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Category: Fun Stuff

  1. Sunday, November 24, 2019

    2019 Thanksgiving Menu + Week 651 Weekly Menu

    Happy Thanksgiving Week! Below you will find out plan for the whole week as well as our Thanksgiving menu. Please share your regular weekly dinner menu, your Thanksgiving menu or both in the comments!

    Click here or on the banner above to see all of my Thanksgiving-related content here on the blog.

    MONDAY:
    Safari Park

    TUESDAY:
    Moroccan Chicken Skewers

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Leftovers

    THURSDAY: Thanksgiving 2018!

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SUNDAY:
    Turkey Soup with Rice
    – Homemade Bread (my Grandma’s recipe that is not published anywhere…saving that for the book I may never write ;))

    Can’t wait to see what you all have cooking this week! Thank you in advance for sharing, either weekly menus, Thanksgiving plans or both!


  2. Friday, August 30, 2019

    Friday Show & Tell: I’m Dreaming of a Toyota Sequoia + Other Awesome Finds

    The number of things I want to share in today’s Show and Tell is a clear indicator that it’s been too long since I’ve done one of these posts. Here we go!

    The Sequoia is the first car to make me consider ditching my minivan.

    2019 Toyota Sequoia in various places in New EnglandJust a few of the places we took the Sequoia this summer! Top left: Cape Cod National Seashore, Provincetown, MA; Top Right: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA, Author’s Ridge in the background; Bottom Right: Off roading on my in-law’s property in New Hampshire; Bottom Right: Centerville on Cape Cod

    This summer, Toyota leant us a Sequoia Platinum for our New England vacation. I was excited to give it a try, but had no idea just how much we would love this car. It is honestly the first car that made me go, “Huh, maybe I can live without my minivan.” It’s about time I tell you about the car, given the level of fondness I have for it! Why did we like this car so much? Let me count the ways…

    Awesome safety features:

    The technology around safety is really well done, with lots of customization possibilities. Note: I accidentally got myself stuck driving down Commercial Street in Provincetown, MA. This was perhaps one of the most stressful driving situations I’ve ever found myself in. It was like trying to fit a grown man’s foot into a baby bootie. However, I was completely able to make it through that crazy street stuffed with cars and people, thanks to helpful beeps if I got close to something as well as a surprisingly tight turning radius on such a large SUV. If I could drive the Sequoia here, I can drive it anywhere.

    Commercial Street in Provincetown, MAThat is Commercial Street. I think my heart rate is still coming down a month later.

    4WD + the ability to fit lots of people and stuff.

    I love camping here in California and visiting Joshua Tree as often as possible. As a result, we’ve forced our minivan down roads that it had no business driving down. We would love to have a 4WD vehicle but as yet haven’t found one that we liked that could also fit 3 kids plus 2 cellos. The Sequoia can do all of that. 

    Storage space in the back of the 2019 Toyota SequoiaI fit those four suitcases and definitely still had space to pack in more stuff…and that was with the third row up! Two cello cases would be no problem!

    So much space.

    Let’s go back to the whole space thing again. The third row was just as comfortable as the middle or front seats, even for adults. And even when we had tons of stuff in the car, we still had room to fit lots of people comfortably.

    Random awesome stuff.

    The sound system was amazing. The front seat had double visors so you can block sun on the side and in front at the same time. Heat warmers in the front and middle seats, plus vented seats in the front to help cool you down on a hot day. Buttons that moved the seats up and down in the way back. All the bells and whistles. 

    Honestly, this might be the next car we get. I’ll keep you posted! Thank you, Toyota!!

    Enamelware Jackpot!

    Stack of Crow Canyon Enamelware, white with blue rim

    I’ve been looking for pretty white enamelware with a thin colored edge for ages. West Elm would carry it sometimes, but it always sold out quickly. Then, while in Provincetown on Cape Cod, we went to a wonderful home store called Utilities, filled to the brim with great finds, including the enamelware of my dreams, made by Crow Canyon Home. I bought a bunch of plates and some serving bowls, then got home and discovered they have a website, which means I will be buying more. (Seriously, I need more bowls, they are awesome.) Definitely go check them out.

    Cedar Grilling Wraps for Cooking Fish

    Salmon cooking on cedar grilling wraps on a gas grill

    A few weeks ago I put grilled salmon on my weekly menu, and my friend Sharon commented on the post saying she had just used cedar grilling wraps the night before and loved them. When I went to Sprouts to buy the fish, I picked up a couple packs myself. And I am officially joining the “I heart cedar wraps” club with Sharon. 

