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Category: Favorites

  1. Thursday, September 22

    Fab Faves: Barefoot & Chocolate Spreads

    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.

    My New Favorite Chocolate Spread: Fair Trade Certified Company Barefoot & Chocolates | from @janemaynard

    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!

    My New Favorite Chocolate Spread: Fair Trade Certified Company Barefoot & Chocolates - Almond Coconut Chocolate Flavor | from @janemaynard

    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.)

    My New Favorite Chocolate Spread: Fair Trade Certified Company Barefoot & Chocolates - Almond Coconut Chocolate Flavor | from @janemaynard

    PS: Graham crackers + Almond Coconut Chocolate Spread = THE BEST


  2. Friday, July 29

    Friday Show and Tell: Stranger Things & More!

    Happy Friday!

    For this week’s Show and Tell I have two things to share. First, my new car that’s not really my car but I wish it was. Second, NETFLIX. Oh man, Netflix, you are too good these days. Stranger Things has me hooked. But more on that in a moment…

    Toyota Highlander for our family vacation (from @janemaynard)

    Okay, so the car! We are currently on our annual visit-the-family-all-over-the-northeast trip and Toyota lent us a Highlander for our adventures. I am loving this car and do not mind one bit having to drive it mile after mile after mile. So far my two favorite things (besides the smooth ride) are the fact that the car tells me what the speed limit is at any given time, which is especially helpful on these windy east coast roads with constantly changing speed limits, as well as the remote lock feature. You just have to touch the handle of the car to lock and unlock the car – it is so handy not having to dig my keys out of my purse that literally eats things. Anyway, the Highlander is a sweet ride and works great packing 5 kids in the back for our summer adventuring with the cousins. Big thanks to Toyota for the perfect car for our family vacation!

    Okay, so Netflix. People. If you don’t have Netflix yet, get on that. It just gets better and better all the time. Here are a few shows I’m especially loving and/or excited about.

    Stranger Things on Netflix is my new favorite. From @janemaynard (poster courtesy Netflix)

    Stranger Things

    Are you kidding me, this show is AWESOME. It’s fun and well done and the characters rule and the 80s throwback feel is perfection and everything about it is the best. This show is also scary in the best kind of way. I am not surprised that Stephen King loves it as much as I do. (I still have two more episodes to watch, so no spoilers!)

    Beat Bugs on Netflix - new kids show featuring Beatles music. From @janemaynard (artwork courtesy of Netflix)

    Beat Bugs

    Apparently Beat Bugs, a cartoon for kids featuring Beatles music sung by current artists, is ridiculously adorable and fun, and it comes out next week. Can’t wait to show it to my kids! Fun fact: the creators of Beat Bugs are also going to be releasing a yet-to-be-named Motown-themed show as well. I might even be more excited for Motown than Beatles music. Fun stuff, and excited to have my kids get to know all of this great, classic music.

    Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life airing November 25, 2016!

    Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life

    We have an air date! I repeat, we have an air date! Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life will be available on November 25. That is going to be the best day ever. Thanksgiving leftovers and 6 hours of new Gilmore girls shows to watch. I CAN’T WAIT.

    That’s it for today! Happy driving and watching!


  3. Thursday, July 21

    Perfect Summer Dishware {Plus a Giveaway!}

    It’s summertime, which means two things. One, we need to do something fun. Two, you need good dishes for summer entertaining. How about I combine the two by doing a giveaway (fun!) of my most favorite melamine dishes (perfect for summer)? Let’s do it.

    Q Squared NYC Melamine Dishes - Perfect for Entertaining! Knoll Gardens Pattern | from @janemaynardPictured: Knoll Gardens Serving Bowl

    I’ve been working with Q Squared NYC for some time now and continue to love their dishes and serveware year after year. Not only does Q Squared have gorgeous designs, but the quality of their melamine is top notch. I know you think you know melamine, but this melamine is just so much better than what you normally see in stores – thick, heavy (in a good way!) and just plain pretty. You can click here to learn more about what melamine is (I just discovered myself that it’s an organic-based material!) and why Q Squared’s is so lovely. We have a set of Q Squared plates we use every day. I’ve been cleaning them in the dishwasher for years and they look as good as new. And my kids have yet to break anything made by Q Squared. Their dishes are indestructible!

