Menu Banner
  1. Sunday, December 29, 2013

    Week 362 Menu

    THIS is what our kitchen looks like.

    messy kitchen

    We are finally painting the wall after tearing out the kitchen cabinets over the counter last June. And, because I’m a crazy person, I also decided we needed to paint the 1970s wood paneled wall with built-in shelves in the living room the same weekend, so our house is pretty much a disaster. I can’t wait until we’re done and peace has been restored!

    Despite the home madness, we have another fun week ahead of us!

    – I’m taking the kids to Sea World for one last visit before our passes expire

    – New Years Eve with the kids! Gram’s meatballs, Pat’s Oriental Chicken Salad, chicken tenders, spinach artichoke dip, cranberry slush, and of course sweet treats of some sort! Then early to bed so we can get up for…

    – Heading to Pasadena early in the morning with the kids for the Tournament of Roses Parade! Then Nate and I are going to the Rose Bowl while our kids hang out with their Auntie Anne. Nate and I will eat at the game, I’ll let Anne figure out what to do with my kids ūüėČ

    Homemade pizza – planning to make this with the kids as a fun vacation activity, we’ll probably make margherita pizza and honey goat cheese pizza (the kids have all decided they love those flavors – yay!)

    Malibu Melt Wraps

    – Eat out

    Grammy’s Orange Chicken
    – Rice and Veggie

    As usual, I am looking forward to seeing your meal plans for the week! Thank you for sharing!

    Happy New Year!!!

  2. Tuesday, December 24, 2013

    My Favorite Rolled Cookie Recipes…and Happy Christmas!

    Merry Christmas Eve! I’m going to take the week off, with just a quick Show and Tell post on Friday. But I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

    favorite cut-out cookie recipes from @janemaynard

    I also wanted to share my two favorite rolled cookie recipes, you know the kind of cookies that require cookie cutters! The girls and I will be spending the day decorating cut-out cookies, which just may make it the perfect day.

    I have two favorite recipes that I use and love ‚Äď one for sugar cookies and one for chocolate cookies. They are both on All Recipes and I don’t have any changes or notes on either of these recipes. They are both perfect!

    Click here for my favorite sugar cookie recipe. (Side note: My mom’s sugar cookie is also mighty fine and uses sour cream. You can find that recipe by clicking here!¬†Her recipe has a bit of a lighter texture than the All Recipes cookies. I don’t feel like I’m describing that correctly, but it’s the best I can do!)

    Click here for my favorite chocolate cut-out cookie recipe. These cookies are so, so, so good.

    Happy baking and celebrating!

  3. Sunday, December 22, 2013

    Week 361 Menu

    Christmas cookie decorating has begun!

    christmas cookies from @janemaynard

    I’m going to try to take it as easy as possible this week with work (work schmwork!) and really enjoy this magical time with our kids, including some fun cooking!

    – Breakfast for dinner: Swedish Pancakes¬†(Cate’s always begging for these, so figured it would be fun to do this week)

    – Chinese Take-Out, a Maynard Christmas Eve tradition!

    Swedish Meatballs with boiled red potatoes and lingonberry jam (plus a little bit o’ salad)

    – Leftovers

    – Homemade pizza night

    – Take out

    – Leftovers or tomato soup or something simple

    Looking forward to seeing your menus for the week, whether they are simple or filled with fancy Christmas food. All menus welcome! Happy Holidays!

  4. Friday, December 20, 2013

    Friday Show and Tell!

    Show and tell time! I skipped it last week because I didn’t have much to share, but this week I have tons!

    restless collective the geography of youthPhoto credit: Restless Collective

    Random awesome stuff:

    A few of my “Babbles”:

    Phew! I think today’s Show and Tell could keep you busy for a few hours!

    As usual, would love to see anything you would like to share!

  5. Call for Recipes: Delicious but Quick Holiday Foods!

    I cannot believe that it is December 20th already! Where did the month go? For that matter, where did the year go?! I thought today we would do a Call for Recipes that could potentially be helpful for all of us during this crazy time of year!

    collection of quick holiday food ideas

    I think we can all agree that food is very closely tied to the holidays. No matter what holiday you are celebrating, food plays a big role in the celebrations, traditions and memories from those holidays. Our little family is getting excited to order Chinese take-out on Christmas Eve and enjoy Swedish meatballs and bulle on Christmas Day. I can’t wait!