    Why cedar wraps? Well, you’re not really supposed to cook with aluminum foil because aluminum leaches into your food at high temperatures. But buying the cedar planks feels wasteful as you can only use them once. These cedar wraps are the best of both worlds! I have used them twice now for salmon, just laying the salmon right on top of the cedar “paper” and throwing it on the grill. 

    You can buy the wraps on Amazon (and actually there are a ton of brands to choose from on there), but you may also be able to find them at your local market like I did, most likely near the butcher. 

    I love Lori Gottlieb’s book and everyone should read it.

    Cover of "Maybe You Should Talk To Someone" and photo of the author Lori Gottlieb

    Looking for a great book? Go read “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed” by Lori Gottlieb. She is a fantastic writer and I found myself highlighting things left and right, something I rarely do. So, so good. Enjoy!


  3. Thursday, April 25, 2019

    Show and Tell: IKEA Kitchen Finds + Live Music You Need to See

    I went to IKEA last month and found a few things for my kitchen that I am loving. And then I bought a bunch of concert tickets that I am pumped about, so I think a Show and Tell post is in order! 

    IKEA Kitchen Finds: Steak Knives, Dish Towels, Hand Whisk, Cheese Grater

    IKEA Kitchen Finds

    I haven’t been to IKEA in ages, but I went with the kids recently to get some new bedding for Anna’s room. I came home with a small pile of really awesome kitchen stuff, so I feel I must share.

    • Cheese Grater. IKEA made this type of cheese grater years ago. I’ve had mine forever and it’s still going strong. I even gave it to everyone for Christmas one year. Then IKEA stopped selling it for a while, which was sad, but now it’s back on the shelves! I’m so excited because every kitchen needs one of these. Reasons this grater is awesome: it doesn’t take up a ton of storage space, non-slip surface on the bottom, there are two grate size options, the container comes with a lid for storing cheese in the fridge, and it is only FIVE DOLLARS. This is, in my opinion, the best cheese grater around. Click here to buy.
    • Steak Knives. These little knives are only $5 a piece and work great. Here’s the thing, I got some cheap-o steak knives when we got married that were marvelous, and I’m down to only one left. I don’t want to spend $100/knife (or even $20/knife, really), but every cheap steak knife I’ve met since stinks. Not this IKEA knife. It’s great. Not quite as marvelous as my free set of Farberware steak knives, but close. 😉 Click here to buy.
    • Dish Towels. Okay, so, I bought these black dish towels and these grey/blue striped dish towels. They are exactly the same except for the color/pattern. The fabric finish is different from other dish towels at IKEA. These towels are pure magic and legit dry things off completely. Not a speck of water left behind. Plus, they aren’t white, so, you know, they don’t look like crap after a couple of uses. I ended up ordering more online and have a nice stash that will hopefully last me until I die.  
    • Hand Held Whisk. This is so random, but this whisk is like those antique hand held whisks that existed before hand blenders came along. And I love it. And you can put it in the dishwasher. It’s kinda bulky, but, whatever, I’m just glad IKEA brought the old-school hand blender back! Click here to buy.
    • Enameled Steel Grey Dishes with Blue Trim. I didn’t actually buy these dishes because I’m looking for white enameled dishes with red or black trim, however these were completely adorable. So, if you like grey and blue, you should totally get them because I feel like someone should. You can get bowls, plates and/or mugs
    • Prize Wheel Game. This is one of those wheel of fortune spinny wheel things. No, it has nothing to do with the kitchen. Yes, it is completely awesome and fun to spin and perfect for practicing cello with your 7-year-old son. I’ve told two teachers about this and two teachers have since bought it. So, you know, if you have a need for a prize wheel, here you go! Click here to buy.

    Live Music You Need to See

    I just bought a bunch of concert tickets. Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas/Everything Else to me! We have already seen these performers perform live and they were so good we are spending money to see them again. 

    • The Avett Brothers are on tour! Seriously, they are amazing live, and I’m not just saying that because they are my favorite band, which they totally are, but seriously, seriously, seriously, they are so good live. Click here for tour info.
    • Hozier is out and about, too. This dude is unbelievable live and can really jam, plus he has the happiest, kindest vibe about him. Click here for tour info.
    • Last but not least, Sara Bareilles. As a piano-player-singer-type, of course I’ve always loved Sara. But when I went to her concert a few years ago I had no comprehension of how truly spectacular she lives. Her musicianship is impressive, but she is also incredibly funny and witty. Her favorite word starts with “F” and she uses her favorite word a lot, but she makes it very endearing (haha!) and it’s not stopping me from taking my girls anyway. 😉 Click here for tour info.

  4. Friday, February 15, 2019

    Friday Show & Tell: ‘This Week for Dinner’ is finally on Instagram, plus some great podcasts about plant-based foods

    It’s Friday Show and Tell time!Screenshot of This Week for Dinner's Instagram page @thisweekfordinner

    This Week for Dinner is on Instagram!

