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Category: featured recipes

  1. Tuesday, August 8

    Chocolate Ganache Praline Cake, a.k.a. The Viking Lite

    Each year for my birthday Nate buys me a cake called the Viking from Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego. I’m pretty sure this cake was the actual ambrosia of the gods on Mt. Olympus. IT IS SO GOOD. Also, I will never make this cake in its entirety. I have the Extraordinary Desserts cookbook (now out of print) and the cake requires SIX(!!!!!) separate recipes in order to make the entire thing. Yeah, not gonna happen. I am perfectly happy waiting for September to roll around each year in order to indulge in the goodness that is the Viking.

    Chocolate Ganache Praline Cake, a.k.a. The Viking Lite from @janemaynard

    That said, for Nate’s birthday I wanted to make something decadent and delicious. I decided to cut down the original Viking recipe and just use three of the elements, rather than all six. The final product was awesome. Nate couldn’t believe how much his birthday cake tasted like the Viking, so we named it the Viking Lite. While the Viking Lite is a bit of a labor of love it is totally worth it…and much less a labor than the original recipe!

    Chocolate Ganache Praline Cake, a.k.a. The Viking Lite from @janemaynard

    The Viking Lite is made up of layers of chocolate sour cream cake and semisweet ganache, then coated in crushed chocolate praline. When I made the cake I only put the praline on the outside of the cake but we decided a layer of the praline inside the cake would have made it even better. I had leftover praline so we would just sprinkle it on each of our slices. Also, I recommend splurging for high-quality chocolate, like Guittard brand (they make baking chocolate and cocoa powder). Good-quality chocolate really will make a difference in your final product.

    Chocolate Ganache Praline Cake, a.k.a. The Viking Lite from @janemaynard

    Chocolate Ganache Praline Cake, a.k.a. The Viking Lite
     
    Based on the original Viking cake created by Karen Krasne of Extraordinary Desserts. Her cookbook is now out of print. I am sharing only the parts I used of the original Viking recipe below, along with my notes and modifications.
    Author:
    Serves: 1 8- or 9-inch cake
    Ingredients
    • GANACHE:
    • 24 ounces (4 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • CHOCOLATE ALMOND PRALINE:
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • ¼ cup whole milk
    • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, cubed (I used salted so that there was a bit of salt flavor in the praline)
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 1 cup slivered almonds
    • CHOCOLATE SOUR CREAM CAKE:
    • ⅓ cup unsalted butter (I used salted because the recipe doesn't call for salt and I like a bit of salt flavor), room temperature and cut into ¼" cubes, plus ~2 teaspoons at room temperature for greasing the pans
    • 3 ounces (1/2 cup) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1½ cups granulated sugar
    • ½ cup sour cream, room temperature
    • 1 cup water
    Instructions
    1. GANACHE:
    2. Put the chocolate chips in a medium, heatproof mixing bowl.
    3. Bring the cream to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir slowly and gently in a circular motion until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is fully combined. Set ganache aside for later. You will want the ganache to be thickened and at a spreading consistency when it's time to assemble the cake. I put mine in the fridge, covering the bowl with plastic wrap, and checked it every half hour or so, stirring it each time.
    4. PRALINE:
    5. Generously coat a baking sheet with oil or line with a silicone baking mat (I highly recommend using a Silpat or similar mat if you have one).
    6. Toast almonds on another baking sheet in a 350ºF oven for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
    7. Bring milk, butter, corn syrup and sugar to a boil in a medium, heavy saucepan. Insert a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches 310ºF, about 7-8 minutes (I think it took a little longer than that for me). The mixture should be thick and have started to lightly color. Remove the pot from the heat and set the thermometer aside.
    8. Add the cocoa powder and mix well with a whisk. (I added the cocoa powder through a fine mesh sieve, shaking it into the pot to avoid large lumps from forming.)
    9. Stir in the toasted almonds.
    10. Using a rubber spatula, carefully spread the hot mixture onto your oiled or Silpat-lined baking sheet, making sure the mixture is spread into an even layer. Set aside to cool.
    11. Once praline is completely cool and hardened, either blast it in a blender or food processor or place in a ziploc bag and hammer with a meat pounder on a wood cutting board, breaking the praline up into small bits.
    12. CAKE:
    13. Preheat oven to 275º F. Grease bottom and sides of two 8-inch or two 9-inch round cake pans with butter. Place a parchment round the size of the bottom of the pan in each cake pan, butter the top of the parchment, then lightly flour the pans. Set aside.
    14. Place chocolate in a heatproof mixing bowl. Bring a pot of water to a simmer, place bowl on top of the pot (do not let bowl touch water surface), and melt chocolate, stirring occasionally.
    15. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
    16. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and light in color, about 7 minutes.
    17. Add the cubed butter and then the sour cream, mixing until full incorporated after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
    18. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    19. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed, just until fully incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
    20. Bring water to a boil then add to the batter. Mix on low to medium speed until full combined and smooth. Batter will be much thinner after the addition of the water.
    21. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, dividing evenly. Place pans in the center of the oven and bake until cake springs back slightly when pressed in the center and a cake tester comes out clean. Bake time could be up to 60 minutes, but start checking around 40 minutes for doneness.
    22. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pans sitting on a cooling rack. Once completely cooled, run a thin knife around the edges and invert pans, carefully knocking the bottom of the pan if cake doesn't fall out immediately. Cakes can rest on the cooling rack until you are ready to place them on the cake platter. Remove parchment from bottom of cakes. If you are not immediately assembling the cake, wrap the cakes individually tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate, but cake can also remain wrapped at room temperature for up to 2 days.
    23. ASSEMBLY:
    24. Place one of the cakes on your serving platter. Place pieces of waxed or parchment paper under the edge of the cake all around. This will prevent icing from getting on your serving platter as you decorate the cake.
    25. Coat top of the first layer of cake with a nice thick layer of ganache.
    26. Optional (but recommended!): Add a layer of the chocolate almond praline layer on top of the ganache.
    27. Add the second cake layer. Spread a ganache layer on top, then frost the sides of the cake with the ganache. Once you have finished icing the sides with ganache, using your hands press the praline pieces on the sides of the cake all the way around to coat the sides of the cake. Carefully remove wax/parchment paper, using a knife to hold the frosting in place as you pull out the paper in spots where it gets stuck.
    28. If you did not put a layer of praline inside the cake, reserve the extra praline and sprinkle on each cut slice when serving.

