Monday, October 31
So, it’s kind of looking like after all these years Monday is my planning day…but I actually think I like Sunday, better! I need to get back on the Sunday train! ANYWAY…let’s talk this week’s dinner plans!
– Chicken Soup with Rice
– Caprese Paninis
– Steak, roasted potatoes and veggie
– Takeout night
– Breakfast for dinner: waffles and smoothies
That’s all she wrote! Now it’s your turn, tell us in the comments what you’ve got cookin’ this week!
Friday, October 28
Friday Show and Tell: The Best Plastic Wrap, Cool (Actually, Warm!) Lightbulbs and The Perfect Netflix Halloween
Happy Friday! I have a few things to share with you today for Show and Tell.
Costco Seriously DOES Have the Best Plastic Wrap
People have been telling me for years to get the Kirkland plastic wrap at Costco. There is no good reason why I haven’t, I just never did. Well, this week there was a guy on the end of the aisle at Costco sampling plastic wrap. The kids were not super excited about those samples but I was! It meant I finally remembered to buy the darn stuff. And, good news, you don’t have to buy it in a truck-sized box anymore, it comes in two smaller boxes that actually fit in your kitchen drawer or cabinet. So, why do I love it? It sticks to itself and glass beautifully. AND that little slider cutter things is the best thing ever in the history of the world.
Finally Acandescent Lightbulbs
This week I tried out a new kind of lightbulb, which I was pretty excited about. (I think you know you’re old when lightbulbs become exciting.) Here’s the deal: I really don’t like LED and fluorescent (CFL) lightbulbs. I will admit that both kinds of lights have improved significantly over the years, with more size and shape options as well as LEDs that come in different light temperatures, from warm to cool. But I have yet to find a non-incandescent bulb that I really love and find that my LED and CFL lights both offer a more “harsh” light, even when the temperature is warmer. Finally Light Bulb Company contacted me to see if I would like to try out their acandescent bulbs. I was totally game because of my mixed feelings about LED and CFL lights.
Finally uses what they call acandescent technology, based on a decades-old induction technology. The result is a lightbulb that is the same shape and size as a traditional bulb that offers a warm, soft white light. The best part for me is that the light is omnidirectional, meaning you don’t get those same harsh shadows that often come with LEDs and CFLs. And the level of warmth with these lightbulbs is perfect. Warm but not yellow, they give off a great soft white light.
So, do we like the bulbs? Yes we do! We put them in one of the bedrooms and in all our lamps in the living room and have been very happy with them. Knowing that incandescent lights will be gone in a few years, it’s nice to have another lighting option to choose from. A few notes:
- Finally’s acandescent lightbulbs are significantly more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, about the same as CFLs. LEDs are still the most efficient, but Finally comes pretty close.
- Finally bulbs do contain mercury (you will see this on the label), but it’s the same amount as you find in a can of tuna, so very minimal. The bulbs are landfill safe and do not need to be disposed of the same way you would have to dispose of a CFL, which has more mercury levels.
- The “omnidirectionality” (i.e. not as harsh or shadowy) and soft white color of the light from these bulbs is great.
If you are interested, you can buy Finally Light Bulbs on their website, on Amazon or at Staples stores.
If You Haven’t Watched Stranger Things Yet, Let’s Use Halloween As Your Excuse To Do So NOW
Have you watched Stranger Things on Netflix? If the answer to that question is “No” then let’s just use Halloween as an excuse for you to remedy that situation RIGHT NOW. And while I’m glad I’ve already watched it, I’m a little jealous of you Stranger Things virgins out there. Because it is SO MUCH FUN the first time you watch it. It’s the best thing every in the history of the world (besides the Costco plastic wrap slider cutter thing, of course).
As usual, Show and Tell is for the whole class! If you have something you would like to share, please do so in the comments!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 4:00 pm 2 Comments
Categories: around the house, costco, fab faves, netflix, the goods Tags: around the house, costco plastic wrap, finally bulbs, netflix, netflix stream team, stranger things |
Wednesday, October 26
I’m going to start a post about low-sodium eating with a crazy statement: I love salt. No, really. I LOVE SALT. So when I met my friend Jessica Goldman Foung (a.k.a. Sodium Girl) many moons ago, I have to be honest that low-sodium eating was something I had never even thought about. Then I heard Jessica’s story. In 2004 she was diagnosed with Lupus and learned that the autoimmune disease had attacked her kidneys and brain. As a result of all the craziness, she had to adjust her diet, including eating no sodium. This pretty much blew my mind. No sodium? How is that even possible? After following Jessica and her culinary adventures all these years she has proven to me that a life without sodium can be a rich and delicious one indeed. She is quite the inspiration.