    So, my blog turned 12 last week. I totally forgot about the blog’s birthday, so, you know, Happy Birthday, Blog! Good job on 12 years and all that. Anyway, I’ve been on Instagram forever but have never focused exclusively on food content because, well, Instagram was sort of my happy place where I did whatever I wanted. It still is, but I have finally pulled the trigger and got This Week for Dinner going on Instagram. I would love love love it if you want to follow me over there. I’ll share content from the blog as well as the podcast (which will be starting up again soon!), the weekly menu and great food! The handle is simply @thisweekfordinner.

    Recent Podcast Recommendations

    Two of my favorite podcasts had some great episodes lately talking about plant-based food. They’re really well done and super interesting, so I definitely want to share them with you!

    Science Vs from Gimlet Media

    Science Vs

    I love Science Vs, it’s a delightful science podcast by Gimlet media and the host Wendy Zukerman is one of my favorites. Anyway, they recently did an episode about vegan diets, looking at different vegan and anti-vegan claims (like vegans are better for the environment and you need cow’s milk to be healthy) to figure out what was true. You can listen to the episode here: Vegans: Are They Right?

    But what I really want to share is the follow up episode about milk alternatives, or shmilks as Wendy calls them. It’s a super short episode that looks at the environmental impact of soy, almond, oat and cow’s milks. At the end of the episode, my 11-year-old Anna said, “Well, it looks like probably our whole family should start using your oat milk, huh, Mom?” You can listen to the episode here: Soy, Almond, Oat Milks: Are They Udder Bull?

    Freakonomics Radio - The Future of Meat Episode Recommendation

    Freakonomics

    Freakonomics is another of my favorite podcasts. Their recent episode The Future of Meat is fascinating and great food for thought. Pat Brown, CEO of Impossible Foods, is interviewed extensively and he has really thoughtful ways of looking at the future of food and meat production. (Fun fact: my husband Nate’s company synthesized DNA for Impossible when they were developing their ground beef product. Cool, huh?)

    That’s all for today! And, as always, show and tell is for the whole class! Feel free to share whatever you want in the comments below!  

     


  5. Friday, January 11, 2019

    Friday Show & Tell: I Caught the Tidy Bug and It Feels Great!

    Marie Kondo and her magical tidying-up ways are all the rage…again. AND WITH GOOD REASON. Have you seen her new show on Netflix? It’s wonderful, both because there are tons of great tips and inspiration and Marie Kondo is the cutest human and you’ll totally fall in love with her.

    Photo of Marie Kondo from Netflix's new show "Tidying Up" | Photo Credit Denise Crew/NetflixPhoto credit: Denise Crew/Netflix

    Last week the kids and I visited two of my aunts while we traipsing around the West in our minivan. Both of these aunts have very tidy homes (I know for a fact at least one of them read Marie’s book years ago). Stepping into their homes and finding my way around their kitchens/cleaning supplies/whatever was no problem because everything was so organized, logical and easy to see. While all of it was inspiring, the thing that really stuck with me was my Aunt Barb’s pantry shelves. Sure, they looked great, but more importantly I noticed that she very clearly only stocks the foods she uses on a regular basis. I know, DUH. This should be obvious, but I had so much food I’ve kept for years (and even moved from house to house) that I was never going to use. So, I came home and immediately started cleaning out my food drawers and shelves.

    Photo of my newly-organized kitchen food shelves

    Then Nate told me that Marie Kondo had a new show on Netflix called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. We bought her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up years ago but I never read it. It seemed the fates were trying to tell me something, what with the tidy aunties and the tidy TV show converging on me. Anna and I watched a few episodes over the weekend and, well, I’ve been an organizing Tasmanian devil all week.

    I didn’t do any before-the-tidying-frenzy photos, but I did take some after shots! (On my iPhone so my photography is, well, not awesome…but whatever, this isn’t a photography lesson, amiright? I’m tired after all this cleaning, too tired to pick up my heavy camera.)

    Organizing The Kitchen

    Newly-organized canned goods shelf as inspired by Marie Kondo

    Most every shelf, cabinet and drawer got cleaned out and organized this week. Previously all my canned goods resided in the drawer you see below. Which means I couldn’t see all the cans easily. But also I hardly ever used anything that was in that drawer, the drawer that happens to be the most accessible in my kitchen. Out all the cans went (holy crap some of them were old…you can see the rings from a leaky, rusty can in the drawer that I couldn’t clean off!), and I put the good cans of food on a shelf in the garage, where everything is super easy to see and, therefore, actually useful. I put things in drawer-previously-known-as-the-useless-canned-food-drawer that we use on a regular basis and even ended up with room to spare. (One of my favorite things in life are empty spaces in closets and drawers!) This is only one major change that happened in the kitchen this week…I won’t bore you with the rest, but needless to say using my kitchen is now 100% easier.

