Category: fab faves
Wednesday, March 16
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!
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 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!
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 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 (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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
This is one of those items I keep bringing up because it is awesome. ‘Nuf said.
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?
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.
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!
Wednesday, March 9
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!
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!
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 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.
Saturday, February 13
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…
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!
- 6 kid-friendly, non-meat sources of protein and ideas for how to prepare them.
- 6 easy breakfast for dinner recipes that go way beyond pancakes.
- Skinny snack dips… so that you can eat more chips, of course.
- How to make tea eggs with kids for Chinese New Year. (You need to check these out…so pretty!)
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!
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!*The 3 random winners for this giveaway were comments #30, #40 and #41. Congratulations, ladies!
*Comments must be made by Midnight PT on Monday, December 28, 2015.
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 |
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 |