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  1. Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Happy 5th Birthday, This Week for Dinner!

    Happy 5th Birthday, This Week for Dinner!

    It’s kind of surreal. I really, truly can’t believe I’ve been plugging away at this blog for five years. When I started the blog, I only posted once a week and, quite honestly, I only ever expected my friends Adrianne and Emily to bop on here to tell me what they were cooking for dinner (they were always better planners than me). Little did I know what I was getting myself into! It’s been such a fun ride and has opened up so many amazing opportunities for me. But what I’m most grateful for is all of YOU…for reading, for sharing, and for connecting, with me and with each other. This blog would not be what it is without you. So, happy birthday!

    Today I made Julia Child’s Best Ever Brownies to celebrate. And, in true Jane fashion, I undercooked them. I’m always undercooking things when I bake, it’s ridiculous! This morning’s experience reminded me of a comment my sweet husband Nate made when I started the blog: “Jane starting a food blog is like me starting a painting blog.” In case you’re wondering {despite his claims of a Renaissance year in fifth grade} Nate is not artistic, so yes, that made it a sarcastic, snarky comment. And yes, he thinks he’s funny {so do I, actually}. Well, the joke’s on him. I’ve still got a food blog! Neener neener. Although, apparently five years of food blogging has not helped fix my under-baking mental hiccup! But I digress…

    To celebrate 5 years, how about a giveaway from KitchenAid? Sounds good to me!

    I love KitchenAid. I love my stand mixer. I use it all the time. I love my measuring spoons. I use them all the time. And now…I love my hand blender! I use it…well, I’ve used it twice because I just got it! But it rocked. I’ve always wanted a hand blender and finally I have one! (Thanks, KitchenAid!) My hand blender’s maiden voyage was with cream of mushroom soup. It worked beautifully and the soup had a wonderful texture. And then, this morning as I was whipping up the brownies, I had a hand blender epiphany! The recipe uses a lot of bowls. It’s kind of annoying, actually. There’s a part where I normally beat the eggs in my stand mixer, but I just didn’t feel like getting it out and washing yet another bowl. And I didn’t feel like digging around my utensils for the hand mixer beaters, so I started to whisk by hand. After about 10 seconds, my arm was tired. And then it hit me…the hand blender has a whisk attachment! It was easy to grab from its special storage case, easy to use, and easy to clean. It was quite serendipitous since I was making the brownies for this very post!

    This giveaway is now closed. Thank you! And now you have a chance to get your own hand blender and have your own blending epiphanies! To celebrate TWFD’s big day, we are giving away  one KitchenAid 5-Speed Hand Blender (retail $129.99)! It’s fancy dancy, complete with chopper attachment, blender attachment, removable pan guard (so you can use it in any pan without damaging the pan), whisk, blade covers, and a storage case. It’s super easy to attach and detach the blades and to clean the various pieces. It’s pretty much just plain old awesome. That’s all.

    To enter, just do what you always do! Leave a comment on this post before Midnight PT on Tuesday, February 7. One randomly-selected winner will be announced on February 8.

    Good luck! And make sure to eat some chocolate today. The blog wants you to. It is the blog’s birthday after all, you should probably just do it.

  2. Monday, January 30, 2012

    Silk Milk Challenge Begins!

    Shortly after Owen was born, I had to pretty much cut cow’s milk from my diet. If I had milk, then that meant he indirectly was having it as well, which did not make his little belly happy. It hasn’t been too bad, but I have missed milk a lot in a few cases, especially when it comes to a mug of good hot chocolate or a quick bowl of cereal in the morning.

    When my friends at Martha’s Circle contacted me about participating in a challenge with Silk, I was all over it. For whatever reason, I haven’t tried other kinds of milk on my own yet, so this was just the kick I needed to see what else I could be using in place of cow’s milk, especially at this time in my life when I need to do so.

    So this week I’m doing the challenge. No cow’s milk for one week. Instead, I will be using Silk Pure Almond Vanilla and Silk Soy Vanilla Light wherever I would normally use regular milk. Stay tuned to see how it goes!

    This post is sponsored by Silk through Martha’s Circle. All opinions are my own.

  3. Sunday, January 29, 2012

    Week 262 Menu

    Yorkshire pudding for breakfast this morning. It’s been a while…and it was YUM.

    Unbelievably, I don’t have any repeats from last week’s plan. That hasn’t happened in a long while!

    Easy Peasy Bean Tacos with grilled onions and peppers
    – Guacamole and chips


    Stuffed Peppers
    – Salad

    – Leftovers

    – Eat out

    Chicken Soup with Rice

    Yorkshire Pudding (breakfast for dinner night)
    – Fruit

    We’ve been getting so many great menus every week – thank you all! Please keep the menus coming!! I love reading through all of your ideas each week to inspire my own!