    One of my food storage drawers, newly organized and much easier to use

    Clothing

    We’re not quite done cleaning out everyone’s clothes, but most of it is done. The way Marie Kondo folds clothes is fantastic. Owen knows how to do it now and was super excited to organize his drawers. As I went through all his shirts with him there was one that he never wears and I was surprised when he said he wanted to keep it. When I asked him why he never wears it he said, “Because I can’t ever see it.” Now he can see all his shirts, again making the things we have more useful! I am really hoping as we get into the normal routine of life we can maintain this folding technique when doing laundry because it is awesome. I’ll keep you posted!

    My son's t-shirt drawer, with all the clothes folded the Marie Kondo way

    Bathrooms

    Every single drawer and shelf in both our bathrooms was completely emptied and then organized. Like food, there was stuff in there we hadn’t touched in ages (sometimes over a decade!). We went from completely stuffed cabinets and drawers to having room to spare. Again, everything is viewable and therefore more useful. Here’s our medicine cabinet, organized by category. It’s like a pharmacy!

    Our newly-organzied medicine cabinet, one that would make any pharmacist happy!

    Everything Else

    I cleaned out closets, linens, shoes, you name it. Here’s my cloth napkin drawer, where now I have room for dish cloths and my vacuum attachments. This drawer is like a whole new person (you know, if drawers were people).

    Cloth napkin drawer after going through the Marie Kondo method

    We kept the things we use regularly as well as those things that spark joy, we recycled/tossed/donated everything else, and then we tidied up. And it was the best use of my time in our home in a long time. Thanks Aunt Sue, Aunt Barb and Marie Kondo!

    Happy New Year and Happy Tidying!


  6. Saturday, December 29, 2018

    Kardemummabullar | Swedish Cardamom Buns

    “I want bulle.” 

    Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom buns, viewed from the side on a plate

     

    Those words have come out of my 7-year-old’s mouth no less than 1,000 times over the last week. Bulle is our family’s word for Swedish cardamom bread, whether in bun or braided loaf form. Bulle technically means “bun” in Swedish, so the cardamom version is actually called kardemummabullar (bullar is sort of like the plural version of the word for bulle…my dad explained it to me and it was weird Swedish grammar stuff that I cannot re-explain, so we’ll just leave it at that). I’ve had the recipe for vetebröd (braided Swedish sweet bread, in our case flavored with cardamom) on my site for years. I even shared a bun version of that recipe, the way my grandmother always made it. When Nate and I went to Sweden with my family this summer we had kardemummabullar like we’ve never made it here at home. Obviously the first thing we did when we were all together post-trip was try to replicate that Swedish goodness. My sister-in-law Cora and I took a first crack, then she and my mom have since perfected the recipe and technique. Cora graciously wrote a post and recipe for us, which I am sharing below. These cardamom buns are magic.

    One beautiful Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom bun, on a plate

    Kardemummabullar

    By Cora Wallin

    You’re welcome.

    Sorry, wait. That’s supposed to come at the end, isn’t it? But seriously… you’re going to be so grateful to me. I accept flowers, love notes or life-sized Chris Hemsworth cardboard cutouts. Jane has my details.

    Let me start off by saying I am not Swedish.

    *gasp*

    I have the height and love of all things butter and cardamon but not the stoicism or obsession with rotten seafood. I leave those to my father-in-law, Hansy-Poo. (He’s really going to hate that I called him that. But he won’t show it because, well… stoicism, remember?)

    Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom buns, just out of the oven and on the panWhen Christian (Jane’s brother) and I first started dating, I knew my husband’s family was Swedish but mostly only on the holidays. Christian told me fabled tales of Christmastime and, in particular, the Christmas Eve feast: breaded Swedish ham, savory meatballs, pickled herring and sugary bullar. Turns out he was mostly right about the deliciousness, just exclude the fish.

    His mother is basically Mrs. Claus. Her home becomes utterly transformed at Christmas. Her presents are decorated so beautifully she uses them for decorations on high shelves and in her windows. The candles, the non-creepy Santa collection, the music and the tree with 15 strands of lights make it all feel like Christmas might actually be hugging you. Then she starts to cook.

    Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom buns, cooling on a rack(All photos in this post are by Jane, except this one from, which is from Cora and Christian)

    Lawd, the food. I eat, roll over for a nap, eat some more and only then do I leave the table. It’s goooood, people. After everyone’s rib cages are finally able to expand again, she gives one final gift. She makes bullar. And this is now my gift to you fine folk.

