Menu Banner
  1. Sunday, June 12

    Week 490 Weekly Menu

    Hi friends! So, I’ve been a complete failure at making dinner lately. Seriously. There is just SO MUCH GOING ON these last few weeks of school. I call uncle. It is finally our last week of school and I’m just gonna see how it goes. Since it’s such a loosey-goosey menu, I’m not going to bother with the PDF! I am super excited for school to be over so that we have  a bit of time to get back into a good food groove.

    MONDAY:
    – Dinner salad with grilled chicken

    TUESDAY:
    – Hamburgers

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Pancakes and fruit

    THURSDAY:
    – Pool party day

    FRIDAY:
    – Benihana to celebrate the end of the school year (girls’ request!)

    SATURDAY:
    – Take out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Omelets and fruit

    You know the drill! Please share your menu for the week! Excited to see what you’ve got cooking!


  2. Monday, June 6

    How to Make an Italian Soda Bar

    Last Friday Nate and I hosted our second annual lip sync/deaf man’s karaoke party (which was hysterical, by the way). Anyway, for the first annual lip sync party I created an Italian soda bar. It was delicious and fun, so I decided to make it a lip sync tradition and did it again this past weekend. Today I’m sharing some quick tips for how to make an Italian soda bar so you can do it, too! It’s perfect for summertime parties, but my kids love making their soda any old time. 😉

    How to Make an Italian Soda Bar - The Supplies | From @janemaynard

    How to Make an Italian Soda Bar from @janemaynard

    What you need for an Italian soda bar:

    • Club soda or sparkling mineral water. Seltzer water works, too, but the club soda/sparkling mineral water has a little more flavor that compliments the Italian syrup nicely.
    • Italian flavored syrup, like Torani. I went to Cost Plus World Market to buy my syrup, but you can also find it on Amazon. I provided six flavors for people to choose from. FYI: Vanilla goes nicely with every flavor, so that’s a good one to have.
    • Half & Half or Cream: Both half & half and cream work, and it gives your Italian soda a certain je ne sais quoi (or however you’d say that in Italian).
    • Cups & Straws: The people need something to mix their drink in and with! I buy clear plastic 16-ounce cups with lids. For some reason the lids really impress people. The straws work for stirring and drinking.
    • Ice: Be sure to have a big bowl of ice at the ready for your guests!
    • Vodka (optional): If you want to spike your soda, vodka is a good neutral-flavored option.

    How to Make an Italian Soda Bar from @janemaynard | Mixing the drinks!

    How to Make an Italian Soda:

    • Fill glass halfway with ice.
    • Add about 6 pumps of syrup for a 16-ounce cup. Feel free to mix and match flavors!
    • Add club soda, leaving about an inch at the top of the cup. If using vodka, add 1-2 ounces of vodka to the cup before adding the club soda.
    • Add a splash of half & half or cream (about 1 tablespoon).
    • Stir gently with a straw.
    • Enjoy!

    How to Make an Italian Soda Bar from @janemaynard

    That’s it! Creating an Italian soda bar is seriously super easy and it looks impressive at a party. {You’re welcome.} Plus, the syrups last pretty much forever, so that’s nice, too! Enjoy!


  3. The Ultimate Car Camping Checklist

    Last November my friends Catherine Connors and Tracey Clark invited my daughters and I to go camping in Joshua Tree for Catherine and Tracey’s very first Project Girl Quest adventure. Catherine and Tracey told us to simply bring ourselves and they would take care of the rest. It ended up being an amazing weekend that completely inspired me to give camping another try. You see, Nate and I historically have not been great campers, and, to be honest, I always felt a little guilty that we weren’t giving our kids more camping experiences. After camping with Catherine, however, I was totally ready to give it another go. She’s an expert and I learned a lot from her that weekend. I’ve gathered all of that wisdom and created the ultimate car camping checklist, which I am sharing with you today!

    The Ultimate Car Camping Checklist from @janemaynard

    The Ultimate Car Camping Checklist from @janemaynard | Cooking!

    After sending Catherine many texts and pretty much copying everything she and her husband Kyle did, our little family went camping in Joshua Tree for spring break and it was the best! Since it went so well, I feel it is my duty to share with you my checklist, as inspired by Catherine Connors.

