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  1. Thursday, April 3

    Jamie’s “Divine List” of Jane’s Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

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    Two weeks ago my cousin Jamie was in town with her family. While they were here we cooked a few meals and, the entire time, Jamie was keeping a running list of must-have kitchen gadgets in my kitchen that she didn’t realize were must-have kitchen gadgets until she used them. She calls it the “divine list.” I know for a fact she’s already bought a few of the items and I don’t doubt she’ll have them all before the month is out!

    This is not an exhaustive list of all the things I love and couldn’t live without in my kitchen, but all the items that Jamie added to her divine list are some of my favorites that we use all the time, so I figured it would be fun and helpful to share her list! You know, in case you feel like shopping today, which I’m sure you do because when doesn’t one feel like shopping?

    dreamfarm scizza pizza scissors | thisweekfordinner.com

    The Scizza
    I wrote about the scizza last December and proclaimed my love then. Jamie simply caught a glimpse of the scizza and was excited about it. Once she actually used it, she was officially in love. You can get it from Dreamfarm. Jamie was also impressed with Dreamfarm’s garlic press, the garject, but the scizza is what really stole her heart.

    margherita pizza on wood pizza peel from @janemaynard

    Wood Pizza Peel
    While Jamie was here, what started as me throwing some pizzas together turned into a mini class for Jamie. I didn’t realize I have so many little tricks when making homemade pizza. Jamie is trying to convince me to do a video showing how to make pizza. Maybe one day if I actually get some makeup on I’ll think about it. Until then, one of the secrets to cooking great pizza is having a wood pizza peel to transfer the pizza to the stone in your oven. (That sentence alone opens up a Pandora’s box of pizza baking tips, but I’m resisting the urge to go into more detail. I promise to share more another day!) Anyway, I love my wood pizza peel. One of the reasons it’s so great is because it has a rough, unfinished surface. The cornmeal spreads so evenly over this surface and it’s a cinch getting your pizza into the oven. It also has a nice-shaped tapered edge (see photo). I’m not sharing any links for where to buy a wood peel because I can’t really tell what the surfaces are like from looking at photos online, so get out and do a little shopping to find your own perfect peel.

    tortilla warmer from @janemaynard

    Tortilla Warmer
    I love my tortilla warmer. Jamie loves my tortilla warmer. It’s the best. Read more about it here.

    manual glass juicer from @janemaynard

    Manual Glass Juicer
    This is a timeless kitchen gadget. I love my manual glass juicer, perfect for when I need to juice something for a recipe quickly. The little ring of knobs in the center catches all the seeds and the juicer itself catches all the juice, which you can easily pour. I received my particular juicer as a wedding gift. There are tons of these out there, just make sure you get one with the little knobs.

    le creuset butter crock from @janemaynard

    Le Creuset Butter Crock
    I will not rest until all the world owns a butter crock. Butter Bell makes a nice version, but I love Le Creuset’s even more. Read more about it here.

    That’s it! Jamie’s divine list! Happy shopping!

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  2. Tuesday, April 1

    Pretty Food: Brie Phyllo Torte with Fresh Raspberries

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    Years ago my friend Liz hosted a cheese party at her home. If you showed up with a bottle of wine, she gave you a plate of cheese! Okay, so it was actually a little fancier and more involved than that. She had gone to who knows how many cheese shops and gathered who knows how many cheeses and had them set up at different tables, organized by strength. Have you ever been to a cheese tasting? It’s really fun! You start with the mildest cheeses and work your way up. And you JUST EAT THE CHEESE. Leave the bread and crackers at home, this experience is about really tasting the cheeses, appreciating the nuanced differences of each type. It was a delicious, educational and fun night that obviously left an impression on me and changed the way I looked at cheese.

    brie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynard

    There truly is an art to cheese, one that I am woefully uneducated about but also very much appreciate. Nate lived in Paris for a few years back in the day, so we have a bias towards French cheeses. When I had the chance to work on a post for Président, trying out one of their recipes and sharing it with you, I jumped. We love brie and camembert and love to buy Président when we indulge!

    brie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynard

    A few years ago, Nate and I went to Paris together. We ate so many wonderful foods, including cheese of course! As I was looking through Paris photos this morning to include in this post, I laughed when I discovered the very first photo I took in Paris was of a small round of Président camembert we bought on our first day in that marvelous city! No wonder that’s the cheese I always buy – we can enjoy a bit of France right here in California!