The American Heart Association recently asked if I would help spread the word about their new Sodium Breakup campaign. I was more than happy to so that people like me (a salt lover who could definitely improve her diet to help her heart) and people like Jessica (someone who had to give up salt to save her life) could both learn all about low-sodium eating. I was honored to be given the opportunity to write the kick-off post for the campaign on AHA’s website, which you can read by clicking here! Over the next few months you can keep checking in with the AHA to get all kinds of great low-sodium information, tips and more. The AHA is bound and determined to make your breakup with sodium a breakup you are happy about!
And I have even more low-sodium goodness for you today: a book, a recipe and a giveaway!
First, the book. Low-So Good is a beautiful resource written by my friend Jessica. The book has 70 mouthwatering recipes (hello, Jerk-ish Fish Tacos with Sauce, Slaw and Salsa, I need you in my life), but it is also a complete guide to low-sodium eating. Low-sodium novices and experts alike can benefit from what Jessica has to offer, and I love the guest articles peppered throughout the book from other food experts. The photography is gorgeous, the book is well organized and easy to read, and, best of all, Jessica’s infectiously happy personality shines through. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to cut some (or even all!) sodium from their diet…or really to anyone at all! Click here to buy Jessica’s book!
Second, the recipe. A really helpful part of Jessica’s book is advice for eating in restaurants when you’re trying to go low-so. One of my favorite recipes in the entire book is MacGyver Vinaigrette. It’s more of a formula than a recipe, providing the guidance you need to make a salad dressing on the fly with ingredients you can find at restaurants. It’s awesome. So today I’m sharing one of my MacGyver no-sodium vinaigrette creations, which is sweet and zesty! The recipe is below and sized for one serving.
Lastly, the giveaway! One of you lucky, randomly-selected people will win a copy of Jessica’s book Low-So Good. Here is how to enter! (All comments must be posted before Midnight PT Wednesday 11/2/16. Prize must be shipped to an address in the U.S.)
- Leave a comment on this post! Easy peasy!
- Bonus entry: Follow This Week for Dinner on Facebook (leave a separate comment indicating you follow)
- Bonus entry: Follow Sodium Girl on Facebook (leave a separate comment indicating you follow)
- Bonus entry: Follow American Heart Association on Facebook (leave a separate comment indicating you follow)
And now for a no-sodium salad that will make your taste buds super happy! And good luck with your sodium breakup adventures!Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium VinaigrettePrep timeTotal timeInspired by "Low-So Good" by Jessica Goldman Foung. If you're trying to eat low-sodium, this on-the-fly dressing can be thrown together at a restaurant! (Or at home. Because it's good no matter where you eat it.)Author: Jane MaynardServes: 1 servingIngredients
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lime juice (about 4 lime slices)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Generous pinch black pepper
- In a small bowl or in a small mason jar, add all of the ingredients. Whisk with a fork or shake well.
- Serve over salad!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 12:36 pm 9 Comments
Categories: book club, fab faves, healthy eats, Kitchen Tips, Recipes, side dishes, the goods Tags: american heart association, books, cookbook review, cookbooks, low-sodium eating |
Tuesday, October 25
Hey, guys. I don’t get political here on the ol’ blog. I believe all sides of all issues have valid arguments and, well, this is a food blog and not really the place to hash out those issues and arguments. But you do know that I care deeply about the environment and write about environmental issues all the time. In addition to caring about the environment, I am a firm believer in the idea that every little bit helps and that all of our cumulative small actions lead to big change, hence a focus on my blog over the years on things like cutting paper towels, composting and eating less meat.
In case you weren’t aware, there is an election in two weeks. (Hahahahaha! I am so funny!) I am not publicly backing any candidates or telling you which way you should vote. But I am excited about voting and have gotten more involved on the local level this year than I ever have. I am really excited to turn in my ballot and have loved talking with my kids about the election. I was recently approached by the Clean Air Moms Action to see if I’d be willing to encourage the same excitement among my readers and I was like, YES! And, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I also want to encourage you to consider clean air, environmental factors and climate change when you vote.