    Q Squared NYC Melamine Dishes - Perfect for Entertaining! | from @janemaynard

    While our family uses Q Squared dishes every day no matter where we eat, I am especially grateful for the dishes when we are eating outside. I have zero worries about anything getting broken. And I love hosting parties and taking food to potlucks because it means I get to break out all of my awesome Q Squared serving platters and trays. I kid you not, I get compliments on them every time.

    Q Squared NYC Melamine Dishes - Perfect for Entertaining! Royal Lapis Pattern | from @janemaynardPictured: Royal Lapis Dinner Plate, Salad Plate and Bread & Butter Plate

    Since it’s summer, I think you need a little Q Squared loveliness in your life, too! You have two options to make this happen. First, go shopping and use the code JANE20 to get 20% off everything at Q Squared (code is valid through Labor Day 9/5/16). I promise you will love whatever you buy! Your second option is to enter the summer giveaway below!

    Q Squared NYC Melamine Dishes - Perfect for Entertaining! Knoll Gardens Pattern | from @janemaynard

    To celebrate their beautiful new summer collections, including the Knoll Gardens and Royal Lapis patterns you see in this post, Q Squared is giving away a 12-piece dinnerware set to one of you lucky people! To enter, leave a comment below telling us which pattern you would choose. That’s all you have to do! Click here to view all of the collections. Be sure to leave your comment telling us your favorite pattern by Midnight PT on Friday, July 29, 2016.

    I don’t want to influence you too heavily or anything, but I am head-over-heels in love with my new Knoll Gardens dishes. They are GORGEOUS. I mean, the Royal Lapis is gorgeous, too, but Knoll Gardens really has me smitten. 😉

    Happy Shopping!

    Thank you to Q Squared NYC for sponsoring today’s post and hosting the giveaway!

  4. Friday, July 1

    Friday Show and Tell is Back!

    Happy Friday, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve done a weekly Friday Show & Tell post. There are a few things I really want to share with you, so here we go! Remember, Show & Tell is for the whole class, so if you have anything to share, please do so in the comments! Links, accomplishments, whatever you’ve got!

    Thing #1 to Share: This Hair Product Has Changed My Life

    My new favorite curly product, Shea Moisture's Curl Enhancing Smoothie | from @janemaynard

    This won’t be helpful for everyone, depending on what kind of hair you have, but I still have to share because it really has made my life so much easier. About 9 months ago my friend Luvvie posted about the company Shea Moisture on Facebook. I had never heard of them, so I clicked through to the website and read a bit about their company history and products. Coincidentally a few days later I noticed their product at Target. The Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie caught my eye, so I bought it.

    Okay, so here’s the deal. My hair is THICK. And very textured. About half of the strands are super kinky and thick and basically if I want my hair to look good I have to spend time styling it, and I just don’t have that time to spare. My hair is also part-curly, part-wavy, part-totally-uncooperative. It takes forever to blow dry and to flat iron, but letting my hair air dry just doesn’t work. It gets too frizzy and the waves and curls are inconsistent and blerghyblerghblergh. And I’ve tried COUNTLESS anti-frizz, curly hair products over the years that are all okay but not really what I need. And then Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie CHANGED MY LIFE.

    I can let my hair air dry! It’s a freaking miracle. I get out of the shower, wrap my hair in a towel for about 5 minutes, let my hair out of the towel and then just evenly spread smoothie on my hair. Then I go about my business and my hair looks awesome. Some days (depending on the humidity) I need to add a bit of water-based pomade to separate the curls a little, but it’s not every day and not a big deal. I LOVE THIS CURL SMOOTHIE IT’S THE BEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD THE END.

    Thing #2 to Share: Support MDA by Living Unlimited!

    Endorphin Warrior's "Live Unlimited" Bracelet to Support MDA | from @janemaynard

    Remember my little friend Lucy? She’s amazing. So is her mom, Cherisse. And her whole family for that matter. The Muscular Dystrophy Association asked if I could help support their #LiveUnlimited campaign this summer and I was ALL IN, ready to support anything even remotely related to Lucy and her family. MDA is a non-profit dedicated to fighting muscle diseases like MD and SMA (SMA is what Lucy has). To help celebrate #LiveUnlimited, MDA sent me the Live Unlimited bracelet made by Endorphin Warrior and let me gift a bracelet to someone else.

