Thursday, July 21
It’s summertime, which means two things. One, we need to do something fun. Two, you need good dishes for summer entertaining. How about I combine the two by doing a giveaway (fun!) of my most favorite melamine dishes (perfect for summer)? Let’s do it.
Pictured: Knoll Gardens Serving Bowl
I’ve been working with Q Squared NYC for some time now and continue to love their dishes and serveware year after year. Not only does Q Squared have gorgeous designs, but the quality of their melamine is top notch. I know you think you know melamine, but this melamine is just so much better than what you normally see in stores – thick, heavy (in a good way!) and just plain pretty. You can click here to learn more about what melamine is (I just discovered myself that it’s an organic-based material!) and why Q Squared’s is so lovely. We have a set of Q Squared plates we use every day. I’ve been cleaning them in the dishwasher for years and they look as good as new. And my kids have yet to break anything made by Q Squared. Their dishes are indestructible!
While our family uses Q Squared dishes every day no matter where we eat, I am especially grateful for the dishes when we are eating outside. I have zero worries about anything getting broken. And I love hosting parties and taking food to potlucks because it means I get to break out all of my awesome Q Squared serving platters and trays. I kid you not, I get compliments on them every time.
Pictured: Royal Lapis Dinner Plate, Salad Plate and Bread & Butter Plate
Since it’s summer, I think you need a little Q Squared loveliness in your life, too! You have two options to make this happen. First, go shopping and use the code JANE20 to get 20% off everything at Q Squared (code is valid through Labor Day 9/5/16). I promise you will love whatever you buy! Your second option is to enter the summer giveaway below!
To celebrate their beautiful new summer collections, including the Knoll Gardens and Royal Lapis patterns you see in this post, Q Squared is giving away a 12-piece dinnerware set to one of you lucky people! To enter, leave a comment below telling us which pattern you would choose. That’s all you have to do! Click here to view all of the collections. Be sure to leave your comment telling us your favorite pattern by Midnight PT on Friday, July 29, 2016.
I don’t want to influence you too heavily or anything, but I am head-over-heels in love with my new Knoll Gardens dishes. They are GORGEOUS. I mean, the Royal Lapis is gorgeous, too, but Knoll Gardens really has me smitten. 😉
Happy Shopping!Thank you to Q Squared NYC for sponsoring today’s post and hosting the giveaway!
Wednesday, December 3
The giveaway in this post is now closed, but keep reading to find out about some really cute Christmas dishes and to get the shortbread recipe!
This post is sponsored by Q Squared NYC. As always, all opinions are 100% my own, including the opinion that these cookies are awesome.
I am so happy it’s the holiday season! Well, I mean, now I am, after my annual early-December freak out last night over the stress that this month brings (my busiest work month, two birthdays and Christmas all wrapped up into one not-so-calm package). But now, with the freak out officially behind me, I am ready to dive into present wrapping and cookie baking!
I started the whole holiday baking shebang with these chocolate-dipped peppermint shortbread cookies. I’m a sucker for shortbread. No, really, I kind of can’t control myself around the stuff. I decided to give my favorite shortbread recipe a holiday twist by incorporating chocolate and peppermint. The twist worked beautifully. And now there are about 30 ridiculously-adorable and delicious cookies taunting me in my kitchen.
These cookies are peppermint perfection. Even though there is peppermint in every element of the cookie, the peppermint flavor is not overpowering. The shortbread, which has just a hint of peppermint, is then dipped in high-quality dark chocolate, also sporting that peppermint hint. Top it all off with crunchy peppermint pieces and you’ve got yourself a COOKIE, filled with flavors and textures that work together oh so nicely. And they look crazy cute!
In addition to these lovely cookies, I have some lovely dishes to share with you today, too! You all know how much I love Q Squared. Well, I love them even more now that their holiday dishes are out! When I put in my order for the Winter’s Eve collection, I knew the dishes would be cute but I was not prepared for how much I would love them once I saw the dishes in person. Serious love, people.
Today we are giving away a complete set of the Winter’s Eve collection from Q Squared! One randomly-selected winner will receive 1 large platter, 1 serving bowl, 6 dinner plates, 6 tapas plates and 1 coaster set. To enter, please do the following by midnight PT on Tuesday December 9, 2014 (prize must be shipped to a US address): Leave a comment on this post! Easy Peasy! Bonus entry: Like me on Instagram! (You need to leave a separate comment telling us you liked! If you previously liked, it still counts but be sure to leave the extra comment!) Bonus entry: Like Q Squared on Instagram! (You need to leave a separate comment telling us you liked! If you previously liked, it still counts but be sure to leave the extra comment!) Bonus entry: Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook! (You need to leave a separate comment telling us you liked! If you previously liked, it still counts but be sure to leave the extra comment!) Bonus entry: Like Q Squared on Facebook! (You need to leave a separate comment telling us you liked! If you previously liked, it still counts but be sure to leave the extra comment!) Good luck with the giveaway – I wish you could all win!
And now for the recipe!Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint ShortbreadDelicious chocolate-dipped shortbread with just the right amount of peppermint.Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: DessertServes: 25-30Ingredients
- 1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Pinch kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon peppermint extract, divided into ½ and ¼ teaspoons
- 1 cup high-quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ¼ cup broken peppermint pieces
- Preheat oven to 325ºF.
