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  1. Sunday, October 12

    Week 403 Menu

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    Happy Sunday! Let’s get right down to business, shall we?

    week 403 weekly menu from @janemaynard including free printable meal plan and shopping list

    I relied heavily on your menus from last week for my inspiration this week, so, THANK YOU!

    MONDAY:
    – Sausage with red beans and rice
    – Salad

    TUESDAY:
    Honey Goat Cheese Pizza with naan crust
    – Salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    Cream of Mushroom Soup
    – Crusty bread and salad

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – BLTs
    – Fresh fruit and chips

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Loaded Nachos
    Guacamole

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    Thank you in advance for sharing your dinner plans for the week! I really am just so grateful you all keep posting every week, it’s awesome!

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  2. Friday, October 10

    Friday Show and Tell

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    I have very little to share today except that I am SO excited to go to the Lorde concert tonight! And I am going to see George Winston tomorrow night. It’s going to be a good music weekend.

    lorde

    One quick food link to share from Babble – making pumpkin rocks with my kids for all the neighbors. We had a blast!

    It’s show and tell, your turn!

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  3. Thursday, October 9

    Keeping the Fridge Clean and Fresh!

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    I love me an empty refrigerator. This is a weird example of how my neurotic tendencies (a desire for cleanliness) overcome my survival instincts (having food to eat). It’s weird, but seriously, when the fridge is half-full (or would that be that half-empty?) it makes me happy! But, I’ll admit, my fridge is not always in such a clean, empty state. At any given moment we most certainly have food in there that needs to be tossed and I definitely don’t wipe down the shelves as often as I should. Let’s not even get started on the fingerprints on the outside of the fridge!

    tips for keeping the fridge clean and fresh from @janemaynard

    But here’s the thing – when I do properly maintain the fridge, keep the food fresh, and the drawers and shelves clean, I feel sooooo much better! And we have far less food waste. So, today, in order to inspire us all to maintain beautiful refrigerators and to eat all of our food, I think we need to share some fridge tips and tricks with each other!

    As you know, about a year ago KitchenAid supplied us with a brand new, beautiful 20 Cu. Ft. French Door Counter Depth Architect Series II fridge. One year later and I am still loving this fridge. And, yes, I’m still happy that we have a counter-depth fridge, although I will admit that it’s been nice having our old fridge in the garage for overflow at the holidays and to house the occasional larger item like a birthday-cake-in-the-making. Anyway, the fridge is fabulous and, now that I have a fridge I actually care about, I’ve gotten into a better groove about maintaing the fridge and keeping our food fresh. Here are a few of the things I have learned!

    • Replacing the Water Filter is Easy, So, You Know, Do It! I don’t know how many people I know who don’t use the water dispenser in their fridge because they stopped replacing the filter. Luckily our fridge tells us when to order a water filter. We listened to our fridge and went online to order the filter, which arrived right around the time that the fridge said it was time to replace the filter. It was kind of magical. Anyway, it was really easy to replace and I even did it ALL BY MYSELF, no help from Nate. (This is saying something, I normally don’t put anything together in our house, not even LEGOs.)
    • Don’t Use Cleaners on Stainless Steel – A Damp Cloth is All You Need! Okay, I’m sure a lot of you already know this, but when my fridge was brand new I used a mild general-purpose spray cleaner and the entire front of the fridge ended up with tiny rust marks ALL OVER IT, which I then had to carefully scrub off with baking soda and a soft towel. I opened the manual afterward and, sure enough, it says to only use cleaners made for stainless steel and nothing else. DUH. Now I just use a damp towel to wipe down the stainless steel, followed by a dry towel. I don’t even bother with the stainless steel cleaner, water does the trick!

