Monday, December 21
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 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.
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!*
*Comments must be made by Midnight PT on Monday, December 28, 2015.
Wednesday, December 16
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).
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
Thank you to Sun Basket for sponsoring today’s post.
Wednesday, December 2
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.
Photo 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.
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!
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.
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!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 10:19 pm 2 Comments
Categories: fab faves, featured recipes, Kitchen Tips, main dishes, thanksgiving prep, way gourmet Tags: dry brine, roast turkey, spatchcocked turkey, thanksgiving turkey, turkey |
Friday, November 6
Happy Friday, everyone! Before we get to the usual Show and Tell portion of our program, I have to tell you about my friend’s new book!
Amy Mascott (my friend!) and Allison McDonald are just published their new book Raising a Rock-Star Reader and it’s wonderful! I received an advanced copy and it is filled with all kinds of wonderful tips, recommendations and resources for getting your children to be great readers. Years I ago I had the chance to hear a lecture from a UC Berkeley professor who specialized in early education. She talked at length about why it is so beneficial to read to children from a very early age – the very act of hearing varied language and many words helps children’s brains develop in tremendous ways. It was fascinating and something I’ve thought about a lot as we’ve raised our children.
Anna and Cate are both rock-star readers (I am grateful every day for this) and will probably be as excited to read Amy and Allison’s book as I am. Owen is still a wee thing and the tips in this book are fabulous. I can’t wait to start implementing the ideas with all three of our kids!
Of course you know I love giveaways! So, let’s give away a copy of Amy and Allison’s book! To enter the giveaway simply leave a comment telling us your most favorite children’s book. That’s it! Comments must be posted by Midnight PT 11/13/15 and prize must be shipped within the U.S.
Congratulations to Amy and Allison for a job very well done on their wonderful book! Here’s to happy readers!
And, since it’s Friday, a few links to share!
- On Cool Mom Eats: Scrumptious side dishes made with frozen vegetables to make life easy.
- On Babble: Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes that are amaaaaaazing.
Okay, so, be sure to leave a comment to enter the giveaway above! And, as always, feel free to share whatever you want for Show and Tell!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 11:42 am 12 Comments
Categories: fab faves, Giveaways, netflix, show and tell, the goods Tags: babble, cool mom eats, giveaway, les revenants, netflix, raising a rock-star reader, show and tell, the returned |
Thursday, October 29
Mary and Vincent Price’s Cookbook “A Treasury of Great Recipes” and Why Vintage Cookbooks Are the Best
I love vintage cookbooks. Like cutting boards, vintage cookbooks are fast becoming an obsession of mine. For example, when I visited Portland, OR last year, I ended up spending oodles of time (and an undisclosed amount of money!) in the cookbook section at Powell’s Books with my friend Deseree, pouring over the many old and out-of-print cookbooks that lined the shelves. Those books are so delightful for so many reasons, from fun inscriptions to interesting ingredients to vintage illustrations and photographs…I love it all!
Today I am channeling that love for older cookbooks with a really fun giveaway. Dover Publications has re-released a cookbook that has been out of print for quite some time. Of course I had to check it out…that kind of thing is right up my alley!
Coincidentally, during the spookiest time of year, the cookbook in question is written by the Master of Menace himself, Vincent Price, along with his wife Mary, a costume designer. Mary and Vincent Price published A Treasury of Great Recipes 50 years ago and Dover just released the anniversary edition. I have had so much fun reading through this book!
The 50th anniversary edition still has the same feel as the original publication, with all the original illustrations and photography, and includes a lovely retrospective written by their daughter Victoria Price, where you learn that Vincent Price’s grandfather invented cream of tartar baking powder, was the first person to patent extracts of vanilla, lemon and other flavorings, and also wrote many cookbooks. Food runs in the family! The cookbook follows the Price’s travels through Europe, Mexico and the United States and features the menus of restaurants they visited and loved, along with recipes from those menus. As both a food lover and a graphic designer, I especially love that the actual menus are reproduced in the book. The Prices also include many of their family’s recipes and, in true vintage cookbook fashion, there is a section dedicated to (can you guess?)…napkin folding! I just love this stuff! I told you I’m a vintage cookbook junkie!
