Tuesday, January 31
Well, that 10 years sure went by quickly.
Today is This Week for Dinner’s 10th birthday! Happy Birthday, Blog! I seriously can’t believe it. If we’re going by birth order, the blog is technically my second child. 😉 I didn’t start a blog to start a blog, I just wanted to share my weekly menu with my brother if I happened to plan one. That’s it. And then it grew. And then I made a logo. And then I promised my friends my secret hot fudge recipe if they told their friends about the blog (and, yes, the recipe is still a secret). And, just like that, 10 years have passed, with over 520 weekly menu posts, oodles of recipes and so much other crazy stuff that has happened because of the blog it blows my mind. I feel incredibly grateful for the gift this blog has been in my life and look forward to many more blog birthdays. And of course I am eternally grateful to all of you who keep it going, with your comments and your weekly menus and your simply being here to read my words and make my recipes. Thank you!
To celebrate I have food. And a KitchenAid giveaway. Are you ready? Here we go!
Normally for the blog’s birthday I share some sort of chocolate. But today we’re going with my second favorite food group…French fries. Well, actually, French chips. Or should that be chip fries? Or French fry chips? Whatever you decide to call them (I’m going with French chips), these are your new favorite homemade French fries. They are basically French fries shaped like chips, although much thicker chips, which is why they are not really chips at all. Unless you’re in England. Then, yes, they are chips. Anyone confused yet?
Nate and I recently took the kids to Liberty Public Market by the San Diego harbor for lunch (which, by the way, is our new favorite place to eat. It’s awesome.) One of the food vendors, Mastiff Sausage Company, serves French fries that are shaped like discs and they are amazing. (Click here to see a picture!) No, really, why doesn’t everyone make French fries in this shape? The disc gives you the perfect proportion of potato to crispiness. It’s genius. If you’ve been around the blog for a while you know that when I get obsessed with a food from a restaurant, I generally have to figure out my own version. Enter today’s recipe for French chips. Which, coincidentally, leads into today’s giveaway!
To celebrate the blog’s 10th birthday, KitchenAid is generously giving one of you lucky commenters their brand new KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini 3.5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer in Honeydew (to match This Week for Dinner’s colors! So cute!) along with the Food Processor with Commercial Style Dicing Kit attachment, which will work on standard-sized stand mixers as well.* Where do I even begin? First, have you seen the new mini stand mixers? THEY ARE SO CUTE I CAN’T STAND IT. Also, this food processor is my first stand mixer attachment and, well, I’m a believer. Slicing my potatoes for the French chips was crazy fast and easy. I was ready to make 10 pounds of fries. The retail value of today’s giveaway is $649.98, so, um, yes you need to enter! (And a huge thank you to KitchenAid!)
Here’s how to enter the giveaway!
- Simply comment on this post to enter! That’s it!
Of course we have bonus entries! You must leave a separate comment for each bonus entry that applies to you:
- Bonus entry: Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook
- Bonus entry: Follow This Week for Dinner on Pinterest
- Bonus entry: Join the This Week for Dinner email list
- Bonus entry: Like KitchenAid on Facebook
- Bonus entry: Follow KitchenAid on Pinterest
Please note: Winner must be a resident of the United States. All comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.
Now that the giveaway is all set, let’s get to those French chips, shall we? They are crispy on the outside, perfect on the inside, not quite a fry and not quite a chip. Also, mine are not shaped like discs because my potato was too big for the food processor’s feed tube, but I like my triangle-shaped French chips. They’re cute! In addition to the French chips, I also have a recipe for a seasoned salt to go on top. It’s a little salty, a little smoky, a little sweet…and a lot delicious. Enjoy!
And Happy 10th Birthday, This Week for Dinner!French ChipsFrench fries shaped like chips are the best French fries ever. You're welcome. (Thanks to Mastiff Sausage Company in San Diego for the inspiration!)Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- Russet Potatoes (1 large potato per 2 servings)
- Canola or Vegetable Oil
- Place a cooling rack over a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and set aside.
