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 |
Tuesday, December 2
Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is where it’s at! If you don’t know what Giving Tuesday is, click here to watch an introductory video. Essentially it’s a bunch of really great people from all over the world coming together to GIVE and to also share ideas for giving. To show my support I want to highlight a few organizations that I have personally supported and worked with.
ONE: I love ONE because it’s all about advocacy. They don’t ask for money, they just ask for your voice. Click through to ONE’s website to find out all of the amazing ways to make your voice heard and help those in the world who need it most. If you really want to shop and support ONE at the same time, buy the Alex and Ani New Beginnings bracelet. I bought this for myself as a stocking stuffer but, alas, it will never make it to my stocking. It just really, really, really wanted to be on my wrist.
To The Market: This website just launched and it is beyond beautiful. The woman who started the organization To The Market (also named Jane!) is filled with so much positive energy (and smarts) I almost don’t know what to do with her. To The Market’s goal is to support survivors by selling their goods. Read more here and don’t forget to shop!
fashionABLE: I love fashionABLE and am basically swimming in their scarves. I also bought myself a beautiful bag that I have yet to open because we’re saving it for Christmas morning. That closed box is taunting me and I don’t know how much longer I can stand it! Anyway, fashionABLE creates sustainable business for women in Africa and the founders are amazing and also filled with energy that inspires. Click through to learn more and shop!
Heifer International: Last year I bought some goat shares. Maybe this year we’ll make it a llama. I’m still deciding. No matter what, it’s gonna be cute. Heifer is the best, click through to find out more!
Fair Trade USA Holiday Guide: Fair Trade USA, another organization I love, put together an awesome fair trade shopping guide, so make sure to check that out, too!
I KNOW there are so many worthy organizations out there, but I wanted to share the ones that I have most recently supported myself because A) I know from personal experience that they are awesome, and B) I know that these organization really truly help people – it’s not lip service.
Happy Giving Tuesday! Whether you get out there and shop from companies that give back, make a donation to your favorite non-profit or you just deliver cookies to the widowed elderly woman down the street, get out there and give. It’s the best way to kick off the holidays!
And please share your favorite giving organizations in the comments! The more suggestions the merrier!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 2:19 pm 4 Comments
Categories: fab faves, the goods Tags: fair trade, fair trade usa, fashionable, giving back, giving tuesday, heifer international, live fashionable, ONE, to the market |
Sunday, November 30
Hello, everyone! I hope you’ve had a fabulous week and are still swimming in leftovers! We still have some, but they aren’t going to last much longer so I suppose it’s time to get back to my weekly menu planning!
- Turkey a la King with rice
– Naan pizzas
– Taco night
– Chicken Caesar Salad
– Eat out night
– Breakfast for Dinner: Waffles and fruit
You know the drill…please share your menu for the week! THANK YOU!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 2:06 pm 19 Comments
Categories: weekly menus Tags: dinner plans, free printable, meal plan, menu plan, PRINTABLE MEAL PLAN, shopping list, weekly menu, weekly menu planning |
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, November 18
The giveaway in this post is now closed, but keep reading for the succotash recipe!
This post is sponsored by Libby’s. All opinions are 100% my own, this recipe is delicious and there’s a sweet giveaway, so lots of goodness to be had!
I grew up on frozen corn. In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing canned corn in the house. I didn’t actually try canned corn until I was married, believe it or not, and I actually love it! Unlike frozen corn, I like how canned corn retains more of a crunch and has a nice sweet flavor. It’s one of my pantry staples for several recipes in my repertoire.
I have a new use for canned corn that I am especially loving: succotash! I was thinking about potential appetizers for Thanksgiving because I stink at Thanksgiving appetizers. I get so caught up in prepping the main meal that I forget to serve food earlier in the day. This recipe for corn succotash flatbreads is a perfect pre-Thanksgiving snack and I promise it’s easy to prepare.
I gave this particular succotash recipe a bit of a southwestern twist, replacing lima beans with black beans, adding tomatoes and bell peppers, as well as adding a bit of cumin and fresh cilantro. The corn is perfect for Thanksgiving but the cumin and cilantro offer a different flavor than any of the classic Thanksgiving foods you’ll be scarfing down later in the day. Just make sure you don’t fill up on succotash flatbreads – save room for turkey!
