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  1. Friday, September 13, 2013

    Friday Show and Tell

    I cannot believe it’s Friday already! We have a fun weekend ahead. Our good friends Brandon and Wendy are in town with their kids, and my mom and sister come later today. It’s a party at the Maynard’s! As a result of the impending visitors, my house is spic and span clean. Feeling good!

    apple pumpkin fig roundups |

    Here are some of my “Babbles” from this week!

    Nate had me watch a documentary called The Crash Reel this week and it was fantastic. Click here to read more about it. Everyone should see it, especially parents and teens/young adults who play sports.

    Dexter and Breaking Bad are both killing me right now. In a good way. Mostly. (I think I may have increased blood pressure by the time these shows are done.)

    The very first song that I posted on Kitchen Tunage was from this totally cool music video by a Norwegian singer. It wasn’t on Spotify so I couldn’t ever listen to it except if I put the video on. I discovered this week that it’s now available on Spotify! Woohoo! (I think I might be the only person in the world who cares about this, but I am really excited!) Also, I am once again posting almost daily on the music blog, so the playlist keeps getting better and is keeping me great company when I cook!

    Enough rambling from me (man, I’m talkative today!). Please share anything you’d like! Your own blog posts, stuff you found this week that you love, whatever!

  2. Thursday, September 12, 2013

    Homemade Chocolate Chip Granola Bars & Weelicious Lunches

    When you have a lot of food blogger friends, you end up with a lot of friends writing and publishing really cool cookbooks! I have another one of those cookbooks to share with you this week from my friend Catherine McCord of Weelicious.

    homemade chocolate chip granola bars from weelicious |

    Catherine is every bit as cute and sweet as her recipes. She is gracious and kind and generous and I am so grateful to know her!

    Her second book Weelicious Lunches just came out and it’s great! The photography is beautiful, there are SO many recipes to choose from, and my kids were excited to read through the book to get ideas for their lunches (something I always need help with). This book is great inspiration if you’re looking for wholesome and delicious lunch inspiration for your kids (or even yourself!).

    weelicious lunches cookbook |

    I have been wanting to make my own granola bars for some time now. I’m on Year Two of trying to use less plastic and one of the specific goals I set for myself this year was to replace some or all  of the store-bought snacks that we regularly include in packed lunches, including granola bars. I haven’t really found a recipe that caught my eye until my review copy of Catherine’s book arrived last week. She has a simple granola bar recipe in the book that looked like just what I needed!

    weelicious lunches cookbook |

    The granola bars are wonderful (recipe below!). They are a little bit crispy, a little bit chewy, with just the right amount of sweetness and a hint of salt. I’ve already eaten a few and they’ve only been out of the oven for an hour! Cate and Owen are equally as addicted. The best part was the bars were so easy to prepare and the ingredients are accessible and inexpensive, making this a much more affordable option than buying granola bars. Plus, we’re using less packaging, contributing to our family’s environmental goals. Yay for homemade granola bars!

    homemade chocolate chip granola bars from weelicious |

    The giveaway is now closed. Thank you! And, of course, we are giving away Catherine’s book! Two of you lucky commenters will each receive a copy of Weelicious Lunches. Please leave a comment on this post by Midnight PT on Wednesday, September 18.

    You can also buy Catherine’s book on Amazon!

    Good luck to you all with the giveaway! And happy granola bar cooking!

    Homemade Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
    From Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
    • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
    • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 cup chocolate chips (or raisins or other dried fruit) Jane note: I used mini chocolate chips
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ cup canola oil
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • ½ cup honey
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Combine the oats, flour, coconut, brown sugar, chocolate chips, and salt in a large bowl.
    3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the canola oil, vanilla and honey.
    4. Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture and stir to combine. (Jane note: stir and stir and stir!)
    5. Spread the granola mixture on the baking sheet and shape it into a large rectangle about 1 inch thick.
    6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden and dry to the touch. (Jane note: mine cooked for 35 minutes.)
    7. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then cut into 3 x 1 inch bars using a serrated knife. These bars will remain fresh for several weeks if wrapped individually in parchment or wax paper. (Jane note: I am planning to store in an airtight container.)
    Jane’s adaptations: I had a box of brown crisped rice cereal and I love it when granola bars have crispies in them, so I modified things a bit. Since I was adding dry ingredients, I upped the amounts for some of the other ingredients. Here are my modifications:
    - Add 1 cup brown crisped rice cereal to the dry ingredients
    - Increase to ⅓ cup whole-wheat flour
    - Make the ⅓ cup packed brown sugar heaping
    - Used ⅝ cup of canola oil
    - Used ⅝ cup honey

    homemade chocolate chip granola bars from weelicious |

  3. Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    The Ultimate Panini Press Weekly Menu!

