Sunday, January 15
Happy Sunday! We’re cruising right through January and I am so happy that I am cooking so much more again. Seriously, it makes me so happy! Here’s to keeping it up as sports get going again…I have faith I can do it! (Thinking positively makes it so, right?) Here’s this week’s menu…
– Dinner salad topped with grilled salmon
– Chicken Stry Fry
– I’m going to Disneyland with friends (no kids!), Nate is going to take the kids out to a local restaurant that is doing a fundraiser for Owen’s school 🙂
– Baked Ziti (I’m going to cut the meet and try adding fresh mozzarella to the mix)
– Sausage, Pepper & Onion Hoagies
Last week was awesome – so many great menus, and they were a GREAT help as I planned this week’s menu! Thank you! As usual, please share your own meal plans in the comments below!
Friday, January 13
Hello, friends! The podcast is back! I know I said that two months ago, but this time it’s for real! (And I actually had a good reason two months ago for why things got a bit derailed…listen to this episode to find out what it was…how’s that for a teaser?) I am really excited about today’s interview guest Courtney Carver. Courtney writes and speaks about how to simplify life and work and is known for Project 333, a minimalist fashion challenge. She also appears in the new documentary Minimalism discussing Project 333, which you can stream on Netflix. Courtney’s interview is perfect for this time of year when we are all reassessing our lives and making resolutions. And all of the links in the shownotes below are awesome. Basically, I’m just really pumped about Courtney’s interview, the documentary Minimalism, and all of the great resources below. It’s SUCH GOOD STUFF. Plus, Courtney shares a favorite recipe and a really actionable, awesome kitchen tip. So, you know, be sure to listen to this episode! 😉
Photo credit: Heidi Larsen, Foodie Crush
- Courtney’s website Be More With Less
- Courtney’s Instagram Account
- The Story of Stuff (20-minute video about “stuff”, stream online)
- Minimalism (documentary, stream on Netflix)
- The True Cost (documentary, stream on Netflix)
- Essentialism (book)
- A Newsweek article about the environmental crisis of old clothes (not the exact article I mentioned in the episode but close enough!)
- Courtney’s Simple Kitchen Post
- Avocado Chimichurri Bruschetta
- Portobello Mushroom Burger with Avocado Chimichurri
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.
- If you enjoy the podcast, please leave a rating and/or review on iTunes! It helps a lot!
- Big thank you to d&m for providing the music for the podcast!
Wednesday, January 11
Like most parents, I come up short in lots of ways. But there is one thing I am committed to as a mom that I have yet to fail on: birthday cakes. (I probably should knock on wood after making such a bold statement!) I blame my own mother for this obsession, thanks to the truly memorable birthday cakes she made for me as a child. Each year I let the kids choose whatever they want for their cake and then I tackle it. So far I’ve had pretty good success and I love sharing the cakes with you so you can make them, too!
Anna had her birthday last month and requested a hamburger birthday cake. (This girl has a thing for cakes that look like savory foods, apparently.) It was her “family year,” which means no party, just a fun night with the fam. Rogue One came out on her birthday, so we went and saw the movie together. She could pick anywhere to go out to eat but decided to do takeout hamburgers and come home to eat in the living room while watching old Gilmore girls episodes. Naturally a hamburger birthday cake was in order!
Anna and I did some searching on Pinterest and found a lot of ugly hamburger cakes as well as a lot of cakes that were just too much work. But then one caught our eye on a blog called Gluesticks. The mom had used unfrosted chocolate and vanilla cakes to make the bun and hamburger patty. Genius!
Here is how I made the cake and a few notes for you if you decide to tackle this project yourself. (Click here for the Gluesticks instructions. She piped frosting for most of the decorating, but I hate washing frosting tips so took a little bit of a different approach.)
- Make 2 yellow cake rounds and 1 chocolate cake round, all the same size, for the bun and hamburger.
- For the lettuce: toss shredded coconut in the green liquid food coloring. Tip: I didn’t let the “lettuce” hang off the edges enough, wish I had concentrated more coconut to hang over the edges so you could see the lettuce better.
- For the mayonnaise: Use white buttercream frosting in between layers 1 and 2 and layers 2 and 3, frosting out to the edge so you can see the “mayo.”
- For the veggies and cheese: Either use marzipan or white rolled fondant. Separate and make a few different colors – red, green and yellow-orange. Roll the fondant/marzipan flat then cut into the shapes you need. I cut triangles freehand with a knife in the yellow fondant for the cheese. I used a medium-sized, smooth-edge round cookie cutter for the tomatoes. I used a small-sized, ripple-edged round cookie cutter for the pickles.
- For the seeds: Pipe white frosting on top for the seeds!
- I recommend using smaller round cake pans. I used my 9-inch cake pans and, well, it was SO MUCH CAKE. Plus I think the dome would have held better if the cake had been smaller. Bottom line: 9 inches was too big, 8 inches probably would have felt too big, too. However, those sizes will work for sure if that’s all you have or if you do in fact need a lot of cake. Otherwise, go with smaller cake pans!
- Make sure you grease and flower the pans REALLY WELL and use parchment paper on the bottom. My cake ended up sticking to the pan a little too much on the edges in some parts. Those parts did not look pretty and I had to hide them in the back.
