Sunday, May 12
Happy Mother’s Day! So far I have been treated with three kinds of French pastry, a ballet performance (including a unique scene where Sleeping Beauty sets down a poison apple she happens to have and heads to a smoothie shop), and as much love as my kids could possibly shower me with.
Nate took the kids for a drive, so I am going to pump out this menu as fast as I can and then get back to doing absolutely nothing. At least for 30 minutes or so.
- I am traveling to the Carmel/Monterey area to visit Dole’s farm fields. I’m sure they’ll feed us some delicious food!
- Nate is taking the kids out for dinner.
- Dole trip continued
- Nate’s taking the kids out again.
- I’m home! We’ll see if I can get something on the table, but it might also be an eat out night.
- Tuscan Tomato Soup
- Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers
- Fresh fruit and other BBQ type foods
- Frittata, filling ingredients TBD
- Fresh fruit
You know the drill…show us what you got! Share your menus for the week!
And no matter what form the mothers in your life come in or who it is you happen to nurture and love in your life, I hope you all have a beautiful day.
Tuesday, April 30
It is really easy to make my mom cry. For example, when I was 11 years old, we rented the movie Ghost Dad. I’m sure you remember Ghost Dad because it was awesome, and by awesome I mean, um, not so awesome. But who are we to judge? I loved that movie regardless of how cheesy it was. I’ll never forget the moment when Bill Cosby (the one and only Ghost Dad!) said goodbye to his family looking over to discover my mom’s face streaming with tears. Like good children do, we laughed at her. She laughed, too, though. And we still tease her about crying at Ghost Dad. This isn’t Steel Magnolias, folks. She deserves to be teased.
With the advent of social media, my ability to make my mom cry has increased ten-fold. I can post a video to Facebook or a photo to Instagram and predict which ones are going to do her in. I’ve even called her a few minutes after posting just to catch her in the act. Let’s be honest, I am a cryer, too. I cannot deny that I inherited this trait and have, in fact, passed it on to Cate!
This photo on Instagram just about did her in the other day.
I have to admit that I didn’t predict this one as well. I knew she’d love it, but I didn’t know it would send her to tears. But it did. And, on retrospect, I can see why.
I recently had the opportunity to make a personalized Mother’s Day card for my mom through CardStore.com. I knew immediately I had to use that photo. It’s one thing to see your grandkids randomly pop up on Instagram to brighten your day (and make you cry). It’s another to have the photo printed out for your desk at work to look at any time you want (and potentially cry in front of all your co-workers).
While I could have had CardStore address and stamp the card to send directly to my mom (so handy!), I decided to have it shipped to me first so we could personalize the card even further, with a few notes from the kids and a hand-addressed envelope. The card arrived a few days ago and it is beautiful and will for sure make her cry. Mission accomplished!
This post is sponsored by CardStore.com (as always, all opinions are my own and I think they are awesome!). As such, they have a promotional code for you. You still have time to get a fantabulous, beautiful, cry-inducing personalized card to your mom! Here’s what to do!
- The Deal: Personalized Mother’s Day cards for $1.99 each on CardStore.com
- The Promotional Code: CSF3199
The Details: Create any Mother’s Day card for $1.99 when code CSF3199 is applied at checkout. No minimum purchase necessary. Offer valid through 5/6/13. Coupon code CSF3199 must be entered during online checkout. Coupon does not apply to shipping & handling charges and cannot be combined with other offers. Coupon code is not valid on previous purchases, and excludes all plush and greeting card bundles as well as non-card items. Coupon code may be used to purchase more than one Mother’s Day greeting card but is not valid on orders of 150 cards or more. Discount applied at checkout. To prevent abuse, we reserve the right to discontinue or modify this offer at any time without notice. Offer is subject to change and expires at 11:59 pm PST on 5/6/13. Offer intended for use in the United States, US territories, and Canada.
I take great pride in making people cry. (I did it at least 3 times this weekend at Big Traveling Potluck, including The Pioneer Woman, Bakerella and Maggy from Three Many Cooks. Booyah!) So, go make an awesome card and let’s all make our moms cry together!
Monday, April 1
We had a few requests in the weekly menu comments yesterday for a special Easter-themed Call for Recipes. Specifically, what are we all going to do with the colorful hard-boiled egg bounty sitting in our refrigerators this morning?
Bonnie, a loyal commenter, said she trusts us more than she trusts Google or Pinterest, and I have to agree with her! That’s why I love this blog…because you all share your REAL menu plan ideas and recipes that have REALLY worked for you. So, yes, I’m sure there is a plethora of beautiful hard-boiled egg recipe collections out on the Interwebs today, but do we really trust them? Really truly? Not like we trust you!
