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  1. Wednesday, December 31

    Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year!

    We are in New Hampshire where it is very, very cold. But the kids are having a blast and, admittedly, it’s fun to experience some winter weather this year – it’s been a while!

    sparkly blood orange basil mocktail from @janemaynard

    I just wanted to share two quick New Years things with you today. First, I shared a recipe for a fun, sparkly mocktail (that can easily be turned into a cocktail, if you prefer!) on Babble this week. Be sure to check it out!

    And, tonight, to party with the kids…many, many hours before midnight!

    Have a Happy New Year and see you on the other side!


  2. Sunday, December 28

    Week 414 Menu

    I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season!

    grammy mccarthy

    So…today I don’t have a menu planned. Nate’s Grammy McCarthy (of orange chicken and blueberry muffin fame) passed away this week, so we are in Massachusetts with family. We’ll be here all week, wishing Grammy was with us and yet still grateful for time together. We were all very close to Grammy and the loss has been hard. She was a grand woman and, in the words of Aunt Janet, like a “tinkling bell.”

    Even though my life isn’t in the usual routine this week, if you have a menu planned please feel free to leave it in the comments like normal!

    Once the new year starts, I’ll be back to whip us into menu-planning shape. That’s how Grammy would want it. She was a pull-up-your-bootstraps-and-keep-on-moving kind of lady, so that’s what we’ll do. But this week I’m going to let the bootstraps dangle and simply enjoy time with the people I love.

    Have a wonderful week and be sure to eat a blueberry muffin in honor of Grammy.


  3. Tuesday, December 23

    Holiday Brunch is My New Favorite Thing + A Call for Brunch Recipes!

    A big holiday thank you to Q Squared NYC for sponsoring today’s post.

    Today we have a Call for Recipes, but let me first set the stage.

    My neighbor Kat recently hosted a cookie exchange. I love cookie exchanges, but, much to my surprise, the cookies were not my favorite part of Kat’s get together! Kat served a lovely sit-down brunch before the cookie swap and it was quite wonderful. The food was amazing and it was so nice to take a break mid-morning in the mad rush of December and enjoy good food and company. The whole thing made me feel happy and bright.

    christmas cookie exchangePictured: Ginger cookies on Q Squared’s Diamond Small Rectangular Platter

    For Cate’s birthday party this year the only time we could coordinate with her friends was yesterday morning, so, as inspired by Kat’s party, we decided to host a Christmas birthday brunch! While Cate’s brunch was a little less fancy, it was equally delicious and fun.

    christmas brunch on q squared servingwarePictured: Recipes linked below served on Q Squared’s Ruffle and Holiday Ruffle dishes

    I’ve decided brunch is my new favorite thing for entertaining. So much of the food can be made ahead of time, making for less stressful party prep. Plus, who doesn’t love brunch food? Nobody, that’s who. I also love having the party early in the day, it has a completely different feel and, honestly, I like having more time for clean-up when the guests go home, as opposed to night parties where you’d rather go to bed than clean up.

    q squared serving trayPictured: Q Squared’s Cool Montecito Large Tray

    Q Squared NYC is sponsoring today’s post and I want to give them a quick shout out. Until Q Squared came into my life I didn’t own any serving trays and very few platters. Now I am swimming in beautiful trays and platters and I can’t tell you how fabulous they are for entertaining. I used a Q Squared tray for my cookies at Kat’s party and it was adorable. For Cate’s party, the serving trays came in handy both for the food and the Christmas crafts. Three cheers for Q Squared’s high quality, durable, beautiful serving trays – I can’t live without them now! Oh, before I forget! Q Squared also gave me a few of their Bijou candles for the holidays and the candles smell scrumptious. They have also been the perfect decoration for our coffee table this year. I highly recommend them!

    bijou candles by q squared nyc

    It’s time for today’s Call for Recipes! Please share your favorite brunch recipes and tips! I really do want to host more brunches and become Queen of Brunch. Great aspirations, people. I think I might even plan a little Christmas brunch for this Thursday, so please share tips and recipes!