    The Ultimate Car Camping Checklist from @janemaynard
    Click on the image above to download a PDF of the checklist.

    Please note: this is all about car camping, friends. You know, your-car-is-10-feet-away-from-your-tent type camping, not backpacking-10-miles-into-the-wilderness-to-find-a-remote-place-to-rough-it camping. I don’t know that we’ll ever attempt that latter type of camping because the car camping is just so perfect with kids. Maybe one day, but not now with littles under foot.

    The Ultimate Car Camping Checklist from @janemaynard | Hot Dogs!

    The list is pretty self-explanatory and I imagine I may be the person who uses it the most in the future. If you click on the image of the list above you can download a PDF and use it yourself! I do want to expound on a few of the items that you see on the list, so here we go:

    • FOOD. Here’s the deal, Nate and I were the worst when it came to food and camping. NO MORE! We bought a camping stove, which makes all the difference. And with some strategic food planning, we ate very well on our trip. For dinners I picked meals that could either be made ahead and frozen and then simply cooked in a pot (like chili or soup), or I chose items that keep well (like spaghetti, which doesn’t require refrigeration, and hot dogs, which are super easy). We had lots of good snacks, simple lunches, and planned on cooking breakfast (eggs and sausage) just one of the mornings, with oatmeal and cereal for the other mornings. Oh, and freezing a lot of the food ahead of time (including bread and muffins) was super helpful. The food keeps longer and helps keep the cooler, well, cool.
    • Instant Canopy: An EZ-Up is critical since most campsites lack permanent shade (especially in the desert!). We kept it anchored over the main picnic table at our campsite.
    • Multiple Tents: When we camped with Catherine she had one tent that was dedicated exclusively to supplies. When Nate and I went with our kids, we brought 2 tents and had the kids sleep separately from us, which left lots of space for luggage and supplies in both tents. It’s just so much easier to stay organized and find stuff with that extra space.
    • Tent Heater: This isn’t always necessary, but depending on the time of year it may be. We recommend only turning it on as you are going to bed and when you first get up in the morning.
    • Extra Tables: If you are staying at an established campsite, there will be at least one table, but it’s so nice to have more. I have two folding tables and we had them both set up.
    • Binoculars: We purchased a pair of Celestron 15×70 binoculars, as recommended by Catherine, and they are SO FUN to have, especially at night! Not necessary but definitely a nice-to-have!
    • Solar-Powered Twinkle Lights: Yes, these are cute and make your campsite pretty, but they are also very useful. I strung up a strand of these lights around the pop-up canopy over our table, so at night there was always a light source in our campsite. It wasn’t too bright but could help guide the way. I loved having these, plus they come in useful for other things, too (like decorations for my lip sync party here at home last weekend)! Just make sure the solar panel is exposed to the sun during the day.
    • Power Bank Charger: I have an external battery charger that can charge things for hours and hours. I bought it for plane rides but it is awesome for camping, too.
    • Outdoor mat or artificial turf: Some friends lent us a big piece of artificial turf and another friend lent us an outdoor mat (like for a patio). We placed these at the entrances of our tents and they were SO AWESOME TO HAVE.
    • Coffee When Camping: If you are a coffee drinker, there are two suggestions for you. First, instant coffee packets (like Starbucks VIA) totally work. But the second suggestion is just as easy and makes much better coffee: take an Aeropress. Easy cleanup and perfect for camping.

    Everything else on the list should be pretty easy to figure out, but let me know if you have questions! And, as always, feel free to share your own tips below in the comments! I am certain there are some awesome car campers reading this who have secrets to share!

    The Ultimate Car Camping Checklist from @janemaynard | Joshua Tree National Park

    Before we go, I have one final tip: Joshua Tree is the best place ever for camping with kids. (Indian Cove Campground and Jumbo Rocks are our favorite campgrounds.) Joshua Tree is truly magical. The granite boulders are incredibly grippy, making it easy to hike and climb. And, with an emergency whistle and walkie talkie in tow, the kids can explore this otherworldly place and feel like true adventurers. My favorite part is that the desert is so DRY, so nothing gets damp or wet! (I am such a mom.) I know this last tip isn’t helpful for everyone, but I just felt like I needed to sing the camping praises of Joshua Tree National Park. If you ever have the chance to camp there, take it!