So, please, share with us your best, tastiest, most creative uses and recipes for hard-boiled eggs! Bring it on!
Sunday, March 31
Happy Easter and Passover! Such a festive time of year I love it! Our family celebrates Easter and the kids successfully found their baskets this morning. I was actually more organized than usual this year, so most of the food for this afternoon’s dinner was prepped yesterday, making for a nice, relaxed morning complete with candy, resurrection buns and Owen freaking out because he doesn’t get to eat this cake for breakfast. (In case you’re wondering, I used my White Chocolate Raspberry Cake recipe and the decoration inspiration came from my uber-talented friend Lindsey Johnson.)
By the way, I decided to go the super simple route for our Easter dinner this year: a small ham, roasted carrots and asparagus, funeral potatoes, and spinach salad with grapefruit and feta. The girls made our place cards and I think they did a fabulous job.
Today marks a first for This Week for Dinner…I am literally copying and pasting last week’s menu! I did in fact make dinner last week, but I didn’t make one thing that I had planned! Not exactly what I love to do, but at least it makes this week’s planning easy!
- Bistro Chicken
- Mashed potatoes and a green veggie
- Caprese salad
- Crusty bread
- Roasted vegetables
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Island Pork with Sticky Coconut Rice
- Veggie of some sort
- Eat out
- Waffles and fruit
As usual, looking forward to seeing your lovely menus for the week!
Thursday, March 28
I’m an artist and designer, so I like things to look good. Sadly, though, I am also lazy lazy LAZY. Rarely do I pull out all the stops for cute holiday crafts and treats and such. Once in a while, though, I stumble on an idea that is super cute but also very simple and I actually do get a little holiday pizazz goin’ on.
Bunny Bait is one of those very ideas! My friend Erin wrote about it on Today’s Mama. She got the idea from Sing For Your Supper, who got the idea from Bake at 350, who got the idea from Nest of Posies. Bottom line? Bunny Bait gets around, people.
Here’s the thing. Bunny Bait is perfectly cute for Easter and I love the name. But the beauty of this recipe is it is so easily adaptable to any holiday or event. Just pick up the M&Ms du jour and change up the candy melt color and you have deliciously sweet and salty popcorn goodness for any holiday. In fact, this is what we will be making for our holiday gifts this December. It’s easy to throw together a large batch, the popcorn is super cute, it tastes awesome and you can dress it up with matchy-matchy baggies and bows. Done and done.
Erin mentioned that Bunny Bait may be slightly addictive. She’s right, and here’s why. You inevitable take a bite that has popcorn and an M&M. And it’s delicious, but then you realize that you didn’t get a pretzel in that bite, so you dig back in and get a pretzel-ful bite, only to discover it was missing the popcorn. And the cycle continues until you have eaten the whole bowl. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Probably best to make this with purpose and get it bagged up and given away ASAP.
Also, lest you look at these pictures and think we are a perfect family with a patient mother who cooks with her kids while birds flit about our heads and sing pretty songs…Anna did have a lot of fun making this with me and it was really sweet and cute. But, I must admit, towards the end a few things got me frustrated (that had nothing to do with the recipe or with Anna but everything to do with me and my lack of sleep and patience) and I ended up yelling at her for something stupid and felt terrible as she ran away crying with her blankie. I realized my mistake immediately and was overcome with regret and sadness. I hate these moments as a mom. I ran to my sweet girl and gave her a good, long hug. She quickly forgave (kids are amazing that way) and we finished our Bunny Bait adventures with smiles. But, looking at these photos of the Bunny Bait, I still have a twinge of guilt. But I also have a resolve to do better next time. This parenting gig certainly is salty and sweet, but I suppose the salty just helps me truly appreciate and seek after the sweet.
Sweet & Salty Holiday Popcorn (aka Bunny Bait aka Valentine Confetti aka whatever cute holiday name you come up with!)
From all over the place, original idea from Nest of Posies
- 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn (yields about 24 cups)
- 8 ounces candy melts (you can just use white and let the M&Ms and/or sprinkles add the color, but feel free to use a colored candy melt, too!)