     

     


  2. Wednesday, May 31

    Milk Toast is Actually Delicious

    My oldest daughter Cate got braces last week. She’s been a real trooper and it’s gone better than expected. But she is mourning the fact she can’t eat things like Kettle Brand Salt & Pepper Krinkle Chips for almost two years! (Seriously, though, she’s right. That sucks.) Cate usually eats wheat toast for breakfast and even that has been bothering her a bit. So this week I made my Grandma Blomquist’s homemade bread to cheer her up. My strategy worked.

    Sweet Milk Toast Recipe from @janemaynard - A delicious and easy breakfast!

    This morning as I was dragging myself to the kitchen to get breakfast and lunches made, I remembered that Cate loves milk toast, which is basically toast soaked in milk. It’s a super old-school recipe and pretty much no one even knows what it is, but milk toast is delicious. And, despite being half asleep, I had a major LIGHTBULB! moment. Milk toast is the perfect breakfast for someone who just got braces, especially when that someone already loves milk toast. So I grabbed my homemade bread, made Cate milk toast and was declared the best mom ever.

    Sweet Milk Toast Recipe from @janemaynard - A delicious and easy breakfast!

    The first time I made milk toast it was essentially because I was intrigued by the idea of this recipe, but I was not so sure that it would actually taste good. I had only heard people talk about it in a nostalgic way. Let’s be honest, nostalgic recipes can be hit or miss. I dove in anyway and am so glad I did because milk toast is AWESOME. It is mighty delicious and all my kids love it. I created a sweet milk toast recipe (as opposed to savory) and it’s a lot like eating bread pudding for breakfast. You can’t go wrong with that, amiright?

    Sweet Milk Toast Recipe from @janemaynard - A delicious and easy breakfast!

    So, try this recipe. And then next time someone describes something as “milk toast” in a demeaning way, stand up for milk toast. Be sure to let that person know that milk toast is actually awesome. And send them this recipe. Everyone will thank me.

    Sweet Milk Toast Recipe from @janemaynard - A delicious and easy breakfast!

    Milk Toast
     
    Prep time
    Total time
     
    I researched several different recipes for milk toast and landed on this version of my own, which is a sweet milk toast (not savory).
    Author:
    Serves: 1 serving
    Ingredients
    • 2 slices bread (preferably white and homemade!)
    • ½ cup milk (divided into 6 tablespoons and 2 tablespoons)
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon butter
    • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • ¾ teaspoon flour
    • pinch salt
    • butter for toast
    • honey or cinnamon sugar for toast
    Instructions
    1. In a cereal bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the milk with the flour, vanilla and salt. Set aside.
    2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the rest of the milk (6 tablespoons), the butter and sugar. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring regularly to avoid scorching. Cook until milk is steaming a lot and about to simmer. Give the cold milk-flour mixture a quick whisk then whisk it into the milk on the stove. Cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and set aside.
    3. Toast bread, butter then cover with cinnamon sugar or drizzle with honey. Cut bread into bite-sized pieces then place in cereal bowl you used earlier. Pour milk mixture over the toast, stir and let sit for about 30 seconds, pressing the pieces of bread and stirring to get the toast to absorb the milk.
    4. Eat!

