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  1. Friday, November 21

    The Magic of Holiday Dishes

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    This post is sponsored by Q Squared NYC.

    I was recently chatting with my dear friend Amy about the holidays and she mentioned the dishes her mom used when she was growing up. Amy talked about how those dishes are firmly entrenched in her memory and that the dishes themselves are as much a part of the experience of the holidays as anything else. As she got thinking about it, she found she felt the same way about the dishes her grandmother used, too.

    the magic of holiday dishes by @janemaynard

    I loved this conversation because it really got me thinking. Often when I look back on holiday meals with the family, the food is what I focus on. In fact, when I pass traditions on to my kids it’s almost always focused on the food and sharing family recipes. But I haven’t thought much about the significance of the dishes we used. After chatting with Amy I realized my experience was the same as hers, that the dishes actually played a large role.

    the magic of holiday dishes by @janemaynard

    When I was very young, most of our holidays were spent with the extended family, so a lot of the memories of dishes I have are from my grandmothers. My Grandma Wallin was the type of woman who would bring china to the beach for a picnic, so you can imagine what her table would look like for the holidays. Crystal glasses (perfect for serving 7-Up!), crystal bowls and china dishes abounded. As a young girl, I loved it. Her dishes made those family dinners feel extra special and fancy.

    the magic of holiday dishes by @janemaynard

    My Grandma Blomquist had 7 children, so when that family got together it was always a large group. I’ll never forget the tall stacks of plates on the buffet table or the basket she used for her giant rolls. What stands out most, however, is the silverware. She had several sets of silverware, complete with intricate patterns. I remember helping get the silverware out of the drawer in her china cabinet (and how that drawer was always a bear to open!). We would wipe the silverware down with a towel and, when dinner was done, carefully put it all back in the drawer.

    the magic of holiday dishes by @janemaynard

    Eventually we moved far from our extended family, at which point the dishes my mom used for the holidays take over my memories. My mom had a set of Christmas china that made an appearance very year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We loved those dishes and using them at Thanksgiving quite literally marked the start of the holiday season in our home. Once the holidays were over, we would scour the post-Christmas sales to find more pieces to add to the collection. Those dishes are firmly planted in my holiday memories and, to this day, whenever I see that set of dishes at a store, I am transported back in time.

    the magic of holiday dishes by @janemaynard

    As I mentioned before, while I’ve always had these memories, I’ve never stopped to think about how strong they are. And, on a related note, I haven’t really thought much about the dishes I use for the holidays and whether or not my kids have the same kinds of memories. Our family is young, relatively speaking, so I’m still in the phase of collecting those dishes that will play a special role at our holiday dinner table year after year. After doing all this thinking about these particular memories, it makes me that much more excited about adding new dishes to our holiday collection and setting the table with my kids each year.

    I want my children to have similar memories to what I have, memories like polishing silver and pulling china down from the high cupboard. Of course I have fond memories of the food, but as I ponder those holiday meals from the past, I find that the act of preparing the table for those meals is where the strongest memories lie. Making the table special and beautiful with the women that meant the most to me in my life ended up being the times where we talked and bonded most and I will be forever grateful for those memories.

    I hate ending posts with open-ended questions because it feels super cheesy, but I’m breaking my own rule today because I really want to hear from you! Please tell us about your own memories!

    Pictured above: I’ve added some really lovely pieces to our holiday dish collections from Q Squared NYC. For Easter we use white dishes combined with serving dishes from the Heritage collection. For Thanksgiving we’ve added serving dishes from both the Ruffle and the Diamond collections, both of which are pictured above. Also pictured is the Maple Apple Bijou candle, which is the perfect scent for Thanksgiving and looks beautiful on the table, too!