In addition to today’s recipe, Libby’s is offering up a great giveaway! One lucky, randomly-selected commenter will win a KitchenAid® 6-Quart Slow Cooker With Glass Lid plus an assortment of Libby’s products. I used Libby’s corn and black beans in today’s recipe and LOVE that they have organic canned goods! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post! Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address and comments need to be posted by Midnight PT on 11/26/14.
One last thing, Libby’s is hosting its Cansgiving sweepstakes through November 19. Participants must post a photo of what they are thankful for on Twitter, Instagram or Libby’s Table Facebook page using the hashtag #Cansgiving for the chance to win a $350 grocery gift card toward their Thanksgiving meals. You can view the full rules at www.getbacktothetable.com/
Get commenting to enter the giveaway and here is the recipe!
Southwestern Corn Succotash FlatbreadsPrep timeCook timeTotal timeAn easy and delicious appetizer with a southwestern twist!Author: Jane MaynardServes: 3 cupsIngredients
- ⅓ cup chopped red onion (about ¼ of an onion)
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ of a red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- 1 can corn
- ½ can black beans
- 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Fresh shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
- Chopped avocado (optional)
- Flatbread crackers
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, which has been pushed through a garlic press, stir, then add corn and black beans and heat for a few minutes.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high, stir and cook for 1 minute to reduce some of the liquid.
- Reduce heat to medium again then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and cumin. Stir and heat for about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
- Serve succotash on flatbread crackers, topping with fresh parmesan cheese or avocado if desired.
- You can serve right away or store in fridge and serve cold.
Comment #15 Jen Schulte was the winner of this giveaway. Congrats, Jen!
Sunday, November 16
Hello, everyone! It’s been a bit of a crazy week for a family, but we’re hanging in there! Despite the crazy we still gotta eat, although I will admit we ate out a lot more last week than I was planning on!
Here’s the plan for this week!
– Pesto Tortellini Soup
– Homemade bread
– Malibu Melt Wraps
– Fresh fruit and chips
– Hot dogs and/or hamburgers
– Baked beans and carrots
– Eat out night
– Breakfast for Dinner TBD!
Please pretty please share your own menu plans for the week! Thank you!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 12:13 pm 15 Comments
Categories: weekly menus Tags: dinner plans, free printable, meal plan, menu plan, PRINTABLE MEAL PLAN, shopping list, weekly menu, weekly menu planning |
Thursday, November 13
Today I bring you the best English muffin you will ever eat. Seriously. You owe me. I mentioned this English muffin trick on Facebook once, but it is sooooo delicious I have decided it deserves an entire blog post.
Have you ever read Ree’s post on cooking cinnamon toast the right way? It’s pretty great. Hop on over and check it out if you haven’t. (For the record, I regularly employ Approach #3, a.k.a. Approach #Gross, because I am always strapped for time and my kids never complain. That said, when I give myself 10 minutes for the cook time, the “right” way is tremendously more delicious.)
I recently applied Ree’s technique to English muffins and, well, it was DIVINE. (Thanks for the inspiration, Ree!) We were transported to toast heaven on the spot. As great as Ree’s cinnamon toast is, I would bet money these cinnamon sugar English muffins are better.
Cinnamon Sugar English MuffinsPrep timeCook timeTotal timeAs inspired by Ree Drummond's technique for making perfect cinnamon toast. There are no measurements because you can easily wing it - promise!Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- English muffins
- Butter, softened to room temp
- Cinnamon Sugar (click here for recipe if you need it)
- Vanilla extract (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Option 1: Mix together softened butter with cinnamon sugar and a splash of vanilla extract. Spread a generous layer over the cut side of an English muffin, making sure to spread the butter mixture all the way to the edges. (The advantage of Option 1 is you get vanilla flavor added into the mix.)
- Option 2: Spread a generous layer of softened butter on the cut side of an English muffin, then sprinkle heavily with cinnamon sugar, then press down with your fingers or a knife to incorporate the cinnamon sugar with the butter. (The advantage of Option 2 is that it's a wee bit easier and faster and still just as delicious.)
- Place English muffin on a piece of foil or a cookie sheet (I would line the cookie sheet with foil to make clean up easier).
- Bake for 10 minutes then finish off under the broiler for about 2 minutes.
- Remove from the oven or toaster oven, let sit a couple minutes then eat! Seriously, let it cool down for a bit as the English muffin is literally covered in bubbly molten cinnamon sugar lava. Also, these are beyond buttery. You've been warned.