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  1. Sunday, December 27, 2015

    Week 466 Menu

    Happy Sunday! If you’re currently on winter break, I hope you’re enjoying it as much as we are. We’ve eaten so much vetebrod there’s no way we could be anything but happy.


    While I’m sort of skipping meal planning this week, I do know some of the food we’ll be having. All of the grandparents will be in town and it’s going to be a fun week, filled with some cooking, lots of eating, and the Rose Bowl (go Stanford!).

    How’s that for a meal plan? 😉 Thank you to the faithful meal planners who posted their menus last week. You guys are the best! Just like last week, please post your menus and provide inspiration for everyone else, since I’m not doing much of that myself. 🙂

  2. Wednesday, December 23, 2015

    Live the full catastrophe with open arms and soft heart

    The photos in this post were from an event hosted by Liz and Andy Laats in March 2015 to support The Clearity Foundation. I was honored to be the photographer that night. 

    liz and andy laats | the clearity foundation

    December is my stress month. I try not to make it that way, but every year, without fail, December catches up to me. Our family celebrates Christmas and I love this season dearly, but so help me December is a bear. A polar bear, of course. Actually, a pack of polar bears (is that even what you call a group of bears?) that wants to take me out, as slowly and painfully as possible.

    Okay, I’m exaggerating. (Kind of.)

    This year, in the midst of all the craziness, a badass woman I know passed away. Her name was Liz Laats. Liz was one of those people who made everyone she met feel like a close friend. Liz was one of those people who lived life with gusto. Liz was one of those people who was eloquent all of the time. Liz was one of those people who appreciated good cheese (she taught me how to taste cheese properly) and a good margarita (now known fondly as the Lizzie-rita). Liz was one of those people who was forced to battle cancer. Liz fought the beast that is ovarian cancer for 6 1/2 years with a humility and grace that was equally inspiring and heartbreaking.

    liz laats - the lizzie-rita

    Liz passed away nearly two weeks ago, leaving behind an incredible husband and three children, as well as an entire universe of people with richer lives because Liz was a part of them.

    liz laats

    As I’ve worked my way through this month, balancing career with family with the holidays and everything else, Liz has been constantly on my mind. Over the last 6 1/2 years, Liz kept friends and family updated on her “cancer stuff” with email updates that were equal parts funny, heartwarming, sad and beautiful. I’ve been re-reading her messages this month, trying to keep them on my mind and in my heart at all times. There are recurring themes in Liz’s updates that are each enlightening, but there is an overarching sense of gratitude and a need to embrace life that is palpable in all her words, no matter what the latest news was. Liz’s friend Petrea Marchand shared the following email exchange she had with Liz that I think sums Liz up beautifully:

    Petrea: Finally, I leave you with an unanswerable philosophical question. Why is life – such a gift, such a pleasure – so damn hard?

    Liz: I have no idea why life is hard, my friend, but I do know life is precious and short. We can live the full catastrophe with open arms and soft heart, or we can try to try to fight it. I recommend living the full catastrophe. To be clear, the full catastrophe is the full life – with family, husband, kids, jobs — all the things that we seek but then make us crazy. This is the life we wanted – rich with good people, bound by love to each other. Rise up to it, my friend. Grab it. Hug it! Work at it. Just don’t forget to breathe as you go through it.

    liz laats and friends

    Let’s live the full catastrophe, shall we? For Liz. For our loved ones. For ourselves.

  3. Monday, December 21, 2015

    Cooking with Food Blogger & Photographer Brandon Matzek (Ep. #16)

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #16: Food Blogger Brandon Matzek

    It’s Monday, which means a new episode of the podcast! Today’s guest is Brandon Matzek, food blogger at Kitchen Konfidence. Brandon is a food explorer, recipe curator, cocktail shaker and dessert lover. He maintains is beeeeeeautiful food blog in addition to a full time job, an impressive feat! Brandon is such a nice guy who really loves food and sharing it with others. His podcast episode is no exception, filled with all kinds of deliciousness.


    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

     Other Stuff!

  4. A Hand-Drawn Holiday Giveaway: Chelsea Harp Designs

    holiday gifts & giveaways on from @janemaynard

    Last year I had all kinds of giveaways set up for the holidays, but this year I took it easy. But I think we need a little bit of giveaway fun around here, don’t you?

    On Friday I mentioned an Etsy shop that I recently discovered that I am loving. Chelsea Harp Designs sells hand-drawn prints, featuring quotes and sayings perfect for many places in the home and the holidays!

    Chelsea Harp Designs: Oh Come Let Us Adore Him print

    Chelsea graciously sent me my favorite Christmas print of hers, Oh Come Let Us Adore Him. It looks beautiful on our Christmas mantel, and I’m even thinking of framing it to hang all year.

    Be sure to check out Chelsea’s shop – her prints are perfect for gifting!

    Giveaway time! For this giveaway we will have three winners! Each winner will receive the “Cook Eat Be Happy” print, which I absolutely LOVE. Simply leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway!* The 3 random winners for this giveaway were comments #30, #40 and #41. Congratulations, ladies!