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  2. Tuesday, November 18

    Southwestern Corn Succotash Flatbreads {+ a Giveaway!}

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    This post is sponsored by Libby’s. All opinions are 100% my own, this recipe is delicious and there’s a sweet giveaway, so lots of goodness to be had!

    southwestern corn succotash flatbreads by @janemaynard #spon

    I grew up on frozen corn. In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing canned corn in the house. I didn’t actually try canned corn until I was married, believe it or not, and I actually love it! Unlike frozen corn, I like how canned corn retains more of a crunch and has a nice sweet flavor. It’s one of my pantry staples for several recipes in my repertoire.

    southwestern corn succotash flatbreads by @janemaynard #spon

    I have a new use for canned corn that I am especially loving: succotash! I was thinking about potential appetizers for Thanksgiving because I stink at Thanksgiving appetizers. I get so caught up in prepping the main meal that I forget to serve food earlier in the day. This recipe for corn succotash flatbreads is a perfect pre-Thanksgiving snack and I promise it’s easy to prepare.

    southwestern corn succotash flatbreads by @janemaynard #spon

    I gave this particular succotash recipe a bit of a southwestern twist, replacing lima beans with black beans, adding tomatoes and bell peppers, as well as adding a bit of cumin and fresh cilantro. The corn is perfect for Thanksgiving but the cumin and cilantro offer a different flavor than any of the classic Thanksgiving foods you’ll be scarfing down later in the day. Just make sure you don’t fill up on succotash flatbreads – save room for turkey!

    southwestern corn succotash flatbreads by @janemaynard #sponsouthwestern corn succotash flatbreads by @janemaynard #spon

    In addition to today’s recipe, Libby’s is offering up a great giveaway! One lucky, randomly-selected commenter will win a KitchenAid® 6-Quart Slow Cooker With Glass Lid plus an assortment of Libby’s products. I used Libby’s corn and black beans in today’s recipe and LOVE that they have organic canned goods! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post! Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address and comments need to be posted by Midnight PT on 11/26/14.

    kitchenaid slow cooker giveaway from libby's #sponlibby's organic canned veggies #sponOne last thing, Libby’s is hosting its Cansgiving sweepstakes through November 19. Participants must post a photo of what they are thankful for on Twitter, Instagram or Libby’s Table Facebook page using the hashtag #Cansgiving for the chance to win a $350 grocery gift card toward their Thanksgiving meals. You can view the full rules at www.getbacktothetable.com/cansgiving.

    Get commenting to enter the giveaway and here is the recipe!

    4.3 from 3 reviews

    Southwestern Corn Succotash Flatbreads
     
    Prep time

    Cook time

    Total time

     

    An easy and delicious appetizer with a southwestern twist!
    Author:
    Serves: 3 cups

    Ingredients
    • ⅓ cup chopped red onion (about ¼ of an onion)
    • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
    • ½ of a red bell pepper, chopped
    • 2 cloves fresh garlic
    • 1 can corn
    • ½ can black beans
    • 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    • Fresh shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
    • Chopped avocado (optional)
    • Flatbread crackers

    Instructions
    1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.
    2. Add garlic, which has been pushed through a garlic press, stir, then add corn and black beans and heat for a few minutes.
    3. Turn the heat up to medium-high, stir and cook for 1 minute to reduce some of the liquid.
    4. Reduce heat to medium again then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and cumin. Stir and heat for about 2 minutes.
    5. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
    6. Serve succotash on flatbread crackers, topping with fresh parmesan cheese or avocado if desired.
    7. You can serve right away or store in fridge and serve cold.

     

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  3. Thursday, November 6

    Gifts and Giveaways: Green Kid Crafts!

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    holiday gifts & giveaways on thisweekfordinner.com from @janemaynard

    This post is sponsored by Green Kid Crafts. As always, all opinions are 100% my own…and my kids’!

    It’s November, which means my holiday shopping has commenced! I find the more I can get done early, the more I enjoy December! Just like last year, as I start shopping around I’ll also be sharing Gifts & Giveaways posts with fun gift ideas and, of course, giveaways! We’re going to kick off this year’s festivities with a GREAT gift for kids.

    green kid crafts review and giveaway from @janemaynard

    Have you heard of Green Kid Crafts? Two very good friends of mine had recommended this company separately, so I was excited to work with them and try out their product! (Those friends who did the recommending? They’re amazing and totally trustworthy. I would do anything they tell me to do. Maybe even jump off a cliff.)