- Slice the potato into thick discs. Alternatively, use the KitchenAid food processor attachment with the slicing disc. You want medium-thick discs. If you are using the food processor attachment and your potato is too wide for the feed tube, cut the potato into quarters lengthwise - your final fry shape will be a triangle instead of a disc, but it still works beautifully. The thickness on the food processor should be set around the center point for thickness.
- Soak sliced potatoes in water for 30 minutes up to overnight (put the bowl in the fridge if you're going for a long soak). Remove potatoes from the water and pat dry with a towel or paper towel.
- In a heavy-bottomed medium-large pot, heat 1-2 inches of oil. (For 1 potato I did 1 inch of oil.) Monitor the temperature of the oil with an instant read thermometer and bring the oil to 325º F. (On my stove the knob was around 6 on a scale of 1-10). It's okay if the temperature goes a little over 325º as the temperature will drop when you add the potatoes.
- Carefully add about ½ potato's worth of the fries/chips to the heated oil. Keep an eye on the temperature, adjusting the heat on the stove if necessary. Cook the fries for 4-6 minutes, until they just barely start to brown. I stir them fairly regularly while they cook.
- With a large slotted spoon, remove fries from the oil and place on the prepared cookie sheet with the cooling rack. Cook the next batch of raw potatoes, repeating the process above.
- Once all the potatoes have been fried once, raise the burner's heat to bring the oil to 350º F (about an 8 on a scale of 1-10 on my stove). Cook the fries in batches once again, this time cooking the fries for 2-5 minutes, until they are a nice golden brown color. Remove from the oil and drain on the prepared cookie sheet with cooling rack.
- While the fries are still hot, pat gently with a paper towel, sprinkle with salt or seasoned salt (see recipe below), flip and repeat.
- These fries are obviously best served hot, but they are still really good even after they've cooled. Enjoy!
French Chips Seasoned SaltAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Mix everything together! All done!
*All colors are subject to availability. The prizes include:
1. Artisan® Mini Stand Mixer in Honeydew (KSM3311XHW)
1. Food Processor with Commercial Style Dicing Kit (KSM2FPA)
Thursday, October 9
I love me an empty refrigerator. This is a weird example of how my neurotic tendencies (a desire for cleanliness) overcome my survival instincts (having food to eat). It’s weird, but seriously, when the fridge is half-full (or would that be that half-empty?) it makes me happy! But, I’ll admit, my fridge is not always in such a clean, empty state. At any given moment we most certainly have food in there that needs to be tossed and I definitely don’t wipe down the shelves as often as I should. Let’s not even get started on the fingerprints on the outside of the fridge!
But here’s the thing – when I do properly maintain the fridge, keep the food fresh, and the drawers and shelves clean, I feel sooooo much better! And we have far less food waste. So, today, in order to inspire us all to maintain beautiful refrigerators and to eat all of our food, I think we need to share some fridge tips and tricks with each other!
As you know, about a year ago KitchenAid supplied us with a brand new, beautiful 20 Cu. Ft. French Door Counter Depth Architect Series II fridge. One year later and I am still loving this fridge. And, yes, I’m still happy that we have a counter-depth fridge, although I will admit that it’s been nice having our old fridge in the garage for overflow at the holidays and to house the occasional larger item like a birthday-cake-in-the-making. Anyway, the fridge is fabulous and, now that I have a fridge I actually care about, I’ve gotten into a better groove about maintaing the fridge and keeping our food fresh. Here are a few of the things I have learned!
- Replacing the Water Filter is Easy, So, You Know, Do It! I don’t know how many people I know who don’t use the water dispenser in their fridge because they stopped replacing the filter. Luckily our fridge tells us when to order a water filter. We listened to our fridge and went online to order the filter, which arrived right around the time that the fridge said it was time to replace the filter. It was kind of magical. Anyway, it was really easy to replace and I even did it ALL BY MYSELF, no help from Nate. (This is saying something, I normally don’t put anything together in our house, not even LEGOs.)