    Président Cheese in Paris from @janemaynard

    By the way, les crèmeries are to Paris what Dunkin’ Donuts are to Boston. I couldn’t believe how many cheese shops there were, and they all looked like this. No wonder the French have mastered the art of cheese.

    crèmerie in paris from @janemaynard

    The recipe I am sharing with you today comes from Président’s website, where you can find all kinds of easy gourmet recipes. I chose this particular recipe because it not only sounded delicious but it was downright pretty. This beautiful torte would be perfect to serve at any party, but a cheese party would be especially lovely. It can serve as a nice alternative to the straight-up cheese tasting but still fit into the theme of the evening. Also, even though the torte might look intimidating to make, it actually is quite easy to throw together. You can totally impress without the stress!

    brie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardparchment paper strip for brie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynard

    Also, this food looked gorgeous at every step of the cooking process. Sorry for all the pictures, but I just couldn’t help myself.

    (>> Find out more…)

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  3. Sunday, March 30

    Week 375 Menu

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    How is it Sunday already? GoodNESS.

    I have NO carry-overs from last week’s menu. I think that might be a meal planning miracle. ;)

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

    MONDAY:
    - Grilled Chicken Burritos, including Cilantro Lime Rice, Black Beans and Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

    TUESDAY:
    - Honey Goat Cheese Pizza with Caramelized Onions

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Lentil Soup

    THURSDAY:
    - Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    - Breakfast for Dinner: Pancakes
    - Fresh fruit

    SATURDAY:
    - Starting our Spring Break fun – we don’t even know what the plans are yet, but we’re going to do something!

    SUNDAY:
    - Traveling who knows where?! :)

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

    You know the drill – show us what you got! Share your menu for the week! THANKS EVERYONE!

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  4. Friday, March 28

    My New Favorite Dishes – Q Squared NYC

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    The giveaway is now closed, but please keep reading to check out this great company and read my interview with the founders!

    Today is FUN because I get to introduce you to a super cool company, share a fun interview AND do a giveaway!

    Q Squared NYC Montecito Dinnerware from @janemaynard

    Q Squared NYC recently reached out to me about working together. Now, I get a lot of emails about a lot of products everyday, but Q Squared really stood out. I clicked through and discovered a small company with really beautiful products as well as a fun story. I was super excited to find out more about them and was so happy that they got in touch with me!

    Q Squared NYC Montecito Dinnerware from @janemaynardI don’t know, guys, but these just might be my two most favorite plates ever in the history of the world. Just sayin’.

    First, before we get to anything else, just look how cute their dishes are. Q Squared sells melamine dinnerware, drinkware, flatware and great serving platters. Everything is beautifully designed and appeals to all kinds of aesthetics, from classic to modern. I am a firm believe in using beautiful things on a daily basis, plus I have kids, so beautiful dishes that are also practical? BINGO. We also love eating outside. Q Squared’s dishes really are perfect for our family!

    Q Squared NYC Montecito Dinnerware from @janemaynard

    All of the dishes you see in today’s post are from the Montecito line, which I can’t get enough of. We already have white and blue dishes in our everyday collection, so I knew that Montecito would fit right into our kitchen. The Provence blue flatware and blue tumblers also go perfectly with these dishes and I’m loving it all. You can tell that the products are high quality – nice and sturdy with a good feel. I’m ready to party!

    Q Squared NYC Montecito Dinnerware from @janemaynard

    Q Squared NYC Montecito Dinnerware from @janemaynard

    I mentioned that Q Squared has a fun story. The company is founded by a mother-daughter team, Nancy (the mom and former Glamour editor) and Alaina (the daughter). I had the chance to do a little interview with them and would love to share it with you. I especially love the story behind the inspiration for starting the company. So cute!

    Interview with Q Squared NYC founders and mother-daughter team Nancy and Alaina from @janeymaynard

    Q: What inspired you both to start a company making dinnerware? Do you love cooking or entertaining or was it just a fun way to channel your creative energy?

    The answer is a little of both, plus a third reason.  We do love cooking and entertaining, and we both feel very creative. Alaina has a critical eye for art and Nancy is a fan of fashion. The third reason, though, was not being able to find beautiful products that were practical and affordable.  After college graduation, we went shopping to set up Alaina’s first apartment. She has a very high standard aesthetically but was on a low budget. Everything we came across that had an aesthetic Alaina liked was either China or Porcelain, with the China Cabinet price tag to match – so we created our own company and products to fill that need!

    Q: Your about page says that while you have complimentary styles, they are distinct. What are Nancy and Alaina’s different styles?

    Nancy is modern and minimalistic, while Alaina is classical and ornate.  Nancy likes bold colors and Alaina likes more muted colors. Combining the two styles results in our refined look that bridges a generation gap. We like to call them generation-less.