While Vincent may have been a master at horror, he was also a master at sharing wonderful food with people. So, this Halloween week, we are giving away a copy of Vincent and Mary’s beautiful, classic book. Here is how to enter! Simply leave a comment, any comment, on this post! If you would like to share your favorite restaurant with us in your comment, that would be very fun and in the spirit of the book! Bonus entry: Like Dover Publications on Facebook. Leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. Bonus entry: Follow Dover Publications on Pinterest. Leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. Bonus entry: Tweet this post and giveaway using the hashtag #CookingwithVincent. Leave a separate comment with a link to your tweet. One comment will be randomly selected to choose the winner. Comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Thursday 11/5/2015 and prize must be shipped to an address in the continental United States.
The winner of the giveaway was Comment #18 Heather B, who said, “I had no idea this edition existed, I’ve been meaning to find a copy of the original for my cookbook collection forever.” I love that she knows the book and has been keeping an eye out for it! Congratulations, Heather! I know it’s not an original edition, but I know you’ll still love it!
To buy the book, visit Dover Publications and be sure to use the code WRAQ to get 25% of your purchase before 12/07/2015. If you have any cookbook lovers in your life (or you are one yourself!), this is a very fun book, I definitely recommend it!
Thank you to Dover Publications for sponsoring this post and giveaway!
Friday, October 16
It’s FRIDAY! WOOHOO!
I have just one food link for you today. If you’re looking for a good cocktail for fall, well, I’ve got you covered. Be sure to check out this recipe for an Autumn Stone Wall on Babble! The origin of this cocktail dates back to Colonial times, so, you know, you should totally drink it in the name of history.
Okay, so Nate and I went a little crazy this week. We went to three concerts, all on school nights. And I am feeling it today. Actually, I was feeling it yesterday when we still had one more concert to go, which I think makes me officially an old lady. But it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. All three concerts rocked (pun intended) so I have to tell you about them!
- alt-j: I wasn’t so sure how the band alt-j would sound live since their music has a very electronic feel, but they were amazing! Really, so impressive. Their music is layered and complicated and different in a very good way. Such a great show, I highly recommend catching them live if you are a fan of the band.
- Florence and the Machine: We knew Florence’s voice would blow pretty much everything out of the water and we were right. Her voice is unreal. And she is BANANAS, running and jumping and spinning like a crazy person the entire concert. She must work out a LOT because WOW. Also, she is unbelievably endearing and sweet. At one point she got choked up and confessed that she hadn’t wanted to do the show that night as her beloved uncle had passed away less than 24 hours prior, but that she was glad she had done the show anyway. I don’t know how she pulled herself together after that. Anyway, she rocks. Go see her show if you ever get the chance.
- Hozier: This guy. I mean, we all know he has a great voice (and it’s even better live), but he is also a phenomenal guitarist who can JAM. And his songs are all great. Oh, and he is SO nice, with just a really positive vibe. He not only introduced the band members but the entire crew, including the bus drivers. At the close of the show he linked arms with his bandmates for a big bow, which was adorable, and he kept plugging the other musicians in the nicest most un-annoying way, including the opening band Little Green Cars (who were really good, btw). Basically, we love him. I also highly recommend going to one of his shows if you ever can.
If you visit my Instagram feed, you can watch little video snippets from each show. They’re pretty sweet.
That’s it for me today. As usual, please share your own stuff in the comments! That’s what Show and Tell is for!
Thursday, October 8
Last week I went to New Orleans with my mom, sister-in-law Cora and sister Anne with one goal: to eat tons of food. We not only achieved our goal, we did so with flying colors. Actually, too many flying colors. By the third night I felt strange. Physically strange. I think it was a food hangover. Listen, I’ve been known to put down a lot of food in my day, but New Orleans just about did me in. And it was totally worth it. Man, the food is awesome. And beyond food, the city is beautiful, the people are friendly and the music is the BEST. New Orleans has captured my heart. (As well as my stomach!)