    My friend Cherisse’s daughter Lucy has been fighting SMA for years and continues to beat the odds. The very fact she can talk is a miracle, and boy does she take advantage of that gift…with all kinds of funny (often saucy) words! When MDA asked me who I wanted to give a #LiveUnlimited bracelet to, Cherisse was the only name that came to mind. You guys, I can’t tell you how amazing she is and how she inspires me to savor each and every day. The talks we’ve had over the years have truly influenced my life and I will be forever grateful to have both Cherisse and Lucy in my life. I had to make a fist for my #LiveUnlimited photo as a tribute to Lucy and her ability to FIGHT! (If you want a peak into the Lunt’s daily life, check out this awesome video. Lucy is seriously the best.)

    So how can you get involved? Go buy a bracelet! For every bracelet sold, $6 will go to MDA! You can also go to the Live Unlimited website and make a customized image to show how you are living unlimited this summer to help spread the word!

    Thing #3 to Share: HAVE YOU WATCHED BLOODLINE?!?!?

    Season 2 of Bloodline on Netflix Now!

    Nate and I recently finished Season 2 of Bloodline on Netflix. Question #1: Have you watched Season 1? Question #2: Have you watched Season 2? If your answer is “No” to either of those questions, remedy the situation STAT. Seriously, the Season 2 finale…holy cow. That’s all I’ll say, but SERIOUSLY. WHOAH.

    Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!


  5. Wednesday, March 16

    “The Goods” Update: What I Still Think of Products I’ve Written About in the Past

    Whenever I write about a product, I tag that post so it shows up in The Goods category on my blog. Often while I’m in the kitchen using some of those items I think, “I should let everyone know I still love this thing.” So, I sat down and scrolled through every post on my blog with that The Goods tag. It was a lot of posts. The cool part? I still like everything I’ve written about, but there are a few things that could do with some updates. So, here we go! What I still think of products I’ve written about in the past!

    blentec-total-blender-top

    Blendtec Blender
    Our Blendtec blender was the first “big ticket” item I received from a company to share on my blog. That was 2009. We still use that same blender. It is awesome and I love it and recommend powerful blenders to people all the time. I especially love Blendtec because of the preset buttons for different types of food. I visited the Blendtec booth at the International Housewares Show last week and they’ve got all kinds of cool stuff on the market these days, and even cooler stuff in the pipeline. It makes me want a pretty shiny new blender, but that said, our blender is still blending up a storm!

    Bosch 800 Series Dishwasher Features | From @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    Bosch Dishwasher
    Bosch gave us a dishwasher about 3 years ago and I am still head over heels in love with the thing. I never knew I could love a dishwasher so much, but I do. We have not had one problem with it and the thing is just so awesome for so many reasons. Click here to read more about it. Also, no matter what kind of dishwasher you get, make sure it has a third rack. That is key!

    KitchenAid Counter Depth French Door Refrigerator | thisweekfordinner.com

    KitchenAid Refrigerator
    I still love our fridge. There are a few things to note. First, we got a counter depth fridge and I do not regret it. That said, we have a second fridge in the garage for overflow and extra large items, like a brining Thanksgiving turkey. I think if I didn’t have the second fridge, I would probably feel frustrated with the size of a counter-depth fridge. The water and ice dispenser also take up a lot of space in the fridge, but I am SO glad we have them. There have been no problems with our fridge and I really love it, but it does get a little icy build up in the very bottom of the freezer that will sometimes melt onto the floor. It is not a big deal and easily fixed, but it does happen. Other than that, it’s a great appliance! ANOTHER UPDATE: So, the ice in the bottom of the freezer got worse and worse after this post. I contacted KitchenAid and they sent a repairman. Turns out that there is a pump or something that was easily plugged, which caused the problem, but they’ve since redesigned that part so that can’t happen anymore. They replaced our old part and the problem is gone. Thought I’d give an update in case anyone else ever has the same issue!

    Canon Rebel T2i web

    Canon Rebel DSLR
    Unless you plan to be a professional photographer and/or shoot photos for print (like a cookbook), all you need is a Canon Rebel. I love the Rebel line of cameras and they just keep getting better every year. I’m still shooting with my T2i and it works great. Of course I’d love to get the latest, but honestly it would be a waste of money to do so at this point. The post I wrote about shopping for a DSLR has lots of great info for what to look for, even 5+ years later.

    breville smart oven

    Breville Smart Oven (or any toaster oven for that matter!)
    I find that it is very difficult to convince people who do not have toaster ovens that they should have toaster ovens. But, seriously, everyone should have a toaster oven. Especially these days, with the abundance of large, beautiful, wonderful toaster ovens out there. I’ve had the Breville Smart Oven for 5 years now and it’s like the 6th member of our family. For real. THE BEST.