    Q: What is your design process like?

    Alaina is the Creative Director, so the designs originate from her and her inspiration. Her inspiration comes from the past, whether it is history in general or her own personal history. Nancy’s input to the designs helps guide the collection toward what would be most widely appealing to our consumers.

    Q: Do you see yourselves moving beyond dinnerware one day?

    Yes, absolutely!  We are launching our first new product category (home fragrance!) in Summer 2014, with the continuing expansion into Fall/Winter 2014. Looking into 2015 and beyond, we will continue to introduce more home decor products, including gifts, decorative accents, textiles, etc.

    Q: What is the best part of working together?

    The synergy that we feel together, knowing that the results are bigger and grander than each of us alone. Oh and there’s always the perk of having a mom in the office (for the occasional old-fashion PB&J!)

    I hope you’ve enjoyed being introduced to this great company, its founders and their beautiful products. Good luck with the giveaway!

    This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

    I think it’s time for a giveaway! One lucky, randomly-selected person will win 1 Large Cool Montecito Tray along with 4 Cool Montecito Tapas Plates. Here is how to enter the giveaway! (Comments must be left by Thursday, 4/3 Midnight PT.)

    The winner of the giveaway was Debbie Rough, who said, “Love this same pattern you have. Need a new tray… Mine just broke!!!! Woohoo hope I am a winner” Congratulations to Debbie! You will love your items!

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  5. Friday Show and Tell

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    Happy Friday!

    house of cards season 2

    Before we get to food, can we talk about House of Cards for just one second? Nate and I FINALLY watched the Season 2 premiere this week. And this is what I have to say: WHAT?!?!?!? SERIOUSLY!?!?!? Totally did NOT see that coming!!!!!! Obviously I am not going to spell it out because President Obama asked for no spoilers, but for real, crazyTOWN. Nate and I need to get going on the rest of the season to see what Frank’s got in store for Washington, D.C. My friend Kathy posted a status on Facebook the other day that she was watching a little of The West Wing on Netflix to counteract House of Cards. Made me laugh because it’s so true. They’re basically the same show except one is the angel on your right shoulder and the other is the devil on your left. I’m just hoping reality reflects The West Wing!!

    Okay, back to food!

    best sautéed mushrooms ever from @janemaynard

    Here are my “Babbles” for the week!

    And yumminess on Cosmo!

    Show and tell means everyone in the class gets to share, so be sure to share your stuff, whatever it is!

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  6. Wednesday, March 26

    Boozy Beef Stew

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    Apparently it’s still snowing in some places. CRAZY. It’s even chilly and drizzly here in San Diego (don’t worry, I am not complaining), so I think we’re all probably in the mood for some cozy food.

    boozy beef stew from @janemaynard

    My sister-in-law Cora made beef stew for the family this past summer and it was sublime. I make a pretty good beef stew, but hers was definitely better. I finally got around to bugging her for the recipe and, as usual, she obliged. She’s good like that.

    boozy beef stew from @janemaynard

    Cora sort of follows Ree’s seef stew with beer and paprika recipe but changes a few things up. I followed her lead and ended up with this most delicious stew. The sauce is so rich in flavor, the meat so tender, the veggies cooked to perfection.

    boozy beef stew from @janemaynard

    Yes, it’s called Boozy Beef Stew. Because there are two bottles of beer in the pot and how can you not name it Boozy Beef Stew with all that beer involved? Never fear, it doesn’t taste like a bottle of beer with a few chunks of meat thrown in. It just tastes good. So good.

    boozy beef stew from @janemaynard

    Also, this recipe gives me an excuse to use one of my most favorite items in the kitchen – a bottle opener we got from Nate’s great-grandma Rose’s home when she moved into assisted living at age 99. We don’t drink around here, so this cute little bottle opener doesn’t get much action. But when I do take it out, it always makes me happy.

    rose's bottle opener from @janemaynard

    I modified the recipe just a bit so it is quite literally a one-pot dinner. I hate washing dishes. A lot. You’ll be able to cook it all in one pot, no extra dishes required! (Well, you will have to use a knife and cutting board, but that doesn’t count, right?)

    boozy beef stew from @janemaynardboozy beef stew from @janemaynard

    Now, go booze up your beef.

