Menu Banner

Category: Fun Stuff

  1. Wednesday, January 13

    Easy Ladybug Cupcakes

    Today I wanted to share the easy ladybug cupcakes I made for Cate’s birthday. One of my “things” as a mom is making fun birthday cakes for my kids, but this year Anna simply wanted a cake made out of donuts and Cate wanted chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing. While I was a little disappointed to not be making more elaborate cakes, I will admit it was a nice break, especially one week before Christmas.

    Quick tutorial for easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    Then, the day of her birthday, Cate informed me that she wanted ladybug cupcakes. I was like, “Uh, what?” I was completely unprepared, but really wanted to come through for her. Luckily I had some red cupcake liners and a pack of candy eyes in the cabinet and was able to pull these off!

    Quick tutorial for easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    These ladybug cupcakes are seriously EASY.

    • Cook the cupcakes in red or black cupcake papers.
    • Make a batch of buttercream frosting. Color about 2/3 of it with red food coloring (you’ll need a lot of food color!). Color the rest of the buttercream with black food coloring.
    • Frost the cupcakes with red buttercream using a butter knife, spreading the frosting on smoothly (doesn’t have to be perfect!).
    • Place the black frosting in a piping bag with a small, round tip. Pipe on the outline of the wings, the polka dots, and a head, as shown in the diagram below.
    • Finish off the ladybug with small candy eyes placed on the black icing piped on as the head, right at the edge of the cupcake.

    How to decorate easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    I was able to knock these cupcakes out no problem, and the design is so simple even the non-artistic among us can pull it off.

    Click here to get the recipes I used for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting. (Feel free to use a cake mix, I’m not keeping track!)

    Happy decorating!


  2. Wednesday, December 23

    Live the full catastrophe with open arms and soft heart

    The photos in this post were from an event hosted by Liz and Andy Laats in March 2015 to support The Clearity Foundation. I was honored to be the photographer that night. 

    liz and andy laats | the clearity foundation

    December is my stress month. I try not to make it that way, but every year, without fail, December catches up to me. Our family celebrates Christmas and I love this season dearly, but so help me December is a bear. A polar bear, of course. Actually, a pack of polar bears (is that even what you call a group of bears?) that wants to take me out, as slowly and painfully as possible.

    Okay, I’m exaggerating. (Kind of.)

    This year, in the midst of all the craziness, a badass woman I know passed away. Her name was Liz Laats. Liz was one of those people who made everyone she met feel like a close friend. Liz was one of those people who lived life with gusto. Liz was one of those people who was eloquent all of the time. Liz was one of those people who appreciated good cheese (she taught me how to taste cheese properly) and a good margarita (now known fondly as the Lizzie-rita). Liz was one of those people who was forced to battle cancer. Liz fought the beast that is ovarian cancer for 6 1/2 years with a humility and grace that was equally inspiring and heartbreaking.

    liz laats - the lizzie-rita

    Liz passed away nearly two weeks ago, leaving behind an incredible husband and three children, as well as an entire universe of people with richer lives because Liz was a part of them.

    liz laats

    As I’ve worked my way through this month, balancing career with family with the holidays and everything else, Liz has been constantly on my mind. Over the last 6 1/2 years, Liz kept friends and family updated on her “cancer stuff” with email updates that were equal parts funny, heartwarming, sad and beautiful. I’ve been re-reading her messages this month, trying to keep them on my mind and in my heart at all times. There are recurring themes in Liz’s updates that are each enlightening, but there is an overarching sense of gratitude and a need to embrace life that is palpable in all her words, no matter what the latest news was. Liz’s friend Petrea Marchand shared the following email exchange she had with Liz that I think sums Liz up beautifully:

    Petrea: Finally, I leave you with an unanswerable philosophical question. Why is life – such a gift, such a pleasure – so damn hard?

    Liz: I have no idea why life is hard, my friend, but I do know life is precious and short. We can live the full catastrophe with open arms and soft heart, or we can try to try to fight it. I recommend living the full catastrophe. To be clear, the full catastrophe is the full life – with family, husband, kids, jobs — all the things that we seek but then make us crazy. This is the life we wanted – rich with good people, bound by love to each other. Rise up to it, my friend. Grab it. Hug it! Work at it. Just don’t forget to breathe as you go through it.

    liz laats and friends

    Let’s live the full catastrophe, shall we? For Liz. For our loved ones. For ourselves.


  3. Friday, December 18

    Friday Show & Tell and Some Quick Gift Ideas!