Cabildo Alley. Photo credit: Cora Wallin
As we prepared for the trip, Anne made us all do research and put it in a Google doc so that when we were on the ground we’d be ready to go! Of course we didn’t get to half of what was in the doc, but we did a TON in our 3 1/2 days in NOLA and I honestly can’t believe how much food we ate.
If you follow my very enthusiastic advice and visit New Orleans (you better!!!), here are all the delicious/wonderful/interesting/fun places you should visit!
Ruby Slipper Cafe (Days 1 & 4…we started and ended our time in New Orleans here!)
My friend Kalli visited NOLA just one week ahead of us and recommended the Ruby Slipper Cafe, stating that the biscuits were the BEST THING EVER and that she wished she had just ordered biscuits and bacon as her meal. I do agree that those items were delectable, but I am SO glad we ordered other items, too. Honestly, Ruby Slipper really stands out for all four of us as a favorite from the weekend. Here are some of our Ruby Slipper top picks! (Click here for full menu and descriptions.)
- Chicken St. Charles: I could eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s UNREAL. The fried chicken is divine, the egg was poached to perfection, and the tasso sauce finished it all off beautifully. (Side note: Tasso ham is a southern Louisiana specialty.)
- Eggs Blackstone: This was my first meal in New Orleans and, let’s just say, it set a very high bar.
- One word: BISCUITS. Best biscuits we had all weekend.
- Bananas Foster Pain Perdu: This French toast was one of my mom’s favorite foods from the whole weekend. Delish!
- We didn’t imbibe at Ruby Slipper, BUT their alcoholic breakfast drink menu was extensive and delicious sounding. It’s always 5:00 somewhere, right?
Wednesday, September 30
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…I have met some truly amazing people thanks to blogging. Amazing. People. One of those people is food blogger and cookbook author Kathy Strahs. We met many moons ago at a conference and our friendship grew from there. For a short time we even lived in the same neighborhood, which was the BEST THING EVER. Sadly she’s not down the street any more, but I make up for that by pestering her with text messages.
One of the things I love about Kathy so much is her brain. She is a smart cookie, that Kathy. She also happens to be good at making cookies. She’s the whole cookie package (that’s like the highest compliment I can give someone). Anyway, yeah, Kathy’s brain. It does smart and cool and high quality stuff.
So, why am I rambling on and on about Kathy? Because I have some of that awesome Kathy stuff to share with you!
Here’s the deal. You will love this book. You need to buy it. Visit Kathy’s Kickstarter page to see the different pledge levels and secure your first-edition copy today! The pledge rewards are great, including a “How to Make Mac ‘n Cheese” graphic t-shirt designed by Kathy’s adorable daughter Hayley. There is a book trailer on the Kickstarter page as well as more details about the project. Please check it out and spread the word!
To celebrate today’s launch, I am participating in a blog potluck with Kathy and other food friends! I had the chance to make one of her 8×8 recipes – Honey-Glazed Chicken with Root Vegetables. Prep time was less than 25 minutes and dinner was delicious. I even doubled the recipe and used TWO 8×8 pans, because I knew we’d love it so much. I was right, we did!
A potluck wouldn’t be a potluck with just ONE dish! Be sure to check out all the other recipes from The 8×8 Cookbook that are being featured today to celebrate Kathy’s Kickstarter launch!
- Baked Blueberry Oatmeal (Breezy Brunch) ~ Julie from Peanut Butter and Julie
- Blueberry Cobbler with Cornmeal Cream Biscuits (Sweet Treats) ~ Gerry from Foodness Gracious
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (Sweet Treats) ~ Jenny from Picky Palate
- Chocolate Craving Cake (Sweet Treats) ~ Amanda from I Am Baker
- Greek-Style Sausage and Peppers (Weeknights Won) ~ Liren from Kitchen Confidante
- Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders (Weeknights Won) ~ Amy from Very Culinary
- Layered Spinach, Artichoke and Crab Dip (On the Side) ~ Kathy from Panini Happy (and author of The 8×8 Cookbook)
- Pastitsio (The Sunday Dinner Table) ~ Rachel from Rachel Cooks
Without further ado, Honey-Glazed Chicken with Root Vegetables!
