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Category: Fun Stuff

  1. Wednesday, February 1, 2023

    Sixteen years of seasons

    Hello! It’s been a while. I succumbed to “December,” the month of birthdays, holidays, merriment and just not enough time. Then January came and with it an immediate business trip, trying to get back into a normal routine and so many sick days. Dinner has been ad hoc through these weeks, a mix of pantry cooking, Hello Fresh meals here and there, takeout and sometimes (if we’re lucky) actual meal planning. Now I am ready to post again, connect with you all, and cook some food, whether it’s planned ahead or not.

    Acacia tree | Copyright 2023 This Week for DinnerThis is my acacia tree, planted after I visited Malawi with ONE and Heifer International. While in Malawi the acacia trees were in bloom all over the country. I came home and planted one almost immediately. It is very happy in Carlsbad, growing like a monster and making a big old mess of the backyard. But every time it blooms, as it is doing now, it makes my heart so happy. Here is one of the blooms for you. Enjoy.

    Fun fact: today marks 16 years for this little corner of the Internet! I started This Week for Dinner simply as a way to share basic weekly dinner plans with my brother, who was in college at the time. Since then I have had the opportunity to connect with countless magical humans, both here in the comments and in person. It has been fulfilling in ways that were both predictable and not and I am grateful every day.

    At some point along the way a (truly wonderful, wow-am-I-lucky-!) literary agent reached out to me about writing a cookbook. Which turned into a book about the women who influenced my cooking and my life. Which turned into a book about how the food in our life at any given time so often reflects the different seasons we are going through. Andi-the-magical-agent is still waiting for my book proposal – the season of writing has yet to arrive. But I have been thinking about this theme of seasons all week as my blog hits yet another milestone.

    When I started the blog, our oldest Cate was two years old. A few months later I became pregnant with Anna (yes, my blog is older than two of my children!), at which time morning sickness arrived in a monstrous way and, for a few months, I posted fake menus to keep my brand new blog going. Two-year-old Cate is now 18 and starting to receive college acceptance letters. Anna is 15 and Owen is 11. The season of being an elementary school mom is almost over. The season of having part of my heart go out into the world to embark on independence is about to to begin. 

    My current short-term season is one where I find my work life once again in an uncertain place. I’ve been here before, many times. I am actually not as freaked out as I would have predicted in the face of this uncertainty, thanks to the combination of an incredibly supportive husband and professional network, as well as the gift of time to mentally prepare for potential change. During this season, cooking dinner has been a welcome activity. And it’s been interesting – normally a lack of weekly planning causes me stress. But lately that lack of planning has brought much needed flexibility of mind for me. I’ve been going with the flow culinarily and I am actually cooking more than in other past stressful times. 

    Which brings me back to theme of food and seasons of life. My blog has been a literal documentation for me of the various seasons we have gone through. I can see the food we ate through all these years and how it reflects where we were at different point in our lives. Sixteen years ago I was still finding my own footing as a cook. Then I grew more confident. Then I became quite good at cooking and writing recipes (Bragadocious alert! IYKYK), and there were years where I wrote on here 3-5 times a week as well as regularly for other publications(!!!!). Over the past few years, as I’ve gone back to full-time work in Corporate America, I find myself posting just once a week. I’m sure the blog, like my life, will continue to evolve, bringing new and unexpected opportunities and ways to connect.

    No matter how long you’ve been around This Week for Dinner, thank you for being here. I am so grateful that even with the advent of powerful social media networks pretty much killing blogging that I can keep this little-blog-that-could going. I refuse to let it die! I will post menus until the Internet blows up! And, believe it or not, I actually have a few recipes I owe you, all photographed and everything. See? I am still cooking.

    Happy Sweet Sixteen, This Week for Dinner


  2. Monday, November 21, 2022

    Week 759 Menu + Thanksgiving!

    You know what is amazing about having family live nearby, something we’ve never had until two years ago? Thanksgiving cooking help! Not only do I not have to cook everything, but we get even more food. It’s a dream.

    Top view of sliced roasted turkey using spatchcock method

    MONDAY – WEDNESDAY:

    • NO IDEA. We are painting our kitchen, which has to get done before our floors start getting ripped out on Saturday, plus, you know, Thanksgiving. Our cupboards are currently bare and I have no idea when we’ll get to the store. Good luck, Maynard children!

    2022 THANKSGIVING FEAST

    THURSDAY – SUNDAY:

    • Leftovers + floors getting ripped out kicking off a week of pure insanity…but no more cream-colored carpet! Woohoo!

    Share your menus for the week! And definitely share your Thanksgiving plans along with links to recipes if you have them. Can’t wait to see what everyone has cooking!