    green kid crafts kitchen science box - review and giveaway from @janemaynard

    Green Kid Crafts is a green company that provides creative and educational activities to do with kids through an eco-friendly Subscription Service, Craft Boxes, Birthday Activities, STEM Science Kits, and Creativity Kits, targeting kids ages 3-12. Our family recently received the Kitchen Science kit from Green Kid Crafts to try out and my kids LOVED it. REALLY loved it. Am I getting the point across? THEY. LOVED. IT. From 3 years old up to 9, all three of them had so much fun doing the science projects in our kit. Maybe a little too excited…I definitely had to play referee when it came to taking turns! Anna was so cute, while we were getting set up she asked, “Are we doing a science project?” When I responded in the affirmative, she simply stated, “Oh, GOOD.” And she was ready to get down to business!

    green kid crafts - kitchen science kit - review and giveaway from @janemaynard

    You can order Green Kid Craft boxes one at a time or sign up for a subscription, in which case boxes are delivered monthly. I know my kids would love me forever if I signed up for the subscription service…I’m thinking that just might be one of their Christmas presents this year, especially after seeing how much they loved this first box!

    green kid crafts - kitchen science kit - review and giveaway from @janemaynard

    Giveaway time! One lucky, randomly-selected person will win a 3-month subscription to Green Kid Crafts (winner must have a U.S. or Canadian address). Here is how to enter!

    All entries must be received by Midnight PT on Wednesday, 11/19.

    Good luck on the giveaway! And Happy Crafting!

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  4. Wednesday, November 5

    Product Review: DOLE Garden Soup (Spoiler Alert: The Soup is Great!)

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    This post is sponsored by DOLE Packaged Foods through the Mom It Forward Blogger Network. I was asked to give an honest review and all opinions are 100% my own!

    DOLE Garden Soup review by @janemaynard (spoiler alert: it's delish!) #ad #DoleGardenSoup

    The other day I was walking around the grocery store thinking about how when we were first married one of our go-to dinners was canned soup. I always had some in the cupboard and we actually liked it quite well. But over the years our tastes have changed and I never buy canned soup, mostly because we really don’t like it! I much prefer to make soup from scratch. That said, the reason I was thinking about this the other day was because I was kind of wishing that we did like canned soup so I could have it on hand for last minute meals. I even looked at the canned soup aisle, but ended up walking away empty handed.

    DOLE Garden Soup review by @janemaynard (spoiler alert: it's delish!) #ad #DoleGardenSoup

    DOLE Garden Soup review by @janemaynard (spoiler alert: it's delish!) #ad #DoleGardenSoup

    DOLE recently got in touch with me about trying out the new DOLE Garden Soup line of ready-to-serve soups. I’ve always had great experiences with DOLE and their products so I figured I’d give it a shot! Plus, they said they wanted me to share my family’s honest review, so I didn’t have anything to lose!

    DOLE Garden Soup review by @janemaynard (spoiler alert: it's delish!) #ad #DoleGardenSoup

    I have to tell you that we really liked these soups a lot, which pleases me to no end because now I can have really good soup in the cabinet waiting for those busy nights! Yay! DOLE sent our family samples of the Garden Soup to try, so for dinner the other night we had a soup taste test, along with a loaf of homemade bread. Here is how the taste test went down!

    First, the flavors:

    • Roasted Garlic Tomato Basil
    • Tomato Vegetable
    • Carrot Ginger
    • Southwestern Black Bean & Corn
    • Sweet Corn

    DOLE Garden Soup review by @janemaynard (spoiler alert: it's delish!) #ad #DoleGardenSoup

    Second, the tasting!

    • Owen (3 years old) was a terrible taste tester. He wouldn’t even take one bite of any of the flavors, therefore he forfeited all rights to an opinion.
    • Nate (the dad) only ate the Southwestern Black Bean & Corn. He got home from work late and when we saw that one his eyes lit up. He even said, “Of course you know this is the one I’m going to pick.” I actually didn’t know that, but I just nodded like I did. ANYWAY, he liked the soup!
    • Cate (9 years old) loved all five flavors. I kept prodding her with questions, trying to tease out her favorite flavor or something she didn’t like about the soups. In the end the conclusion was that she would eat any of them for dinner and thought they were all “really good.”
    • Anna (6 years old) also tried all five flavors. She said they were all good, but her favorites by a long shot were the Sweet Corn and Roasted Garlic Tomato Basil. I don’t think I would be able to get her to eat a whole bowl of the other flavors, honestly, but she did really like those two flavors a lot.
    • And Me! I thought all five flavors were wonderful. (More evidence that Cate just may be my clone.) Honestly, I was so impressed with the flavors. None of the soups tasted packaged and they all tasted incredibly fresh. I think they are all great on their own, with nice smooth texture and depth of flavor, but I could also see myself using the soups as a base for other recipes. I discovered later that DOLE even has recipes that you can use the soups in (I’ll link to those at the end of the post). I think my favorite flavor might actually have been the Carrot Ginger. Simple but with a bit of spice, it hit the spot. All of the soups would be great any time of year. Soup, by nature, is cozy and great for cold weather. But the flavors are so fresh I can see myself eating these soups on a summer evening, too. And, in case you’re wondering, the two tomato soups do have distinctive flavor and texture.

