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Category: Fun Stuff

  1. Friday, December 19

    Friday Show and Tell!

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    Hi Everyone! I am currently buried in boxes and shipping tape, so I’m just going to quickly share two of my holiday posts on Babble this week!

    jingle jangle copycat recipe from @janemaynard

    You know the drill…share your stuff! 

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  2. Wednesday, December 17

    Anna’s Deep Dish Pizza Cake

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    It’s birthday season in our home, which means I’m busy whipping up cakes for the girls! This year Anna requested a deep dish pizza cake from Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead. I am absolutely delighted with the results and wanted to share it with you!

    how to make a cake look like deep dish pizza from @janemaynard

    This cake was actually quite easy to put together. Here’s how to get it done!

    • Use a 9-inch cake. After you remove the cake from the pan to cool, wash the pan. When you level the cake, take off about 1/8-1/4″ so that when you put the cake back in the pan for display, there is space between the top of the cake and the top of the pan.
    • Once the cake is back in the clean pan, frost the top with red-tinted butter cream for the sauce. I used red, a bit of orange, and a smidge of green to make the red color. Pipe the “crust” around the edge with buttercream that has extra vanilla extract mixed in (to make it a little more brown). I just used a ziploc bag with the corner cut to make the fat pipe with the frosting. Use cinnamon to add brown spots to the crust, rubbing in lightly with fingers.
    • Marzipan is the key to the beautiful veggies on top! For one 9-inch cake you need a 7-ounce package of marzipan, found in the baking aisle at the grocery store. Divide the marzipan into 4 equal parts. When you roll out the marzipan, place parchment paper both underneath and on top when rolling. For the mushrooms, roll out the marzipan thin and cut mushrooms freehand, using a bit of cinnamon to add color. For the bell peppers, knead in green food coloring with a bit of brown, then roll pieces of marzipan out into a skinny snake shape, make circles and then crimp the circle like a pepper. For the pepperoni, knead in red and a bit of brown food coloring into the marzipan and then roll out thin. Using a small circle cutter, cut circles and then texture with a pastry brush (genius!). I used the rippled edge side of my round cutter for the pepperoni. For the onions, roll out the marzipan then use concentric round cutters to make the onion shapes.
    • Unsweetened shredded coconut worked perfectly for the cheese! I sprinkled most of the cheese directly on the “sauce,” then placed the veggies and sprinkled a bit more “cheese” on top.

    how to make a cake look like deep dish pizza from @janemaynard

    Voila! Deep Dish Pizza…that tastes like cake! It was seriously funny all afternoon with the cake sitting on the counter. It really looked like a pizza!

    how to make a cake look like deep dish pizza from @janemaynard

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  3. Friday, December 12

    Le Creuset and Dreamfarm Goodies!

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    holiday gifts & giveaways on thisweekfordinner.com from @janemaynard

    Today we have a really fun giveaway package featuring two companies who’s products I use in my kitchen every day – Le Creuset and Dreamfarm! Gifts & Giveaways is all about sharing great gift ideas and then, you know, giving some of those awesome things away and that is exactly what we’re going to do today!

    le creuset butter crock from @janemaynard

    Before we get to the giveaway, here are a few gift ideas. These are my most favorite items from Le Creuset and Dreamfarm, the things that I use ALL the time in my kitchen:

    Now that you have some ridiculously awesome gift ideas, I think it’s time for a giveaway. Brace yourself, it’s pretty great.

    le creuset cheese fondue - gift idea and giveaway from @janemaynard

    The Le Creuset and Dreamfarm Holiday Giveaway Set Includes:

    dreamfarm holiday gift ideas and giveaway from @janemaynard - fabulous kitchen gadgets!

    To enter the giveaway simply leave a comment on this post! That’s it! Easy peasy! Comments must be posted by Midnight PT Thursday, 12/18/14 and prize must be shipped within the U.S.

    Good luck and happy shopping!

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  4. Friday, December 5

    Friday Show and Tell

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    Happy Friday! I think I might actually be done with Christmas decorating. Normally I get it done in 1 day, but this year it’s been 1 week! It’s kind of been fun stretching it out, though. The kids just need to finish the tree and I need to decide which wreath to hang above our fireplace. I am the most indecisive person you’ll ever meet, so please help and tell me which wreath is your favorite!