    Dishes pictured are from Q Squared NYC.


  3. Monday, April 17

    Masala Salsa for Indian Tacos and Burritos

    An addition to my regular weekly menus in recent years has been Indian burritos and tacos. Basically we make cheater tandoori chicken and then wrap Indian-spiced foods in tortillas. And we love it. After a few times serving them, I felt like we needed some sort of tomato salsa to go on the burritos, in addition to raita. And that is how masala salsa was born.

    Masala Salsa, perfect for Indian tacos and burritos, from @janemaynard

    This recipe is simple, quick and easy and adds great flavor to your Indian tacos and burritos. And when I say it’s easy, I mean it. I make this little sauce every time I make the Indian burritos and tacos and it’s no big deal.

    Masala Salsa, perfect for Indian tacos and burritos, from @janemaynard

    Also, I totally made this up. The name, the concoction, all of it. I’m not claiming this is actual, real-live Indian food. These are simply recipes inspired by Indian cuisine that are delicious and fun. Disclaimer over. 😉

    Masala Salsa, perfect for Indian tacos and burritos, from @janemaynard

    Masala Salsa
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Perfect topping on Indian tacos and burritos. Serve warm or cold.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
    • ½ teaspoon garam masala
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
    Instructions
    1. Slice cherry tomatoes into halves.
    2. Put tomatoes into a small saucepan and add the garam masala, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat as low as it will go while still maintaining a simmer, probably around medium-low. Let tomatoes simmer until some of the fluid cooks off, about 10-15 minutes.
    3. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Can be served fresh and warm or cold from the fridge!

     


  4. Saturday, March 18

    Smoking, please. Competitive smoking.

    So, you know how my sister-in-law Cora is going to start writing for the blog now? Apparently she and her husband (a.k.a. my brother) are on a quest to take over my blog because now HE has written up a recipe to share on the blog. Fine by me…less work for me, more good food for you! Also, the recipe he is sharing is in a competition and we need your votes. It’s easy and you don’t have to sign up for anything, so if you’re bored…GO VOTE! YAY! He’s in the East bracket at the very bottom. Without further ado, here’s Christian! 

    Recipe for Smoke N Grill Flank Steak by Christian Wallin for This Week for DinnerThis is Jane’s overly bearded brother, Christian. Husband of Cora, whom you might remember from such blog posts as Charcuterie for 500, please, Alex.

    We bought a house about 2 years ago, moved in and discovered the kitchen oven didn’t work. Like, at all. (Actually, turns out the gas lines didn’t work either as evidenced by the 3 or 4 fire trucks that greeted us within the first week of living in the house, much to the joy of the then 4- and 6-year-olds in the family.)

    In the interest of roasting two birds with one heat source, we went ahead and bought a smoker. With no working oven in the house. My wife obviously has a good sense of humor… and an insatiable desire for smoked flank steak. She saw the irony, but also the perfectly smoked bark and juicy inside of our first brisket. It is an oven after all. It just doesn’t make your house hot in the summer.

    Today I’m here to share a spectacular grilling recipe of mine with you, born from that smoker, in hopes of warming up the weather to bring on spring. And if it looks good enough to you to lick the screen, I’d love your vote in the “East” division of this lil’ March Madness-style BBQ competition I’m in, bottom right. It’s a tight race and should only take 1 minute. UPDATE: You can’t vote for Christian because he won the competition! SO AWESOME! Go, Christian!

    This recipe has emerged from many a trial-and-error cooks. And it’s my favorite. If I made and sold my own barbecue sauce, this would be sketched in the background of the label. It uses the smoker first and then the grill to finish it off. If you don’t have a smoker, you can skip step 3 and go straight to the grill. It will still be delicious.

    But let me tell you. It only takes one smoke to never stop.

    If you have even the faintest of a smoke itch, check out a pellet smoker. It makes monitoring the heat source as easy as turning a dial and then you can focus on mastering the craft of BBQ, complete with wood-fueled flavor. And if you’re really feeling the urge to take on Spring with a vengeance, pick up Franklin’s BBQ book. In hardcover; it’s way more fun that way. If you can cook it in an oven, you can cook it in a smoker. Smoking opens up all sorts of culinary opportunity.

    With that, enjoy the recipe! And support competitive smoking (I’m the bottom right matchup). It’ll only take a second and then the steak will be spread to more beloved hearts.

