Menu Banner
  1. Monday, July 16, 2018

    Week 585 Weekly Menu

    It’s Monday, which means the start of another week, which means time for another weekly dinner menu!

    Weekly Dinner Menu for the week of July 16, 2018

    MONDAY:
    Chili

    TUESDAY:
    Carnitas Tacos

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Pesto Pasta
    – Salad

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Grilled BBQ Chicken
    – Side veggie (whatever I find at the farmer’s market!)

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – BLTs

    You all know the drill…please post your own meal plans in the comments below! Have a great week!


  2. Wednesday, July 11, 2018

    How to Cook Fresh Masa Tortillas

    Side view of homemade fresh masa corn tortillas

    Several years ago I had the chance to do a walking tour of the Mission District in San Francisco with Rick Bayless. It is one of the coolest things I’ve done and I learned a ton about Mexican cuisine. (Seriously, the Rick Bayless is like a college professor.) One of the topics he covered was tortillas. He took us to a tortilleria where they make their tortillas from fresh masa. These tortillas were like nothing I had every tasted before. Rick explained the difference between maseca and fresh masa and talked probably for 15-20 minutes just about tortillas. I’ve been meaning to act on what I learned since that day but only recently tracked down a fresh masa source in my neighborhood. Man, I wish I had done it sooner because these tortillas. And now that I have cooked them many times I am going to share the magic with you! Today you will learn how to cook fresh masa tortillas and as well as why they are so magical.

    A Wee Bit of Masa History

    I’ve done a lot of reading about masa, corn and tortillas over the last couple of months. The short story is that in ancient Mesoamerica, people processed corn using nixtamilization, where corn is soaked in an alkaline solution and then washed and hulled. This process makes corn a complete nutrient. Interestingly, when Europeans brought corn home they neglected to learn nixtamilization, which in turn made European diets less nutritious. Crazy, huh? Meanwhile in the Americas masa and corn tortillas were a nutritious staple in many people’s diets.

    Side view of a bowl of fresh corn masa

    Fast forward to the 1980s. Masa-based tortillas were still the norm in Mexico until a company called Maseca came along. Maseca created masa flour, basically a flour made from masa. It’s more efficient and shelf stable but does not taste nearly as good as fresh masa. In the beginning Maseca did not do well in Mexico because the taste just couldn’t compare, but in 1988 the new president of Mexico helped the company in significant ways and transformed the Mexican tortilla industry. Today it is more common for tortillas to be made from maseca, which is a crying shame. (Click here to read more about this culinary and economic transformation, it’s fascinating.)

    Top view of a bowl of fresh masaPhoto of homemade fresh masa corn tortillas

    Why Fresh Masa Is So Much Better for Tortillas

    Okay, so back to Rick Bayless. The tortilleria we visited in San Francisco used masa and you could tasted the difference. I have a hard time describing fresh masa tortillas I will try. The difference comes through both in texture and taste. Fresh masa tortillas are more like a flatbread. But as soon as I say that I regret it because they are still like tortillas, but the texture is just so much better. And the flavor is unreal. The kids and I can eat them straight up with a bit of butter (and honey!) and be happy. But of course the tortillas want to be tacos and so we make them tacos! Rick explained that one of the reasons he opened Frontera Grill in Chicago was because there were tortilla makers in that city using fresh masa and he needed a ready source of masa-based tortillas for his restaurant. The tortillas were that important to him when starting his restaurant.

    Homemade fresh masa tortilla with butter and honeyTop view of fresh masa tortillas, one with butter and honey

    How to Cook Fresh Masa Tortillas

    Rick converted me to fresh masa tortillas, but how in the world would I make them at home? You can make your own fresh masa from dried corn – the blog Mexican Please blog has a great recipe and tutorial. However this is a time-consuming process, one which I am not apt to go through on a regular basis. If you are lucky like me and live in range of many Mexican restaurants and tortillerias, chances are one of them makes and sells fresh masa. I searched the map then called places to find out if they sold fresh masa. My source here in North County San Diego is El Nopalito. They sell fresh masa for tortillas for about $1 a pound.

    Side view of tacos using homemade tortillas made from fresh masa

    If you want to make fresh masa tortillas, start digging around to see if you, too, can find a masa source. It is worth the effort to find masa! If you come up empty and feel like a fun food project, maybe give making masa from scratch a shot. But keep in mind I have never done that myself and can’t vouch for the results (although I’m sure it would be delicious)!

    top view of tacos using fresh masa tortillas

    Okay, so you have fresh masa in hand. Now what? In the recipe below I describe in detail the process for how to cook fresh masa tortillas. I’ve made them many times and finally have it down. I will write the instructions as detailed as I can but keep in mind there’s a bit of a learning curve and you just have to dive in and do it to get the hang of it. You’ll get the feel for how to form and cook the tortillas as you cook more of them. If you have questions, just drop them in the comments below! Happy tortilla cooking!

