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  1. Sunday, July 6

    Week 389 Menu

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    Happy belated Fourth of July! On Friday night my parent’s neighbors shot off a bunch of totally awesome {most definitely illegal} fireworks at their house, so we enjoyed a show right from my parents’ porch. Then on Saturday night we went to Vernon Township, New Jersey for their show put on by the local fire department. I’ve been going to big city fireworks shows for so many years that I forgot how wonderful a small town show is. It was perfect in so many ways.

    fireworksFireworks from the back porch!

    I have a kinda-sorta-menu this week! I’m not going to get all fancy with a PDF and stuff because it’s not a particularly helpful menu for anyone, but at least it’s on paper, right? ;)

    MONDAY:
    - Fondue night! (We’re going to try making fondue with the kids, I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!)

    TUESDAY:
    - Taco night

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Chicken and hot dogs on the grill
    - Corn on the cob and fresh fruit

    THURSDAY:
    - Eat out

    FRIDAY:
    - Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    - Driving back up to New England that evening, eating on the road

    SUNDAY:
    - Not even sure what town we’ll be in that night, so playing it by ear!

    Your turn! Please pretty please with a cherry on top share your menu for the week! We need your inspiration!

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  2. Friday, July 4

    Drying Your Own Basil + Friday Show and Tell

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    Right now I’m visiting my parents in New Jersey. My brother and his wife had TONS of fresh basil from their garden, so they decided to try drying it in my mom’s old food dehydrator.

    drying basil with a food dehydrator by @janemaynard

    Drying the basil was easy and very hands off, BUT here are a few things we learned:

    • A LOT of fresh basil makes just a LITTLE dried basil. The basil you see in the photos is all the dried basil we got from 8 large trays of fresh basil.
    • It takes a looooooong time for the basil to get completely dry. We followed the instructions and cooked the basil at 105ºF. The dehydrator was running for about TWO days. It’s an old deyhdrator, so maybe a new one would be different, but holy smokes it took forever!
    • If you already have a food dehydrator or know someone who has one, it’s definitely worth drying basil if you have a whole bunch because it’s so easy. However, if you’re only planning to make dried basil with your dehydrator, it’s definitely not worth buying one. At least that’s what we think!

    drying basil with a food dehydrator from @janemaynard

    Here are my posts on Cosmo this week!

    Show and tell! Feel free to share whatever you like!

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  3. Thursday, July 3

    Kimball Farm and Beautiful New Hampshire

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    As you know from my non-existent weekly menus, we are on a multi-week trip visiting our family in the Northeast! We started our trip in New Hampshire and I wanted to share a little of the fun we had in that beautiful place.

    To start, well, you know, when in Rome…

    new hampshire maple syrup from @janemaynard

    Pat, my mother-in-law, got a good deal on a ONE GALLON JUG of maple syrup so she had to buy it. I just wish I could take some on the plane with me! Owen was hilarious when we took pictures of him with the bottle (don’t worry, he had a diaper on!), but when we actually let him stick a straw in the bottle to drink, he refused. Shocking, I tell you.

    kimball farm by @janemaynard

    For dinner one night we visited Kimball Farm in Jaffrey, NH and thoroughly gorged ourselves. For you New Englanders out there you’ve probably been to Kimball’s already and know just how yummy it is. We ordered quite the assortment of food, including to-die-for fish and chips, lobster roll, clam chowder, and onion nuggets. And, of course, NO salad.

    kimball farm by @janemaynard

    kimball farm by @janemaynard

    kimball farm by @janemaynard

    We ended the night with Kimball’s homemade ice cream. See that there cone? That is the smallest size you can order. For a little perspective, that is a giant waffle cone being held by Nate. Ice cream insanity!

    kimball farm by @janemaynard

    Another day we returned to Hillsborough Center to show Nate how beautifully magical this little village is. And to give Cate a chance to properly leap over puddles.

    hillsborough center by @janemaynard

    hillsborough center

    On a side note, we are loving the Highlander Hybrid that Toyota lent to us for the trip. It’s sooooo nice having a big car that gets almost 30 miles to the gallon, especially since we’ve already driven almost 1,000 miles! Plus, it’s just a really nice car. Nate’s great aunt couldn’t get over it, in fact. And it drives so quietly and smoothly. Basically, we’re taking it on the plane home with us.

    toyota highlander hybrid by @janemaynard

     

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  4. Sunday, June 29

    Week 388 Menu

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    Hi, everyone! Still on vacation, still not planning a menu! We are having a great time here on the East Coast and, as usual, it’s almost shocking how green it is out here. We definitely miss all these trees. I’m going to share some of our food finds with you this week, but for today just a quick snap of sunset over Mount Monadnock.

    mount monadnock from @janemaynard

    You know the drill…please share your menu for the week! I need you to inspire one another since I’m a useless vacationer!