I am not a one-issue voter, but if I was, the environment would be that issue for me. I feel like this election season (and society at large) is like Game of Thrones. In Game of Thrones you have all these warring and competing political factors, all vying for power, all doing anything and everything to get that power. But while that squabbling is happening, “winter is coming,” i.e. literal winter but also those scary glassy-eyed White Walkers that the politicians don’t even believe exist. For me climate change is that proverbial winter. We are concerned with all these other issues while the environment, the one thing that is absolutely crucial to our survival, gets largely ignored. Rising waters are eating away at our coastline (interesting NY Times report here and Wharton podcast here). Drought will not go away. CRAZY WEATHER (no links necessary!). All of it is happening, and yet the presidential debates barely touched the issue, with 82 seconds in the first debate, one question from the audience for the second debate (go Ken Bone!), and two seconds in the third debate, despite the fact that “How will you address climate change?” was the fourth most popular question submitted to the Open Debate Coalition. What the WHAT.
Okay, obviously I have a strong opinion about all of this, so I’m going to cut myself short and just ask you to think about the environment when you vote. I’m not asking you to make it your one issue (although I’d be cool with that! ;)), I just want you to give it some good consideration. The changing climate is impacting food production and so much more. Let’s get ahead of the problem and make some positive changes, starting with our elected representatives and ballot initiatives!
There are tons of great voter guides online, partisan and non-partisan alike, where you can find out where candidates stand on this issue. If you’re a fan of the Sierra Club, you can view their endorsements on this page. Seek out good resources and learn all you can. Vote as if your child’s health depends on it…because it does!
And if you are feeling as pumped up about this issue as I am, go to Clean Air Moms Action and pledge to vote!
We live in an imperfect yet great country and I am grateful for my opportunity to participate in our democracy. Happy Voting! Happy Earth!
This post was produced with support from Clean Air Moms Action.
Monday, October 24
Hi friends! I am sitting at piano lessons realizing we need a meal plan for the week! Oh my!
– Steak, roasted potatoes and veggie (need to use some meat in the fridge)
– Leftovers and/or Eat out night
– Day trip to Julian, CA! (We had to reschedule this from a few weeks ago)
As usual, we would LOVE to see your dinner plans for the week! Please share in the comments! Thank you! 🙂
Sunday, October 16
Hello, friends. So, it’s time to plan a menu and I have NO CLUE what I want to make this week. Here goes nothin’…
– I’m going with free kids’ night at Corner Bakery Cafe again – hard to resist!
– Leftover Homemade Pizza
– Sausage, Pepper & Onion Hoagies
– Honey Mustard Chicken Wraps
– Loaded Nachos with Guacamole
– Eat out night…we’re spending the day in Julian pumpkin picking and exploring!
You know the drill, my friends! We need to know what you’re having for dinner this week! Tell us in the comments!
Friday, October 14
Today I have a Mexican brownies recipe for you. And it’s fair trade. And it’s delicious. Are you ready? Let’s go!
I love Mexican chocolate. I was first introduced to this wonderful flavor by my Mexican college roommate Estela. She brought me Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate tablets from home and I hoarded, um, I mean cherished them. (Okay, hoarded. I would not allow anyone to use that chocolate willy nilly!) Fast forward to today and basically if we go anywhere and anything is Mexican chocolate flavored, I order it. The hint of cinnamon and chile peppers paired with chocolate just makes me happy. (And it reminds me of Estela, too, which also makes me happy!)
Fair Trade USA approached me to help celebrate their Fair Moments campaign this month, which is all about showing how our small everyday decisions can have a huge impact, something I really believe. For the post I wanted to share a recipe that used lots of great fair trade ingredients, but for some reason I was having a hard time settling on something. Then, as I was sitting in my kitchen staring at a pile of fair trade goodies with the kids, discussing what we could make, Cate mentioned brownies. Then the cinnamon started chanting, “Abuelita, Abuelita, Abuelita” and I knew Mexican brownies had to happen. (Okay, maybe that last part didn’t happen, but whatever. Close enough.)
Brownies are one of our family’s favorites and probably the most frequently baked item around here, after chocolate chip cookies, of course. Anna and I decided to make the Mexican brownies together and had a great conversation about what fair trade means. We talked about which ingredients in the recipe were fair trade and about how they are ingredients we use all the time. It was really cool neat sharing this with my daughter and I was grateful I could show her how we actively support such a great cause day to day.