    After the taste test, I started reading up on the soups and learned that the full line is non-GMO, has no preservatives or MSG, is vegetarian, gluten free, cholesterol free, low fat, a good source of fiber and has BPA-free packaging. Score!

    DOLE Garden Soup review by @janemaynard (spoiler alert: it's delish!) #ad #DoleGardenSoup

    Two thumbs up for the Garden Soup! I will most certainly be stocking up on my next grocery run in anticipation of the busy holiday season!

    Find out more information about DOLE Garden Soup on their website, Facebook or Twitter.

    Recipes using DOLE Garden Soup:

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  5. Tuesday, October 21

    Adorable Yet Simple Halloween Party Table Decor + 13 Spooktacular Recipes!

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    I have a monster of a post for you today (mwah-ha-ha!!!), complete with ideas for completely cute yet simple Halloween party table decor as well as a 13 (mwah-ha-ha!!!) ridiculously adorable Halloween recipes.

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    When it comes to entertaining, I keep it simple. I like to have a whole bunch of white serving dishes in storage that I can pair with a few accent pieces and a colored tablecloth for the occasion. Then I just throw a few decorations on the table – simple but elegant. A vase of flowers, a Christmas wreath with candles, a few pumpkins for a Halloween party…you know, SIMPLE. There’s enough going on to get ready for parties I just can’t go over the top with my decor. But I find by playing in a simple way with color and using lots of white dishes, the table always looks impressive.

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    My ruffle dishes from Q Squared NYC are just such pieces that come in handy for all kinds of occasions. The ruffle design is elegant and a little bit different than your standard white dishes. BUT…if you pair it with a black tablecloth and a few of Q Squared’s slate platters, those wavy white dishes suddenly take on a spooky air! Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I loved using these dishes to decorate a Halloween table! Throw a few pumpkins on the table and make Halloween-themed food and you’re all set!

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    I think Halloween food is the most fun food in all the land. Whenever October rolls around, I am always so impressed with the creative food I see in magazines and on blogs! Here are a few favorites I’ve found this year, including a couple I used for my own Halloween party decor!

    My friend Kristen from Dine & Dish shared Frankenguac just this week. Is this not the cutest guacamole ever? Be sure to click through to Kristen’s post for details! (I put my Frankenguac on a slate platter and it was beyond adorable and a great centerpiece for the table.)

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    My friend Sommer from A Spicy Perspective posted these adorable Halloween skewers, which my kids happily gobbled up! I couldn’t find dark grapes, so I used blackberries instead. I think blackberries (i.e. black pickled brains!!!) might even be spookier. Check out Sommer’s post for more details! (The skewers looked perfect on the ruffle long platter.)

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Here are a few more Halloween recipes I am dying to try! (Mwah-ha-ha!!!)

    Gingerdead Cookies from Kailley’s Kitchen

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Healthy Halloween Monster Mouths from Texan Erin

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Butterbeer Popcorn from An Edible Mosaic (because I simply cannot resist anything Harry Potter!)

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Jalapeño Popper Mummies from Simply Sated

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Mummy Milanos from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Graveyard Chocolate Cheesecake Dip from The Law Student’s Wife

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Peanut Butter Cookie Ghost Cups from Food Faith Fitness

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Easy Pumpkin Patties from Mom On Timeout

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Healthy Halloween Pasta Salad from Smile Sandwich

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Carrot Rice Ball Jack O’ Lantern Bites from Apron Strings

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Spooky Spider Brownies from Dinners, Dishes and Desserts

    adorable and simple halloween party table decor + halloween recipe roundup from @janemaynard

    Well, that list should keep you busy until Halloween rolls around next week. Happy Hallowen!