    Smoke ’n Grill Flank Steak
     
    Get the smokey goodness of the smoker and the searing punch of the grill all in one glorious, marinaded slab of heaven. The smell of the marinade will make you want to pop open a beer at 11:00am, the aroma of the smoker will get the neighbors peaking over the fence, and the fire of the grill that afternoon will ensure your status as BBQ god amongst friends.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 lb flank steak
    • 1⁄4 cup red wine
    • 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil (I don’t use olive so it doesn’t solidify in the fridge)
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1⁄8 cup soy sauce
    • A little less than 1⁄8 cup Worcestershire sauce
    • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 limes, fresh squeezed
    Instructions
    1. Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Give it a stir and take a good whiff - it should make you want to lick it. Need some more citrus? A lil' more garlic? Add it. I like a strong garlic presence, solid lime scent, a wave of soy and enough Worcestershire sauce to make it unique (a little less than ⅛ cup).
    2. Put it in a plastic bag with the meat. Push out as much air as you can without shooting the marinade across the counter. Toss it in the fridge for 8 hours. I use vegetable oil instead of olive so the marinade doesn't solidify in the fridge.
    3. Load up your smoker with your wood of choice. I often use mesquite or hickory, maybe some apple mixed in. Keep it at about 180-200 degrees for 3 hours. If your steak is smaller, shoot more for 2½ hours.
    4. In the last 30 min of smoking, fire up your grill. I use charcoal because I can get it HOT. You want it as high as you can get it. Visiting my parents once I set their gas grill aflame getting it to where I wanted it. Not the safest grill moment I've had but had a hell of a good sear.
    5. Once your coals and grill are hot (HOT), transfer the steak from the smoker. Grill it about 3 minutes per side. You want to sear the dickens out of it, getting some nice char and grill markage. It will go about a minute faster than usual because the temperature of the meat is higher from smoking.
    6. Knowing when to pull a steak off is a bit of an art, but just takes practice. This steak is a little different because it will seem stiffer from smoking, but follow you gut. If you're unfamiliar with steak doneness, Google "using palm to test steak." It's remarkably accurate.
    7. Pull the steak off the grill, wrap in foil and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
    8. Carve that sucker, against the grain. Pencil-width slices. Adorn with Chimichurri sauce and sides of your liking. Crack a beer or other favorite beverage and bask in the smoky grace of BBQ.

    Chimichurri
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 bunch cilantro, washed WELL and chopped
    • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
    • 3⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 1 lime, fresh squeezed
    • 1 tablespoon diced red onion
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
    Instructions
    1. Put all ingredient in a food processor or blender and ZOOT! ZOOT!
    2. You're done. Easy. Be a hero and offer it to your guests for their steak.

    Hi, it’s Jane again. Christian doesn’t think I should post this photo, but I am anyway. Because THAT SHIRT.

    Recipe for Smoke N Grill Flank Steak from Christian Wallin | This Week for Dinner


  5. Sunday, March 5

    My New Favorite Go-To Meal: Roasted Vegetable Egg Scramble

    You may have noticed Roasted Vegetable Egg Scramble on my weekly menus a lot lately. That’s because that dish is my new favorite go-to dinner. FAVORITE. Since I’ve started going to the farmer’s market every Wednesday, I’ve been regularly roasting vegetables to have on hand in the fridge throughout the week. As a result, we’ve been making these roasted vegetable egg scrambles on busy nights and it is just so darn tasty. The first time I made these eggs, Cate was especially enamored and when Nate walked through the door that night she exclaimed, “You are going to LOVE dinner tonight.”

    Roasted Vegetable Egg Scramble from @janemaynard - a great breakfast as well as go-to dinner idea!

    This is not a precise recipe, more of a jumping off point for you to make these eggs however you want. I recently received an email from a reader asking what vegetables I use for the scrambles. The answer? Whatever vegetables I happen to find at the market that are good for roasting! Since it’s winter time, it’s been a lot of cauliflower and squashes mixed with potatoes and onions. I’m sure when summer rolls around the mix will be different. I have to say, the cauliflower and butternut squash have been my favorites.

    Roasted Vegetable Egg Scramble from @janemaynard - a great breakfast as well as go-to dinner idea!

    One quick note: the reason that this is such a fast and easy dinner option is because I already have the vegetables roasted and sitting in the fridge. I have yet to actually roast vegetables simply to make these eggs. Although, they are delicious enough to be worthy of the effort. BUT…the reason this is my new go-to dinner is because those veggies are sitting there waiting for me. I didn’t use to be a person who roasted vegetables every week, but now that I do, well, I love it. It really is wonderful having them on hand all the time, I highly recommend it!

    Roasted Vegetable Egg Scramble from @janemaynard - a great breakfast as well as go-to dinner idea!

