Friday, December 19
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!
- 3 Kids, a Mom & a Kitchen: A Quest for Grandma’s Pepparkakor (Gingersnaps)…the quest is not yet complete, but we did find a great recipe in the process!
- Copycat Recipe: Trader Joe’s Jingle Jangle Holiday Mix (this is GREAT for gifts!)
You know the drill…share your stuff!
Friday, December 12
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!
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:
- Le Creuset Butter Crock: One of my most favorite things in the kitchen ever. I know I’ve professed my love before. That love has not waned. I also give these as gifts myself fairly frequently.
- Le Creuset 3 1/2 QT. and 5 1/2 QT. Round French Ovens: I don’t use these every day, but it’s pretty close.
- Dreamfarm Levoon: Absolutely enamored with these measuring spoons with a built-in level.
- Dreamfarm Clongs: These are great tongs and I LOVE how they sit up off of the counter.
- Dreamfarm Garject: My most favorite garlic press ever.
- Dreamfarm Scizza: Nate isn’t as big a fan as I am of the scizza, but I love it. I use it all the time for pizza as well as for cutting up my kids’ waffles and pancakes. They are great kitchen scissors and I love how they can stand up on the counter – less mess!
Now that you have some ridiculously awesome gift ideas, I think it’s time for a giveaway. Brace yourself, it’s pretty great.
The Le Creuset and Dreamfarm Holiday Giveaway Set Includes:
- Cheese Fondue in Flame ($300 retail value! So, basically the awesomest fondue pot ever)
- Butter crock (because I will not rest until all humans own one)
- Garject Lite
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!
Friday, December 5
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.
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.
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:
- How to Host the Ultimate Princess Party for Under $50
- California-Style Turkey Sandwich with Thanksgiving Leftovers
You know the drill, Show and Tell is for everyone, so please share your stuff! And please chime in on the wreath!
Wednesday, December 3
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!
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.
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!
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.
Today 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!
Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint ShortbreadDelicious chocolate-dipped shortbread with just the right amount of peppermint.Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: DessertServes: 25-30Ingredients
- 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
- Preheat oven to 325ºF.
- 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.
- Add 1½ cups of the flour and a pinch of salt. Beat with paddle attachment on medium speed until fully incorporated.
- Set aside the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Add ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract and stir well.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 1:50 pm 115 Comments
Categories: featured recipes, Giveaways, holidays, Recipes, sweet things, the goods Tags: baking, christmas, cookies, dishes, holidays, q squared, q squared nyc, shortbread, sponsored |
Friday, November 28
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had a wonderful holiday! Ours was beyond lovely and I woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed with gratitude.
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!
Monday, November 24
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!
- 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.
- 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!
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!
Sunday, November 23
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!
Time for the Thanksgiving menu! Here’s what we’ll be having. As usual, we’re sticking with everyone’s favorite classics.
- Turkey (Every year I try a different technique. This year I’m going with the technique that my friend Amy claims is the best, most reliable way to cook a turkey. I also bought 2 smaller turkeys instead of 1 big turkey, hoping for more delicious results.)
- Classic Mashed Potatoes
- Classic Stuffing
- Crescent Rolls and/or Squash Rolls
- Cranberry Slush (my great-grandmother’s recipe that we have EVERY YEAR NO MATTER WHAT)
- Cranberry Sauce (as per Jess’s request, there will also be canned jellied cranberry sauce)
- Sweet Potato Souffle
- Broccoli Casserole
- Butternut Squash (I’m going to cube it, roast it, then pan fry it in browned butter)
- Rose’s Creamed Onions (this recipe is from Nate’s great-grandmother)
- Pumpkin and Apple Pie (not sure what recipes we’re going to use yet!)
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
FRIDAY – SUNDAY: Leftovers Galore!
Please share your weekly menu as usual…but we REALLY want to see your Thanksgiving plans! Share, share, share!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 11:33 am 18 Comments
Categories: holidays, thanksgiving prep, weekly menus Tags: dinner plans, free printable, meal plan, menu plan, PRINTABLE MEAL PLAN, shopping list, thanksgiving, thanksgiving menu, thanksgiving prep, weekly menu, weekly menu planning |
Friday, November 21
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Tuesday, October 21
I have a monster of a post for you today (mwah-ha-ha!!!), complete with ideas for completely cute yet simple Halloween party table decor as well as a 13 (mwah-ha-ha!!!) ridiculously adorable Halloween recipes.