    Option 1: White wreath that is super cool and unique and that I am in love with. I like how it contrasts with the green wall and ties in with the white shelves and mantel. It’s a little smaller in diameter than option 2 and  doesn’t fill the space quite as well.

    white christmas wreath

    Option 2: Red berry wreath that is perfectly Christmasy against the green wall and just seems to fit in the room. It makes less of a statement but is a bit bigger. I really like this one, but I’m not in love, but I wonder if it isn’t better for this space.

    red christmas wreath

    Now that the decorations are almost done, it’s time to watch some Christmas movies. I started browsing Netflix to find some Christmas movies to watch with the kids and stumbled on One Magic Christmas. I remember looooooving that movie as a kid. I’ll have to see if my kids are equally as enthralled. I was always a sucker for high drama and mysticism as a kid, but don’t know that my kids are like that. Should be interesting…

    I have two posts on Babble to share with you this week:

    You know the drill, Show and Tell is for everyone, so please share your stuff! And please chime in on the wreath!

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  5. Wednesday, December 3

    Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Shortbread + A Very Merry Giveaway!

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    The giveaway in this post is now closed, but keep reading to find out about some really cute Christmas dishes and to get the shortbread recipe!

    This post is sponsored by Q Squared NYC. As always, all opinions are 100% my own, including the opinion that these cookies are awesome.

    I am so happy it’s the holiday season! Well, I mean, now I am, after my annual early-December freak out last night over the stress that this month brings (my busiest work month, two birthdays and Christmas all wrapped up into one not-so-calm package). But now, with the freak out officially behind me, I am ready to dive into present wrapping and cookie baking!

    chocolate-dipped peppermint shortbread from @janemaynard

    I started the whole holiday baking shebang with these chocolate-dipped peppermint shortbread cookies. I’m a sucker for shortbread. No, really, I kind of can’t control myself around the stuff. I decided to give my favorite shortbread recipe a holiday twist by incorporating chocolate and peppermint. The twist worked beautifully. And now there are about 30 ridiculously-adorable and delicious cookies taunting me in my kitchen.

    chocolate-dipped peppermint shortbread from @janemaynard

    These cookies are peppermint perfection. Even though there is peppermint in every element of the cookie, the peppermint flavor is not overpowering. The shortbread, which has just a hint of peppermint, is then dipped in high-quality dark chocolate, also sporting that peppermint hint. Top it all off with crunchy peppermint pieces and you’ve got yourself a COOKIE, filled with flavors and textures that work together oh so nicely. And they look crazy cute!

    chocolate-dipped peppermint shortbread from @janemaynard

    In addition to these lovely cookies, I have some lovely dishes to share with you today, too! You all know how much I love Q Squared. Well, I love them even more now that their holiday dishes are out! When I put in my order for the Winter’s Eve collection, I knew the dishes would be cute but I was not prepared for how much I would love them once I saw the dishes in person. Serious love, people.

    q squared winter's eve collection from @janemaynardq squared winter's eve collection from @janemaynardToday we are giving away a complete set of the Winter’s Eve collection from Q Squared! One randomly-selected winner will receive 1 large platter, 1 serving bowl, 6 dinner plates, 6 tapas plates and 1 coaster set. To enter, please do the following by midnight PT on Tuesday December 9, 2014 (prize must be shipped to a US address):

    • Leave a comment on this post! Easy Peasy!
    • Bonus entry: Like me on Instagram! (You need to leave a separate comment telling us you liked! If you previously liked, it still counts but be sure to leave the extra comment!)
    • Bonus entry: Like Q Squared on Instagram! (You need to leave a separate comment telling us you liked! If you previously liked, it still counts but be sure to leave the extra comment!)
    • Bonus entry: Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook! (You need to leave a separate comment telling us you liked! If you previously liked, it still counts but be sure to leave the extra comment!)
    • Bonus entry: Like Q Squared on Facebook! (You need to leave a separate comment telling us you liked! If you previously liked, it still counts but be sure to leave the extra comment!)