- 1 1/2 cups rod pretzels, broken into smaller pieces
- 1 12-oz package M&Ms (holiday themed)
- Sprinkles to match your color theme (optional)
Pop your popcorn (I used my Whirley Pop). Pour into a giant bowl. Add pretzels and M&Ms, but don’t stir anything yet. Melt the candy melts as per package instructions, then drizzle over the popcorn mixture. Toss and toss and toss to coat. (It takes a lot of tossing!) The pretzels and M&Ms will want to sink to the bottom, so when you serve it or put in bags for gifts, be sure to toss again and then scoop. Also, if you do plan to bag it for gifts, let it sit out for a bit to allow the candy melts to temper.
For the bunny bait, I used pink and green candy melts. I poured the green first, tossed it, then let it sit for a bit before drizzling the pink, so that they didn’t mix together. The result was cute, but next time I’m just going to use one color – it’s just as cute and less effort.
Sunday, March 17
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Tonight we are having green noodles and green lemon bars. They didn’t have spinach fettuccine at the grocery store, so I’m going to try food coloring in the boiling water. I hope it works or so much for green noodles on St. Patrick’s Day!
Cate picked out most of the items on this week’s menu, so hopefully that means she’ll actually eat her dinner every night. Honestly, not holding my breath. Kids.
- Homemade pizza
- Salad and garlic bread
- Chicken Soup with Rice
- Crusty bread
- Bistro Chicken
- Mashed Potatoes and a green veggie
- Eat out
- Caprese salad with crusty bread and roasted vegetables
Can’t wait to see your menus! They really are so helpful to look at when planning every week! And whether you are Irish or not, hope you have a lucky day!
Wednesday, December 19
Yesterday was a rough day, thanks to work and myriad other things going on. When dinnertime rolled around, we decided to just hit California Pizza Kitchen with the kids. When we first got there, Owen was being all grumpy-like and the girls were kind of hyper. I was feeling overwhelmed.
Then Cate said, “Let’s play I Spy!” Honestly, my brain couldn’t handle it. I kept thinking about my to-do list, I wasn’t feeling well, I just didn’t have the energy. But Nate jumped in and proceeded to play a guessing game with the girls all throughout dinner. I sat there, watching their excitement with the game, listening to their sweet comments, gazing at their innocent, beautiful faces. It was like a healing balm. I felt grateful…grateful for Nate, grateful for those cute kids.
Gratitude. That is what I’m focusing on this week.
Gratitude for a 5-year-old daughter who wanted a crown birthday cake. Gratitude that I had the chance to make it for her.
Gratitude for the work that provides us a place to live, even if it gets stressful sometimes.
Gratitude for each moment I get to spend with my loved ones.
I’ll survive the week. I may or may not get everything done that I’m supposed to, but that’s okay. I am grateful.
Friday, December 14
Last night my friend Courtney hosted a gift exchange at her home. The theme was “My Favorite Things” and it was a LOT of fun. Everyone had to think of their “favorite thing,” valued at $15, and then we each brought three of that favorite thing to the party. Everyone presented their favorite items to the group, explaining why they were so wonderful, then we pulled names from a bowl and everyone went home with three gifts that were other peoples’ favorite things. It was super cute and I loved seeing what everyone chose to share!
I was already planning on telling you today what my favorite thing was (of course it’s chocolate), but as I was sitting there last night, this blog post kept growing in my head. First I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to do a virtual ‘favorite things’ gift exchange on my blog, where everyone comments and says what they would have brought to the party?” Then, as I furiously took notes on everyone’s favorite things last night, I realized I should be sharing that list with you, too! I mean, that is one totally awesome gift guide!
So, what began as a short “here’s my favorite thing” blurb has turned into a blog post with a three-fold mission!
- I will share my favorite thing with you
- I will share all of my friends’ favorite things with you.
- You will share YOUR favorite thing with all of us! Please comment and tell us what you would have brought to the “My Favorite Things” gift exchange. Your budget is $15!
I’m sure you dying to know what I took to the party, right? My gift included to two items made by Guittard: Cocoa Rouge and Super Cookie Chips. (Click through on those hyperlinks to read why I love them so much. AWESOME stuff.)
And now for the list of favorite things from last night! There are tons of great gift ideas in here…or even just ideas when you need to splurge on yourself a bit!
Time for the virtual gift exchange! Tell us what your favorite thing is! Your budget is around $15. Can’t wait to read about your faves!
- Reader’s Digest Children’s Songbook
- Frango’s Chocolates
- Therapeutic-Grade Eucalyptus Essential Oil and Lavendar Eye Pillow
- L’Occitane ‘Hugs & Kisses’ Shea Hand Cream and Lip Balm
- Kuhn Rikon Butterfly Rainbow Silicone Whisk (I got this and it’s AWESOME! The tines get into the corner of your pan, so excited!!!!)