- Don’t Use Cleaners on Stainless Steel – A Damp Cloth is All You Need! Okay, I’m sure a lot of you already know this, but when my fridge was brand new I used a mild general-purpose spray cleaner and the entire front of the fridge ended up with tiny rust marks ALL OVER IT, which I then had to carefully scrub off with baking soda and a soft towel. I opened the manual afterward and, sure enough, it says to only use cleaners made for stainless steel and nothing else. DUH. Now I just use a damp towel to wipe down the stainless steel, followed by a dry towel. I don’t even bother with the stainless steel cleaner, water does the trick!
- Use the Humidity Controls on the Crisper Drawers. For some reason I could never wrap my brain around the humidity controls on produce drawers, but I finally have it figured out. The higher the humidity control (so on my fridge #5), the more sensitive the veggies and fruit should be in that drawer. So, you know, high maintenance produce gets a high setting. Like lettuce. The lower the humidity control (on my fridge #1), the heartier, more low-key the produce, like fruits and veggies with peels. I guess if you really don’t want to think about it just throw the setting in the middle and call it a day, but if you decide to utilize the settings, your produce will last longer!
- Clean Out the Fridge Once a Week (for example, when you plan your weekly menu!). Fridges packed with food seriously stress me out. I know, I’m weird. But they do. I try really hard to stay on top of it and keep food cleaned out that has gone bad. When I can actually see what’s in the fridge, we are much more likely to eat the food inside and end up with far less food going bad.
- Wipe Out the Fridge Regularly, and Don’t Be Afraid to Take the Shelves and Drawers Out. Sometimes I wipe the shelves and drawers out frequently. Sometimes I neglect them and then we discover a giant blob of sticky goo underneath the produce drawers. I find that if I just wipe out the shelves each week when I clean out the old food, then it’s pretty easy. And the mystery goo blobs don’t appear nearly as often.
- Get a Fridge with a Temperature Management System. When we got our fridge I’ll admit I didn’t think much about what KitchenAid’s “ExtendFresh Temperature Management System” meant. Now that I have had the fridge for a year I really appreciate it! The system controls the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer compartments separately, it responds to temperature changes as small as 1º and adjusts accordingly, and the fan transfers cold air immediately from the freezer to the fridge for a faster response to temperature changes without needing to turn on the compressor. The system also maintains consistent temperatures, regardless of external temperatures or even the temperature in other compartments inside the fridge. Basically, it’s a super fancy system and it works GREAT. There’s even an alarm that alerts you if the temperature goes too high, which happened to me just the other night in fact! The door was barely open when we went to bed, but it didn’t trigger the door alarm for some reason. Once the temperature raised enough, the fridge started beeping and woke me up, but not before I dreamed about the fridge and it’s alarm first. 😉
So, what gems of refrigerator wisdom do you have for us? Spill your fridge maintenance guts! (Feel free to confess your less-than-perfect maintenance skills, too!)
This post was sponsored by KitchenAid. All opinions are 100% my own.
Friday, February 28
Happy Friday! It is rainy and windy and awesome here in San Diego today – we are reveling in the rain!
A few things to share with you today. First, remember my miracle friend Lucy? Today is International Rare Disease Day and my friend Kristen from Rage Against the Minivan wrote a blog post, sharing several people’s stories, including Lucy’s. I am honestly teary eyed looking over the post, feeling grateful and inspired. And I am so grateful to Kristen for helping to get Lucy’s story heard and spread the word about SMA.
On to less important stuff…
On Babble, I talked about time travel foods, beef stroganoff and a night with my kids (a little color behind the recipe I shared here earlier this week!).
Here are my Cosmo posts for the week!