    This morning as I was unpacking the last of the moving boxes, I found stacks and stacks of business cards. It was fun to thumb through them and see names of people that I have since gotten to know much better and, in some cases, formed great friendships with. One of those cards was from Kathy Strahs of Panini Happy and Cooking on the Side. Kathy and I have done a good job of keeping in touch over the years and, in the last 8 months or so, have gotten to know each other very well because we now live near one another! I love Kathy to pieces – she is kind, thoughtful, accomplished and super smart. I love how strategic and savvy she is with everything she does and I always learn so much when I am with her. Kathy is the best!

    the ultimate panini press cookbook |

    I am beyond thrilled to share Kathy’s big news with you – her first book The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook is officially on sale today! I received my copy last week and it is beautiful, clear, informative, creative and just plain delicious! (Okay, the book isn’t delicious, but the food you can make with it certainly is!) Kathy’s book starts with a great primer about what to look for in a panini press and what tools and ingredients you need to make the perfect panini. And, of course, the rest of the book is chock-full of recipes!

    the ultimate panini press cookbook |

    If you have a panini press, you have to get this book. It is an invaluable resource. If you do not have a panini press, you should still get this book and a panini press while you’re at it! (Kathy is giving one away today if you’d like to try your hand at a free Breville panini press!)

    the ultimate panini press cookbook |

    My favorite part of the book (and Kathy’s blog in general) is how she illustrates the versatility of the panini press. She cooks all kinds of things on her press, from breakfast items to ice cream cones to spatchcocked game hens! The book captures this talent of Kathy’s beautifully and it is a great inspiration in the kitchen!

    the ultimate panini press cookbook |

    I thought it would be fun to create “The Ultimate Panini Press Weekly Menu” based on Kathy’s book! Here goes!

    – Pulled BBQ Chicken Panini (p. 18) with caramelized onions (p. 19) with coleslaw and chips

    – Chicken Teriyaki (p. 63) with rice and broccoli

    – Grilled Flank Steak Fajitas (p. 148) with chips and Grilled Tomatillo Guacamole (p. 237)

    – Crab Melt Panini (p. 170) with Bacon (p. 114) and side salad

    – Breakfast for Dinner: Grilled French Toast (p. 293) with fresh fruit

    – Turkey Apple Panini with Fig and Gruyere (p. 50)

    – Spatchcocked Game Hen (p. 68) with salad and rolls

    Pretty impressive, eh? I could have planned a year’s worth of weekly menus based on this book!

    If you want to get your hand on Kathy’s book so you can make all these recipes, go buy her book on Amazon!

    The giveaway is now closed. Thank you! I also have the opportunity to give away one signed copy of The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook. To enter, please leave a comment on this post before midnight PT on Monday, 9/16. 

    Congratulations, Kathy! All of your hard work has paid off – your book is wonderful! Mwah!

  4. Sunday, September 8, 2013

    Week 346 Menu

    The Weather Channel and Accuweather keep telling me it’s going to be in the 70s everyday, and then we keep getting hot muggy weather up around 90 instead. So, I’ve decided I’m not going to believe the forecasts anymore and just assume it will be HOT and that I need to plan my menu accordingly, hence all the sandwiches this week!

    caprese panini stacking |

    I noticed in my friend Nikki’s menu last week that she called leftover night “smörgåsbord.” And now that’s what the Maynards are going to call leftover night, too! Because it sounds way more fun and exotic and like I really planned something special! 😉

    Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches
    – Fresh Fruit

    Chicken Caesar Wraps
    – Homemade french fries

    Chicken Croissants (I haven’t made these in AGES. I’ll have to do a post about them since I currently don’t have a photo and the recipe is written pretty haphazardly!)
    – Veggie

    – Smörgåsbord (leftover night!)

    Caprese Paninis (pictured above)
    – Chips and fruit

    – Take out

    – Chicken Piccata (didn’t make this last week because some friends invited us to dinner)
    – Mashed potatoes and veggie

    I didn’t get a chance to thoroughly read through and comment on last week’s menus until this morning. As usual, I love reading your menus every week! A few people mentioned how inspiring it is to come read through all the ideas and I wholeheartedly agree! Plus, I love getting a little peek into your lives. That all said, we are looking forward to seeing all your menus again this week! Thank you for taking the time to share them with us!