    I think we can also agree that November and December are INSANELY BUSY. And as much as we might¬†like spending time in the kitchen preparing various meals and goodies, sometimes we just don’t have the time. So, that’s the theme of today’s¬†Call for Recipes!¬†Please share your favorite quick and easy recipes that are perfect for the holidays! Whether it’s a main dish, side dish or holiday dessert, everything is fair game!

    collection of quick holiday food ideas

    I’ll kick us off with a slow cooker idea. I had a chance to try out another one of Campbell’s Dinner Sauces again this week. I have to be honest with you all, I haven’t been cooking much since Thanksgiving. Work has been insane, we had two birthdays to celebrate, and gearing up for Christmas and all the associated activities is a full time job in and of itself! But I really am craving some home cooked meals right now ‚Äď I’m sick of eating on the fly! Yesterday morning I stopped at the store real quick after dropping the kids at school and grabbed a chuck roast and Campbell’s Tavern Style Pot Roast Slow Cooker Sauce. It literally took me 2 minutes to get everything into the crockpot and I didn’t have to think about it the rest of the day. Once evening rolled around, I boiled a few potatoes and threw together a quick salad. The result was very little time and effort expended and a truly holiday-worthy dinner! The best part was the pot roast tasted amazing. Every last person in our family had seconds. This meal is definitely a great option if you want to spend more time with loved ones and less time in the kitchen.

    collection of quick holiday food ideas

    Your turn! Share your best recipes and tips for quick and delicious holiday foods! And, if you can share actual recipes in the comments or links to recipes, that would be even more amazing!

    Here’s to surviving AND savoring the holidays!


    This post brought to you by Campbell’s Dinner Sauces. Weekend-worthy dinners with only weekday-level effort needed! Learn more at

  6. Thursday, December 19, 2013

    The Girls’ Birthday Cakes + Chocolate M&M Frosting

    One of the only over-the-top-Mom things I do is make fun cakes for my kids’ birthdays. Cate and Anna had both of their birthdays this week so I’ve been a busy baker! Anna opted for a vanilla cake shaped like a fish. Cate decided to go with chocolate cupcakes topped with M&M frosting. I wanted to share the cakes with you, since I always do, as well as the recipe for the frosting because it was YUMMMMMMMMM.

    chocolate m&m frosting from @janemaynard

    Anna’s cake was inspired by a goldfish in the Cakes for Kids book by Matthew Mead that we love so much! The cake is essentially a 2-layer cake (8 inches or 9 inches works) with a thin crescent cut off the top or each layer before frosting. Those crescent pieces become the fins. The frosted layer cake gets tipped up on its side and and then the fins are added, with toothpicks securing the top and back fins. I think this might have been the hardest cake I’ve made so far, surprisingly. It didn’t come out as cute as I’d hoped but it did come out better than I expected! ūüėČ Anna was completely happy with the cake and that is all that matters!

    anna's fish birthday cake from @janemaynard

    I think what made this cake so tricky was that I made the fins a different color than the body (to look more like Flounder from¬†The Little Mermaid), but it’s hard enough attaching those fins without having to worry about the frosting colors mixing. Bottom line: this cake was hard but we made it work!

    anna's fish birthday cake from @janemaynard

    Cate took it easy on me and just wanted chocolate cupcakes with M&Ms. I decided an M&M frosting would be good and took inspiration from a recipe on the blog Cookies & Cups. I changed the recipe to a chocolate buttercream frosting and made it a little thinner. The frosting was fudgy and crunchy and oh-so-delicious. Quick note: when the frosting is just made, the M&Ms are still crunchy, but as it sits, the M&Ms get softer. This is not a bad thing, but it goes from crispy M&M fudge frosting to chunky-chocolate fudge frosting. Just wanted to set expectations properly! If you can whip up the frosting last minute, that’s what I would do! This is not to say that we haven’t happily enjoyed the leftovers!

    chocolate m&m frosting from @janemaynard

    If you’d like to see the misadventure I had when I started to frost the cupcakes, click here. Fair warning, it’s scary! Moral of the story? Always use a star tip when piping chocolate frosting. And that’s all we’ll say about that!

    Chocolate M&M Frosting
    Prep time
    Total time
    • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened to room temperature
    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons milk
    • ⅓ cup cocoa powder, sifted into the bowl
    • 1 cup M&Ms, processed to a coarse dust in the blender
    1. In a stand mixer or with beaters, beat together all of the ingredients on medium-high speed until well-mixed. Spread on cake or cupcakes and eat immediately! M&Ms will be crunchy at the outset but will soften as the frosting sits.