    The Ultimate Car Camping Checklist from @janemaynard | Joshua Tree National Park

    All photos in this post were taken by my talented friend Nicole Watkins. Thank you for sharing them, Nicole!


  4. Sunday, June 5

    Week 489 Weekly Menu

    Hi friends. WHOAH. This past week just about did me in! I think this week will be pretty busy, too, but at least I’m getting to started off with a menu! And thank you all who posted menus last week. Everything on my menu this week is pulled from your menus!

    Week 489 Weekly Menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable weekly dinner plan and shopping list!

    MONDAY:
    – Grilled salmon
    – Rice and a veggie

    TUESDAY:
    – Eat out night (probably In n Out in the car because we have so much going on that night!)

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Loaded Chicken Nachos

    THURSDAY:
    – Dinner at school open house!

    FRIDAY:
    – BLTs

    SATURDAY:
    Asian Chicken Salad

    SUNDAY:
    – Quiche
    – Fresh fruit

    Now it’s your turn to share! Leave those weekly menu plans in the comments! THANK YOU!


  5. Sunday, May 29

    Week 488 Weekly Menu

    Hello friends! It’s late and I just pulled in from another trip to Joshua Tree (we’re addicted!) and either have the worst case of allergies ever or picked up a cold. So, I’m going to bed. But I promise to update this tomorrow with an actual menu for the week. But in case there are diligent meal planners out there dying to post their menus in the comments, wanted you to have a place to do so! So, please share your menus if you already have them done!

    As for my menu, I promise to get it up here tomorrow! 😉

    UPDATE 9:30 pm on Monday: I still haven’t planned the menu for the week. This does not bode well! 😉 As soon as it’s pulled together, I will get it up! Thanks to those who are sharing menus, you’re the best!

    UPDATE 10:01 am on Wednesday: Well, here we are, halfway through the week and still no menu! I love that a few of you are still posting, despite the fact I’m a slacker AND it was a holiday weekend. Bravo to you!

    The end of the school year is apparently kicking my butt. I’m hoping to swing by the store today and I think this week we’ll probably have meals like BLTs, Malibu Melts and other super easy stuff.

    UPDATE 8:08 pm on Thursday: Oh my goodness, I typed the update yesterday and then never even hit publish! Needless to say there is not a meal plan coming. But this might be my favorite weekly menu post ever.

    xo


  6. Thursday, May 26

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #44: Cheryl Sternman Rule + My Favorite Pasta Tip

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #44: Cookbook Author and Yogurt Expert Cheryl Sternman Rule + My Favorite Pasta Tip and Recipe

    Today on the podcast I share my favorite pasta cooking tip along with a great pasta recipe. Afterwards comes the really good part – I chat with award-winning food writer, cookbook author and yogurt expert Cheryl Sternman Rule. Cheryl is fabulous and she shares all kinds of fantastic yogurt tips and recipes with us today. It’s a must listen! Cheryl’s done all kinds of cool things, from getting a masters from Harvard, attending culinary school, working at the Department of Justice as well as doing a Peace Corps stint in Africa. What hasn’t Cheryl done?! The best part about Cheryl, though, is her warmth and approachability and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with her just as I have. Thanks for being on the show, Cheryl!

    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!


  7. Sunday, May 22

    Week 487 Weekly Menu

    Hi friends! Okay, I have several carry-over items from last week’s menu because I never made it to the grocery store. KISS OF DEATH. This week is gonna be different!

    Week 487 Weekly Dinner Menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list!

    MONDAY:
    Grilled Salmon with rice and broccoli

    TUESDAY:
    Sausage, Pepper & Onion Hoagies

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Steak Salad
    – Roasted potatoes

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Veggie omelets

    SATURDAY:
    – Boys on their own! I’m going camping with the girls in Joshua Tree (yes, again!)

    SUNDAY:
    – Boys on their own!

    You know the drill…share those menus! I can’t tell you how grateful I am for each and every menu that is shared in the comments each and every week. You guys are the best!