The best part was taste testing with Anna and my mom, trying to get the perfect amount of cayenne pepper and cinnamon in the brownies. In case you’re wondering, we succeeded. The brownies came out awesome and everyone in the family loved them (even my mom who was most certainly suspect when I used the words “cayenne” and “brownies” in the same sentence). The cinnamon and cayenne flavors come through but in a subtle way and without too much heat.
Before we get to the post, let’s do a Fair Trade giveaway! One lucky, randomly-selected winner will receive a package from Fair Trade USA with the following goodies:
- Wholesome Vanilla Frosting
- Cascadian Farm Organic Soft Baked Squares
- Marich Chocolates
- Mighty Leaf Tea
- Chuao Chocolates
- Honest Tea
- Larabar Chocolate Cherry Bites
- Frontier Natural Products Co-Op Cinnamon Sticks
- SunSpire Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
- Spectrum Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
- Arrowhead Mills Organic Coconut Flour
- Immaculate Baking Co.’s Organic Chocolate Chip Mix
- Lundberg Family Farms Organic Jasmine Rice
- High Brew Coffee Cold Brew
To enter this Fair Trade giveaway, please do the following:
- Leave a comment on this post! (Optional: Tell us your favorite fair trade ingredient that you use all the time!)
- Bonus entry: Like Fair Trade USA on Facebook! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
- Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
- Follow This Week for Dinner on Pinterest! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
- All comments must be posted by Midnight PT on October 31, 2016.
And now, the recipe! I basically just used Ruth Reichl’s “A Better Brownie” recipe, which is one of my most favorite brownies. The brownies come out super fudgy and rich with this amazing crusty top that is to die for. Click here for the original non-spicy version. If you want to try the spicy version, here you go!Mexican BrowniesPrep timeCook timeTotal timeThis is one of my favorite brownie recipes, originally written by Ruth Reichl. I've given the recipe a Mexican twist with sugar and spice and everything nice...and Fair Trade!Author: Ruth Reichl (with Jane Maynard adaptations)Serves: 16Ingredients
- 5 ounces unsalted high-fat butter (I use regular old salted butter!)
- 5 ounces unsweetened fair trade chocolate
- 2 teaspoons best-quality, fair trade vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons fair trade ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fair trade cayenne pepper
- 4 farm fresh organic eggs (Jane note: my eggs are not farm fresh, everything turns out fine!)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose white flour (spooned into a cup and leveled with a knife)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Butter a 9x9 or 8x8 square pan and line the pan with parchment paper. Butter the bottom and sides once again.
- Melt the chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
- Beat the eggs and salt in a stand mixer. Add the sugar and beat on high for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has turned very light and thick. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating on low until just mixed.
- Gently stir in the flour until it just disappears.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in the middle of the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350ºF. Bake for 40 minutes; the brownies will be quite fudgy and a toothpick should come out not quite clean. Cool on a rack.
- Lift the brownies out of the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper. Set on a cutting board and cut into pieces.
The little plates in this post are from Q Squared NYC, in case you need to buy them because they are the CUTEST.
Monday, October 10
Hello! Yes, it’s Monday. And, yes, I still haven’t planned this week’s menu. I am quickly throwing something together now while I have a minute! I’m on a deadline right now, so no fancy PDF…but if I can get my act together I will update the post in the next day or two! But at least we’ve got a plan…
– Free kids’ meal night at our local Corner Bakery Cafe and we are going to take advantage of it!
– Barbecue Chicken Wraps
– Cilantro Sour Cream Enchiladas
– Eat out night
– Breakfast for dinner (probably waffles!)
Thank you in advance for sharing your menu with us in the comments! I am so happy each and every week to see your comments!!
Friday, October 7
If you’ve been reading my blog for at least the last year then you know that I love making cute birthday cakes for my kids. It’s pretty much the only “supermom” thing I do. I think it’s because my mom made cute cakes for us growing up, so I simply cannot not make fun birthday cakes! Owen recently celebrated his 5th birthday and asked for a monster-themed birthday party. I thought I would shared how I made his cute yet simple monster birthday cake as well as give you a quick outline of the whole party. It was a lot of fun and easy to pull together, so I need to share the love!
- GAMES: We played two classic party games. First, Pin the Eye on the Monster. Owen and I drew the monster on posterboard then I printed out eyeballs for the kids to attach. Click here to download a PDF of the eyeballs. In addition we played Hot Potato with a stuffed monster. The kids LOVED. THE. GAMES.