    how to use the humidity controls on the crisper drawer from @janemaynard

    • Use the Humidity Controls on the Crisper Drawers. For some reason I could never wrap my brain around the humidity controls on produce drawers, but I finally have it figured out. The higher the humidity control (so on my fridge #5), the more sensitive the veggies and fruit should be in that drawer. So, you know, high maintenance produce gets a high setting. Like lettuce. The lower the humidity control (on my fridge #1), the heartier, more low-key the produce, like fruits and veggies with peels. I guess if you really don’t want to think about it just throw the setting in the middle and call it a day, but if you decide to utilize the settings, your produce will last longer!
    • Clean Out the Fridge Once a Week (for example, when you plan your weekly menu!).  Fridges packed with food seriously stress me out. I know, I’m weird. But they do. I try really hard to stay on top of it and keep food cleaned out that has gone bad. When I can actually see what’s in the fridge, we are much more likely to eat the food inside and end up with far less food going bad.
    • Wipe Out the Fridge Regularly, and Don’t Be Afraid to Take the Shelves and Drawers Out. Sometimes I wipe the shelves and drawers out frequently. Sometimes I neglect them and then we discover a giant blob of sticky goo underneath the produce drawers. I find that if I just wipe out the shelves each week when I clean out the old food, then it’s pretty easy. And the mystery goo blobs don’t appear nearly as often.

    kitchenaid extendfresh temperature control system from @janemaynard

    • Get a Fridge with a Temperature Management System. When we got our fridge I’ll admit I didn’t think much about what KitchenAid’s “ExtendFresh Temperature Management System” meant. Now that I have had the fridge for a year I really appreciate it! The system controls the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer compartments separately, it responds to temperature changes as small as 1º and adjusts accordingly, and the fan transfers cold air immediately from the freezer to the fridge for a faster response to temperature changes without needing to turn on the compressor. The system also maintains consistent temperatures, regardless of external temperatures or even the temperature in other compartments inside the fridge. Basically, it’s a super fancy system and it works GREAT. There’s even an alarm that alerts you if the temperature goes too high, which happened to me just the other night in fact! The door was barely open when we went to bed, but it didn’t trigger the door alarm for some reason. Once the temperature raised enough, the fridge started beeping and woke me up, but not before I dreamed about the fridge and it’s alarm first. ;)

    So, what gems of refrigerator wisdom do you have for us? Spill your fridge maintenance guts! (Feel free to confess your less-than-perfect maintenance skills, too!)

    This post was sponsored by KitchenAid. All opinions are 100% my own.

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  4. Tuesday, October 7

    Cozy Chicken Mole Rojo

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    The first time Nate and I tasted mole sauce was at a Mexican restaurant in Arlington, MA when we were in college. My roommate and best college friend Estela was from Juárez and was always educating me on what good Mexican food was. One such dish was mole, which she described as a savory “chocolate” sauce served over chicken. When Nate and I spotted it on the menu that night so long ago we knew we had to try it, and we loved it. Sadly, we’ve hardly eaten mole since then. It’s not a dish you generally find served in Mexican restaurants in the U.S. and we had no idea how to make it…until now! (If you live in the Bay Area, Lulu’s serves both green and red mole and they are both divine.)

    recipe for mexican chicken mole rojo by @janemaynard

    I finally sat down to figure out how to make a red mole sauce on my own and it turned out so so so good. This recipe is great for about a million reasons, but I’ll just share a few. It’s a crockpot recipe, making it very hands off. You just blend most of the ingredients together, dump it over chicken in the crockpot and let it cook. Easy peasy! Traditional mole sauces can take days to prepare, but the crockpot actually helps speed up the process. (That’s probably the first time a crockpot meal has been described as speedy!) This red mole sauce is quite rich and full of flavor, but not too spicy, so kids can enjoy it, too. However, you can definitely add cayenne pepper for more heat. Heat is good. And the richness from the unsweetened chocolate counterbalances the heat of the peppers beautifully. Lastly, this recipe for chicken mole rojo is healthy! I originally developed it for Disney and had to follow strict dietary guidelines, all of which I met in this recipe.

    recipe for mexican chicken mole rojo by @janemaynard

    And, if you have kids, just tell them they are eating mud and they will eat every bite of their dinner. It’s like magic.

    (>> Find out more…)

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  5. Sunday, October 5

    Week 402 Menu

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    What? It’s time to plan another menu? So help me.

    week 402 weekly menu from @janemaynard including free printable meal plan and shopping list!