    I’ll kick us off with the brunch menu from Cate’s party.

    • Ina’s Banana Granola Muffins (made the day before, warmed in a 200-degree oven for 10 minutes prior to serving)
    • Grammy’s Blueberry Muffins (made the day before, warmed in a 200-degree oven for 10 minutes prior to serving)
    • Frittata Cups (used spinach instead of kale, made them early in the morning then warmed in a 200-degee oven for 10 minutes prior to serving)
    • Hot Chocolate
    • Fruit salad

    Ready, set, GO! Let’s brunch it up!

     


  4. Monday, December 22

    Gram’s 4-Bean Salad

    Big thanks to Libby’s for sponsoring today’s post.

    gram's 4-bean salad from @janemaynard

    I’m starting to sound like a broken record this month, but I really love how the food around the holidays reminds me of loved ones and years past. It’s definitely the time of year that I turn to beloved family recipes the most.

    gram's 4-bean salad from @janemaynard

    Nate’s Gram Maynard didn’t cook much, but she had a few signature recipes that were pretty much perfect. Like potato salad – it was simple, reliable and perfectly flavored. And her homemade hot fudge was to die for. Another one of her recipes that we loved was her marinated 4-bean salad. It appeared at every family gathering and, even though Gram is no longer with us, the bean salad is always still on the table when we all get together. Just seeing that bowl of beans instantly reminds me of Gram.

    gram's 4-bean salad from @janemaynard

    Thankfully we have the recipe and can recreate the magic whenever we want. I love this 4-bean salad because it is beyond easy to throw together, has just the right amount of sweetness and goes with pretty much anything. Plus, for our family, every bite reminds us of Gram, which is especially welcome around the holidays.

    gram's 4-bean salad from @janemaynardgram's 4-bean salad from @janemaynard

    Gram's Marinated 4-Bean Salad
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1¼ cups canned wax beans
    • 1¼ cup canned green beans
    • 1 cup canned kidney beans
    • ¾ cup canned chickpeas
    • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced into rings
    • ½ cup chopped green pepper
    • ⅔ cup vinegar
    • ½ cup canola oil
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
    Instructions
    1. Drain al lof the canned beans
    2. In a large bowl combine the wax beans, green beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, onions and green peppers together.
    3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over the bean mixture.
    4. Stir, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
    5. Drain before serving.

     


  5. Sunday, December 21

    Week 413 Weekly Menu

    Happy Sunday! I cannot believe that this week is CHRISTMAS. We’re happy here at the Maynard house because my friend Nikki delivered her famous box of Christmas goodies to us yesterday. I may be stressed and crazy but at least I have Nikki’s beautifully-dipped pretzels to keep me happy!

    nikki's christmas cookie box 2014

    MONDAY:
    – Takeout (We’ll be busy with Cate’s birthday party! That’s right, both my girls have birthdays the week before Christmas!)

    TUESDAY:
    – Breakfast for Dinner (I think Yorkshire Pudding)

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Chinese Takeout – a Maynard family tradition!

    THURSDAY:
    Swedish Meatballs with boiled new potatoes and lingonberry jam
    Bulle (Swedish Cardamom Bread)

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Quick trip to Mexico, so I imagine Mexican food!

    SUNDAY:
    – More Mexico!

    Please share your food plans for the week! And for those of you celebrating Christmas, I look forward to seeing your food traditions!


  6. Friday, December 19

    Friday Show and Tell!

    Hi Everyone! I am currently buried in boxes and shipping tape, so I’m just going to quickly share two of my holiday posts on Babble this week!

    jingle jangle copycat recipe from @janemaynard

    You know the drill…share your stuff! 


  7. Thursday, December 18

    Beautiful Giveaway from TO THE MARKET

    holiday gifts & giveaways on thisweekfordinner.com from @janemaynard

    This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!