    Roasted Vegetable Egg Scramble
     
    Author:
    Serves: 1 serving
    Ingredients
    • 2 eggs
    • ~1/2 cup diced roasted vegetables
    • Pat of butter
    • 4 pinches salt
    • Pepper
    Instructions
    1. Heat a small frying pan on the stove over medium heat. Once the pan has been heating up for a few minutes, add the butter and roasted vegetables. Stir occasionally as they heat up.
    2. Whisk the two eggs with the salt (my rule of thumb is 2 pinches of salt per egg, so if you're cooking more than 2 eggs, just add more pinches accordingly). Note: this recipe is for one serving, but you can easily up the amount of eggs and vegetables and just cook them in a larger pan. Works great!
    3. Once the vegetables are heated through, pour the egg into the pan. Let cook for about a minute, then start to "flip" the eggs, turning the eggs and veggies over in the pan evenly. Cook until all the egg is just cooked through, making sure not too cook too long.
    4. Slide onto a plate, sprinkle with black pepper and enjoy!
    Notes
    Click here for an article I recently wrote about roasting vegetables. For these eggs, you can roast just 1 or 2 veggies or a large assortment. There are no rules here! Vegetables that I like to roast that I think are good in the eggs: always a bit of yellow onion, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, squashes, broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, the list goes on!

     


  6. Monday, February 20

    Homemade Bolognese Sauce

    I’ve tried making bolognese sauce a few times in my life and was never impressed. I blamed the bolognese. But what I should have been blaming were the recipes I was trying. Today I have a recipe that is divine and completely changes how I feel about homemade bolognese sauce. This past Christmas I found myself with a half a pound of ground veal left over from making Swedish meatballs. I searched around the web for recipes to use up the veal and happened upon this recipe for veal bolognese from Food & Wine. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly but used it as a guide and oh my GOODNESS the resulting sauce was so, so good and flavorful and wonderful and, well, I am finally impressed by homemade bolognese sauce.

    Incredibly Flavorful Homemade Bolognese Recipe from @janemaynard

    think one of the reasons the sauce was so good was because I used half veal, half regular ground beef. But I’m quite certain the sauce will still be uber delicious with straight ground beef, as the veggies and spices are what really make this sauce shine. If you want to use veal, by all means do. But ground beef alone is a-okay.

    Click here for the original recipe, which also includes butternut squash, which I am sure is delicious! Below is my version of homemade bolognese sauce, with some modifications from the original recipe.

    Incredibly Flavorful Homemade Bolognese Recipe from @janemaynard

    Oh, one more note! I used a rigatoni-like pasta instead of spaghetti and really liked that shape of pasta with this sauce. Use whatever pasta you like, but the rigatoni is quite delicious.

    Homemade Bolognese Sauce
     
    Adapted from a Food & Wine recipe.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 pound ground beef or veal (or half pound of each)
    • 2 slices of bacon, minced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • ½ cup minced carrot
    • ½ cup minced celery
    • ½ cup minced onion
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press
    • Kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon ground sage
    • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil OR 1 tablespoon fresh basil (chiffonade)
    • 1 cup dry red wine
    • 2 15-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • ¾ cup cream
    • Pepper
    • Optional: 3 tablespoons tomato paste (I added this to the recipe after making it many times, see directions below for notes)
    Instructions
    1. In a large cast-iron casserole (or pot), cook minced bacon in the olive oil over medium heat, for about 5 minutes until bacon is well cooked, stirring occasionally.
    2. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Sprinkle evenly with a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Add the fresh garlic and stir.
    3. Add the ground meat along with the sage, parsley, bay leaf and oregano. If using dried basil, add that now as well. Season evenly with a few pinches of salt. Cook until meat is cooked through and no longer pink, stirring regularly.
    4. Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced significantly, about 3-5 minutes. Add UNdrained tomatoes and cook until liquid is reduced by about half, around 5 minutes.
    5. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. At this point if you are using tomato paste, add that as well. (Note: originally I did not have tomato paste in the recipe. The sauce base originally came out with more of a broth consistency - still unbelievably tasty, but you have to serve the pasta in a bowl. This last time I added tomato paste and it helped to thicken the sauce base up and the flavor remained the same. I will be using the tomato paste in this recipe from now on).
    6. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
    7. Remove the bay leaf. Add the cream and, if using fresh basil, the basil. Stir and add salt to taste if needed. Finish off with a few shakes of pepper.

     


  7. Thursday, August 11

    Cora’s Mexican Ground Beef Tacos

    I have to confess something. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to Mexican food. I blame living 20-40 miles from the Mexican border for eight of the last 15 years, with the other seven years still being in California. One of my biggest fears of moving away from the San Diego area is that I won’t be able to access my favorite Mexican ingredients for cooking at home. No, really, it’s a true FEAR.

    Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos | from @janemaynard

    Now that you know I’m a snob, I have another confession to make. Ground beef tacos are not my favorite and I refer to them as “gringo tacos” in my head (especially when crispy taco shells are involved). This isn’t to say Mexican cuisine does not include seasoned ground beef for tacos, it’s just not my first pick and ground beef is never on the menu at any of my favorite Mexican restaurants. That all said, I will still eat and even cook ground beef tacos occasionally, it’s just never my first choice.