    Chelsea Harp Designs: Cook Eat Be Happy print

    Happy Holidays!

    *Comments must be made by Midnight PT on Monday, December 28, 2015. 


  5. Sunday, December 20, 2015

    Week 465 Menu

    I have a confession to make. I haven’t followed my meal plans for the last two weeks! This is my busiest time of year with work plus I have two of my kids’ birthdays during the second week of December, not to mention all the craziness that comes with the holiday season. I was feeling pretty down on myself for not making dinner as often as I wanted and failing so miserably at following my weekly menu plans. Then, about a week ago, I decided to give myself a break. I can only do so much and I needed to just let go and stop beating myself up over the lack of dinners being cooked. We still ate food. Everyone is surviving just fine. When it gets crazy like this, I just need to take it one day at a time and prioritize each day based on that day’s needs. Maybe cooking dinner is a priority one day, but maybe not another. Once the new year rolls around and we get back into a normal routine, I’ll get back into the weekly dinner groove. Making dinner for my family is a priority in my life. But, until the crazy is over, I just need to remind myself that it’s okay to let go if I need to.

    the girls' birthdays!

    As a Christmas present to myself this week I’m not going to worry about a weekly menu. This is kind of crazy for me. As someone who isn’t always the most organized in the traditional sense, the weekly menus are a godsend. They really do help me so much each week. But this week we’re going to go with the flow. If we’re out looking at Christmas lights one night and need to hit Rubio’s (again), so be it. If I’m home with the kids one day and we have time to make a nice dinner, then we’ll make a nice dinner.

    Here is my mini-plan for the week, with the meals I know we’ll for sure be eating!

    • Christmas Eve: Chinese food takeout, a longstanding Maynard family tradition!
    • Christmas Day: Swedish meatballs with boiled red potatoes and lingonberries
    • All week long: Bulle! (Swedish cardamom bread that we can’t get enough, which is why I only make it once a year!) I have two posts about this bread on my blog. The first is here, where the bread is braided and gorgeous. The second is here, where you get to see a picture of my Swedish grandparents and the bread is made into buns.

    If you have a menu planned this week, please share it in the comments! And be sure to tell us what yummy foods your family is cooking up for the holidays!

  6. Friday, December 18, 2015

    Friday Show & Tell and Some Quick Gift Ideas!

    Happy Friday, everyone! I have a few quick gift ideas for you today and some food links (one of which I am especially proud of!)

    One Sugar Cookie Dough, Ten Christmas Cookies!

    For Cool Mom Eats this week I made 10 different flavors of cookies from ONE sugar cookie dough. It was nothing short of miraculous and it was surprisingly easy. Also, slice-and-bake cookies are my new favorite thing. Be sure to check out the article!


    Recipes Kids Should Know How to Cook Before Leaving Home: Grilled Cheese

    For Alpha Mom, Cate learned how to make grilled cheese and it was a great success!


    Here are a few fun gift ideas (just 1 week until Christmas!):

    Chelsea Harp Hand Drawn Prints

    • If you are looking for some really fun and unique clothes for girls, check out Zaza Couture. The Chagall line…oh man, SO CUTE. (Apparently I can’t stop saying “SO CUTE” today.)

    Zaza Couture

    le creuset butter crock from @janemaynard

    • Heifer International is always a great gifting option and one that does a world of good. As most of you probably know, I met many Heifer farmers in Malawi this year and the work that Heifer is doing is AMAZING. So, I have to plug them whenever I can, and the holidays is one of the best times for that plugging! Click here for their gift catalog.

    snapshots from malawi: the work of heifer international #oneheifer

    That’s all for today! As usual, please share your own stuff in the comments if you like, including gift ideas!

  7. Thursday, December 17, 2015

    Elise Bauer, Founder of Simply Recipes, Discusses Evolving as a Cook, Composting and More (Ep. 15)

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #15: Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes

    My guest for today’s podcast episode is Elise Bauer. Elise created the website Simply Recipes in 2003 and has been food blogging ever since. She started the blog as a way to keep track of her family’s recipes and over the years the site has grown, now inspiring millions of visitors every month with its approachable, tested, scratch-cooking recipes. Lucky for me I met Elise many years ago, not long after I started my own blog. She is a supportive, smart, giving woman who I am grateful I can call a friend.

    Elise’s episode is pretty awesome. She talks about her blog and personal evolution as a cook, her new meal planning venture, and then, once she gets into recipes and kitchen tips, the great information just keeps coming. You’re going to love it.


    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

     Other Stuff!

  8. Wednesday, December 16, 2015

    My First Meal Delivery Service Experience: Sun Basket Review and Giveaway!

    Over the last few years, monthly box subscription companies have exploded, delivering everything from beauty supplies to clothes to crafts for kids. Most recently, meal delivery kits have become increasingly popular and I have been very intrigued by them. Sun Basket, a meal delivery service founded in San Francisco, recently contacted me about working together and I jumped at the chance. I have really wanted to try one of these services out and Sun Basket was especially appealing to me (I’ll explain why below).

