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  1. Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    Lemon Bars…or is that Lemon Squares?

    Today I’m sharing my recipe for lemon bars. Or are they lemon squares? Whatever they’re called, they are lemonicious!

    lemon bar squares web

    I have no clue where I found this recipe. It was in my recipe box without any attribution. When that happens, it normally means I merged a few recipes together. If I have, in fact, stolen this recipe from someone, well, my sincerest apologies! Just let me know and I’ll throw your name on there lickity split!

    I made lemon bars for St. Patrick’s Day with lemon juice from the little squeezie lemon juice thingy in my fridge. No fresh lemons that day – so no fresh lemon juice or zest. When I made them again for this post, I used Meyer lemons and zest. I’ve gotta be honest…the St. Patrick’s Day version was better! The lemon taste was stronger and more tart, which added depth of flavor. Meyer lemons are great because they seem to sweeten up nicely, but for lemon bars I think they ended up being a little too sweet and mild/flat tasting. Take your pick…I’m sure it’s a matter of personal preference!

    Why is my recipe so good? I don’t know, it just is.  The shortbread and lemon layers meld together nicely and the texture is just right. This is a non-chocolate dessert I can get behind!

    Lemon Bars
    From Jane Maynard at This Week for Dinner”¦maybe!
    • Crust:
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 cup butter
    • ½ cup powdered sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • Top:
    • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind (if you don’t have fresh lemons, you can leave this out)
    • ¼ cup lemon juice
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 6 tablespoon flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 4 eggs
    1. Preheat to 350 degrees F.
    2. Mix crust together and press into bottom of 9X13 pan. Bake for 10 mins. Mix top ingredients and pour over baked crust. Bake for 25 mins more. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Let set and cut into squares. Makes about a million squares.


  2. Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Egg facts that will blow your mind!

    Did you know that fresh eggs (and I mean fresh-from-the-bird fresh) don’t need to be refrigerated?  Does that not blow your mind?  When eggs are laid they have a bloom, or a coating, on the shell that protects the chick inside from bacteria. The eggs we buy in the store are all super duper washed, which gives them their various grades…but that washing makes it so eggs must be refrigerated. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Just interesting. Okay, I’ll admit it – this is pretty much completely un-useful information. But I still like it. And I actually do have a few friends who have chickens and this info does apply to them. But they already know it, so, yeah, I’m not really helping anyone here.

    carton of eggs web

    My pastry chef friend Faye has been the source of my recent egg enlightenment.  Here’s another quick fact from Faye, which actually is a little more useful. Faye told me that if you wash your eggs with mild soap and water before cracking them, then the chance of salmonella contamination pretty much goes away. (Disclaimer: There is still a chance there could be salmonella on the inside of the egg, but it’s very slight…it almost always comes from the outside of the shell.)

    So what does this slightly helpful information mean?  It means for those of us who insist on eating raw eggs (hello cookie dough, cake batter, chocolate mousse…all foods I just can’t give up!), if you wash your eggs with soap and water before cracking them open, then you’re pretty much good to go.  No guarantees though, people. If you get sick, no blaming me. But, I will be taking the risk myself. 😉

  3. Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Week 166 Menu

    Yesterday we went to an Easter egg hunt. It was the perfect morning, I must say. Until we discovered Anna, our 2-year-old, had eaten ALL the candy from her TWELVE eggs before we even left the party. But even that made the morning a little more perfect than it already was.

    easter egg hunt web

    Bad news for me, I made everything on my menu last week! So, I have to come up with a completely new menu. Life is so hard, eh? 😉 Thank goodness I have your menus to peruse for ideas!

    – Homemade pizza

    – Stuffed Shells (probably this recipe, or maybe something simpler)

    – Macaroni & Cheese (my friend Rachel was telling me this week how much they love The Pioneer Woman’s recipe, so I’m going to try it…but I think I have to top it with panko breadcrumbs instead of cheese. I love a good crust of breadcrumbs. Mmmmm. Also, I did a call for mac & cheese recipes a while ago, so there are lots of recipes to browse here.)
    – Salad

    – Leftovers

    – A dinner salad of some sort – will browse the Croutons menu for ideas

    – Eat out

    – Easter dinner…which I need to figure out!

    Now, please share your menu for the week! And, Happy Passover and Happy Easter to those of you celebrating this week! If you’d like to share your plans for your big feasts, please do so! Recipes are always welcome, too!

    (For some Passover recipes from my friend Ciaran, click here!)

  4. Friday, March 26, 2010

    San Francisco International Chocolate Salon

    Last weekend Nate and I attended the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon. It was a LOT of fun. We went without the kids, the weather was spectacular, and we stuffed ourselves silly with chocolate.

    sf chocolate salon marti chocolatt top webPictured: Chocolates from Marti Chocolatt

    The Chocolate Salon is an open-to-the-public event where oodles of chocolatiers and confectioners come show off all their chocolatey goodness in a hugemongous room at the Ft. Mason Center.

    sf chocolate salon space web

    We tried some very “interesting” chocolates (chocolate bacon, anyone?) and some really great stuff. I have to share some of that goodness with you!

