Tuesday, August 5
The last night we were in New Hampshire this summer we were planning to build a fire and make s’mores. But then we got lazy and didn’t feel like doing the whole fire thing. But we did still feel like doing the whole s’more thing, especially since we had amazing chocolate bark and homemade coconut marshmallows from the Granite State Candy Shoppe that needed to be s’morified stat.
I was suggesting that maybe we just microwave a few s’mores. This does not make for the very best s’mores in the world but the technique works when you find yourself in a s’more emergency, which I’m sure happens all the time. My sister-in-law Hannah, however, suddenly had a stroke of genius, and that genius was quickly named the S’Morrito (she’s good with words like that). The grill was still fired up from dinner and she figured wrapping s’mores up in foil (s’mores that look like burritos…s’morritos…get it?) and throwing them on the grill should work pretty well. It actually worked great.
Not only is this a great way to make s’mores, but it’s an especially great way to serve s’mores at a party. Here’s what I recommend:
- Set up a s’mores bar, complete with graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows, as well as a bunch of pieces of aluminum foil and a Sharpee marker.
- Everyone then makes their own s’mores, wraps the uncooked s’mores in foil and puts their initials on the foil with the marker.
- Put all of the completed s’morritos on the grill and, voila, s’mores everyone can enjoy at the same time!
As for the taste, I’m sure some of you have questions. Yes, s’morritos taste good. Yes, the warmed graham cracker is actually totally and completely wonderful. Yes, the marshmallow gets a little browned on the edges even in the foil. Yes, your s’mores will be totally gooey but who cares because they’re supposed to be. Yes, the marshmallow and chocolate heat very evenly. Yes, I may never make s’mores the old way again. (Fair warning: the s’mores are hot and super gooey when you first take them off the grill. If you let them cool for 5-10 minutes, they become less so.)S'Morritos!Prep timeCook timeTotal timeS'Mores on the Grill - a great way to serve s'mores to a crowd!Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: DessertIngredients
- Graham crackers
- Chocolate of your choice (I've stopped buying Hershey's bars and we use Dove chocolates now - it's just that much better. And, if you really want to go gourmet, buy some super fancy chocolate like we did in NH. It's kind of amazing.)
- Heat grill on low. (If you want to try this in your oven, go for around 400º F)
- Place graham cracker on the center of a piece of aluminum foil. Layer with chocolate then marshmallow then another graham cracker. Wrap carefully so you don't break the crackers inside.
- Place on grill chocolate side UP, close grill lid and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Open grill, flip s'morritos then cook for another 2-3 more minutes. (Experiment with the time based on how hot your individual grill gets.)
- Remove from grill, unwrap and dig in.
- The s'morritos are especially gooey when it comes to s'mores since everything is warm and melted. You can dig in right away, but you've been warned. If you let them cool for 5-10 minutes, they may be a bit more manageable. If you decide to eat them hot off the grill, be sure to lift them out of the foil by lifting from the bottom so as to avoid squishing all the good stuff out before you even take a bite!
Sunday, July 20
Hello! We are home from vacation and I am getting back into the cooking groove! After such a long break I am actually really looking forward to it.
Before we get to this week’s dinner plans, I need to tell you about the dinner that Nate and I had last night. Today is our 15th wedding anniversary (TIME FLIES! Happy anniversary, Nate!). Last night Veladora at the Rancho Valencia hotel in Rancho Santa Fe hosted us for dinner to celebrate. There are no words for how wonderful our evening was, but I’m going to give it a try! (Seriously, in the time it took for us to drive off the hotel property we must have said, “That dinner was awesome!” twenty times.) First of all, the food. Ahhh, the food. Nate ordered prime rib cap and I was treated to scallops. Both dishes were unreal. The rib cap was a beautiful cut of meat cooked to perfection, and my scallops were paired with three different corn sides that complemented the scallops beautifully. All of the food we had was wonderful, right down to the 18-year old balsamic vinegar for dipping the focaccia. Chef Matt came out to meet us at the end of our meal and it was so interesting talking with him about the food, how the menu is developed and modified with the seasons, as well as his own career path. Beyond the food, the serving staff was stellar and the restaurant itself was beautiful. The best part was that, despite the high caliber of the restaurant, we felt comfortable and relaxed, thanks to both the setting and the staff. Oh, and they gave us a little gift on the way out the door that was, of course, a tasty treat. It was truly the perfect way to celebrate our latest life milestone. Thank you, Veladora, for a night we will not soon forget.