    Apparently I’m back to my old slacker ways with a couple of carry-over items from last week’s menu. I’m much more comfortable with that, when I get so responsible and organized it just doesn’t feel right. ;)

    MONDAY:
    Turkey Sandwiches with Cranberry and Cream Cheese
    – Fruit and chips

    TUESDAY:
    – Lemon Pepper Chicken (recipe to come)
    – Veggie and Rice

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Stefania’s Braised Chicken
    – Rice and salad

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Nate and I are going to see Lorde – SO excited.
    – Kids get mac & cheese ;)

    SATURDAY:
    – I am going with a friend to see George Winston…also excited for that!
    – Nate and Owen will eat out, the girls have a sleepover!

    SUNDAY:
    – Breakfast for dinner: Waffles & Scrambled Eggs
    – Fresh fruit

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    You know the drill – share your menu for the week! Please pretty please with TWO cherries on top!

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  6. Friday, October 3

    Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Granola Bars to Celebrate Fair Trade Month + A Delicious Giveaway

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    October is Fair Trade Month and I’m so excited to help support the cause! Plus, I have a completely delicious dark chocolate pumpkin seed granola bar recipe for you. Basically there’s a whole lot of goodness going on in this here post. Before we get to the fair trade chocolate granola bars (mmmmmm….), let’s talk about fair trade for a moment and meet some of the farmers!

    fair trade dark chocolate pumpkin seed granola bars from @janemaynard

    There are a lot of labels on our foods these days. Gluten Free. Organic. Cage Free. Natural. GMO-free. The list goes on and on and ON. With so many labels, it’s easy to stop seeing them when you’re shopping. But one label that I always notice is the ‘Fair Trade Certified’ label. And, when I do see that label, I try to stop and think about the people behind the label, the farmers benefiting from that product.

    Miguel & Lucia, Fair Trade Divemex farmers (from @janemaynard)

    Two of those people are Miguel Romero Martínez, 22, from Tlapa, Guerrero, and Lucía Simón Mariano, 18, from Veracruz. Miguel and Lucía have an adorable two-month old daughter named Dulce Yamilet. Miguel’s family has been living permanently in the Chula Vista II residential area within Divemex’s La Veinte Agricultural Complex in Culiacán since 2006, while Lucía first came to Sinaloa with her parents in 2010. Divemex is a produce cooperative in Mexico that grows bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. Both Lucía and Miguel are now employees, have an apartment of their own and currently Miguel is the recipient of a Fair Trade-sponsored employee scholarship as he studies open adult junior high school.

    The Martinez-Hernandez family, whose first language is Nahuatl and originally come from Tlapa, Guerrero, is one of the most successful cases of migrant families from Southern Mexico, with numerous family members employed by Divemex and recipients of Fair Trade-sponsored scholarships. Currently, two family members receive open adult education scholarships while two others receive stipends given to children of employees. All must keep a monthly B+ average in order to maintain the scholarship status.

    Divemex family From Left to Right: Miguel Romero Martinez (22, employee, open adult Junior High School scholarship recipient), his wife Lucía Simón Mariano (18, employee) with two-month old daughter Dulce Yamilet, Floriberto Romero Martinez (16, Junior High School scholarship recipient as child of employee), David Romero Martinez (20, employee), Andres Romero Martinez (24, employee, open adult Junior High School scholarship recipient, and only indigenous member of the Ten-person Fair Trade council at Divemex), Ana Martínez Peralta (family matriarch and employee), Heidi Hernandez Martinez (8, elementary school scholarship recipient as child of employee) and Felipe Hernandez Guerrero (employee, father of Heidi, and step-father to the four young men). 

