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  1. Friday, October 30, 2009

    What’s that? No bacteria in my sponge? Say it ain’t so.

    Remember the great Sponge V. Dishrag debate of 2009? I have a follow up for all the sponge haters out there. Nate and Cate did a  science project together last month. They went around the house with Q-Tips, swabbing all sorts of surfaces, and then growing bacteria in petri dishes. When they were collecting their “samples,” I had just finished doing the dishes and wiping down the counters with my sponge. We swabbed both sides of the sponge really well to include in the experiment.

    Guess what? NOTHING grew in that petri dish. That’s right, Nate’s ear grew more junk than my sponge did. Okay, so this was not the most controlled experiment and we’re pretty sure that Nate’s ear sample was contaminated…but still. Just sayin’. No fungus, bacteria, virus, nothing grew in the sponge’s petri dish.

    Let the furor begin! I know the dishrag folks won’t take this lying down. Even though the scientific evidence is indisputable…okay, maybe not indisputable, but whatever. And, for the record (a record that will make the more Type A personalities cringe), the sponge was 1-2 weeks old and I had not run it through the dishwasher or microwave at any point in time. Guess those poor sponges are getting a bad rap for no reason, eh?

    (Note: I am not endorsing using sponges for weeks on end, especially if they smell or turn green. Yeah, that one might grow some bacteria. But so will your stinky, green dishrag.)

  2. Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Easy, Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes (using Krusteaz pancake mix)

    I have finally found a pumpkin pancake recipe that I like! I’ve tried mixes, I’ve tried making them from scratch…and generally the pancakes come out flat and gooey. Cate’s preschool recently made pumpkin pancakes and shared the recipe they used…and they’re perfect! Yea for preschool teachers!

    Please note: The recipe below uses Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake mix. If you have Bisquick, please click her and use the modified version of this recipe. Thanks!

    pumpkin pancakes web

    Pumpkin Pancakes
    Easy, fluffy pumpkin pancakes, using Krusteaz pancake mix. Adapted by me from a recipe on
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Breakfast
    • 3 cups buttermilk pancake mix (like Krusteaz mix, where the box instructions tell you to just add water)
    • 2 cups cold water
    • ⅔ cup canned pumpkin
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    1. In a medium/large bowl, whisk all the ingredients until just blended (batter should have lumps). Spray heavy griddle or skillet with nonstick spray and heat griddle over medium heat. Spoon 2 tablespoon (I did ¼ cup) batter unto griddle to form each pancake. Cook until edges are drying and bubbles start to pop, turn and cook a few minutes longer. Serve with lots of butter and maple syrup!


  3. Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Free Giveaway! Set of 3 Books from Matthew Mead

    This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!

    Today we have a giveaway – yippee! Matthew Mead will be giving away a set of three of his books – Entertaining Simple, Gifts from Nature and Matthew Mead’s Halloween – to one lucky This Week for Dinner reader!

    matthew mead giveaway web

    Simply add a comment to this post by Midnight PT, Sunday November 1 to put your name in the hat! One winner will be randomly selected and announced on Monday, November 2.

    As you know, I’m really enjoying these books. I’m excited to get the chance to share them with you!

    Big thank you to Matthew Mead for such a great giveaway. And good luck to everyone!

  4. Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Week 144 Menu

    This morning I threw some pancakes together. After breakfast Nate said, “Wow, those were perfectly fluffy pancakes!” I couldn’t believe he said that because it was the first time I had ever used Bisquick instead of making them from scratch. So much for homemade! Just kidding, I’ll make my pancakes again…however, Nate’s comment did give me something to think about. Hmmmm…


    Speaking of pancakes, I’ll have a great pumpkin pancake recipe for you later this week. And a giveaway!

    – Quiche

    Orange Chicken and rice
    – Veggie

    – Mini burgers and couscous salad

    – Leftovers

    – Rotisserie Chicken (from Costco) with mashed potatoes and veggie

    – Eat out

    – Bean tacos (a friend was telling me about a recipe that sounded great that I’m going to get from her!)

    I am loving all the menus we’re getting every week! They really are so helpful to read through as I plan, and there are so many great ideas. Please keep the menus coming!

  5. Friday, October 23, 2009

    Matthew Mead and His Lovely Books

    Back when I first started this here blog, I mentioned a website that I liked, This website is chock full of wonderful things. I was delighted to receive an email from Matthew Mead not too long ago asking if I would like to review one of his books. Of course I jumped at the chance and Matthew sent me THREE of his books: Entertaining Simple, Gifts from Nature and Matthew Mead’s Halloween.

    the books web

    I love all the books. Matthew has impeccable taste, is a great writer, and the recipes that are included look divine.

    the books2 web

    Entertaining Simple is fantastic. So many wonderful entertaining tips, decoration ideas, menus and recipes…it’s really lovely. And Gifts from Nature is a wonderful resource, complete with great ideas for every season of the year.

    inside halloween web

    And if you’re dying to get your hands on Matthew Mead’s Halloween, you’re in luck…it’s on newsstands now. I saw it at Safeway just the other day. I love Halloween and this book did not disappoint. My favorite part of the book is all the pumpkin decorating ideas. CUTE stuff.