    A few weeks ago I shared some of my favorite organizations that give back, one of them being TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods (TTM). I learned about TTM at the AYA Summit with ONE this past October and was completely taken with the founder, Jane Mosbacher Morris, a woman dedicated to lifting survivors throughout the world. Jane was energetic, passionate, smart as whip and had a really cool first name, so obviously I fell in love with her.

    the small navy/silver all across africa basket from 'to the market" by @janemaynard

    TTM combines the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations. TTM works with proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict and disease and they just launched their online marketplace, making their survivor-made goods available to anyone at any time!

    the small navy/silver all across africa basket from 'to the market" by @janemaynard

    I shared TTM with you on Giving Tuesday as a great gifting option for the holidays, which it obviously still is! (Seriously, if you get me this Sari Blanket for Christmas I’ll love you forever. Oh wait, this isn’t about me. Sorry about that. It’s just, well, that blanket!) In addition to TTM being a great place for you to shop for the holidays, TTM is hosting a giveaway here on the blog!

    TO THE MARKET will be giving one lucky randomly-selected winner their choice of one of the All Across Africa baskets (you can see the baskets by clicking on this page). I have the navy/silver small basket and it is beautiful.

    the small navy/silver all across africa basket from 'to the market" by @janemaynard

    There are several ways to enter the giveaway! Comments must be posted by Midnight PT on 12/23/14.

    • Leave a comment! Easy peasy! If you would like, please share with us something you love on the TO THE MARKET website!
    • BONUS ENTRY: Sign up for the TO THE MARKET email list. Click here, scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your email address in the box on the very bottom right. Leave a separate comment telling us you subscribed to get the extra entry.
    • BONUS ENTRY: Follow TO THE MARKET on Facebook. Leave a separate comment telling us you did so to get the extra entry.
    • BONUS ENTRY: Follow TO THE MARKET on Instagram. Leave a separate comment telling us you did so to get the extra entry.

    I am SO happy to be connected with TO THE MARKET and grateful I can share them with you, too! Thank you for showing them support and good luck with the giveaway!

    The lucky winner of this giveaway was Sarah K from The Pajama Chef who said, “I love the Turquoise & Brass Horn Necklace.” 


  8. Wednesday, December 17

    Anna’s Deep Dish Pizza Cake

    It’s birthday season in our home, which means I’m busy whipping up cakes for the girls! This year Anna requested a deep dish pizza cake from Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead. I am absolutely delighted with the results and wanted to share it with you!

    how to make a cake look like deep dish pizza from @janemaynard

    This cake was actually quite easy to put together. Here’s how to get it done!

    • Use a 9-inch cake. After you remove the cake from the pan to cool, wash the pan. When you level the cake, take off about 1/8-1/4″ so that when you put the cake back in the pan for display, there is space between the top of the cake and the top of the pan.
    • Once the cake is back in the clean pan, frost the top with red-tinted butter cream for the sauce. I used red, a bit of orange, and a smidge of green to make the red color. Pipe the “crust” around the edge with buttercream that has extra vanilla extract mixed in (to make it a little more brown). I just used a ziploc bag with the corner cut to make the fat pipe with the frosting. Use cinnamon to add brown spots to the crust, rubbing in lightly with fingers.
    • Marzipan is the key to the beautiful veggies on top! For one 9-inch cake you need a 7-ounce package of marzipan, found in the baking aisle at the grocery store. Divide the marzipan into 4 equal parts. When you roll out the marzipan, place parchment paper both underneath and on top when rolling. For the mushrooms, roll out the marzipan thin and cut mushrooms freehand, using a bit of cinnamon to add color. For the bell peppers, knead in green food coloring with a bit of brown, then roll pieces of marzipan out into a skinny snake shape, make circles and then crimp the circle like a pepper. For the pepperoni, knead in red and a bit of brown food coloring into the marzipan and then roll out thin. Using a small circle cutter, cut circles and then texture with a pastry brush (genius!). I used the rippled edge side of my round cutter for the pepperoni. For the onions, roll out the marzipan then use concentric round cutters to make the onion shapes.
    • Unsweetened shredded coconut worked perfectly for the cheese! I sprinkled most of the cheese directly on the “sauce,” then placed the veggies and sprinkled a bit more “cheese” on top.