Despite the fact that I pretty much don’t want to eat any other food ever after Veladora, real life dictates that I still have to feed my family. So, back to the weekly menu!
- Caprese salad with crusty bread
- Stewed green beans
- Taco night
- Grammy’s Orange Chicken
- Rice and veggie
- Takeout night
- Chicken on the grill
- Corn on the cob and watermelon
- Spinach and strawberry salad
Big THANKS to all of you who continued posting menus the last few weeks while I took a break. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!
As usual, please share your menu for the week! Plain or fancy, we want to see it all!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 1:39 pm 20 Comments
Categories: fab faves, way gourmet, weekly menus Tags: dinner plans, free printable, meal plan, menu plan, PRINTABLE MEAL PLAN, rancho valencia, restaurants, shopping list, veladora, weekly menu, weekly menu planning |
Wednesday, July 9
I’ve mentioned my wonderful neighbor Ari a few times. She is from Mexico and gives me tips for cooking Mexican food that make my life happy. The latest is a recipe for salsa that she got from one of her aunts the last time they visited family in Mexico.
Ari and I were sitting by the pool and she said, “My aunt made some salsa. It’s my favorite. And it’s soooo easy.” She then told me how to make this magical salsa. I asked her to repeat it a few times and then, of course, emailed her later to ask her to write it down. This is basically what happens every time she shares a recipe with me – I make her repeat it a million times and then have to call her and/or email her multiple times before I get it down. Don’t you wish I was your neighbor?
Okay, so, for real, this salsa is easy, simple and delicious! It has a rich, smoky flavor and the perfect amount of heat (well, at least I think it’s perfect). Most of the kids didn’t try it because they were scared it would be too spicy, but my brave little Anna dug in. She described the salsa as hot and then proceeded to tell us how she has a “sensible tongue.” It was so cute. In terms of “hotness,” I would consider this a hot salsa. Depending on the heat of your particular serranos and what your final proportion of tomatoes to chiles is will determine exactly how hot it ends up being, but, even with those variations, it’s a spicy salsa. My dad, my sister-in-law and I ate almost all of it in one sitting. I can’t wait to make this salsa for Nate when we get home from traveling!
I’m sure you could add onions and garlic and cilantro and yummy stuff like that. But, honestly, the beauty of this recipe is its simplicity, so just go with it!
Serrano SalsaPrep timeCook timeTotal timeMy friend Ari shared this recipe with me - her aunt made it for her in Mexico. Enjoy!Author: Ari Serra's AuntServes: 1 cupIngredients
- 3 tomatoes (my tomatoes were a little smaller than normal, so I used about 9 tomatoes)
- 3 chiles serranos
- salt, to taste
- Cut the tomatoes in half and place them cut-side down in a pan. (I used a non-stick pan and would recommend that.)
- Cut off the stems of the serrano chiles and place them whole in the pan with the tomatoes (no cutting or seeding necessary!).
- Cook the tomatoes and chiles over high heat to burn them. Ari said about 3-4 minutes per side, but I think it took mine more like 5-10 minutes per side. You will see little brown and black spots on the tomatoes and chiles when they are ready to come off the heat. You cut the tomatoes in half and put them on a pan with the chiles (chiles are complete with seeds). The tomato skins will also start to peel off.
- Remove from heat, put everything in the pan in a blender and blend well. Season with salt to taste, probably about ¼ - ½ teaspoon.
- As Ari said, "Habemus salsa!"