  8. Thursday, May 19

    Snapshots from Malawi: Connectedness

    It’s been one year since I returned home from my trip to Malawi with ONE and Heifer International. One year since I dropped my kids off at school on my first full day back then fled to my car and wept. One year since I could not figure out how to process all that I had seen and learned. Over that year I have thought a lot about the experiences I had in Malawi and talked with many people about the trip. As I’ve grappled with a way to explain it all, I think I have finally found the word that encapsulates what our visit to Malawi was all about: connectedness.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    I did a quick Internet search on the word connectedness and found on Wikipedia that in mathematics “connectedness” is used to refer to properties meaning “all in one piece.” Bingo. That’s it. This entire world and all the people in it, all in one piece.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    I wrote many posts last year about the trip but never finished sharing everything that I wanted to. I probably never will share it all, but today, one year later, I want to offer a few highlights that represent connectedness.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when a woman named Josephine in a remote village in Malawi gave her phone number to me, embraced me like a family member, and shared the amazing work she does organizing village savings & loan groups that give people the opportunity to lift one another through pooling resources. Her work is transformative.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when the women in Josephine’s savings & loan group decorated the folding table set up for the meeting with a tablecloth and vase of flowers, as women do pretty much anywhere there is a group of them surrounding a table.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we visited a hospital in Monkey Bay and unexpectedly entered a pediatric room with two children inside, one a toddler, who was all smiles, and another older child whose body was visibly affected by malaria, even in sleep. The child’s father sat at the bedside with a look so worn and heartbroken I felt we had entered, uninvited, into a harrowing yet equally sacred space.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we saw first hand the impact that the Global Fund (where all of (RED)‘s funds go) and PEPFAR have had in saving lives. So many lives.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we took a boat ride on the Shire river through the Liwonde National Park, home to some 2,000 hippos and countless crocodiles, living in a pristine, untouched body of water. All I could think about on that boat was how desperately I want for the people of Malawi to experience development and prosperity, but that I hope we as humans can evolve and creatively find new ways to develop that won’t destroy these natural resources like we have done pretty much everywhere else.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we sat with a group of HIV-positive mothers holding their HIV-free babies, babies saved by CRT therapy that is stopping HIV transmission from mother to child. It is nothing short of miraculous. PEPFAR’s goal of working towards an AIDS-free generation is about to happen and it is a thing to behold.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when a farmer named Mr. Mtika showed us his family’s new kitchen, a separate structure from their home complete with a clay oven that burns wood more efficiently than an open fire. Mr. Mtika mentioned that their family uses one-third of the wood they used to, allowing them to reduce their carbon footprint. The Mtikas don’t even have electricity and Mr. Mtika is acutely aware of climate change and his impact on it. (I’ll just let that sink in for a moment…)

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we visited a small labor and delivery room in a medical clinic on the shores of Lake Malawi. They explained the clinic did not have the resources for c-section operations and emergent patients must travel 30-40 minutes over bumpy roads to get necessary surgery. Under those circumstances I would most certainly not have my youngest son in my life today. The sorrows that room had seen we could only begin to imagine.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when we spotted a herd of elephants, with strikingly dark grey skin, walking through the forest.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when the man from whom we purchased hand-carved wooden jewelry and key chains on the beach of Lake Malawi emailed us weeks after the trip, to tell us that he and his family are doing well, how happy he was to have our support that day and that he hopes we will not forget him.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Connectedness happened…when, time and time again, we stepped off of the bus into a new community and were welcomed with smiles, songs, embraces and love. Genuine love.

    Connectedness. That what it is all about. That’s why all of this matters, why ONE and Heifer International took a group of writers halfway across the world to see the issues, the problems, the solutions, the impact of foreign assistance, so we can continue to spread the word, to reaffirm our connectedness, the very fact that we are all in one piece.

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    As part of our trip we had the opportunity to meet with Oliver Pierson, Resident Country Director at Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and Patrick Kadewa, Systems Operations and Power Trading Manager, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM), as well as take a tour of the National Control Center for ESCOM. As a follow up to the trip I had the chance to interview the CEO of MCC, Dana Hyde. To refresh, MCC is an organization created by Congress in 2004 with strong bipartisan support to fight poverty by providing U.S. government foreign assistance in really smart and targeted ways. All countries that work with MCC are extensively vetted and each project takes 18-24 months to come to fruition. In addition, each country receives a scorecard, which you can (and should) check out here.

