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!
Friday, September 30
Hi friends! It’s Friday Show and Tell time, and today it’s all about watching and listening to good stuff. This should keep you busy over the weekend, when you’re not cheering on Stanford football, that is. 😉
Netflix just keeps on keeping on with the great content. Here are a few things I’m most excited about this week:
- Disney on Netflix! It’s official – Netflix is the only place you can stream Disney movies on a pay TV service, which means they will continue to keep adding great Disney films to Netflix all the time. Zootopia is on there right now (my kids are obsessed) and Robin Hood. (We all had a crush on that sly fox when we were kids, right? Just me?)
- As of today we can finally watch Luke Cage! Luke Cage is the third of the Marvel Defenders series on Netflix and I can’t wait to get watching. We liked Daredevil a lot (although still need to watch Season 2), loved Jessica Jones and anticipate adding Luke to our list of favorite superheroes.
- I’m intrigued by the new documentary Amanda Knox. They say if you liked Making a Murderer then this one is right up your alley (and it’s simply a movie rather than a whole series, which is kind of nice, actually).
- I almost forgot! Have you watched Narcos yet? We blasted through Season 2 in less than a week. SO GOOD.
Just a heads up that I added a bunch of songs to my Kitchen Tunage playlist on Spotify (it’s been a while). Also, I created a new playlist called Happy Music. These are all the songs I made my family listen to in the car on my birthday. They make me car dance like a fool. Enjoy!
I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, which means they send me cool stuff from time to time. For the record, I would be addicted to Netflix in spite of said cool stuff.
Monday, September 26
It’s Monday. Yes, I’m a day late with my menu. But yesterday was my birthday and I just couldn’t bring myself to open up the computer!
So, here we are. This week’s menu! On Monday! We’ve got the whole Santa-Ana-heat-wave-wind-thing going on around these parts, so I am doing my best to minimize using heat in the kitchen this week.
– Leftover pizza
– Chicken Caesar Salad
– Caprese Salad
– Hamburgers and/or hot dogs on the outside grill
– Take out night
– Bistro Chicken
– Mashed potatoes and salad
Thursday, September 22
Summer is over and I think it’s time I get back into posting more regularly again. I’ve missed you! Today I want to share a new discovery in our house: Barefoot & Chocolate Spreads.
A week or two ago I posted about Barefoot & Chocolate’s Almond Coconut Chocolate Spread on social media and had quite the response as well as a few questions about the product. Honestly, I think it deserves a quick blog post. I need more than 140 characters!
I discovered Barefoot & Chocolate through my work with Fair Trade USA and am so glad I did! They make Nutella-like chocolate spreads that are in my opinion better than their more famous counterpart. Here are a few things I’d like to mention that I didn’t specify on my social media posts:
- While Barefoot & Chocolate does make a hazelnut chocolate spread, I am head-over-heels in love with their Almond Coconut Chocolate Spread. The Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt is also mighty fine, as is the Hazelnut. But that Almond Coconut? Irresistible. (Note: You probably should like coconut…if not, go with the other two flavors!)
- Yes, Barefoot & Chocolate contains less sugar than Nutella and you can taste the difference. Barefoot & Chocolate’s spreads are, well, less sugary with a creamier texture. If you want to talk numbers, a 2-tablespoon serving of Nutella has 21 grams of sugar while Barefoot & Chocolate has 13 grams. Obviously there is STILL SUGAR and the fat content is the same as Nutella. It is a treat, after all (don’t be fooled by those Nutella commercials telling us chocolate for breakfast is healthy). But, yes, there is less sugar than Nutella, which I think is a good thing for nutritional and taste reasons.
- Barefoot & Chocolate is Fair Trade certified and many of the ingredients are organic.
- You can buy Barefoot & Chocolate on their website or in 2-packs on Amazon (click on the following flavor names for Amazon links: Almond Coconut Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt, and Hazelnut. You can get mix-and-match-the-flavor 2 packs on Amazon, too.)
PS: Graham crackers + Almond Coconut Chocolate Spread = THE BEST
Sunday, September 18
Happy Sunday, everybody! Nate and I just finished spending 3 days at the Kaaboo Festival in Del Mar, CA. It was a blast and the music today was especially stellar (The Avett Brothers won the weekend and we were so glad we took Cate with us today so she could see their show). Anyway, I’m in a happy mood after all of the fun and not ready for real life again! 😉 But alas…time to get back in the groove, starting with the weekly menu!
– Spaghetti and Meatballs
– Asian Chicken Salad
– Sausage with Rice & Beans
– Honey Goat Cheese Pizza and Pepperoni Pizza
– Takeout night
Printable PDF will be coming Monday! Promise!
As usual, you guys are rockstars and I LOVE that you post menus each week. They really are such an inspiration for me week after week! Anyway, please post your dinner plans in the comments! THANK YOU!