- Do not use cake strips for this cake, at least for the yellow cake rounds. You want the yellow cake to dome so that the top resembles a hamburger bun. Two quick notes: First, you will still want to level one of the yellow layers and the chocolate layer since they will be stacked. Just the top yellow layer should have a dome. Second, my cakes did dome in the oven but for some reason settled down flat after cooling – I think it was the homemade cake recipe I used. I think boxed cake mix may work better in this instance. If your cake does go flat, I recommend putting more frosting between the 2nd and 3rd layers, concentrated in the middle to make the top layer “poof” up a bit more like a bun. (I didn’t do that and you can see that my bun looks flat.)
Click here for my cake decorating post with TONS of tips for making and decorating cute cakes. That post also includes the buttercream recipe I used.
Happy hamburger birthday cake making!
Sunday, January 8
Happy 2nd Week of January! Last week went great with my menu and I am starting this year off right in the kitchen. I’m actually excited about cooking again, which makes me so happy! Here’s what’s cooking this week…
– Barbecue Chicken Salad
– Cora’s Mexican Ground Beef Tacos
– Stuffed Shells
– Eat out night
– Pancakes, Eggs and Smoothies
You know the drill! This blog would be nearly as helpful without you all sharing your menus each week, too! Please tell us in the comments what you have cooking this week!
For a while I wrote a fun series of posts on Babble called “3 Kids, A Mom & a Kitchen.” For one of the article the girls and I made a super tasty Barbecue Chicken Salad recipe. I just clicked through to link to that recipe for today’s weekly menu and discovered that Babble did a website update, which means the captions that had the recipe included are missing! So, I’m reposting the recipe here, for posterity’s sake. Well, actually, mostly for my sake so I can have the recipe handy. 😉
This is one of those recipes that’s not really a recipe – no measurements necessary and feel free to add or omit ingredients at will. I pretty much stole the idea for this salad from a restaurant called Croutons. Enjoy!Barbecue Chicken SaladAdapted from a dish served at a restaurant called CroutonsAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- Grilled chicken breast
- Barbecue sauce
- Romaine lettuce, chopped
- Shredded cheese, cheddar or mozzarella
- Canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- Canned corn
- Chopped tomato
- Cornbread croutons (if I can find these at the store I toast cubed cornbread in the oven until crispy)
- Chopped Granny Smith Apples
- Ranch dressing
- Shred grilled chicken and toss in barbecue sauce to coat.
- Toss everything together and serve with ranch dressing. Voila!
- No set amount for ingredients - plan for about ½ chicken breast per person and adjust ingredients as necessary for the size of the salad!
Sunday, January 1
Happy New Year!
Today I’m combining the weekly menu with my annual New Years Resolution post because they are closely related. Let’s talk about the resolution first then get on to the weekly menus, shall we?
Every year I choose a resolution that helps our family to Eat Well and Heal the Planet. For 2017 my environmentally-friendly kitchen resolution is to, quite simply, cook more. And while the goal itself may seem simple, the reasoning behind it is more complex.
This will be my eighth year where my New Year’s resolution is focused on how my behavior in the kitchen impacts the environment. These past seven years have been awesome and the resolutions have truly helped me become more conscious than ever about how my food choices impact Mother Earth. It’s been a transformative process for me and I hope my journey has had a positive impact on others, too.
Last year our family’s food-environment resolution was to Waste Less Food. I started a compost bin, which is still going strong, and we’ve tried really hard to, well, waste less food! One of my biggest takeaways last year was that eating out was our family’s biggest source of food waste. Not only did more food get thrown away when eating out, but there was so much more garbage per person with takeout containers and the like. This is contributing factor #1 to this year’s resolution to cook more.
I don’t want to jump on the whole “2016 was the worst” bandwagon, but I will tell you that, for personal reasons, 2016 was at times quite challenging and I cooked less this year than I have in probably a decade. I was dealing with SI joint dysfunction for much of the year, and then I had a crazy car accident in November, just as the holidays got going. Plus, you know, life is busy. Work, kids, etc, etc, etc…we all know how it goes. As a result, this year found me in the kitchen far less than usual. Making dinner became a source of stress and something I thought I didn’t have time for. By the end of the year, my decreased levels of cooking have really had me down. The last two weeks I’ve been cooking a lot more. I visited our weekly farmer’s market for the first time. I’ve thought a lot about my relationship to food and what it means to me. This is contributing factor #2 to this year’s resolution…so let’s talk about the resolution itself!
I want to cook more! I want to feed my family better. I want to feed myself better. I want to care about my food again. I want to enjoy the cooking process. I want to be inspired by food rather than stressed by it. I want to go to my local farmer’s market and be inspired by the local, seasonal ingredients I find each week. And I want to help the environment – the best way I can do that in the kitchen is to simply COOK MORE.
So, that’s the goal! Less eating out. More cooking. More getting back to the love of food and savoring the time it takes to prepare it.
Are you with me? Are you already there? Share your tips if you are! And, in case you missed it, I wrote an article for Mom2.com in October where I shared my friends’ tips for cooking dinner every day, even when life gets crazy. There is some good stuff in there, I highly recommend you check it out!
And now my first menu of 2017! Note: we are still going to eat out, but I’m limiting it to once a week! I will continue to post menus every weekend and hope you all will continue to share yours in the comments! I am beyond grateful for the interaction we have here on the blog and your menus are a true inspiration week after week!
– Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches
– Green Salad Topped with Grilled Chicken
– Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
– Eat out night
– Roasted Vegetable Egg Scrambles and Smoothies
Your turn! Please share your menu in the comments…simple, fancy, whatever! And if you have any thoughts about this year’s resolution, please share those as well! Happy New Year and Happy Cooking!