- 20 Totally Un-Boring Ways to Cook Chicken Breats
- 15 Way to Make the Best Fried Rice Ever
- 15 Super Delicious Salmon Dishes
Have a wonderful weekend and here’s to more rain in California!
Thursday, December 12
This giveaway is now closed, but keep reading because the cookie recipe is FABULOUS. Also, the winner is announced at the end!
Today marks the end of Gifts & Giveaways. I know, I’m sad, too. But we are ending this little shindig with a bang. But before we get to that…
When I was growing up, my family was a bit obsessed with mint M&Ms. I remember my mom would spot them at the store at the beginning of the holiday season and would snag them as fast as she could. (Fun fact: I grew up on a hill overlooking the town where M&Ms are made and it smelled like chocolate in the early mornings. Also, mint M&Ms are not made in that factory but in a different place because the mint flavor basically takes over anything it touches – I hope you all appreciate those high-maintenance M&Ms!)
Now that I’m a grown up, whenever I see mint M&Ms at the store my instinct is to start hoarding. My common sense, however, reins my instinct in and keeps me from spending all my money on those little minty treats. Thank goodness for practical, boring common sense. But I do still buy a few bags every year and enjoy them immensely!
I’m going to switch topics completely for a minute but I promise it will all come together. Meet Candy. She’s my new Candy Apple Red KitchenAid® Artisan® Design Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Glass Bowl. Her name is kind of a mouthful that’s why we call her Candy for short. I love her because she’s GORGEOUS. Yes, I am that shallow. I mean, that GLASS BOWL. And that SHINY RED PAINT JOB. I could stare at her all day.
I have a white professional series KitchenAid mixer that Nate gave to me years ago. Old trusty is still around but has been relegated to the shelf in the garage in favor of the younger, hotter model. I told you I was shallow. But I do love how Candy works, too. She’s much quieter and, oh, that glass bowl.
Back to M&Ms (are you experiencing blog whiplash yet?). I really wanted to make chocolate cookies this week with mint M&Ms. Most chocolate cookies fall a little flat and I wanted something that could stand up to the M&Ms, both in shape and flavor. Then my friend Irvin shared his recipe for Chocolate Crackle Cookies last week and I knew it was the cookie recipe I had been looking for all my life. Well, all my week, at least.
I was right. These chocolate mint M&M cookies are PERFECT. Truly. They have wonderful texture, with a nice crispy outside and a rich, chocolatey interior. The mint from the M&Ms is not overpowering and gives you a fresh pop of flavor. These cookies are perfect for giving as gifts during the holidays, that is if you can stop yourself from eating them all yourself! (Recipe is at the bottom of this post.)
Wouldn’t you like to make those cookies in a candy apple red artisan stand mixer with a glass bowl? I mean, the way the chocolate mixes with the butter, it just looks so pretty through that glass!
GIVEAWAY TIME! One of you unbelievably lucky people is going to win a Candy Apple Red KitchenAid® Artisan® Design Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Glass Bowl (retail value $399.99), just like mine! WOOHOO! Here is how to enter the giveaway (comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Wednesday, 12/18/13. Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address): Simply leave a comment, any comment, on this post! That’s it! Bonus entry: Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!) Bonus entry: Follow me on Pinterest and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!) Bonus entry: Follow me on Twitter and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!) Bonus entry: Like KitchenAid on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did Bonus entry: Follow KitchenAid on Twitter and leave a separate comment telling me you did Bonus entry: Follow KitchenAid on Pinterest and leave a separate comment telling me you did
Good luck and happy mixing!