    (>> Find out more…)

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  7. Monday, March 24

    Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

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    If you live in the western U.S. (and now Virginia or Maryland, too!), you’ve probably heard of Cafe Rio. It’s a Mexican food chain with the best darn pork barbacoa and creamy tomatilla salad dressing you ever did eat. Seriously, that dressing is downright drinkable.

    creamy tomatillo dressing (cafe rio knock off) from @janemaynard

    My cousin Jamie and her family visited us last week. One night we made fajitas for dinner and Jamie whipped up some of the Cafe Rio dressing. It was mighty fine! Honestly, I can’t remember exactly how Cafe Rio’s dressing tastes, but Jamie says this recipe nails it! I did a google search and there are a bunch of blogs and websites with almost the exact same recipe posted, so I have no idea who the source is. But Jamie and I discussed the recipe and realized that she regularly changes up some of the proportions, so we made it our own. Also, I am changing the amounts because the original recipe makes about 30 ounces of dressing! That is a whole lot of dressing that, quite frankly, is more than our family needs.

    creamy tomatillo dressing (cafe rio knock off) from @janemaynard

    This dressing is delicious served over salad or as a sauce topped on tacos, fajitas and burritos. Go crazy!
    (>> Find out more…)

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  8. Sunday, March 23

    Week 374 Menu

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    Well, we finally gave into the trend and tried a cronut this weekend. Our cousins were in town visiting and had heard that a donut shop in Cardiff has great cronuts. The donut shop is called VG Donut & Bakery, a place Nate and I have been wanting to try for months, so we were totally down with the taste test! Cronuts (at least the ones from VG’s) are downright delicious. They remind us of a French cruller, but not quite as eggy. Cronuts are more donut than croissant, but the texture is definitely different than a normal donut, with layers of moist goodness inside a crispy exterior. DELISH!

    cronuts from VG's in cardiff, california from @janemaynard

    cronuts from VG's in cardiff, california from @janemaynard

    I can’t believe it’s time to plan another menu. Here goes nothin’!

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

    MONDAY:
    - Boozy Beef Stew à la Cora my SIL (recipe to come!)

    TUESDAY:
    - Bertucci’s Tortellini
    - Garlic bread and salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Pulled Pork Sandwiches
    - Coleslaw

    THURSDAY:
    - Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    - Eat out

    SATURDAY:
    - Fried Chicken (I’ve never made fried chicken and want to finally try it – if you have a recipe you love or tips to share, please do!)
    - Veggie and biscuits

    SUNDAY:
    - Breakfast for dinner: Swedish pancakes
    - Fresh fruit

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

    As always, reading through your menus from last week was so helpful as I planned for this week. Thank you so much for sharing! Looking forward to seeing what you all have planned for this week!

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  9. Friday, March 21

    Friday Show and Tell

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    My cousin is visiting with her family and we celebrated their daughter Emma’s birthday on our back porch last night. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that porch. We’ve only been in our home for 9 months and already have so many wonderful memories on that patio. I’m feeling very grateful this morning.

    family birthday party on the patio from @janemaynard

    Here are this weeks “Babbles”:

    And a few fun things on Cosmo:

    Show and tell is for the whole class, so share whatever you like! Happy Friday!

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  10. Wednesday, March 19

    Homemade Amish Pretzels

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    I grew up in New Jersey, just a couple hours from Amish country in Pennsylvania. Amish country was one of the spots we would frequently take visitors, as well as New York City. About the only thing those two places had in common was that they both served giant pretzels! And, you know what, the pretzels in Amish country were 10,000 times better than the ones in New York (sorry, street vendors).

    homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynardhomemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

    Those Amish pretzels really were to die for. Warm, soft, buttery, with a nice slightly crisp exterior. HeavenNeedless to say I am perfectly fine with the explosion of Auntie Anne’s and Wetzels Pretzels in every mall in America – saves me a trip to Pennsylvania when I get a craving.

    homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

    My kids also love Amish-style pretzels, so I decided we should try making them at home. We made the recipe below for my column 3 Kids, a Mom & a Kitchen on Babble and it was a great success! Not only were the pretzels soooooo good, but this is a really fun and painless cooking project to do with kids. Check out my post on Babble for details on how to get children of all ages involved with this recipe.

    cooking with kids: homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynardmaking homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynardcooking with kids: homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard

    A few notes on the recipe. First, I basically cobbled together a bunch of different recipes to make this one, with most of the best tips coming from this video series by Jay Stewart of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Second, I used a mix of bread flour and self-rising flour and really like how the texture came out. I give instructions in the recipe below for how to make self-rising flour (which is a combination of cake or pastry flour with baking powder and salt). I’m sure some of you will ask if you can use all-purpose flour – you probably can, but then you’d need to figure out how much baking powder and salt to add to the recipe and also the protein levels will be different. So, basically, you’re on your own if you go that route! ;)

    homemade amish pretzels from @janemaynardhomemade amish pretzels from @janemaynard (>> Find out more…)

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