’s frozen, make one cut as shown in the diagram below, then flip one of the pieces so it lines up with the other piece perfectly when you stack them.

    template for cutting a 9x13 cake for an airplane shape by @janemaynard

    • The fat end of the triangle you created is the front of the plane – the smaller end is the back of the plane. Shape the front to round it off. Once the cake was done, I wished I had also angled the back end of the plane down a bit so that the entire plan had an upward slant towards the front of the plane, instead of just parallel to the ground (know what I mean?). Feel free to play with the shape or just keep it super simple like I did.
    • I used one of the pieces of cake I cut off the front when shaping the nose of the plane to create the cockpit on top.
    • Frost between the layers, and then follow the directions in my cake-making guide post for frosting (freezing cake, crumb coat, etc.) The beauty of this cake is you only need ONE COLOR OF FROSTING! Save a bit of white for the window, but other than that you can just make all the frosting one color.
    • For the wings and things, I used cardstock! Just cut them into the shape you like and then stick the shaped wings and things right into the cake. You can get colored cardstock or just color white cardstock with a permament marker the color you want he wings to be. (Since I was making Ripslinger, I also made the flames out of cardstock colored with permanent markers and stuck them to the side using frosting as glue.) Don’t worry, no marker transferred to the frosting anywhere!
    • The propellors were 2 popsicle sticks colored with black Sharpee marker, broken in half and then stuck in the front. I should have put a black circle of frosting or a Junior Mint on the front in the middle of the propellors. I didn’t, but you can!
    • White frosting and black piped frosting made the window in the cockpit, and chocolate chips, stuck pointy side in, served as the eyes.

    Show and tell time! I just have one quick share today. I put together a really fun post for Babble of CRAZY stuff my friends’ kids have eaten. It’s pretty awesome. Be sure to click through and check it out!

    As usual, feel free to share anything you like in the comments, it’s show and tell after all!


  4. Thursday, September 25

    Why My Birthday is More Than a Birthday

    Right now Owen’s birthday cake is in the oven. I will be attempting to shape it into Ripslinger from Planes a little later today. (Heaven help me.) Owen is sitting at the counter playing with a few of his Thomas trains while we wait for the cake to bake, chatting merrily away to himself, creating stories of near misses at the countertop’s edge. I am feeling beyond grateful for this moment.

    owen's 3rd birthday and thoughts on motherhood from @janemaynard

    Three years ago Owen was born on my birthday. Without a doubt it was my best birthday ever and Owen was the greatest birthday gift I could ever have dreamed of. Three years ago was also, without a doubt, the most traumatic day of my life. After a calm morning of labor, suddenly things changed. And, before we knew it, Nate was alone in the labor and delivery room and I was in an operating room being put under general anesthesia. Neither of us would witness Owen’s birth. Nate met him 15 minutes later. I met my son 2 hours after his birth.

    thoughts on my son's birth by @janemaynard

    I will never forget every last detail of that day. For nearly a year I would cry just at the slightest thought of those events. Now I just cry once in a while, usually when I least expect it. I always cry on my birthday, though. I can’t help it. I am just so grateful, it’s overwhelming. Grateful to have this greatest-of-all birthday presents in my life, playing with trains and asking me to play the Planes soundtrack yet again.

    thoughts on my son's birth by @janemaynard

    When I was being wheeled from the delivery room to the OR, I was a complete basket case. My anesthesiologist was a saint who talked me through the whole experience, with a calm and loving voice. The thing I was so fixated on was that I would not see Owen born like I had the girls. I couldn’t stop saying that over and over. As I look back it almost makes me laugh. There was so much on the line in those 6 minutes between discovering the problem (prolapse cord) and Owen’s birth. And the only thing I could think about was that I wouldn’t get the happy birth moment I had envisioned and experienced before. I didn’t think once about Owen’s mortality and, honestly, I am so grateful my neurotic brain didn’t go there, that I was protecting myself from those thoughts. I’m even more grateful that everything turned out okay in the end. We were so lucky.

    owen's 3rd birthday and thoughts on motherhood from @janemaynard

    I joke with people that Owen ruined my birthday. Not only did he steal it from me, but he turned it into my #1 PTSD trigger! Seriously, though, I love sharing my birthday with this amazing kid and I know that it is miraculous.