  7. Tuesday, December 17, 2013

    BLT Pizza

    I have been meaning to share this “recipe” with you for a few weeks and am finally getting to it. I’m excited ‚Äď it’s a good one!

    simple and amazing BLT pizza from @janemaynard |

    Years ago Nate’s Grammy McCarthy ordered us a BLT pizza from her local pizzeria. I was skeptical, but then I had a bite. It was heavenly and so simple. All these years later I have finally tried making it at home and with great success.

    simple and amazing BLT pizza from @janemaynard |

    I made this when my brother and his family were in town and we ate every last bite. I’m certain we could have eaten a lot more if I’d made it! I’ve made it again since and this pizza is seriously is amazing. It was even close to edging out the honey goat cheese with caramelized onions¬†pizza as our favorite, but I think the goat cheese pizza may still be in the lead. But just barely.

    simple and amazing BLT pizza from @janemaynard |

    BLT pizza is essentially bacon pizza topped with salad. You’ll want to eat it with a fork. And you’ll want to eat the whole thing. Fair warning.

    BLT Pizza
    So simple, yet heavenly!
    Recipe type: Main Dishes, Pizza
    Cuisine: Italian, American
    • I use this recipe for Uncle Tony‚Äôs pizza crust and it makes 4 mediumish pizzas
    • I use this pizza sauce recipe for the BLT pizza because it tastes fresh and tomato-y
    • Shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 2 packages bacon, cooked and then chopped (I bake mine at 400 degrees on a foil-lined sheet for about 15-20 minutes)
    • 2-3 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped
    • ~3 tomatoes or a couple handfuls of grape tomatoes, chopped
    • Mayonnaise
    1. Top pizza crust with tomato sauce, bacon, then an even layer of mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 500 degree oven until crust and cheese are browned. Remove from oven.
    2. While pizza is cooking, toss the chopped lettuce and tomatoes with a couple spoonfuls of mayonnaise ‚Äď a little mayo goes a long way, so start with less and add more if you need it. You just want to coat the veggies in a thin layer. I know, I know, the mayo thing sounds kind of weird, but TRUST ME.
    3. Once the pizza is out of the oven, top with the salad mixture. Cut into slices and eat!
    4. No exact measurements for this recipe ‚Äď just go with your gut on amounts, but the above guidelines should be helpful!
    5. A delightful addition to the lettuce topping would be chopped avocado, making this BLTA pizza! Yum!


  8. Sunday, December 15, 2013

    Week 360 Menu

    Now that we’re back in San Diego, we once again receive our friend Nikki’s annual Christmas cookie box. It’s the BEST. Nate keeps telling her she should sell them for tons of money to rich ladies in Del Mar and La Jolla, but Nikki insists the hard work is only worth it for love, not money.

    nikki's christmas goodie box 2013 from @janemaynard

    I live for those dipped pretzels.

    Holiday-Birthday madness continues! We had a party yesterday and have more birthday celebrating this week. I think work might slow down this week and I can maybe breathe a bit. Knock on wood.

    – Hot dogs for birthday girl Anna (it was her friend party year, so she gets to choose a meal at home for her birthday)

    – Macaroni Grill (it’s Cate’s family party year, so she gets to pick a restaurant for her birthday)

    – Leftovers

    Chicken Caesar Wraps

    Cream of Mushroom Soup

    – Take out

    – Breakfast for dinner (either omelets or waffles)

    Oh, and I will be sharing BLT pizza with you this coming week. Promise!

    As always, I am looking forward to seeing your menus for the week. Thank you!

  9. Thursday, December 12, 2013

    Chocolate Mint M&M Cookies {and a KitchenAid Stand Mixer Giveaway!}

    This giveaway is now closed, but keep reading because the cookie recipe is FABULOUS. Also, the winner is announced at the end!

    holiday gifts & giveaways on

    Today marks the end of¬†Gifts & Giveaways. I know, I’m sad, too. But we are¬†ending this little shindig with a bang. But before we get to that…

    When I was growing up, my family was a bit obsessed with mint M&Ms. I remember my mom would spot them at the store at the beginning of the holiday season and would snag them as fast as she could. (Fun fact: I grew up on a hill overlooking the town where M&Ms are made and it smelled like chocolate in the early mornings. Also, mint M&Ms are not made in that factory but in a different place because the mint flavor basically takes over anything it touches ‚Äď I hope you all appreciate those high-maintenance M&Ms!)

    chocolate mint M&M cookies from @janemaynard

    Now that I’m a grown up, whenever I see mint M&Ms at the store my instinct is to start hoarding. My common sense, however, reins my instinct in and keeps me from spending all my money on those little minty treats. Thank goodness for practical, boring common sense. But I do still buy a few bags every year and enjoy them immensely!