    BISSELL DeepClean Premiere Carpet Cleaner Review & Giveaway | thisweekfordinner.com

    Bissell Upright Carpet Cleaner
    I LOVE my upright Bissell carpet cleaner and use it regularly. It does a great job cleaning the floors and I seriously love having it, especially with my light carpets. I’ve been seeing these at Costco lately. In fact, our piano teacher bought one and is equally as in love as I am. We both highly recommend it! Side note: I ended up getting rid of the small Spot Bot because I found it to be a bit redundant and, if I had to choose one, the larger cleaner is better for my needs. I also did a poor job cleaning out the hose the first time I used the Spot Bot and it got SUPER gross, so make sure you rinse the hoses with clean water after every use! If you don’t want a huge carpet cleaner, though, that Spot Bot is super handy and works great.

    heritage line from q squared nyc by @janemaynard

    Q Squared Melamine Dishes and Serving Platters
    I’ve done many sponsored posts for Q Squared over the years (although I am not currently working with them). I love everything they’ve ever sent and use Q Squared items in our home every day. The only issues I’ve had: the “silver” on the flatware has started wearing off, and the yellow salad plates from the Montecito collection started to change color a bit. That said, I would still buy those plates because they are such a great shape and size. And I haven’t had any other issues. Great stuff.

    sharpener top web

    Knife Sharpener
    Alton Brown once said that you should only hone your knives at home but always pay a professional to sharpen your knives. And so I was a little scared to use this knife sharpener from KitchenIQ…but I finally gave in and I use it EVERY DAY. What I love about this particular sharpener is that you can change the angle, so if you have a traditional knife or a Japanese knife, it’s easy to adjust the sharpener properly. And it totally sharpens my serrated knife. And it’s easy to use. And my knives have never been happier. These kinds of sharpeners can be a little pricey, but it is worth the investment.

    the instant-read DOT probe thermometer by ThermoWorks from @janemaynard

    ThermoWorks DOT Probe Thermometer
    I bought this a year ago. It’s still awesome. I anticipate it will continue to be awesome for many years to come.

    soap dispenser web

    Olive Oil Bottle for Dish Soap
    I still use a glass olive oil bottle for my dish soap and I still love it. We’ve only had one mishap over the years when a babysitter poured soap over the caprese salad. Other than that, no breaks and no other oil-soap mixups! 🙂

    freezer inside web

    Kenmore Chest Freezer
    We’ve had our $80 Kenmore chest freezer for 5 1/2 years now and it’s still going strong. Couldn’t live without it.

    whirley pop | thisweekfordinner.com

    Whirley Pop
    We still use the Whirley Pop every time we make popcorn. Haven’t had microwave popcorn since this arrived in our home over 3 years ago. It’s holding up beautifully, even though the lid doesn’t clip on quite as tightly, which isn’t a problem.

    nielsen-massey vanilla bean paste

    Vanilla Bean Paste
    I still love vanilla bean paste and even found it on Amazon for cheap. You’re welcome.

    EarthBox Garden Kit web

    Earth Box
    I never wrote a final update on how gardening with the Earth Box went…because we went out of town and everything died. But until that point, the tomato plants were amazing and full and huge and wonderful. So, barring vacations where you neglect to care for your garden, I still think the Earth Box is a great way to garden, especially for people who have a black thumb like me.

    tortilla warmer from @janemaynard

    Tortilla Warmer
    I use this every single week. It’s the greatest. The end. And I need to get a big one for burrito size tortillas…on my shopping list!

    dash greek yogurt maker review and giveaway from @janemaynard

    Homemade Yogurt Maker
    I really like this appliance (it works beautifully) and got into a regular yogurt making groove for a time. BUT…once I got out of the groove I haven’t gotten back into it since. I also recently learned that a lot of pressure cooker/Instant Pots out there have a yogurt setting, so I think I would recommend getting that over the stand-alone yogurt maker. Multitaskers are always a good way to go!

    review of the kupp' by @janemaynard

    The Kupp
    I love these cups for kids and my kids loved them, too. Sadly, we’ve broken all five of the Kupps in our possession. Bummer.

    onion saver review by @janemaynard (spoiler alert: I love it!)