    We went to Sweden last summer and ate bullar at every stop, from gas station to coffee shop. I kid you not. Then Jane and I came home and started tweaking the old family recipe. We did a damn fine job, if I do say so myself. Of all the authentic sampled kardemummabullar, I can think of only one small shop in the-middle-of-nowhere-Sweden whose bullar outdoes what we made. So it may seem like a lot of steps but stay with me. It’s worth it.

    Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom buns, viewed from above on a platePlease do try to wait until they’ve cooled some before eating three (or more) right off the cookie sheet. Taste buds grow back but it does take time.

    Side view of Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom bread, platedPresenting…Phyllis, Jane, Cora and Some Old Swedish Broad’s Cardamom Buns!

    Swedish Cardamom Buns | Kardemummabullar
     
    Note: Fresh, home-ground cardamom is worth the effort. I’ll attach the link for where we got ours. https://www.thespicehouse.com/cardamom-whole-seeds
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • BREAD
    • 2½ cups scalded milk
    • 2 packages or 4½ teaspoons dry active yeast
    • 7½ - 8 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup butter, melted then cooled
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2½ teaspoons coarsely ground fresh cardamom (or 3 teaspoons store-bough ground cardamom)
    • EGG WASH
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • FILLING (There is debate about the amount of filling. Cora and Phyllis do the amounts listed below, Jane uses half amounts listed below. Cora says it's because Jane is more American but she crazy (luckily for Jane she got final editing rights to this))
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground fresh cardamom (here is where you really do want to use freshly-ground cardamom, it makes a difference!)
    • SIMPLE SYRUP
    • ¾ cup water
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • TOPPING
    • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground fresh cardamom (again, fresh is best!)
    • 1½ tablespoon coarse sugar
    Instructions
    1. Scald milk and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast to mixing bowl then soak with ½ cup of the luke-warm milk and gently stir. Let yeast dissolve and bloom, 5-10 minutes. Add remaining milk and ¼ cup sugar. Beat in 3 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Cover and set aside to rise until double in bulik 45 minutes - 1 hour. (We use a KitchenAid stand mixer to make this bread.)
    2. Add remaining ½ cup sugar, cooled butter and salt. Add cardamom as listed under the bread ingredients as well as 4½ more cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead in ½ cup more flour. Knead until elastic and smooth. (We use the dough hook in our stand mixer to do the kneading. Jane usually adds that final ½ cup flour at this point; Cora and Phyllis just let the mixer knead without adding the ½ cup flour.) Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until double, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Jane usually just leaves the dough right there in the mixer bowl and covers it, works just fine. One less bowl to wash.)
    3. Turn dough unto to lightly floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle. Spread evenly with filling and fold dough in half. Cut 1-1½ inch strips of dough with pizza cutter.
    4. FORMING THE KNOTTED BUNS: Now it's time to form the beautiful, awesome-looking buns. This part is tricky. There are lots of ways to do this. Jane does it differently than Phyllis and I remain as neutral as Sweden conforming to whatever method takes my fancy. There are links below this recipe so you can watch videos of people shaping the rolls. Definitely go watch those videos! You will essentially twist the strips and tie a knot. They’re supposed to be rustic, so don’t stress if they don’t all look the same. They will all still be beautiful.
    5. One strip at a time, gently hold one end of dough with one hand while the other twists the dough until it stops, making a spiral. Be careful not to break the dough. Now wrap dough around two fingers once or twice depending on the length of the strip and tuck ends into the center of dough. Phyllis tucks one end in the top and one end in the bottom. Jane holds the bottom end while wrapping around her fingers and uses the other end to go over the center of the top before tucking into the center of the bottom. See, confusing! Watch the videos they’ll help.
    6. Place rolls on un-greased, parchment-lined or Silpat-lined cookie sheets. Let rise until double, 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 400º F.
    7. While buns rise a final time, make simple syrup. In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and allow to cool.
    8. When buns are double in size, gently brush with the egg wash. Bake in oven 14–16 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
    9. When buns are done the tops and bottoms should be a dark brown. The bottoms are your key to doneness, so be sure to lift one before you take them out and make sure it's dark brown. Immediately brush hot buns with simple syrup and sprinkle with sugar cardamom topping or pearl sugar.

     

    This is the way Jane forms the kardemummabullar knot:

    This is the way Phyllis forms the kardemummabullar knot:

     

    OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:


  7. Thursday, December 20, 2018

    How to Make a Cake That Looks Like Toast. Yep, Toast.