Honey-Glazed Chicken with Root VegetablesPrep timeCook timeTotal timeBy Kathy Strahs, from The 8x8 Cookbook: Square Meals for Weeknight Family Dinners and More--In One Perfect 8x8 Inch Dish (Burnt Cheese Press, 2015), reprinted with permission. As excerpted from the book: "The shiny glazed chicken drumsticks get all the attention in this dish, but the roasted root vegetables relaxing beneath them really deserve some notice. Carrots, turnips, and potatoes are flavorful in their own right, and here, with honey-balsamic glaze traveling down from the chicken, they become truly next level! They go into the oven partially cooked to make sure they’re done right in synch with the chicken."Author: Kathy StrahsServes: 4Ingredients
- 1 cup roughly chopped carrots (about 2 medium)
- 1 cup roughly chopped turnips (1 to 2 small)
- 1 cup roughly chopped skin-on red potatoes (about ½ pound)
- ½ small red onion, cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
- ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ pounds chicken drumsticks
- Heat oven to 400º F.
- Place the carrots, turnips and potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 4 minutes (alternatively, you can blanch the vegetables in a large pot of boiling water for 3 minutes). Drain any excess water and transfer the vegetables to an 8x8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish or metal baking pan. Add the onion wedges to the dish or pan.
- In a small bowl, stir together the honey and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the thyme, salt and pepper. Measure out ¾ teaspoon of the seasoning mixture and sprinkle it all over the vegetables. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and toss to combine.
- Season the chicken with the remaining seasoning mixture–be sure to slide some of the seasonings under the skin as well as on the outside. Arrange the chicken on top of the vegetables. Roast for 20 minutes. Brush the chicken with half of the honey-balsamic mixture and bake for another 15 minutes. Brush the chicken with the remaining honey-balsamic mixture and continue baking until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF and the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes more (tent the chicken with foil if the glaze starts to burn).
Thank you to Le Creuset for providing the beautiful 8×8 dish!
Tuesday, September 29
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to make fun birthday cakes for my kids. Before you start feeling guilty for not making fun birthday cakes for your kids, don’t, because I promise there are plenty of other things you do as a parent that I’m failing at. If, however, you are like me and making fun birthday cakes is your thing, I do like to share my cakes with you so you can steal my ideas!
Owen had a pirate themed birthday party this year and he decided he wanted an anchor cake. Nate and I tried to talk him into a pirate flag cake. That would have been SO EASY…just a 9×13 cake with black frosting, topped with a fondant skull and crossbones rolled out and cut into the right shape…if only. But alas, he wouldn’t go for it. Anchors away!
At first I thought an anchor cake would be easy peasy. Shaping the cake was in fact simple, However, frosting the cake was WICKED HARD. So many nooks and crannies around the edge! My frosting skills were no match and this was my worst-frosted cake ever, but it still looked cute enough and 4-year-olds surprisingly don’t notice these things.
Here’s how to make an anchor cake!
- Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake.
- Draw your anchor shape onto the cake oriented vertically by scoring the top of the cake with a sharp knife, then cut the cake into the shape. Make it a nice tall anchor. It’s okay to have the top circle cut off and the side “arrow” thingies cut off because you can…
- …use the large cake scraps to shape pieces to round off the top of the anchor and add to the arrow-shaped sides.
- For the chain, I mixed black food coloring into white fondant to make grey. I rolled out skinny snake shapes and linked them together. The final touch was to lightly brush the chain with metallic edible silver dust from Wilton. That was Anna’s idea and it made the chain look AWESOME. I rolled out a thin white disc for the hole in the top of the anchor where the chain is attached.