  4. Friday, January 27, 2012

    Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches

    Today I have a simple and easy lunch or dinner recipe for you. It is Friday after all, may as well take it easy! And it’s so yummy that after eating it Cate declared I was the best cook in the world. (I think her dad must be paying her to always say such nice things about me.)

    We used to have a CPK ASAP near our house and they served a pesto chicken salad sandwich that I loved. Loved so much, in fact, it was one of the few things I could eat when I was pregnant. Well, the CPK ASAP is gone and with it my sandwich.

    I’ve taken matters into my own hands. While I haven’t yet tried my hand at the yummy pizza bread that they used, I have nailed the pesto chicken salad aspect of the sandwich. I made it for the first time last night and it was so easy and so yummy. Definitely will be making it again…and again…and again!

    Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches
    From Jane Maynard, inspired by CPK
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Sandwich
    • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • ½ cup mayonnaise
    • ½ cup basil pesto
    • salt to taste, based on saltiness of your pesto
    • 1 heart of romaine lettuce, chopped
    1. Cook the chicken breasts however you like (I boiled mine until cooked through – it’s easy and you’re just going to mix it with sauce). Shred chicken and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.
    2. Mix together mayonnaise and pesto. Add half of this mixture to the chicken and mix well. Add the other half of the mixture to your chopped romaine lettuce. I like to mix them separately so that if we have leftover chicken we don’t have lettuce that will go wilted and yucky mixed in – the next day I can throw together a little sauce and lettuce. Make sense? Serve on your favorite bread.

  5. Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Rockin’ Baby Sling Giveaway!

    I’ve got the winner of the Rockin’ Baby Pouch giveaway. Ready?

    Cate, who said, “Ooooooh, I would LOVE to win this! I’m expecting my second baby in late February or early March, and while I have a Moby wrap and love it, it can be a little difficult to manuever when out in public.”

    I think picked Cate because her name is so cool. I’m not biased or anything. I mean, just ’cause I named my daughter Cate…or maybe likes that Cate has a baby on the way. Or maybe it was just random. Okay, that was probably it.

    Congrats, Cate! And big thanks to Rockin’ Baby for a fab giveaway!

    (P.S. I am making some cookies today that you are going to FLIP over. Stay tuned!)

  6. Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    My New Favorite Rice: Calrose Brown

    A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I mentioned how much I love Calrose rice, the delicious sticky white rice that goes so well with Chinese food. Whenever we have Asian food at home, I lament the fact that my Calrose rice is white because I really like to use brown rice whenever I can. WELLLLL…I don’t know why I didn’t look sooner, but my grocery store carries brown Calrose rice. Woo-hoo!

    I love it. There is a bit of a “brown” flavor to the rice, but I like that flavor and the rice is still nice and sticky. I don’t think I’ll ever cook white Calrose rice again. The brown stuff is healthier and tastes fabulous.

    That’s all for today. Just a small ode to my new favorite rice.

  7. Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Week 261 Menu

    This morning, French Toast. Mmmmmmm.

    I am simply stunned at how fast the weeks go by. How am I planning another menu already? Here we go!

    Cream of Mushroom Soup (didn’t get to it last week)

    – Island Pork with Sticky Rice (this recipe is amazing…can’t wait to share it with you!)
    – Veggies

    Stuffed Winter Squash

    – Leftovers

    – Stir Fry
    – Potstickers

    – Eat out

    – Tacos

    Your turn! I am LOVING all the menus coming each week! Please keep it coming! Remember, all menus are welcome…no matter how fancy or simple they may be!

  8. Friday, January 20, 2012

    Gearing Up for Baby: Rockin’ Baby Sling {and Giveaway!}

    This giveaway is now closed. Thanks! BUT…keep reading because this is a cool baby sling!

    It’s been a while since I have done a Gearing Up for Baby post…but I still have a baby and I’m still trying out lots of cool gear! Today I wanted to share a nifty sling that I discovered…and of course host a giveaway!

    I wanted some sort of pouch or sling for when Owen was born. I did a quick search on Cool Mom Picks (which is also where I first discovered the Orbit travel system), and both Liz and Kristen had only glowing things to say about the Rockin’ Baby pouch. So, I got on the horn (okay, I sent an email, but how long has it been since you said “got on the horn”…I couldn’t resist) to Rockin’ Baby to see if I could try out their pouch and do a giveaway…and they happily obliged!

    This pouch is very cool. There are zippers in the back that make it easy to adjust to the right size and it’s easy to get on and off. I don’t know about you, but other slings are intimidating to me, with yards of fabric to contend with. This pouch is simple and to the point. If you do like a more traditional sling, however, Rockin’ Baby has those, too! 

    I think my favorite part of Rockin’ Baby is their ONE FOR ONE business model, similar to Tom’s shoes. Every time someone buys a sling, Rockin’ Baby gives one to a mother in Haiti and educates those mothers on the impact a sling can have in their lives. Kathryn Wiley, who purchased the Rockin’ Baby business last year, bought the company because she loved the product and she had the lovely vision to evolve the business into a Mother to Mother model in order to help mothers in need. It’s a cool story and I love supporting Kathryn and her vision!