    This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. Seriously, those dishes I used are PERFECT for Halloween. Get shopping!

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  6. Tuesday, October 14

    My New Favorite, Totally Random Kitchen Gadget: Onion Saver

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    I made an impulse buy at the grocery store this week: a Hutzler Onion Saver.

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

    Here’s the thing. I never know how to store leftover, raw, unchopped onions, which I often have because I tend to only use half an onion at a time. I don’t like to use plastic baggies because of my goal to use less one-time use plastic. But the onion is usually kind of bulky, so I have to use a larger storage container than I really need that takes up space in the fridge. Basically, this is a very difficult problem to have and my life is hard. (Insert sarcastic emoji that doesn’t exist but should.)

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

    Hence, my impulse buy of the onion saver. And, I LOVE it. Granted, I’ve only used it for 2 days and have no idea if it will last forever or whatever, but, so far, so good. It stores my onion well, doesn’t take up tons of space in the fridge, and traps in the onion odor so the fridge doesn’t get stinky.

    Happy onion storing!

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  7. Friday, October 10

    Friday Show and Tell

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    I have very little to share today except that I am SO excited to go to the Lorde concert tonight! And I am going to see George Winston tomorrow night. It’s going to be a good music weekend.

    lorde

    One quick food link to share from Babble – making pumpkin rocks with my kids for all the neighbors. We had a blast!

    It’s show and tell, your turn!

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  8. Thursday, October 9

    Keeping the Fridge Clean and Fresh!

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    I love me an empty refrigerator. This is a weird example of how my neurotic tendencies (a desire for cleanliness) overcome my survival instincts (having food to eat). It’s weird, but seriously, when the fridge is half-full (or would that be that half-empty?) it makes me happy! But, I’ll admit, my fridge is not always in such a clean, empty state. At any given moment we most certainly have food in there that needs to be tossed and I definitely don’t wipe down the shelves as often as I should. Let’s not even get started on the fingerprints on the outside of the fridge!

    tips for keeping the fridge clean and fresh from @janemaynard

    But here’s the thing – when I do properly maintain the fridge, keep the food fresh, and the drawers and shelves clean, I feel sooooo much better! And we have far less food waste. So, today, in order to inspire us all to maintain beautiful refrigerators and to eat all of our food, I think we need to share some fridge tips and tricks with each other!

    As you know, about a year ago KitchenAid supplied us with a brand new, beautiful 20 Cu. Ft. French Door Counter Depth Architect Series II fridge. One year later and I am still loving this fridge. And, yes, I’m still happy that we have a counter-depth fridge, although I will admit that it’s been nice having our old fridge in the garage for overflow at the holidays and to house the occasional larger item like a birthday-cake-in-the-making. Anyway, the fridge is fabulous and, now that I have a fridge I actually care about, I’ve gotten into a better groove about maintaing the fridge and keeping our food fresh. Here are a few of the things I have learned!

    • Replacing the Water Filter is Easy, So, You Know, Do It! I don’t know how many people I know who don’t use the water dispenser in their fridge because they stopped replacing the filter. Luckily our fridge tells us when to order a water filter. We listened to our fridge and went online to order the filter, which arrived right around the time that the fridge said it was time to replace the filter. It was kind of magical. Anyway, it was really easy to replace and I even did it ALL BY MYSELF, no help from Nate. (This is saying something, I normally don’t put anything together in our house, not even LEGOs.)
    • Don’t Use Cleaners on Stainless Steel – A Damp Cloth is All You Need! Okay, I’m sure a lot of you already know this, but when my fridge was brand new I used a mild general-purpose spray cleaner and the entire front of the fridge ended up with tiny rust marks ALL OVER IT, which I then had to carefully scrub off with baking soda and a soft towel. I opened the manual afterward and, sure enough, it says to only use cleaners made for stainless steel and nothing else. DUH. Now I just use a damp towel to wipe down the stainless steel, followed by a dry towel. I don’t even bother with the stainless steel cleaner, water does the trick!