Posted by Jane Maynard at 5:32 am 8 Comments
Categories: featured recipes, Recipes, side dishes, simple side dishes Tags: chiles serranos, mexican food, salsa, serrano peppers, tomato recipes, tomatoes |
Tuesday, June 17
A few weeks ago my parents were staying at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach (the same hotel we stayed at a few years ago and LOVED). My mom was a head honcho for a work meeting they were holding at the hotel, so the Hyatt delivered a cheese and charcuterie tray to the room as a gift. Lucky for my mom we were all there to help her eat it! (Don’t worry, we left her a few bites.)
On the tray was a jar of sweet tomato jam. Between the six of us, the jar was empty by the end of our snacking and, ever since that day, I’ve been thinking about that tomato jam. Then my friend Gaby mentioned on social media that she was going to do a bruschetta bar for a party, which I then decided to do for my lip sync battle party last Friday night, giving me the perfect excuse to finally try a sweet tomato jam recipe myself.
Not to brag, but the tomato jam I made was just as good as what we had at the Hyatt. And thank goodness since I pretty much constantly crave it now.
The recipe is really simple but oh-so-scrumptious. The only labor-intensive part of the process is prepping the tomatoes, which isn’t hard, just a little time consuming. But it is WORTH IT. And, for those of you into canning, tomato jam can be canned, although you may want to follow the original recipe on Epicurious that has twice as much sugar and, therefore is more conducive to preserving. (Thanks to commenter Alice and my friend Aimee for input on this!)
So, what is tomato jam good for anyway? Everything! It’s a great topping for bread and pairs beautifully with all kinds of cheeses. It’s also a great condiment for just about anything – sandwiches, burgers, whatever your heart desires! It’s sweet but with a savory flavor to it. It’s basically pure deliciousness.
I found the recipe on Epicurious but cut waaaaaaaay back on the sugar. My jam was still super sweet so I can’t even imagine what their recipe would taste like!
Tomato JamPrep timeCook timeTotal timeAdapted from EpicuriousAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: AppetizerServes: 2 cupsIngredients
- 4 pounds plum or heirloom tomatoes (I used a variety of heirlooms, all different colors!)
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika if you have it)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make an ice bath in a separate bowl and set to the side. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water in batches, boiling for about 1 minute. Remove tomatoes from the boiling water and place directly in the ice bath. Remove the skins by hand right in the ice water, leaving the skins in the water. I would empty the ice water bowl between batches. By removing the skins in the ice water bowl you cut down on some serious messiness in the kitchen!
- Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, seed them, then chop into pieces.
- Place chopped tomatoes in a large pot. Mix with sugar and stir well. And let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Bring tomatoes and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat and let cook for 15 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper and parika and cook until thickened, about 10-15 more minutes.
This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. Pictured: The Heritage Small Bowl and the Cool Montecito Tapas Plate. I am as addicted to my Q Squared Dishes as I am to this tomato jam, by the way!
Wednesday, June 11
This past March, Julie from the food blog The Little Kitchen shared a recipe for flank steak with chimichurri butter. As soon as I saw her post I knew I had to make it. In fact, if I remember correctly, I made it for dinner that very night! (PS: Julie is super sweet and cute and I want to take her home in my pocket. And also make her cook dinner for me. Do you mind, Julie?)
So, Julie’s recipe is wonderful. The marinade was perfect and the chimichurri butter was delish! Be warned – the herbed butter packs a lot of flavor, a little bit goes a long way! Please visit Julie’s site to get the recipe for the marinade and for the chimichurri butter. You will not be disappointed.
I used Julie’s recipe for the chimchurri butter to top the steak. I didn’t have the Land O’ Lakes butter/olive oil mixture she made it with, so I used half butter and half olive oil and it came out great!
Today I wanted to highlight the technique Julie used for cooking the flank steak because the steak came out perfectly and the texture was amazing. I know summer has started and we’re all itching to use the grill, but you don’t need the grill for this recipe, which means you can make it any time of year! You do need a grill pan, however. If you don’t have a non-stick grill pan, I recommend it. I love mine and use it all the time to grill chicken!