- Cream butter, brown sugar and ½ teaspoon peppermint extract together on medium-high speed in a stand mixer for about 3 minutes with the paddle attachment. Scrape down bowl.
- Add 1½ cups of the flour and a pinch of salt. Beat with paddle attachment on medium speed until fully incorporated.
- Set aside the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook.
- Add the rest of the flour (3/4 cup) and mix on medium-low speed with the dough hook, kneading the dough in the mixer for about 5 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.
- Roll dough out on a floured surface to about ½-inch thick. Using a ~2-inch sized cookie cutter, cut cookies and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Prick the tops of the cookies with a fork.
- Form leftover dough into a ball and roll back out to ½-inch thick and repeat process until you've cut all the dough into cookies.
- Bake for 15-25 minutes, until bottoms of cookies are light golden brown. (The time will vary depending on how thick you actually rolled out the dough. The thinner the cookie, the less cook time.)
- When cookies have cooled completely, in a small microwave-safe bowl cook chocolate chips and coconut oil on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir well until all chocolate has melted.
- Add ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract and stir well.
- Dip each cookie partially into the chocolate then set on a cooling rack to let chocolate harden. Sprinkle with peppermint pieces immediately after dipping cookie.
- Place cookies in fridge to harden the chocolate, around 30-60 minutes. When the cookies return to room temperature, the chocolate will soften a smidge. The chocolate will be hard enough so that the cookies will be pretty and stackable (for packaging and giving!) but just soft enough that it's easy to bite through when eating the cookie. Store extras in the fridge.
- You will have extra melted chocolate. I like to have extra so it's easier for dipping. Just pour it over a bowl of ice cream or spread it on a silicone baking mat, sprinkle with peppermint pieces and put in the fridge for a quick peppermint bark. You need to put that chocolate to use!
Comment #4 ellen patton was the winner of this giveaway. Congratulations, Ellen!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 1:50 pm 118 Comments
Categories: featured recipes, Giveaways, holidays, Recipes, sweet things, the goods Tags: baking, christmas, cookies, dishes, holidays, q squared, q squared nyc, shortbread, sponsored |
Friday, November 21
This post is sponsored by Q Squared NYC.
I was recently chatting with my dear friend Amy about the holidays and she mentioned the dishes her mom used when she was growing up. Amy talked about how those dishes are firmly entrenched in her memory and that the dishes themselves are as much a part of the experience of the holidays as anything else. As she got thinking about it, she found she felt the same way about the dishes her grandmother used, too.
I loved this conversation because it really got me thinking. Often when I look back on holiday meals with the family, the food is what I focus on. In fact, when I pass traditions on to my kids it’s almost always focused on the food and sharing family recipes. But I haven’t thought much about the significance of the dishes we used. After chatting with Amy I realized my experience was the same as hers, that the dishes actually played a large role.
When I was very young, most of our holidays were spent with the extended family, so a lot of the memories of dishes I have are from my grandmothers. My Grandma Wallin was the type of woman who would bring china to the beach for a picnic, so you can imagine what her table would look like for the holidays. Crystal glasses (perfect for serving 7-Up!), crystal bowls and china dishes abounded. As a young girl, I loved it. Her dishes made those family dinners feel extra special and fancy.
My Grandma Blomquist had 7 children, so when that family got together it was always a large group. I’ll never forget the tall stacks of plates on the buffet table or the basket she used for her giant rolls. What stands out most, however, is the silverware. She had several sets of silverware, complete with intricate patterns. I remember helping get the silverware out of the drawer in her china cabinet (and how that drawer was always a bear to open!). We would wipe the silverware down with a towel and, when dinner was done, carefully put it all back in the drawer.
Eventually we moved far from our extended family, at which point the dishes my mom used for the holidays take over my memories. My mom had a set of Christmas china that made an appearance very year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We loved those dishes and using them at Thanksgiving quite literally marked the start of the holiday season in our home. Once the holidays were over, we would scour the post-Christmas sales to find more pieces to add to the collection. Those dishes are firmly planted in my holiday memories and, to this day, whenever I see that set of dishes at a store, I am transported back in time.
As I mentioned before, while I’ve always had these memories, I’ve never stopped to think about how strong they are. And, on a related note, I haven’t really thought much about the dishes I use for the holidays and whether or not my kids have the same kinds of memories. Our family is young, relatively speaking, so I’m still in the phase of collecting those dishes that will play a special role at our holiday dinner table year after year. After doing all this thinking about these particular memories, it makes me that much more excited about adding new dishes to our holiday collection and setting the table with my kids each year.
I want my children to have similar memories to what I have, memories like polishing silver and pulling china down from the high cupboard. Of course I have fond memories of the food, but as I ponder those holiday meals from the past, I find that the act of preparing the table for those meals is where the strongest memories lie. Making the table special and beautiful with the women that meant the most to me in my life ended up being the times where we talked and bonded most and I will be forever grateful for those memories.
I hate ending posts with open-ended questions because it feels super cheesy, but I’m breaking my own rule today because I really want to hear from you! Please tell us about your own memories!
Pictured above: I’ve added some really lovely pieces to our holiday dish collections from Q Squared NYC. For Easter we use white dishes combined with serving dishes from the Heritage collection. For Thanksgiving we’ve added serving dishes from both the Ruffle and the Diamond collections, both of which are pictured above. Also pictured is the Maple Apple Bijou candle, which is the perfect scent for Thanksgiving and looks beautiful on the table, too!