    While we were visiting family the last few weeks, however, my sister-in-law Cora (who is a wonderful cook as well as a crazy talented photographer) made the best ground beef tacos I’ve ever had. Her Mexican friend Zu taught her how to make this delectable taco meat, and Cora has now passed that wisdom on to you and me.

    Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos | from @janemaynardPlease note: The amount of meat you see in the picture above is the recipe below doubled.

    First off, you will not need taco seasoning packets ever again. Stop buying them.

    Secondly, after you make this taco meat, you will want to eat 10 tacos. You’ve been warned. (After Nate’s umpteenth taco he declared, “Why are these SO GOOD?!”)

    Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos | from @janemaynard

    Thank you, Cora, for bringing ground beef tacos back into my life in the most delicious way.

    Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos
     
    My sister-in-law Cora gave me this recipe. Her Mexican friend taught her how to make this meat and it is scrumptious!
    Author:
    Serves: 8
    Ingredients
    • 1½ pounds ground beef
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder (Cora prefers chipotle chili powder)
    • 1 teaspoon paprika (Cora uses smoked paprika)
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1½ - 2 tsp seasoned salt (to taste)
    • 1 handful chopped fresh cilantro
    • ½ onion, diced
    • 1 pint quartered grape tomatoes
    Instructions
    1. Brown beef over medium heat in a large, preferably deep, skillet. Use a potato masher to really break down the meat as it cooks. (The potato masher is the secret trick to this recipe!)
    2. When the beef is about halfway browned, drain off excess fat, then add the diced onion and seasonings. Continue browning, then add the chopped cilantro and tomatoes.
    3. Reduce heat to low and cook until tomatoes and onions melt into the beef mixture, at least 20 minutes. You can add a bit of water as it cooks if needed. Also, continue to use the potato masher throughout the cooking process.
    4. Awesome served with fresh homemade salsa (like this one), pico de gallo and Cholula hot sauce...but you can eat it however you want!

     

     


  8. Friday, July 29

    Cora’s Sour Cream Banana Bread Recipe + The BEST Way to Eat Banana Bread (How have I never done this?!)

    Right now I’m in New Jersey visiting my family. Despite the fact that my sister-in-law Cora had a baby just six weeks ago, she has still been caught cooking us delicious food. Yesterday she made four loaves of banana bread, which (unsurprisingly) are already gone! Cora has been kind enough to share her sour cream banana bread recipe with us today. Everyone say thank you, Cora! {Thank you, Cora!}

    Cora's Sour Cream Banana Bread Recipe from @janemaynard

    Cora’s recipe is wonderful and tastes like butter. The day it is baked, the top is wonderfully crispy, while the bread itself is soft and moist. And as happy as I am to now have Cora’s great recipe, I’m even more happy about the fact that Cora and my brother Christian shared the greatest tip ever for eating banana bread.

    The Best Way to Eat Banana Bread | Cora's Sour Cream Banana Bread Recipe from @janemaynard

    You know how when you make banana bread or brownies or whatever that has a crispy top and it goes soft over night? WELL…Cora and Christian always toast their slices of banana bread and then slather the slices with butter. The top gets crispy again, the edges are awesome, and the bread stays soft and delicious. And then, of course, melted butter. It’s basically the greatest and I may never eat banana bread any other way again. These toasty slices of heaven might be even better than fresh-from-the-oven banana bread. Crazy talk, I know, but true.

    The Best Way to Eat Banana Bread | Cora's Sour Cream Banana Bread Recipe from @janemaynard

    Enjoy! BonANA Appétit!

    Cora's Sour Cream Banana Bread Recipe
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    From my wonderful sister-in-law Cora, who is an excellent cook!
    Author:
    Recipe type: Baking
    Serves: 2 loaves
    Ingredients
    • ⅔ cup butter
    • 1⅓ cup sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla or coconut extract (either are delicious!)
    • 1½ cup mashed bananas
    • 2¾ cup flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ c sour cream
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
    3. Add vanilla or coconut extract then add eggs, beating well after each egg.
    4. Add mashed bananas and mix well.
    5. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
    6. Beating on low, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients until just combined. Add ¼ cup of the sour cream, beat on low until just combined. Repeat with ⅓ of the dry ingredients, then the rest of the sour cream, then finishing with the last ⅓ of the dry ingredients, making sure to mix until just combined with each addition.
    7. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans and bake for 40-45 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

     


  9. Thursday, June 30

    Summer Grilling: Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon Pecan Salad

    {Cue music} Summertiiiiime and the grilling is eeeasyyyy. That’s right, forget the kitchen, it’s time to start cooking all of the foods on the grill. I’ll admit, I use my outdoor grill all year, but it’s especially lovely to cook outside in the summer, and pretty much a necessity when the weather gets hot.