So, the flank steak. This technique is pretty much foolproof! I just wish I had taken photos of the steak after I cut it so you could see the beautiful color inside, but you’ll just have to take my word for it. It was gorgeous!Cooking Flank SteakPrep timeCook timeTotal timeI learned this technique from Julie at The Little Kitchen.Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- Marinated Beef Flank Steak
- Olive or vegetable oil
- Grill pan
- Marinate the flank steak at room temperature for about half an hour before cooking. If necessary, cut the steak in half so that the pieces fit in your grill pan. Use your favorite marinade! I loved the marinade that Julie used and shared on The Little Kitchen. Scrumptious!
- Heat the grill pan on medium high for about 5 minutes.
- Drizzle the pan with a swig or two of olive or vegetable oil and rotate pan to spread the oil around.
- Add steak to the pan, sort of moving the steak around for a few seconds at the beginning to spread the oil evenly beneath the surface of the steak.
- Cook on each side for about 3 minutes. Then, cook on each side for 1 more minute per side.
- Remove from pan and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting. Cut steak into slices, against the grain, and serve!
Tuesday, May 27
I have perfected taco night. No, seriously. When you have tacos at my house, they are the best. And, yes, I’m totally bragging. I can’t help it, I am in love with taco night!
Let’s begin with a little history. Until I moved to San Diego, taco night meant hard shell tacos, seasoned ground beef, iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, salsa and cheese. I’m not saying those tacos aren’t good. They totally are, in fact, that’s Cate’s favorite kind of taco. But when we moved to San Diego many years ago and started having dinner at Maria’s house, things started to change. Maria is a close family friend and she also happens to be Mexican. And, when we go to her house, she almost always feeds us homemade Mexican food.
One of our favorite Maria meals is carne asada, corn tortillas, homemade pinto beans and rice, topped with super spicy homemade salsa (of course!). Needless to say, these tacos are quite different than the gringo version I grew up with! Now, whenever I have corn tortillas and homemade beans, I think fondly of Maria and her kitchen.
So, anyway, back to the present. I have finally created the perfect taco night. It’s taken years of cobbling together different recipes, but all of the work has paid off! Thanks to Maria and my new neighbor Ari (also Mexican!) for their inspiration and recipes over the years, I’ve figured out how to create an awesome “taco bar” that will please Mexicans and gringos alike!
Also, I will admit that you do not need ALL of the following ingredients to have a fabulous taco night. But, I will also tell you that when I do spend the time to pull all of this together, it really is magical! (Yep, dinner can be magical in my little world.)
The Perfect Taco Night
- Corn tortillas: These are my absolute favorite for tacos of all kinds!
- Flour tortillas: Even though I gorge on corn tortillas, my family also likes to have flour tortillas handy.
- (Optional) Hard taco shells: It’s good to have some hard shells handy for the pure gringos in the group, like my daughter Cate and my mom Phyllis!
- Do you have a tortilla warmer? If you don’t, you should get one! I love being able to heat up a bunch of tortillas, toss them in the warmer and have them ready all at once when we dig in.
- Grilled chicken: Whether you cook the chicken in a grill pan with a bit of olive oil on the stove or on an actual grill, simply salt and pepper the chicken prior to cooking and cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF. I like to use boneless skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs. Sometimes, after I cut the cooked chicken into small pieces, I will toss it in a bowl with about a quarter of a packet of taco seasoning. Super yum!
- Taco Meat: Everybody still loves good ol’ taco meat! I often use a taco seasoning packet but, if I don’t have that handy, I just season the cooked ground beef or ground turkey with salt, pepper, dried garlic, dried onion, chili powder, paprika and cumin.
- (Optional) Carne Asada: We hardly ever have this because I’m lazy, but it makes for some darn good taco-ing.
- (Optional) Grilled Salmon: This is another one that we rarely serve on taco night, but when we do it’s delish! Click here for a recipe for grilled salmon that is flavored perfectly for tacos.
- Whether you put the rice right on your taco or eat it on the side, rice is a necessity for the perfect taco night! Click here for a cilantro-lime rice recipe that works great!