    Good luck with the giveaway – I wish you could all win!

    And now for the recipe!

    5.0 from 3 reviews
    Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Shortbread
     
    Delicious chocolate-dipped shortbread with just the right amount of peppermint.
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Serves: 25-30
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • 2¼ cup all-purpose flour
    • Pinch kosher salt
    • ¾ teaspoon peppermint extract, divided into ½ and ¼ teaspoons
    • 1 cup high-quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • ¼ cup broken peppermint pieces
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
    2. Cream butter, brown sugar and ½ teaspoon peppermint extract together on medium-high speed in a stand mixer for about 3 minutes with the paddle attachment. Scrape down bowl.
    3. Add 1½ cups of the flour and a pinch of salt. Beat with paddle attachment on medium speed until fully incorporated.
    4. Set aside the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook.
    5. Add the rest of the flour (3/4 cup) and mix on medium-low speed with the dough hook, kneading the dough in the mixer for about 5 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.
    6. Roll dough out on a floured surface to about ½-inch thick. Using a ~2-inch sized cookie cutter, cut cookies and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Prick the tops of the cookies with a fork.
    7. Form leftover dough into a ball and roll back out to ½-inch thick and repeat process until you've cut all the dough into cookies.
    8. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until bottoms of cookies are light golden brown. (The time will vary depending on how thick you actually rolled out the dough. The thinner the cookie, the less cook time.)
    9. When cookies have cooled completely, in a small microwave-safe bowl cook chocolate chips and coconut oil on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir well until all chocolate has melted.
    10. Add ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract and stir well.
    11. Dip each cookie partially into the chocolate then set on a cooling rack to let chocolate harden. Sprinkle with peppermint pieces immediately after dipping cookie.
    12. Place cookies in fridge to harden the chocolate, around 30-60 minutes. When the cookies return to room temperature, the chocolate will soften a smidge. The chocolate will be hard enough so that the cookies will be pretty and stackable (for packaging and giving!) but just soft enough that it's easy to bite through when eating the cookie. Store extras in the fridge.
    13. You will have extra melted chocolate. I like to have extra so it's easier for dipping. Just pour it over a bowl of ice cream or spread it on a silicone baking mat, sprinkle with peppermint pieces and put in the fridge for a quick peppermint bark. You need to put that chocolate to use!

     Comment #4 ellen patton was the winner of this giveaway. Congratulations, Ellen!

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  6. Friday, November 28

    Why My Family Thinks I Have a Ghostwriter and My New Favorite Way to Cook Turkey

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    Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had a wonderful holiday! Ours was beyond lovely and I woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed with gratitude.

    thanksgiving table

    So, if you’ve ever wanted to laugh at me, now’s your chance.

    On Wednesday while my sister-in-law Jessica, my friend Allison and I were cooking a bunch of the food for Thursday, I dumped milk over 3 hot burners on the stovetop AND poured a bowl of cooked sweet potatoes into the sink. My crowning glory, however, was cooking a turkey upside down without realizing it. Everyone decided I can’t possibly write a food blog and must have a ghostwriter on the books. I assure you this is not true, but am wondering if maybe it should be! ;) Every time I think about checking the temperature on the turkey breast (i.e. the back of the turkey) and the probe hitting bone and me saying, “This is so weird, it’s like there isn’t even any meat in this turkey breast, I think we got a bad bird,” I bust out laughing.

    Despite my apparent lack of skill on Wednesday, I was able to pull it together and, with a lot of wonderful help, we had a glorious feast yesterday!

    A quick note on the turkey. This year we needed a lot of food, but I decided to cook 2 12-pound turkeys instead of 1 giant turkey. I followed my friend Amy’s technique and these were the best turkeys I’ve cooked in years. I’ve tried cooking turkeys every which way and Amy’s recipe is now my favorite way to do it. I also think cooking smaller turkeys probably made a difference. I cooked one turkey on Wednesday and one on Thursday. The Wednesday bird was carved immediately and we stored the meat in the fridge for leftovers. It worked great!

    Happy Leftover Day!