    I’ve told you before, I only write about products and books that I like. And usually when I like something and write about it…well, it’s good news for you…perhaps I’m seeing a giveaway in your future? You’ll just have to check back to see!

  6. Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Rolo Cookies

    Remember the cookies I showed you on Sunday? I made them last night. They are unbelievably easy. And tasty. They were a huge hit at the baby shower last week, so it’s a nice easy recipe to add to your entertaining repertoire.

    rolo cookies web

    Rolo Cookies
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    I got the recipe from my friend Mindy Nielson, who got the recipe from someone else, who got it from someone get the drift!
    Serves: 30
    • 1 box Devils' Food cake mix
    • 2 eggs
    • ⅓ cup oil
    • 20 - 30 Rolo candies, depending on how small you make the cookies (30 is a good number to target)
    1. Mix the first three ingredients together (I used my hand blender) and then roll into little balls with 1 Rolo inside each ball (Mindy tries to make them as small as possible to maximize the Rolo to dough ratio, which is smart). Bake at 350 for 9 minutes. Makes about 30.
    2. Jane sidenote: when I made them, I ended up with 22 cookies...and Mindy is right about the ratio thing, next time I'll try to make them a little smaller. 30 cookies should be your target.


  7. Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Guest Post on Make and Takes: The Joys of Meal Planning with Kids

    Don’t miss my post today over on Make and Takes, The Joys of Meal Planning with Kids. Hope you enjoy it!

    cate at the store

  8. Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Grilled Vegetables, Part Deux

    When I first wrote about grilling vegetables, someone mentioned asparagus was one of their favorites to grill. I can see why…I tried it, and the asparagus cooked so nicely on the grill, resulting in a really great texture. I still think roasting asparagus in the oven is a great way to do it…but grilling is now my favorite method for this vegetable.

    grilled asparagus web

    Did I mention the girls INHALED their asparagus? And mine? And Nate’s? I think Nate & I only got to eat a few spears in the end!

    Believe it or not, you’re going to have to endure another grilled vegetable post…I ordered a grilling basket and it arrived this week!  My next veggie venture on the grill? Broccoli!

  9. Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Week 143 Menu

    I went to a baby shower brunch yesterday. The food was so good, including these amazing chocolate cookies…I’ll get the recipe for sure!

    baby shower chocolate cookies web

    On to the menu! It’s kind of a combo of the last two weeks’ menus…stuff that I didn’t end up cooking.

    – Leftover lasagna

    Orange Chicken and rice
    – Veggie

    – Homemade pizza

    Beef stew
    – Whole wheat crusty bread

    – Leftovers

    – Pumpkin pancakes

    – Eating at friend’s home

    Please share your menu for the week! Can’t wait to see all your comments!

  10. Friday, October 16, 2009

    Cream of Mushroom Soup

    I know, I know…another soup recipe! Apparently there is a theme to my cooking lately…an unplanned theme, but a good one nonetheless. Tonight I made cream of mushroom soup. This is one of my favorite kinds of soup, and this recipe was perfect.

    cream of mushroom soup 1 web

    Quick note, all of the soups I shared this week can easily be made vegetarian by substituting in vegetable broth.

    Anyway, I’m sure you want the recipe, so here goes! I found it on Simply Recipes…Elise is one of my blogging buddies whom I have had the pleasure of actually spending some time with. She’s a gem. And so is her soup.

    Cream of Mushroom Soup
    Modified from a recipe by Elise Bauer on Simply Recipes – I modified based on what I had in the kitchen tonight, but it was really yummy so wanted to document exactly what I did
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Soup
    • 1 pound regular white mushrooms, cleaned, quartered or sliced (2/3 of my mushrooms were white, ⅓ were mini portobello)
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1tablespoon butter
    • 2 finely chopped shallots (the recipe only called for 2 TBSP”¦I misread it, but the flavor was actually really lovely with two whole shallots, so there you go!)
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I only had about ¼ tsp of thyme left in my shaker, but the soup still tasted great!)
    • ½ bay leaf
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 1½ cups chicken broth
    • 4 tsp Wondra (or flour could work) dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
    1. Coarsely chop mushrooms and lemon juice in a food processor.
    2. Melt butter in (4-5 quart) sauce pan and lightly sauté shallots on medium heat. Add mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf, sauté over moderate heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid that is released from the mushrooms disappears.
    3. Add salt, pepper, cream and chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
    4. Add flour slurry and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.