    Happy Friday, everyone! I have a few quick gift ideas for you today and some food links (one of which I am especially proud of!)

    One Sugar Cookie Dough, Ten Christmas Cookies!

    For Cool Mom Eats this week I made 10 different flavors of cookies from ONE sugar cookie dough. It was nothing short of miraculous and it was surprisingly easy. Also, slice-and-bake cookies are my new favorite thing. Be sure to check out the article!

     

    Recipes Kids Should Know How to Cook Before Leaving Home: Grilled Cheese

    For Alpha Mom, Cate learned how to make grilled cheese and it was a great success!

     

    Here are a few fun gift ideas (just 1 week until Christmas!):

    Chelsea Harp Hand Drawn Prints

    • If you are looking for some really fun and unique clothes for girls, check out Zaza Couture. The Chagall line…oh man, SO CUTE. (Apparently I can’t stop saying “SO CUTE” today.)

    Zaza Couture

    le creuset butter crock from @janemaynard

    • Heifer International is always a great gifting option and one that does a world of good. As most of you probably know, I met many Heifer farmers in Malawi this year and the work that Heifer is doing is AMAZING. So, I have to plug them whenever I can, and the holidays is one of the best times for that plugging! Click here for their gift catalog.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    That’s all for today! As usual, please share your own stuff in the comments if you like, including gift ideas!


  4. Friday, December 11

    Friday Show and Tell: How To Make Pie Crust and So Much More

    Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve have some stuff to share with you today that I’m excited about!

    how to make pie dough and crust

    homemade pie crust recipe by kate lebo

    First, for Cool Mom Eats I wrote an article about how to make pie dough and pie crust, with photos and tips. After all the pie recipes this week, you’re definitely going to want to check it out! I also put together a roundup of eggnog recipes to get your holiday on.

    what happened when my 10-year-old was in charge of dinner for a week

    Remember a few months ago how Cate was in charge of planning the weekly menu and making dinner every night? She and I wrote about the experience and the article just published on Babble.

    recipes kids should know how to cook before leaving home: omelets

    I started writing for the website Alpha Mom! I’m going to be writing a monthly article with Cate sharing recipes kids should know how to cook before they leave home. We kicked things off with omelets!

    To the Market Tastemaker: Jane Maynard

    Last but not least, To the Market featured me as a Tastemaker this week! I had a lot of fun working on this piece with them, be sure to check it out!

    When it rains it pours…things have been busy for me lately! I’m sure they are with you, too, but be sure to share your own stuff with us in the comments!


  5. Thursday, December 10

    Time for Pumpkin Pie

    Today is the last pie recipe of the week. And it’s a classic: pumpkin pie.

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    Every time I make pumpkin pie, I can never remember how I made it the last time. Was it the recipe on the a pumpkin puree can? From a cookbook? From a website? I do know that I once used a pumpkin pie recipe I saw on the America’s Test Kitchen TV show and it came out beautifully – the pie didn’t even crack! But that recipe is a little involved (it’s very similar to the one in the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook), so I rarely feel like tackling it. When I try other recipes, well, I never keep track of which one I’ve tried. So, this year, I paid attention. I made notes. And I’m putting what I did in this blog post…I’ll never have to dig around again!

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    This pumpkin pie recipe is very straightforward. Nothing crazy, just subtly-spiced, wonderful, creamy pumpkin pie. This recipe is originally from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. This ATK recipe is a bit simpler than the one I tried a few years ago, but has nearly identical technique. This year’s pie did crack, but we decided that we don’t care if our pumpkin pie cracks. The cracks give it character!

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    There are a few aspects to the technique of this recipe that make the pie come out nicely (thanks, America’s Test Kitchen!). First, the pumpkin gets mixed in the food processor, to eliminate any fibers and make the filling smoother. Second, you cook the pumpkin, spices and sugar on the stovetop. The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook says this improves flavor, but the Cook’s Illustrated recipe also says that it helps you get the right amount of moisture in the pie filling. Lastly, the filling is warm when it is added to the warm crust, which helps with the overall texture of the pie custard and the crust.

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    So, here you go! The pumpkin pie recipe I will use from here on out!