    Don’t you love seeing their pictures and hearing just a small part of this family’s story? It’s kind of amazing. Plus, in learning about this family I discovered that fair trade doesn’t just apply to non-perishable goods but to produce, as well. Very cool!

    fair trade barkTHINS dark chocolate pumpkin seed bark for granola bars by @janemaynard

    Fair Trade USA sent me a box of goodies (which I will also be giving away in just a minute) and challenged me to use some of the ingredients in a recipe. As I was gearing up to make our weekly supply of granola bars, I decided to change the bars up a bit. So, here’s the deal. We love our chocolate chip granola bars so much I can’t bring myself to change the flavor. But, this week, I decided adding more chocolate would not be a bad choice.

    dark chocolate pumpkin seed granola bars by @janemaynard

    I added fair trade cocoa powder from Lake Champlain Chocolates as well as barkTHINS dark chocolate pumpkin seed bark with sea salt to the granola bars instead of boring chocolate chips. The result was SPECTACULAR. As I was making the granola bars, I realized that I had fair trade brown sugar, fair trade coconut oil and fair trade vanilla to use in the recipe as well. These granola bars are pretty soundly fair trade!

    fair trade dark chocolate pumpkin seed granola bars by @janemaynard

    Before we get to the recipe, let’s do a giveaway! One of you lucky commenters will get the same package of fair trade goodies I received, including products from Equator, Guittard, barkTHINS, Lake Champlain Chocolates, LÄRABAR, Traditional Medicinals, Dang Foods, Numi Tea, Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Eco Lips, Alter Eco, Badger Balm, Third Street, Celestial Seasonings, SunSpire, Nourish Organic and the book Where Am I Eating?.

    Here’s how to enter the giveaway!

    Time for granola bars! Happy Fair Trade Month!

    (>> Find out more…)

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  7. Comfort TV + Friday Show and Tell

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    Time for Friday Show and Tell!

    gilmore girls is on netflix!

    Do you have a comfort TV show? You know, TV that’s like eating a big plate of mashed potatoes and gravy? Gilmore Girls is mine. For sure. No question. I LOVE THAT SHOW. The only thing I asked for at Christmastime several years ago was the complete DVD box set, in all its low-def glory. (Nate thought I was nuts.) Even with the DVD box set, I can’t tell you how pumped I am that the show is finally on Netflix. YAAAAAAYYYYY!!!!! By the way, whenever I meet someone who loves Gilmore Girls as much as I do, we are instantly bonded. Family. I don’t know what it is about that show. If you are a fellow Gilmore Girls addict, you know what I mean. Okay, so today, you have to tell me if you are also a Gilmore Girls fan. And, if for some ungodly reason you are not, tell us what YOUR comfort TV show is! (Also, is it bad or impressive that I knew pretty much all 293 of these references?)

    copycat double chocolaty chip frappe from @janemaynard

    Just one quick food link from me this week on Babble, which includes a SUPER cute story about my 6-year-old Anna that totally makes me crack up: Copycat Recipe: Starbucks’ Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino.

    Feel free to share other stuff, but mostly I just want to know if you love Rory and Lorelai. ;)

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  8. Tuesday, September 30

    Kitchen Tip: How To Perfectly Cut the First Slice of Cake

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    I am SOOOOO excited about today’s post for two reasons. Reason #1: how gorgeous is my birthday cake? (In case you’re wondering, the cake is from Extraordinary Desserts and is called The Viking. Nate buys this cake for me as a gift every year and it is the reason I live for my birthday.)

    my favorite cake in the WORLD - the viking from extraordinary desserts (from @janemaynard)

    Reason #2 I am excited about today’s post: I have a spectacular new kitchen tip for you.

    When Nate picked my cake up last week at Extraordinary Desserts, they told him to use a hot knife to cut the cake, a tip we already know and love (simply hold the knife under hot water for 45 seconds, dry it off and then cut – smooth as silk!). But they also taught him how to perfectly cut the first slice of cake, and it’s so simple! Here’s what they had to say on the subject:

    “Use two knives to cut the first piece.”

    how to easily and perfectly cut the first slice of cake from @janemaynard

    Why we were never given that tip before I’ll never know, but I’ll tell you what. BEST. TIP. EVER. Nate mentioned their comment as we were about to cut the cake and were both like, “Two knives? Huh?” And then we tried it and WOW. It’s just so easy to slide that first slice right out of the cake when you have two hot knives simultaneously pulling it out. Amazing.

    perfectly cut first slice of cake

    Just one more reason to love Extraordinary Desserts, as if I needed another! I will never be scared to cut into a cake again!

    Side note: You can make this cake, the recipe is included in the book Extraordinary Cakes by Karen Krasne, the pastry chef behind Extraordinary Desserts. The cake involves six recipes…you’ve been warned!