    Onion Saver
    This is another unitasker that I actually do use all the time (like the tortilla warmer). It may only do one thing, but it does it so well.

    why cheese paper and storage bags are the best way to store cheese from @janemaynard

    Cheese Paper
    This is one of those items I keep bringing up because it is awesome. ‘Nuf said.

    crisco simple measures

    Crisco 64-ounce Canola Oil Bottle
    I seriously still buy this brand and size of oil just for the measuring cup lid. Why doesn’t all oil come with this feature?

    salt box web

    Salt Box
    My salt box is another thing I love and use every day, with kosher salt. I rarely get out any other kind of salt. The family uses the salt box. It’s the best. Easy for grabbing a pinch while cooking or measuring out if you need to.

    Non-Stick Cookware
    This is just a quick update on how some of the non-stick cookware I have is holding up. The Anolon Nouvelle Copper Cookware set I received a few years ago is still great and cooks evenly, but there is a little bit of the non-stick stuff coming off on one of the pots. The Calphalon Unison non-stick frying pan I have is awesome, no peeling or scraping and I use it all the time. Lastly, I have a Le Creuset non-stick 12″ deep drying pan that is my favorite pan I own, also no scraping or peeling and I use it for almost every meal I cook.

    Phew! Is that enough updates? Like I said, if you click on The Goods tag, you can believe anything I say, but these items were ones I wanted to call out specifically for various reasons. hope it’s helpful!


  6. Wednesday, March 9

    Totspot, a Great Way to Buy and Sell Clothes

    Today I want to share a cool app with you that I am guessing just may come in handy! A few weeks ago, the company Totspot got in contact with my friend Marie from Make and Takes and me to see if we would try out their app and let you all know how we liked it. Marie and I both tried out Totspot and loved the app. I am excited to tell you about it today!

    Totspot, a great way to buy and sell used clothes

    So, what is Totspot? Totspot is an app where you can buy and sell used clothes, shoes and accessories for babies, kids, women and men. You set up an account and then can buy clothes from others or sell some of your own. That gorgeous dress that your daughter literally wore one time? Sell it! Looking for an awesome vintage Star Wars t-shirt? Buy it!

    Totspot has a website, but the app is where it’s at. Marie and I both highly recommend you use the service through the phone app. Once you create an account you can set up profiles for each person in your family with sizing information. Once profiles are created, you can search what is available on Totspot at any given time by profile. The app’s interface is clear and easy to use. I ended up buying a super cute Gap dress for myself and then a few fun things for my kids, some of which were brand new with tags still on them!

    Totspot, a great way to buy and sell used clothes

    Once you make a purchase and it is shipped to you, you go into the app and either accept or decline the order as well as rank the seller. If you didn’t get what you were expecting, you don’t have to pay for it. This is how sellers are kept accountable and you can feel safe shopping through the app.

    As far as selling clothes goes, you can sell them yourself, which is super easy to do with the app linking to your camera. You can also use the Totspot Concierge service, which is what I’m most excited about. Totspot sends you a bag with a shipping label. You bag up your stuff and send it off to one of their successful sellers, who takes care of selling the clothes and then you share the cut. Anything unsold is donated to charity. I just got my concierge bag in the mail this week and can’t wait to send some stuff off to be sold!

    Totspot Concierge Service

    Totspot definitely has a strong sense of community and users are incredibly friendly and helpful. And both of my orders, which came from different sellers, arrived personalized and wrapped in cute paper. I was super impressed! Shipping is based on the size of the order, and as you are ordering, the app makes it easy to bundle from one seller to get a discount on your order. There are so many little details like this throughout the buying and selling process that make the app super cool and easy to use.

    I know this post is sounding all salesy, but seriously, Totspot is great! Marie and I both love it and are happy to share it with you!

    And we’d love to give you a chance to try out Totspot, too! Which means…GIVEAWAY TIME! One winner is going to receive $150 gift card to Totspot to get shopping! Follow the form below to enter. Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    To join Totspot, you can create an account on their website or simply download the app on IOS or Android and set up your account through the app. When you join Totspot, be sure to use my referral code GHCOQG to get $5! And here is a cute video about how to sell on Totspot!

    Today’s post and giveaway were sponsored by Totspot. They also provided me with $50 towards my first purchase.


  7. Saturday, February 13

    Friday Show and Tell…on Saturday!

    Happy Weekend! I meant to write up this Show and Tell yesterday but…well…NBC Nightly News (!!!) came to our home to film the kids and me making dinner, while interviewing me about the “natural” food labels. It was awesome and a really fun experience, although now that it’s done, I think I’d rather not watch it. 😉 If it looks like the story will air, I will of course let you all know. All I know right now is it will probably air early next week. You never know in the news world!