    how to use the humidity controls on the crisper drawer from @janemaynard

    • Use the Humidity Controls on the Crisper Drawers. For some reason I could never wrap my brain around the humidity controls on produce drawers, but I finally have it figured out. The higher the humidity control (so on my fridge #5), the more sensitive the veggies and fruit should be in that drawer. So, you know, high maintenance produce gets a high setting. Like lettuce. The lower the humidity control (on my fridge #1), the heartier, more low-key the produce, like fruits and veggies with peels. I guess if you really don’t want to think about it just throw the setting in the middle and call it a day, but if you decide to utilize the settings, your produce will last longer!
    • Clean Out the Fridge Once a Week (for example, when you plan your weekly menu!).  Fridges packed with food seriously stress me out. I know, I’m weird. But they do. I try really hard to stay on top of it and keep food cleaned out that has gone bad. When I can actually see what’s in the fridge, we are much more likely to eat the food inside and end up with far less food going bad.
    • Wipe Out the Fridge Regularly, and Don’t Be Afraid to Take the Shelves and Drawers Out. Sometimes I wipe the shelves and drawers out frequently. Sometimes I neglect them and then we discover a giant blob of sticky goo underneath the produce drawers. I find that if I just wipe out the shelves each week when I clean out the old food, then it’s pretty easy. And the mystery goo blobs don’t appear nearly as often.

    kitchenaid extendfresh temperature control system from @janemaynard

    • Get a Fridge with a Temperature Management System. When we got our fridge I’ll admit I didn’t think much about what KitchenAid’s “ExtendFresh Temperature Management System” meant. Now that I have had the fridge for a year I really appreciate it! The system controls the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer compartments separately, it responds to temperature changes as small as 1º and adjusts accordingly, and the fan transfers cold air immediately from the freezer to the fridge for a faster response to temperature changes without needing to turn on the compressor. The system also maintains consistent temperatures, regardless of external temperatures or even the temperature in other compartments inside the fridge. Basically, it’s a super fancy system and it works GREAT. There’s even an alarm that alerts you if the temperature goes too high, which happened to me just the other night in fact! The door was barely open when we went to bed, but it didn’t trigger the door alarm for some reason. Once the temperature raised enough, the fridge started beeping and woke me up, but not before I dreamed about the fridge and it’s alarm first. ;)

    So, what gems of refrigerator wisdom do you have for us? Spill your fridge maintenance guts! (Feel free to confess your less-than-perfect maintenance skills, too!)

    This post was sponsored by KitchenAid. All opinions are 100% my own.

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  9. Friday, October 3

    Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Granola Bars to Celebrate Fair Trade Month + A Delicious Giveaway

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    October is Fair Trade Month and I’m so excited to help support the cause! Plus, I have a completely delicious dark chocolate pumpkin seed granola bar recipe for you. Basically there’s a whole lot of goodness going on in this here post. Before we get to the fair trade chocolate granola bars (mmmmmm….), let’s talk about fair trade for a moment and meet some of the farmers!

    fair trade dark chocolate pumpkin seed granola bars from @janemaynard

    There are a lot of labels on our foods these days. Gluten Free. Organic. Cage Free. Natural. GMO-free. The list goes on and on and ON. With so many labels, it’s easy to stop seeing them when you’re shopping. But one label that I always notice is the ‘Fair Trade Certified’ label. And, when I do see that label, I try to stop and think about the people behind the label, the farmers benefiting from that product.

    Miguel & Lucia, Fair Trade Divemex farmers (from @janemaynard)

    Two of those people are Miguel Romero Martínez, 22, from Tlapa, Guerrero, and Lucía Simón Mariano, 18, from Veracruz. Miguel and Lucía have an adorable two-month old daughter named Dulce Yamilet. Miguel’s family has been living permanently in the Chula Vista II residential area within Divemex’s La Veinte Agricultural Complex in Culiacán since 2006, while Lucía first came to Sinaloa with her parents in 2010. Divemex is a produce cooperative in Mexico that grows bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. Both Lucía and Miguel are now employees, have an apartment of their own and currently Miguel is the recipient of a Fair Trade-sponsored employee scholarship as he studies open adult junior high school.

    The Martinez-Hernandez family, whose first language is Nahuatl and originally come from Tlapa, Guerrero, is one of the most successful cases of migrant families from Southern Mexico, with numerous family members employed by Divemex and recipients of Fair Trade-sponsored scholarships. Currently, two family members receive open adult education scholarships while two others receive stipends given to children of employees. All must keep a monthly B+ average in order to maintain the scholarship status.