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  5. Friday, June 27

    Friday Show and Tell

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    Happy Friday! We are having loads of fun here in New Hampshire. Well, besides the mosquitos. I could do without the mosquitos. But the views make up for it. And the fun with family, including Nate’s Ninja turtle-themed birthday party complete with GI Joes. Also, on a related note, we flew out via jetBlue and basically I love them more than ever. That’s all. They’re the best.

    friday show and tell - nate's ninja turtle party

    Here is my post for Babble this week:

    And food fun on Cosmo!

    Lastly, I’m going to be sharing some yummy milk recipes on Babble in the next few weeks in support a new Disney web series called Citizen Kid, which features ordinary kids doing extraordinary things. Below is the first episode and it’s super cute. Click here to see more great stories! I’ll be sure link to my milk recipes when they go live, too!

    Alright, you know the drill – share your own stuff!!!

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  6. Thursday, June 26

    What to Do with Ripe Avocados That You Can’t Use Right Away

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    We’ve all been there. You have beautiful, perfectly-ripe avocados ready to be used…but you’re not ready to use them! Oftentimes it is simply because all of the avocados get ripe at the same time, but you don’t need all of the avocados at the same time. I do this frequently – I stock up on avocados when they’re on sale and then, suddenly one day, they are all ready to go but I just don’t need them all at once. kitchen tip: how to store ripe avocados from @janemaynard Never fear, just because the avocados are ripe and ready to go doesn’t mean you have to use them right away. You have two options. I use both of these techniques all the time and they both work great! 1. Refrigerate the Avocados: I learned this trick on Good Eats over ten years ago and do it all the time. If you’re planning to use the ripe avocados within a week or so, just put them in the fridge, whole and uncut. The cold will essentially freeze the avocados in time, preventing them ripening further but keeping them nice and yummy for eating. This is perfect if you know you’ll want to use the avocados within a week or so and the avocados will work whether you plan to use them as chunks/slices or in guacamole. 2. Freeze the Avocados: That’s right you can freeze avocados! I learned this trick from my friends at California Avocados. This works great if you are not going to be using the avocados relatively soon and if you plan to use them in mashed up form (i.e. for guacamole). I recorded a little video for you to show you how to prep ripe avocados for the freezer! Also, in case you missed it the first time, this is hands down the best way ever to cut and pit an avocado. Life changing. Happy avocado eating and storing!

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  7. Tuesday, June 24

    My New Favorite Kitchen Gadget: Avocado Masher

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    The 4th of July is the biggest sales time of year for avocados. Avocados are in season and, well, apparently we like guacamole on the Fourth! In anticipation of us all using a lot of avocados over the next week, I thought I’d do a couple avocado posts. Today I am going to share with you my new favorite kitchen gadget: the avocado masher!

    avocado masher

    When I visited the California Avocado groves last month, they kindly gave us all a goody bag, which included this masher. It’s essentially a mini potato masher, about 6 1/2 inches long. I’ve always used my beloved pastry blender to mash up avocados and thought that it would be my favorite tool for the job from now until the end of time. I was wrong. My new pint-sized potato masher is PERFECT for mashing up avocados. It’s just the right size and works beautifully. Plus, it’s easy to rinse off and clean, with no tiny holes, seams or hinges to deal with.

    avocado masher

    The tag on my mini masher actually said “avocado masher” on it. I looked around online and couldn’t find the exact one that I own, but there seem to be lots of good options if you do a little googling. This avocado/mini masher on Amazon is 8-inches long, so just a smidge bigger than mine, but I’m sure it would work great, too. When you’re out and about shopping, just keep an eye out for your perfect avocado masher. I’m sure you’ll love this little gadget as much as I do!

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  8. Sunday, June 22

    Week 387 Menu

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    Happy Sunday! Sooooo…I’m not planning a menu this week because it’s vacation time! We are headed to the northeast to visit all the grandparents and we are SO excited for our trip! Toyota will be lending us a hybrid Highlander again this year for our trip for the miles and miles and miles of driving we’ll be doing.

    toyota highlander | thisweekfordinner.com

    This is one of the few weeks of the year that I let myself take a break from meal planning. Which makes you sharing your menus even more important! We need your menus so you can get inspiration from one another! Please share your marvelous menus, no matter how fancy or plain!