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    If you haven’t heard of a meal delivery kit, let me give you a quick rundown. A company mails food to your house, with recipes included for cooking the meals. You don’t have to shop, you don’t have to meal plan, you just cook and eat! Like I mentioned, I’ve been intrigued by these services and definitely had some questions about the whole process. First and foremost for me was concern over excessive packaging, but I also had questions about quality of the food, difficulty of the recipes, and whether or not we would actually like the dinners in the end.

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    Sun Basket is one such meal delivery company that services customers in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Nevada. What was immediately appealing to me about Sun Basket was their emphasis on sustainability, choosing seasonal, organic ingredients and sourcing responsibly from West coast farms. Plus, Chef Justine Kelly of the famous Slanted Door in San Francisco develops their recipes!

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    So, how was my experience with Sun Basket? It was great! From the moment the box arrived on my doorstep to the moment we ate our Sun Basket meals I was impressed with the service. Here are a few things that stood out:

    • Remember my worries about packaging? Well, your Sun Basket box comes with a prepaid return label, so you can easily ship back the box and all the packing materials to be recycled and/or reused. That’s like 1,000 points right there in my book.
    • The recipes were clearly printed on beautiful cards, complete with pictures and well-written instructions, and the food was good quality.
    • The recipes tasted great! We ordered pork stir fry, pappardelle with butternut squash, and north Indian red bean stew. All three recipes were tasty, but the pork stir fry was especially awesome. With a service like this it’s always fun, too, because there are often ingredients and spices included that you don’t buy on a normal basis, so it makes cooking interesting.
    • The kids tried all of the recipes. (Well, Owen didn’t. He doesn’t try anything these days, so he doesn’t count.) I would say the food was fairly kid friendly, although Nate and I definitely liked some of the recipes more than the girls did. The food has a bit of a gourmet bend to it, but it’s still easy to prep.
    • Pricing is $11.49 per meal, and you can order Sun Basket boxes in quantities of 2, 4 or 6 meals.

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    I think for a family situation like mine with multiple children, I personally wouldn’t rely on a meal delivery service 100% of the time as it would get expensive and the kids don’t always love “fancier” food. However, Sun Basket’s meals were delicious and appealing to our family and I would definitely use them again. Having their meals on hand, perhaps in the freezer, would be awesome. If I lived alone or with just one other person, however, I would definitely order from Sun Basket all the time!

    So, there you have it! My first experience with a meal delivery service and I really enjoyed it. Sun Basket was a great company to work with and the food was delicious.

    Sun Basket meal delivery service review by @janemaynard

    If you subscribe to Sun Basket, be sure to do so through the links in this post to get $30 off your first order!

    You know that when I write about products or companies I always like to give something away and today is no exception! Sun Basket is giving away a box complete with 3 meals for 2 people, just like what I received. The winner will be able to choose their meals from the available menu. Delivery must be in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Nevada. If you don’t live in one of those states, still enter the giveaway and gift it to a loved one on the west coast! Please follow the instructions for entering the giveaway in the Rafflecopter box below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Thank you to Sun Basket for sponsoring today’s post.

  9. Monday, December 14, 2015

    Lisa Oz, Writer, Producer and Entrepreneur, Shares the Oz Family Kitchen (Ep. 14)

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #14: Lisa Oz, Producer, Author, Host and Wife of Dr. Oz

    For today’s podcast I had the opportunity to talk with Lisa Oz. Wife of Dr. Oz and accomplished woman in her own right, Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author, editor-at-large of Dr. Oz The Good Life, TV and radio host, producer and more. Despite her very busy life, Lisa still finds time to cook for herself and her family, making food not only a priority but also something she genuinely loves. Lisa was delightful and I can’t wait for you to hear our conversation!

    The Oz Family Kitchen Cookbook

    Lisa just published a cookbook of the recipes they make in their home everyday, The Oz Family Kitchen. I received a review copy and it is lovely. Both Lisa and Mehmet talk about their family and the recipes in the book, the photography is beautiful, and the recipes look so good while still using accessible ingredients. It was a pleasure getting to talk with Lisa about her book and her goals around publishing her family’s recipes.


    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

     Other Stuff!

  10. Sunday, December 13, 2015

    Week 464 Menu

    Hello! It’s birthday week around these parts, so it’s going to be a busy and fun week. One of my “things” as a mom is making fun birthday cakes for my kids, but this year Anna wanted a stack of donuts and Cate wants chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Part of me is relieved, as the cakes normally take hours to make at this the busiest time of the year, but admittedly I am also sad. But if the kids are happy, that’s what matters!Week 464 weekly menu by @janemaynard including free printable weekly meal plan and shopping list

    – BLTs
    – Fresh fruit and chips & salsa

    Chicken Soup with Rice

    Crispy Rosemary Potatoes and Broccoli

    – Out to dinner!

    – Leftovers

    Taco night

    – Breakfast for dinner: waffles and smoothies

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    Can’t wait to see your menus for the week, too! Please share!