    Recipe for Grilled Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon Pecan Salad from @janemaynard The Salmon Council approached me to develop another recipe with them, this time focusing on the grill. Of course I said yes because grilling salmon is my most favorite way to prepare it. The result was this delicious grilled brown sugar bourbon salmon pecan salad that our whole family loved. (Well, everyone except Owen, but he is a 4-year-old who cannot be trusted when it comes to food.)

    Recipe for Grilled Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon Pecan Salad from @janemaynard - Preparing the ingredientsRecipe for Grilled Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon Pecan Salad from @janemaynard - Marinating the SalmonRecipe for Grilled Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon Pecan Salad from @janemaynard - Grilling the SalmonRecipe for Grilled Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon Pecan Salad from @janemaynard - Hot off the Grill

    As part of the recipe challenge, the Salmon Council sent me a box of Grill Mates goodies from McCormick. They sent many wonderful Grill Mates products, but the Brown Sugar Bourbon Marinade Mix caught my eye. I decided marinated grilled salmon would taste wonderful over a mixed green salad and perfect for summer. Then I started thinking more about the spicy marinade mix and had a feeling it would be good on candied pecans. I was right! These candied brown sugar bourbon pecans are awesome on salad…or even alone as a snack! The nuts are bursting with flavor with just a hint of sweet. So good.

    Recipe for Grilled Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon Pecan Salad from @janemaynard - Roasted Pecansbrown-sugar-bourbon-salmon-and-pecan-salad-this-week-for-dinner-prep-nuts-web

    I am so glad I had the chance to work with the Salmon Council and McCormick on this project because this recipe now exists. Enjoy!

    Recipe for Grilled Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon Pecan Salad from @janemaynard

    Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon and Pecan Salad
     
    Author:
    Serves: 4-6
    Ingredients
    • 1½ pounds salmon filet, skin on
    • 2 packages McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon Marinade Mix
    • ¼ cup oil
    • 3 tablespoons water, divided
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
    • 1 cup pecan pieces
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon butter
    • Mixed Greens (approximately 5-6 ounce package should be good)
    • Sliced tomatoes
    • Ricotta Salata
    Instructions
    1. In a 9x13 baking dish, whisk together 1 package of the McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon Marinade mix, ¼ cup oil, 2 tablespoons of the water and the vinegar.
    2. Place salmon filet in the dish, skin side down, then flip over so skin side is facing up. Cover dish with foil and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
    3. While salmon is marinating, preheat oven to 350º F and prepare the brown sugar bourbon pecans by placing the pecan pieces in a small bowl and tossing with HALF of the other Brown Sugar Bourbon Marinade packet. (You will have one half packet leftover...save it for another day!)
    4. In a small bowl mix together 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the water and 1 teaspoon butter. Microwave for 20 seconds.
    5. Pour brown sugar mixture over the spiced nuts and stir until evenly coated. Spread nuts on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, stir, then bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from oven, stir, and let cool. Be sure to stir and break up the nuts as they cool so they don't stick to each other or the foil.
    6. When the salmon has been marinating for about 45 minutes, preheat the grill to medium heat, around 500º F.
    7. When salmon has marinated for 1 hour, remove from fridge and, using the foil that covered the dish, place the salmon skin side down on the foil, folding up the edges of the foil to catch any liquid that cooks off while on the grill. Spoon marinade from the dish onto the salmon and spread evenly.
    8. Place foil with salmon on center of the grill, close the lid and cook for 10-15 minutes, until salmon is fairly easy to flake apart. Remove from grill.
    9. Toss mixed greens with seasoned nuts, sliced tomatoes and ricotta salata. Plate mixed greens and top with grilled salmon. Serve with your favorite salad dressing.

    Thank you to the Salmon Council for sponsoring today’s post!


  10. Wednesday, May 4

    Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies + FairHer, Celebrating the Women of Fair Trade (+ a Giveaway!)

    Mother’s Day is just around the corner, which means two things for me. First, I am planning on not cooking this Sunday, or even parenting much at all (that’s how I like my Mother’s Day, nice and lazy). Second, I’m teaming up with Fair Trade USA once again to celebrate the amazing women farmers of fair trade! I think this might be my 4th Fair Trade Mother’s Day recipe and giveaway…I’ve lost track! Anyway, since it’s not Mother’s Day quite yet, I am still in the kitchen and today I’ve cooked up a batch of double chocolate coconut cookies that I am certain you will love.