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  7. Monday, November 24

    Fun Learning During the Thanksgiving Break!

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    This post is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and reflects a collaboration with NEA’s Raise Your Hand for Student Success campaign. All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own. Be sure to visit the NEA Parents’ Page for great resources for parents!

    My kids have this entire week of Thanksgiving off from school. I remember back in the day only getting Thursday and Friday off, leaving you with just a few days to enjoy the holiday. I actually really appreciate having three extra days to relax with our family and enjoy some time off together. But having the whole week off means almost 10 days of no school!

    I’m not one to buy workbooks and pull out the flashcards on school breaks. Honestly, I love getting a break from the homework grind. But just because homework and class time are on hiatus doesn’t mean learning has to be. Here are a few things we’ll be doing this week as a family to facilitate fun learning during the Thanksgiving break!

    making learning fun during the thanksgiving break by @janemaynard

    • COOKING! Of course we’ll be cooking up a storm this week and you can bet the kids will be involved. Not only will having the kids cook with me help form lasting memories, but there are ample learning opportunities in the kitchen, especially around math. Anna even got up this morning and made up her own “recipe” with yogurt and milk, so she is ready to go in the cooking department!
    • READING! I am lucky that we have kids who love to read, so they’ll do plenty of reading on their own over the break. But even if kids don’t love reading, Thanksgiving break is a good time to get them excited to read. I always buy Christmas books during this week and we kick off the holiday season by reading those books together as a family. We also have fun Thanksgiving books to share together, too.

    making learning fun during the christmas break - reading books and buying new christmas books - from @janemaynardThis is our newest Christmas book, which I bought just last night!

    • DAY TRIPS! We have passes to the Natural History Museum in LA as well as the San Diego Zoo. We will be visiting one of those spots for sure this week! Museums really are a great way to mix learning with fun!
    • CRAFTS & LEARNING ACTIVITIES: My Anna loves science more than a million ice cream scoops, so I’m sure we’ll break out our Green Kid Crafts science kit and do a science project together. My friend Marie also has about 1 billion projects on her website Make and Takes, so I’ll be seeing what ideas she has for us, too!

    making learning fun during the thanksgiving break by @janemaynard

    What do you have planned this week with the kids? I’m sure you all have all kinds of creative ideas, so please share them with the rest of us!

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  8. Sunday, November 23

    Week 409 Menu + Thanksgiving Menu 2014

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    It’s Thanksgiving week – I can’t believe it! Today it’s mostly all about the Thanksgiving menu, but I’ll also share our menu for the whole week, which is pretty sparse because all the attention will be on the turkey!

    This year we will have Nate’s sister Jess and her family here with us for the entire week, and the Czarnecki family will be joining us on Thanksgiving. We will be surrounded by people that we love dearly and I can’t wait!

    2014 thanksgiving menu from @janemaynard

    Time for the Thanksgiving menu! Here’s what we’ll be having. As usual, we’re sticking with everyone’s favorite classics.

    I’m not making green bean casserole this year, but if you are, you really should try my homemade version. It’s kind of to-die-for.

    As for the rest of the week…here’s the menu plan!

    MONDAY: Malibu Melt Wraps

    TUESDAY: Taco Night

    WEDNESDAY: Taco Leftovers

    THURSDAY: THANKSGIVING!

    FRIDAY – SUNDAY: Leftovers Galore!

    Please share your weekly menu as usual…but we REALLY want to see your Thanksgiving plans! Share, share, share!

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  9. 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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  10. Friday, November 7

    Friday Show and Tell

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    I have a LOT of cleaning to do, so I’m gonna make today’s Show and Tell super quick! I have two links on Babble this week – I kind of love both of these posts!

    9 genius weeknight dinner ideas from @janemaynard

    9 Genius Ways to Overcome the Weeknight Dinner Struggle

    I don't succumb to pinterest when planning thanksgiving from @janemaynard

    I Don’t Succumb to Pinterest When It Comes to Planning Thanksgiving Dinner

    As usual, please share stuff with us! Whatever you want! Things from your own blog, great stuff you found on the web this week, anything! And have a great weekend!

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