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  1. Wednesday, January 13

    Easy Ladybug Cupcakes

    Today I wanted to share the easy ladybug cupcakes I made for Cate’s birthday. One of my “things” as a mom is making fun birthday cakes for my kids, but this year Anna simply wanted a cake made out of donuts and Cate wanted chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing. While I was a little disappointed to not be making more elaborate cakes, I will admit it was a nice break, especially one week before Christmas.

    Quick tutorial for easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    Then, the day of her birthday, Cate informed me that she wanted ladybug cupcakes. I was like, “Uh, what?” I was completely unprepared, but really wanted to come through for her. Luckily I had some red cupcake liners and a pack of candy eyes in the cabinet and was able to pull these off!

    Quick tutorial for easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    These ladybug cupcakes are seriously EASY.

    • Cook the cupcakes in red or black cupcake papers.
    • Make a batch of buttercream frosting. Color about 2/3 of it with red food coloring (you’ll need a lot of food color!). Color the rest of the buttercream with black food coloring.
    • Frost the cupcakes with red buttercream using a butter knife, spreading the frosting on smoothly (doesn’t have to be perfect!).
    • Place the black frosting in a piping bag with a small, round tip. Pipe on the outline of the wings, the polka dots, and a head, as shown in the diagram below.
    • Finish off the ladybug with small candy eyes placed on the black icing piped on as the head, right at the edge of the cupcake.

    How to decorate easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    I was able to knock these cupcakes out no problem, and the design is so simple even the non-artistic among us can pull it off.

    Click here to get the recipes I used for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting. (Feel free to use a cake mix, I’m not keeping track!)

    Happy decorating!


  2. Monday, January 11

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #19: Marie LeBaron

    This Week for Dinner Podcast Episode #19: Marie LeBaron from the website Make and Takes

    Have you ever visited or used the website Make and Takes? It’s pretty amazing and the talented woman behind that site is Marie LeBaron. I’ve known Marie for many years. She is a business partner of mine as well as a dear friend. Marie is the queen of crafting with kids but is also a great home cook and is skilled at getting kids involved in the kitchen. In today’s show Marie shares one of her favorite recipes as well as several great kitchen tips, so be sure to listen in!

    Shownotes:

    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

     Other Stuff!


  3. Sunday, January 10

    Week 468 Weekly Menu

    Hello! Hope the first week of January went great! I am super grateful so many of you posted menus last week because they served as my inspiration for our meals this week. So helpful! Here’s my plan for the week.

    Week 468 Weekly Menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list for the week!

    MONDAY:
    – Nachos and guacamole

    TUESDAY:
    – Pork and Udon Noodle Soup (recipe to come!)

    WEDNESDAY:
    Chili

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    Caprese Paninis

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out/takeout night

    SUNDAY:
    Homemade pizza night

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

    Let’s keep the good momentum going! Post your menu for the week, no matter how simple or fancy!


  4. Thursday, January 7

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #18: Kalyn Denny

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #18: Kalyn Denny from the food blog Kalyn's Kitchen

    Food blogger Kalyn Denny had no idea how her life would change when she started a blog called Kalyn‘s Kitchen (http://www.kalynskitchen.com) to store the recipes all her friends were asking for.  That was in early 2005, and since then she has retired from teaching elementary school, became a full-time blogger, and now spends most days cooking, photographing the food, writing recipe posts, sharing on social media, and doing all the other things it takes to maintain a successful blog.  In addition to her main blog, Kalyn has a site called Slow Cooker from Scratch (http://www.slowcookerfromscratch.com) that features from-scratch slow cooker recipes from other bloggers.  She has appeared on panels talking about blogging at BlogHer, BlogHerFood, SXSW, and IACP Conferences. Kalyn lives in Utah, and is passionate about sushi, Scandinavian murder mysteries, gardening, cooking, photography, The Good Wife, Feta cheese, and her family, not necessarily in that order.

    Shownotes:

    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

     Other Stuff!


  5. Wednesday, January 6

    2016 New Year’s Resolution: Compost and Reduce Food Waste

    2016 New Year's Resolution: Compost and Waste Less Food @janemaynard

    Each year when it’s time to make a New Year’s resolution, I choose one that supports my overarching goal to “Eat Well. Heal the Planet.” So much of what we eat and how we eat it impacts the environment, which means there are lots of little things we can each do to make positive change. This year our family’s resolution is to reduce food waste and to begin composting in our home.

    I am super excited about this year’s goal. And I am excited to share today’s blog post with you. I tried my best to be as concise as possible…there’s just so much to share!

    I’ve been wanting to compost for years. In Menlo Park, you could put anything compostable into the green bins for trash pick up, which made composting easy to do. But, alas, San Diego (like most places) does not have that option, so if you want to compost you have to do it on your own. Bottom line: I moved to San Diego and I didn’t know how to compost on my own and I didn’t take the time to figure it out. Until now!

    Just Eat It Documentary: Credit Peg Leg Films“Just Eat It” Director and film subject Grant Baldwin is shocked to find a swimming pool sized dumpster filled with discarded hummus. Credit: Peg Leg Films – Scene from Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story

    In recent months I’ve been reading a lot about food waste and the numbers, quite frankly, are staggering. In the U.S., 40% of food raised and grown is wasted each year (one-third globally), and 95% of food waste in the U.S. ends up in landfills. The problem with food going to the landfill is that, unlike normal decomposition, the anaerobic conditions that breaks down food buried in the dump causes a release of methane gas, which contributes to greenhouse gases. So, we’re wasting energy up front producing food that isn’t used, we’re not turning that wasted food back into energy, and the wasted food is increasing CO2 emissions. In addition, the amount of water it takes to produce the food we throw away each year could meet the household water needs for 500 million people. (Information in this paragraph is taken from the documentary Just Eat It, which I will get to in a moment, as well as other sources, including the National Resources Defense Council and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.)