    Recipe for Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies, using Fair Trade certified ingredients to support women farmers, by @janemaynard #FairHerRecipe for Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies, using Fair Trade certified ingredients to support women farmers, by @janemaynard #FairHer

    But before we get to the recipe we need to meet a farmer. And do a giveaway, which includes tons of awesome fair trade goodies. Let’s go!

    This year Fair Trade is focusing on the women of fair trade through their #FairHer campaign. Like ONE, another non-profit organization I work with frequently, Fair Trade recognizes how important it is to help women in order to tackle poverty. In fact, you can’t tackle poverty without focusing on women. And the work Fair Trade does empowers women in many ways, especially given that women produce more than 50% of the world’s food (ummmm…btw…they only own 2% of the land).

    Fair Trade USA #FairHer - Fair Trade is Good for Women

    To make this all a little more real, I’d like you to meet one of those women farmers, Virginia Jimenez, a sugar cane farmer & member of the CORA Cooperative, a Fair Trade Certified organic sugar producer in Paraguay. Gimenez has been involved with sugar cane all her life, as both her father and late husband were sugar cane producers. Her late husband, Mario Miranda, joined CORA in 2010 and died a year later. Gimenez, a mother of four, has taken over as the CORA-affiliated producer.

    Virginia Jimenez, Fair Trade Farmer with CORA in Paraguay | Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies | This Week for Dinner

    Here are a few of Virginia’s thoughts: “For us, the access to machinery that CORA provides is key for our annual production [note: according to CORA, they are able to lend the use of machinery at low or no cost by using some of the Fair Trade premium fund]. I also like the ideals behind CORA. Their strict rules are good for our society. For example, the controls regarding the use of child labor is very good. The safety workshops have also been great help. And the idea of producing organic sugar cane without chemicals is very important. My husband believed strongly in this. If we were able to increase our earnings, whether from sales or from the premium fund, I would like to see our health services improved. We do not have medical attention here on a daily basis. If a poisonous snake bites someone, we have to go really far.”

    So, keep an eye out for that fair trade symbol on the food you buy. It’s helping wonderful women like Virginia. A sincere thank you to Virginia for sharing her story and thoughts with us!

    FairHer Giveaway, a collection of awesome Fair Trade Certified Goodies from @janemaynard

    I mentioned a giveaway, didn’t I? Fair Trade USA sent me a package of goodies to provide inspiration for today’s recipe, and one of you lucky people will receive the same package! It just might be their best one yet. Click here to read about all of the products included!

    Here’s how to enter the giveaway! (Comments must be posted by Midnight PT 5/11/16):

    I think it’s time to get cooking with all these yummy fair trade ingredients!

    Recipe for Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies, using Fair Trade certified ingredients to support women farmers, by @janemaynard #FairHer | Sliced coconut and Guittard baking wafersRecipe for Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies, using Fair Trade certified ingredients to support women farmers, by @janemaynard #FairHer | Guittard baking wafers and Lake Champlain Cocoa

    Today’s cookies may not be fancy but they are pretty much perfect. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, these chocolate cookies are filled with dark chocolate and coconut, one of my favorite flavor combinations. And there are so many ingredients in these cookies that can go fair trade, from the sugar to the vanilla to the chocolate! For this batch I used Guittard’s organic semisweet chocolate baking wafers, which are my favorite chocolate chips to use in any cookie recipe. I also used Lake Champlain’s organic unsweetened cocoa, another fabulous chocolate source that I can’t get enough of.

    Recipe for Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies, using Fair Trade certified ingredients to support women farmers, by @janemaynard #FairHer | Cookie DougRecipe for Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies, using Fair Trade certified ingredients to support women farmers, by @janemaynard #FairHer | Cookies on the Tray

    Enjoy! And Happy Mother’s Day!

    Recipe for Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies, using Fair Trade certified ingredients to support women farmers, by @janemaynard #FairHer

    Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Author:
    Serves: 3 dozen
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 1½ cup brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • Generous ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
    • 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
    • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 1 cup unsweetened coconut (I love wide sliced)
    • 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips (I love Guittard's baking wafers)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, mix together the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed for approximately 5 minutes. (Yes, 5 MINUTES...you want it to mix for a long time.)
    3. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes.
    4. Place a sifter over the bowl and add the salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour and cocoa powder to the sifter, then sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix on low until just mixed.
    5. Add coconut and chocolate chips and mix with a large spoon until evenly distributed.
    6. Place dough in 2-tablespoon dough balls on a cookie sheet, leaving a few inches between each cookie.
    7. Bake for about 12-14 minutes. The cookies shouldn't look wet beneath the surface (if that makes sense).
    8. When you take them out of the oven, drop the pan flat onto the counter or stovetop to force the cookies to settle.
    9. Let cool a few minutes before eating. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Dough balls can also be frozen and cookies cooked from a frozen state, you just may need to add 1 or 2 minutes to the cook time.