- Grilled bell peppers and onions (both sliced thin before cooking)
- Avocado (sliced or cut into chunks) and/or guacamole
- Lime slices
- Shredded cheese
- Beans (pinto, black or peruan are all delish!): You can of course use canned beans, but homemade beans are really, truly easy to make and TASTE SO GOOD. Click here for recipe.
- Sour cream
- Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
- Chopped romaine lettuce or jalapeño slaw
- Chopped tomatoes
Putting It All Together!
Obviously one taco can’t hold ALL of the yumminess in the list above! Just mix and match your favorite ingredients! Here are my two favorite taco combinations:
- Chicken taco: corn tortilla, grilled chicken, beans, rice, peppers and onions, creamy tomatillo dressing, salsa, avocado
- Grilled salmon taco: flour tortilla, grilled salmon, jalapeño slaw, sour cream, avocado
This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. You will find dishes from the Heritage line, the Montecito line and the Provence Blue flatware set in some of the photos above. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love having Q Squared in my kitchen and that opinion is 100% my own!
Thursday, May 22
I’ve done a few recipe roundups for Cosmo featuring chips of all kinds. While digging around the web looking for chip recipes, I discovered a tip that I had never known before – you can use the microwave to make chips!
I couldn’t believe it. No matter how many blog posts or articles I read about the technique, I just didn’t think the microwave would actually work for making chips. Of course I had to give it a try and, I am here to attest, that this trick works beautifully! You don’t even have to use oil, making these chips healthier than the traditionally fried (or even baked!) variety.
The chips come out really light and crispy. My family loved them, especially Nate and Cate. Nate couldn’t believe they were homemade, let alone cooked in the microwave! You can pretty much use whatever kind of potatoes you like, and you can even use other vegetables, too. I saw plenty of microwave chip recipes out there using foods like sweet potatoes. I haven’t tried anything but potatoes myself, but I think I might have to!
A quick note on the preparation: while you can slice the potato with a sharp knife, I would highly recommend using a mandoline slicer so that your potatoes are all the same thickness. Plus, a mandoline is just plain faster. (If you’re looking for a mandoline, my friend Angie gave me the Chef’n Sleekslice handheld mandoline as a gift and it’s awesome. It’s easy to use, works great and takes up a lot less cabinet space than the bigger mandolines you normally see. I highly recommend it!)
One more quick note: the process is a little time consuming. It takes a few batches to cook one potato but, while it takes a little time, the process is incredibly easy. Just have a book or a podcast handy while you are cooking!
Tuesday, May 20
I was recently hired by The Salmon Council to develop a salmon recipe. I was trying to decide between salmon tacos or salmon with a balsamic glaze and just couldn’t settle on which recipe to pursue. I took the dilemma to Facebook (as one does) and the votes overwhelmingly came in for salmon tacos, so I decided to give them a whirl!
The Salmon Council did not hire me to do a blog post, but this recipe turned out so yummy I had to share it with you! Holy smokes, folks. Deeeeeeeeeeelicious. Seriously, this salmon was flavored beautifully, with a nice balance of salty, spicy and sweet. The texture of the fish was perfect and it paired wonderfully with the slaw on the tacos. Basically just super duper yummy food going on here.
Without further ado, the recipe!
Thursday, May 15
My dad is in town visiting right now, so I thought it would be fun to watch a movie with him and the kids and make a treat to go along with it. As I was trying to think of a fun movie-themed treat, I couldn’t help but think about Arrested Development and the banana stand. But since Arrested Development isn’t exactly geared towards the elementary-school set, I had to get a little creative. Here was my crazy thought process.
First, my dad grew up in the Costa Mesa-Newport Beach area. Balboa Island is famous for its chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, something Nate and I have gotten with the kids on vacation before. Not only do I have memories of eating frozen bananas with my kids, but my dad has his own memories of eating them when he was growing up, too. (Pssst, my dad has a secret: he never really liked the bananas. We, on the other hand, do!)
Second, Nate and I were diehard Arrested Development fans when it was first airing. Like, before it was on Netflix and got all trendy and cool. (Don’t get me wrong, I love that it’s on Netflix and I can watch it whenever I get a hankering for a loose seal or two. Plus, Netflix gave us a new season, for which we will be forever grateful!)