    Dana and I talked extensively about why Americans should care about foreign aid. Dana pointed out that foreign assistance is not only the right thing to do and reflects our country’s values, but it is also in America’s best self interest to provide it to poverty-stricken areas of the world. Dana outlined three ways that U.S. foreign assistance has an impact, all three things that MCC is very good at targeting:

    1. Economic: The untold story of our government’s assistance is that, when done right, it can help provide markets and opportunity for trading partners for American business. We live in a global economy and aid helps with the growth of other economies, which in turn fuels our own.
    2. National Security: Extreme poverty leads to instability, so investments in fighting extreme poverty reduces the need for investing in security. (Dana referenced comments by Defense Secretary Gates from early in this administration about this very issue – click here to read his thoughts on the matter, which are awesome and make so much sense.)
    3. Shared values and a moral perspective. This one is self explanatory – assistance is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

    So, I’ve shared my stories and experiences. Dana has explained why foreign assistance is good for everyone. Now what?

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Believe it or not you and I can have an impact. There is always the option of donating money to different causes and organizations like Heifer International and supporting programs like (RED). But your voice is also as powerful as your checkbook. Organizations like ONE and the US Global Leadership Coalition are constantly informing citizens about legislation and actions we as citizens can take to make sure our government continues to fund foreign assistance programs.

    For example, just today I received a text from ONE letting me know that the Global Food Security Act (S. 1252) is coming up for vote in the House. By responding to the text, ONE automatically connects me with my representative. That’s all it takes, a phone call to say you support the legislation! (Click here to find your representative!)

    Connectedness: ONE - Heifer International Trip to Malawi May 2015 | photo by @janemaynard

    Malawi will forever hold a unique place in my heart. I hope to return. My daughters write letters to Mr. and Mrs. Mtika’s daughters, who are the same age as they are. I hope these girls can stay connected and meet in person one day. But beyond Malawi, I hope that the fire I felt after that trip to tell the world how intimately and beautifully we are all connected never fades. (This is to say that if you ever ask about my trip to Malawi, get comfortable.)

    Malawi, you truly are the warm heart of Africa. Thank you for sharing your sorrows, your joys, your people, your love.

     

    I traveled to Malawi as an expense-paid guest of The ONE Campaign (www.one.org) and Heifer International (www.heifer.org). We visited to see the economic progress—and the lives changed—made possible by U.S.-funded programs and Heifer International’s donor-supported programs.

    ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, ONE raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs. ONE is not a grant-making organization and does not solicit funding from the public or receive government funding.

    Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For more than 70 years, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 30 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant.


  9. This Week for Dinner Podcast #43: Chef Justin Warner

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #43: Tips for Cooking Popcorn + an Interview with Chef Justin Warner

    It’s Thursday, which means a new podcast episode! Today I kick things off with various tips for cooking popcorn, including my most favorite technique, along with a delicious and easy recipe for using that perfectly popped popcorn. Afterwards I talk with Justin Warner, a self-taught chef, the winner of the eighth season of Food Network Star and the author of The Laws of Cooking: And How to Break Them (Flatiron Books, 2015). In addition,  Justin also served as chef and co-owner of Michelin-rated restaurant Do or Dine in Brooklyn, and he continues to be a frequent guest on Food Network and hosts Foodie Call. Justin talks about what he loved about owning a restaurant, shares a few of his favorite recipes and offers up a kitchen tip that I am especially excited about. I met Justin a few months ago on my trip to General Mills, where we bonded over cereal and 90s rap music. It was great to chat with him again! Enjoy the show!

    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!


  10. Sunday, May 15

    Week 486 Weekly Menu

    Hello, everyone! Last week was so nice. I got the grocery shopping done on the weekend and made dinner all week. I do have a couple carry over items from last week, which is also nice because I already have the ingredients! Hopefully this week will go as well!

    Week 486 Weekly Dinner Menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list!

    MONDAY:
    Adobo Chicken
    Beans and rice

    TUESDAY:
    Chicken Caesar Wraps

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Veggie Omelets

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    Grilled Salmon with rice and broccoli

    SATURDAY:
    – Take out night

    SUNDAY:
    Sausage, Pepper & Onion Hoagies

    As usual, please pretty please share your menu plans for the week! Thank you and have a great week!