    Pumpkin Pie
     
    Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook - I cut way back on the amount of spices in this recipe, but the rest of the recipe is pretty much the same. I use a different crust recipe than they do and I rewrote some of the instructions to reflect exactly what I did.
    Ingredients
    • 1 single pie crust (see recipe below)
    • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon ginger
    • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ⅔ cup heavy cream
    • ⅔ cup whole milk
    • 4 large eggs
    Instructions
    1. Once your pie crust is rolled out and in a 9.75-inch pie dish, freeze for 30 minutes.
    2. Preheat oven to 375º F. Remove pie crust from freezer and line the pie crust with a double layer of non-stick aluminum foil (non-stick side down), covering the edges.
    3. Fill the pie crust with beans (about 1½ pounds), pennies, or pie weights. Bake for 25 minutes.
    4. While the pie crust is doing the blind bake, make the pumpkin filling. You want to fill the crust with the pumpkin filling while the crust is hot from the blind bake, so it's important to make the pumpkin filling while the crust is baking. Process the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and salt in a food processor for about 1 minute.
    5. Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. (Leave the processor as is...you're going to use it again in a few minutes, no need to clean!) Stir constantly to avoid the pumpkin bubbling and exploding all over your stove. Cook for about 5 minutes, until thick and shiny. Whisk in the milk and cream, bring mixture back to a simmer, then remove from heat.
    6. Place the eggs in the food processor and process until uniform, about 5 seconds. With the machine running, slowly add about half of the hot pumpkin mixture through the feed tube. Stop the machine, add the rest of the pumpkin and process again for about 30 more seconds until everything is uniform.
    7. The timing should work so that the pumpkin filling is done and warm when the pie crust is done blind baking. When you remove the partially-baked crust from the oven, turn the temperature up to 400º F and remove the pie weights you used and the foil. Immediately pour the warm pumpkin filling into the hot partially baked crust. If you have extra filling, ladel it into the crust 5 minutes into the baking time.
    8. Bake the pie until the filling is puffed and lightly cracked around the edges and the center wiggles slightly when jiggled, about 25 minutes. Cool pie on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator, wrapped, up to 2 days.

    homemade pie crust recipe by kate lebo
    All-Butter Crust
     
    From "Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter" by Kate Lebo. Reprinted with permission.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 ½ cups flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter
    Instructions
    1. Fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 1½ cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prepare the next steps of the recipe. The idea is to have more water than you need for the recipe (which will probably use ½ cup or less) at a very cold temperature, not to actually freeze the water or use all 1½ cups in the dough.
    2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut ½- to 1-tablespoon pieces of butter and drop them into the flour. Toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
    3. Position your hands palms up, fingers loosely curled. Scoop up flour and fat and rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. Do this, reaching into the bottom and around the sides to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. It should be chunky—mostly pea-size with some almond- and cherry-size pieces. The smaller bits should resemble coarse cornmeal.
    4. Take the water out of the freezer. Pour it in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. Toss to distribute the moisture. You’ll probably need to pour a little more water on and toss again. As you toss and the dough gets close to perfection, it will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. Press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. If it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. If the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done. (When all is said and done, you’ll have added about ⅓ to ½ cup water.)
    5. With firm, brief pressure, gather the dough in 2 roughly equal balls (if one is larger, use that for the bottom crust). Quickly form the dough into thick disks using your palms and thumbs. Wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour to 3 days before rolling.
    6. Click here to read my (as in Jane's) instructions and photos for rolling out the pie crust.

    Click here to see my instructions and photos for rolling out pie crust.


  6. Tuesday, December 8

    Crumble Apple Pie with Homemade All-Butter Crust and Two Streusel Topping Options

    I’m suddenly obsessed with making pies. I’ve made SIX in two weeks. My podcast chat with pie expert Kate Lebo really had an influence on my behavior apparently! Since I’ve got pie on the brain, this week I’m going to share the recipes for the three pies I made for Thanksgiving. They were all mighty good, so it’s only right I do some blog posts. Also, I don’t want to forget what I did so I can make them again myself. So, in the end, I guess I’m just being selfish. But at least you benefit, right? Today I’m kicking things off with Crumble Apple Pie.

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynardPictured here: Streusel Topping #2

    Traditional apple pie with a double crust is good and all, but I really love crumble apple pies, you know the kind, with a crumbly streusel topping. Flaky crust on the bottom, buttery crunchy yumminess on top. The combo can’t be beat.

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynard

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynardPictured here: Streusel Topping #1

    I have made two crumble apple pies in the last two weeks, with two different streusel toppings. Honestly, our family can’t decide which we like better, so I’m going to give you both streusel recipes!

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynard

    A note about the apples: I discovered the best way ever to slice apples for pie. Peel the apple, then cut off the opposite sides of the apple, getting as close to the core as possible, then cut off the last two opposite sides, so you’ll end up with 2 large half-apple pieces, and 2 smaller wedges. Turn those pieces on their flat side, then cut the apples into perfect, even-width apple slices. Slicing the apples went so quickly this way and it was a cinch getting the apple slices the same size as each other.

