Friday, January 30
Today I have two things to share with you. First, I wrote a piece for Babble this week on feeding picky eaters, based on great input from a lot of friends and bloggers. It was actually really helpful for me personally to write this as I tackle feeding Owen (who is quite picky these days!). Click here to read the article – there is some great insight!
I also have something a little more serious to share for Show and Tell. See that cute guy there making a perfect picky-eater face? Well, our little Owen has pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough. The doctor confirmed Owen’s test results last night and now our entire family is on antibiotics as a precautionary measure.
I am not here for a debate, I simply want to share our experience. We vaccinate our children and are firmly pro-vaccine, and yet, here we are, with a very preventable, potentially-deadly disease in our home. I am aware that the anti-vax contingency has been growing, but honestly, I thought that there were only a few small pockets where people had stopped vaccinating. Well, as I learned this week, this is not the case. There are many communities where schools no longer have herd immunity because the number of vaccinated children is too low. When that happens, these previously-eliminated diseases start popping up. California has been tracking district-specific immunization numbers since 2000, so it is a good case study of the phenomenon. Click here to see some great maps and get more info about California’s numbers. I learned that in our school district there are only 4 out of 15 elementary schools with immunization rates above 93% (the magic number for herd immunity) and our school is only at 84%. The neighboring district has 0 out of 5 schools above 93%. We live right in the middle of one of those red dots you see on all the maps. (Note: California is 39th in the country, so there are 11 states with worse numbers.)
Photo source: Washington Post
In the last few weeks our community (North County Coastal San Diego) has had confirmed cases of both measles and whooping cough. My son Owen is 3 years old and has 3 out of 4 of his shots for pertussis (he needs to be 4 years old to get the 4th shot), leaving him about 15% likely to contract the disease if exposed. Sadly he was and he did get pertussis. Thankfully he is doing well and I can’t imagine how terrible the cough would have been if he wasn’t immunized (having the vaccination makes symptoms less severe). We are feeling lucky despite the fact he has pertussis, but also feeling that it is just so unnecessary that we’re dealing with this. No one should be dealing with these diseases.
If you live in California, there is a petition for the state government to make vaccinations mandatory for all K-12 students in the public school system. Click here to sign. This month the federal government approved a pledge of $1B for vaccines to Gavi to save millions of children’s lives all over the world. It blows my mind that there are developing countries with higher vaccination rates than my kids’ school. We need to remedy that so all of us everywhere will be protected from these diseases.
I do believe some of the unvaccinated children in the stats are, in reality, partially vaccinated. I’m really hoping that the resurgence of some of these diseases will be the kick in the pants we need to get our vaccination rates back up.
And, as I said, Owen is doing well. The first two days of the cough were the worst. We actually went to the doctor at that point but were told it was a cold – we had no reason to think it was pertussis. Ten days later he was still having coughing fits and we also learned that there were, in fact, cases of whooping cough in town, so we went back to the doctor. Owen is being treated and is in good spirits.
Thanks for letting me ramble. Obviously this is all I can think about right now. Have a good weekend!
Thursday, January 29
Just a quick post today to share my new favorite cheese. It’s called ricotta salata and it’s mighty fine.
The kind I buy is from Bel Gioioso. They label the cheese as “The Italian Feta,” which I think is a good description. Salata means “salted,” and that’s basically what this cheese is – ricotta cheese that has been pressed, salted and dried. The texture is very similar to feta, but the flavor is much more mild. Think ricotta with, you guessed it, salt added!
I pretty much put it on every salad I eat now. I can’t get enough. And, unlike feta, my kids are much more likely to eat it sprinkled on their salad, so they can eat the same salad I make for the adults. I’m thinking ricotta salata would be good in other dishes, too, like scrambled eggs or tossed into roasted veggies. Maybe it’s time I start experimenting, but, honestly, I go through enough of the stuff with just salads!
Tuesday, January 27
I love carnitas. Well, let me clarify, I love good carnitas. I’ve had bad carnitas and, well, not only do I not love bad carnitas, when I’ve had bad carnitas, the experience was traumatic. But good carnitas? Well, good carnitas are downright irresistible. It’s definitely one of my favorite meat dishes.
I live in Southern California where Mexican food is as common as a hamburger, so we’ve been eating carnitas for years, even pre-Chipotle. I think most people probably know about carnitas nowadays, but in case you are wondering what the heck I am talking about, carnitas (which translates as “little meats”) is a Mexican pork dish where the pork is cooked for a long time and comes out all tender and delicious like.
As you now know, I love these ‘little meats’ a lot, but for some reason I never thought of making carnitas myself. But last week I was like, “Self, why don’t you make your own carnitas already?” And I was like, “Self, you are totally right.” And then I did. And it was awesome.