- FELT MONSTER PUPPETS: For the main activity we made felt monster puppets! I bought felt squares at Joann’s Fabrics. I used a very simple template I created for the monster head (click here to download the template). Cut out two of each color, then hot glue gun the two pieces together, gluing around the entire edge EXCEPT the flat bottom, leaving that open (it’s a puppet, you need a place to stick your hand!). I provided the kids with cut up felt shapes, pipe cleaners, pom poms and googly eyes. The kids assembled their puppets on the floor. As they finished their designs, I carefully carried the puppets into another room. The kids played while my friend and I hot glue gunned everything onto the puppets! If you have more than a few kids, you should definitely have two glue guns and two people gluing so it doesn’t take too long. (Thanks to my friend Marie from Make and Takes for the felt puppet inspiration!)
- FOOD: Monster Cake (see below for instructions), ice cream and water. Easy peasy!
- PRESENTS: We opened the presents while everyone was still at the party. I’ve started doing the coolest thing for the thank you notes. I take a picture of my child with their friend and the gift they gave with my phone. I then use the Postagram app to write up quick thank you notes (I make the kids help – I type the note while they dictate). Postagram automatically mails the postcards, then the friends not only get a thank you note but a picture from the party! It’s really cute and makes you seem like a super put-together parent (even if you’re not!). 😉
- GOODIE BAGS: Simple goodie bags included monster pencils, monster bendables and monster lollipops.
- DECORATIONS: These monster wall decals worked great for decorating. I added a couple of mylar balloons from The Dollar Tree and a few hanging decorations from Party City. Done!
That’s it. Two hours of monster party fun that was cost effective and simple for me to implement, even during a busy work week. Heads up: We made 12 puppets and it took me a couple of hours to prep all the felt for the monster puppets (I worked on that while watching TV one night).
Simple Monster Birthday Cake How-To
And now for the cake. This simple monster birthday cake was one of the easiest cakes I’ve made yet. NO PIPING NECESSARY. Woohoo! Decorating the cake still takes some time (it took me about 2 hours to do all of the decorating; that does not count baking the cake the day before), but this cake design is very simple and definitely doable for all skill levels.
- Step 1: Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake. Level cake if needed, wrap in plastic or parchment paper and freeze until hard.
- Step 2: Place cake top side down on a cutting board. Simply cut two corners off with a curve to the cut, like you see in the photo above. The corners should be on one short end of the rectangle. The resulting cake will look like a gravestone.
- Step 3: Do a crumb coat frosting layer then freeze or refrigerate until hardened.
- Step 4: While the crumb coat is hardening, make the eyes and mouth. I bought white rolled fondant and black rolled fondant (Wilton’s makes fondant, I buy mine at Michael’s or Joann’s). I colored some of the white fondant blue. Click here for a free printable PDF of the eyeball and mouth template. Print one copy of this page. Roll out the white fondant and place the full eyeball template on top. With a sharp knife cut around the circle. Set the large white fondant circle aside. Roll out blue fondant then cut the eyeball template down to the size of the blue circle. Place on the rolled blue fondant, cut the circle and set aside. Repeat process again for the black circle and small white circle. Stack all the circles so they look like the original eyeball template. For the mouth, roll out the black fondant, place the mouth template on top then cut around the edge, forming the oval shape. Next cut just one of the teeth shapes from the mouth template and use that with the white fondant to make six teeth. Place white fondant pieces on the black fondant mouth. Set aside.
- Step 5: Frost the cake with blue icing, using a knife or cake spreader to make icing on the top and sides as smooth as you can. Wash and dry your hands. Using your index finger, make little swirl marks all over the top of the monster so it looks like fur.
- Step 6: Place the eyeball and mouth on the cake like you see in the picture above. You’re done!
I’m super happy with how everything turned out, but in the end finding Owen looking at his cake like this was definitely the best part!
Sunday, October 2
Confession: The last 2 weeks have been a bear and I’ve hardly cooked at all, despite my weekly menu planning. This week I’m hoping we can get back on track…wish me luck!
– Carnitas Tacos
– Naan Pizzas
– Rachel Sandwiches
– BBQ Grill Night (chicken, hot dogs, etc)
– Take out night
– Bistro Chicken
– Mashed potatoes and salad
Your turn! And thank you in advance for sharing your menus, you guys are the best week after week!