Third, we are having a heatwave right now and I thought a frozen treat would be mighty delicious.
Fourth, I love the book Jumanji (I even have a first edition as a decoration in our living room) and was super excited when I found out the Jumanji movie was on Netflix (thanks to my sister for letting me know – she was obsessed with that movie when we were kids!). There are lots of monkeys in Jumanji. Monkeys love bananas. I hear they even go for frozen bananas occasionally.
Where does all this lead to? Homemade chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, of course! I decided frozen bananas would be a great treat to get us excited for watching Jumanji. And, after the kids went to bed, maybe a few episodes of Arrested Development, too.
This chocolate-dipped frozen banana recipe is super simple, and it is amazing how incredibly cute and professional-looking the bananas come out! Seriously, when I took them out of the freezer, Nate thought I had bought them at a store!
In addition to being fast and easy, Anna my 6-year-old was a huge help while making the bananas and we had a lot of fun cooking together.
So, basically, everything went as planned. Anna, Owen and I had a blast making frozen bananas together. We all had fun eating them with Grandpa (who liked the frozen bananas, by the way). And we watched Jumanji! Okay, well, some of us watched Jumanji. Anna totally chickened out and retreated to the bedroom, where she and Nate watched science shows together. But 3rd-grader Cate stuck it out with Grandpa and me. I told her we “had to finish the game no matter what!” when she was freaking out and wanting to run from the room. She told me we weren’t really playing the game. I told her the movie wasn’t really real. Luckily, we made it to the end and declared “Jumanji” in victory! (Okay, so that was Robin Williams, but who’s keeping track?)
Also, we have determined that there really is always money in the banana stand. The frozen bananas were so cute and so delicious Nate and the kids decided we should start a business. And that we would most certainly make a big fat profit on frozen bananas (there was math involved). And that the banana stand should be called “Jane’s Bananas” (10 points to Nate for the clever name). The whole time they were talking I just kept thinking “This is awesome blog post material.” They didn’t even know that I was going to be writing a post about the bananas we were eating. This post practically wrote itself, people.
Posted by Jane Maynard at 9:57 am 8 Comments
Categories: fab faves, featured recipes, netflix, Recipes, sweet things Tags: arrested development, chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, frozen bananas, jumanji, netflix, netflix stream team |
Wednesday, May 7
I’m kind of in an avocado groove. I mean, I still have 15 avocados sitting on my counter from last Saturday, so how can I not be?!
Remember how my cousin Jamie visited a few weeks ago? When she was here she not only made a list of kitchen equipment she had to buy, but she also walked away with pizza baking tips (separate post to come!) and a tip for making guacamole that got her about as excited as the the scizza did!
We decided to have burritos and tacos one night. Jamie and I went to the store together and she mentioned she needed to grab some tomatoes and onions for the guacamole. I kept saying, “Using salsa is a nice shortcut,” and then she would say, “I love putting fresh tomatoes in guacamole,” and I would mention salsa and she’d mention tomatoes. Basically we were both nicely telling each other we do it differently, thank you very much.
But then we got home and started to actually make the guacamole. I pulled out some chunky salsa and Jamie gave it a try. And she almost immediately saw the light!
So, here’s the deal. You can chop tomatoes and onions for guacamole, but if you have chunky salsa (or even un-chunky salsa, in a pinch), you totally do not need to! The chunky salsa adds in the tomatoes and onions (and a few bell peppers, too!) without any of the chopping. Plus, the salsa adds a bit of extra flavor that is perfect for guacamole. Later that night Jamie brought it up again, telling me how awesome the using salsa in guacamole trick was!
Please note: Don’t get too heavy-handed with the salsa! You want to add a few yummy chunks in there, as well as some flavor, but if you put too much in, it can make the guacamole “mooshier,” if you know what I mean. For a fresher, chunkier guacamole, go lighter on the salsa, but of course, play with it and find your favorite mix of ingredients!
I wrote a post all about guacamole several years ago, including a “cheater’s” recipe for guacamole. Click here for the recipe and even more guac tips!