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  9. Sunday, September 28

    Week 401 Menu

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    Today we’re off to ride ALL the trains at Griffith Park in celebration of Owen’s birthday. Can’t wait to ride some steamers! Before we go, I have to get my menu planned!

    travel town museum at griffith park by @janemaynard

    I seriously need to stop following my menus so well – I’m getting tired of coming up with new ideas each week! ;)

    week 401 weekly menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable meal plan and shopping list

    MONDAY:
    Tuscan Tomato Soup (Anna’s request!)
    – Crusty Bread

    TUESDAY:
    Sweet Korean Beef BBQ Tacos (I have some in the freezer to use up!)

    WEDNESDAY:
    Chili
    – Corn chips

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    Turkey Sandwiches with Cranberry and Cream Cheese
    – Fruit and chips

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Lemon Pepper Chicken (recipe to come)
    – Veggie and Rice

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    Can’t wait to see what you have planned for the week – please share your menus!

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  10. Friday, September 26

    How to Make an Airplane Birthday Cake + Friday Show and Tell

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    Okay, so there’s a lot of “mom stuff” I don’t do. I’m not crafty. I don’t make baby food from scratch. I am a terrible gardener. The list goes on and ON. But I do absolutely love making my kids’ birthday cakes. Every year they tell me what they want and I figure out a way to make it happen! For Owen’s 3rd birthday he requested Ripslinger from the movie Planes, or as Owen put it, “the green bad guy plane.” I was a little nervous but I pulled it off! The best part was Owen loved it and today he’s asked multiple times to see pictures of the cake. (That splash sound you hear is me turning into a puddle on the floor.)

    how to make a kids airplane birthday cake by @janemaynard

    how to make a kids airplane birthday cake by @janemaynard

    This cake was one of the easier ones I’ve done, so I have to share the step-by-step with you. Here’s how to make an airplane birthday cake!

    • Bake a 9″x13″ standard cake. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe (which you can find in this linked post) and it made for a nice tall cake, which gave the plane more height. I doubled the frosting recipe in that same post, which gave me enough frosting for the crumb coat and final coat with a bit left over.
    • After you bake the cake, freeze it. Once it’s frozen, make one cut as shown in the diagram below, then flip one of the pieces so it lines up with the other piece perfectly when you stack them.

    template for cutting a 9x13 cake for an airplane shape by @janemaynard

    • The fat end of the triangle you created is the front of the plane – the smaller end is the back of the plane. Shape the front to round it off. Once the cake was done, I wished I had also angled the back end of the plane down a bit so that the entire plan had an upward slant towards the front of the plane, instead of just parallel to the ground (know what I mean?). Feel free to play with the shape or just keep it super simple like I did.
    • I used one of the pieces of cake I cut off the front when shaping the nose of the plane to create the cockpit on top.
    • Frost between the layers, and then follow the directions in my cake-making guide post for frosting (freezing cake, crumb coat, etc.) The beauty of this cake is you only need ONE COLOR OF FROSTING! Save a bit of white for the window, but other than that you can just make all the frosting one color.
    • For the wings and things, I used cardstock! Just cut them into the shape you like and then stick the shaped wings and things right into the cake. You can get colored cardstock or just color white cardstock with a permament marker the color you want he wings to be. (Since I was making Ripslinger, I also made the flames out of cardstock colored with permanent markers and stuck them to the side using frosting as glue.) Don’t worry, no marker transferred to the frosting anywhere!
    • The propellors were 2 popsicle sticks colored with black Sharpee marker, broken in half and then stuck in the front. I should have put a black circle of frosting or a Junior Mint on the front in the middle of the propellors. I didn’t, but you can!
    • White frosting and black piped frosting made the window in the cockpit, and chocolate chips, stuck pointy side in, served as the eyes.

    Show and tell time! I just have one quick share today. I put together a really fun post for Babble of CRAZY stuff my friends’ kids have eaten. It’s pretty awesome. Be sure to click through and check it out!

    As usual, feel free to share anything you like in the comments, it’s show and tell after all!

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