  3. Sunday, September 18, 2022

    Week 751 Weekly Menu…and we’re back!

    Hello everyone! I hope you had a great summer! School started a few weeks ago, which was when I was planning to get back to meal planning. But then we tore out all our cabinet doors and painted the kitchen (still working on the cabinets) and then that heat wave hit. But my excuses are expiring, so it’s time to get serious again. I’ll be honest, I don’t really feel like planning menus, but I definitely need them back in my life. So, here we go!

    Thank you to long-time menu contributor Bonnie Lawrence for telling us about America Test Kitchen’s The Ultimate Meal Prep CookbookThis is my first week of using one of their weekly plans to a T. I’m excited!

    Week 751 weekly menu from this week for dinner

    MONDAY:

    • Parmesan Chicken with Cherry Tomato Salad

    TUESDAY:

    • Chicken and Rice with Chorizo and Artichokes

    WEDNESDAY:

    • Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork with Lemony Broccolini

    THURSDAY:

    • Skillet Tortellini with Sausage and Tomatoes

    FRIDAY:

    • Leftovers

    SATURDAY:

    • Takeout

    SUNDAY:

    • Outdoor Grill Night! (I’ll buy the food for this dinner when I do next week’s shopping)

    Please share your weekly menu in the comments below! I’m excited to be re-connected and see what you are all up to in the kitchen!

     


  4. Sunday, December 19, 2021

    Week 732 Weekly Menu

    Happy Holidays! I have survived the busiest two weeks of the year for our family…and now it’s time to relax. No work for the next week, just eating, puzzling, and enjoying Christmas. Figured I may as well finally sit down and plan a menu for the week!

    Week 732 Weekly Dinner Menu

    MONDAY:

    TUESDAY:

    WEDNESDAY:

    THURSDAY:

    • Leftovers

    FRIDAY:

    • Christmas Eve lunch: Swedish feast at my parents’
    • Christmas Eve dinner: Chinese Takeout

    SATURDAY:

    SUNDAY:

    • Leftovers

    Your turn! Please share your menu for the week below! Happy holidays to all!


  5. Sunday, November 21, 2021

    2021 Thanksgiving Menu + Week 730 Menu

    Happy Thanksgiving Week! Today’s post is all about the Thanksgiving menu. If you care about the rest of our dinner plans for this week, it’s Hello Fresh meal kits Monday – Wednesday, then leftovers after Thursday. Pretty simple!

    Side view of roasted turkey breast with instructions for roasting with a dry brine and spatchchocked bird

    Okay, here is this year’s plan for Thanksgiving. I will be combining forces with my family this year, which means way less work than usual. Yippee for me!

    2021 THANKSGIVING FEAST

    OTHER WINNING THANKSGIVING RECIPES

    We aren’t cooking these recipes this year but not because we don’t love them. In fact, we love them so much it’s hard to strike them from the list! But there is already so much food on our plates, so what are ya gonna do?

    Your turn! Share your weekly menu plans and/or Thanksgiving menu! Have the most delicious week!


  6. Sunday, March 21, 2021

    3 Kids, a Mom & a Kitchen: Spring Asparagus and Prosciutto Risotto

    Years ago I wrote a series for Disney’s website Babble: 3 Kids, a Mom & a Kitchen. Babble has since been closed down and the posts are no longer online, so I have decided to sharing my favorites here on my website! This is a recipe that one of my readers Kelly said had become a favorite in their family but she could not find it online anymore. This one’s for you, Kelly! And thanks for reminding me to start sharing these great kid-friendly recipes once again!

    asparagus and prosciutto risotto recipe

    For this month’s cooking project, I decided to teach my kids how to make risotto. When I told them, they were pumped! And, as it turns out, they had never tried risotto before, so it was really cool teaching them something totally new in the kitchen.

    Risotto seems like an intimidating meal to make to a lot of people, but it’s actually quite simple. It just takes a little time and care to prepare, and, as I just discovered, is actually a great dish to make with kids!

    Choosing the Recipe

    I love risotto but hardly ever make it at home. I hoped that if my kids learned how to do it, we’d be more likely to include it in our menu in the future. It’s also a pretty basic recipe that I would love my kids to have in their kitchen “toolbox” when they leave home one day. 

    Rankings

    This recipe was a big winner in the “cooking with kids” department! They had a lot of fun making it and thought the risotto was delicious. When I asked if the recipe was hard, Anna and Cate confidently declared that it was not at all.