    My oldest child Cate turned 14 a few days ago. (PS: FOURTEEN. Unreal.) Cate is obsessed with toast, so much so that I’ve instituted a toast ration in our house. Yeah, I know, meanest mom ever. But this ration is there to protect all of us – it keeps Cate from dying of malnutrition from overindulgence of toast and also saves me from spending my entire retirement on good toast bread to support her habit. (I think drugs might be cheaper, quite frankly. Not that I’m condoning drugs or anything but seriously I SPEND SO MUCH MONEY ON BREAD, PEOPLE.) As her birthday party was approaching this year she came up with a brilliant/hilarious/bizarre birthday cake request: toast. Yes, she wanted a cake that looked like toast. Honestly, I wasn’t opposed because I figured it couldn’t be too hard to figure out how to make a cake that looks like toast.

    Side view of a cake that looks like cinnamon sugar toast

    I was right. A toast cake is not hard at all. And the cake ended up being so fun the photo I posted on Instagram got the most likes of any photo I’ve ever posted there. Who could have predicted a cake that looks like toast would be so popular, even among non addicts?

    Since the cake was such a hit, figured I’d give you all a quick rundown on how to pull it together. In addition to a quick step-by-step, I’ll share the recipes I used.

    Top view of a birthday cake that looks like cinnamon sugar toast

    How to Make a Cake That Looks Like Toast

    • Bake two 8- or 9-inch square cakes. I made vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting because those flavors go great with cinnamon sugar.
    • Stack the unfrosted cakes on top of each other and then cut out pieces as indicated in the drawing below.

    Template for cutting a square cake into the shape of toast

    • Frost the cake like you would any 2-layer cake but leave the sides unfrosted. I made a back and forth motion on the top in parallel lines so the frosting would look like butter was spread on the cake.
    • Once the middle and top of the cake are frosted, sift a bit of cocoa powder into the frosting and blend well. You want to make a nice light brown-colored frosting. I probably added about a tablespoon or so. Use this to frost the sides of the cake.
    • Once the cake is frosted, sprinkle the top carefully and evenly with cinnamon sugar.
    • Be sure to click here and read through my Amateur’s Guide to Making Super Cute Cakes post. That post has all the tips you need to successfully decorate the cake!

    Birthday cake that looks like toast with cinnamon sugar on top!

    That’s it! If you can make a 2-layer cake, you can make a toast cake.

    Vanilla Cake
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    This is a great basic vanilla cake recipe from Matthew Mead's "Cakes for Kids" book. I've re-written the directions in my own words.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for pans
    • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ⅔ cup butter at room temperature
    • 1¾ cups sugar
    • 2 large eggs, room temp
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1¼ cups milk
    • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon zest (optional...I have never added this b/c I am lazy)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. This recipe works for 24 cupcakes, 2 8-inch or 9-inch cakes, or 1 9x13 cake. If using cupcake liners, place liners in muffin tin and set aside. If using cake pan(s), lightly grease the bottom of the cake pan, line it with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Lightly flour the pan. Set aside.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2½ cups flour, baking powder and salt.
    4. Using a stand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
    5. Leaving the mixer on medium speed, add ¼ cup sugar. Beat for 3 minutes. Keep adding sugar ¼ cup at a time, mixing for 3 minutes between each addition until you've added all the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
    6. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating at medium speed for 30 seconds between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    7. With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then ⅓ of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined for each addition. If using zest, add it now.
    8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then give the batter one more mix at high speed for 20 seconds.
    9. Spread the batter in the pan, filling cake pans or cupcakes ⅔ full with batter.
    10. For 8- or 9-inch cakes, bake for 30-35 minutes. For 9x13 cake, bake for 35-40 minutes. For cupcakes bake for 10-12 minutes. Toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done.
    11. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, cut around the edges of the cake, then invert the pan over the wire rack, lift pan to remove cake and peel off parchment paper. Let cake cool completely on the rack. For cupcakes, let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing.

    Cream Cheese Frosting
     
    This frosting is perfect for decorating cakes and cupcakes!
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
    • 10.5 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 5 cups powdered sugar (maybe 5½ cups if you feel like it needs to be a bit thicker)
    Instructions
    1. Beat the butter and cream cheese with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer until smooth.
    2. Beat in vanilla.
    3. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.

     

     


  8. Sunday, November 18, 2018

    Week 600 Weekly Menu + Our Thanksgiving Menu 2018

    Happy Thanksgiving Week! Below is our dinner menu for the week PLUS our plans for Thanksgiving. This week feel free to share your regular weekly dinner menu, your Thanksgiving menu or both in the comments!

    Click here or on the banner above to see all of my Thanksgiving-related content here on the blog.