    So, here’s what I was going to share yesterday…

    A Heirloom Hardwood Maple 10-inch Cake Stand, Thin Base | @janemaynard

    I was recently introduced to the company A Heirloom, a husband-and-wife team based in Brooklyn that makes beautiful cutting boards and other handmade items. I’m pretty much addicted to cutting boards, so this company is right up my alley. Among my favorite A Heirloom items are the state-shaped boards, cocktail muddlers, and cake stands. A Heirloom graciously sent me the thin based maple cake stand and it is, quite simply, lovely. My cake stand is 10 inches in diameter and about 5 1/2 inches tall. They also have larger 14-inch cake stands as well as mini 4-inch cake stands. If you’re looking for a great gift option or are addicted to cutting boards like me, be sure to check them out!

    And I have a bunch of articles over at Cool Mom Eats you should check out, too!

    That’s it for today. See you tomorrow with the weekly menu! And, as always, feel free to share whatever you like in the comments!


  8. Monday, December 21

    A Hand-Drawn Holiday Giveaway: Chelsea Harp Designs

    holiday gifts & giveaways on thisweekfordinner.com from @janemaynard

    Last year I had all kinds of giveaways set up for the holidays, but this year I took it easy. But I think we need a little bit of giveaway fun around here, don’t you?

    On Friday I mentioned an Etsy shop that I recently discovered that I am loving. Chelsea Harp Designs sells hand-drawn prints, featuring quotes and sayings perfect for many places in the home and the holidays!

    Chelsea Harp Designs: Oh Come Let Us Adore Him print

    Chelsea graciously sent me my favorite Christmas print of hers, Oh Come Let Us Adore Him. It looks beautiful on our Christmas mantel, and I’m even thinking of framing it to hang all year.

    Be sure to check out Chelsea’s shop – her prints are perfect for gifting!

    Giveaway time! For this giveaway we will have three winners! Each winner will receive the “Cook Eat Be Happy” print, which I absolutely LOVE. Simply leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway!* The 3 random winners for this giveaway were comments #30, #40 and #41. Congratulations, ladies!

    Chelsea Harp Designs: Cook Eat Be Happy print

    Happy Holidays!

    *Comments must be made by Midnight PT on Monday, December 28, 2015. 

     


  9. Wednesday, December 16

    My First Meal Delivery Service Experience: Sun Basket Review and Giveaway!

    Over the last few years, monthly box subscription companies have exploded, delivering everything from beauty supplies to clothes to crafts for kids. Most recently, meal delivery kits have become increasingly popular and I have been very intrigued by them. Sun Basket, a meal delivery service founded in San Francisco, recently contacted me about working together and I jumped at the chance. I have really wanted to try one of these services out and Sun Basket was especially appealing to me (I’ll explain why below).

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    If you haven’t heard of a meal delivery kit, let me give you a quick rundown. A company mails food to your house, with recipes included for cooking the meals. You don’t have to shop, you don’t have to meal plan, you just cook and eat! Like I mentioned, I’ve been intrigued by these services and definitely had some questions about the whole process. First and foremost for me was concern over excessive packaging, but I also had questions about quality of the food, difficulty of the recipes, and whether or not we would actually like the dinners in the end.

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    Sun Basket is one such meal delivery company that services customers in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Nevada. What was immediately appealing to me about Sun Basket was their emphasis on sustainability, choosing seasonal, organic ingredients and sourcing responsibly from West coast farms. Plus, Chef Justine Kelly of the famous Slanted Door in San Francisco develops their recipes!

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    So, how was my experience with Sun Basket? It was great! From the moment the box arrived on my doorstep to the moment we ate our Sun Basket meals I was impressed with the service. Here are a few things that stood out:

    • Remember my worries about packaging? Well, your Sun Basket box comes with a prepaid return label, so you can easily ship back the box and all the packing materials to be recycled and/or reused. That’s like 1,000 points right there in my book.
    • The recipes were clearly printed on beautiful cards, complete with pictures and well-written instructions, and the food was good quality.
    • The recipes tasted great! We ordered pork stir fry, pappardelle with butternut squash, and north Indian red bean stew. All three recipes were tasty, but the pork stir fry was especially awesome. With a service like this it’s always fun, too, because there are often ingredients and spices included that you don’t buy on a normal basis, so it makes cooking interesting.
    • The kids tried all of the recipes. (Well, Owen didn’t. He doesn’t try anything these days, so he doesn’t count.) I would say the food was fairly kid friendly, although Nate and I definitely liked some of the recipes more than the girls did. The food has a bit of a gourmet bend to it, but it’s still easy to prep.
    • Pricing is $11.49 per meal, and you can order Sun Basket boxes in quantities of 2, 4 or 6 meals.