    Giveaway time! If you would like one of these cool pouches, just leave a comment by Midnight PT on Wednesday, January 25. If you have are expecting or have a baby, you’ll love it! If you don’t, this would make for a pretty sweet baby gift! So, get commenting! One randomly-selected winner will be announced on Thursday, January 26. Good luck!

  9. Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars (No-Bake)

    Ahhhh, Pinterest. How we love thee!

    This recipe is yet another wonderful thing I discovered on Pinterest. I was able to quickly whip these up today with ingredients that I always have on hand. Gotta love non-complicated, fast and easy recipes!

    Cate took a bite and said, “Wow! These taste even better than they look!” I’ll take that! They basically taste like no-bake cookies, but I like that they are in bar form – it’s much easier to make them look pretty!

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars (No-Bake)
    From Love Veggies and Yoga (I rewrote the recipe so it’s shorter and reflects exactly what I did”¦click through for a more thorough description some options for making the recipe vegan)
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 1 stick butter (4 ounces)
    • 2 cups white sugar
    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • ½ cup milk
    • ½ cup peanut butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3½ cups oats (I used Quaker rolled instant oats)
    • chocolate chips to sprinkle on top (butterscotch or peanut butter chips would be good, too)
    1. Line an 8×8 pan with foil and spray with cooking oil.
    2. Combine and melt butter, white sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder and milk in a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium-high heat – bring to boil, let boil for 90 seconds, stirring continuously, then remove from heat.
    3. Add peanut butter and vanilla (vanilla can bubble up on you, so add carefully). Mix until smooth. Stir in the oats.
    4. Pour into pan, spreading evenly. The mixture will be very hot so be careful! Give it a few minutes to cool, then press a handful of chocolate chips into the top.
    5. The original recipe says to put them in the freezer for an hour. I did this and they were very hard to cut. I had also used waxed paper instead of foil with spray. I could not for the life of me get the bars to pop out of the pan – it was crazy town. I think if I had just refrigerated for 20 minutes or so they would have been set and much easier to work with.

  10. Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Cooking the Perfect Steak

    We rarely eat red meat, so when we do, we make sure it is high-quality and delicious. My favorite cut is filet mignon…when cooked correctly, it is just so darn tender and tasty. When Nate’s mom was here last November, she made us a fantastic dinner, which included some filet. While we were debating about how to cook our beautiful hunks of meat, she mentioned that she and my father-in-law had used a technique from America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated that worked beautifully. We dug around the Internet, found the recipe and…

    cooked steak on a white plate

    piece of sliced cook steak on a plateSorry for the not-so-pretty photos. Truth is I wanted to eat the steak more than I wanted to photograph it! 😉

    …PEOPLE. This is the perfect way to cook steak. Seriously. Perfect. It comes out medium-rare and is so juicy and tender. For those of you scared of red/pink in your meat, please believe me when I tell you medium-rare is the way to eat your steak. REALLY. The flavor and texture are so much better than medium or well-done, but it’s still hot and cooked through just enough. The first time I ate a medium-rare steak was at Donovan’s Steak House and I have never eaten it another way since. It’s the only way to go!

    So, back to the Cook’s Illustrated technique…you salt and pepper the steak and then bake it in the oven BEFORE searing it on the stove. The reasoning is that your steak will cook evenly throughout and that the final sear will give the steak a nice, caramelized crust. We found another blogger who had used this recipe and he said that it’s been consistent every time. I love reliable recipes like that!

    Cooking the Perfect Steak
    Method & recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I’ve written it out here in my own words, so if something goes wrong blame me.
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Beef
    • 2 boneless strip steaks 1½”³ – 1¾”³ thick, about 1 pound each (filet mignon or ribeye may be substituted)
    • Salt & Pepper (I like to use coarse versions of both)
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil (2 tablespoons for filet mignon)
    1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven.
    2. Cut steaks vertically in half so you have four 8-ounce steaks. Let rest outside of the fridge for about 15 minutes. Dry off steaks with a paper towel then pat liberally with salt and pepper. Place steaks on a wire rack on top of a rimmed cookie sheet so steaks are not resting directly on the pan. Insert an instant-read, oven-safe thermometer into one of the steaks, then put steaks in the oven until the internal temperature of the steak reaches 90 – 95 degrees for medium rare (20-25 mins) or 100 to 105 degrees for medium (25-30 mins). GO WITH MEDIUM RARE! 😉
    3. Heat oil in a heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat on your stove. We used one of my copper-core heavy bottom frying pans – I think a cast-iron skillet would be ideal, but mine is buried in storage somewhere. When oil starts to smoke, sear the steak in the pan ~ 2 minutes per side. Sear the edges as well, ~ 1 minute per edge.
    4. Place steaks back on rack on cookie sheet, tent with foil and let rest ~ 10 minutes. Eat!