    Waste occurs at all stages of the food production and consumption process, so it will take a combination of individual, collective and regulatory efforts to turn the tide. While looking at the problem on the whole may feel overwhelming, food waste is actually something each and every one of us can work on and contribute to every day. We can make a change and we can make it right now!

    Just Eat It Documentary: Credit Peg Leg Films and Pure Souls MediaCredit: Just Eat It Poster – Peg Leg Films; Grant & Jen – Pure Souls Media

    My 11-year-old Cate and I watched the new documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. If you haven’t seen it, WATCH IT! (You can rent the movie on iTunes for just 99 cents, and you can stream it for free in Canada.) The movie follows the experience of Grant and Jen, a couple who committed to eating only discarded food for 6 months. It’s fun to watch how their 6 months go, but the film also provides ample information about food waste, from farming to labeling to consumption and more. Cate told me afterward that she is grateful they made the movie, which I thought was pretty darn cute. Also, the whole time she was watching the documentary she kept exclaiming, “I can’t believe this!” (I told you the levels of food waste are astonishing!)

    Full Circle Compost Collector at @janemaynardMy compost collector from Full Circle (link below)

    Okay, so back to this year’s resolution! Here’s what we’re going to be doing in the Maynard household starting now!

    • Get a compost bin and use it! Your compost can be as simple as a pile in the backyard, but I’m choosing to use a tumbler, both to help keep critters at bay and to speed the composting process. My friend Elise Bauer loves this compost tumbler. I bought the dual-batch tumbler, so I can have one batch “cooking” while we’re adding compost to the other batch. As for collecting the food in the kitchen to compost, I am using this compost collector from Full Circle, which is ventilated to help reduce odor and flies. Full Circle sells compostable baggies, but you can also get similar bags at stores like Costco. Elise uses this super cute compost collector from World Market and loves it, if you want something with a little more style.
    • Be more thoughtful about using leftovers and food. For whatever reason, whenever it’s time to clean out the fridge, we always have tons of food that has gone bad. I’m going to work hard to be more conscious of using the food we have so it doesn’t end up in the trash or compost bin.
    • Be less picky at the grocery store when selecting produce and meat. Just because something isn’t perfectly pretty doesn’t mean it’s not good! Getting into this mindset is key to changing how much food is wasted. If consumers stop demanding perfect food and start demanding less food waste, then food producers will be able to sell food good food even if it is not beautiful.

    If you’re new to composting like me, here are some resources to get you started:

    When my compost tumbler arrives and we get started composting, I will check back in and let you know how it’s going! Until then, here are some to-dos for you:

    • Consider making food waste a priority in your home, too! Whether that means you’re going to start composting or are simply going to be more mindful of what you throw away, it’s all going to help.
    • Watch Just Eat It.
    • If you are a composting veteran, share your tips with us newbies in the comments!

    Oh, and if you’re a fan of John Oliver’s smarts, wit and salty language, his piece on food waste is also worth a watch.

    Happy New Year! And Happy Composting!


  6. Monday, January 4

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #17: Meredith Sinclair

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #17: Play Expert Meredith Sinclair

    Today is the first podcast episode of 2016! To kick things off right I am talking with Meredith Sinclair from the blog Meredith Plays. Meredith has a Masters in Education and has been parent blogging for many years. She focuses her work on the importance of incorporating play into your everyday life and makes regular appearances on The Today Show among other programs. Meredith is a smart woman and a delightful person to be around and I had a great time talking with her for the podcast. Meredith shares a great crockpot recipe that she cooks for her family regularly and, in case you have leftover champagne from New Year’s Eve, she has a tip for keeping it bubbly!

    Shownotes:

    Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    • 1 jar of salsa (one with lots of flavor)
    • 1 bag frozen corn
    • 1 can black beans, drained
    • Sliced jalapeno rings
    Instructions
    1. Dump chicken, salsa, corn and black beans in a slow cooker. Stir.
    2. Cook on high for a few hours until chicken is cooked through and falling apart. Add jalapeno rings during the last hour or so of cooking.
    3. Serve with tortillas, cheese, lettuce, or whatever you like to make burritos or serve top on tortilla chips.

    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

     Other Stuff!


  7. Sunday, January 3

    Week 467 Weekly Menu

    Happy New Year! I cannot believe that it is January. Unbelievable. Now that the holidays are over, I’m getting ready to settle back into “normal” life, starting with this week’s dinner plan. Also, stay tuned this week for my new year’s resolution for 2016. I’m really excited about it and hope some of you will join me with this year’s little project!

    Week 467 Weekly Menu including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list from @janemaynard

    MONDAY:
    Taco night

    TUESDAY:
    Boozy Beef Stew

    WEDNESDAY:
    Chicken Caesar wraps
    – Smoothies

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Homemade hamburgers

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    Chicken soup with rice

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

    It’s a new year! Let’s start things off right with some meal planning! (I know, SO exciting! 😉 ) Please share your menus! Can’t wait to see what you’ve got cooking!