    Process for forming tortillas from fresh masaFresh masa corn tortillas cooking in the pan

    How to Cook Fresh Masa Tortillas
     
    Author:
    Serves: 12-16
    Ingredients
    • 1 pound fresh masa
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (if masa is unsalted)
    Instructions
    1. When working with the fresh masa, make sure it is kept covered or in a plastic bag the whole time so that it doesn't dry out while you are cooking.
    2. Form balls about 2 tablespoons in size, pressing the ball together well and rolling it between your hands to smooth the outside of the ball. I use my medium Pampered Chef scoop to measure out the balls. I also make the dough balls as I cook them, but if you want to form all the balls at once, just make sure you are storing them covered until they are ready to cook.
    3. Cut a quart-sized ziploc bag down the two side seams to form a long, rectangular piece of plastic. I use freezer bags because the thicker plastic holds up longer. I also wash the bag after each use and store it with my tortilla press.
    4. Place half of the plastic on the press, then place a masa dough ball in the center, then fold over the plastic to cover the dough. Gently but firmly press the ball into a tortilla shape. You want to get the tortilla as thin as you can but if you go too thin it will be hard to get off the plastic. It may take a few times to get the feel for it but don't fret, if you mess up just re-roll the ball and start over! If you do have a tortilla stick to the plastic, you may need to wipe the plastic down before trying again. My friend Mindy found it helpful to use a little spray oil on the plastic to prevent sticking, which could be helpful as you start working with the dough.
    5. If you don't have a tortilla press, you can use a glass casserole dish - just put the dough ball in the plastic then firmly press down on the dough. Glass is nice because you can see how thin the tortilla is getting as you press. Just be sure to press evenly down so the tortilla is the same thickness throughout.
    6. Preheat a large frying pan (I use non-stick, but a well-seasoned cast iron skillet should work, too) over medium-high heat. Let it preheat for a good five minutes before you start cooking the tortillas. On my stove medium-high works, but your stove may be a little different. You want the pan quite hot and you'll get a feel for it after you try it the first few times.
    7. Once the pan is hot, place your formed tortilla in the pan and let it cook for about 30 seconds then flip it over. If it is sticking to the pan that means it needs to cook a little longer. I like to do this first flip as early as possible so that the top uncooked side doesn't get too dried out before it finally gets a chance to start cooking on the griddle. After the first flip, let the tortilla cook for a minute or two, flip it back to the original side and cook for another minute or two. The tortilla will looked "cooked" when it's done - non-gummy, dry and potentially browned in spots. It's okay if the tortilla puffs up with air! I use a pancake flipper to flip the tortillas.
    8. Serve immediately. If you can't serve immediately, store in a tortilla warmer. As they sit they will get less crispy and a bit gummy, the best way to reheat is right on the pan. I generally make the tortillas as everyone is eating, but my family is also fine with tortillas that have been sitting in the tortilla warmer for a few minutes. I can cook 3 tortillas at a time on my 12-inch pan, so the cooking goes quickly.

     

    OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:

    EQUIPMENT I USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE:


  3. Sunday, July 8, 2018

    Week 584 Weekly Menu

    Hello meal planning and food friends. I wish I could say I missed you the last two weeks, but our trip to Sweden was pretty darn spectacular and I didn’t miss meal planning and cooking one bit! But alas it is back to normal this week, which is definitely not a bad thing, actually. Since it’s going to be pretty warm this week and we’re all craving wholesome food, we’re going heavy on salads and summer-friendly meals for the weekly menu.

    Weekly dinner plans, Week 584 Weekly Menu from This Week for Dinner

    MONDAY:
    Chicken Caesar Wraps

    TUESDAY:
    Pat’s Asian Chicken Salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Grilled Salmon
    – Salad

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    Sausage, Peppers & Onions Sandwiches

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    Rachel Sandwiches

    Please share your weekly menus in the comments below! Looking forward to seeing what you all have cooking and getting back into the cooking groove!

    If you want to check out the trip to Sweden, click here to follow along on Instagram. I have already posted a few things and will be posting more throughout the week!


  4. Monday, June 18, 2018

    Week 583 Weekly Menu

    Hello meal planning friends! SO….this week Nate and I are heading to Sweden to spend some time with my parents, siblings and sister-in-law. My dad was born in Stockholm and none of his children have been to Sweden, so now we are all finally going together…without kids! I keep joking that the plane ride with Nate will feel like an extended date. 😉

    My in-laws are coming to watch the kids and for the first few days it’s just my (angelic) father-in-law holding down the fort, so we’re picking simple and easy meals for them to prepare together this week.