    KitchenAid Candy Apple Red Artisan Stand Mixer with Glass Bowl Giveaway from @janemaynard

    I’m going to switch topics completely for a minute but I promise it will all come together. Meet Candy. She’s my new Candy Apple Red KitchenAid¬ģ Artisan¬ģ Design Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Glass Bowl. Her name is kind of a mouthful that’s why we call her Candy for short. I love her because she’s GORGEOUS. Yes, I am that shallow. I mean, that GLASS BOWL. And that SHINY RED PAINT JOB. I could stare at her all day.

    I have a white professional series KitchenAid mixer that Nate gave to me years ago. Old trusty is still around but has been relegated to the shelf in the garage in favor of the younger, hotter model. I told you I was shallow. But I do love how Candy works, too. She’s much quieter and, oh, that glass bowl.

    KitchenAid Candy Apple Red Artisan Stand Mixer with Glass Bowl Giveaway from @janemaynard

    Back to M&Ms (are you experiencing blog whiplash yet?). I really wanted to make chocolate cookies this week with mint M&Ms. Most chocolate cookies fall a little flat and I wanted something that could stand up to the M&Ms, both in shape and flavor. Then my friend Irvin shared his recipe for Chocolate Crackle Cookies last week and I knew it was the cookie recipe I had been looking for all my life. Well, all my week, at least.

    chocolate mint m&m cookies from @janemaynard

    I was right. These chocolate mint M&M cookies are PERFECT. Truly. They have wonderful texture, with a nice crispy outside and a rich, chocolatey interior. The mint from the M&Ms is not overpowering and gives you a fresh pop of flavor. These cookies are perfect for giving as gifts during the holidays, that is if you can stop yourself from eating them all yourself! (Recipe is at the bottom of this post.)

    chocolate mint m&m cookies from @janemaynard

    Wouldn’t you like to make those cookies in a candy apple red artisan stand mixer with a glass bowl? I mean, the way the chocolate mixes with the butter, it just looks so pretty through that glass!


    One of you unbelievably lucky people is going to win a Candy Apple Red KitchenAid¬ģ Artisan¬ģ Design Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Glass Bowl¬†(retail value $399.99), just like mine! WOOHOO!

    Here is how to enter the giveaway (comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Wednesday, 12/18/13. Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address):

    Good luck and happy mixing!

    The randomly-selected winner was comment #168 Itzia ‚Äď one of her bonus entries got her the prize, but her original comment was, “I love anything with mint. Yum!” Well, Itzia will love these cookies AND her beautiful new mixer! Congrats!

    chocolate mint m&m cookies from @janemaynard

    Chocolate Mint M&M Cookies
    I slightly adapted this recipe from Irvin Lin at Eat the Love. Irvin’s original Chocolate Crackle Cookie Recipe is wonderful, with a great technique for making the powdered sugar coating especially white and pretty. The ingredients for the cookie base are exactly like Irvin’s recipe, but I change up the technique a bit for my M&M purposes.
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
    • ½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
    • 1½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    • ½ cup cocoa powder
    • ¼ cup milk
    • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 9.9-ounce package mint M&Ms
    • Granulate sugar for coating cookies (about ½ cup)
    1. If you are using a block of bittersweet chocolate, roughly chop it. I used Guittard’s bittersweet chocolate chips (63% cacao). Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted. Set aside.
    2. Cream butter, sugar, baking powder and salt in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat until ingredients are of a paste consistency. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each egg. Beat in the vanilla. Add melted chocolate and beat until just mixed but thoroughly combined.
    3. Sift cocoa powder over dough then beat until mixed. Add milk and beat until mixed. Add the flour and beat until just mixed but fully incorporated.
    4. Stir in M&Ms by hand with a strong spoon. Place a piece of waxed or parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. Form cookie dough balls (with your hands or a scoop ‚Äď I used my medium-sized scoop, which is about 2 tablespoons). Place cookie dough balls on the prepared cookie sheet and freeze for 1 hour. At this point you can either bake the cookies or store the dough until later (for storing, place the cookie dough balls in a large ziploc bag and store in the fridge or freezer).
    5. Preheat oven to 350√čŇ°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Roll cookie dough balls in granulated sugar, coating well. Place on cookie sheet and bake for about 13 minutes, until cookies are just set and are starting to ‚Äúcrackle.‚ÄĚ¬Ě Cool on cookie sheet for about 10 minutes then finish cooling on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.
    6. Makes about 40 cookies.