The randomly-selected winner was comment #168 Itzia – one of her bonus entries got her the prize, but her original comment was, “I love anything with mint. Yum!” Well, Itzia will love these cookies AND her beautiful new mixer! Congrats!Chocolate Mint M&M CookiesI slightly adapted this recipe from Irvin Lin at Eat the Love. Irvin’s original Chocolate Crackle Cookie Recipe is wonderful, with a great technique for making the powdered sugar coating especially white and pretty. The ingredients for the cookie base are exactly like Irvin’s recipe, but I change up the technique a bit for my M&M purposes.Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: DessertIngredients
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- ½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 1½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ cup milk
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 9.9-ounce package mint M&Ms
- Granulate sugar for coating cookies (about ½ cup)
- If you are using a block of bittersweet chocolate, roughly chop it. I used Guittard’s bittersweet chocolate chips (63% cacao). Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted. Set aside.
- Cream butter, sugar, baking powder and salt in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat until ingredients are of a paste consistency. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each egg. Beat in the vanilla. Add melted chocolate and beat until just mixed but thoroughly combined.
- Sift cocoa powder over dough then beat until mixed. Add milk and beat until mixed. Add the flour and beat until just mixed but fully incorporated.
- Stir in M&Ms by hand with a strong spoon. Place a piece of waxed or parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. Form cookie dough balls (with your hands or a scoop – I used my medium-sized scoop, which is about 2 tablespoons). Place cookie dough balls on the prepared cookie sheet and freeze for 1 hour. At this point you can either bake the cookies or store the dough until later (for storing, place the cookie dough balls in a large ziploc bag and store in the fridge or freezer).
- Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Roll cookie dough balls in granulated sugar, coating well. Place on cookie sheet and bake for about 13 minutes, until cookies are just set and are starting to “crackle.” Cool on cookie sheet for about 10 minutes then finish cooling on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.
- Makes about 40 cookies.
Big thank you to KitchenAid for hosting this giveaway! I received a mixer from KitchenAid but all opinions are 100% my own.
Posted by Jane Maynard at 5:44 pm 1,143 Comments
Categories: fab faves, featured recipes, Giveaways, Recipes, sweet things, the goods Tags: chocolate, cookies, gifts & giveaways, KitchenAid, KitchenAid mixer, m&ms, mint, mint m&ms |
Thursday, December 5
When we bought our house there was no refrigerator. We bought our neighbor’s garage fridge to tide us over until we found something we really wanted and loved. Thankfully I work with KitchenAid and they graciously offered to supply our home with a brand new fridge. (Another 10 points for the blog!) I wanted to share the fridge we chose with you, explain why we chose what we chose and share the best features, in case anyone is in the market for a fridge or will be in the future.
Things to Think About as You Start Shopping for a Refrigerator:
Space and Size:
One of the biggest things to consider when purchasing a fridge is your space. My mother-in-law, for example, has a small space boxed in by cabinetry. When their fridge died, they were very limited in what models they could choose from based on dimensions. Nate and I found ourselves in a similar situation. The kitchen in our home was redone about 10 years ago, so it’s in wonderful shape. But the placement of the cabinets is all original, dating back to 1969. As a result, we too were limited by particular dimensions as the fridge space is enclosed by cabinets. (Granted, our space is much bigger than my in-laws…I’m not complaining!)
Another factor we had to consider was whether or not to get a standard-depth or counter-depth fridge. Based on the height and width of our fridge space, we were pretty limited in our choices, but we could choose between standard and counter depth. My mom has a counter-depth fridge and she hates it. And when I asked the appliance salesperson at Home Depot about them, they didn’t even have any models on display and she said it’s her most returned appliance. Needless to say I was a bit nervous about getting a counter-depth fridge! But with the way our kitchen is set up, a standard-depth fridge (which is deeper) stuck out too far into our kitchen and took up precious space, right where you walk through from the garage to the dining room. We took a deep breath and decided to dive in with the counter-depth.
Lucky for us we knew that the KitchenAid fridges we had to choose from were all high-quality appliances. As you narrow down your list of contenders, be sure to take quality into account and balance that with the budget. Once you buy a fridge you’re going to have it for a long time!