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    I think for a family situation like mine with multiple children, I personally wouldn’t rely on a meal delivery service 100% of the time as it would get expensive and the kids don’t always love “fancier” food. However, Sun Basket’s meals were delicious and appealing to our family and I would definitely use them again. Having their meals on hand, perhaps in the freezer, would be awesome. If I lived alone or with just one other person, however, I would definitely order from Sun Basket all the time!

    So, there you have it! My first experience with a meal delivery service and I really enjoyed it. Sun Basket was a great company to work with and the food was delicious.

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    If you subscribe to Sun Basket, be sure to do so through the links in this post to get $30 off your first order!

    You know that when I write about products or companies I always like to give something away and today is no exception! Sun Basket is giving away a box complete with 3 meals for 2 people, just like what I received. The winner will be able to choose their meals from the available menu. Delivery must be in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Nevada. If you don’t live in one of those states, still enter the giveaway and gift it to a loved one on the west coast! Please follow the instructions for entering the giveaway in the Rafflecopter box below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Thank you to Sun Basket for sponsoring today’s post.


  10. Wednesday, December 2

    How to Cook the Perfect Turkey. And by perfect I mean PERFECT.

    I’m just gonna say it. I make the perfect turkey. After years of researching various methods and trying many of those methods, I finally have the definitive answer for how to cook the perfect turkey.

    how to perfectly roast a turkey by @janemaynard | spatchcock + dry brine + roast with mayoPhoto credit: Anne Wallin

    My mom and I have had so many Thanksgiving conversations over the years that go something like this. “Our white meat this year was delicious. I have no idea why!” Or,”Our white meat this year was just so-so. I have no idea why.”

    Those conversations are a thing of the past. From now on this is what I’ll be saying to my mom the day after Thanksgiving. “Our white meat and our dark meat and everything about our turkey was perfect this year and I know exactly why.”

    And I’m going to share the magic formula with all of you, of course. There are several steps to the process, each of which on their own would make for a good turkey. But combine them all together and you end up with a great turkey. Here’s the formula:

    SPATCHCOCK + DRY BRINE + SLATHERED IN MAYONNAISE + ROAST AT HIGH HEAT = PERFECT TURKEY

    I will never use another method. This is it. I’m done. Turkey perfected. And I’m going to explain the process in great detail so that, A) I know how to do it again, and B) you can do it, too.

    how to perfectly roast a turkey by @janemaynard | spatchcock + dry brine + roast with mayo

    BUY A FRESH, UNFROZEN TURKEY.

    Buy a fresh, unfrozen turkey so that you can spatchcock it easily. Buy the turkey 3 days before you’re going to cook it. So, if you’re cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving, buy the turkey Sunday night or Monday morning and prep that baby Monday morning. (You can dry brine for just 1 or 2 days, but 3 is optimal, and this post is all about making the perfect turkey. So, go with 3 days.)

    HOW TO SPATCHCOCK A TURKEY:

    What is spatchcocking, you say? When you spatchcock a turkey, you cut out the backbone and then roast the turkey flat. It looks crazy, but the bird cooks faster and more evenly. The dark meat portions are more exposed to heat, so they finish cooking not long after the breast meat finishes cooking. “But I want to stuff my bird!” you may be thinking. Never fear, you can still “stuff” the turkey. I mean, it’s totally different, but you can do it and I’ll explain that in the roasting section below. But first, how to spatchcock.

    • Remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey if they came with the bird. Place them in a large pot.
    • Place your raw, fresh turkey on a large cutting board, breast down. With large kitchen shears or scissors, cut out the back bone. This requires some serious hand strength. I was spatchcocking two turkeys, so I had to take a little break, my hand was starting to hurt. But, if I can do it, anyone can. (This post on Serious Eats has good pictures that show how to cut out the backbone. If you Google “how to spatchcock a turkey” there are tons of videos out there, too.)
    • Once the backbone is removed, hack it in two and throw it in the pot with the neck and giblets. Fill the pot with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. Voila! AWESOME turkey stock for your gravy! You’re welcome. Note: You can add other aromatics to the broth while it cooks, such as onions, carrots, parsnips, celery, and herbs. Not necessary but certainly delicious!
    • Back to the turkey. Now, flip the turkey over and place it on a large rimmed cookie sheet. Press the turkey firmly on the breastbone to flatten it out. Use your muscles!