    Week 600 Weekly Menu: Monday - Eat out; Tuesday - Bolognese; Wednesday - Leftovers; Thursday - Thanksgiving Feast!; Friday through Sunday - Leftovers

    MONDAY:
    – Corner Bakery Cafe (I have a work thing in the evening, so going to take advantage of the free kids meal night!)

    TUESDAY:
    Bolognese & Pasta
    – Salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Leftovers/Scrounge up whatever you can find in the kitchen, Family, as I’ll be busy cooking for Thursday!

    THURSDAY: Thanksgiving 2018!

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SUNDAY:
    Turkey Soup with Rice
    – Homemade Bread (my Grandma’s recipe that is not published anywhere…saving that for the book I may never write ;))

    Can’t wait to see what you all have cooking this week! Thank you in advance for sharing!


  9. Friday, November 16, 2018

    Rose’s Creamed Onions

    Today I was going through my favorite Thanksgiving recipes to share them on Facebook and discovered something – I have never published Rose’s creamed onions recipe here on my blog. This is not right and I must rectify the situation immediately.

    Great Grandma Rose's Creamed Onions on a plate

    When Nate and I met and married, his great-grandmother Rose was still alive. She was in her 90s and still lived in the beautiful Colonial home where she raised her children. It wasn’t until she was 99 years old that she finally moved into an assisted living facility, where she requested a cane simply because everyone else had one. She also always wore a dress, even in exercise classes. She passed away just one month shy of her 104th birthday and I am so grateful to have had the chance to know her.

    Cate with her great-great-grandma Rose, who always made creamed onions for the holidays

    Rose was able to meet her first two great-great-grandchildren, both of whom carry her name. My daughter, Cate Rose met Great-Great-Grandma Rose a few times — meetings that of course involved many laughs, hugs, and camera flashes.

    Until she moved into assisted living, Rose made creamed onions for every holiday. Her creamed onions could always be counted on for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. After she died, Nate’s grandmother and his mom both carried on the tradition. Rose’s creamed onions are beloved and elicit wonderful memories and feelings of love.

    Final Picture of Great-Grandma Rose's Creamed Onions Recipe from the food blog This Week for Dinner

    The first time I tried making Rose’s creamed onions was with Nate’s sister Jess at Thanksgiving. We inadvertently used pickled onions for the recipe and it was horrible, but also really funny. While the laughs were good, we were a wee bit disappointed at our failure. Thankfully I have since made creamed onions successfully with my girls, keeping the tradition alive.

    The more modern version of the recipe uses jarred onions, but Rose always used fresh pearl or boiler onions. The first time I made these after that initial failure, Cate and I could only find fresh onions at the store. Cate insisted that we stop looking and make the recipe the way Rose always did. She literally gripped the fresh onions to her chest, rejecting even the possibility of jarred onions. It was very sweet.

    My daughters making their great-great-grandma Rose's Creamed Onions recipesCate and Anna three years ago, making the creamed onions recipe together

    Whether you use fresh or jarred onions, the result is the same — delicious! The fresh onions take longer to cook, but if you cook them a long while, as Rose did, it works great. Either way you end up with layers of flat, soft onion petals that complement many different types of meals nicely. I will admit that my kids don’t love eating these onions nearly as much as they love making them, but I’m sure they will appreciate the taste as they get older. As my daughter Anna pointed out, even if you don’t like the onions that much, the cream around them is awesome! As for the adults in the family, we all love Rose’s onions. There are even several onion-averse members of the family who eagerly look forward to this dish each year. It’s just so good served alongside holiday food — as necessary for some family members as cranberry sauce.