  5. Friday, September 6, 2013

    Friday Show and Tell

    Friday Show and Tell time!

    peanut butter and chocolate recipes

    On Babble this week I pulled together some truly scrumptious recipe roundups:

    Have you seen the new Mumford & Sons video for Hopeless Wanderer? If you haven’t, make sure you do! Click here to see the video. I promise you’ll like it, whether you’re a fan of the band or not. And, if you’re not a Mumford fan, you will be after the video.

    That’s all I’ve got this week! Oh, well, unless you were wondering who the Maynards gave votes to for SYTYCD…I had to throw a few votes Amy’s way, but, in the end, we threw our support behind Jasmine. Honestly, though, I’ll be happy for either girl to win. When it comes to the guys – Fik-Shun all the way! That gagnam style solo? Genius!

    Everyone’s invited to participate in Show and Tell! Share anything you would like!


  6. Thursday, September 5, 2013

    Shopping for a Gas Grill: Share Your Tips!

    One of the very best features of our new house is the back patio. The landscaping in the yard is beautiful, complete with lighting at night, and the patio is large with a beautiful pergola, from which I will be hanging twinkle lights.

    shopping for a grill | back patio view |

    Ever day I count my lucky stars that we ended up getting this home. The previous owner lived here forever and took such good care of the home, looking out for every detail. Once such detail that we discovered a week or two after moving in was the gas line wired out to the patio. How cool is that?

    shopping for a grill | back patio view | thisweekfordinner.comThe gas line comes up on the left side of the patio, near the post you see on the left in this photo.

    I never thought a gas line could look so beautiful, but it does!

    shopping for a grill | built in gas line |

    Over the next few months we are going to be working with Lowe’s to put in a grill and an outdoor shower in our fabulous new yard. We have started the planning process and I am really itching to get the grill installed!

    I started browsing the Lowe’s website yesterday to see what’s available before we hit the store, and I honestly felt a bit overwhelmed. I figure if I feel overwhelmed, other people must, too! And I know that some of you have knowledge and opinions about gas grills that would be very beneficial for the clueless ones among us.

    So, we’re doing a Call for Recipes, except there are no recipes involved! Today we are calling for your tips and advice when shopping for a gas grill! Which features are “must-have” and which are not so important? What do you love most about your grill? What do you hate most about your grill? Any and all tips at all different budget levels are welcome!

  7. Tuesday, September 3, 2013

    Kitchen Tip: Do You Have an Instant-Read Thermometer?

    Do you have an instant-read thermometer with a probe and an oven-safe cord? If the answer is no, then I want you to put this item on your “to-buy” list immediately!

    instant read cooking thermometer |

    Before I had my thermometer, I didn’t realize how much I needed it. Nate was the one who bought it and I am so grateful he did! I use it ALL THE TIME, especially when cooking meat. If I use the thermometer when cooking meat of any kind, the end result is always juicy and tender but still cooked through. The thermometer is helpful in many other situations as well, such as the ever-important task of cooking doughnuts.

    I was thinking the other day that I should write up a quick tribute to to my thermometer, especially since it decided to keep on trucking even after I burned it on the stovetop and thought for sure it had bitten the proverbial dust. Amazingly, it came back to life. I think it must love me as much as I love it!

    instant read cooking thermometer |

    I can’t find my exact thermometer online anywhere, so I am unable give you a link to buy the one I have. I did a quick search on Bed Bath and Beyond and found many great options, ranging in price from $20-100. Mine was most certainly on the $20 end of the spectrum and it has served me faithfully year after year. I recommend finding a thermometer with an oven-safe cord, so that you can leave the probe in the food throughout cooking if desired.

    Happy thermometer shopping!

    And, if you DO have a thermometer and love it, please tell us about it and why it is so great! Links are helpful, too! Thanks, everyone!

  8. Sunday, September 1, 2013

    Week 345 Menu

    Last night we went to the San Diego Zoo for NIghttime Zoo. We got there just before sunset and were walking through the new koala exhibit when the sky looked like this. It was breathtaking!

    san diego nighttime zoo |

    I have to say, it is sooooo nice to be back into the school routine. Well, I do hate getting up in the morning, but everything else about being back on a schedule is great!

    – Happy Labor Day! Heading to some friends’ for a mid-day get together!

    Homemade Pizza (if it’s not too hot outside!)

    – Grammy’s Orange Chicken
    – Rice and veggie

    – Leftovers

    Sweet potato and black bean burritos

    – Takeout

    Chicken Piccata
    – Mashed potatoes and veggie

    It’s that time again, time for you all to share your menus for the week! Short, tall, big, small – bring on the menus! As always, thank you for sharing! They are so wonderful to read through when I plan each week!