    Top view of risotto with asparagus and prosciutto

    Steps Where Kids Can Get Involved

    This recipe takes about 40 minutes of hands-on cooking time. The three kids rotated in and out of the process, which worked really well. No one got bored and there was plenty for them to do whenever they wanted to participate.

    • Grating the cheese: Owen, my 3-year-old, did some of the grating and when he got bored Anna, my 7-year-old, finished it up.
    • Chopping add-ins: Cate is 10 years old, so she was able to help chop the prosciutto and cook the asparagus. It was good practice for her to work on her knife skills.
    • Stirring Galore: There is so much stirring in this recipe, which is my kids’ favorite thing to do when cooking. Actually, there is so much stirring they got tired of it — something I never thought could happen! The girls also loved pouring the ladles of broth into the rice.
    • The Tasting

    Usually our recipe tastings don’t stress me out, but this one had me on my toes. After all, the final product was dinner — if the kids didn’t like it, I didn’t know what we were going to eat that night! Thankfully all three kids enjoyed the risotto and Anna even declared it her second favorite food ever, second only to boxed long grain and wild rice mixes.

    recipe for asparagus and prosciutto risotto

    The Recipe

    I used The Kitchn’s tutorial for homemade risotto as a guide and made adjustments to the recipe where necessary. I talked to the kids about how risotto is a great blank canvas for all kinds of flavors and add-ins, especially depending on the season. For example, in the fall I sometimes make Butternut Squash Risotto. Since it’s spring, we all decided to go with asparagus, which is in abundance right now. Prosciutto and asparagus are pretty much made for each other, so we had to throw some prosciutto in, too!

    Asparagus and Prosciutto Risotto
     
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Author:
    Serves: 6
    Ingredients
    • 6-8 cups chicken stock or broth
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • ⅓ onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pushed through garlic press
    • 2 cups arborio rice
    • ½ cup white wine
    • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 cup cooked asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
    • 5 thick slices prosciutto, chopped
    • salt and pepper to taste
    Instructions
    1. Prep all ingredients ahead of time so they are ready to go when you’re cooking.
    2. Heat chicken stock in a large saucepan over medium heat, then keep warm over low heat while you continue with the rest of the recipe.
    3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a deep 12-inch skillet. Add onions and cook over medium heat until they have softened and are translucent. Add garlic and 1 more tablespoon butter and stir.
    4. Add rice and raise heat to medium-high. Constantly stirring, cook rice until toasted. You should start to smell the rice toasting and the grains should look clear on the edges, with some white still in the middle of the grain.
    5. Deglaze the pan by adding the white wine and cooking until wine evaporates.
    6. Add 1 ladle of the chicken stock to the rice. Reduce heat to medium. Keep stirring until most of the stock has been absorbed by the rice, then add another ladle of stock. Repeat this process, until the rice is cooked through (taste testing is necessary!). The rice cooking process will take 20-30 minutes. Towards the end of this process, sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the risotto. Do a little at a time and taste it as you go — the saltiness of the chicken stock will depend on how much salt you will need.
    7. Once the rice is the texture you like, add the last tablespoon of butter, 1 more ladle of chicken stock, and the Parmesan cheese. Stir and cook until the risotto is a nice creamy texture.
    8. Stir in asparagus and prosciutto and serve immediately. (Feel free to experiment with other seasonal add-ins — risotto is a great canvas for all kinds of flavors!)

     


  7. Sunday, November 22, 2020

    Week 701 Weekly Menu

    This Week for Dinner Thanksgiving Bouquet

    THANKSGIVING IS THIS WEEK HOW IS THIS SO?!?!? Miraculously I graduated from the hard splint from my hand surgery, so while my thumb doesn’t work yet and I still have to be careful, I will be able to help cook Thanksgiving dinner! The girls and Nate are ready to help with the cooking this year. While I’m sad we won’t be with extended family (COVID!), I think it will be a special year, all of us cooking together in the kitchen. I did make a few store-bought modifications to our menu to simplify cooking, but for the most part we are still cooking up our usual feast!

    Week 701 Weekly Dinner Menu including Thanksgiving Dinner Plans

    MONDAY:

    • Beef Bulgogi Meatballs (HelloFresh)

    TUESDAY:

    • Pork Tostadas Supremo (HelloFresh)

    WEDNESDAY:

    • Pineapple Pork Meatballs (HelloFresh)

    THURSDAY | Thanksgiving 2020!

    FRIDAY:

    • Leftovers

    SATURDAY:

    • Leftovers

    SUNDAY:

    • Leftovers

    Please share your weekly menu in the comments, including your Thanksgiving menu plans! Have a happy and delicious Thanksgiving and please stay safe!!!


  8. 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!


  9. 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!


  10. 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.