Click here for my comprehensive “Amateur’s Guide to Making Super Cute Cakes,” which includes a recipe for chocolate cake and buttercream frosting as well as LOTS of tips for shaping and decorating cakes. And, because I’ve never shared it before, below is the recipe for vanilla cake we use, which was what Owen requested. This recipe comes from my favorite cake book, Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead. The book is out of print but there are copies on Amazon.
The best part of Owen’s cake had absolutely nothing to do with the cake. The wind blew out his candles while we were singing. Nate quickly relit them all, then the wind blew 3 of the 4 candles out again. Nate went to relight them AGAIN. Instead Owen just rolled with the punches and blew out the one candle. It was super cute, although I suspect that he knew 1 candle was easier to blow out than 4. Crafty guy.
Vanilla CakePrep timeCook timeTotal timeThis is a great basic vanilla cake recipe from Matthew Mead's "Cakes for Kids" book. I've re-written the directions in my own words.Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for pans
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup butter at room temperature
- 1¾ cups sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups milk
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon zest (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- This recipe works for 24 cupcakes, 2 8-inch or 9-inch cakes, or 1 9x13 cake. If using cupcake liners, place liners in muffin tin and set aside. If using cake pan(s), lightly grease the bottom of the cake pan, line it with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Lightly flour the pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2½ cups flour, baking powder and salt.
- Using a stand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
- Leaving the mixer on medium speed, add ¼ cup sugar. Beat for 3 minutes. Keep adding sugar ¼ cup at a time, mixing for 3 minutes between each addition until you've added all the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
- Add eggs 1 at a time, beating at medium speed for 30 seconds between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then ⅓ of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined for each addition. If using zest, add it now.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl then give the batter one more mix at high speed for 20 seconds.
- Spread the batter in the pan, filling cake pans or cupcakes ⅔ full with batter.
- For 8- or 9-inch cakes, bake for 30-35 minutes. For 9x13 cake, bake for 35-40 minutes. For cupcakes bake for 10-12 minutes. Toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done.
- Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, cut around the edges of the cake, then invert the pan over the wire rack, lift pan to remove cake and peel off parchment paper. Let cake cool completely on the rack. For cupcakes, let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing.
Posted by Jane Maynard at 11:16 am 4 Comments
Categories: birthday cakes, fab faves, featured recipes, kids, Kitchen Tips, Recipes, sweet things Tags: anchor birthday cake, birthday cake, birthday cake decorating, cake, cake decorating, vanilla cake, yellow cake |
Wednesday, September 9
This summer while visiting my family in New Jersey, we took a day trip to Warwick, NY. I love that cute little town and try to discover something new each time we go. This summer we happened upon the Warwick Valley Olive Oil Co., which opened up earlier this year.
This beautiful shop is a balsamic vinegar and olive oil tap room. I had never visited a tap room prior to our visit to Warwick and quickly fell in love. I love high-quality olive oils, a love that flourished while living in the Bay Area near McEvoy Ranch.
Balsamic vinegar is another ingredient that I was fairly clueless about until I had the chance to try a really high-quality vinegar. Several years ago I went to the Fancy Food Show with my dear friend Vanessa Druckman. In the “Italy” section of the expo there were several balsamic vinegar companies. One of the vendors had us taste his most expensive vinegar (p.s. you can really spend a lot of money on vinegar, in case you were looking for a way to spend a lot of money). I can’t even explain how amazingly delicious that spoonful of balsamic vinegar was. Otherworldly, my friends.
As you can imagine, a balsamic vinegar and olive oil tap room was right up my alley! I was drinking oil and vinegars left and right! The balsamic vinegar flavors were especially fun, from cherry to peach to chocolate! I ended up buying the grapefruit vinegar as well as a bottle of Italian olive oil that was pressed in May 2015.
The kids did surprisingly well in the store with us, and my girls really enjoyed trying the balsamic vinegars. That said, it was a good thing Grandma was there to read stories while my sister-in-law Cora and I reveled in the oil and vinegar. For some reason the kids didn’t think that the tap room was quite as fun as I did. Strange.
The bottom line is this…if you have a chance to visit a tap room, do it! It is really a unique and fun experience. No, really, it IS fun. I swear!