    How thick should the apples be? The thicker the slides the more bites of cooked apple pieces there will be in the pie. If you make the slices thinner, then there will be less apple chunks and the apples all kind of cook together into a delicious mess. I like thinner, personally, but I know other people love big chunks of apple. Do whatever makes your apple-pie-loving heart happy.

    Without further ado, Crumble Apple Pie with two streusel topping options. Oh, if you haven’t made homemade pie crust, do it! It’s the best and really not hard…promise.

    Crumble Apple Pie
     
    Adapted from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • ¼ cup white sugar
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 2 pinches salt
    • 8 granny smith apples, sliced
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 pie crust (see recipe below)
    • Streusel Topping (see recipes below)
    Instructions
    1. Place 1 pie crust in a 9.75-inch pie plate. Trim and crimp the edges. Freeze pie crust for 30 minutes. (Please note: Kate's crust recipe is for a 9-inch pie plate, but it works for my 9.75-inch pie plates as well - the crust is thin, but not too thin and tastes great.)
    2. Preheat oven to 450º F.
    3. While crust is in the freezer and the oven is preheating, toss together brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch.
    4. Peel the apples. To slice, for each apple cut off the opposite sides of the apple, getting as close to the core as possible, then cut off the last two opposite sides, so you'll end up with 2 large half-apple pieces, and 2 smaller wedges. Turn those pieces on their flat side, then cut the apples into even slices. The thicker the slices, the more apple chunks there will be in the pie. (I like to go thin, it's a personal preference.)
    5. Toss the apples in the sugar mixture. Pile the apples into the pie plate, making the pile taller in the middle.
    6. Evenly spread the streusel topping over the top of the pie, packing it down and around the apples.
    7. Place the pie on a cookie sheet. Put in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350ºF and bake for about an additional hour, starting to check the pie around 40 minutes for doneness. Keep an eye on the streusel topping – if it starts to get too brown while baking, cover with foil, though this will probably not be a problem. Pie is done when a knife very easily pierces the pie. Do not undercook.
    8. Cool on a rack before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    9. Can be stored, covered, at room temperature for 1-2 days. If you need to store it longer, refrigerate.
    10. You can also freeze the pie. Freeze fully cooked, uncut pies for up to 3 months. Let pie cool completely, wrap well, then freeze. Defrost in the refrigerator then reheat in a 350º oven for about 25 minutes until just warmed.

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynardPictured here: Streusel Topping #1

    Streusel Topping #1 for Crumb Apple Pie
     
    From Epicurious. This streusel topping is lighter and has more of a sandy texture. Describing it as "sandy" makes it sound not good, but that could not be more untrue. It's delicious!
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • ½ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes (Jane note: next time I'm going to try 8 tablespoons of butter just because I'm curious!)
    Instructions
    1. Combine all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Add butter and blend together by hand with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles wet sand. Alternatively, add all ingredients to a food processor except butter. Blend together. Add butter a few tablespoons at a time, pulsing the food processor, until mixture resembles wet sand.
    2. Top on an apple pie before baking (see recipe above).

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynardPictured here: Streusel Topping #2

    Streusel Topping #2 for Crumb Apple Pie
     
    Adapted from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything." This streusel topping is a little heavier in texture than Streusel Topping #1 - it sort of "melts" more together, although melt is not really the right word. It's a bit butterier and not as crumbly. Equally delicious, just different!
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 8 tablespoons cold salted butter, cubed
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 pinches salt
    • ½ cup flour
    Instructions
    1. Mix all ingredients together with a pastry blender until evenly incorporated. Place on top of an apple pie (see recipe above).

    homemade pie crust recipe by kate lebo
    All-Butter Crust
     
    From "Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter" by Kate Lebo. Reprinted with permission.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2½ cups flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter
    Instructions
    1. Fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 1½ cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prepare the next steps of the recipe. The idea is to have more water than you need for the recipe (which will probably use ½ cup or less) at a very cold temperature, not to actually freeze the water or use all 1½ cups in the dough.
    2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut ½- to 1-tablespoon pieces of butter and drop them into the flour. Toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
    3. Position your hands palms up, fingers loosely curled. Scoop up flour and fat and rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. Do this, reaching into the bottom and around the sides to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. It should be chunky—mostly pea-size with some almond- and cherry-size pieces. The smaller bits should resemble coarse cornmeal.
    4. Take the water out of the freezer. Pour it in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. Toss to distribute the moisture. You’ll probably need to pour a little more water on and toss again. As you toss and the dough gets close to perfection, it will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. Press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. If it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. If the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done. (When all is said and done, you’ll have added about ⅓ to ½ cup water.)
    5. With firm, brief pressure, gather the dough in 2 roughly equal balls (if one is larger, use that for the bottom crust). Quickly form the dough into thick disks using your palms and thumbs. Wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour to 3 days before rolling.
    6. Click here to read my (as in Jane's) instructions and photos for rolling out the pie crust.