    See you on the east coast!

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  9. Friday, June 20

    Friday Show and Tell {How to Create an Italian Soda Bar & Bruschetta Bar}

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    Happy Friday! I hope everyone is having a great summer. Our summer break is off to a great start, well, if you don’t count Owen putting a bead up his nose and having to run to the doctor to get it out. At least I got to experience that parenting rite of passage, right?

    Okay, so, my posts on Babble this week are really cool and you have to go check them out! I shared some of the food and drink we had at our lip sync party last week, which was delicious!

    how to set up an Italian soda bar

    How to Create an Italian Soda Bar: For real, I LOVED this. The sodas were delicious, there were so many ways to personalize your drink and it was pretty! Also, the Italian soda bar is appealing to kids and adults alike. Such a great thing to do for parties! Be sure to click through to see how to do it.

    how to create a bruschetta bar

    How to Create a Bruschetta Bar: For the appetizers I set up a bruschetta bar and it was scrum-diddly-umptious. Click through for the deets.

    And here are my fun food posts on Cosmo this week!

    It’s show and tell, which means the whole class gets to participate – share your stuff!

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  10. Tuesday, June 17

    Sweet Tomato Jam is My New Favorite

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    A few weeks ago my parents were staying at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach (the same hotel we stayed at a few years ago and LOVED). My mom was a head honcho for a work meeting they were holding at the hotel, so the Hyatt delivered a cheese and charcuterie tray to the room as a gift. Lucky for my mom we were all there to help her eat it! (Don’t worry, we left her a few bites.)

    recipe for tomato jam from @janemaynard | thisweekfordinner.com

    On the tray was a jar of sweet tomato jam. Between the six of us, the jar was empty by the end of our snacking and, ever since that day, I’ve been thinking about that tomato jam. Then my friend Gaby mentioned on social media that she was going to do a bruschetta bar for a party, which I then decided to do for my lip sync battle party last Friday night, giving me the perfect excuse to finally try a sweet tomato jam recipe myself.

    recipe for sweet tomato jam from @janemaynard | thisweekfordinner.comrecipe for sweet tomato jam from @janemaynard | thisweekfordinner.com

    Not to brag, but the tomato jam I made was just as good as what we had at the Hyatt. And thank goodness since I pretty much constantly crave it now.

    The recipe is really simple but oh-so-scrumptious. The only labor-intensive part of the process is prepping the tomatoes, which isn’t hard, just a little time consuming. But it is WORTH IT. And, for those of you into canning, tomato jam can be canned, although you may want to follow the original recipe on Epicurious that has twice as much sugar and, therefore is more conducive to preserving. (Thanks to commenter Alice and my friend Aimee for input on this!)

    recipe for sweet tomato jam from @janemaynard | thisweekfordinner.com

    So, what is tomato jam good for anyway? Everything! It’s a great topping for bread and pairs beautifully with all kinds of cheeses. It’s also a great condiment for just about anything – sandwiches, burgers, whatever your heart desires! It’s sweet but with a savory flavor to it. It’s basically pure deliciousness.

    recipe for sweet tomato jam from @janemaynard | thisweekfordinner.com

    I found the recipe on Epicurious but cut waaaaaaaay back on the sugar. My jam was still super sweet so I can’t even imagine what their recipe would taste like! ;)

    5.0 from 1 reviews
    Tomato Jam
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Adapted from Epicurious
    Author:
    Recipe type: Appetizer
    Serves: 2 cups
    Ingredients
    • 4 pounds plum or heirloom tomatoes (I used a variety of heirlooms, all different colors!)
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • ⅛ teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika if you have it)
    Instructions
    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make an ice bath in a separate bowl and set to the side. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water in batches, boiling for about 1 minute. Remove tomatoes from the boiling water and place directly in the ice bath. Remove the skins by hand right in the ice water, leaving the skins in the water. I would empty the ice water bowl between batches. By removing the skins in the ice water bowl you cut down on some serious messiness in the kitchen!
    2. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, seed them, then chop into pieces.
    3. Place chopped tomatoes in a large pot. Mix with sugar and stir well. And let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Bring tomatoes and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat and let cook for 15 minutes.
    5. Add salt, pepper and parika and cook until thickened, about 10-15 more minutes.

    This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. Pictured: The Heritage Small Bowl and the Cool Montecito Tapas Plate. I am as addicted to my Q Squared Dishes as I am to this tomato jam, by the way!

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