    There are so many companies I could write about, but I’m going to focus on our favorite. Marti Chocolatt is based in Los Angeles and is the one company we actually purchased something from. Marti does a fantastic job integrating chocolate with very unique and sometimes unexpected ingredients. Our favorite Marti chocolate was the ube flavor, purple yams in dark chocolate.

    sf chocolate salon marti chocolatt purple web

    The umeshu flavor, Japanese plum wine in white chocolate, was also quite amazing. And the jasmine citron? The only word I can think to describe this chocolate is intriguing. I am normally not a fan of flower-infused foods, but this jasmine chocolate was very appealing. When you eat it, it’s more like you’re smelling flowers than tasting them. It’s hard to describe. Marti Chocolatt took first prize in our book.

    Of course there were many other amazing companies, and I just can’t write about all of them.  Here is a small sampling!

    As an artist, I absolutely adored these truffle bars from Sterling Confections. The truffles do in fact taste great, but I love the visual concept more than anything.

    SF Chocolate Salon Sterling Confections web

    Plumeria Flours makes these beautiful chocolate covered Oreos. I’m not a big fan of Oreos, but I actually did like these. Plus, they’re so cute!

    SF Chocolate Salon Plumeria Flours web

    I couldn’t help but snap a shot of these pretty (and tasty!) white chocolates with flowers from Robyn’s Chocolates and Confections.

    sf chocolate salon robyn's chocolates web

    I have to tell you about one more chocolate we tried. By far the CRAZIEST chocolate we tasted was from Vice Chocolates. It was called “Vixen” – a passion fruit truffle with Thai chili, jalapeno, and cayenne, decorated with white chocolate and a caramelized red pepper on top. I’m pretty sure she said it had all the different taste flavors – Sour, Sweet, Salt, Bitter, and Spicy. And BOY was it spicy. I have a pretty high tolerance, but that one got me for sure. I’m glad we tried it!

    We were completely chocolated out 2 hours into our venture. I don’t think that has ever happened to me! I am so happy that the event was at the Ft. Mason center…beautiful views of the Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz, downtown and the Bay Bridge. Such a lovely spot and a morning to be remembered!

    SF Chocolate Salon The View web

  5. Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

    I am over the moon for today’s recipe murgh makhani, more commonly known as butter chicken. Our favorite Indian restaurant in Palo Alto, Darbar Indian Cuisine, has the BEST butter chicken. I can’t get enough of it. I’ve been trying to find a recipe so that I can make it at home, but all recipes have come up far too short. So, I did a lot of research, compared about 6 different recipes and have created my own. And I am here to tell you (in all humility, of course!), I nailed it. My version isn’t identical to Darbar’s, but it is darn close and they are equally as good. Success! (To add to the elation, both girls inhaled their dinner! This is a not-too-hot Indian dish, nice for kids. Increase the heat with more chilis and cayenne if you so desire!)

    indian butter chicken 1 web

    The key to this dish is using tandoori chicken. Almost all of the recipes I found were skillet recipes that simply add plain chicken breasts to the sauce. Using tandoori chicken makes ALL the difference. A delectable, mouthwatering difference. Not only is there more depth to the flavor, but the meat is oh so tender. Using tandoori chicken requires planning ahead, but it’s worth it.

    Without further ado, I give you murgh makhani!

    Note: This recipe does not have fenugreek because I did not have it on hand. Fenugreek is often used in butter chicken, along with all the other spices listed below. Feel free to add that in as well!

    Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    Mouthwatering with tons of flavor! Adapted from six different recipes!
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Poultry
    Cuisine: Indian
    • 4 cooked tandoori chicken breasts cut into chunks (see recipe below for how to cook the tandoori chicken - don't forget it needs to marinate overnight before cooking!)
    • ⅓ sweet onion, chopped
    • ~1 inch of ginger root, peeled and julienned
    • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
    • 1 green chili (membranes and seeds removed), chopped
    • 6 tablespoons butter (divided – 2 T and 4 T)
    • 6 medium tomatoes, cut into large pieces
    • 2 teaspoon garam masala
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon cumin
    • ½ teaspoon cardamom
    • ¼ teaspoon coriander
    • 2 shakes cinnamon
    • 3 oz tomato paste
    • 1 cup chicken or veggie broth
    • ½ cup cream
    1. When prepping the ingredients for the sauce, you only need to roughly chop the ingredients - they will all get blended together eventually.
    2. Sautee onion, ginger, garlic and green chili in 2 tablespoons of butter until onions are translucent.
    3. Add tomatoes and let simmer for ~5 minutes. Add garam masala, chili powder, salt, cumin, cardamom, coriander, and cinnamon. Simmer another 5-10 minutes or so.
    4. Add tomato paste and broth, stir.
    5. Blend everything in a blender until smooth then return to pan. Add tandoori chicken, cream and last 4 tablespoons of butter.
    6. Serve with basmati rice and naan bread. Yum!