    Divemex family From Left to Right: Miguel Romero Martinez (22, employee, open adult Junior High School scholarship recipient), his wife Lucía Simón Mariano (18, employee) with two-month old daughter Dulce Yamilet, Floriberto Romero Martinez (16, Junior High School scholarship recipient as child of employee), David Romero Martinez (20, employee), Andres Romero Martinez (24, employee, open adult Junior High School scholarship recipient, and only indigenous member of the Ten-person Fair Trade council at Divemex), Ana Martínez Peralta (family matriarch and employee), Heidi Hernandez Martinez (8, elementary school scholarship recipient as child of employee) and Felipe Hernandez Guerrero (employee, father of Heidi, and step-father to the four young men). 

    Don’t you love seeing their pictures and hearing just a small part of this family’s story? It’s kind of amazing. Plus, in learning about this family I discovered that fair trade doesn’t just apply to non-perishable goods but to produce, as well. Very cool!

    fair trade barkTHINS dark chocolate pumpkin seed bark for granola bars by @janemaynard

    Fair Trade USA sent me a box of goodies (which I will also be giving away in just a minute) and challenged me to use some of the ingredients in a recipe. As I was gearing up to make our weekly supply of granola bars, I decided to change the bars up a bit. So, here’s the deal. We love our chocolate chip granola bars so much I can’t bring myself to change the flavor. But, this week, I decided adding more chocolate would not be a bad choice.

    dark chocolate pumpkin seed granola bars by @janemaynard

    I added fair trade cocoa powder from Lake Champlain Chocolates as well as barkTHINS dark chocolate pumpkin seed bark with sea salt to the granola bars instead of boring chocolate chips. The result was SPECTACULAR. As I was making the granola bars, I realized that I had fair trade brown sugar, fair trade coconut oil and fair trade vanilla to use in the recipe as well. These granola bars are pretty soundly fair trade!

    fair trade dark chocolate pumpkin seed granola bars by @janemaynard

    Before we get to the recipe, let’s do a giveaway! One of you lucky commenters will get the same package of fair trade goodies I received, including products from Equator, Guittard, barkTHINS, Lake Champlain Chocolates, LÄRABAR, Traditional Medicinals, Dang Foods, Numi Tea, Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Eco Lips, Alter Eco, Badger Balm, Third Street, Celestial Seasonings, SunSpire, Nourish Organic and the book Where Am I Eating?.

    Here’s how to enter the giveaway!

    Time for granola bars! Happy Fair Trade Month!

    (>> Find out more…)

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  10. Tuesday, September 30

    Kitchen Tip: How To Perfectly Cut the First Slice of Cake

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    I am SOOOOO excited about today’s post for two reasons. Reason #1: how gorgeous is my birthday cake? (In case you’re wondering, the cake is from Extraordinary Desserts and is called The Viking. Nate buys this cake for me as a gift every year and it is the reason I live for my birthday.)

    my favorite cake in the WORLD - the viking from extraordinary desserts (from @janemaynard)

    Reason #2 I am excited about today’s post: I have a spectacular new kitchen tip for you.

    When Nate picked my cake up last week at Extraordinary Desserts, they told him to use a hot knife to cut the cake, a tip we already know and love (simply hold the knife under hot water for 45 seconds, dry it off and then cut – smooth as silk!). But they also taught him how to perfectly cut the first slice of cake, and it’s so simple! Here’s what they had to say on the subject:

    “Use two knives to cut the first piece.”

    how to easily and perfectly cut the first slice of cake from @janemaynard

    Why we were never given that tip before I’ll never know, but I’ll tell you what. BEST. TIP. EVER. Nate mentioned their comment as we were about to cut the cake and were both like, “Two knives? Huh?” And then we tried it and WOW. It’s just so easy to slide that first slice right out of the cake when you have two hot knives simultaneously pulling it out. Amazing.

    perfectly cut first slice of cake

    Just one more reason to love Extraordinary Desserts, as if I needed another! I will never be scared to cut into a cake again!

    Side note: You can make this cake, the recipe is included in the book Extraordinary Cakes by Karen Krasne, the pastry chef behind Extraordinary Desserts. The cake involves six recipes…you’ve been warned!

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