    how to make a cake look like deep dish pizza from @janemaynard

    Voila! Deep Dish Pizza…that tastes like cake! It was seriously funny all afternoon with the cake sitting on the counter. It really looked like a pizza!

    how to make a cake look like deep dish pizza from @janemaynard


  9. Tuesday, December 16

    Best Freeze-Ahead Recipes for the Holidays {Call for Recipes!}

    This post is brought to you by Glad. Freshness, wrapped up. This post is sponsored by Glad® Press’n Seal® Wrap/Glad® ClingWrap through FM. All opinions are 100% my own and Glad is the only plastic wrap I have ever used!

    One of my favorite parts of the holidays is the food. Homemade food, to be exact. I revel in the food traditions of our families and savor every bite of homemade goodies dropped on our front doorstep. That said, as much as I love preparing holiday food for my loved ones, I like hanging out with them during the holidays even more. As a result, I try really hard to make food ahead of time so I’m not slaving away in the kitchen when I’d rather be sitting in front of the fire.

    freeze-ahead broccoli casserole from @janemaynard

    glad wrap for freezing meals ahead of time from @janemaynard #spon

    As a result, I have three side dish recipes that are my favorites during the holiday season, both because I only make them for the holidays, making them extra special and nostalgic, and because I can make them ahead of time and freeze for later! It is such a dream on the actual holiday to just open the freezer, pull out a casserole dish and have a beautiful, homemade side to serve either for Thanksgiving or Christmas that tastes as fresh as if I just made it. So what are these magical recipes?

    • Broccoli Casserole: My mom always made this for Thanksgiving and the flavor just instantly transports me to her table.
    • Sweet Potato Souffle: I’m pretty sure this is a holiday staple for at least half of the United States if not more! I love the vanilla in this particular recipe. This is a recipe that I introduced to our family and I only ever make it for the holidays. I can’t imagine the holiday season without them now!

    freeze-ahead sweet potato souffle from @janemaynard

    • Corn Souffle: This recipe came from my friend Jen Carroll, who got it from her mother-in-law who always served it for the holidays. I lovingly think of their family every time we make this for the holidays. And not only have I adopted this food tradition from my friend Jen and her family, but my friend Robyn also adopted it and makes it every Thanksgiving herself!

    freeze-ahead corn souffle from @janemaynard

    For all three recipes, I simply prepare the base of the recipe (not the topping) and place that in a casserole dish. Once the casserole dish is prepped, I wrap it well with Glad plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer! All done! The day I want to bake the casseroles, I remove them from the freezer in the morning so the dishes can warm up on the counter, then follow the directions for the toppings and throw the casserole in the oven. No one would ever guess I made the casserole 1 to 2 months ahead of time!

    As much as I love the three recipes I shared, I always love hearing from you, too! What holiday foods do you prepare and freeze ahead of time to make the holidays less stressful? Please tell us and share links and/or recipes if you have them!


  10. Sunday, December 14

    Week 412 Weekly Menu

    Happy Sunday! Let’s get right to the menu, shall we? I’ve got a very busy week this week (two birthdays, tons of work and Christmas prep!) but my goal is to make it fun!

    week 412 weekly menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list!

    MONDAY:
    Tuscan Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    TUESDAY:
    – Eat out at Benihana for Anna’s birthday celebration

    WEDNESDAY:
    Grammy’s Orange Chicken
    – Rice and Veggie

    THURSDAY:
    Easiest Ever Chicken Pot Pie

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Take out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Breakfast for Dinner: Waffles and Smoothies

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

    As usual, we need your menus! Please share your plans for the week!