    butter chicken sautee web

    butter chicken final steps web

    indian butter chicken 2 web

    Homemade Baked Tandoori Chicken
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    • ¾ C plain yogurt (for a great non-dairy option, use cashew yogurt)
    • 2 T lemon juice
    • 2 cloves minced garlic (I use my garlic press)
    • ~1 inch ginger root, peeled and crushed (it was hard to crush, I squeezed the juice out with my garlic press and threw in some of the mangled pieces of the root)
    • 1 tablespoon cumin
    • 1 teaspoon coriander
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
    • ¼ teaspoon cloves
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (this is the amount you’ll need for the butter chicken recipe above – you can make this recipe with bone-in, skinless, dark & white meat chicken cut into pieces – my personal preference are boneless, skinless chicken breasts and they worked great)
    • 1-2 T canola oil
    1. The night before, mix all the ingredients above except the chicken and canola oil in a bowl.
    2. Stab the chicken breasts all over with a fork then make some gashes with a shapr knife. Marinate the mutilated chicken in the yogurt mixture overnight, covered, until you are ready to cook it the next day.
    3. To cook the chicken, pat off some of the marinade, brush with oil and place in an oven-safe dish or pan (I used my 9X13 metal pan).
    4. Roast in a 450º F oven for about 20 minutes, or until juices run clear and internal temperature of chicken reaches 160º F.
    5. If using for butter chicken, let cool a bit then cut into chunks.


    tandoori chicken prep web

    tandoori chicken baking web


  6. Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Sweetarts Jelly Beans

    Three words: Sweetarts Jelly Beans. Three more words: I’m in love.

    sweetarts jelly beans web

    Easter candy is the BEST. Am I wrong? Nope. I’m not.

  7. Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Week 165 Menu

    Nate and I went to the San Francisco Chocolate Salon yesterday at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. (I’ll be sharing some of our chocolate finds with you later this week!) When we were walking back to the car, this dog caught our eye. He was the perfect subject for a photo…not just because the whole scene drew me in for some reason, but the dog held completely still. His ear twitched, so we know’s real. I love this shot.

    dog ft mason center web

    I have just a few repeats from last week’s menu. Had to go with the flow a few days and things were changed up a bit.

    Bean Tacos with sautéed bell peppers & onions

    Pasta Primavera


    – Leftovers

    Frittata (thanks for the great frittata comments and links last week – I will definitely be using one of your recipes/tips!)

    – Eat out

    –  Pot roast w/mashed potatoes and a veggie

    As always, I can’t wait to see your menus! And, as always, THANK YOU!

  8. Friday, March 19, 2010

    It May Not Be Easy Being Green…but it’s Fun!

    Our green feast was so FUN on St. Patrick’s Day. Cate was in heaven and has decided green is her favorite color. Can I say, chicken piccata is GENIUS for turning green?

    green piccata web

    Mashed potatoes and lemon bars also lend themselves well to crazy food coloring.

    green lemon bars web

    While I have your attention, look at this!

    split pit avocado web

    When I cut this avocado open to find a split pit, I didn’t have anyone around to say, “Look at this!” to…so I’m saying it to you. Aren’t you so glad?

    Happy Friday!

  9. Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Lovin’ My Magnetic Knife Holder

    I’m loving my latest kitchen space saver discovery, which has actually been sitting in my drawer for over 10 years…until now. When Nate and I got married, his grandparents gave us a magnetic knife holder. For a while we didn’t have knives that needed holding, and then once I had knives, I used a drawer. Now that we’re in a kitchen with no drawers, the magnetic knife holder is a necessity. And you know what? I should have hung it up years ago – I love it!

    magnetic knife holder web

    My knives are super handy and accessible now, I can see exactly which knife I am choosing, and they are safely out of the reach of my children. If you have a LOT of knives or a block set, then you may not need this.  But, even then, this holder is a nice space saver and keeps your most frequently used knives at your fingertips.

    There are quite a few different styles and sizes of holders out there. Click here for my simple, straightforward model (which is also very affordable). This stainless steel holder is nice and sleek, and I love this bamboo holder.

    {Thanks, Grammy, for getting us this great gadget so long ago!}

  10. Everyday Food Cookbook Winners

    Time to announce the two winners for the Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast giveaway!

    Stacy, who said: jane, you always remind me how much i love food! i would love some fresh ideas to add to my menu!

    Haley, who said: That sounds so delicious! I love pasta and will make this soon! Thanks for the recipe, and the new website to look at!

    Congratulations, Stacy and Haley! Thanks to everyone for entering the giveaway! For those of you who didn’t win, here’s a link to Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast on Amazon in case you need to buy it, which you do! Thanks again to Everyday Food!