When it comes to entertaining, I keep it simple. I like to have a whole bunch of white serving dishes in storage that I can pair with a few accent pieces and a colored tablecloth for the occasion. Then I just throw a few decorations on the table – simple but elegant. A vase of flowers, a Christmas wreath with candles, a few pumpkins for a Halloween party…you know, SIMPLE. There’s enough going on to get ready for parties I just can’t go over the top with my decor. But I find by playing in a simple way with color and using lots of white dishes, the table always looks impressive.
My ruffle dishes from Q Squared NYC are just such pieces that come in handy for all kinds of occasions. The ruffle design is elegant and a little bit different than your standard white dishes. BUT…if you pair it with a black tablecloth and a few of Q Squared’s slate platters, those wavy white dishes suddenly take on a spooky air! Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I loved using these dishes to decorate a Halloween table! Throw a few pumpkins on the table and make Halloween-themed food and you’re all set!
I think Halloween food is the most fun food in all the land. Whenever October rolls around, I am always so impressed with the creative food I see in magazines and on blogs! Here are a few favorites I’ve found this year, including a couple I used for my own Halloween party decor!
My friend Kristen from Dine & Dish shared Frankenguac just this week. Is this not the cutest guacamole ever? Be sure to click through to Kristen’s post for details! (I put my Frankenguac on a slate platter and it was beyond adorable and a great centerpiece for the table.)
My friend Sommer from A Spicy Perspective posted these adorable Halloween skewers, which my kids happily gobbled up! I couldn’t find dark grapes, so I used blackberries instead. I think blackberries (i.e. black pickled brains!!!) might even be spookier. Check out Sommer’s post for more details! (The skewers looked perfect on the ruffle long platter.)
Here are a few more Halloween recipes I am dying to try! (Mwah-ha-ha!!!)
Butterbeer Popcorn from An Edible Mosaic (because I simply cannot resist anything Harry Potter!)
Well, that list should keep you busy until Halloween rolls around next week. Happy Hallowen!
This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. Seriously, those dishes I used are PERFECT for Halloween. Get shopping!
Friday, February 14
Happy Valentine’s Day! No matter your feelings on this oft-beloved and oft-detested holiday, I hope it’s filled with chocolate and cookies!
I have a bunch of stuff to share today. Get ready!
First, I’m now officially a member of the Netflix Stream Team (basically a bunch of bloggers who like Netflix). Our family uses Netflix ALL the time, so I am happy to be working with them! Also, I started a TV blog
to help alleviate the guilt associated with my excessive TV watchingbecause I love TV, so obviously I have no problem talking about television shows and movies! To kick off my stream teaming, just a few quick things:
- If you aren’t using Netflix already, you DO know it’s only $7.99 a month for the streaming service, right? My friend Rebecca loves TV as much as I do but hasn’t signed up yet. When I told her it was only $7.99 she was like, “That’s it? I had no idea!” and I think she might have even stopped at Best Buy to get a Roku that night. So, I’m just making sure those of you who have no idea how inexpensive Netflix streaming is now know. Totally worth it, even if the only thing you ever watch on there is Breaking Bad (please note that you should only click that link if you’ve seen the last season or you might hate me forever).
- Netflix profiles are the best. You can set up profiles for different members of the family. This, in my opinion, was the greatest improvement to the service that Netflix could have made. Now we always make sure the kids login with their account, that way Nate and my queue isn’t filled with kids’ shows and the kids never get inappropriate content (ahem, Breaking Bad) suggested to them.
- House of Cards season 2 is back today. Happy. Valentine’s. Day. To. You. WOOHOO! (Even Pres. Obama is down with Frank Underwood.)
Here’s all my Babble stuff from the week!
- A post with a little more detail about how to cut bread properly for stuffed French toast.
- 20 Chocolate + Pretzel Recipes (SO YUMMY)
- 15 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Root Vegetables for Dinner
And my posts on Cosmopolitan this week!
- 10 Copycat Fast Food Recipes That Taste Better Than the Original
- 20 Ultimate Last-Minute Party Snacks
- How To Cook Kale and 19 Fabulous Ways to Enjoy It
My kids don’t have school today, so I’m off to quickly finish work and then have some fun! We started the day with stuffed French toast and chocolate from Mimi. It should be a good day!
As always, please share anything you would like – links to funny/interesting/sad/inspiring stuff you found on the Internet this week, links to your own blogs, or just tidbits from your lives, it’s all good!