    Big thank you to KitchenAid for hosting this giveaway! I received a mixer from KitchenAid but all opinions are 100% my own.

  10. Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Keurig Premium Brewer and Lipton K-Cups {Giveaway}

    This giveaway is now closed but keep reading to learn about the Keurig K-Cup brewer, Lipton’s new K-Cup flavors and the winner of the giveaway!

    holiday gifts & giveaways on

    Today’s giveaway is SO FUN. Actually, what am I talking about? All the¬†Gifts & Giveaways have been SO FUN. But I am¬†excited about today’s giveaway because I know so many of you will be excited about it!

    keurig brewer and lipton k-cup giveaway from @janemaynard

    My friend Kristen from Dine & Dish is obsessed with her Keurig K-Cup Brewer. OBSESSED. I don’t drink coffee, but all her talk always makes me want to brew cups of coffee just because it’s so easy. So, when one of my most favorite PR people ever emailed me about Lipton’s new K-Cups and wanting to see if I could do a giveaway, I was all over it!

    keurig brewer and lipton k-cup giveaway from @janemaynard (lipton sweet iced tea k-cup pictured)

    I received my Keurig Premium Brewer just before Thanksgiving. It is such a great thing to have, even if you don’t drink coffee. There are K-Cups for cider, all kinds of teas, and hot chocolate. Our guests who drank coffee could grab a cup easily in the morning and the kids were constantly making mugs of hot chocolate. It ended up being perfect for hosting guests! And, if you¬†do drink coffee, well then, even better! There are so many great flavor options and you only have to brew one cup at a time, which takes less than 30 seconds. If you are looking for a great holiday gift for the coffee or tea lover in your life, I can pretty much guarantee they’ll love a Keurig Brewer. Just ask Kristen.

    keurig brewer and lipton k-cup giveaway from @janemaynard

    Let’s talk about tea for a moment, shall we?¬†Lipton recently came out with K-Cups for three of their teas: Black Tea, Green Tea and Iced Sweet Tea. That’s right, you can brew tea over ice with the Keurig. So cool! If you’re in the mood to soothe, indulge or refresh, Lipton K-Cups have will you covered!

    Are you thirsty yet? You should be! How about we quench that thirst with a giveaway?

    keurig brewer and lipton k-cup giveaway from @janemaynard

    One of you lucky ducks will win a Keurig Platinum Brewing System, 1 pack of Lipton K-Cups SOOTHE tea, 1 pack of Lipton K-Cups INDULGE Tea, and 1 pack of Lipton K-Cups REFRESH Tea (retail value $215).

    Here is how to enter the giveaway (comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Tuesday, 12/17/13. Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address):

    • Simply leave a comment, any comment, on this post!¬†That‚Äôs it! But feel free to share your favorite K-Cup flavor if you like!
    • Bonus entry:¬†Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook¬†and leave a¬†separate¬†comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!)
    • Bonus entry:¬†Follow me on Pinterest¬†and leave a¬†separate¬†comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!)
    • Bonus entry:¬†Follow me on Twitter¬†and leave a¬†separate¬†comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!)
    • Bonus entry: Like Lipton on Facebook¬†and leave a¬†separate¬†comment telling me you did
    • Bonus entry: Follow Lipton on Twitter¬†and leave a¬†separate¬†comment telling me you did

    Also, check out Lipton’s Facebook app called K-Scope, where you can “brew” up a kaleidoscope video of your Facebook photos.

    Good luck and happy brewing!

    The randomly-selected winner is comment #109 Rebekah Taylor, who simply said, “Awesome!!!!!!” and I wholeheartedly agree! Congrats, Rebekah!

    I was given a Keurig brewer and samples of the Lipton K-Cups from Lipton. All opinions are my own.