What We Love About Our New Fridge:
We ended up getting the KitchenAid 20 Cu. Ft. Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerator, Architect Series II. It fits PERFECTLY in our space and we are loving it. But simply telling you we love it is not helpful, let’s get into specifics! Now that we’ve had the fridge for a few months, I definitely know what features I love and would tell people to look out for.
- I love how the counter-depth fridge takes up less space in the kitchen, and it looks really nice having it flush with the cabinets. In terms of capacity, it’s worked great for us so far. Despite my mom feeling like there just isn’t enough room in her counter-depth, I haven’t felt that way. The reason we chose french doors over the side-by-side model was because there was more fridge capacity with the french door model (plus I like having a wider space rather than a narrow area to work with). On the other hand, the side-by-side has significantly more freezer capacity, but since I have a chest freezer (more on that in a minute), I wasn’t as worried about freezer capacity. Also, when I compared the capacity of the french door counter-depth to our old fridge that was standard depth and HUGE, it actually had almost the same exact capacity. Whether you choose french-door or side-by-side will really depend on your own needs. Just be sure to check out the specifications to compare the cubic feet.
- The cheese drawer is AWESOME (it’s the wide drawer you see underneath the produce drawers in this picture). It holds a ton of stuff and is my favorite part of the fridge. I also love that I can fit 2 gallons of milk on the door and the butter compartment is nice and big. All of these things combine to make for easy organization and lots of storage capacity.
- I thought I would hate the freezer drawer, but I actually love it. And my favorite part about the drawers in the freezer in this particular model is that they are solid instead of basket-style, so things don’t fall through to the level below and they are easier to clean.
For the record, this is NOT my freezer drawer, lest you think I keep a tidy freezer.
- Our fridge comes with a water and ice dispenser. It takes up a lot of real estate inside the fridge, but it’s worth it. The ice and the water both taste great (I usually HATE how ice tastes coming from fridge dispensers) and the filter is easily accessible.
- Thank goodness for the alarm that tells me when the fridge is left open! There is also a vacation mode, which we used when we were gone for a few weeks this summer.
- KitchenAid uses the ExtendFresh™ Temperature Management System, which uses sensors in the refrigerator and freezer to help ensure all the ingredients remain at the appropriate temperature. Our food stays super fresh and nothing is frozen or melted when they’re not supposed to be (can you tell I had some really great fridges in the past?).
- Is the fridge really, truly big enough for our family of five? Yes, I can say that it is. Keep in mind that we DO have a chest freezer in our garage, which we’ve had for years. I freeze a lot of stuff and would need the extra freezer no matter how giant my fridge was. We did keep the old fridge and put it in the garage to see if we would need the extra fridge space. I will admit that it came in handy during Thanksgiving week, mostly for holding our giant turkey until it was time to cook and for keeping lots of soda cold for our guests. But I could have made it work with just my inside fridge if I’d had to, and the rest of the year the outside fridge is pretty much empty.
- Even though I chose the french door model for strictly utilitarian reasons, I love how it looks! So pretty!
Hopefully this is all helpful information! I know whenever I go to make a big purchase, I get overwhelmed with information, so I tried to highlight the features and benefits that have been most valuable for us to make it a little easier for you when looking around.
May all your refrigeration dreams come true! (Sorry for the cheesy line – a visit to Disneyland will do that to you.)
UPDATE 3/16/16: We still love this fridge. I am really glad we got counter depth and the water/ice dispenser, but I think the reason I can have those things is because I have a second fridge in the garage. If it wasn’t for that second fridge, I would probably feel frustrated by the space in the fridge, so consider that carefully when choosing your own fridge. Also we are getting ice buildup in the bottom of the freezer under the doors, which will sometimes melt onto the floor. It’s not a big deal and it’s really easy to remove the ice if we know it’s there, but just thought I should let you know about that quirk. Other than that, it’s been a great appliance!
A big thank you to KitchenAid for providing us with our refrigerator. All opinions are 100% my own.