- Mistral South Seas Hand Lotion
- Williams Sonoma Tuscan Fig Dish Soap and Cinnamint Lip Balm from Bath & Body Works
- Pride & Prejudice and a cool scarf (which reminded her of England)
- Philosophy Animal Cracker Lip Gloss and OPI glitter polish
- Mini Latte Bowls from Anthropologie
- Paper Source gift card
- Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Paste
- Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper
- Lush Jasmine Shampoo Bar and Veganese Conditioner
- Super Cute Rhinestone Owl Purse Hook (I got this and have been wanting a purse hook for ages!)
- Mary Kay Cellu Shape Contouring System
- Really cute reusable shopping bags
- Smiley Metal Dustpan
- Schwarzkopf Dust It (I have this, it’s cool stuff!)
- Salad Hands from Sur La Table and a Tangerine-flavored Balsamic Vinegar
- Nike Lightweight Running Arm Wallet / Phone Case (I got this…and I think it’s the universe telling me to get exercising again!)
Friday, December 7
Today we have the last yummy recipe for biscotti week!
Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti. I must admit, when I walked into our little biscotti class last week and saw all the various biscotti flavors at hand, the cinnamon sugar variety was the one I was least attracted to. I don’t know, I just wasn’t expecting much.
Well, low expectations served me well this time around because HOLY MOLY this biscotti was good. At first bite I was stunned at how much I loved it, and then proceeded to eat not one, not two, maybe not even three of these delectable goodies. Seriously, I’m not sure how many I ate. Best not to dwell on such things.
I don’t really have much to add to this recipe. It’s from Joy the Baker (again) and she got it from Epicurious. And it’s fabulous. Enjoy!
Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti
From Joy the Baker (originally from Epicurious)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 beaten egg (for brushing biscotti before baking)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and arrange two baking racks in the upper portion of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or silpat) and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Also whisk together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the egg followed by the egg yolk. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter all at once. With the mixer or just with a spatula, bring all of the ingredients together until a somewhat stiff dough is formed.
Divide the dough in two on the two baking sheets. Shape each half of dough into a 9-inch long and 1 1/2-inch wide log. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle very generously with cinnamon sugar. Bake the two sheets on two different racks in the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheets for even baking and bake for 20-25 more minutes until golden and firm to the touch.
Remove from the oven but keep the oven on. Let biscotti cool until able to handle. Using a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices. (Click here to see a diagram for how to cut biscotti.) Place biscotti cut side down on baking sheet and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. Bake again until pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.
Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Thursday, December 6
Today I have another awesome biscotti recipe for you. I think this one was my favorite. Actually, the one I’ll share tomorrow might be my favorite. No, this one. No, that one. No, this one…obviously I can’t decide.
This biscotti is so good because it tastes great but it’s completely, ridiculously adorable and perfect for the holidays.
Chocolate Candy Cane Biscotti
Barely adapted from Land O Lakes
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2/3 cup finely crushed peppermint candy canes
- 2/3 – 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (if it’s Christmastime, use the red and green chocolate chips that Nestle makes)
- Dark chocolate for melting and dipping
- more crushed candy canes (or you can by little candy cane pieces in the bakery section – it’s in a container like sprinkles come in)
Heat oven to 350°F. Combine butter and sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add eggs; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and baking powder; continue beating until well mixed. Stir in crushed candy and chocolate chips.
Divide dough into fourths on lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands. Shape each into 9×1 1/2-inch logs. Place logs 3 inches apart onto lightly greased large cookie sheet.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until tops are cracked and ends just start to turn light brown. Remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Cool logs 10 minutes on cookie sheet.
Jane note: this biscotti is kind of fragile, so handle with care, both at this point in the recipe and later when you dip them in chocolate. If you’re careful they will not break…and it’s worth it because they taste so darn good!
Carefully remove logs to cutting surface. Cut into 1/2-inch slices with sharp serrated knife. (Click here to see a diagram showing how to cut biscotti.) Discard or eat ends (I recommend the eating option). Arrange pieces on same cookie sheet, cut-side down. Continue baking for 12 to 14 minutes, turning once, or until cookies are lightly browned and crisp on both sides. Remove to wire cooling rack; cool completely.
Dip each biscotti half way into melted dark chocolate; shake off excess. Or dip the bottoms in so they are dipped lengthwise – click here for a picture. I prefer this way. Place onto waxed paper. Immediately sprinkle with little candy cane pieces. Let set at room temperature until chocolate is hardened (about 1 hour).