    Life is good. It does not always go as planned. Sometimes it is more than we can bear. But it is always beautiful.

    Happy Birthday, Owen.


  5. Tuesday, September 23

    Perfect Barbecue Chicken Pizza

    In case you’ve been wondering what it takes to make a perfect barbecue chicken pizza, well, today is your lucky day.

    how to make perfect barbecue chicken pizza from @janemaynard

    So, what does it take? If you’ve eaten at pretty much any pizzeria that serves good barbecue chicken pizza, you probably already know the answer: cilantro. Also, mixing gouda cheese in with the mozzarella is pretty much your ticket to pizza heaven.

    Also #2…can we go back to the whole naan-bread-as-pizza-crust trick I recently discovered? I am completely and totally addicted and have been making pizza like it’s going out of style. Nothing beats my homemade crust (detailed post coming one day soon, I promise!), but, seriously, the naan bread thing is KILLER.

    Without further ado, the non-recipe recipe for PERFECT barbecue chicken pizza. Enjoy!

    Perfect Barbecue Chicken Pizza
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Cilantro is the key to truly killer barbecue chicken. Also, gouda. You're welcome.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Good barbecue sauce (I use one a sweet BBQ sauce for flavor contrast)
    • Grilled chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
    • Thinly-sliced red onion
    • Shredded mozzarella cheese
    • Shredded gouda cheese
    • Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
    Instructions
    1. Spread pizza crust with barbecue sauce. Scatter chicken and red onion evenly then top with mozzarella and gouda cheeses.
    2. Cook pizza until cheese is melted and bubbly. After taking out of the oven, sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
    3. Enjoy!

     


  6. Sunday, September 21

    Week 400 Menu

    I love round numbers. I kind of feel like the fates gave me weekly menu #400 for my birthday. That was nice of them! It’s my birthday this week, which also means it’s Owen’s since we share the same birthday! It also means that I need to break out the ol’ cake-making skills. Owen has requested a chocolate airplane cake. Wish me luck!

    week 400 weekly menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list

    Quick side note before the menu…I am absolutely loving the comments you all are sharing on my post about finding your quest. Please go click through and read the comments as well as share your own – it’s truly inspiring! Okay, onto the menu, which, apparently, I followed to a T last week, so now I have to think of all new ideas. I hate it when I’m so responsible!

    MONDAY:
    Pasta Primavera
    – Crusty bread

    TUESDAY:
    Kitchen Sink Quesadillas
    – Chips & Guacamole

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Leftovers

    THURSDAY:
    – Hot dogs or Mac ‘n’ Cheese (Owen’s favorites)

    FRIDAY:
    White Chicken Chili

    SATURDAY:
    – Leftover chili for kids, out to dinner with Nate!

    SUNDAY:
    – Eating out while on a train adventure to celebrate Owen’s birthday! 🙂

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

    All I want for my birthday is for TONS of you to post your weekly menu! Okay, I also want the Viking cake from Extraordinary Desserts, but your menus would be almost as sweet!


  7. Friday, September 19

    Friday Show and Tell

    Happy Friday. Prepare yourself for the best cooking video ever. (Owen’s made us watch it about 10 times already this morning. He also informed me that he wants a hamster now.)

    Two fun food links for this week!

    It’s Show & Tell, which means the whole class gets to share – show us what you’ve got!


  8. Thursday, September 18

    Beginning My Quest!

    Have you ever undertaken a quest? I have not. I’m not a huge goal-making kind of person. I like seeing what opportunities arise in life and just going with it. Nate once asked where I saw my career in 5 years and I felt like hyperventilating! Making plans and goals is not my thing.

    setting goals and review/giveaway for "the happiness of pursuit" - from @janemanard

    That said, I’ve decided to fight my natural instincts and undertake a quest. Set a goal. Accomplish a monumental task that I have actually planned on accomplishing ahead of time. And, to be honest, it’s a little scary. And telling you about it is making it even scarier.