    Weekly dinner plans - Week 583 Weekly Menu from This Week for Dinner

    MONDAY:
    – Pesto Chicken Pasta

    TUESDAY:
    – Eat out

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Spaghetti
    Salad

    THURSDAY:
    – English Muffin Pizzas

    FRIDAY:
    – Hot dogs
    – Watermelon

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    – Trader Joe’s Frozen Mac & Cheese
    – Salad

    I’m going to buy a few other prepared dinner items from Trader Joe’s and I think that should keep everyone covered on the home front. Everyone wish Grampa Herms good luck!

    You all know the drill, please post your menu in the comments below! And if I disappear for the next two weeks know it’s because we are thoroughly enjoying Midsummer in Sweden!


  5. Monday, June 11, 2018

    Week 582 Weekly Menu

    Happy Monday! I think it’s time I finally get my menu together for this week. It’s kind of a funny week with the last day of school and whatnot. Should be fun!

    Week 582 Weekly Dinner Menu from Jane Maynard of This Week for Dinner

    MONDAY:
    Thai Basil Beef with Coconut Brown Rice

    TUESDAY:
    Cora’s Mexican Ground Beef Tacos

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Leftovers

    THURSDAY:
    – Last day of school…eating on the fly!

    FRIDAY:
    – Spaghetti
    – Salad

    SATURDAY:
    – Attending a graduation party

    SUNDAY:
    – Father’s Day Feast…whatever Nate wants, still TBD!

    You know the drill…time to share your weekly meal plan in the comments below! Thank you and have a great week!


  6. Thursday, June 7, 2018

    Kitchen Sink Orzo Bowls

    These kitchen sink orzo bowls are delicious and a new favorite go-to dinner option in our house, super flexible and you can use whatever ingredients you have lying about…you know, everything but the kitchen sink!

    Kitchen Sink Orzo Bowls, a comforting, nutritious and delicious go-to dinner recipe

    Last week when I went to the farmer’s market I had no idea what I was going to be making for dinner that night (despite having a meal plan ready…yeah, sometimes I don’t follow it, I’m only human). I decided to see what vegetables I could find at the market and go from there. Then I came home, rummaged through the cabinets and fridge and discovered a package of whole wheat orzo. The result of all this searching and finding is today’s recipe, kitchen sink orzo bowls.

    Easy and tasty kitchen sink orzo bowl recipe

    This is a very flexible recipe. Pretty much the only ingredient you have to have is orzo! Olive oil, onions, tomatoes, salt and pepper are also pretty necessary, too, but beyond that you can throw all kinds of yummy veggies and even chicken or fish with success. As a result of all this flexibility, I don’t have any measurements for you on this recipe. I’ll describe the technique and the approximate amounts of ingredients I used and then I encourage you to take this recipe and make it your own. And your own version will probably even change depending on the season or what is in your fridge on a particular day.

    Recipe for Kitchen Sink Orzo Bowls - use whatever you have in the kitchen to make this delicious go-to dinner

    The final result is a very homey, tasty dish, reminiscent of a classic casserole but much healthier. If you’re craving risotto but don’t feel like cooking risotto, this is a great alternative, providing a similar texture and flavor without the long cooking process. Enjoy!

    Kitchen Sink Orzo Bowls
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Whole wheat orzo pasta (Definitely go whole wheat here! It's more nutritious and tastes the same! My favorite brand is Delallo Organic.)
    • Olive oil, a few tablespoons
    • Onion, about ¼-1/2 of an onion chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
    • Cherry Tomatoes, halved, above one pint (you could also chop appx. 2 whole tomatoes)
    • Fresh vegetables, whatever you have lying around (I used 2 fresh summer squash)
    • Cooked chicken, chopped or shredded depending on your preference (About 1-2 chicken breasts' or a few thighs' worth of meat, I like the chicken to be grilled)
    • Dry white wine, ¼-1/2 cup or so (optional)
    • White balsamic vinegar, a few tablespoons (optional)
    • Pasta water, reserve 2-3 cups
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Spices and herbs if you like: parsley, oregano, basil are all good options (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Prepare orzo pasta as directed on the package. Drain, reserving 2-3 cups of the pasta water, and then set aside both the water and the orzo. I used about ¾ of a package of Delallo Whole Wheat Orzo to feed our family of 5 with some leftovers.
    2. In a deep, 12-inch skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook a few minutes until translucent.
    3. Add fresh garlic and cook, stirring, about 30-60 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium low and let mixture cook for 5-10 minutes to really get the tomatoes to cook down.
    4. If using wine, add it now and cook about 5 minutes. Add vegetables and cook a few minutes until the veggies are al dente. (If you are using vegetables like carrots that take longer to cook, steam them ahead of time and just heat through at this point in the recipe.) If you aren't using wine and need a little more fluid in the pan, just add another swig or two of olive oil.
    5. Add the orzo to the pan. Add the white balsamic vinegar and then start adding pasta water about ½ cup at a time until you get a nice, creamy consistency. Salt and pepper to taste, adding herbs and spices if you choose. I simply used salt and pepper and it tasted great!

    OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:

    EQUIPMENT I USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE:


  7. Sunday, June 3, 2018

    Week 581 Weekly Menu

    Sorry about last week…we were, quite frankly, having too much fun over Memorial Day weekend and I blew it on the meal planning front! We had a strange week, too, so there wasn’t much cooking happening anyway. But we’re back in business this week.

    Week 581 Weekly Dinner Menu

    MONDAY:
    – Taco Salad

    TUESDAY:
    – BBQ Grilled Chicken
    – Baked Beans and Salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    Lentil Rice Bowls with Lime-Tahini Dressing

    THURSDAY:
    – Chopped Salad with Chicken

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Stir Fry

    Seriously, your menus from last time were a huge help for me as I planned today. As always, thank you for sharing your menus with us week after week…including this week! Can’t wait to see what you’ve got cooking, please share below!


  8. Sunday, May 20, 2018

    Week 580 Weekly Menu

    Hey all! I am in major spring cleaning mode, cleaning out closets that haven’t been organized since we moved into this house. I’m at the point where I just want to set the house on fire and start over. Fun times! Taking a break to plan this week’s menu is a welcome diversion.

    Weekly Dinner Menu from Jane Maynard for the week of May 21, 2018

    MONDAY:
    Steak
    – Roasted Potatoes + Another Vegetable

    TUESDAY:
    Thai Basil Beef with Coconut Brown Rice

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Pesto Chicken Pasta
    – Salad

    THURSDAY:
    Homemade Hamburgers

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Breakfast for dinner (details TBD)

    You know the drill! Share your weekly menu in the comments below! Thank you!


  9. Friday, May 18, 2018

    Friday Show and Tell: Joy’s Red Beans and Rice + the Chompers Podcast

    Happy Friday! I have two quick things to share today. These two things are awesome. Ready?

    Joy the Baker's Red Beans and Rice Recipe

    Joy’s New Orleans-Style Red Beans and Rice

    When I went to New Orleans about 347 years ago I bought a bag of Camellia Red Kidney Beans, a New Orleans classic. And then I came home and put the beans in the pantry. And then I didn’t do anything with them in forever and the beans were sad. But now they’re happy because they finally made it into a pot. One of my blogging friends Joy the Baker moved to New Orleans a few years ago and has a recipe for Red Beans and Rice on her site. I trust Joy, so I decided to give her recipe a try.

    Oh goodness I really loved this dinner. Joy’s Red Beans & Rice are delicious. And I didn’t change the recipe at all, which means I’m just gonna go ahead and send you on over to her site! (Okay, I did double the amount of pancetta and sausage, a decision I firmly stand by. We also served it over brown rice, which worked great.)

    Also, people from New Orleans say you have to use Camellia’s Red Kidney Beans. And you can buy them online so there really is no reason not to.

    Also, I bought a canister of Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Seasoning for this recipe and have since used it three times on other foodstuffs, too. So, that is also a worthy investment.

    Chompers, the kids' tooth brushing podcast that rocks

    Chompers Podcast

    If you have any kids in your life that you have any kind of influence over then you need to keep reading. CHOMPERS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER. What is Chompers, you ask? It is a twice-daily podcast show for kids that teaches them how to brush their teeth and gets them to brush for a full 2 minutes. They tell jokes, share facts, do quizzes…the list goes on. It’s the best. Owen, our 6 year old, especially loves it and has listened to the Chompers podcast twice a day every day since we discovered it. And he totally brushes the whole 2 minutes every time.

    Seriously, go subscribe STAT. (I hear even some adults listen to the podcast to make sure they get their full 2 minutes of brushing in, too!) Click here to visit the Chompers website or simply subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


  10. Monday, May 14, 2018

    Week 579 Weekly Menu

    Since yesterday was Mother’s Day I took it upon myself to perform no household duties, including planning the weekly dinner menu. Sadly Mother’s Day only lasts 24 hours and we still need dinner this week. Back to real life!

    Week 579 Weekly Dinner Menu for the week of May 14, 2018

    MONDAY:
    – Chicken Tortilla Soup

    TUESDAY:
    – Red Beans and Rice (trying a new recipe, will let you know how it goes!)

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Hamburgers

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Stir Fry

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Steak
    – Roasted Potatoes + Another Side Vegetable (whatever I find at the farmer’s market)

    You know the drill – share your menus in the comments! They are a huge help to us all, thank you!