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  1. Thursday, January 10, 2008

    Kitchen Tips: Cutting Brownies

    Cate and I made some chewy brownies together this afternoon, which we both enjoyed thoroughly, of course. (We’ll see if there are any for Nate when he gets home – just kidding – mostly.)

    As I was cutting our brownies today, I thought I should share my brownie cutting trick with you: use a plastic knife. Works like a charm. Don’t know why it’s better than any metal knife you might try, but the brownies just don’t stick to the plastic. Granted, if the brownies are piping hot when you cut (which mine were because I can’t wait for them to cool), you’ll still get a little stickage, but not much (see below). Trust me – the plastic knife is AMAZING.

    I have a special edition of Fine Cooking called Chocolate. They give the following tips for cutting brownies into neat squares:
    1. Line bottom of greased pan with parchment paper – grease the parchment paper.
    2. After baking, run a sharp paring knife around the edge of the pan. This helps ease the whole baked brownie out of the pan. (Jane edit – plastic knife would be better…I’m sure of it…dude, I should be writing that magazine)
    3. When the pan is cool enough to handle, flip out the whole brownie and then peel off the parchment.
    4. Now invert the whole brownie onto a rack and let cool completely before cutting.

    I think their method is handy for getting nice, even squares…but they didn’t mention the knife. Go plastic!

  2. Sunday, January 6, 2008

    Week 50 Menu

    Wow, 50 weeks of menus…which means I’ve been at this for almost a year. Crazy!

    This week marks my first as a mother of two without ANY help. Yes, last week we didn’t have family staying with us, but at least friends brought dinners all week – which were awesome by the way! And I was able to freeze a few meals from what our moms cooked and friends brought to us…that will be a big help over the next week or two.

    Anyway, back to REAL meal planning. Hope I remember what I’m doing. Still no big promises, folks…this is definitely a transition week!!

    – Leftovers…of which we have many from last week

    – Nachos, mini tacos and guacamole (the mini tacos were brought by a friend last week)

    – Chicken Tetrazzini (in the freezer, thanks to Nate’s mom!)
    – Salad

    – Leftovers

    – Spaghetti
    – Salad
    – Bread of some sort

    – Eat out

    – Chicken Corn Chowder (in the freezer, thanks to my friend Emily!)
    – Good bread
    – Salad

    Okay, now it’s your turn…what are you eating this week?

  3. Friday, January 4, 2008

    Having a Baby = Paper Plate Week

    When I had Cate, a friend who gave us dinner also brought a big stack of paper plates, which ended up being one of the best baby presents we received! We made sure this time around we had some paper plates and plastic cups in stock. This is a must for any family with a new baby…it is SO NICE not having to worry about dishes, especially when people are bringing you food and you don’t have to cook either!

    I went out to the playground the other day and was talking with my friend Emily, who was bringing us dinner that night. We were talking about meals that we make for people. She said I should do a post about the topic, so here we are!

    What’s your “go-to” meal when you have to take dinner to someone? Here’s mine…and I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty awesome for the giver AND the givee.

    Jane’s Dinner That She “Makes” When Someone Has a Baby:
    – Costco Chicken (at $4.99, it’s a it’s delicious)
    – Mashed potatoes – I make these myself – it’s the only thing I have to cook on the menu!
    – Gravy – I either make gravy using juice in the Costco chicken container and some broth, or I swing by Boston Market and buy a container of gravy
    – Bag of microwaveable veggies from Trader Joe’s
    – French bread/Rolls from Trader Joe’s
    – Bucket of Trader Joe’s mini chocolate chip cookies

    For those of you who don’t have Trader Joe’s, you could easily substitute similar products from another gorcery store. Here’s why this meal is awesome for taking to people.

    1) No dishes to return. The potatoes are the only item that need a container. I just put them in a disposable ziploc tupperware thingy.

    Good food. Most people like this assortment of food, it tastes pretty homemade and it isn’t spicy for nursing mothers.

    Low cost. It’s not expensive for the giver.

    4) Easy.
    Not much cooking involved, and it’s easy to double up to have dinner for yourself the same night.

    Leftover potential is another thing to consider…this is one aspect that my meal plan falls a bit short on. When Cate was born we received a homemade lasagna that was not only delicious, but froze well into individual servings…it was so nice to have that yummy lasagna waiting for us in the freezer when we needed it!

    Now it’s time for you to share your great ideas!