    Top view of Great-Grandma Rose's Creamed Onion Recipe

    Rose's Creamed Onions
     
    Recipe for creamed onions from my husband's great-grandmother, Rose McCarthy. Perfect for all kinds of holiday meals.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 16-ounce jar onions (NOT pickled) or 1 pound pearl/boiler onions, fresh or frozen (about 20-25 total)
    • ¼ cup butter
    • ¼ cup flour
    • 2 cups half and half
    • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
    • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
    • Pinch nutmeg
    • ¼ teaspoon paprika
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
    2. If you are using fresh onions, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add onions and cook for 1½ minutes. Drain onions and add to an ice bath to stop cooking. Cut off the root end of the onions and then peel the outer layer off each onion. Set onions aside.
    3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add flour all at once. Whisking constantly, cook until butter has liquefied. The butter and flour will start out pasty, then boil for about 3-4 minutes, then it will foam a bit and become liquefied, about 5 minutes total. When it reaches this point, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 3 more minutes.
    4. Slowly add cold half and half, whisking constantly while adding.
    5. Raise the heat back up to medium and cook until the sauce thickens, between 5-10 minutes.
    6. Remove from heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese, dry mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
    7. Add onions to the sauce, stir well, then pour into a 1½-quart baking dish. Sprinkle top with paprika.
    8. Jarred Onions: Bake uncovered for 10-30 minutes, until mixture is hot and bubbly. Cook longer if you want the top more browned.
    9. Fresh Onions: Bake uncovered for 60-90 minutes, until onions are very soft and top is very brown. If you want to cook the onions longer to make them even softer, cover with foil once the top is as brown as you want it.
    10. Frozen Onions: Boil frozen onions for 2 minutes then prepare as you would for the fresh onions.
    11. Creamed onions can be made a day ahead. Follow all directions until the baking step. Place unbaked creamed onions in the fridge, covered. The next day, remove baking dish from fridge, uncover, and let sit at room temperature while oven preheats. You will probably need to add 10-20 minutes of baking time.
    Notes
    Makes appx. 12 servings; Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cook Time: 10-20 minutes when using jarred onions, 60-90 minutes when using fresh pearl/boiler onions

     


  10. Friday, November 9, 2018

    Friday Show & Tell: Wild Kratts Live, Imperfect Produce, Native Deodorant and Oatly Update

    Happy Friday! I have a few things I want to share with you, so I think it’s time for Show & Tell!

    Wild Kratts Live

    Wild Kratts Live Show with the Family

    A few weeks ago we had the chance to take the kids to see the Wild Kratts Live 2.0 show, (big thank you to PBS Kids for the tickets). My kids love the Wild Kratts (even Cate who is pushing 14!). Nate and I kept the show a secret and surprised them the day we went. When we arrived we discovered we even had VIP tickets, which meant we had the chance to meet the Kratt brothers after the show. It was such a fun day!

    Chris and Martin talk with my kids at the Wild Kratts Live show

    If you have kids that like Wild Kratts I definitely recommend the live show. The show itself was adorable and the sound of children’s laughter was non-stop. Owen (7) was completely engaged the entire time. Cate decided that watching all of the little ones in the audience was as much fun as the actual show. Meeting the Kratt brothers was awesome. Chris and Martin have boundless energy and are so kind, speaking to each child individually and really taking their time with all the kids. We walked away from the experience in a great mood, with positive feelings and happy hearts.

    Meeting Chris & Martin at Wild Kratts Live

    Click here to check out the tour dates and locations!

    Imperfect Produce

    In my ongoing effort to make the food I buy more environmentally friendly, I recently started ordering from Imperfect Produce. In terms of environmental impact, the very best thing we can do is buy local. After that, buying food that would otherwise go to waste is pretty awesome, too. Imperfect Produce sources “ugly” and surplus produce from farmers and producers and then sells it at a discount to customers. The box of produce is delivered to your house each week. I love their mission since wasted food is something I think about all the time.

    Infographic explaining how the company Imperfect Produce works - they source imperfect and surplus fruit from farmers and deliver directly to customers

    I am absolutely loving Imperfect Produce. There is minimal packaging and all of the produce we have received has been awesome and delicious. Each week an email arrives reminding me to customize my box. You can choose from whatever they have in stock that week and there is both conventional and organic produce. In addition, it tells you were each item is grown. The website is so easy to use and my new system works great: I keep a list on my phone that tells me what will be coming each Friday from Imperfect Produce so that when I go shopping at the farmer’s market and grocery store each week I don’t overbuy anything.

    Imperfect Produce is expanding across the country and San Diego was one of their latest additions. Click here to visit their website and see if Imperfect Produce is in your city. I highly recommend them! (Note: Links to Imperfect Produce in this post are referral links. If you sign up using this link you and I both get a $10 credit. I have no relationship with Imperfect Produce other than being a customer and once you are a customer you can refer people, too!)

    Native Deodorant Update

    Remember my new favorite deodorant? I’ve been using Native for over a year now and still love it. In fact, I’m kind of addicted and have never had such a large stash of deodorant before. Their scents are just so great! Anyway, Target started carrying Native. Woohoo! Keep an eye out next time you visit Target!

    Oatly Update

    A few months ago I sang the praises of Oatly oat milk. Since then Oatly has become nearly impossible to buy because it’s just so darn popular (with good reason!). They had a day a few weeks ago where you could buy one case on their website. It felt like buying tickets to a concert – I had to set a reminder on my phone and it sold out within 20 minutes (I succeeding in getting a case!). I have confirmed with the Oatly team that they are building a factory here in the United States that will be opening in early 2019, which means pretty soon it will be much easier to get Oatly. I CAN’T WAIT. Good work, people. Keep the demand up! We want Oatly everywhere!

    That’s all I got! Have a great weekend!