    Click here to see my instructions and photos for rolling out pie crust.


  7. Friday, December 4

    Friday Show and Tell

    Happy Friday! December is my crazy month and I’ve been trying to not let it get to me…but yesterday I had my breaking moment. So, it’s time to refocus, breathe, breathe, and breathe some more. I’m tempted to simply buy everyone goats for Christmas so that at least I don’t have to worry about Christmas shopping. Seems like a good plan to me!

    My 10-year-old cooked dinner for a week by @janemaynard

    Okay, food links! I have just two this week:

    That’s all I’ve got this week. Short and sweet! As usual, please feel free to share whatever you like in the comments for Show and Tell!


  8. Wednesday, December 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    BUY A FRESH, UNFROZEN TURKEY.

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

    HOW TO SPATCHCOCK A TURKEY:

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

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

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

    HOW TO DRY BRINE A TURKEY:

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

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

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

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

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

    CARVING THE TURKEY:

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

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

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

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

    Happy Turkeying!

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


  9. Friday, November 27

    Friday Show and Tell: Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

    Happy Day After Thanksgiving! I hope you are all sufficiently stuffed. I know I am. Before we get on with this week’s Show and Tell, I need to tell you about my turkey this year. I spatchcocked it. And dry brined it. And roasted it in mayo. And it was PERFECT. So perfect, in fact, I am going to do a whole post about the process. In related news, I was so inspired by my podcast interview with Kate Lebo earlier this week I ended up making all of our pies from scratch. And it was good. So good. Anyway, more posts to come on all of that, but for today how about some links and TV shows?

    spatchcocked turkey

    First off, food links. For Cool Mom Eats I dug up some really delicious turkey leftover recipes, perfect for this weekend! And, on Babble this month, I kinda went crazy with the kids’ food art.

    Jessica Jones on Netflix

    As I mentioned before, I’m wiped out after cooking all week, so we’re just gonna relax today. Much of that relaxing is going to involve getting caught up on The Voice and watching Netflix. Nate and I started Jessica Jones last night after the kids went to bed. We keep hearing how awesome that show is and, one episode in, I think it just might live up to the hype. Oh, and one more fun Netflix thing! ‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving…when a big box of funny goodies from Netflix arrived on our doorstep celebrating the new Care Bears & Cousins series. (The package included scrunchies. I don’t know if I can forgive Netflix for introducing scrunchies to my girls. Anna hasn’t stopped wearing them since Wednesday. Oh my.) I totally loved Care Bears as a kid (I had the Cheer Bear plush toy!), so it will be fun to watch it with the kids. Hug it out! :)

    Care Bears & Cousins on Netflix

    That’s it! Go eat some leftovers. And more pie. And, as always, comment with your own show and tell!


  10. Monday, November 23

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #9: Kate Lebo

    This Week for Dinner Podcast Episode 9: Pie Expert and Writer Kate Lebo

    Thanksgiving is just days away, which probably means that many of you are on the cusp of baking a pie (or two…or three!). Lucky for us today’s podcast guest is a pie expert! I was actually planning to buy my pies at the store this year (GASP!), but after talking with today’s guest, I’ve decided to make my pies from scratch after all. So, who is this powerful enchantress who has bewitched me into making homemade pie crust? Kate Lebo is her name!

    Kate Lebo is a writer, teacher, and baker from the Pacific Northwest and the the author of two books about the folk art of pie making, Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter and A Commonplace Book of Pie. Kate’s essays and poems have appeared in Best American Essays 2015, Best New Poets 2011, New England Review, Willow Springs, and Gastronomica, and she writes the “Cooking the Books” column for the Spokesman-Review. Basically she is an awesome writer with an MFA from the University of Washington who also happens to be obsessed with making great pie and teaching others how to make great pie.

    My chat with Kate was delightful and informative. And, while today’s episode is certainly timely for Thanksgiving, our conversation is perfect for any time of year because pie is always a good thing.

    Shownotes:

    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

     Other Stuff!