    I have a literary agent. She is fabulous. To not work with her on a book would be a crime, so I’m totally going for it. Except, I’ve been going for it for 4 years. She is very patiently waiting for my book proposal to hit her Inbox while I’m off having babies (done!), moving a few times (done!) and going through about 20 different ideas for a book, none of which I liked. But the stars are finally aligning. My agent and I have settled on a theme for the book that we are both really excited about. I am in a place in life where I can carve out time for writing a book. I’ve done a lot of the groundwork with my blog that I need to do before an agent goes out to sell my book. Basically, it’s time. I’m starting my quest.

    My quest is simple…well, simple to describe, at least! I am going to finish writing my book proposal. It needs to happen. I need to know I gave it my all and then see where it takes me, see what my agent can do with it. Whether or not I end up as a bestselling author is beside the point. I want to know I tried, that I took advantage of this opportunity placed before me.

    Today’s post is sponsored by Random House in support of the new book The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau. Chris had a quest – to visit every country in the world by the time he was 35 years old. Chris’s book talks about his quest as well as the quests of many other people he met on his journey, people he calls strivers. As I’ve read through the book and seen what makes these strivers tick, it’s been great food for thought. Bonus: his thoughts and suggestions are making me feel less scared of the journey!

    Do you have a quest you’ve been putting on the backburner? Have you completed one? Are you still finding your quest? Please share your thoughts with me. I need moral support!

    One lucky commenter will win a copy of The Happiness of PursuitComments must be posted by Wednesday, 9/24 at Midnight PT, one entry per person, and the winner’s book must ship to a U.S. address. Good luck! Can’t wait to hear about your quests!

    Comment #6 Ellen Patton was the randomly-selected winner of this giveaway. Congrats, Ellen!


  9. Tuesday, September 16

    Baked Stuffing-Coated Chicken: Only 3 Ingredients to Pure Deliciousness!

    My mother-in-law Pat claims she’s not a good cook, but I wholeheartedly beg to differ. Some of my very best cooking tricks, tips and recipes have come from her. And some of my favorite non-recipe “recipes” come from her. Pat has a knack for making easy-to-prep food taste really good.

    recipe for super easy and delicious baked stuffing-coated chicken, with only 3 ingredients, by @janemaynard

    Today I’m sharing one of those non-recipe recipes. It is seriously beyond easy with only 3 ingredients. The recipe is a little old school, i.e. there is canned cream-of-whatever soup involved. I rarely buy canned soups, but I certainly do for this chicken recipe! The chicken comes out so tender and juicy, and the stuffing cooks perfectly, soft and yummy where it touches the chicken with a nice crunch around the outside.

    recipe for super easy and delicious baked stuffing-coated chicken, with only 3 ingredients, by @janemaynard (>> Find out more…)


  10. Sunday, September 14

    Week 399 Menu

    Hi there! I seriously can’t believe it’s time to plan another weekly menu. Time flies when you’re having fun, and in our case “fun” is sitting in the ER for 7 hours on a Saturday to find out Owen broke his arm. Poor little guy, but he’s a trooper, even if he HATES the splint and sling…heaven forbid he gets a cast tomorrow, he’ll really be mad! He broke it after standing on a chair, which, unsurprisingly, tipped over…something I’ve warned him about countless times. My friend Nicole said it’s too bad he doesn’t get “I told you so” and I kind of agree! 😉

    week 399 weekly menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list

    The heat continues here in San Diego, so my meal plan is still reflecting that. I just wish we started school in October instead of August, it’s perfect summer weather!

    MONDAY:
    Malibu Melt Wraps
    – Fresh fruit

    TUESDAY:
    Honey Goat Cheese & Caramelize Onion Pizza
    – Salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Caprese Salad & Crusty Bread

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Hot dogs on the grill
    – Watermelon

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Breakfast for Dinner: Waffles & Smoothies

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

    Thank you in advance for posting your menus for the week. You’re the best!