Here’s the thing. The carnitas came out perfectly. So so so so good. And it was crazy easy to make. Also, pork shoulder is my new favorite cut of meat. I am for sure going to use it next time we do Korean BBQ beef tacos. Why was I so clueless about pork shoulder and the fact that homemade carnitas is basically the best thing EVER? And I call myself a food blogger!
I had googled carnitas recipes and read through a whole bunch of them and was leaning towards Melissa D’Arabian’s recipe. Then Sara commented on my menu a few weeks ago specifically saying to try that recipe, even though I hadn’t mentioned it, so I figured it was meant to be. The recipe was fabulous and is definitely the one I will use from here on out. Maybe I should do some experimenting but, honestly, when something is this good why mess with it?Pork CarnitasPrep timeCook timeTotal timeFrom Melissa D'Arabian, but I re-wrote the directions to incorporate my notes and changes.Author: Jane MaynardServes: 6-8 peopleIngredients
- 2½ pounds bone-in pork shoulder (2 pounds boneless)
- Salt (I like kosher, especially for the final step, but it's not necessary)
- Black pepper (freshly ground if you have it, regular if you don't)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 cloves of garlic, pushed through a garlic press or minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, cut into quarters
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, roughly chopped
- 1 orange
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Rinse and dry the pork shoulder. Salt and pepper liberally. Place pork shoulder in a slow cooker.
- Mix together the oregano, cumin, garlic and olive oil. Spread half of the oil mixture on one side of the pork shoulder, flip over and then rub the rest of the oil mixture on the other side of the pork shoulder.
- Place the onion and jalapeno in the slow cooker with the meat. I put some of the veggies on top and some around the edges.
- Cut the orange in half and then squeeze the juice into the slow cooker. Place the two orange halves in the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4 hours (I cooked it on low for 8 hours). Flip the meat over halfway through cooking.
- Once the meat is super tender, turn off the slow cooker and remove the meat. Pull the meat apart with a fork, discarding bone if using bone-in shoulder.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Sprinkle pan liberally with more salt. Evenly layer the carnitas in the pan once the pan is hot and cook just one side until you get a nice crispy edge on the meat touching the pan.
- Remove from heat, stir together, do a little taste test and add a bit of salt if needed (probably not needed, but check anyway).
- Serve with fresh cilantro, salsa, hot sauce and tortillas. You could also add other items to your taco (rice, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, guac, etc), but Nate and I found that the carnitas were just so good it was better to have a simply-dressed taco.
Sunday, January 25
I did way too good of a job following my menu last week…now I have to actually think about what to cook this week. Hate that! Okay, I suppose it’s a good thing, but still. 😉 Here goes!
– Caprese Paninis (Cate’s request!)
– Fruit and chips
– Naan Pizzas
– Swedish Pancakes
– Fresh fruit
– Eat out night
– Super Bowl Sunday! GO PATRIOTS!!!!
– We will have some family visiting this weekend and I can’t wait! I’m not completely sure what we’re eating, but I think it will probably involve Buffalo Wings, Sweet Chex Mix, 7-Layer Dip, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Chili, Lots of Chips, Onion Dip…sound good?
Posted by Jane Maynard at 2:54 pm 23 Comments
Categories: weekly menus Tags: dinner plans, free printable, meal plan, menu plan, PRINTABLE MEAL PLAN, shopping list, weekly menu, weekly menu planning |
Friday, January 23
I just have three words for you today: Orange Monkey Bread.
Over the long weekend last week the kids and I did some baking together and created a recipe for orange monkey bread. The monkey bread was easy to make and it made for a great kids’ baking project. Plus, it was scrumptious. Even Nate, who isn’t that into treats, declared our monkey bread “dangerous.” I consider that success. To get the recipe, check out my post on Babble!
Show and Tell time! Please share your own stuff from the week! Remember, anything goes! A simple comment with something you accomplished, a link to something funny/delicious/inspiring/crazy, or a link to your own blog posts, all of it is welcome!
Thursday, January 22
You know how last week I told you to buy a baker’s blade? Well, I have something else you need to go buy. Luckily it’s another inexpensive item so it shouldn’t be too painful!
When I was making Anna’s birthday cake last month, I bought a set of nesting round cookie cutters so I could make the marzipan pepperoni and onions. I can’t tell you how much I love this little set of cutters! Since I made Anna’s cake just a month ago I’ve used these cutters several times, for a few cookie recipes as well as a Christmas tree ornament craft we made for Cate’s birthday party. I’m thinking they’ll come in handy for biscuits as well.