    Now it’s time to move on to the dry brine. Oh, how I love the dry brine.

    HOW TO DRY BRINE A TURKEY:

    Now that your turkey is all flattened out and ready to go, it’s time to dry brine. This is exactly what it sounds like. You are brining the turkey and there is no water involved. It’s way easier than a water-based brine (trust me) and the results are fantastic.

    • You need 1 tablespoon KOSHER salt for every 5 pounds of turkey. You can add 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs (like sage and/or thyme) per each tablespoon of salt, but it’s not necessary.
    • Evenly rub the salt all over the turkey. You do not need to go under the skin, right on top works just fine. And you do not need to put salt in the cavity of the turkey (which, at this point, is the underside). Once you’ve used up all the salt, lightly cover the turkey with plastic wrap, place in the fridge and walk away. You can leave the turkey uncovered while it dry brines, but since there is other stuff in my fridge, I like to have a little protection so nothing touches the turkey directly.
    • That’s it! You have successfully brined your turkey!

    HOW TO ROAST THE SPATCHCOCKED, DRY BRINED TURKEY…DON’T FORGET THE MAYO!

    Now it’s time to roast the turkey. You ready? Let’s go!

    • Preheat the oven to 450º F.
    • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (optional but makes for easier clean up).
    • IF YOU WANT TO “STUFF” THE TURKEY: Place a layer of stuffing on the baking sheet, concentrating the stuffing at the center where it will be directly under the turkey. Place an oven-safe cooling rack on top of the stuffing, then lay the turkey on the rack.
    • Slather about 1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise all over the turkey. You can add pepper and herbs to the mayonnaise if you like (I added about a teaspoon of dry sage and thyme, along with some black pepper, to the mayo).
    • Roast for about 45-60 minutes, take the turkey out of the oven, have one person lift the turkey straight up while the other person scoops the stuffing off of the pan. Replace with vegetables as described in the next step (the “non-stuffing” step). Mix the “stuffed” stuffing with the rest of your stuffing and bake as usual for your stuffing recipe.
    • IF YOU DON’T WANT TO “STUFF” THE TURKEY: Place roughly chopped celery, onion, carrots and parsnips on the foil of the baking sheet. Place an oven-safe cooling rack over the veggies then place the turkey on the rack. (If you “stuffed,” you’ll simply put the turkey back down.)
    • Slather about 1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise all over the turkey. You can add pepper and herbs to the mayonnaise if you like (I added about a teaspoon of dry sage and thyme, along with some black pepper, to the mayo).
    • FOR BOTH “STUFFED” and “UNSTUFFED”: Roast the turkey with an oven-safe thermometer placed deep in the breast. When the breast reaches 150º F, move the thermometer to the deepest part of the thigh and cook the turkey until the thigh temperature reaches 165º F, which will take about another 20 minutes. Total cooking time will be around 2 hours for a 15 pound turkey.
    • Take turkey out of the oven and let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving.
    • The veggies in the pan are great for snacking while you make the rest of dinner, and be sure to add the pan drippings to your turkey broth for making gravy!

    CARVING THE TURKEY:

    When it was time to carve the turkey, I did something I’ve never done before: I cut the entire breast off at once, then cut slices on a bias (see photos on Serious Eats). I carved all the meat off the wings, things and drumsticks. The turkey serving platter with all the carved meat was gorgeous. Sadly I didn’t get a photo, but my sister Instagrammed the carving process, which is the photo at the top of this post, so you can at least get an idea of how awesome the turkey platter was!

    how to perfectly roast a turkey by @janemaynard | spatchcock + dry brine + roast with mayo

    When my sister Anne and I started carving the turkey and taking bites, we could not believe how good the meat was. The breast meat was moist and flavorful all the way to the center. It was heavenly. It was miraculous. Oh, and the skin was awesome. This was the best turkey I’ve ever cooked (actually, turkeyS…I made 2!), and it might even be the best turkey I’ve ever eaten. Period.

    PHEW. That’s it! I know it seems complicated and involved, but I promise it is not hard. You just have to follow the formula. And the formula is magical.

    Happy Turkeying!

    Please note: In the photos the turkey is not on sitting on a rack and there are no veggies below it. This is because I moved the turkey to a new tray to rest. I really did cook it on a tray over veggies!