I love this cooke cutter set because there are 6 different sized circles and the cutters are double sided, with a smooth and a scalloped edge.
I bought mine at Michaels, but you can buy the set on Amazon as well. And you should, Right now! (That’s Bossy Jane talking. Sorry.)
Tuesday, January 20
I have another Crazy Easy Chicken recipe for you today! So far we have Creamy Lemon Pepper Chicken (which I posted last October) and Parmesan-Crusted Chicken. Today we’re going to go with a savory-sweet recipe, which happens to be my favorite flavor combo! (As in, don’t put any chocolate-covered pretzels anywhere near me or they will ALL disappear.)
We only need 3 ingredients for this recipe: chicken, maple syrup and soy sauce. That’s it, you’re done. I love how the saltiness of the soy sauce is a perfect balance to the maple syrup. It’s pretty much divine and so easy to throw together.
This chicken would be great on a salad, in a stir fry or maybe even just on its own with a big pile of creamy garlic mashed potatoes. Yeah, that sounds good to me. Do that.Savory Maple ChickenPrep timeCook timeTotal timeWith only 3 ingredients, this super easy chicken recipe is great for a weeknight and hits the salty-sweet spot!Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 part soy sauce
- 2 parts REAL maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Stab the chicken breasts on both sides a TON with a fork.
- Mix together the soy sauce and maple syrup (you should be using twice as much maple syrup as soy sauce).
- Place chicken in a baking dish. Pour the sauce over the chicken, turning the chicken several times to make sure it is coated in the sauce. (The little holes from your fork stabbing will help the chicken to take in some of that yummy sauce.)
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until inside of chicken is no longer pink and the internal temperature reaches 160º F. Don't overcook to keep it moist and tender.
- I didn't provide measurements because this is a CRAZY EASY recipe and you don't need them! For two chicken breasts, it will probably take about ¼ - ½ cup maple syrup and ⅛ - ¼ cup soy sauce, but that's just a guess. Adjust accordingly as you put the dish together and suit to your own tastes. If you want more sauce, whip up a little more sauce!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 10:48 am 3 Comments
Categories: Crazy Easy Chicken Recipes, featured recipes, main dishes, Recipes Tags: chicken recipes, crazy easy chicken, crazy easy chicken recipes, maple soy chicken, maple syrup, quick dinner ideas, savory maple chicken, soy sauce |
Sunday, January 18
Happy Sunday! Just like that it’s time to plan another menu for the week – oh TIME, slow down! I have a few carry-over items from last week because our leftovers were kind of like the loaves and fishes…which was awesome.
– Beef Stroganoff
– Chicken Caesar Wraps
– Fresh fruit and chips
– Stuffed Peppers
– Take-out Night
– Swedish Pancakes
– Fresh fruit
Last week was fabulous – so many menus shared! Please keep it coming, we all love seeing what you’re cookin’ up!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 7:18 am 48 Comments
Categories: weekly menus Tags: free printable, meal plan, MEAL PLANNING, menu plan, PRINTABLE MEAL PLAN, shopping list, weekly menu, weekly menu planning, WEEKLY MENUS TAGS: DINNER PLANS |
Friday, January 16
Happy Friday! I have just two quick things to share today!
First, I just heard about Food Forward on PBS. Has anyone seen it? I can’t wait to watch!
Second, my Babble post for the week! I shared a basic, easy recipe for Baked Yogurt Chicken and provided a roundup of 6 other savory yogurt recipes. Lots of yumminess to be had, my friends.
As usual, please share something! Whether it’s a link to your own blog, a link to something you’ve discovered or just a quick peek into your life, it’s all welcome!
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, January 15
If you bake at all (cookies, bread, whatever), then today’s post is for you.
Last month I bought my very first baker’s blade. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t owen one until now. I think I just never thought about it until I was smack dab in the middle of making a recipe and couldn’t just pop off to the store to go shopping. Anyway, I went to Michaels (my least favorite store in the history of the world) about 3,148 times this past December. About the only good that came out of that torture was that I happened to grab a Wilton baker’s blade on one of those trips.
I love my new baker’s blade! Seriously, it’s awesome. It comes in super handy when making bread and cookies and other stuff, too. For example, it even came in handy when I was forming marzipan veggies for Anna’s birthday cake. The baker’s blade is perfect for scraping your floured surface clean, cutting dough up, moving stuff around, whatever. The baking world is your oyster if you’ve got a baker’s blade at the ready.
So, if you’re like me and haven’t ever happened to buy one, hop to it! Amazon sells the one I bought and love, which means you can buy it NOW and don’t have to torture yourself with a visit to Michaels. You’re welcome.